Monday, April 30, 2012

How TED-Ed and Khan Academy Work

By Sean Scarpiello

Earlier today, I was browsing the internet for different topics to blog about, I found I was struggling for ideas. So, I turned to the Straube Twitter site (straube_nj) to try to find some ideas. I saw two posts which struck some interest, one involving TED-Ed and the other Khan Academy. Intrigued, I went to the link of each tweet and read about what each had to say, and learned a lot about each of these education sources were all about.

I first went to the TED-Ed website and found a lot of education videos. I watched a few of these videos and they were not the type of education videos I had expected to be typical of learning. These were animated videos where the narrator was a character in the clip. The characters were funny and interactive with the viewer. As I went through the site finding videos that interested me, I noticed few things about the video which made them successful as learning tools. First, they were clear, concise, and to the point. When teaching young students, this is especially important. Also, these videos were colorful and well animated, plus they gave the students a physical sense about what was going on. To demonstrate the size of an atom, the video used everyday objects students run into, such as marbles, blue berries, and baseball stadiums. This is a fantastic way to teach students because educators are taking abstract ideas, like atoms, and making them tangible and easy to see.

Probably the most important aspect of the videos I discovered had to do with the material being taught. I found that there was relatively little information packed into a five minute video; however, this doesn’t matter at all. I found that the purpose of these videos weren’t to cram information into students’ heads, but rather to make them interested. This is the key to students’ success. If educators can get students interested in chemistry, math, English, or even philosophy, students will be successful. I must admit that after watching some of the chemistry videos, my interest in the field was increased, despite currently taking a chemistry course where the material is a bit dry. With so many other distractions in students’ lives’, such as sports, television and videogames, educators need to focus more on developing an interest in students rather than forcing information into their brains. If students have an interest or passion in a field, they will more readily do homework for the class and success will come naturally.

This same idea of developing students’ interest in a subject was the same basis for success for the Khan Academy link. The case studies where different schools saw success was not based as much on higher test scores, but rather an increase in the students’ interests in each subject. Some teachers and parents describe how their children found that math was more fun because of Khan Academy. By turning schoolwork and homework into a game, students don’t view it as work. It is important for students to find a passion for a subject at an early age. This allows students to become interested and set goals for them to reach. These goals give students something to work towards. Plus, finding a passion in a particular class is much easier at a young age because it is easier to fall in love with a class like chemistry or physics before the subject matter becomes tough or dry.

Overall, the success in our students does not depend on these new innovative technologies cramming information into students’ heads, but simply increasing their interest in a particular field. Then students can develop a passion for the material and success will come naturally.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

President Obama signed an Exec Order that added “New Protection for veterans and military families misled or bilked by career colleges and technical programs that target their federal education benefits. "They don't care about you," he declared, "they care about your cash.”” AP

Friday, April 27, 2012

Banks get to borrow money from the government for next to nothing. 
Why not students???
Education should be -
Click and LEARN.

Ken Jarvis -

Friday, April 20, 2012

Videos Improving Education

By Sean Scarpiello

Recently in my Genetics class, many students were struggling to understand some of the concepts we were learning in class. Upon discovering the class’s difficulty with some of the material, the professor asked us what kind of learners we were. She passed out some notecards and we each wrote whether we were visual, auditory, or experimental learners. After tallying up the cards, the professor found that the majority of the class was visual learners. My professor was then presented with a challenge. How can she help her students understand concepts in a visual manner that went beyond the textbook and its pictures? My genetics professor turned to a type of media that is underutilized in the education field yet works great.

The professor went online and found videos on different credible sites of the different processes her students were having difficulty with. The detailed pictures in our textbooks did a mediocre job of explaining the different processes that we were learning about, but the online videos gave us much greater understanding of the material. When students were able to see exactly how proteins and DNA were interacting in the cell in real time, they were able to grasp the difficult concepts easier. This also allowed the teacher to pose questions about the set up. After the video presentation, students were able to answer questions about how different manipulations of the DNA, proteins, and cell would have on the entire process. So not only were students able to learn about the concepts on a basic level, but the teacher was able to get students to understand the concepts to a degree where students could analyze and manipulate the information. Overall, I felt this was a great way which is often underutilized by both teachers and students.

A few days after this genetics video, I needed to study for an integral calculus exam where I found myself struggling to remember concepts taught before spring break. I understood the different steps of the math for the most part, but I still needed guidance to walk me through some problems again so I could completely grasp the concepts. After looking at my vague notes, I turned to YouTube to help me out. I actually found a lot of math videos of a tutor working the problems out step by step and explaining each step along the way. The link provided led me to the tutor’s site where there were hundreds of videos on everything from basic algebra to multivariable calculus. The site,, was also credible, which was crucial for proper studying. In all, I watched the problems and even did the math along with the tutor to see what mistakes I was making and why those mistakes were wrong. I pretty much had my own tutor which I could replay multiple times and even email questions if I had any.

Overall, I feel that videos are drastically underutilized in education. There are so many different types of media these days that we often forget to employ all of them to their full ability. I think that many more students and teachers could benefit by watching videos which simply explain concepts in a different manner than what the textbook says or how the professor teaches them. This will allow students to have a much better understanding of the material so they can analyze and work with this information better in both tests and future jobs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Redwood City School District and iPads

By Sean Scarpiello

The Redwood City School district has recently invested a lot of money into technology for its students. A large portion of the money has gone towards iPads which are being distributed to all students and teachers. Like many other school districts in America which are also undergoing large changes by incorporating technology into education, the Redwood City School District is making sure it gets the most bang for its buck. In fact, the district is going above and beyond to make these new iPads a daily part of school for its students.

In order to maximize their technological resources, administrators are ensuring that all instructors are knowledgeable in using the iPads. This is important because it is easy for districts to assume that all teachers are up to date with the latest technology. Also, the iPads are being used to their full potential. Teachers are storing assignments on the iPads which make their job easier in case they forget an assignment at home or at school. iPads also enable students to turn in work electronically, reducing the amount of paperwork both teachers and students need to deal with in traditional schooling.

One program available with the new technology in school is called PowerSchool. This program enables parents to track the grades and progress of their children. It is great to utilize this resource because statistically, students whose parents are actively involved in their children’s education do better in school. This also gives the parents the opportunity to know what their children are learning about in school, so they are able to help their children and ask questions about class. Plus, by making it easier for parents to stay involved with their children’s classwork, they can be updated by the teacher and keep the teacher informed of any of their children’s difficulties with the material taught in class.

One other innovative uses of the school district’s new technology are by teaching students after school. Using the Khan Academy education software, students can be assigned certain videos to watch which deal with what is being taught in class. This is a very good idea because students will be able to learn from the comfort of their homes, in a way that is not tedious or boring. All students like to watch movies instead of classwork, so they would be anxious to learn in this new and creative way.

There are currently over 20,000 applications available in the iTunes Store which are designed solely for education, so possibilities are endless. Plus, colleges and universities are beginning to bring technology into their classrooms as well. This allows students to be more prepared for both higher education and the workplace.

Overall, it is a good idea for school districts to introduce their students to technology in schools. Eventually, schools everywhere will incorporate a lot of technology so it is best to start off students while they are young. Also, new software, computer programs, and apps are being released every day, making the process of education easier for teachers, students, parents, and administrators.