Using technology effectively? Earth Observation Course; Tidy Neanderthals; Colonial News Online; Affordable Dental Care

johnhunter

Two Related Educational Issues

Thirty years ago I participated in several initiatives aimed at infusing computers into educational instruction in general and measuring the computer's effects on student writing in particular.The effect on student writing was the easier of the two efforts to analyze. Because of the ease of correction, students did indeed write more than students who used typewriters. All we had to do was check the word count. The infusion part became more problematic since teachers then seemed incapable of viewing technology as different from the current tools such as calculators and typewriters. It seems that little has changed in thirty years as educators struggle to effectively tap the potential computers bring to classroom instruction.

A recent post on Education Week reveals that today's teachers still 'struggle to use tech to transform instruction.'  http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/06/09/teachers-still-struggling-to-use-tech-to.htm. Even though teachers routinely use email, Google, and other research tools, the technology still takes a subservient role in instruction that uses 19th Century methodology. The hard part seems to stick on teachers' inability to view instruction differently through the use of technology. This and a lack of consistent professional training in technology use for teachers doesn't make instructional breakthroughs easier.

Math courses seem an obvious vehicle for technology use. In fact, thirty years ago, most high schools offered at least one or two code writing courses as math electives. It appears that math courses such as statistics could integrate computer use quite easily. But, according to various studies, less than one quarter of high school seniors have taken statistics courses even though 3/4 of high school students attend schools that offer the courses. Why do students stay away from statistics courses in droves? Good question. Is the answer the internet? Currently, the Census Bureau provides numerical charts that students may use to learn statistics. To access this numbers treasure trove, click on  http://www.census.gov/schools/facts/new%20york.   To find out more about math studies, click on  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2016/09/1_in_4_high_school_seniors_take_statistics.html  Low income students are even less likely to take these courses that are students from affluent families. This constitutes an equity problem for educators as well as the negative STEM implications.

ESA Offers Free Earth Observation Course

Budding astronomers or science geeks may now take a free online course offered by the European Space Agency that provides an introduction to optical Earth observation which uses satellites with camera imagining in various wave lengths and lidar. The course teaches students how satellite data is acquired, and how it is used as well as offering the range of available data and the terminology and technology involved in using it. Free is good. To learn more about this opportunity, click on  https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/optical-earth-observation.

More Neanderthal Fun Facts

According to research conducted in Spain, scientists believe that Neanderthals lived more like us than was earlier believed. Hot water, separate bedroom areas and tidy housekeeping all appear to be the norm if evidence in the Catalan cave proves accurate.   To learn more about our early ancestors, surf over to  http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-evolution-human-origins/discoveries-spanish-cave-suggest-neanderthals-had-hot-water-020505. Old assumptions about our past seem to fall aside on a weekly basis.

History Buffs May Now Read Colonial Newspapers Online

Digital versions of Colonial newspapers are now accessible online at the Library of Congress. These primary sources allow students of all ages to read eyewitness accounts of President Washington's inauguration, for example. Not only will students be able to read reports written centuries ago, but students will see also how the English language has evolved over time. Sometimes I wish I were back in the classroom again- this is exciting stuff. To learn more about this resource, click on  http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/. and follow the prompts. Specific details of this program are available at  http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2016/16-145.html?loclr=ealn.

A Tool Parents May Use to Find Affordable Dental Care

The website  www.insurekidsnow.gov  recently posted a service that allows parents to locate a dental services   for their kids that are covered by many public health insurance policies. Visit  https://www.insurekidsnow.gov/state/find-a-dentist/index.html  and access an interactive site that locates participating dentists in every state. The site uses drop down menus to focus the investigation on State, Insurance coverage, Distance and Zp code. Children with dental problems do not learn as well as students whose oral health is fine.  And so it goes.