Thursday, January 31, 2013

We have Several Teachers, and those interested in Education in the family.
Take a look.
Sounds interesting.


LiveSchool Scores $1.65M for Behavior Tracking App

Posted on: January 31, 2013
Nashville-based LiveSchool Inc. has raised $1.65 million for development and marketing of its app to track student behavior at school.

Investors include Nashville Capital Network and its affiliated Tennessee Angel Fund;
Solidus Company; Rick Theobald, former COO at KIPP Nashville; and Steve Butler, former board member at STEM Prep Academy in Nashville.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Utilizing Technology to Its Full Potential

By Sean Scarpiello

Thinking back to my days in high school, I remember that there was only one class that I took where we used a computer daily. This class was an Introduction to Business class which I took during my senior year. As I look back on the class, I feel as if our technology was not utilized to its greatest capacity. Each day, we would log on to our computer and open a word document. The goal of each class was to fill in all of the blanks, match up key terms, and maybe write a few short answer questions. Each word document also included the page numbers of any relevant textbook material, and sometimes a few links where we could find the answers to our worksheets. The overwhelming majority of our time spent in that class was learning on the computer by completing the same mundane worksheets, only to print them out and turn them in by the end of class.

In retrospect, I feel that the class was designed extremely poorly. Our teacher did not have too much to talk about during class, because each of us had our heads buried in the computers rushing to finish before the end of class. Also, there was very little communication and interaction among classmates. Looking back, I believe that although we were utilizing technology in our classroom, it was executed in a very poor method. Our daily worksheets were really no different than written worksheets, and since they were computer based, we had even less human contact.

It is not enough to only have technology in the classroom; it needs to be utilized to its full potential. One way of doing this is to simply design classes to be more engaging and interactive for students. This can be done using simulations, educational games, videos, and media. There are many different kinds of software available that allow students of all ages to learn while being engaged in the material. Also, classes could require students to do their own independent research using online news articles, blogs, and even the databases that the school district pays for each year. While it is important for students to grasp particular concepts in class, it is also important for students to formulate their own ideas and opinions on a subject. For a social studies class, this could mean taking a quiz to determine a student’s political party. For a science class, this could mean using a database to help them find examples of different proteins and how they function. As a student, nothing is more rewarding than being able to see real world connections to the material you learn in class.

One other way to ensure technology is executed well in class is by keeping the teacher well informed on how to use it. Most of us today know enough about computers to get us by in our day to day activities. In my experience, there have been many teachers who don’t understand the full capabilities of their technology. This would mean sending teachers to workshops and classes to keep their knowledge up to date on the latest trends and abilities of technology. Then, they can share their knowledge with their students through their fun and innovative lessons. Many education professionals may argue that it is too expensive for the school district to first buy the expensive technology then have to pay for teachers to learn how to use it. In response to this, the expensive technology is simply useless to students if those teaching with it are not well versed how to use the technology.

While it is important for schools to invest in technology to use as a tool for teaching, it is just as important for teachers to be able to use it. This will allow lessons to be better planned, so students will remain more active and engaged in the material. When students are able to relate and apply the material they learn in class in a creative way, they will have much more fun at school and learn even more.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A No Cost Technology to Include All Students in Class

By Sean Scarpiello

During my fall semester of college, I took an Ecology class where we used a technology called TurningPoint. To use this technology in class, each student would pick up a small remote in the beginning of class, and then our professor would have questions integrated into his PowerPoint presentations which we could then answer with our remotes. This allowed the professor to quiz the class and discern our ability to learn and apply information as he taught it. However, during this past weekend, I took part in a conference where the speaker had a similar technology. This technology was based on a similar idea of TurningPoint, but took advantage of technology we all have—cell phones. This technology is available at

While with TurningPoint we each had to pick up an answer remote, Poll Everywhere uses our cell phones. To use this in a class setting, the teacher or professor logs on to the Poll Everywhere site for free and can create PowerPoint presentations where students can simply text their answer choice into a specified phone number. While this may sound complicated, it is quite simple. The specific number that students text remains the same, so there is no tedious amounts of typing into cell phones. In fact, the whole procedure runs smoothly for students because the instructions are clearly mapped out and easy to follow.

For professors, the process of designing and presenting the class poles are also easy. The entire procedure to build and design questions and answers is much like designing a PowerPoint or TurningPoint Program, and does not take up a lot of time. The biggest benefit of a program like Poll Everywhere is that it is free to use. For teachers, all polls are free for up to 40 students. For students, there are no charges associated with texting. As a result, this technology is a win-win. In addition to these benefits of Poll Everywhere, it is even more useful than typical PowerPoints and even TurningPoint Technologies.

While teachers can easily have students text in a multiple choice answer, such as A, B, C, or D, teachers can also set up the program to accept short answers. This is done through the same process described earlier. All students simply text their desired answer to the given phone number, then they can watch their answers pop up on the projector screen as they send their text messages. The program also allows teachers to scroll back and review individual answers or trends with several answers. After discussing the students' answers in class, the teacher can address where students are making mistakes and make changes to their lesson plans accordingly.

This kind of technology can easily be integrated into all subjects from math and science to history and English. And because most classes in schools from elementary school to college contain less than 40 students, the program will be completely free. The only real flaw in the technology is that only students with cell phones can submit answers. Therefore, it may not be a good tool for teacher in grade school, but teachers in high schools and colleges can definitely take advantage of this technology. In all, while programs like PowerPoint or TurningPoint can be expensive and difficult to execute efficiently, Poll Everywhere allows teachers to effectively keep their class engaged at no cost.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Starting Technological and Science Education Earlier

By Sean Scarpiello

Recently, I was listening to a lecture by Neil deGrasse Tyson, a famous astrophysicist, who previously addressed members of the United States Senate regarding spending in the sciences. Within his lecture he mentioned a few ideas that I found interesting. He indicated that more focus needs to be put on math, sciences, and technology in schools. He also described that the countries that place the most emphasis on these fields in education will one day have the best economies and will become the self-acclaimed leaders of the world. In light of this, I began to think about why a government decides to educate its citizens. Of course, it is to have well informed citizens who can advance their own country, improve their economy, and to continue to push the boundaries of science and technology. With this in mind, all countries continue to push forward to keep up with each other in the highly competitive international arena. In particular, I thought about the ways America could improve its education system as our economy struggles and we are slipping from our position as the top superpower of the world.

When I think about my education in science and technology, I find that even within the past decade, it has been far from perfect. The key to advancing in these fields is to start this education early. For example, in regard to technology, my classmates and I were never formally taught about computers in grade school. We did have a formal typing class in fifth grade, but by then I felt as if it was too little and too late, as far as computer science is concerned. Moreover, I found the majority of people fail to use technologies easily available to us on a basic computer. For example, many people do not know the full capabilities of programs like Excel. Therefore many people write off Excel as a program strictly for scientists, even though everyone from business people and writers to politicians and homeowners could find programs like Excel beneficial to them in their day to day life. As far as other areas in computer science, the majority of people only have enough knowledge to simply get by. We all know how to use devices such as thumb drives and software such as Word and PowerPoint. However, even within these programs, most do not recognize and utilize the full capabilities of such technologies.

To address this issue, we need start off technology education early in our students’ development. Recently, there has been the debate to stop teaching cursive in schools because it is becoming obsolete. Instead of cursive, we could begin teaching first and second graders to type and learn about computer science. Moreover, we should teach a well-rounded and thorough knowledge in computers. For instance, we all use memory devices to store music, documents, pictures, and more, but do you know how these devices go about storing so much information in a piece of plastic the size of your thumb? We should really focus on the science and inner workings of computers at an early age. This will lead to a more adept future of adults who know how to work with computers. This is especially true when you take into account the number of adults who can currently use computers to their full capabilities.

In addition to the education of technology, we also need to focus on an improved education of sciences. Again, an effective solution would be to start early. Looking back on my early education in the sciences, I found that much of what I was learning up until my senior year in high school was material that simply needed to be memorized and regurgitated. Then, once I took AP and college level courses, we began to apply and evaluate scientific knowledge. This type of learning through application, evaluation, and generally challenging current thinking needs to be introduced much earlier. If students were forced to apply knowledge and think critically in all types of classes, we could definitely see and improvement. Science and math are both difficult subjects to teach and learn, but once students can begin to question everything around them and critically think about all subjects, we will see an improvement in other areas at school. In fact, I feel as if there is a barrier in our brains that we all must get past in order to make critical thinking second nature. The best way to get over this barrier is forcing ourselves to think about the different ways science, and other subject matter, can be applied to our world and thinking deeply about the different sides of an argument.

Overall, by starting education in the fields of technology and science earlier in a student’s educational career, we can see a vast increase of breakthroughs being made in these fields. Also, students will also be able to apply their application and critical thinking skills in other fields such as writing, business, and politics, as well as real world situations. Ultimately, this would make us better citizens, as we will be able to make informed decisions, and as a result the country we live in will only benefit.