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Tracked Down

Shutterstock Image

Cadbury, the cat, jumped up on the sofa and stretched his chubby self.  He promptly plopped down and began grooming himself the bells on his collar ringing away. In a moment, Marty would have to pick Sarah up at the center. She had considered home-schooling the little four-year-old after she got her from the adoption agency but she needed her to be around children her own age. Maybe she would respond to something. Whatever trauma she had in her life, was locked away in her little self. None of the counseling helped. Even though she was like that, Marty knew she needed no other child but this one.

The lush green undergrowth after the spring rain caused Marty to feel at peace. As she continued to walk she saw what looked like a black mass. Flies swarmed the area. That was then she noticed the stench. She turned to look back but she has come all this way. No, it could not be. The familiar collar lay in the heap. It could not be! No! Not…   Marty shook the morbid memory of the dream from her mind. She was glad it was a dream but Cadbury was missing. It had been three days. Yes, he had gone before but only for one evening and was back the next day. Those times she was not even worried but now she was. Sarah seemed to pick it up too. Twice she looked questioningly at Marty.

“Cadb’ry?”

“I really don’t know where he is baby.” Marty sighed.  That was their only conversation.

She stuck their dinner into the microwave oven. Both sat eating quietly.

 

“Track. Ref Id.”

Marty looked at the little girl quizzically. Sports? Was she telling her something about sports? Several times throughout the day the child, looking at her with concern, said the same words. Track. Ref ID.  She had not heard her speak so often. Where could she have heard those words? Marty thought long and hard about the matter. It seemed urgent enough. She would call Dr. Mighty to ask if she could take her in for an emergency session.

 

Dr. Mighty came out. “All Sarah has been talking about was looking for something. I asked her if it was Cadbury and she shook her head yes but all she says otherwise are those words. I believe they are a kind of code but I would have to spend some more time with her.

“Doctor, I do not think we have enough time. If we could run it through the computer, ask the pound, get someone on it. I believe we will have what we need to find Cadbury.”

They did an online search. As she scrolled through the entries her eyes locked on the letters r-e-f-i-d.

“Of course!”  She flashed out her mobile phone and spoke in hurried tones.

“Doctor, I shall update you later. Come Sarah. Let’s go. I just pray we are not too late.”

Within two hours, the representative for the animal shelter came around. A bundle was in his arms.

Sarah jumped up and down happily.

“Mommy, Cadbury is home!”

As Sarah scooped Cadbury in her arms, she pulled the child into an embrace. Breakthrough had come! She knew it was not over. Sarah would need to complete process of healing but this was a very good start.

She called Dr. Mighty.

“So, what was that code?”

“ I really don’t know how Sarah knew. She kept saying tracking and I had totally forgotten that Cadbury’s collar could be tracked. So she was trying to say R-F-I-D.”

“Oh wow. In all my years of counseling this is a first.”

“Yes. we tracked Cadbury through an RFID chip.”

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
Video

Gestures and Wii

Hibrida – Shutterstock Image

“When I move, I learn”

“I understand that you are a kinesthetic learner but if any administrator passes by, they will think I have no class control.” Carol chided Adam in class after he turned his back to her for the umpteenth time to talk with a friend behind him. She realized that there was nothing in her lesson plan that catered for the child. Furthermore, she was not sold on the cooperative learning idea. Not when she had the enormous syllabus and no time in which to complete it all. And students still did not seem to retain as much as she wanted them to.

“Miss, I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Go and sit down. You only want to waste time.” Fifteen seconds later. “Go.”

“Miss, can I drink this bottle of water, miss?”

She was not too hard on them though. She was an adult and she felt the same way in those five-hour long staff meetings.

“I still do not know what to do with these students,” Carol said exasperatingly to Richard afterwards. She felt like she had enough.

“Just give them time. It will come together.” Richard gathered some papers on his desk and arranged them neatly.

Carol huffed.

Time was what she had little of. How could she work more effectively?

Image

This story perhaps mirrors what some teachers have to endure with the pressing curricular demands, seeming student misbehavior and the need to have a military silent zone in the classroom for administrators to think that learning is taking place. Some schools, equipped with the latest technology allow their students to move about. Carol and other teachers like her have to have a mindset change in lesson planning and preparation for the emerging technologies.

Gestures in Teaching and Learning

Check out this article:

“Want to learn quicker? Use your body.”

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140321-how-to-learn-fast-use-your-body

In some schools, students are still not supposed to move about. They are required to sit for an hour or two and give rapt attention to the lesson. It does not happen. Not when they are so used to flitting from one game to another on their portable device or computer. Their minds seem to always be busy wanting to find something else to do. What would happen if students were assigned different tasks and then could move about to get the tasks done? And how would that affect their retention rate afterwards?

It is reported that students remember ideas more readily when they are associated with body movements. Obviously you cannot do Advanced Calculus by using a counting-fingers technique, but there must be lessons for which using gestures is relevant. It is possible that when a gesture is made, it becomes that “something” out of the ordinary that causes students brains to record what they are doing at that particular time and they associate the gesture with that concept learnt. Gestures also would, most times, incorporate audio and visual learning styles as well.

Wii ( a gesture based device) in Education

Check out this article:

“Video games can Educate: Wii in the Classroom.”

http://www.teachhub.com/wii-classroom

Wii has not caught on everywhere. That does not matter. If it does not catch on soon, maybe there will be technology like it that will spark the attention of everyone. If that does surface, educators will think of using it in the classroom. Our teachers of mathematics and science along with others may want to see Wii with more educational content within some of the games. Imagine a Wii game with your class content? Or imagine getting a hold of a Wii remote and dreaming up the possibilities for its use, then implementing them in your class? Students are bound to recall some of what they see as they make visual associations with elements of the game.

Check out some applications of Wii

Wii for the Classroom

http://edtechforkids.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/wii-for-the-classroom/

Wii Golf Subtraction

http://edte.ch/blog/2009/10/14/nintendo-wii-golf-subtraction/

An Example of Wii Application – Big Brain Academy

(The presenter was really frank in the review however it does show some possibilities for the use of the technology.)

Educational games may suffer because designers think in a box and try to fit them in the same old classroom mode. Games can be designed outside a schoolroom. Game designers use such powerful graphics in regular games. It would be lovely to see investments in some that were fit for the classroom. As with all technology, the device comes at cost. The kit with one remote costs roughly $130.00 and you have to pay for additional remotes. It can take up to 4 players. All learners can benefit from the experience and students would have learnt and more importantly they would have had fun.

There are engaging ways to use the technology. It is time to explore.

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Richard removed his earplugs. “What are you using to bring across the lesson tomorrow?”

“Wii.” Carol was all smiles.

“Wii? The game, Wii? You are kidding, right? Does administration know about this?” Richard’s eyes literally were popping out of his head.

“Yep.” Carol was still smiling.

“How did you get old man Grumps to go along with that idea?”

“I allowed him to do a demo for himself. After that he was all on board.”

“Wow.” Richard replaced his earplugs.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Emergence

“The birth of an idea”

 

Martina Misar-tummeltshammer – Dreamstime Stock Photos

“What a hideous thing. It’s fit to be thrown out.”

 

Yet, vanish? It would not…could not.

It expanded then into a mass of unintelligible themes.

Ordered chaos.

Gradual amalgamation.

 

“It is still ugly, if you ask me.”

 

Partial finality.

 

A swirling vortex wrapped its way all around.

It embraced its contents completely from inquisitive eyes.

Enveloped.

Silence.

 

“I told you so. It never could have lived.”

 

A flutter.

 

A gentle…tap…tap…tap persisted.

It tossed back and forth at struggling to be free.

Emergence.

Beauty.

 

Ultimate liberty.

 

“As I always said, I knew it would have been a masterpiece!”

 

 

Dedicated to all who ever had an idea. Keep working to make your dreams a reality.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

The Cloud – Facilitating Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Alexander Briel Perez – Dreamstime Stock Photos

“Up Above My Head…”

Within the ambits of cloud computing, Platform as a Service (PaaS) may be the most viable cloud computing service when compared to its other counterparts (SaaS, IaaS,etc). Where application development is concerned, it has promised customers the liberty of not having to invest in hardware, operating systems and storage facilities. Costs for initial setup are negligible. PaaS users can choose the environment they wish to work in and then create their application which can then be hosted in the cloud. And, while there are fees to be paid for use, they do not have to fret about high costs for maintaining any IT infrastructure they would have invested in if they had not decided to use the cloud. All customers will need is a dependable Internet connection. There are many advantages to using the service, but what is the reality?

With all its benefits, PaaS still is a work in progress. Customers are confined to the limitations of the development languages. With some cloud services, there is always the issue of downtime and time lags in accessing the application and as the cloud services are also evolving, modifications to the service may be made that could be detrimental to customers. Once PaaS users have uploaded their application to the cloud, there may be no guarantees. If they have created applications for business purposes then if the cloud is not reliable at their customers’ end it may be detrimental. If there is too much traffic from their customers, that also is not a good thing. Security may also be an issue as different persons use the application.

Cloud services must keep security at the forefront and alert customers when they are about to make major changes in order to ensure that persons can for persons work. Customers have to be responsible for their work and if anything goes wrong with the service they will experience serious downtime. Now what are the costs associated with them losing that which they have invested in. There may be a lag when communicating with the cloud. The onus is on customers of PaaS to be aware of the risks they take in using cloud services. They ought to have a contingency plan.

Early developers of programming languages worked assiduously to provide a good quality product. There are escalating IT needs in today’s world. With PaaS, the product is already on the market so modifications have to be made on the fly.  How will this affects customers? Since applications differ from customer to customer, there may be no way to tell unless they give a personal review. But the cloud service developers have to keep persisting. As long as customers are willing to support their product, one day, they may just come up with a design that, for the majority, truly works.

 

And then they will have to begin the product modification cycle yet again…

 

See also:

http://bizcloudnetwork.com/understanding-the-business-benefits-of-platform-as-a-service/

http://www.cloudconsulting.com/paas/

http://searchcloudcomputing.techtarget.com/definition/Platform-as-a-Service-PaaS

 

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

MOOCs – The Obsolescence of School Rooms?

“Beyond the Four Walls of That Box of a Classroom.”

MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) are ushering in a new era or learning. Top universities have opted to go the route of offering high-quality free courses, each to a multitude of students at one time, hence the term “massively”. I have had the experience of taking a course with a MOOC and wished everyone could do so as well. It allowed me to take charge of my own learning and afforded me the ability to follow my progress and keep up-to-date with assignments. While it did not offer me a certificate or badges as reward for doing the work, I was learning about a topic I was interested in and that motivated me to press on.

With the diversity of MOOCs available, persons can learn almost anything and, can I reiterate, the courses are high-quality, at least the ones I have seen. The only thing missing is that for many of them, you do not receive certification although the credits are valid if you enroll in a paid program. With working persons not getting a chance to get time off work because of the demands and limited staff, MOOCs can offer a great alternative to study.

Another great thing about a MOOC is that there is a diversity of cultures that are a part of the program. Even non-English speaking students partake of the offerings and work around understanding the content and participating in the coursework. It allows you to be sympathetic to the needs of other students, to wish you fellow students well and to collaborate on different topics. After the course is over, you would have made at least one lifelong acquaintance as a result of the shared the learning experience. You never know how that will help in the future.

I believe that MOOCs are here to stay. What that will mean for the regular classroom? I am not sure. I would have thought some years ago that I could not function without being in a face-to-face learning environment. Having taken several online courses has allowed me to see otherwise especially when one can utilize a tool such a Skype. One of the benefits I have had working with persons online, especially group work, is that since everyone has a common goal, everyone is motivated to work. It was a beauty to see responses from the almost 30,000 students who enrolled in that course.

As an aside, there is still a lot of bureaucracy in Ministries of Education. Many still required hand written documents and the demands create a lot of redundancy for educators. They have to be performing data entry on the same information in several different places. Other inconsistencies waste valuable time and take away from the creativity that resides in teachers’ facilitation of student-centered learning. Many students still are not given the authority by administration for their own learning. This does not promote 21st century living. Ministries of Education as well as administrators who are not with the technological changes have to change or be phased out.

There is a place for the MOOC application in other areas. There can also be the exploration of online testing on a large scale. It is possible that instead of doing paper based exit examinations at certain levels, students are equipped to take computer-based examinations (MOOTs – Massively Open Online Tests?). It would save paper, time, and money among other things. Of course, investments have to first of all be made in the IT infrastructure of the institution. That is still a drawback for some schools in some regions. There is still not a seamless integration of technology into the classrooms. It is certain more persons would have hoped that as the new technology was stable on the market that they would just automatically find ways to adapt the technology into everyday life.

There is a difference to how children and adults learn using the technology that has to be taken into consideration. Somehow children given a portable device, for example, with a game, do not over think. They just play. The older we get, the more deliberate it seems that we have to process technology tasks before completing them. Those that teach have to deliberately yet mechanically learn how to use the technology. If they are not in the habit of thinking creatively, they still have difficulty finding ways to apply the technology to their everyday life. More interactive sessions need to be held with teachers to draw on the creativity that lies within them.

Already some schools are using MOOCs at lower levels and are testifying to the benefits. I do believe persons will still want to travel to school at times even if it for accountability and some of the benefits that an online program would not handle. Even George Jetson still travelled to work. He had better technological devices however. Maybe the day will come when students will not have to go to a physical site. They may be able to stay where it is convenient and Web access is possible and sign up with several MOOCs. Lifelong learning online would then be very meaningful especially since when persons want to learn a subject, they can always sign up for a course. Until then we may not see empty classroom just yet.

 

Check out a MOOC application:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121123-can-schools-survive-the-web-age

 

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Educational Emerging Technologies and Retention

“Human hard drives, archival devices?”

As I see persons clamor to get technological devices into every sphere of life, I have to wonder, how does the brain benefit? When I use all this technology am I retaining information? Reasonably, the tools are a means to an end. Call me old fashioned. I still believe in rote learning. The reason I have anything in my cranium is that I learnt much of it “by heart”. I know, I know, these new methods of learning want us to figure things out and I am all for critical thinking but I realized that I had better have knowledge on the topic first before I try to work at producing a rational response.

Brain Laze?

Now seriously, is the technology causing my child (or me, a lifelong learner) to be mentally lazy in learning? What does a modern day child know all on his own? If he gets into a critical situation without his gadgets, will he still be able to function? Will he know anything?

Let us say I have this body of facts. I need them to stick. We know that the strategies, structures, techniques and methodologies allow us the means for synthesizing information. Non-linear learning within some of these technologies can allow students to meaningfully identify and collate information so it can be utilized. However, it is not a guarantee that a learner will examine all areas of the technology to learn all the facts. They may choose not to be bothered. For example, suppose there are different elements of a game for a learning app. A student may get points for learning but they can learn at their own pace. There may be certain content in the app that remains unexplored at the next level. Learning challenges in such an app will need to be structured so learners cannot pass a certain level without knowing all vital information for the next level. At least it should be able to redirect them to review that information before moving on. Designers of the new technology will need to factor these things into their products if they are not already doing so.

Amazon and other such companies are making hard copies of books obsolete. Will these new technological advances also make our brains obsolete? I should think not. I began to consider that we have been using secondary storage devices to back up our brain power. Will we give our devices that much power that we store everything necessary on them? Will our brains then become the new archive storage media? Will we put them online only when necessary?

“Reps” make Muscles Rip

The experts have all kinds of mind enhancement methodology. One sure way to remember facts is by repetition. Gym instructors use it. Not just two times but 50, 100 times. Sports players run laps and laps around fields. What if we did some kind of computerized mental reps with vital information? What if we could have technology that will allow students to flex their mental muscles by repeating valuable information? How effective would that be? I believe it would be a start. Ignorance of vital data especially in a critical situation cannot be tolerated. The consequences might be detrimental.

How can Students Retain More?

  • To retain more as we get older it is possible that we have to be immersed in everything that had to do with the completion of a task. There are tools that utilize regular smart phones to alert persons via text messages of upcoming deadlines. They then have to make a response. They have to be responsible for their learning.
  • Better analysis of learners can assist with identifying students problem areas. With different apps with appropriate analytics, students can be better assessed. For a teacher who may have a class of 30-40 students and have to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each one, it can be a task. At least one teacher I know records every score on every question for each major test in Excel. After all that, there is sometimes no time to analyze students individually. With emerging technology, that can be alleviated. The tool can do the scoring right away.
  • When learners receive prompt feedback on different aspects of their learning, they can begin to make modifications. Through text messaging again, communication can be made between student and teacher.

 

Check out some tools that have been used for student retention.

http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/01/4-exciting-automated-solutions-for-student-retention-and-persistence/

 

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
Video

Gamification, Information Accessibility and Analytics

“Think for me just this once.”

Have you ever wanted to have someone just know what you were thinking without having to say it? Or, if you are always misunderstood, have you wanted them to just know exactly how to respond to your every mood correctly every time? Well, the technology for that is not here yet but with much work being done with analytics and game design there may very well be a future for it. I came across this video “A Futuristic Short Film HD: by Sight Systems” –The Cgbros.

Was the young lady in the video upset because she was being examined without her knowledge? Or was it because she knew the young man was gaining points by doing what he did? Also, was she a part of the game and was getting points as well? In that case, why did she get upset? How would we feel about someone having so much information on us? Strangely enough, I smiled through the whole bit. I suppose when you are not in the hot seat of intrusion, the technology seem like a very good idea. No question it is a gross violation of privacy but one that causes the awkwardness of conversation to be eliminated or simply minimized.

 

Perhaps in conversation and over time, the old fashioned way, one would spend time revealing bits of information but person’s internal analytics would not yield information for responding that quickly. Having knowledge of the psychology of human behavior and a person’s motivation for social interaction can give game designers ideas about software and hardware for these futuristic devices. At least games can be developed to allow persons to learn better strategies to deal with social situations.

 

In the case of someone being able to be scanned and information found about them, many persons may be opposed to someone having all that information about them. And could identity theft is possible? What database will be tapped into the find all that information? How ethical is that type of technology? Will we surrender our privacy simply because there is no apparent harm to us? It is a fact that we have already surrendered our privacy to social networks and other companies can have access to us through our smart phones and our connected devices. In another breath, how will persons who lie on forms to protect their privacy be identified? And what will the data holders choose to do with the information? Will they keep our information safe?

 

I would like to think that more persons than not are ready to act socially responsible as it relates to information that can so readily be available. It is where our major software companies are headed. The accessibility of information will be a valuable asset to businesses as we see proposed in the following video.

Imagine what gamification and analytics can do with accessible information to enhance other spheres of life?

 

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2014 in Uncategorized