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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School Structure: Don't Blame the Others, Blame Yourself

If you are a teacher, you may have heard countless times that the previous level teachers are responsible for ensuring that you have now, in your class, unprepared students. Well, that's what Tom Whitby discussed in his blog today.

According to my curriculum classes, that's what is known as fracture of the education system. The fact that each level try to exist separately and nobody is responsible for interrelations with others, is really an issue.

It is a complex state of the education. But I think every teacher should begin by looking for its role in the educational system and not just in their own educational level or class. This is what we need to do, according to our appreciated Whitby:

    We need to discuss more about what we expect and what we need from teachers of other grade levels. It would also be great if we could all spend a day in the shoes of an educator on another grade level. We need to understand where our students came from in order to take them forward. We cannot be drawn into this teacher against teacher battle that is being stoked by politicians. Sharing and collaborating amongst educators is much more positive than the alternatives. Those who close themselves off and engage in empire building hurt all educators. We need to consider the whole picture in education for our students. We need to be educators first and not grade level labeled. We need to enter kid’s lives as a team, not have kids meet us as separate entities. I know this is the ideal, but shooting for higher goals beats where we many view us today. Again, this post was not directed at you but all those other educators who fall into this description.

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Why Do We Need More Face to Face Communication

The fact we cannot see the face of the other person while we interact using social media and tools like Facebook or Twitter, it can be contributing to "more senseless violence in the world." Why? Because "We don’t know how to interact with each other," writes in a interesting article, Ray Ebersole.

    We need to talk to each other, we need more face to face communication. We need to teach our children how to communicate with others as people with emotions. Because of social media and email we talk to others the same way we write an email or the way we tweet, without others feelings in mind. Do a quick practical test yourself.

    Look around as you walk or are working, how many people have their cell phones out checking email, tweeting, texting? They aren’t looking at the people around them, they are transfixed on a gadget, an inanimate object. Now, look at your Facebook and Twitter account, how many “friends” or followers do you have? Do you really have 1,463 friends? Do you really have thousands of “Followers” that you really know?

I have been writing about education and good uses of technology in the classroom for quite a while. I have been doing it both in English and Spanish, and what I"ve noticed is most people nowadays is embedded in technology wherever I go. This means I have to agree with the author in the mentioned article, "There are a lot of great things that technology and social media can do for us, but we need to use them in moderation or we are going to become exactly like the movie WALL-E."

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Are Teachers Being Overpaid? That's a Falllacy

Now that almost everyone, even those without enough authority and knowledge, speak and write about education reform, it is healthy to read a favorable, well written article in the New York Times. Nicholas D. Kristof makes a case for American educators, something many are afraid to shout in these precise days. Teachers, here and worldwide are underpaid whether we consider the standards comparative to others careers.

I'll invite to read the article in its entirety, but to me the most powerful paragraph is this one: "You might get the impression that we’re going bust because teachers are overpaid."

That’s a pernicious fallacy. A basic educational challenge is not that teachers are raking it in, but that they are underpaid. If we want to compete with other countries, and chip away at poverty across America, then we need to pay teachers more so as to attract better people into the profession.

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Education & Tech: News for Educators 03/17/2011

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The Stinky Methods of the "Online Dregree Schools"

I used to receive requests to write a guest post about whatever I picked. The condition, I should provide a link back as it was. Of course that link read, accredited online schools or any variation of the last two words. You still can find those post under guestpost category.

Stephen Downes, who I respect and read on a daily basis, has pointed more than once, his doubts about lists of education blogs. But he's not alone, Dan Meyer posted today a very descriptive article about the wide spread "Top 100 Blogs" lists.

What Meyer is doing is call our attention to the messy business of linking, tweeting and re-posting articles coming from this type of lists. The problem is, many innocent ---no bloggers, but aspiring college students--- people goes straight to Google and look for resources about education online. And there is the catch. These lists get to the top the results in Google, thanks to our links, the set of all links gotten from many different blogs.

Stop being a predator, writes dy/dan. If you are really serious about education do yourself a favor and don't you ever link back to those lists, sites or e-mail requests. When you reply to them, I'll suggest you include these lines: "No. You're a liar. You made that list so you could take money from people who don't need more predators in their lives."

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Cooney Center: "The new digitial media habits of young children"

Sesame Workshop and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center released a report about children social media habits. The mission of Cooney Center is to foster innovation in children's learning through digital media.

On the preface of this report Claudia Wallis is cited to conclude, "New technology sometimes brings change that is so swift and sweeping, that the implications are hard to grasp." And that's precisely what Aviva Lucas Gutnick, Michael Robb, Lori Takeuchi and Jennifer Kotler try to explain:

    Today’s parents, academics, policymakers and practitioners are scrambling to keep up with the rapid expansion of media use by children and youth for ever-larger portions of their waking hours. This report takes a fresh look at data emerging from studies undertaken by Sesame Workshop, independent scholars, foundations, and market researchers on the media habits of young children, who are often overlooked in the public discourse that focuses on tweens and tweens. The report reviews seven recent studies about young children and their ownership and use of media. By focusing on very young children and analyzing multiple studies over time, the report arrives at a new, balanced portrait of children’s media habits.

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Education & Tech: News for Educators 03/13/2011

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Teachers Still Need Afterall - Decalogue!

While some are focused on the education reform, and the entire rant around it, others strive to make advances in elearning. Heidi Siwak at 21 Century Classroom blog, explains why despite the fact that online education advocates believe, teachers are still not only interesting but necessary.

What is the new teacher's role?

    My job is to teach thinking.

    My job is to help them learn to think critically about the information they are encountering.

    My job is to teach them to check the credentials of media producers to determine the validity of the information they are viewing.

    My job is to help them recognize the impact and consequences of decisions in this rapidly changing world.

    My job is to help them articulate ideas fluently so they can be effective participants in this global conversation.

    My job is to help them learn to use modern forms of communication - search engines, databases, blogs, videos, webpages, social media, Web 2.0 and the rapidly evolving 3.0.

    My job is to ask probing questions that require them to think deeply about important ideas and develop a personal critical stance.

    My job is to help them recognize bias, to see how social media is structured to promote certain behaviours, to recognize when and how they are being manipulated.

    My job is to ensure that they have a strong foundation in math, science and technology as these skills are fundamental to our evolving world.

    My job is to help them develop strategies for learning.

    My job is to provide them with opportunities to explore ideas through the arts in order to create meaning and understanding.

    My job is to provide them with opportunities to develop collaborative skills.

    My job is to help them understand that even at the age of 10, when they are online they are building a public profile.

    My job is to encourage flexibility, creativity, resourcefulness and self-direction so that can they can continually adapt to a rapidly changing world.

    My job is to provide my students with real-world opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the development of our global society.

    My job is still to call home when the work is not being done, to identify students who are struggling and provide them with support and to collect money for field trips and pizza days.

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Are Video Games Creating Violent Students? A Gamer's Take

Guest post written by Bradley Ramirez, an eighth grader at William F. Halloran School.

Do violent video games affect the mind of a child, yes or no? This question has been given a lot to think about with two sides. Some believe that that these games affect the mind of children in immense ways, others believe it’s just in their heads. The Anti-gamers have studied the effects of these games for thirty years or so now with some evidence. The Pro-gamers have also made some very good argument themselves. With both sides going at each other it has become somewhat confusing to pick a side for children and parents alike.

The Anti-gamers have dug up some good evidence over the past couple of years making everyone think, Wow, could this possibly come to an end, violent games are actually bad? However that just wasn’t enough. Their research showed that, “Repeated exposure to violent video games causes desensitization which then leads to increased aggressive behavior.” Also as the TechAddiction site mentioned and I quote, “Boys who are naturally aggressive are attracted to violent video games. Lower educated boys play more violent video games than higher educated boys. The question of whether violent video games lead to violence in children was left open due to the correlation nature of the studies.” Also, some of the more understandable reasons are that games in general affect the mind of a child. Not to mention that there is a chance of addiction which would most likely cause a problem with violent game and of course addiction.

“I think that if someone plays a video game, and then goes out and harms another human being, or themselves because of what they just saw in the video game, they were screwed up in the head long before they got their hands on a controller,” said Tim Buckley in a interview to GameCore. This would probably be some most Pro-gamers, like I would agree on. Since I’m a gamer at the age of thirteen (playing since I was around three or four years old.) I would believe I have some experience in the field of gaming and how it affects my mind.

A doctor might be able to tell what is going on inside, but what I can tell you is about the outside. As a younger child I would imitate almost anything, including my video game of Spider Man. Now, this game had some violence with hitting and punching, but was I going to be an aggressive person because of it? I have come to the conclusion that no, it wouldn’t make me violent. But because I was at such a young age I imitated everything not knowing the difference. Now that I am older I can tell the difference between right and wrong. The label on the game isn’t just there for decoration but to prevent such things like violent activity. If a parent believes that a child is not suitable for a game don’t get it! Then some parents will go off in a tangent blaming video games, when in reality, who bought that game for the child? The easiest targets would be the children of a younger age who can’t tell the real difference between right and wrong, reality or gaming world. The cited research that has been done also states that, "Boys aged 12-14 did not believe that they experienced any negative effects of violent video games, but believed that younger children might imitate violent games. They did not believe that video games cause violence.” Although I will not deny, or any Pro-gamer for that matter, that violent video games can affect everyone not just children.

In conclusion I hope that you may be able to pick a side with valid reasoning. Whether it’s the Pro-gamer side or the Anti-gamer side. This article was not created to influence any or either side but to inform and show everyone just what each side is talking about. Although I might be thirteen I do know quite a bit on this subject and believe that one day someone will come up with the evidence that shows which side is correct.

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Officials: Please, Cross the Teachers Off Your Lists!

Last night, before I went to sleep, I was listening to Larry Mendt. His comments made me feel like writing about the budget cuts states are required to undertake to consolidate their budgets.

But just as the PIX 11's journalist said, the list for budget cuts is wide and according to his believe, he put the teachers at the end of the list. To immediately remove them from that list.

A survey from the NYT/CBS said that Americans do not support a cut in benefits for workers such as is planned in Wisconsin. That is the measure of what people most need in the U.S. Not the rich ones.

Teachers defend themselves. And the issue of budget setting is not new, and should have been solved a long time ago. The problem got complex when Wall Street plunged and the government instead of increasing teacher pay, had to "spend money" to help a very few irresponsible CEOs.

The average salary of a teacher is only 55K and it is not a burden when you consider that each teacher serves at least a hundred students (customers to speak their language) every day. Does not take much math to understand ratios.

Unfortunately, as some say, on the skinny dog fleas will stick. And that just happens to workers in general, and the police and teachers in particular. Why not cut the number of hours for all state representatives at national level?

And more than that, I doubt lawmakers work best when they are 500, than when they are only 60 to 100 to discuss law. Does anyone of you have ever heard of job cuts in the Senate or House? Never. They are indispensable.

Well, let me tell you that teachers are an indispensable asset, too. And if they do not stop cutting positions in the Boards nationwide, the persons who will pay the price are not us, but our growing families and of course the next generation.

Educators earn little and the outcome are so much(not to say that they work hard, because some might feel the inconvenience).

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How Is Google Algorithmically Combating Farm Content.

If you have a site, then you might be still anxious to know how the new algorithm Google deployed last weeks --- in order to clean the web, is really working. Well, think no more, Google search engineers, Amit Singhal, search-quality guru and Matt Cutts, Google’s top search-spam fighter give insights as to what the algorithm is meant to:

    Cutts: I think you look for signals that recreate that same intuition, that same experience that you have as an engineer and that users have. Whenever we look at the most blocked sites, it did match our intuition and experience, but the key is, you also have your experience of the sorts of sites that are going to be adding value for users versus not adding value for users. And we actually came up with a classifier to say, okay, IRS or Wikipedia or New York Times is over on this side, and the low-quality sites are over on this side. And you can really see mathematical reasons …

    Singhal: You can imagine in a hyperspace a bunch of points, some points are red, some points are green, and in others there’s some mixture. Your job is to find a plane which says that most things on this side of the place are red, and most of the things on that side of the plane are the opposite of red.

What has been your experiences? Is your page being effected in any way by Google's algorithm update?

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Education & Tech: News for Educators 03/03/2011

The rest of my favorite links are here.

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