Monday, February 17, 2014

The Illiterate of the 21st Century

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."-Alvin Toffler 

According to the definition of illiterate, the word refers to a person who cannot read or write. However, I wonder if this definition is restrictive in the sense that it only refers to books. Now here is the question that I want to ask: can someone be illiterate in any other way other than just books? The answer is, yes!

Now we've all seen an older person who types with their face about an inch away from the screen and occasionally types at approximately 1 mph. Or the person who sees an IPad and uses all five fingers to navigate. And the examples go on and on. I would label all these people computer illiterate, or better yet technology illiterate. However, who does the blame lie upon, these people or the type of education that they experienced who failed to integrate them and equip them with the skills needed to survive this society's advancement? I can't imagine how much pain someone goes through when they can't use a certain type of technology. To feel left out, and left on your own to figure things out. But we can't point the finger at them. The level of blame is too intricate and too deep. 

When I came across the quote at the top, a seed of hope was planted in me. Even though there will be a lot of time invested in catching these types of people up (technology illiterate people that is) with current trends, there is still a piece of hope. A hope to revive them into society. A hope to learn something new, while unlearning a habit of not trying. A hope to relearn something you should have known, and have the right to know as a citizen of a global world. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How young is too young?

How young is too young? Well the answer depends on what we're exactly referring to. With respect to technology, well that answer depends on how young we're talking. Now that answer doesn't seem certain at all. According to an article in the Washington Post titled 2- to 4-year-olds are most frequent users of educational media, study finds, we may be talking as young as 2 to 4 years old. Now here's the fun part of the answer. These 2 to 4 year olds are actually the "most frequent users of educational technology". Interestingly enough, since this age group is likely to be home with their parents, the study mentions how suddenly there is a boom in the educational technology world to reach out and market to these children. As a result of these promotions, the companies say this is all for the good of our children and their minds.

In the beginning, I thought this was absurd. Initially, the only thought that kept running through my mind was "How could we expose our babies at such an early age to technology???" However, as I read on, I thought maybe this whole "starting technology at a young age" isn't so bad. Here's why. Well the sooner these children learn to navigate the various tools that exist the better. Also there is an educational benefit. While we adults may use technology to socialize and "waste time" these children may be making critical connections and learning profoundly. As an Early Childhood Family Education advocate, we have to recognize that it is between the age of birth to five that these children learn the most. So I guess the need to reach out to children under five isn't crazy at all. In fact, I believe this may be the only time in their lives that children watch and engage with nothing else but educational tools. According to the same article, as children age, the less time they spend watching and engaging with educational shows. Therefore, here is our route to creating skilled but smart and engaged children. I guess the saying "you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover" is something I would insert here as a lesson learned.

In case all of this didn't make sense, think of Sesame Street. An educational show that teaches children all types of lessons from numbers, letters, to even how to eat healthy. Now if our children are able to learn the most at this age period, imagine how advanced our children could become by the time they reach school. I believe this marketing could really help us in becoming stronger in areas of Math and Science. 

Here's the article I was referring to, Please feel free to take a look. It's very interesting! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Road to Self-Sufficiency is Thataway!

There is an evolution going on, an evolution of technology in the educational field. It's perhaps safe to say that we are moving from using papers and pencils to just using our own fingertips to navigate and learn. Although this change is happening almost miraculously and quickly, there is a few road bumps ahead. Of course this is bound to happen whenever change happens. According to the article Fear of technology may hold back change in education, says Lord Puttnam, the road bump isn't even the technology itself, but in fact the teachers involved in this evolution. Unfortunately due to the fears of the teacher, the evolution is being dragged out and is not happening as quickly. These changes are slowing down the progress of our evolution. However, it is not that the teachers necessarily fear change; the intimidation may just be due to fear of being replaced. 

If teachers fear that they will be replaced, I believe that this is true. Teachers will be replaced. However, this picture is not completely accurate. Teachers have to know that they will be replaced by something that will peak the interest of our students today. No one wants to hear voices anymore (i.e. being lectured at throughout the whole day). These students want to just stare at a screen and I hate to say this but learn on their own. They want to figure out how things work on their own, and that is remarkable. Not only are these students teaching themselves but also they are discovering their independence.

I have surely witnessed this happening right before my eyes. In my current work, students in the classes that I work in use IPads to learn math. As I make my way down the rows to see the efforts of each child, I notice something each and every time. Here is the cool fact, the math program that the student’s use does not give them directions at all. They have to kind of figure things out as they advance in the levels and see how things work. I had one child raise his hand and ask me for help. Since this whole program was new to me, I tried helping, but that didn't go as great as I expected. The child decided to just ignore me and went on to figure it out on his own. A part of me felt sad that I could not help, but the other part of me was extremely ecstatic that the child knew how to go on if the teacher did not know how to help. We are raising children who are self-sufficient in technology. Now, that's the evolution of education. 

While our teachers may be stumping the change from happening smoothly, there is a huge benefit here anyway, and that is teachers who fear they may not know enough and children who do know enough are both essentially learning together and the struggle is something that will be noted in history. 

Here is the article that I mentioned in the beginning, please take a look, it's very interesting!

Monday, January 27, 2014

30 Years young, yet so accomplished!

Happy 30th Birthday Macintosh! Wow, what an achievement. In just thirty years, Macintosh has not only just branded and distinguished its name in the world, but has essentially entered numerous households across the world. Known for it's glowing Apple logo, the Macintosh has even made it into the realm of education. Although I boldly stated that my MacBook Pro was the first system of Macintosh that entered my life, it just dawned on me now that in fact, a different type of Macintosh played a big role in my learning as early as the fourth grade.

While the Mac was in my life pretty early, how could that memory be so lost? Especially, now that I love using this system? It's still a wonder as to how my love for the PC developed. Perhaps it was just my love for comfort. With the Mac I am able to think outside the box and be amazed by the ways this system is accommodating to a somewhat "new" user.  I am able to be creative in my own quirky way. 

As I rediscover my love of freedom to create, the question that I am essentially trying to answer is how did I go years without such a system like the Mac? From musicians to designers, and from the business world to the field of education, the Mac allows for creativity in every way possible. If the world knows this, how can one go long without this creative medium? In fact, how can students be concealed from this information?  One theory I concluded was that unlike my later years in middle school and high school, my elementary school was a Fine Arts school that allowed students to explore their potential in the Arts. That explains a lot.

I could go on and on about how unfair it is for schools to implement and teach their curriculum with such a system as the Mac, because that would just highlight the economic problem that exist. The main important thing to focus on is what the Mac allows you to do even well into your adulthood. As a current graduate student, I can't seem to brag enough about having a Mac. Now wouldn't it be better for students to start their early education with a Mac?  

For the students that are so fortunate, and for the schools that are thoughtful, I applaud your experience with such a medium, because your students will feel free and not restricted. Your student's will be apart of history in the advancement of technology. 30 years in the game of technology, and yet so accomplished. Once again, Happy Birthday Mac!

I watched a video on Youtube about the accomplishments Mac has made in technology, and a few quotes stood out. Feel free to watch what I thought was an advancement in creativity. 30 years of pure genius.

"It inspired people to think what is possible, and that made people do better work."

"The future of creation is bringing people together and ideas together."

"Nobody had any idea 30 years ago what the world was going to be like, or how these tools would be used. They are interesting, precisely, because you don't know how they are going to be used tomorrow. And that is the beauty of Macintosh."

I can't wait to see what else is in store for the Mac, but better yet, I can't wait to be a part of this movement. 

Forever a Mac user.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

First Beginnings...

Taking the first step is crucial in anything you do in life. Without hesitating to take that first step you are more likely to be stuck and left behind. Sometimes so left behind, it's hard to even know where to start again. So now you're stuck. But somehow, there's a voice in your head, nagging you to NOT stop, and because of that you can't accept the way things are going. This first step is my introduction to the world of technology.

The world of technology could be black and white to those who think of technology as a box. To put technology in a box would mean that you just define technology as just a phone, a T.V., a computer, an iPod, without really considering anything else. This could be dangerous. When you define things as such, one is likely to be stuck in the mud, and sink deeper and deeper. In the world of technology, there is a quick pace of doing things. Every day, or what seems like everyday, a new gadgets is introduced.  In the blink of an eye, one could be introduced to five different gadgets, and unfortunately only a few of those gadgets will continue to impact that person and so many in this world.

As a student, I remember learning with a good ol’ pencil and a good ol’ notebook. I guess that time sounds like ancient history to everyone younger than me. Student’s learning experience today looks completely different. I distinctly remember my time at the University of Minnesota, where students were handed iPads to help boost their learning. I guess that’s what you call being prepared for students who are impacted by the fast changing world of technology. It’s as if the U clearly understood that the incoming freshmen would be better off equipped with technology. I call that preparing and providing these students with a skill of the future. Since many jobs today require technology as a great part of the job, what a better way to integrate these students into the world of technology by giving them a powerful tool.

This reminds me of the infamous proverb  “You give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” To emphasize and connect this proverb with the learning of students today, we must acknowledge that providing the tools to navigate the world of technology is more important than just introducing technology to students.

As an enthusiastic educator, who has a passion to teach and learn, I must promise to always take a first step. So here are my promises to my future students. I promise to learn as much of what I think will benefit you. I promise to help you learn through a medium that will make you feel more engaged. I promise to enhance your learning through technology, even if that means I have to specifically dig around to find your match. I promise to always take the first step in making you a better learner. Now here is my first step. Wish me the best!