Thursday, November 18, 2010

Educational Technology Can Lower Costs

On November 17th, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated that schools are going to need to deal with their lower costs by increasing productivity; they're going to have to do more with less, essentially. Duncan stated that schools will probably have lower budgets for a long time, so they need to learn how to run effectively with less money. Duncan suggested possibly using more online texts, combining bus routes, and reducing personnel in order to deal with the lower budgets. He did acknowledge that becoming more tech-savvy may cost more money in teh short-term, but that it will be worth it in the long-term. I also really appreciate that he said that schools should consider having slightly larger class sizes instead of just automatically cutting music or art. I feel like cutting the arts is the easiest alternative for most schools, rather than the best alternative. The arts are really beneficial, so I am grateful that Duncan brought up that having a few extra kids per class may be less harmful than elminating the arts program.

Social Media Safeguard

Webroot has created a downloadable program that will have college students thanking them forever. Social Media Sobriety Test is a new online application that allows someone to choose a social networking site and the hours they wish to have a little bit of trouble logging on. For example, a person could choose Facebook and/or Twitter and the hours of 1-4 am. In order to log on to that site during this time frame, they would need to pass a series of tests that would be really difficult for someone who was inebriated. For all of those people who have a bad habit of drunk-Facebooking or drunk-tweeting, this could very well save them from a future job loss.
It is becoming common practice for employers to check candidate's Facebooks to see what kind of person he or she is. I went to see Lindsay Pollack speak last year, and she had said that employers call it "checking on [the candidate's] judgment." With job markets as competitive as they are, employers need to use every resource they have, which means that people need to start watching their social media outlets to ensure that they never have any problems. I feel that the Social Media Sobriety Test can be an easy way to help make sure that social media sites stay clear of all posts that could be deemed "bad judgment calls."

Smartphone Document Editing

Apparently Google docs has implemented a feature that allows smartphone users to edit entire documents from their phone. There are a lot of limitations and requirements that are needed in order for it to run properly, but honestly, I don't understand why one would want to. I understand the use of a smartphone in order to check one's e-mail etc and maybe shoot a quick answer back. However, to edit or compose and entire document on one's phone just seems a little silly to me. I have trouble grasping why this would be beneficial to have. As a country, we are way more connected and dependent on technology as a part of our everyday lives and we have more of a tendency to be workoholics than most other places. I think that having the option to edit documents in addition to all the other features on a smartphone could make that gap even greater. I'm all for technology progression, but sometimes I feel like certain advancements go to far.

Technology helping to redefine disability

Students with disabilities have long been unable to express their knowledge or gain new knowledge in traditional classrooms. Teachers committed to enabling these students have searched for ways to assist and empower them, and it looks like there's finally a way. According to Milton Chen, the senior fellow and director emeritus at the George Lucas Educational Foundation, rapid advancements in technology are helping to redefine ability and disability, with assistive technology devices enabling students with disabilities. For example, the Adaptive Captioning Through Interactive Video (ACTIV 2.0) technology can be used to make academic content accessible to learning disabled students through features such as alternative narration; regular, highlighted text; picture/symbol-based captions; verbal/visual cuing; interactive hyperlinks; and built-in quizzes. Other technologies, such as Signing Avatar, which is a software that can be used with 3D science and math dictionaries to help deaf or hearing impaired students, and Big Words, which is a software that can be used to teach polysyllabic words to students with disabilities, are also in the forefront of this movement towards technology for disabled students. John Kemp of Powers Pyle Sutter and Verville says that "giving students with disabilities more choice in how they would like to learn and which tools they would like to use in their learning process can go a long way in motivating them," which can often make all the difference in the classroom. Teachers should not only be aware of the possibilities of technology for learning disabled students, but should constantly be investigating and seeking it. One great resource is NCTI's TechMatrix, which provides free information on assistive technology for students with disabilities as well as for ELL students. I don't know how to add a second link, so here's the url for that: http://www.techmatrix.org/