Web Tech in the Classroom

Because most of the focus on integrating Web technology into the classroom remains at the secondary school level…projects such as this one are relatively uncommon. But with the advent of programs like Gmail and Skype, the increased prevalence of webcams and laptops in schools, and the freedom to teach multiple subjects at once, elementary school may be the ideal place to use Web conferencing in a way that has an impact.

Article notes that fear of technology and lack of curricular flexibility are also barriers to integration.

But with a troubled economy that can result in cuts to activities like assemblies and field trips, some educators are using Web conferencing to replicate events as simple as an author’s visit.

Read the rest of this entry »



Today in Data

The World Bank makes data available to all!

Other NGO’s and governments now routinely make their data available, but the World Bank’s on the cutting edge of realizing that making data accessible and making it impactful aren’t the same. To get the latter, you need infographics, and good ones. More here.

And Google reveals its government censorship requests.

According to the Open Net Initiative, the number of governments that censor has grown from about four in 2002 to over 40 today. In fact, some governments are now blocking content before it even reaches their citizens.

And women still make less than men, a graphic guide.

Filed under: Power, TECHNOLOGY, TOOLS

Touchpad Predictions in Education

By 2015, more than 50 percent of children 15 and under will be using touchscreen PCs…2014, 25 percent of textbooks will be digital.

At the university level, digital textbooks are definitely in the near future. At public school level, not so much. Rest assured that if/when the day comes, any book sellers slow to e-convert will take the issue to fight.

In terms of touchscreen PCs, the quote is misleading. The cited prediction is based on PURCHASED PCs, not on all children under 15. Far from it, as few children under 15 will have purchased PCs in the near future. Read the rest of this entry »


Start up Culture

Foursquare—and Meetup and Yipit and Venmo and Hot Potato and dozens of others— facilitates and documents urban interactions, usually in real time, often with an eye toward building communities of users. While consumerism is at the core of the business model for many of these start-ups, that’s only part of the point. The entrepreneurs behind them have a sense that the city belongs to the rising generation, not some Wall Street guy or old-media geezer or other antiquated gatekeeper.

Social media, increasingly conducted through mobile devices, is changing the ways we interact with and own our concept of culture, creativity, and community. Article here.

Filed under: Enterprise & Economies, TECHNOLOGY

Computer Use Considerations

Study of a Romanian voucher program that distributed computers to needy families found that:

Children in households who received a voucher were substantially more likely to own and use a computer than their counterparts who did not receive a voucher. Our main results indicate that that home computer use has both positive and negative effects on the development of human capital. Children who won a voucher had significantly lower school grades in Math, English and Romanian but significantly higher scores in a test of computer skills and in self-reported measures of computer fluency.

The clincher seems to be a significant rise in computer gaming, as these graphs illustrate – red line delineates voucher recipients on left from comparable non-recipients on right.

Apropos to my Arguments for Evaluation post on textbook findings in African schools.

Filed under: Irony, TECHNOLOGY

Internet as 18th Century Coffeehouse

We think of it now as a very elegant gathering, where the Internet is down in the mud and people have ridiculous names. But coffeehouses were exactly like that: an insane mix of brilliant people, lunatics, and savage thugs.

I have a split intellectual life: these ant-like projects that evolve over months and years, and then this by-the-moment blogging life

But we all thought blogging was going to transform academic life, and that didn’t really happen.

All John Holbo, quoted here, along with his next idea:

Holbo now believes his best hope for revolutionizing academia is to organize “book events,” online seminars where a dozen or so academics review the same book. The existing book-for-tenure convention forces far too many books into publication, Holbo says, and people need a better system for figuring out what to read.



Cloud Computing = machines going virtual. very fast. via the Economist.

IF YOU are tired of hearing the word “cloud” attached to every term in the computing lexicon, you are not alone. Disillusioned tech folks are beginning to succumb to “cloud fatigue”. But the concept of computing as a basic utility delivered over the internet is here to stay.

It took decades for electrical power to become a tradable commodity. Computing seems to be getting there faster. Standards bodies are working on rules that would make it easier to move virtual machines around, and a raft of start-ups are making this their business.


From Crowd-Surfing to Crowd-Sourcing

To help teens understand the difference between “digital use and digital abuse,” MTV today launched “Over the Line?” an online application that “crowdsources” ideas on digital ethics. The new tool lets teens share and rate stories about sexting, constant messages, spying, cyberbullying, digital-dating abuse and other forms of abuse.

Frontlines from today’s MTV generation, and this dazzling statistic.

Fifty percent of 14 to 24 year olds have been the target of some form of digital abuse and 30 percent have sent or received nude photos of other young people on their cell phones or online, according to a December study released by MTV and the Associated Press.


Technology to Scale Design

In nearly every sector of the economy, technology drives costs down – just as your digital camera gets cheaper and better every year, so technology drives down the cost of manufacturing, the cost of retailing, the cost of research. But for some reason, in healthcare, technology has the opposite effect; it doesn’t cut costs, it raises them.

There are a couple reasons for this. For one thing, there’s far too little price transparency in the medical technology market. Without an open marketplace of prices and services, it’s difficult for hospitals and clinics to know whether there’s a better deal elsewhere, and manufacturers can keep costs high. Secondly and perhaps more significantly, medical technologies still tend to rely on an expert class to actually deploy the technology.

So, unlike most other trends in technology, healthcare technology has great difficulty in scaling down to the point of no more expert class.

How many schools are teaming with student twitter even as main office clerks plod over account after account by mammoth paperwork? Outside of government contracts, most public enterprises are slow to benefit from new technology because private developers have more motive to protect their profits by keeping offerings removed. New design must create the incentives to bring technology down to scale.

Filed under: Design, TECHNOLOGY