Sunday, October 30, 2011

School in a Box

By Sean Scarpiello

Recently, there has been a push for global education. In attempt to bring education to people all over the world, a not-for-profit initiative has created the School in a Box. The name of this technology sums up what exactly the product is- a school in a box. In this box, there are solar panels, an I-Pad, portable speakers and a portable projector. The apparatus takes 5 hours of sunlight to fully charge every piece of equipment. This technology can then be set up to run a school.

This initiative is aimed at schools in Africa, particularly Zimbabwe, where many of the resources which are vital for schools are hard to access. Therefore, the solar panels make it great to use anywhere in the world. Also, the I-Pad is able to pick up an internet connection from 3G; so again, it is possible to use this School in a Box almost anywhere. The speakers and projector, in my opinion really make the product into a school. These components enable the I-Pad to display movies, applications, internet webpages and more to a large group of students.

School in a Box is bound to be successful because it will bring education at a low cost to people all over the world, not just in Zimbabwe. In fact, a School in a Box product in the United States would also be successful. Organizations like the boy scouts, religious educators, the military, and even the companies that need to educate workers would purchase this product. It is great because managers could teach their workers in the field about the task at hand. For example, a manager at a construction site would be able to show the workers exactly what needs to get done, and how to most efficiently work together on the construction project.

In general, Apple has some pretty amazing applications which allow students from kindergarten to graduate school to learn easily. Also, large amounts of data can be stored on the I-Pad as textbooks, interactive study materials, audiobooks, and more. There are even applications which take data and turn them into quizzes and note cards so students can test their knowledge. For younger students, there are applications that help students learn their numbers, letters, and reading skills. Since these applications are designed for children, they turn learning into a game. Students are introduced to animated characters and face challenges and obstacles to beat the games, all while learning.

More and more schools are investing in I-Pads because there are long term gains with the I-Pad. That is why the I-Pad is ideal for the School in a Box as well. At a low cost, I-Pads can easily update textbooks, and other materials for learning. As schools begin investing in these technologies, we will begin to see an improvement in education all over the world. I-Pads are quickly showing up in everywhere from hospitals to schools. They are an amazing resource for the education field and are leading the revolution in bringing low cost and quality education to more and more people.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bringing Field Trips Back to School

By Sean Scarpiello

As the budgets of schools continue to be cut, administrators and teachers are faced with new challenges. One of the few ways to cut back on spending so that each dollar stretches farther is to cut out activities. Then, teachers are faced with the decision on what to cut. It is impossible to completely cut classes on reading writing and arithmetic, because these are all mandatory classes. Classes such as music or art cannot be withdrawn from the curriculum either because students would be limited to creativity. Therefore, teachers choose to cut out certain aspects of classes. One such aspect which is typically the first to be cut is field trips.

Field trips are currently every school’s enemy for a handful of reasons. First, transporting the students is not cheap, especially with the current price of gasoline. Also, the museum, theatre, memorial, or other place of interest has a price of admission which adds up quickly. One last disadvantage of field trips is they take a lot of effort to organize. Teachers often find themselves spending a lot of time and energy devoted to finding parent chaperones, dealing with the place of interest of the field trip, as well as organizing other aspects of field trips like lunch, time constraints, liability, and transportation.

One new way teachers can avoid cutting field trips would be to take their class on a virtual field trip. So far, there is a huge number of places teachers can take their classes on these virtual field trips. To name a few, teachers can take students to places like the NASA Research Center, The Globe Theatre, and even several of Washington D.C.’s fantastic museums.

These virtual field trips require little organization when compared to regular field trips. Students do not need to leave school, so there is no worrying about transportation or lunch expenses. Also, these field trips are a lot cheaper than regular field trips. For example, a virtual field trip to the Miami Science Museum costs $300 per classroom. For an extra fee, the Miami Science Museum can even rent out equipment to show the virtual field trip if the school lacks the necessary equipment. If teachers were going to bring their own class to a museum to visit, they may have to pay for tickets that cost anywhere from $12 to $40 a student. One way teachers could even hold the virtual field trip in an auditorium so that several classes could go on the journey.

Field trips are usually frowned upon in schools because they cost a lot and seem to not teach students very much. With virtual field trips, teachers can take a full day to go on a virtual journey to a new place, without even leaving the classroom. They are a lot cheaper and easier to organize than a regular field trip and students are bound to enjoy them. There are also so many different places to go. Many local museums are beginning to create these programs, and even international locations of interest have virtual field trips. They are quickly becoming one of the easiest and cheapest ways to cut spending for school districts and helping to bring education to the masses at low costs.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

There are 67MILLION Children worldwide that did NOT attend school last year, Most of them were girls.

“When you educate a boy, you educate a boy.
When you educate a Girl, you educate a FAMILY.“ - Thank YOU - John and Jan Bradley.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The New Super-Cheap Tablet

By Sean Scarpiello

Last Wednesday, October 5, a new tablet was released which is sold to students for about $35 each. It’s called the Aakash Tablet and it is made sold in India. It is available for retail to the public for about $60 and to students at $35. India’s government has already bought 100,000 of them to give to students as part of a study. Few reviews have been made thus far, but as of now this cheap tablet looks impressive and has the potential to revolutionize education.

Of the reviews so far, the general consensus of the product is quite remarkable. It is aesthetically pleasing yet it can withhold a few drops and falls. It has two USB ports and the operating system of the Android- all of which are great aspects of this cheap tablet. Compared to the IPad’s screen, it is criticized as being not as shiny and not as sensitive because it is a cheaper screen. However, the screen is high definition; it has no problems other than falling short of the high standards set by the IPad. It comes loaded with a set of basic applications such as a calendar, clock, contacts, converter, games, and a web browser. It has an application for Facebook and for checking Emails. One of the applications which was reviewed favorably was the Reading Application which is easy to use and works well. Other than that, the tablet has Android app store so people can buy new and updated applications. Android is also praised on having a great office application which is available on these tablets.

Some aspects of this tablet cannot be fully reviewed yet. The battery lasts for about 3 hours which is satisfactory, but we cannot determine how the battery will stand the test of time. Also, the amount of memory available on the tablet is less than other tablets on the market, but critics feel that the amount of RAM is just enough to suit the needs of students well. It also has a photo application with no camera which seems a bit odd.

A super-cheap tablet like the Aakash Tablet could easily change education technology as we now know it. First off, it’s economical and has the power to bring millions of people access to the internet for a very low cost. This, in the very least, is educating people because the internet is already a huge resource for education. It definitely pales in comparison with the mighty IPad and will not compete with such a high end piece of technology. This tablet was built to be inexpensive and therefore is on a different playing field.

In the field of education, it will work wonders because it is so affordable and offers a lot for its price. Students will have an extremely cheap laptop which can store all of their books, test them with educational applications, bring them access to the internet, and act as an organizer. This is monumental for many people living in India who do not currently have access to the internet. It also proves to the rest of the world that it is possible to bring an affordable quality education to the masses. If India can come up with a cheap tablet, why can’t America? As of right now, the education field is not utilizing tablets to their full potential. Tablets can and should be used a lot more than they are and this new tablet will help to prove it.

In all, the Aakash Tablet is inexpensive and has a lot of potential. It cannot compete with the awesome powers of the IPad, but then again it is not designed with that in mind. This tablet is designed to bring the internet to millions of people, which it will accomplish. It will also be the boost in the education field’s current push to technology.