While the advent of widespread technology has left huge footprints in the education world, there are a number of ways it can be utilized that haven’t yet been implemented in most school. In fact, many of the recreational websites and services used everyday can be turned to education.
Take Tumblr for example. This micro-blogging service has been around since February 2007, and, according to their website:
“Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, email or wherever you happen to be.”
This can also function as a neat way to save, organize, and share notes and research for school, especially since for upper grades and college, computers are gaining ground on traditional notepads. Teachers can use it to host resources and to post class syllabi, as well.
Another great organizational tool that can be used for schools is Trello. Trello lets you track the details of anything a group is working on. It includes notes, lets you move things to different people, lets you watch deadlines – and it’s all free. The website describes it as a “whiteboard with superpowers.” This could be great for teacher to organize a whole classroom, or for students working together on a group project.
Scribblar is a multi-user online whiteboard. It lets you chat with group-members while revising images or outlines.
Wallwisher is a free website where you can post online notices – due dates, test schedules, assignments, and more. It also lets you share sites, have discussions, ask questions and get answers, and generally share or collaborate on a number of projects.
Another of my favorite tech-based learning tools is actually from a very popular video game: Portal. Teaching with Portals is a website they built in response to teacher demand. The game Portal lets you play with physics in some very specific ways to complete challenges. The website includes free lesson plans for teachers to take advantage of, as well as a teachers-forum to share information, ideas, and feedback.
One in five adults in the US doesn’t use the internet. (I assume this means with any frequency. It would be almost impossible to never use the internet today.) Of those individuals, roughly half of them don’t bother going online because they believe that the internet doesn’t have anything relevant to offer them. They get their information through the TV or newspaper, they make phone calls to keep up with friends and family, they shop in local stores, and they presumably do research only in books.
Other reasons to not use the internet include cost – computers are too expensive – or difficulty.
As you may have guessed, most of these people are older. Almost 60% of US seniors don’t go online. Likewise, about 60% of adults who did not complete high school don’t use the internet. Non-internet users also tend to have lower incomes. Interestingly, ethnicity doesn’t have much to do with it. I say interestingly, because we often see race and socio-economic discussed in studies as being extremely highly correlated. Even more interesting, growth in high-speed/broadband internet adoption is significantly higher among African Americans. They are more likely to be switching to broadband than other groups at this time, though other groups may have a higher percentage who already have broadband.
Mobile phones are making an impact on this number as well. With the internet in a $50 smart phone in yoru pocket, the barriers to internet access dwindle.
My grandfather, until recently, had dial-up. While he did use the internet, it was generally only for checking email or stocks, and not frequently. Now, he has a smart phone and accesses and browses the web daily. Perhaps the most shocking part of this study – for me – was that a good portion of the non-internet-using adult population in the US has never been online. This might explain why they believe it is irrelevant to them. They literally don’t know what they are missing in terms of resources offered.
Society is continuing its shift towards the digital. A recent study in the UK shows that people do more texting than talking on phones. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18873041 “While 58% of people communicated via texts on a daily basis in 2011, only 47% made a daily mobile call, said the country’s communications industry regulator.”
This is only a little surprising to me. I certainly text more than I talk on the phone, by a good margin. I will use a phone call if I am busy or need a quick response from someone, but it is usually more convenient to text. By texting, I am imposing less upon the recipient’s time – they can respond when convenient. It takes less of my time, as I don’t feel the need to make small talk, or ask the polite questions (How are you? How’s the weather? This is Minnesota, after all). I also find it more private that speaking on the phone in public. In fact, two of my biggest pet peeves are related to this: Women making phone calls in public restrooms when they are not the only occupant and individuals who make mobile calls, on speaker phone, in public places, such as the store or bus.
This weekend, I heard my grandmother express a similar sentiment regarding texting – it is more convenient, quicker, for when she just needs a short response or is multitasking. When I was in high school, most kids had cell phones. Now, most kids’ parents have cell phones, and grandparents are more and more likely to own a mobile device. I have also seen a strong shift towards smart phones and texting by those over 40, rather than voice-focused cells.
While technology is becoming more and more widely used, there are still a number of Americans that have no access to or choose not to use the internet. I found that pretty interesting. I go to the internet for so many things, recipes, social networking, news, and more, not to mention work and research.
A number of our previous posts focused on the benefits of good computer and work space ergonomics. Ergonomics refers to “the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements and its cognitive abilities.” It is widely accepted that improved ergonomics can help raise and sustain productivity in the workplace and educational settings. This can include positioning of desk, computer, and keyboard. It can take the form of particular adaptive items, like the Chester Mouse, which fits smaller or weaker hands more easily than a standard sized mouse. One of the most basic applications of ergonomics deals with posture. Looking at this diagram from St. Kilda Road Chiropractic, check yourself for good computer posture.
Good posture not only improves your productivity, it should also make you feel better in the long run, even if a certain stance may feel awkward at first.
As you know, Chester Creek takes its name from a local waterway. Duluth is a strong part of our identity as a company, and is even represented in our logo. Last week, Duluth experienced its largest and most damaging floods in over a century. As a city on a hill in the northern half of the northern-most state in the 48 contiguous states, Duluth is prepared for many eventualities, including hail, blizzards, ice storms, and even the occasional landslide. And of course, we are prepared for the rigors of constant road construction and repair. However, floods have never been part of the occasion here. And a flood of this magnitude was – until recently – unimaginable. Chester Creek itself flooded in a very impressive fashion. Here are a few photos from the 2012 flood:
National Safety Month continues into the third and fourth weeks of June. The third week is dedicated to the theme of “preventing slips, trips, and falls.” While important for all of us, this theme is perhaps particularly notable for senior citizens.
Falls can be the result of clumsiness or lack of care, but they can also be caused by physical surroundings, obstacles, and health conditions. Common environmental hazards can include clutter on the floor or stairs, lack of handrails, spills, and poor lighting. Often, more than one of these things can combine to “trip up” someone who would otherwise rarely fall. Besides just maintaining a clear walking area in home and work, older adults can take extra precautions. Staying active can improve strength and balance, reducing the risk of a fall. Checking on your medicines and vision can also help prevent falls. Additional steps can be taken to remove tripping hazards or add extra non-slip strips or mats and hand rails. See this fact sheet for more detailed information.
http://www.nsc.org/nsc_events/Nat_Safe_Month/Documents/2012_Falls_Preventionpublic.pdfThe month wraps up with Diving Safety week. More Americans die in car accidents than in plane crashes annually, though we so seldom see car accidents on the national news. There are some simple things you can do to make your driving time as safe as possible:
• Buckle up. This is an easy step and can save your life. If that isn’t enough motivation, in some states, you can be pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt and issued a ticket — even if you are only a passenger.
• Don’t use your cell phone while driving, particularly to text. It is distracting, and most calls or texts can wait until you are stopped.
• Be a defensive driver. Assume those around you may make poor driving choices, and always be ready to act defensively.
Studies going back to 2005 have shown the benefits of computer usage by the elderly, particularly regarding mental health. ( http://www.i-newswire.com/computer-use-by-seniors-may-help/a44234 ) However, for many seniors, computers are just too complicated. They may need someone to walk them through their use.
Let’s look at a few basic concepts for computer use:
• Computers can help you stay organized and in touch with people you don’t see every day.
• The CPU or processor of a computer is like the brain. Dual Core processors are common. This just means the computer is smarter and can handle more complex tasks more quickly.
• RAM is the memory in a computer. The above article compares it to a desk – you can pull all sorts of information to look at on the top of the desk, but you can only have as much information as you can fit on the desk. You should have 1-2 GB minimum these days.
• 1 byte is the smallest unit of data. You can store, say, one letter of the alphabet with one byte.
• 1024 bytes = 1 kilobyte (KB) or roughly 1 page of writing
• 1024 KB = 1 megabyte (MB) or about 1000 pages.
• 1024 MB = 1 gigabyte (GB)
• A hard drive is like a filing cabinet; it’s where you store all sorts of information, files, pictures, videos, etc… You can put folders inside other folders to create a sort of filing hierarchy. A decent computer should have a 128 GB hard drive (HDD) at minimum. This may seem like a lot, but remember that pictures and the like can be large, but programs and applications (and your operating system) are even larger
• An Operating System is how you interact with the computer. Without some sort of interface, the computer is just a box full of stuff, sitting under or on your desk. The operating system lets you interact with the files, see the filing hierarchy, use your programs, and connect to the internet. It is the environment you do all of these things in and is what makes it possible for you to do so with ease. Examples include Mac, Windows, Linux, and Chrome.
• You will use a keyboard or mouse (link?) to interact physically with the computer. Most keyboards have the same key layout as an old typewriter would.
For the elderly, problems or trepidation may be related to more than just lack of knowledge; it may be physically difficult. Luckily, there are a number of aids available today to help! These include mice that are easier to grip, text-magnification software to make the screen easier to see, keyboards with larger, clearer keys/labels, and even abbreviated programs that slim down some of the superfluous options involved in most operating systems, making the computer less confusing.
June is National Safety Month. Safety can refer to many different areas of one’s life. There can be home safety, road safety, gun safety, internet safety, information safety, etc… Each June, the National Safety Council designates weekly themes for the month. The first weeks’ theme was “Employee Wellness.”
This will mean different things in different settings. In an office, for instance, this may mean encouraging employees to be more active, binding loose cords that might trip someone, even starting a long-term plan to help support healthier eating. The NSC (National Safety Council) provides this fact sheet on Employee Wellness. http://www.nsc.org/nsc_events/Nat_Safe_Month/Documents/2012_Employee_Wellnesspublic.pdf
The second week of the month is dedicated to Ergonomics. The International Ergonomics Association defines ergonomics as: “Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.”
The Council also offers a fact sheet on ergonomics here – http://www.nsc.org/nsc_events/Nat_Safe_Month/Documents/2012_Ergonomicspublic.pdf. In the fact sheet, they outline some signs of poor ergonomics, like pain, swelling, tingly, etc, and some causes, such as awkward positioning, sitting or standing too long, over exertion, or other things that cause the body to move or rest in positions that are not biomechanically sound. Some office place ergonomics can be improved by getting a monitor stand, a wrist rest, a better chair, or new mouse.
Continuing with our theme of the month, May is Older Americans month. According to the official website of Older Americans Month, from the Administration on Aging (http://www.olderamericansmonth.aoa.gov/),
this year’s theme is “Never Too Old to Play.” As the body ages, certain tasks may become more difficult or even dangerous – free running, for example – but the act of playing can help keep you healthy longer. It’s all about finding an activity that works for and with you. This is easier than ever now-a-days.
- Try something like Wii Bowling for a fun group activity that gets you moving without being overly strenuous.
- Charades is another easy, indoor option. A fun scavenger hunt can get people interacting, playing, and moving outdoors, too.
- For a more sedate option, why not try a game like Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit. As bonus, games that make you think can help fight symptoms of aging, even reducing risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Other great multi-generational options including park activities like kite flying and bocce ball; crafts like scrapbooking, quilting, or painting; musical options like dancing (old- or new-fashioned) or singing; and more active options like yoga or tai chi. Have fun and remember you are “never too old to play.”