Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Possible Solution for Making-up Missed School Days

A student’s school attendance is impacted by illness and missed class time due to storm delays and cancellations. Usually, this time is made up by adding days to the end of the school year. Many families object to this plan as it complicates vacation planning or requires attendance during warmer weather in buildings that are not air-conditioned. One solution is to give students the option of online schooling on days when schools are closed. Also, students who miss school due to illness can be provided with online classes that make up for missed days. In some cases, makeup time can be flexible, including days beyond the school year.
Educators must have lessons prepared in advance if this plan is to work efficiently. Their lesson plans must be online and students must have laptops and an internet connection in their homes. Also, teachers would have to evaluate student progress.
Another application of online, makeup instruction is teacher absence. Rather than have a substitute teacher who may or may not have the qualifications of providing quality instruction, students can continue lessons online in school and/or at home.
The advent of computers and the internet have opened up many alternative ways of delivering instruction to K-12 students. Making-up classes is one of a number of possibilities.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

School Play Therapy as a Preventive Method of Reducing Emotional Problems in Youth

The recent shooting in a Parkland, FL high school has many people thinking about what can
be done to prevent such tragedies. Arming teachers, employing guards, implementing metal
detectors, gun control has been suggested. A more constructive solution would be the
prevention of the development of hostile personalities. The implementation of a play therapy
program in grades K-5 is on possibility. Schools provide counseling programs for middle
and high school, but nothing for elementary schools.These young children do not respond
well to “talk counseling,” but respond enthusiastically to play techniques. Many authorities
believe that early intervention is the preferred approach to minimizing the development of many emotional problems.

Play therapy requires a room about the size of a classroom with many choices of playthings,
including toys, paper, paints and musical instruments. The room should be large enough to
provide for the activeplay of up to five children. Psychologists must be specifically trained in
play techniques. They should be tolerant of noise and skilled in the resolution of naturally occurring
conflicts that occur during play. They also should be skilled in counseling of parents.

Play therapy provides opportunities for children to learn to channel their hostility into socially
acceptable modes of expression. Also encouraged is having withdrawn children express
themselves socially. All of these gains can occur in an environment where children are free
to express themselves through play by themselves or with their peers. The only limit is that
no one is allowed to hurt another physically.  Noise is never limited. I have worked for years
with children in play therapy and have personally witnessed the improvements in many.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Recent Amtrak Train Derailment Indicates Need for Backup Systems
"An Amtrak train derailed south of Seattle, Washington, on Monday, sending train cars tumbling onto a busy interstate." The train was traveling 80 mph around a curve when the accident happened.  This derailment could have been avoided if a computerized sensing system was in place. Such a system would have the capability to slow the train as it approached the curve by warning the engineer or reducing the speed automatically. Such systems could also activate warnings for other dangers, such as damaged track and obstacles on the track. The technology is currently available and is prominently featured in driverless vehicles. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Assent of Driverless Vehicles on Mail & Package Delivery

I have been following closely the development of driverless vehicles. This has the potential for significant impact on delivery services. Recently, driverless trucks successfully made long-distance trips in the United States; a driver was present in case intervention became needed. This system could be used for large deliveries to business or manufacturing establishments.
Amazon, an online retailer, has grown so significantly over the recent past that established businesses, like Sears, are threatened with bankruptcy. Package delivery services like UPS have been unusually busy recently. Delivery businesses will seek ways to make their service more efficient and reliable. The driverless UPS or FedEx truck is on the horizon. Similarly, the US Postal Service may adopt driverless vehicles.
The use of driverless trucks for mail and package delivery would require some procedural and utility modifications. Leaving deliveries at the front door would be problematic for robots to handle. Also, delivery would be slowed down when robots have to climb stairs. A more practical and less expensive system would be to have special boxes near the curb where packages and mail could be quickly inserted. Packages beyond the size of the container would have to be delivered separately. The curbside container would remain locked when closed. The delivery truck would contain a transponder that would unlock any container keylessly and automatically. A robotic device would insert the delivery and close the container. The recipient of the mail or package would be alerted wirelessly and have a key to unlock the container.
Driverless trucks would result in significant savings and more efficient delivery 24/7. Unfortunately, the loss of jobs would be significant; affecting those who probably have no more than a high school education. I believe this will become a growing problem in the future as the application of automation with robots increases. The likelihood of a Universal Basic Income (UBS) will grow. The government will have to impose a tax on businesses proportional to the degree that automation has replaced workers. Additionally, government-sponsored, free recreational and educational activities will need to be offered to counter the effects of an idle population.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Why I Disagree With the Article, 5 Risks Posed by the Increasing Use of Technology in Schools

As a retired K-12 educator, I totally disagree with this article (5 Risks Posed by the Increasing Use of Technology in Schools) that points out only the negatives in ed tech while ignoring all of the positives. For example, Risk 1 cites student privacy concerns. Yes, it is a concern when someone is illegally trying to get info about a particular student, but not a problem when attempting to discern trends about an entire student population. Risk 2, Personalized Learning, may be a worthy alternative for motivated students who want to learn beyond what is offered in the classroom, or for students that are turned off by classroom lectures. Risk 3, Tech Assessment provides a more efficient and less expensive way of taking the pulse of a school's academic progress. Do we not want feedback that is delivered in a timely manner? Risk 4 & 5, yes there will always be those looking to make a profit in education, including those using deceptive practices; but does this mean that every charter school or tech business should be suspect?
My greatest concern is the number of educators who are anti-tech that seek to impede this inevitable trend, often because they find technology threatening to their intellect or fear it can replace them.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Response to Parental Complaints Regarding Adoption of Chromebooks in
Cheshire, CT Public Schools
October 28, 2017

Recently, NBC-CT posted an online article concerning some parents’ objections to the distribution of Chromebooks to all students in one of their elementary schools. Concerns included danger to student privacy, using technology to replace teachers and access to inappropriate sites. The district administration has made attempts to allay these fears, but some parents remain unconvinced.

I think the district administrators should hold parent meetings to demonstrate how the educational apps maintain student privacy and how students are prevented from accessing inappropriate sites. Assuring parents that the technology program will not be used to replace teachers is more problematical.

Online instruction can be used as a replacement or supplement to in-class teaching. My guess is that it will first appear at the high school level when some students want to take a course not being offered or when an insufficient enrollment does not warrant another teacher. Also, some advanced placement (AP) courses may be provided online. Finally, some instruction may be made available to supplement in-class courses.

Hopefully, Cheshire’s technology program will continue unabated. Chromebooks can be a significant instructional tool to facilitate learning, especially when provided to all students for use at school and at home; as is the case in Cheshire.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Medical Records Need to be Stored in the Cloud
Ronald L. Abate

Doctors need to know your medical history before providing treatment. This is necessary in order to avoid procedures or drugs that may be harmful for certain patients. Also, to avoid needless duplication like trying to formulate a diagnosis of an already known condition. Often, the individual may not know much of their own medical history or may be too ill, even unconscious, to provide information. For example, a patient may have had an adverse reaction to a previously administered medication.

Placing ones medical information in the cloud, including dental records, has the potential to provide their medical history instantly to any location in the world at any time. The cloud is the internet where computer applications and stored data are located. All that is needed to retrieve this data is a computer, an internet connection, and a password. The latter is required so only you and your doctor have access to your history. Ideally, the need for passwords can be eliminated through the use of the patient’s physical attributes such as finger prints or a facial scan. This would be required where accident victims are too seriously injured or even unconscious.

Unfortunately, change occurs slowly. The medical establishment should act soon to use the cloud as the place to store medical records. This has the potential to streamline the diagnostic and treatment process. Many lives can be saved.