education & tech

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Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is a teacher, tech blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

Teacher + Scholar

If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am a blogger and I'd written a post about education almost everyday since 2003. Education & Tech provides you with education news, expert tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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Dr. Montoya: More "Rigorous Core Courses" in High School

I’ve read a number of critiques about standardized testing, mostly from educators. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing wrote that most state exams overemphasize low-level skills and thinking. Alfie Kohn meticulously discusses some indisputable facts on the subject. Another educator commenting about this matter is Larry Ferlazzo, citing David C. Berliner and Yong Zhao, he offered his own response to the standardized test critiques & potential alternatives.

You might think once Arne Duncan conceded that "there are serious flaws in standardized testing", the fight was over. No so fast.

USF Education former professor Rick Ayers blasted the merited criticism from Secretary of Education. His post in the Huffington Post is an excellent almost bullet point critique of the 'rigorous' word mentioned by James Montoya, vice president for higher education, of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The College Board has simply discovered the obvious, that students with certain privileges do better on the SAT. It simplifies a very complicated problem and supposes that all the country accepts students to schools with the same social economic background based solely on the students education necessity.

Here goes a nice nugget from Ayers’ post:

Any high school senior would tell you, though, that Montoya has very likely confused correlation with causation. Yes, those kids who take the full college prep core courses and take the PSAT are going to do better. And, guess what? The kids with access to well-funded schools that offer effective core courses also come from upper middle class and wealthy neighborhoods. You could as well conclude that children who eat steak and lobster regularly and attend country club dances in the summer do better on the SAT so we should provide more steak and lobster and country clubs.

But if you like that excerpt, read the closing of his article again:

The SAT and standardized testing industry reign supreme over our schools; they have set the curriculum and the goals that administrators bow down to; it is their watch. With standardized testing narrowing and dumbing down the curriculum, reducing it to test prep and rote learning, it is no surprise that young people are more bored, more disengaged, more resistant. Instead of abandoning the tests that have done so much damage, the College Board proposes that we cede more power to them. This is just, to invoke a favorite SAT word, unscrupulous.

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U.S Public Schools: The Truth Shall Set You Free

science fair: what puts the 'pop' in popcorn By +Joy Pullmann at thefederalist

Here are a few lies it’s time to dispel about U.S. education. Pullman call them lies because they’ve been repeatedly publicly disproven but remain driving forces for education policy.

America’s rich, suburban schools are high quality. The schools everyone thinks are so great are only so because we compare them to our truly awful urban districts, rather than to actual peers.

Poverty is the root of America’s education problems. Harvard University economists compared state education spending and student achievement and found a correlation so small it was statistically insignificant.

Schools should teach generic skills like critical thinking and real-world application. You cannot have great reading skill that applies equally to a passage about the Civil War and to one about the lifecycle of amoebae. Your ability to read and understand any given passage depends on your background knowledge about the subject. No more rotten memorization!

Teachers are well-prepared professionals. Teaching coursework is among the least challenging available, yet prospective teachers need more remedial classes than their counterparts in humanities and social sciences.

Education is nonpartisan and amoral. The question is not whether schools promote certain philosophies, but how and which, and whether families should be forced to enroll their children in schools that actively contradict family beliefs.

Practically everyone should go to college. Public schooling is considered everyone’s birthright to the middle class. But America’s public education systems exist to provide general education for citizenship.

Those who run our schools say they care about children but year after year they continue to perpetuate systems that are demonstrably harmful to our kids.

Read the full post at thefederalist.com

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Information Overload or Populist Outrage?

By Elizabeth Terry *

We are now in a world where everyone has a ready access to information, we are in a world where research can be done right at your finger tips. We are now in a so called "Information Age" where every information that you need can be accessed in a snap.

However, a dilemma arises over this easy access and that is aptly called, Information Overload - I.O.(also known as Infobesity or Infoxication). This is a term coined by the author Alvin Toffler on his best-selling book, After Shock. These phenomena coined by Toffler happens when a person has too much presence of information which affects his decision making because it exceeds the processing ability of the mind.

Long before that, the concept was introduced by Diderot, although it was not by the term 'information overload': "As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes." – Denis Diderot, "Encyclop├ędie" (1755)

One early instance of Information Overload's effect to decision making can be found in an article by Jacob Jacoby, Donald Speller and Carol Kohn Berning, who conducted an experiment on 192 housewives which was said to confirm the hypothesis that more information about brands would lead to poorer decision making.

Such definitions can be attributed with the rise of Internet and more specifically, social media. The different forms of social media are often portrayed as necessary channels of communication. Nowadays, people tend to be their own gatekeepers of information and their own editor.

George Miller first hypothesized "Information Overload" on his PhD dissertation on 1956. Miller proposed that a person only has a finite capacity to hold information and if it exceeds its limit. Though, professor Tim Kastelle completely disagrees.


Original cartoon from Rob Cottiingham - Social Signal


Infoxication tend to be distracting in a way that it clouds the person's ability to think on its own, making them lazy because it indirectly condones "Instant Gratification" wherein people do not want to think for themselves anymore and relies on the info readily available on the Internet.

E-Mail is still one of the leading causes of distribution of over information however as we've mentioned, social media is up and coming. The likes of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are one of the major sources of Internet data nowadays. With Facebook's "Like and Share" method, a information can go viral within hours with countless people sharing it. The same goes for Twitter with their "retweet".

Nicholas Carr, former editor of the Harvard Business Review says that the Internet is exploiting the human mind's instinct to search for new information, making us addicted to mindlessly press levers in hopes of intellectual nourishment. A sentiment shared by Google founder Eric Schmidt who said that abundance of information results into an impact with the human thought process.

Another problem that arrives regarding this is called Information Pollution. It refers to when a not so factual or accurate information gets mixed up with the factual ones. It may be because of the easy access to the Internet where one can easily input their own ideas into certain matter and people will readily accept it as true. People now can do their own research on the Internet with the risk of misinformation.

Information Pollution is a problem that is rapidly growing because of the growing social media. It may be a gossip about a celebrity, a conspiracy theory regarding the government or some important people may be false, but because of the process of "Like and Share", it goes viral and people tend to believe that it is true. It is dangerous and is currently happening right now.

But what can we do about it? Others have proposed that we limit our access to the Internet specially on e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. But let's all admit that it's a bit hard. Even legitimate news source is now using those social media sites to spread news so it's getting harder and harder to determine which information is factual and which information is false.

Our access to information is getting more and more advanced but does it make our minds any sharper? It seems that people, like I have said, have become more lethargic when it comes to thinking for themselves. It's something that is a result of instant access.

Dealing with I.O. from a social network like Facebook has been studied by Humboldt University in which students prioritize updates from friends from faraway places and are deactivating Facebook accounts.

Having access to information is generally a good thing. It can help you a lot like for example your homework but the problem is that not every information you found on the Internet can be taken at face value. It does indeed sound cliche but too much of anything is a bad thing.

Indeed, having knowledge is somewhat addicting and so is sharing them. The point that is trying to be made here is that people need to properly discern on whether the data that they got is true or not. And more importantly, people need to start thinking for themselves by limiting the information that they take. Prioritizing only vital ones and eschewing trivial information like celebrity gossip as it tends to distract people on what is truly important.

The ease of duplication and transmission of data because of the Internet, take many to lack of method on comparing information sources.

(*) Elizabeth Terry is a college student taking a degree in Creative Writing. She has interests in writing about education, technology, and creative stories. Apart from studying diligently, she also works as a part-time writer on http://www.essayontime.com/. She lives at Alameda, CA. She's active in interacting in various social networking sites like twitter and google+.

Education & Tech: News for Educators

Last week the #edchat held an interesting discussion about the impact of poverty in education and schools. The following tweets were the most relevant out of such conversation:

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Milton Ramirez

Google Chromebook to the Back to School Year 2013

By Jenn Greenleaf*

Even though Google Chromebook has only been available in the consumer marketplace since late 2012, it is already making an impression in the educational arena. Not only are they priced affordably for teachers, as well as students, these laptops are user-friendly. In addition to being popular within the United States, Google Chromebooks are also making a big impact overseas.

Why choose Google Chromebook for Classroom Use?

Ease of use: A Google Chromebook comes ready to go with everything users need for plug and play usability. Not only do users not have to worry about the installation of operating systems or anti-virus software, there is no need for the constant updating other laptops and desktop computers require.

Student Experience: Most of the features that come preinstalled on the laptop are applications most students already use. These applications include searching, Gmail and YouTube. Since most students already have experience, there is no need for them to train them how to use these applications. That saves teachers a lot of time in the classroom, and helps relieve student stress levels from having to get to know a new machine.


Photo by Joe Wilcox, used under license CC


Lightweight design: Another great feature of the Google Chromebook is the fact that it is lightweight and easy to keep mobile. Because many teachers and students share these devices throughout the day, portability is paramount. The lightweight design of this laptop allows teachers and students to move from classroom to classroom and from user to user with ease. In many cases, students are allowed to take laptops home to use for homework. These light devices will not weigh down their backpacks or messenger bags.

Multi-user Interface: When users switch throughout the day, lap features allow this to happen without anything becoming disorganized or lost. This is a big concern for students who are working on complex projects and are worried about files being accidentally deleted when another user signs on. The Chrome's ability to set up numerous user accounts and switch between them easily is a feature many educators find they cannot live without. Each user must log out of their account when they are finished using the device in order to ensure no other user can access their information or mess up their account in any way.

The Bottom Line:

It is no mystery that school budgets are being cut or tightening up across the board. Therefore, when an affordable option comes into the marketplace allowing educators to spread technology throughout their lesson plans, it is no wonder so many faculty members and students want these laptops in their classrooms. Because so many curriculums require basic keyboarding skills, the use of laptops in the classroom is no longer an option. Budget cuts plus technological demands require educators to reduce investment and maintenance costs. Preinstalled software, like that found on the Chromebook, certainly helps.

(*)Jenn Greenleaf is a freelance writer who covers topics such as social media, online reputation, technology, and education. You can learn more about her career and interests by following her on Google+.
 
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