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 L. Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is an instructor with UoPeople, is a 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 blogging and I'd written articles about education and technology almost every day since 2003. In the gazillion of notes, Education & Tech provides you with education news, tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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Jaime Escalante: His 'Ganas' Will Be Missed

Stand and Deliver portrayed his legacy. Trust me , every time I feel down after coming from school or after I've had a terrible day -like those you have dear teachers, I turn to the HVS and play James Olmos' movie.

Jaime Escalante was called a traitor for his opposition to bilingual education. He said the hate mail he received for championing Proposition 227, the successful 1998 ballot measure to dismantle bilingual programs in California, was a factor in his decision to retire that year after leaving Garfield, the High School through which Escalante gained national prominence when in 1982 a scandal surrounding 14 of his Garfield High School students who passed the Advanced Placement calculus exam, were accused of cheating.

At the age of 79, the man who inspired Latino youth in California to reach their full potential through mathematics and science, has died. Jaime Escalante was an immigrant from La Paz, Boliva and he became a teacher after doing what most Hispanic immigrants do in the U.S. from mopping floors to cook. He earned a scholarship to Cal State Los Angeles to pursue a teaching credential. In the fall of 1974, when he was 43, he took a pay cut to begin teaching at Garfield HS at a salary of $13,000.

Blanca Laureano of Vivir Latino writes, "In the spirit of radical and revolutionary teachers, I encourage each of us to take some time and remember a teacher/educator/tutor who has shaped our identity and our sense of self. In Escalante’s honor, please share your testimony with us."

While people on Twitter are all saddened by passing of Escalante.

@danaevigil - "RIP Jaime Escalante - Inspiration to many Latinos and educators for many years to come."

@stevejang - "RIP Jaime Escalante, the Best Teacher in America. He was a local hero in LA when I was in grade school."

@CorinaFiore - "RIP Jaime Escalante. A man who inspired me to do more, be better as a teacher. He taught me so much about education."

@ConnCAN - "Very sad to hear that Jaime Escalante, the teacher made famous by Stand & Deliver died - an original Ed reformer. We'll carry the fight on."

Prof. Escalante died today at 2:27 pm. in Reno, Nevada after battling cancer.

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21st Century America's Progress Towards Universal Broadband Internet Access

How many people do have a high speed connections in the United States?

Main reason for no high speed internet use at home, 2009 - U.S.That question pretends to be addressed with the research preview released last month by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration: Digital Nation: 21st Century America’s Progress Toward Universal Broadband Internet Access. The document[pdf] provides insight into broadband access, demographic information, and the “digital divide” throughout the United States.

"Although life without high speed Internet service seems unimaginable for many Americans, for too many others, broadband is still unattainable. As the world leader in technology innovation and the place where the Internet was pioneered, we can and must do better. This report will help identify both the gaps in Internet access and the reasons people that have such access are choosing not to use it," writes Lawrence E. Strickling, the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information (U.S. Department of Commerce) in the Foreword of the preview research.

The U.S. Department of Commerce will have a more detailed analysis and report later this year.

Gary Locke, the U.S. Commerce Secretary, is quoted by MinuteBio when he stresses the importance of internet access: "In a globalized 21st century economy, when you don’t have regular access to high-speed Internet, you don’t have access to all the educational, business and employment opportunities it provides."

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"I have a short memory"

I spent long hours reading almost everything from books, to websites, blogs, feeds, tweets, etc., but I have ever stopped to think what is going on in the brain of thousand of kids going to school.

On one of this mornings while preparing to go to school, my son was asked by his mom about something simple and easy to recall, I don't think is worth it to mention here, and my son answered: Mom, you know I have short memory. When we as parents know, he is smart enough and enjoys of good memory. After a few seconds, he replied: Oh, wait I remember that.

Multitasking Harms Memory

My son as many of the kids in this gaming generation think they can multitask. They believe themselves they can perform more than one task at time. It is not difficult to see them playing the Gameboy, using Facebook, texting on their cellphone and watching TV. But to me and to a dozen of experts, the 'I have short memory' has an explanation.

John Medina is a developmental molecular biologist, the director of the Talaris Research Institute, and one of the top experts on brain studies. He suggests multitasking is impossible for brain follows a four step process of the Executive Network, which delays and avoids full concentration. In his blog he writes: "The brain is a sequential processor, unable to pay attention to two things at the same time. Businesses and schools praise multitasking, but research clearly shows that it reduces productivity and increases mistakes."

In fact, we are multitasking everyday. Walk and sing, listen music and talk. But the multitasking here refers to new learning. Multitasking when performing certain tasks may be helpful, the bottom line is that if you listen to the radio while studying for a test, you end up needing the music to be recall what you learned.

A study performed back in 2006 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences, says tasks that distract you while you try to learn something new are likely to negatively affect your learning. In such study, multitasking didn't harm memory during the learning but appeared to make it more difficult to retrieve what was learned later, reason why my son was thinking he had a short memory.

Multitasking disrupts memory. That's the conclusion of the study. Researcher Russell Poldrack, PhD, co-author of the study and UCLA associate professor of psychology, said in this interview: "When distractions force you to pay less attention to what you are doing, you don't learn as well as if you had paid full attention,...Even if you learn while multitasking, that learning is less flexible and more specialized so you cannot retrieve the information as easily."

Hopefully, some empirical evidence regarding multitasking will cut through the myths about learning at school. Until then, make sure your son is paying attention to what he does, so he or she can retrieve what was learned later.

Remember I said walking and singing? That kind of tasks can be done at once , where brain does not have to move back every time to complete the Executive Network proposed by Medina.

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“Don’t blame teachers’ unions for our failing schools”

This is an interesting note I thought you might want to read. From the Flypaper:

    This most recent NPR Intelligence Squared podcast features two panels debating the motion “Don’t blame teachers’ unions for our failing schools” in an Oxford-style set-up. The audience starts out 24 percent in favor (as in, thinks unions should NOT be blamed), 43 percent against, and 33 undecided.

    Don’t miss this feisty debate that explores school “hell holes,” undesirable marriages and the obligatory assertion (sorry Rick Hess) “it’s for the kids.” Panelists include AFT president Randi Weingarten in favor, with former U.S. Education secretary Rod Paige opposed.

    Click here to go to the podcast and to see the how the audience voted in the end.

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'Chaos Theory' Applied to the Classroom

Being a math teacher this hypothesis really calls my attention. Viplav Baxi in one of his Meanderings sets this question: "The point that needs to be explored is whether learning is linear, deterministic and predictable or is it inherently non-linear, dynamic and unpredictable."

Baxi proposes his hypothesis based on JoAnn Trygestad's work, Chaos in the Classroom, where the expert discusses the possible impact of Chaos Theory on classroom learning and explores the relationship between chaotic systems and learning.

The abstract of Trygestad developments are posted on ERIC. Chaos in the Classroom: An Application of Chaos Theory:

A brief narrative description of the journal article, document, or resource. A review of studies on chaos theory suggests that some elements of the theory (systems, fractals, initial effects, and bifurcations) may be applied to classroom learning. Chaos theory considers learning holistic, constructive, and dynamic. Some researchers suggest that applying chaos theory to the classroom enhances learning by reinforcing systemic approaches to human interactions, encouraging cultural diversity as beneficial, and reaffirming theoretical notions of intelligence as dynamically multidimensional without linear progression. Other researchers believe that chaos theory cannot be applied to human learning systems; instead many of these researchers suggest social constructivism as a more appropriate model. The paper demonstrates applications of chaos theory using systems, fractals, initial effects, and bifurcations. A final section discusses models of learning, highlighting Piagetian theory and theoretical models. The paper concludes that more important than a model is the development of a perspective encompassing both the theory and its applications, and that researchers should explore the application of chaos theory to classroom learning before trying to construct a satisfactory mode

For those who has a basic understanding of the chaos philosophy, "chaotic systems may appear random and dynamically changing, but still exhibit an underlying pattern or order," concludes Baxi.

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Race to the Top - 10 Question for Finalists

Flypaper posted Ron Tomalis' suggested questions that might be asked to the Race to the Top finalists. State’s delegations will perform in a 30-minute presentation and a 60-minute question-and-answer session with a panel of judges. Their answers could make or break its chances to win the $4 billion award grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

1. If you don’t get 100% of the funding requested, how will you modify your proposals? What programs are on the chopping block; which aspects will receive priority funding?

2. How will you hold your school districts accountable for full implementation? What penalties will you have for lack of implementation at the local level? How will you police implementation? Do you have metrics in place to constantly monitor both implementation and outcomes?

3. The Federal Government could make an investment of several hundred million dollars in your state. Specifically, for that amount of money, how far will the academic needle move in 3 years? 5 years?

4. Reform initiatives have come and gone, with limited amount of success. What makes your plan under this application different? And more importantly, how is it different than things your state has done over the last decade? Are you asking for funding for drastically different initiatives?

5. Will private school students benefit from RttT funding? If so, how? If not, why not?

6. Every state education system has strengths and weaknesses, just as every state plan has strengths and weaknesses. What are the strongest parts of your plan and what are your weakest based upon your state’s historic capacity to implement reform?

7. If these initiatives/programs are so critical for student success in your state, why haven’t you done them already? Why wasn’t there a political/policy effort to accomplish these programs before RttT? If the new RttT money was the driver, doesn’t that undercut your claim that these reforms have broad based support?

8. If you don’t get funded, how will this impact your reform efforts? What will you do regardless of RttT funding and what are you doing only because of RttT funding?

9. The state legislature was not required to sign your application, nor are they here today presenting with you. Much of what you are proposing will either require changes in law or legislative endorsement/funding to back up the initiative. What indications can you give us that your legislature endorses these initiatives? What provisions in your plan can you implement on day one? What provisions require new laws and policies? In how many cases did you say that you would “investigate, plan, or discuss” an issue instead of execute an initiative?

10. For those schools districts that did not sign onto your plan, how will you ensure that you won’t be setting up a dual education system in the state — one aligned to the plan in the RttT application and one for those not committed to the RttT? Does this worry you?

Ron Tomalis was an Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education in the first term of the George W. Bush Administration, and now serves as a director at Dutko Worldwide.

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The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

"Every child in America deserves a world-class education" - A Blue Print for Education Reform

The Obama administration's blueprint to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) will support state and local efforts to help ensure that all students graduate prepared for college and a career.

Following the lead of the nation's governors and state education leaders, the plan will ask states to ensure that their academic standards prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace, and to create accountability systems that recognize student growth and school progress toward meeting that goal. This will be a key priority in the reform of NCLB, which was signed into law in 2002 and is the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)

"We will work with Congress on a bipartisan basis to reauthorize ESEA this year," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said about the blueprint, which the Obama administration released on Saturday. "We owe it to our children and our country to act now."

Read more at Education Research Report, headed by Jonathan Kantrowitz

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"Cellphones Could Be Effective Learning Tools"

O'Reilly Radar:

In most schools, cell phones are checked at the door -- or at best powered off during school hours in a tacit "don't ask, don't tell" understanding between students and administrators. This wide-spread technology ban is a response to real concerns: if kids have unfettered instant access to the Internet at school, how do we keep them safe, how do we keep out inappropriate content, how do we prevent real-time cyberbullying, how do we even keep their attention in class when competing with messaging, gaming, and surfing?

At the same time, though, there is a growing sense among education thought leaders and policy leaders that not only are cell phones here to stay but there seems to be interesting potential to use these small, connected computers that so many students already have. I've been insanely fortunate over the past year to work closely with Wireless Reach (Qualcomm's strategic social initiative) and real innovators in education who are finding that cell phones in classrooms don't have to be a danger or a distraction but, in fact, can help kids learn in some surprising ways.

Thanks to CoolCatTeacher for the link. The article in its enterity belongs to Marie Bjerede, she is the Vice President of Wireless Education Technology at Qualcomm, Inc.

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The School I'd Like - #EduThingsILike

I pay my respects to and join to the #EduThingsILike. We were kindly invited to participate in a meme Tom Vander Ark started. I confess that at the beginning I felt hesitant to do it, but after a call of conscience, I decided this a great opportunity to envision the ideal school from my particular perspective, I would like my family to have.

I agree to Chad Sansing when he says: "I think we need to say for ourselves what we stand for before we act in pursuit of it." Even when these are ideals, we need to keep dreaming. Haven't been said that you need to dream higher in order to, at least, get to the lower level?

Here's what I'd like:

  • I like schools that not resemble prisons.

  • I like teachers who think they are not the only ones in charge of the subject.

  • I like parents who talk with their children at least 10 minutes a day, after returning from work.

  • I like edupreneurs who nonetheless rely on education as a way to get rich, no matter that this is mental and spiritual wealth.

  • I like leaders because without his charisma the group itself never will move on.

  • I like the inventors, those who live eternally the most restless curiosity of our students.

  • I like students who never remain silent, those who love to ask, although their tests show otherwise.

What do you like? @irasocol, @josiefraser, @republicofmath, @TheJLV, @Struggle2Learn. I am trying to follow Chad's rules, but feel no obligation to participate. On the other hand, if you happen to read this post and want to continue with this meme, feel free to do it so. Tag the people you would like to hear from.

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Creating Social Learning Environments

Upside Learning:

Everyone’s been talking about Social Learning Environments (SLEs), the internet offers a plethora of tools that could become a part of a SLE. While some of these tools cost money, the bulk of them are free. We can construct our very SLE using these free tools. Jane Hart wrote about ‘How to Create a Social Learning Environment’ in the November 09 issue of Inside Learning Technologies. She covered the major tools that can be used to create a Social Learning Environment for free or at a low cost.

For a better understanding watch this graph by Abhijit Kadle. I also recommend you get hands dirty clicking away to find more tools for learning.

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The Seven Theories of Everything

The theory of everything is one of the most cherished dreams of science. If it is ever discovered, it will describe the workings of the universe at the most fundamental level and thus encompass our entire understanding of nature. It would also answer such enduring puzzles as what dark matter is, the reason time flows in only one direction and how gravity works. Small wonder that Stephen Hawking famously said that such a theory would be "the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God".

But theologians needn't lose too much sleep just yet. Despite decades of effort, progress has been slow. Rather than one or two rival theories whose merits can be judged against the evidence, there is a profusion of candidates and precious few clues as to which (if any) might turn out to be correct.

The seven front runners are: The string theory, Loop quantum gravity, CDT, Quantum Einstein gravity, Quantum graphity, Internal relativity and the E8.

Editor's note: Knowing the mind of God: Seven theories of everything in is the source. Article has been originally written by Michael Marshall

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Education Involves Collaboration

Yesterday, I was following online the #tedxnyed and really enjoyed that way presenters did their part. Really impressed by Jeff Jarvis, Chris Lehmann, George Siemens, Henry Jenkins, Dan Meyers and Mike Wesch -not that the others were bad, but they kept me quiet, attentive and almost fry my brain, to say it figuratively.

Lehmann said: "Schools need to be collaborative and playful." Absolutely. If kids don't experience joy going to school then teachers are in great trouble.

Lehmann's perception relates to Larry Irons vision of social learning. Irons wrote a interesting post saying that social learning is collaborative and it's linked to the large-scale changes facing organizations as they struggle to manage how people share and use knowledge.

Citing Harold Harche, Larry agrees with him to the fact that learning is relevant because school work is almost never done by one single person. School work requires collaboration of a variety of people. Is customary to blame the teachers or even fire them, when something goes wrong in education, I think we are forgetting about many other members of this community.

With his wide experience as a leader of multidisciplinary teams, the author of Skillful Minds writes that collaboration isn’t just about people:

Collaboration is about people working with other people to achieve common goals and create value. Even though goal-orientation is a big part of collaborating, collaboration requires more to achieve goals effectively. It requires shared experience. Indeed, one could reasonably assert that, as members of teams discuss their own assumptions about membership in the flow of a project, they develop increasing empathy for other team members and alignment between their own needs for information supporting performance and the willingness of others to either provide it or facilitate its provision.

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#TEDxNYED Live! - The role of new media and technology in education

TEDxNYED is being held right now at the Collegiate School in New York. The focus of TEDxNYED is examining the role of new media and technology in education. Speakers like Chris Lehmann, Dan Meyer, Lawrence Lessig, and Michael Wesch among others will be present.

All of the talks are being streamed live, for free.

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The World of e-Learning - The 2010 Horizon Report.

Learning Solutions Magazine:

Mobile computing and open content - the challenge of making as much information as openly accessible as we can - are among the technologies most likely to "have a large impact on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry" within the next year, the authors of the 2010 Horizon Report tell us.

The latest annual report, the seventh in an ongoing series, provides an updated snapshot of tech tools that are "likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry on college and university campuses within the next five years." Those reports always have an impact far beyond reaching their primary audience, and help those of us involved in e-Learning have a better grasp of where we and our learners are going.

In addition to describing the rapidly evolving impact of mobile computing - "smart phones, netbooks, laptops, and a wide range of other devices [providing] access [to] the Internet using cellular-based portable hotspots and mobile broadband cards" - and open content as "a cost-effective alternative to textbooks and others materials," the report looks out over a five year period for documented trends.

Electronic books and simple augmented reality appear on the horizon within the next two or three years, and gesture-based computing and visual data analysis (pdf) appear ready for widespread use within four or five years, the Horizon Report authors say.

This only an extract of the original. The whole article belongs to Paul Signorelli and can be found here.(Subscription required.)

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The world is talking. Are you Listening?

Global Voices = Global Learning

There are many interesting things coming in Global Voices (GV) and certainly we found useful to share with you the short but very explicative post of Michelle Pacansky-Brock, who has been kindly enough to write about the link between Global Voices contents and global education.

Global Voices is a global resource for 21st century educators, most definitely. Every single one of us should find an activity that leverages this resource and weave it into our students' learning. Wow.

Click away to find out why the global voices shared in GV, "are not mainstream voices."

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Is Google/Internet Making Us Stupid?

Last year, pundit Nicholas Carr made the case saying Google was making us stupid. And that happened about a year. Since then, other authors had pitched in to take the discussion to higher levels. The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing our Culture by Andrew Keen, e.g., shows how communications revolutions disrupt old behavior. In book The Dumbest Generation, English Professor Mark Bauerlein writes that Internet "stupefies young Americans and jeopardizes our future." Canadian James Harkin argues that we’ve all ended up Lost in Cyburbia, "a peculiar no man’s land, populated by people who don’t really know each other, gossiping, having illicit encounters and endlessly twitching their curtains."

But wait to hear Jaron Lanier, in his new book You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, he argues that our cybermania is turning us into autobots programmed with a love of totalitarianism.

All this discussion comes after Carr, in his article, argued that the ease of online searching and distractions of browsing through the web were possibly limiting his capacity to concentrate. Remember though, that cited authors grew up in a different year than the Gen X. You probably saw a kid performing different activities at the same time and you are not able to understand how he manages to do that. This is happening in most families without parent realizing it. How do they get going with cell phone, iPod, TV, laptop and homework, all at the same time?

I would like to agree with Lanier and Carr but until I see definite research, I will resist to think that multitasking is making us - or our children, stupid. Until now what we have is the expert opinion and surveys.

This approach takes me to the old dilemma: what was first the egg or the hen. Google and the Internet are the medium and both can make us stupid and intelligent at the same time. I support what Marcel Bullinga, a Dutch Futurist at believes: In the future, we will live in a transparent 3D mobile media cloud that surrounds us everywhere. In this cloud, we will use intelligent machines, to whom we delegate both simple and complex tasks. Therefore, we will lose the skills we needed in the old days (e.g., reading paper maps while driving a car). But we will gain the skill to make better choices (e.g., knowing to choose the mortgage that is best for you instead of best for the bank). All in all, I think the gains outweigh the losses."

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