Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Your World Expands ONLINE

In the year 600 A.D., the world average life expectancy was between 20 to 35 years, depending on where you lived. From the 1500s onward, till around the year 1800, life expectancy throughout Europe hovered between 30 and 40 years of age. Only 100 years ago, in 1919, life expectancy in the USA was 54 years. Currently it is 78 years in the USA, 80 years in the United Kingdom, 82 years in Canada. For the U.S., this is an increase of 44% in 100 years. There is no guarantee that an increase in that percentage range will continue over time. However, the current outlook is that life expectancy will continue to increase at least into the foreseeable future.

Although people live longer in 2019 and will be living longer yet in the near future, dementia and other mental diseases are making great inroads in that aging population. Alzheimer’s is one of the fastest growing epidemics in the United States, and elsewhere, affecting a growing part of that getting-older population, heavily impacting many long lives. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that the estimated progression rate of Alzheimer’s in the U.S. from 2000-2050 will increase by 193%, Plain dementia likewise.

What’s going on here? Why can’t the mind stay healthy as well as the body is able to last longer? Even thrive?

Well, it can, for Alzheimer’s as well as almost any form of dementia are not caused from the physical invasion of the brain by malevolent bacteria or the like, but are mere mental processes, or the lack thereof, which result in the brain getting calcified, Alzheimerized, or just losing its mental muscles altogether.

It’s these processes, which, however, are at the root of the problem, while really totally under one’s own control, even though one may never have exercised them or even known that we have them. If so, that then is part of the problem, for sure the beginning of the disease.

Therefore, if you want to be healthy, and have a healthy mind, it is essential to recognize that our brain is not a machine or computer which we inherited when we were born, and which will work as well as it can as long as it can. No. Our brain is alive. an organism, about 100 billion neurons that gather and transmit signals through around a trillion connections, “talking,” talking all the time, or not, if getting sick or getting otherwise impaired.

Normally, our brains are fully alive and plastic throughout. If you have any doubts about that, I recommend that you read the book “Soft-Wired” by Dr. Michael Merzenich - a world authority on brain plasticity - explaining how the brain rewires itself across the lifespan, and how you can take control of that process to improve your life. Amazon has it for you (free for Prime members):“Soft-Wired”+by+Dr.+Michael+Merzenich&qid=1566802653&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmr0

Yes, that’s what you can do. Take control of that process and let your brain flourish. Also, that’s where ONLINE comes into the picture:

Regardless of your age, or particularly if you are advancing in age, don’t be scared by the technology of it. Using a computer, tablet, iPhone or Android is good for you, since with it you’ll be able to exercise your brain, work the processes that make it hum and blossom.

Most easily, ONLINE you can practice the mind exercises your brain needs to stay active and alive, such as produced by BrainHQ (, which will give you “proven brain exercises to build your cognitive resilience.”

Try it out and enjoy:

Monday, September 30, 2019

War Zone Schools No More

“The U.S [population 327 million].experienced vastly more school shootings between 2009 and 2018 than dozens of other countries combined.”  Not to mention the time since then.

Elsewhere, there have been no school shootings in the United Kingdom  [population 66 million] since the last century.  China [population 1.386 billion] has had stabbings, hammer attacks, and cleaver attacks in schools in recent years, but no shootings.  School shootings in India [population 1,339 billion] are “virtually unheard of,” though a “rare school shooting” left a “14 year old dead on December 14, 2007.”

That’s the record:  The United States has this phenomenon of “school shootings” while the rest of the world does not.  It seems to be a sickness prevailing specifically in the USA.

There are, for sure, many reasons for it.   No doubt, all of them are being addressed from many quarters with great urgency right now.  Hopefully, a cure for this epidemic will be found and applied, soon.  Most likely, though, it will take time, maybe lots of time until that day will come.  Yet here, in the meantime, and for the long run as well, there is a solution to eliminate “school shootings” immediately, so they just remain a bad memory:  

The answer is LEARNING ONLINE, each learner with his/her own computer, tablet or other personal device, in his/her home or anywhere, at a friend’s house, at the beach, or wherever the environment is safe, friendly and conducive to spending time learning, studying, having fun..

Nowadays, courses can be brought via video online, with far better Illustrations and demonstrations than are possible live in a school setting.  Plus they can then be replayed as many times as the learner might want to review them again, at a time and place of his/her convenience.

Also, meetings can now be held onscreen, virtually, with the various participants in totally different locations.  In other words, nobody needs to feel lost by being all by him/herself in a remote learning location.  From my personal experience, I often feel much closer to whoever I’m conversing with onscreen than if we were in the same room together.  It’s a feature of the video connection to truly bring you much closer to the person you’re talking with, in many ways.  

So overall, and disregarding the reason for switching to ONLINE LEARNING, it will be more personal, more in depth, more convenient, and for sure far safer to study this way.   Not to mention, far less expensive.

As long as Americans are not going to abandon their violent gun culture, physical schools will remain sudden war zones where a shooting may happen any day.  Fortunately, electronic technology has advanced to make study in old fashioned school buildings obsolete. 

It’s time for orthodox schooling to come into the present, the age of technology enabled learning. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Being Online Too Much?

The press is overflowing with stories of harm being done to individuals who are “online too much.”  Such as the kids who have their iPhone glued to their ear all day, even taking it along to bed at night, keeping texting and “talking” around the clock. Then, of course, there are the guys and dolls playing video games, again at any time of day and night.  Plus more, their eyes linked to the computer or cell phone screen whenever they can, as if they were living in a different universe.

Children’s and young adults’ minds, the experts say, are particularly vulnerable to excessive online exposure, both physically and mentally.

Thus, computers and handhelds come with apps which enable parental control of how much and what the user will be able to see and do online, and for how long.

All good and well, for they sure have a valid concern, which is the many forms of harm a particular online exposure can produce.  Mind you, the same or worse harm would be done if that particular behavior or activity were done offline, say, not sleeping but rolling dice in bed, or playing the slot machines no end, or smoking and overstaying at a gaming table, etc.

I’d like to make the case, however, that there is nothing wrong with being online, nothing at all.  Rather the crucial question is, WHAT one is doing online, and for how long.  Online enables the user to do things which would be harder to do, take longer, and maybe couldn’t be done as well as online.  So, that’s really great.

Online is an advanced form of communications, very much like the bicycle is a technology-assisted form of walking.  I can imagine that there were lots of like critics when the bicycle was invented, for it, likewise, was seen as becoming far more dangerous in covering distances, and much faster.

So, online is just fine.  As long as you are spending your time online intelligently, it can greatly enrich your life.  That’s all.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Other Than Ivy League Education

In my humble opinion, the value of graduating from a name university is highly overrated.  And more so, going into debt for financing the attendance there definitely is.

Look around you, checking the educational background of high profile achievers in all kinds of fields, and look at their educational path, this is what you are going to find (histories picked from web):

Already 133 years ago, Frank Lloyd Wright (one of America’s greatest architects, interior designer, writer, and educator) was admitted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1886, but left after only one year.  Only then his real education started, and truly never ended.

In more modern times, Warren Buffett (CEO of Berkshire Hathaway) never had the intention of going to college. By 13, he was managing his own business as a paperboy. Yet, his father urged him to attend the University of Pennsylvania for business, which Warren did at age 16. After two years of complaining that he knew more than his professors, he moved on to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and finished his degree there, graduating from the University of Nebraska at age 19 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration.

Buffett wanted to keep his education going, so he applied to Harvard but was rejected. He then researched Columbia University, and earned a Master of Science in economics from Columbia in 1951. Then, shortly after graduation from Columbia, he briefly attended the New York Institute of Finance.

Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft), you already know, attended Lakeside School 1967-1973, then Harvard College 1973-1975, when he dropped out.

FaceBook’s Mark Zuckerberg, you may recall, is another Harvard dropout.

Dell Computers’ Michael Dell dropped out of University of Texas at Austin his freshman year at the age of 19. …

Apple’s Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College after just six months.

And so it goes …

Instead, these high performers got their high quality education from lesser known institutions and otherwise, all of which obviously did as good as, or even a better job, than the Ivy League colleges.  Not one of these superbly educated individuals went into debt in order to study.

And that’s of course how it should be:  Get your education at an affordable rate or entirely cost-free, if possible.  Which IS possible.  All it takes is to check out ALL avenues of learning.  You’ll be amazed how many there are.

One way to go, which was not available to Frank Lloyd Wright, not even to Warren Buffet and most of the others who needed education before the year 2000: is ONLINE.

Yes, great institutions of learning now exist which are entirely ONLINE.  No need to enter any classrooms or travel across town or the country.  The teachers and all the supporting evidence for your studies come to you, wherever you are, and can be replayed as often as you like.  In comparison to brick-and-mortar institutions of learning, the cost of online learning is rather negligible; for sure no need to go into debt for. Even, there are many courses which are entirely cost-free.

So, no excuse for NOT studying for whatever you are interested in learning, nor taking out loans to get your learning.  Here find a list of Accredited Online Programs, Colleges & Universities:

Ideally, learning should not mean a substantial outlay of money, but be affordable, inspiring and fun.  By these parameters, ONLINE is a good way to go.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 30, 2019

A Perspective of Low-Income, First Generation Students

I recently stumbled across two very meaningful blog posts that gave a perspective of being a low-income, first-generation student. First-generation being that the student is the first in his/her family to attend a four-year college. The blogs were written by Andrew Martinez, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and research associate at the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions.

Andrew Martinez talks about how when he was at a college orientation why he felt like he did not belong. For example, he had to take a summer bridge program to "catch up" academically, while other students either traveled over the summer or did an internship. Another example is that sometimes wealthy parents or peers may intentionally or accidentally remind him that an elite school was not meant for someone like him. A way that this may be portrayed is that Martinez may be labeled as a pity-admit stemming from Affirmative Action. To some extent, Martinez admitted that this may be true, however, he felt like he was completely deserving of this opportunity because he had to work harder for his academic accomplishments.

All in all, his writing is quite inspirational and my short-summary simply does not do it justice. I highly encourage you to read his pieces, as it will give you either a better perspective on people born in a less advantageous position or if you are also a first-gen student, it may hit home with you.


URL to blogposts:

What I Remember About Orientation as a Low-Income, First-Generation Student

The Opportunity of Being First-Gen

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Reading Retention on Paper vs. Digitally

In a recent Education Dive article, the issue of retention between reading digitally and on paper was discussed. This article cited the Hechinger Report, conducted by Virginia Clinton, a professor at the University of North Dakota. In this report, "results indicate that retention after reading printed text improves more than a fifth of a standard deviation". The Education Dive article explained that a possible reason for this result was that textbooks receive more respect than digital prints and that students would put more effort into reading on paper publications. I do really agree with this point because simply reading words on a page does not mean that the reader would understand the material. To understand the material, a reader must "read critically" and be able to apply the concepts to other scenarios.

The article proceeded to say that even though many schools are now transitioning into less on paper prints to save money and paper, they should still provide students with the option to choose between both resources. Even though the results from the research may say that on paper prints may be better, I do prefer digital textbooks as a student. One of the benefits of a digital textbook is that my back won't be aching after a long day of carrying a heavy textbook around. In addition, a digital textbook allows a student to easily and quickly access the text on a phone or laptop anywhere. While reading retention may be higher with a paper textbook, I believe that students can re-read a digital textbook more times than an on-paper textbook, thanks to it being very convenient, which also leads to good retention.

URL to article:

URL to Hechinger Report

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Ways Technology is Helping Schools

No More Snow Days in Pennsylvania

This is one of the more interesting pieces of legislature that I have seen this year. In July, PA Governor Tom Wolf, signed a bill into law that allowed schools to have five days of flexible instruction. While the above article noted technology as an option on these days, other creative means of instruction may also be possible. Understandably, kids will be disappointed that their snow days are now cyber-learning days, however, teachers that struggle to keep pace with a difficult curriculum will be able to keep the students moving at a reasonable pace, even when schools are closed.

'Paperless First Day' attendance recording boosts efficiency

This is another great example of technology. For example, "schools [spend] an average of $50,000 a year on paper and ink", which adds up over the years honestly. This could be money that is well spent on technology and eliminates the cost of paper and ink. In addition, the article also states that in today's day and age, "students also often prefer to work on screens rather than paper", which is a statement that I can confidently attest to as a student myself.

Another added benefit of technology is efficiency. Texas' Lamar Consolidated Independent School District, Director of Digital Learning Chad Jones states that the paperless initiative has been a "game-changer" because the schools can easily track absences without delay. However, he also noted that while these gadgets may seem useful, a school district must have a clear willingness to make changes for a program like this to work.