Thursday, May 8, 2014

Past, Present and Future

It's a question that won't go away: how is technology affecting our lives?  While the question can go back to the industrial revolution with factories and machinery, or even back to metal replacing stones in tools, today our focus is on computers.

I smile when I think about men using computers because forever they could use tools in their dominant hand, but when they started to use keyboards on computers they needed to use both.  As farmer boys moved to the cities to work in offices, their muscles weakened, their weights went up and their health went down.  To get the exercise they went to the gym where more technology existed to counter the effects of other technology.

This morning as I sat in the doctor office the TV screen was running a short clip on the affects of computers, and screen time, on health; not just on children with the affects of obesity, lack of exercise and shortening of the attention span, but also on adults and old people ailments such as heart conditions, hypertension, stress, lack of sleep and more.  They were recommending adequate sleep and a moratorium on screen time just before sleeping.

Some have never indulged in computers and some don't watch TV, but most of us use both and would never give them up.  They are a part of our lives both as a necessity and leisure activity.  Computers are here to stay.  What we need to do is resolve how to use them best, how to counter their negative affects and to balance all aspects of our lives to healthy, and clear thinking.

I think I will go for a walk and check out the availability of the classroom.  Walking is good; at least as good as writing this post.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blogging is Archaic

Blogging seems to have been around for quite some time.  So it's old, especially by technology standards.  It may also be even old-fashioned when stacked up against the more recent interactive web applications, or it may just outnumbered by the plethora of interactive social media websites.

Blogging has been around since the late 1990's when interactive websites were becoming more available.  Prior to interactive websites, a webpage was static and to put information on the Internet one needed knowledge of HTML and FTP.  Blogs received their names as a truncation of web log, a log being similar to a captain's log or a personal journal.

Blogging websites allowed individuals to deliver their writings to the entire world which meant they were able to publish their daily activities, and far more powerful their opinions on a variety of topics, hence becoming their own editors, publishers and journalists.

In education one can follow the same pattern of logging and opining, or one can recognize the effectiveness of this tool and use it to benefit education, such as communicating with students about lessons, or parents about activities and students' work, or administration with suggestions and questions, or the community about just about anything; and allowing a response from the audience.

Currently there are numerous websites that allow one to create a blog, and typically for free.  Over time the popularity of different sites wane and ebb.  Google's Blogger was a hit for years; more recently it's Wordpress and Weebly.  Fundamentally they're all very much alike, but each offers different features to entice users into their web.  Individuals therefore can choose their own preferences based on their desires, interests and reasons for blogging.

Our challenge today as educators is to continue to evaluate the effectiveness of blogs among themselves and against other social media, and to evaluate its effectiveness in education.  If you haven't noticed you're reading this in because I started it years ago and would just as soon not start more blogs elsewhere on the Internet.