pseudobbs

Just another version of Shawn Dobbs

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Time for the classroom to catch up with technology

image courtesy Google images

In today’s high tech world it can be intimidating stepping out into the job market.  Employers regularly use social media and online resources to find qualified candidates to fill positions, and applicants need to be increasingly tech-savvy.  It is the job of educators to prepare our students for this environment, and our job to hold them accountable.

 

Our public schools largely missed the boat when it came to computers.  Computers were pushed to the back burner in high schools and used as a database and a word processor rather than the multi-media learning tool that they had the potential to become.  We are at risk of doing the same thing with tablets.

 

The smartphone market has exploded, and phones have transformed from communication devices into portable personal assistants.  They do everything for us, from tracking calories to managing schedules to sending emails.  Many can’t imagine life before smart phones.  Now tablets are ready to revolutionize the market once again, and it is important that our classrooms move at the same speed as the real world.

 

The time is long past due for tablets in the classroom.  Imagine the opportunities for an immersive learning experience.  Instead of reading “I Have a Dream” students could watch the speech.  Rather than learning about Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats, students could listen to one.  Students learning music could read sheet music and listen to the song being played simultaneously.  Students would have a textbook, dictionary, and thesaurus with them at all times.  In gym class students would be able to track calories burned and have video instruction for weightlifting and exercises. The cost of textbooks and materials would be drastically reduced.

 

Students in India are given the Aakash tablet for a mere $40.  Although the Aakash is certainly no iPad, it is very functional, and the concept is one that should be applied in the US.  The United States has already begun lagging behind other industrialized countries in terms of education, and the fault partly rests with our insistence on going into the 21st century with a 19th century teaching model.

 

Some classrooms have embraced the “flipped” classroom approach, in which students watch tutorials and learn concepts at home and then come to school to practice and hone their skills.  The students log into an education program that gives them sample problems to work through and allows the teacher to track their progress and identify which students are having problems in which areas.  This allows for the teacher to then work with those students individually while the rest of the class continues to learn.  This approach gives struggling students the individual attention they need, and does not hold back students who work at a faster pace.  These programs provide much needed flexibility and individual specialization.  One such program, Khan Academy (a very interesting overview found here), has a free version optimized for the iPad.

 

The possibilities for enhanced learning techniques on tablets are endless, and it is the responsibility of our citizenry to engage in a competitive approach to learning that utilizes the best methods.

New iPad a Letdown

ImageWednesday was Apple’s first product launch since Steve Jobs’ passing, so there was understandably a lot riding on it.  Unfortunately for Apple fans, and the for the company, the new iPad (don’t-call-me-3) was quite a disappointment.

Aside from boasting a new screen resolution 2048×1536 (basically the same resolution as the ASUS Transformer 700 series and a few other high-end Android tabs) and an improved GPU, there’s not much to talk about.  It’s using an updated version of the same old dual-core processor, which has yet to show any performance advantages to Android’s Tegra 3 quad-core chip, or even the Snapdragon S4 dual core chip, despite Apple’s claims.

Apple has finally brought a couple of features to the table that really should have been on the iPad 2 already, so at least they are catching up to the present.  They’ve added 4G connectivity and an updated camera, although the camera is still just a 5mp shooter.

So is it worth another $600 for an iPad 2 with a better display?  Maybe to loyal fanboys, but not to the average consumer.  To be realistic, the iPad 2 already sports 720p video recording and 1080p playback.  This is more than enough for the average user.  The only real advantage to the new iPad is the 4G connectivity which, as usual, does not require a new 2 year contract.  That’s a very nice feature.  The rest, however, leaves quite a bit to be desired.  If Apple can’t deliver on a stellar new product every year, then maybe they shouldn’t release a new product every year.  Or at least don’t price it like it’s a new product when it’s just the same old thing with a couple tweaks.

Restore Omaha

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

On Saturday I was lucky enough to attend the Restore Omaha conference as a volunteer and cover the events and speakers.  Restore Omaha is an annual conference centered on restoring older and historical homes, promoting green energy alternatives, and implementing energy efficient renovations to existing homes.

It was an educational experience, to say the least.  The opening address was given by Arnie Breslow, who recently restored the Cornish residence on 10th and William Street in Omaha.  He detailed how, over the last 13 years, he dedicated his weekends and holidays to restoring the French Second Empire-style house, built in 1886.  The Cornish house is just one of several houses that Breslow has restored in the Omaha area.

After the first session was a lunch break followed by the keynote address from Patricia Gay, Executive Director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans.  Gay highlighted several similarities, as well as a few differences, between New Orleans and Omaha and their respective preservation and restoration efforts.  She spend a great deal of time focused on federal and state legislation that can aid restoration projects, and how restoration projects can help stem problems of urban blight and actually be a financial boon to a city.

Before and after the keynote address were dozens of mini “breakout sessions,” dealing with a more specific topic related to classic homes and homeownership.  I attended classes on electric safety given by a local contractor, Tom Taylor.  I saw a history of the “modernist” movement in architecture, given by Paula Mohr of the Iowa State Preservation Office, and ended the day with a sneak peak of the newly improved reEnergize program, a collaborative effort between Omaha and Lincoln to improve energy efficiency in old homes.

In between there were plenty of opportunities to meet local merchants and enthusiasts, and lots of networking opportunities.  I happened to meet the son of a UNO alumni who ran the UNO Gateway for many years, and a number of other interesting people.

I spent over seven hours at the convention and it flew by.  I look forward to it next year, and encourage anyone who plans on owning a home or currently owns a home to attend as well.

“I Inherited this Mess”

When attempting to make a case for why the public should even consider reelecting a man who has failed to keep nearly every promise he made prior to swindling- I mean, winning- office (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/rulings/promise-broken/) there is one fallback that the President would most certainly not use this time around, although it would actually be the truth.

“We inherited this economic mess.”  (Or one of a million versions of that statement oft repeated)

We’ve heard this line before, of course.  It has been used by Team Obama for four years to explain why his administration can’t seem to do anything with the economy (or anything else).  In fact, this line has been repeated so often the mainstream media has taken it as fact, and seems to have completely forgotten about that pesky little housing bubble that was the catalyst for it all.  No, now it was all George Bush and the GOP that caused the recession.  Never mind that subprime mortgage practices were introduced and encouraged by President Carter’s “Community Reinvestment Act” over 30 years ago (http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/09/28/franks_fingerprints_are_all_over_the_financial_fiasco/).

The Clinton administration and Andrew Cuomo (Director of FHA at the time) only exacerbated this problem (http://www.openmarket.org/2008/09/16/clinton-pressure-to-promote-affordable-housing-led-to-mortgage-meltdown/).  Weak attempts were made during the Bush administration to reform lending standards as well as Fannie and Freddy, but these were half-hearted attempts at best.

But to rely on actual facts would mean that nothing was inherited from the previous administration, and someone in this administration would have to assume responsibility.  Perhaps the President?  Not a chance. Ms. Clinton?  Not likely.  Maybe the first lady?  It would seem not.  Eric Holder?  Nope.  Nancy Pelosi?  Harry Reid?  Any Democrat in Congress?  No, no, and no.

Lucky for Obama, come November this year, the previous administration will be his own, and then he can accurately blame “the previous administration” all he wants.  It might just be the first time I would take this President at his word.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: