Monthly Archives: May 2020

Autism and Assistive Technology

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a newly popularized term that includes a wide range of social impairments, communication deficits, and repetitive behaviors. The spectrum is flexible which means that it can be applied to children from both ends. It includes high functioning autism at one end, to those who lack communication abilities and can’t even express their most basic demands, at the other.

The new explicit spectrum thinking has given at least an illusion that there’s a fixed boundary regarding autism. The perspective-taken to the logical extreme-means an unbroken continuum among the minds that extends from autism, all the way into the folds of the normal world.

But the flexibility has led to ambiguity, particularly in the classroom. Most of the educators and instructors are not at all equipped to give the students the attention they require. They are thus increasingly turning to assistive technology, like autism apps for education, to bail them out.

Many children, whether autistic or neuro-typicals, learn from visual media and educational apps like “Just Match” and “Math on the Farm”. Educators and instructors say that these apps reflect real-life relationships and situations.

With the advent of the “Just Match” and “Math on the Farm” educational apps, teachers have become more comfortable in using technology. With customized educational apps now available for download online, it’s now easier for teachers and educators to access these technologies.

Most teachers, over the years, have become comfortable in using technology. As of now, there are two major types of assistive technologies for those having autism spectrum disorder. These are communication technologies and teaching technologies. Both these tools are extremely important for a special needs child’s education. The “Just Match” and “Math on the Farm” educational apps are perfect digital learning devices that lend autistic children a comfortable learning experience. A student’s ability to communicate in a classroom setting is important for his/her success. But the tricky thing about a classroom is that there are several unspoken rules. Educators and experts working with special needs children admit that one of the major difficulties, even for those having high-functioning autism, is to know the expectations.

Professionals working with children having behavioral disorders have voiced largely similar sentiments. A big part of attending school is to learn navigating social situations. Autistic children are often totally lost sans a roadmap. The autism apps for education have allowed children to close the gap between them and the neuro-typical kids.

How Technology Is Changing the Face of Education

Technology is a facet of society that is constantly changing and when these changes take place the members of a particular culture have to be willing to make adjustments. This particular fact is especially true for people who are employed within the field of education. Technology has infiltrated the educational system rather quickly and its usage is expected to significantly increase in the coming years. Teachers can (and still do) instruct students without the use of computers, laptops and tablets but sooner or later they will have to make some adjustments for the use of digital equipment as part of the learning environment.

The Department of Education and the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) have developed technology standards that have been adopted by the majority of states within the U.S. These standards encourage the use of computers, smart boards, laptops and tablets within the classroom. Laptops and computers have already been implemented in school buildings across the country. Tablets are the latest form of computing technology that is now being adapted for the learning environment.

Many teachers currently use smart boards to instruct their pupils especially on the lower grades. Smart boards provide teaches with the ability to use computer software and media presentations in order to instruct their students.

Most teachers use computers as a supplementary form of teaching. They allow students to go off in groups on their own and learn educational concepts from approved software or websites.

Middle and high schools also use technology to instruct students but they typically take a more direct approach than elementary schools. Some high and middle school districts assign students a laptop that they must use inside of the classroom. These laptops are given to students at the beginning of the year and they must return them back to the district once a school year is completed. Many students in high school and middle school will also be expected to complete assignments online and through the use of networking with fellow students. Though many high and middle schools use the traditional approaches of teaching they are now using digital based instruction at a greater rate.

Education at the college level still involves lectures and note taking but professors and students can perform these tasks with the use of computer technology. Digital technology makes it easier for students to record information and it also helps professors to give media presentation that enhances their lectures and instruction.

The education system is going to be one of the primary areas of society where technology will be greatly utilized. Many of the jobs in the present and the coming future will involve some use of computer technology and people will have to know how to use this science in order to earn a decent living. Schools are exposing children to digital technology for this purpose and to make them more competitive and highly educated in today’s world. Technology is extremely important to the learning environment and it has become a permanent part to the process of education.

Education Technologies – Who is Training the Trainers?

Today, it is not unheard of for schools to have access to many varied types of education technologies. Many public school systems are able to use interactive whiteboards, laptops, wireless slate devices, software, amplification systems, and document cameras to support learning for their students.

While having the ability to teach students about technology and its use is wonderful, general education teachers are being asked more regularly to teach the students about a myriad of technology items. What if the teachers know no more (or perhaps know less) than the students to which they are to be teaching? This could serve as a challenge for students and teachers.

Many states currently have, or are working on, putting technology standards into place at all public school levels. These standards serve an important purpose. While we want children to be able to learn about technology, making sure there is a scope and sequence is just as important. Teaching young elementary kids how to use a keyboard and mouse will be just as appropriate as instructing middle schoolers about online predators and internet safety. By having specific topics at each grade level that are developmentally right, teachers can make sure that there are no earning gaps for the children.

Having qualified staff to educate our children is also an important consideration. When the regular education teak her is asked to fulfill this role, he may not feel technology literate himself. If the instructor is from an older generation, she may be intimidated and not be able to accurately teach the subject if not trained properly. If districts are expecting teachers to introduce technology standards, they should also be prepared with additional staff development opportunities at every level for all to partake. It is only fair to the instructor and the students.

With so many new online etiquette rules, keeping up with the children becomes quite a task for anyone who works with them on a daily basis. Many times, students are more technologically advanced than the leader of the class. This poses a problem in many ways. Teachers must step up to the challenge of trying to stay one step ahead of the game by reading trade journals and asking technology directors within their district for the latest technology news. Being educated about trends will keep adults ready to approach this new learning avenue with confidence.

Technology, Discounts, Customer Education to Drive Telematics Auto Insurance

Insurers are recognizing the importance of discounts to penetrate U.S. and Canadian markets. But this calls for the combination of product features.

Something seriously required in favor of the auto insurance policy holders in United States of America and Canada. UBI adoption is growing at a frenetic pace in North America according to the figures released by BI Research. Market watchers are keenly observing the growth of auto insurance and the factors that can pose challenges to auto insurance industry. Figures depict a rosy picture. Telematics based auto insurance growth rose from 4.1% in 2015 to 6% in 2016 in North America. The growth is pegged at 19.2% in 2019. What is the role of telematics expertise in expanding market reach? Can discounts increase the subscriber base? Is there any pitfall? Let us explore.

Insurers are constantly on the lookout for cost effective ways of doing business with telematics. But convincing policy holders seem to be their challenge. Yesterday’s know how is passe with newer and sophisticated knowledge developing on ICT front. Data collection and customer engagement hold the key for success in the wired world today. Aspiring policy holders can be convinced by the insurers with cutting edge technologies like: Driving data capture, direct marketing channel, Roadside assistance (NSD Partner), Geo analytics and gamification to mention a few. The millennial and Gen Z are technophile demography for the telematics market.

Technical features are for risk mitigation and discounts are for cost reduction. If both factors are combined market penetration is easier. At this point an expert is taking a balanced view. Donald Light the director of Celent, a research and consulting firm, is of the opinion that a combination of both discounts and surcharges can provide a bright future for telematics in Canada. He was sharing his view during ‘Insurance Telematics Canada 2016’ in Toronto. We all know surcharges are additional premiums against risky driving behavior. And Light suggest this to change the driver perception on their driving.

What perception Light wants to change? People pay a price for a product or service on their perception on quality. The same theory is applicable to one’s perception towards driving. If one thinks he is a ‘better driver’ and not an average driver which he actually is, then encouraging them to implement telematics mobile app to avail discounts will become a demanding task. Because his self esteem comes in the way of enhancing his driving behavior and accepting drive score as ultimate criteria for improving his driving. It is at this very stage only education is needed to change perceptions.

The very purpose of UBI is to reward the well behaving drivers on criteria like speed, acceleration, phone use etc. Vast part of the population are mobile and it makes sense for them to implement telematics mobile app on their mobile devices to mitigate accidents as well as earning drive score to avail policy premium discounts. Education is needed to change wrong perceptions of drivers to accept UBI as fair and to understand what standard driving behavior is.

Education should be extended on ensuring cyber security as telematics mobile apps are also prone to cyber attacks. This should be seen in the context where 60% of cars and trucks are going to be connected on net by 2017. This means tailored telematics services should address cyber security issue also to gain more acceptance in the market.

Switching to telematics is a good option; it is also promising for the insurance sector that wants to expand its reach. Cutting edge technical features, discounts for drive scorecards as well as surcharges for errant driving behavior can increase the acceptability of mobile telematics thereby attracting new mobile subscribers. If these issues are addressed, auto insurance market penetration will become easy.

How Technology Has Improved Education Levels

The use of technology in learning institutions has increased. According to a recent study by CompTIA, up to 78% of teachers believe the use of technology in schools has positively influenced student’s productivity while 65% of educators believe the use of technology has made students more productive and learning exciting.

Technology is today used in almost all aspects of our day-to-day activities. People have become accustomed to the use of devices developed through technology. Despite a smaller percentage of individuals claiming the use of technology has done as much destruction as good, education is one of the areas where its use has completely transformed the way people study and educational institutions operate. Here are six ways how the use of technology has managed to help improve education standards.

1. Online Resources

You can always research on the internet for any educational information you need. You are always bound to find some help on the web from the broad range of resources available. The use of online resources such as studying tips, free courses, and secure custom support will help improve your grades.

2. Multimedia learning

People learn in different ways. While some individuals learn better visually, others do so using audio. This has made most education institutions and teachers to change their tact. Instead of focusing on lectures and giving notes, most educators and schools have resorted to using of multimedia to help teach their students better. It comprises use of auditory, visual and kinesthetic. With technology, there is always a way you can effectively learn.

3. Use of E-books

Nothing bores a learner like having to lug around a pile of books for a curriculum. You can carry your entire course materials wherever you go in a tablet. You can always open the eBooks and do light studying wherever or whenever you wish like reading. The e-books are also known to cost less compared to the usual paperbacks making them affordable to most students.

4. Worldwide tutoring

The Internet is not just known for having the unlimited amount of information online; it also contains an infinite number of minds! With technology, you are now able to receive help from anywhere irrespective of your location. This is beneficial especially to people who are interested in learning other languages.

5. Online Editing

There are times when you might need a second opinion but might not have a friend around to have a look at it. Reading through your work and making corrections before submission is one thing you can never afford to ignore. You are most likely set to miss on something when you decide to edit all by yourself. Sharing your work with an online editor is one efficient method you can always use to help improve the quality of your paper.

6. Study Groups

Despite preferring to explore alone, there are times when you might be assigned a group project. However, scheduling a meeting with your group students can be impossible. With technology, there are online platforms making group discussions easier. You can easily share notes and other materials and collaborate through video chats. You can also decide to connect with other students doing a similar course even if you are not in the same group.

Technology is here to stay. Instead of opposing the use of technology in education, it is best to embrace it and use it to help improve your education by furthering your studies. Gone are the days when one will have to go through the entire encyclopedia researching for what you can get in seconds with the use of technology.

The Future of Educational Technology and Education 3.0

Thinking of what education might look like in the next decade, one quickly realizes that the trends in technology are leaving a large number of our students behind. We no longer live in an age of visible movement when it comes to progress and innovation. Today is an age of exponential change. New and ever-improving technologies are popping up every day and in every corner of society.

Educating the best and the brightest in this brave new world will take a new and improved educational paradigm. Allowing our educational tools to age in the corner of the classroom will be the mistake that may cost us our future. Throwing away masses of children to inequitable access will ensure that we languish at the bottom of the global pool of employable workers for decades to come.

The New Toolbox

I was at an auction a few years ago and noticed a few old woodworking tools that I thought I could use. For a few bucks, I was able to snag an assortment of hand tools that may have been in someone’s toolbox for a generation or more. As the next decade passed, I used these tools in my shop for a wide variety of projects until my projects outgrew these old, dull tools. My woodworking creations continued to improve as did my skills and artistry. I quickly discovered that using improved tools would translate into improved craftsmanship. As any woodworker will tell you, new tools require new skills.

Woodworking is a great metaphor for shaping and molding students. There is simply no good substitute for a sharp tool. If you want to build the best projects possible, you need to use the best tools possible. Thinking in terms of the next decade for our country, we will be sorely disappointed in our projects if we fail to improve our tools.

Within this article, I will try to paint a picture of how technology will shape the way we educate students in the next decade. I will attempt to show the amazing possibilities that lay before us if we will simply walk through the doorway of opportunity that is open to us. My focus will be this idea: Transforming the student from being a passenger to becoming a “user.” You may be wondering what I mean by this. Let me explain.

Ask yourself what it means to be a “user.” A user is not simply a person who uses. For the student, being a user should involve using the latest technology in a free and autonomous manner. This new-found freedom will allow the student to become an active participant in his/her education instead of a passive passenger. No other time in history have we been so able to make this a reality.

In our current technological society, being a user also means being tracked. Tracking has become a major part of our daily lives and is precisely the engine that should drive our educational process for the foreseeable future. Tracking a student means having the ability to target education toward weaknesses and strengths. The ability to accurately customize curriculum to the individual has been the holy grail of educational philosophy for many years. This golden age of technological development may soon enable this dream to become a reality.

Current educational curriculum and individual assessment is arbitrary at best. Being able to accurately asses a student can only be achieved by using modern tracking and database technologies. The means by which we can make this a reality is readily available and only needs to be taken off the shelf to be used. If Congress is looking for a shovel-ready project, this may be the one.

Imagine a world where every child has a tablet computer with ready access to the App of virtual photographic memory (internet). Further, imagine that every student can access all the knowledge of humankind freely at any moment in time. Continue to imagine a world where a misspelled word brings up a spelling challenge application instead of an auto correction. Try to contemplate what it would mean for a teacher to have a database of every misspelled word, every misunderstood concept or every missed equation for each of their students. Try to envision a teacher with the ability to customize the experience of the individual “user” with minimal effort. Imagine the curriculum being automatically targeted to the user through an intuitive educational platform that knows every strength and each unique weakness. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

The company that makes this standard available to the educational community will be the company that shapes the future of humankind. Will it be Google, Apple, Microsoft, or some other yet unknown pioneer?

Continuing from the thoughts in my last post, I would like to elaborate on the idea of the student as a user of a new standardized educational platform. It is obvious to me that the future of education will always mirror our everyday lives in one way or another. If you examine how technology has influenced your daily life already, you begin to put together a snapshot of what it will mean to be educated in the next decade.

In the last few hundred years, most individuals would consider an education as something you receive. You often hear the question asked, “Where did you receive your education?” As we proceed through the next decade, education will slowly move away from reception and toward being custom designed for the individual user. New technology will not only allow us to receive an education, but also develop an education. The question we might ask in 10 years is, “How did you develop your education?” The question of where will still be important, but the how of the matter will be the focus that defines the individual.

To make this a reality we will need a standardized platform from which to develop a student’s unique education. This standardized platform will allow us to tailor a custom curriculum that will be matched to talents, interests and life goals. For the educator, a standardized platform will create a way to assist the student in discovering a true purpose in life through a unique educational experience. The basics of reading, writing and arithmetic will not be taught as much as they will be discovered and used. Learning will become a reciprocal experience between the teacher, the student and the machine.

Under a standardized platform, each of these three participants will have a role to play. The teacher will be the facilitator, assisting the development of the curriculum and inspiring the direction the student takes. The student will be the user, gathering resources, skills and knowledge in an efficient and measured sequence. The machine will do the work of data gathering and analysis, which will assist the teacher and student in refining the curriculum. This data gathering work of the machine will also free the teacher from the burden of record-keeping and tedious tasks that currently distract from the real job of teaching and learning.

Under a standardized system, grade level will be far less important. Achievement and progression will be measured by accomplishment and intelligence as a benchmark for success. The question of failure or success will be irrelevant and replaced with a standard and consistent measurement of potential and overall intelligence. Information will no longer be missed but continually rehearsed and monitored for retention by the machine.

In our current educational paradigm, the teacher is in charge of arbitrarily constructing curriculum. This approach to curriculum development is based on inexperience in some cases, outdated materials, inadequate funding and a shortage of time. Measuring the success of a specific curriculum is currently impossible. With a standardized system, comparisons of curricular success can be made across the entire spectrum of education and then continually reformulated and enhanced by the machine.

Sadly, teachers today are bogged down with an assortment of mind-numbing tasks that would be better suited to an off-the-shelf automated system. Tasks such as data tracking, reporting and record keeping are currently accomplished manually. These tasks could easily be delegated to an intuitive database. Developing a standard to follow would eliminate these tasks and free the teacher to do their main job of teaching students.

Education 3.0

Throughout history, man has sought to pass on knowledge to the next generation. This process started with oral tradition, storytelling and writing. With the advent of the printing press, knowledge and information slowly became available to the masses. The amount of information that could be gained by one human in a lifetime was severely limited by his access to printed materials and wealth. The majority of learning was gained through observation and imitation. We can call this Education 1.0.

Education 2.0 starts around the late eighteen hundreds with universal literacy movements throughout newly industrialized regions of the world. Improvements in education slowly transitioned from apprenticeship to formal education and training. Despite our movements toward universal education, access to knowledge and opportunity continues to be inequitable throughout the world. Even with the arrival of the computer revolution, access to the tools of learning continues to define the learner.

The next decade may mark the moment in history when all men are granted equal access to the greatest treasure a soul can possess. I use the word may in the last sentence because there is the chance that we will miss this golden opportunity. Access to Education 3.0 will only be gained through investment and universal standardization. If we continue to divert wealth toward fruitless goals and corporate greed, this opportunity will be lost or hopelessly delayed.

Education 3.0, when it arrives, will be the age of universal enlightenment. Platforms for education and learning will slowly standardize and become globally accessible and affordable. The poorest to the wealthiest will have access to the machine that runs the platform.

The thought on your mind at this point is most likely wondering what machine I keep referring to. The machine in question is the one we have been so busy teaching and training since roughly 1969. You’ve probably guessed it by now that I am referring to the internet. The great cloud of knowledge that we call the internet is precisely the mechanism that we will use to build the platform of Education 3.0. When the platform is finally in place, the decade to follow will see the greatest amount of wealth, discoveries and use of human potential that we have witnessed during our time on this earth. The only question that remains to be answered is the point at which I will leave this article.

When will we allow the user to use the machine to its potential?

A Lesson in Education Technology From a Very, Very Old Tradition

In Okinawa, Japan, women have been diving for pearls for more than 2,000 years. Traditionally dressed in only a loincloth, they would dive to depths as deep as 120 feet to find the oysters and mussels that produce pearls. This work was largely done by women because they were better able to endure the cold of the depths they were diving (Women’s bodies distribute fat more evenly then men.) The work was very dangerous, as you might expect, exposing them to predators, harsh environments and shallow water blackouts.

In the 1960s, they were approached by a firm selling scuba gear. The company demonstrated that one person with the right gear could gather as many oysters as an entire village of women in a day. The results were enticing, but they also raised a number of very significant questions including which women would use the gear, and how would the profits be divided. A town counsel was called and everyone discussed the pros and cons of buying scuba gear. In the end, the decision was made reject the use of scuba and continue with their tradition.

Today these Ama Divers, as they are called, still dive for pearls, though largely for the benefit of tourists rather than for the pearls they gather. Even scuba divers couldn’t compete with the advancements in pearl culture, where thousands of oysters could be grown in shallow depths and tricked into growing pearls in a confined area where they could be easily harvested.

So what does this have to do with education? Look just about anywhere in the education industry and you will find wholesale attempts to introduce as much technology into the classroom as quickly as possible. There are even watchdog groups that report on the school boards that are acting the quickest to engage in these technologies. Blog after blog extols the virtues of employing the latest technological masterpiece, while those who are slower are looked down on as archaic and anachronistic. Some of these programs have good empirical data to back them up, many do not. Some programs are developed by wonderful people with altruistic motives, but many are being promoted by new non-profits that are little more than shells for large corporations who stand to make fortunes if their particular technology becomes the new standard.

With all the hype and hyperbole that is flying around right now, it is virtually impossible to find a voice that will ask the tough questions about whether or not these technologies make good sense. Unlike the Japanese Ama Divers, there are few town council meetings to carefully consider what makes sense and what does not. One of the reasons the Common Core standards, good as they may be, are getting such resistance at the grass roots level is because the proponents have A) used a top-down approach, and B) have not been completely forthcoming about who the stakeholders are and who will profit when these technologies are adopted.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with coming up with something new and making a profit on it; it’s the American way. However, using healthy political contributions to get the support of legislators in bellwether states in exchange for support for new programs is certainly less desirable.

This doesn’t mean we need to be reactionary; it just means that we need to examine the new technologies that are introduced, checking the validity of their claims carefully before we purchase them. It also doesn’t mean we need to reject a promising new technology, as the divers did, if that technology can produce better results at a lower cost. What it does mean is that teachers and parents alike should ask the requisite questions to make sure we are getting the best bag for the buck.

Progress and technology are wonderful tools when balanced with careful consideration and forethought. Let’s do the due diligence before we head down a rabbit hole that could take years to escape. It’s our future we are betting on here, and that is certainly worth our full attention.