10-2-15 The Week in Education News
Your Week in Education News, By Danielle Bonnici
Many of us have taught books or time periods and wished we could take the students on a field trip. One year I was teaching the Romantic poets, and all I wanted to do was take the kids to Rome to see where Keats lived by the Spanish Steps. Now, all of this is possible, at least, virtually. This past Monday, Google introduced Google Expeditions, a virtual reality field trip simulation kit. The kit includes a cardboard viewer and an Asus Smartphone that allows students to view important places using 360◦ views and 3-D technology. Such technology emphasizes how crucial the education market is becoming to major technological companies such as Google and Microsoft. There is also major competition for the education market- both Google and Microsoft have apps and tools for education. Google introduced Apps for Education, a cloud based email, calendars, and docs for school use; Microsoft also markets calendars, Skype, and One Note to schools.
New Tech Approach
Google Apps for Education, including Expedition, already has 45 million users globally. Expedition marks a huge shift in the approach to the education market. Previously, tech companies would market existing products to schools to show how they could be helpful. Now they are focusing on designing products for schools- Expedition was designed solely for classroom use. Classroom, introduced last year, is also an education market designed product- it allows teachers to “create, collect, and comment” on assignments.
Google and Microsoft aren’t the only tech giants getting involved in the education game- Facebook announced that it is working with public schools in California to create customized learning software. There is also a wealth of smaller companies- Moodle, Jupiter, and many others have tried marketing grading and assignment databases to schools. However, many educators feel that these simple grading and data tools aren’t enough to keep up with a population of students raised on smartphones and other devices. Ben Schrom of Google Apps for Education stated: “There was very little precedent for using this technology in schools… We really feel we are breaking that cycle of giving schools yesterday’s technology.”
Before Expedition, teachers were able to use Skype to tour locations and have virtual visits from experts. Google touts Expedition as a way to give students a more full and realistic experience.
Google is offering the apps and Expedition for free, but that may change in the future as the market for such technology grows. For now, there are approximately 100 virtual trips students can take, but Google hopes to expand the app for use as a college and career tour tool.
All of this makes me wish Expedition existed back when I was rhapsodizing about Lord Byron to my students! However, it is always important to keep a balance in the classroom- too much technology can be a distraction, and too little will not prepare the students for an ever- changing job market.
The End of High School Football?
Evan Murray, 17, was a star athlete and student. He played varsity on three different sports teams- baseball, basketball, and football. He was an honors student beloved by all who knew him. Last week, while playing one of the games he loved, he was hit by another player and later died. Evan is not alone. Tyrell Cameron, 16, and Ben Hamm, 16, also died this season after injuries sustained while playing high school football.
Risks of the Game
The New York Times reports that injuries and potential death are causing such concern that some schools are abolishing their football teams altogether. Maplewood Richmond High School in Missouri eliminated the team in June after a spate of injuries and growing concerns about safety. Last season, the team saw broken bones, torn ligaments, and at least one “significant head injury.” Locally, New Jersey’s Ridgefield Memorial High School did away with its varsity football team due to a lack of interested students. A high school in Maine cancelled the last five games of its season due to too many injuries on the team.
While college and professional football remains popular, high school players have declined almost 3% from five years ago. More schools and parents are turning to soccer, a safer team sport.
Although NFL commissioner Roger Goodell believes football is “safer than ever” due to an increasing awareness of injuries, the standards of safety vary widely from pro football to high school football. Many schools do not even require medical staff to be present at games; coaches, who have little or no medical training, do not always recognize the signs of concussion and allow players to remain in the game.
Terry O’Neil, founder of Practice Like Pros, says “So many player protections — equipment, practice formats, drills, regimens — that are standard in pro and college football are unknown in high school football.” He said that despite the positive changes occurring at schools across the country, it cannot be counted that every school follows the same safety measures, so game days will always carry risks.
It seems that the love of a national pastime is starting to erode as parents, school boards, and the players themselves recognize that it isn’t okay to risk their health and future for the love of a game.
Michelle Obama: “Let Girls Learn”
Michelle Obama was part of panel discussion addressing high school age girls in New York City this week to remind them of the value of education. The panel was part of a larger campaign for the First Lady’s Let Girls Learn Initiative that was launched last March. The initiative aims to provide programs for 62 million adolescent girls who are not currently in school. It was also part of the corresponding #62milliongirls social media campaign encouraging female students to post selfies with what they have learned in school.
“Hungry” to Learn
Mrs. Obama discussed the opportunities afforded to herself and her daughters and the importance of taking advantage of opportunities as they arise: “”It is part of my passion and my mission to make sure that every girl on the planet has the same opportunity that I had, that my daughters have and I want to make sure that all of you here in the United States are taking advantage of the opportunities you have as well…I want you to be that hungry to get your education because it is going to be the key to your future.”
The First Lady pointed out that girls in other countries are not as lucky as the girls here in the US: “They are fighting and literally dying to get their education,” she said.
This is a great reminder to our young people just how lucky they are- for all the political squabbles about money and testing and districting- every child has the chance to be educated, regardless of gender, race, and economic status. The Obama family is a testament to that fact, and an inspiration for young people everywhere. The possibilities of education ARE opportunity, and it should definitely not be wasted.
CITE is the Center for Integrated Training and Education . For over 25 years, CITE has and continues to train TEACHERS (Early Childhood, Literacy, Special Ed, Grad Courses, DASA); COUNSELORS (School, Mental Health Masters, Advanced Certificate); and ADMINISTRATORS (SBL, SDL, Public Admin, Online PhD) in all five boroughs of NYC, Yonkers, and Long Island.
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