Monday, February 18, 2019

Needed: Encouraging Parents and Children Living in Poverty to Value Education

More needs to be done to help those in poverty to become financially independent. Education is a major route to achieving this goal. Unfortunately, too many impoverished parents do not value schooling. These attitudes are intrinsically adopted by their children; they are unaware that this is occurring. Often, these students are the ones who become disciplinary problems; they attend school only because it is required. So, what can be done? Programs like Head-Start can help, but can it modify a student’s attitude toward education? Dedicated and caring teachers are essential. Some struggle to motivate their students by seeking to make learning rewarding. Some succeed by finding the “hook” that captivates their class. A more ideal solution is to find ways to to get students to value education before they enroll in school.

Value systems begin early in life and are often related to the values of the parents.
Consequently, we need to find a way to encourage parents to hold education in higher
esteem. They should be engaged in a program that stresses the long term advantages
of a good education. This means providing inducements for parents to learn the value of
education and, more importantly, transmit it to their offspring. Allied with this is getting
parents to play a more active interest in their child’s academic progress. When accomplished,
the student receives the message that education is important; and most children want to please
their parents.

Some programs can begin when the child is one year old. Invite parents to attend “seminars”
that include viewing videos of children who, through education, have succeeded in escaping
the poverty of their upbringing. Better yet, invite speakers to describe their transformation in
person. Getting parents to attend may need inducements such as free dinners, baby-sitting,
health care, and giving away prizes.

A second effort would be the use of parent surrogates who provide in home, age appropriate
educational games. Parents should be included where possible. An example of this is the
Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) where  an early-learning specialist visits pre-school
children twice a week to provide educational activities. Evaluations of this program have been
encouraging. (Click link below for more details.) Programs like PCHP need to be expanded to
all areas where the disadvantaged live.

All the activities described should promote a positive attitude toward learning. Hopefully,
this will provide an avenue of opportunity for future generations to break from the cycle of

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Congratulations, General Motors (GM)

GM recently announced a massive workforce reduction and cancelation of a number of their car models. But, the real news is their recently announced focus on electric and autonomous vehicles (AVs). Transitioning to electric motors will likely result in a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. This is especially probable if solar energy is used to generate the electricity needed to power autos. The advent of AVs will have a major impact on transportation. The need for every home to own one or two cars may decline significantly. An AV can be summoned when needed and arrive at your home to transport you to your destination; similar to Uber's system, but minus the driver. AVs can be used for short and long trips, reducing the need for public transportation. Costs would be offset by no longer needing to purchase and maintain a car. Car accidents could be reduced as AVs would abide by all safety laws. Traffic flow will improve as AVs will be aware of other vehicles and pedestrians and take needed measures to avoid accidents. The need for parking lots and garages may also decline as AVs will be available 24/7.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Will Streaming TV Result in the End of Cable TV?

Technology has a way of increasing efficiency while lowering cost, and in many ways reducing the need for human labor.  Streaming TV (aka Internet TV) uses the internet to deliver programming to devices like laptops. Since many homes today already subscribe to internet service, the addition of a TV service provider becomes simplified. TV shows are streamed to your computer. However, a low-cost receiving device, like Chromecast can transmit the signal wirelessly to your home TV. All service activations take place by the interested subscriber over the internet; no installer comes to your home, and no antenna or other equipment is needed.

Costs range from free to about $75 per month, depending on the number of channels provided and the amount of advertising. This cost is signifacantly less than cable or satellite providers. Many providers are available including Sling TV, Hulu, YouTube TV, Philo TV, HBO Now. Pluto TV and others.

As the transition to less expensive streaming TV increases, cable and satellite TV subscriptions are sure to decline. Employees of these and related services will be faced with the loss of employment.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Personal Universal Health Registry (PUHR)

It is not uncommon when visits to a doctor or hospital require a health history provided by a patient or relative. Often, future visits require a repeat of the process. The easiest and fastest way to provide health information to your doctor should be via the internet. A PUHR would include all the known health data of every individual, including blood type, past illnesses, prescription history, allergies, surgeries, next of kin, etc.

PUHRs can be secured in the cloud and be available from any place at any time.
The information can be password protected or accessed through personal attributes,
such as the use of a fingerprint reader or retinal scan. Personal identifiers can be useful
in emergencies where the patient is unconscious. However, retrieval speed must be rapid and may not be available until improvements in processing and internet access provide an almost instantaneous response.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Can Technology Reduce the Cost of a College education?

Can Technology Reduce the Cost of a College education?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Colleges can significantly reduce the cost of a college education by implementing technology-related modifications while improving instructional efficiency:

(1) Enlist professors to prepare an online equivalent for each of their courses. These courses can be improved and updated over time. Ideally, these lessons would incorporate a personalized approach where the individual needs of each student are recognized. The need for expensive textbooks would be eliminated.

(2) All students would need a laptop computer and at home internet access. 

(3) A blended learning approach can be implemented where students complete lessons online in their homes prior to attending class. This has the potential to reduce student in-school presence; the number of school buildings and professors would be reduced over time. For example, a 3 credit, on-campus class could be reduced to one session per week for review, discussion, assessment, and other activities.

(4) Students would complete all written assignments on their laptop, and submit each to their professor via the internet.

(5) The need for libraries would be reduced as all resources would be available from the internet. Library space can be utilized for student projects where research and creativity are emphasized.

(6) Eliminate the need for costly on-site servers to store school records and other computer functions by utilizing cloud-based resources such as Amazon Web Service (AWS).

(7) Provide virtual/augmented reality (VR, AR), an immersive, online experience accessible to students during non-school time. These resources could reduce the need for in-class lab activities.

These recommendations would entail a high initial cost, including expenditures for staff development and redeployment, but would save money over time. Currently, there are a number of online universities in operation; some well-known universities provide a few online courses. The reduced cost of operating a college should result in lower college tuition. while increasing instructional efficiency.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Article on the Future of Education

Here is an article, "Back-to-School Thoughts: Future of Education" by Peter Diamandis, that I highly recommend to present and future K-12 teachers.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Can Technology Be Used to Reduce the Cost of K-12 Education?

There are a number of technology-related possibilities that can increase instructional efficiency while lowering educational costs over time.

1.   Provide internet service to all classrooms. Assure that internet access is available in the homes of all students. Provide access where needed.

2.   Provide all students with Chromebooks, a cloud-based laptop. This computer provides the most educational value at the lowest cost.

3.   Enlist teachers to compose an online-based curriculum that would replace the need for textbooks.

4.   Eliminate the need for pencils, pens, and paper as all student work is saved/retrieved online.

5.   Summer school, for remediation and enrichment, can be provided online.

6.   Consider the implementation of blended learning where students complete lessons online in their homes prior to attending the classroom-based review, discussion, assessment and other activities. This has the potential to reduce student in-school presence and the number of school buildings needed.

7.   Students can do classroom work online at home on snow days rather than make up lost time at the end of the school year.

8.   Implement personalized learning which has the potential to allow students to learn at their own pace and possibly graduate early.

9.   Modify the role of school librarians into technology support specialists. Library space can be utilized for student projects that allow for creativity.

10. Use virtual/augmented reality (VR, AR) as a replacement for field trips. These immersive, online experiences may be accessed by students during non-school time.

11. Eliminate the need for on-site servers to store school records by utilizing cloud-based resources such as Amazon Web Service (AWS).

These recommendations would entail a high initial cost but would save money over time. Expenditures would also be needed for staff development.

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Plan for Reducing the High Cost of College Textbooks

College textbooks can reach as high as $200 and up per class; a burden for many
students. I propose a win-win solution to high textbook cost: encourage professors
to create their own online textbook tailored to each subject taught. Charge students
$50 for online access; far less expensive than the $100-$300 price. The incentive
for the professor would be increased earnings per academic year. For example,
if the class size averages 20 students and s/he teaches four classes per semester,
the potential earnings would equal $4000 or $8000 for two semesters. Of course,
there would have to be a system that prevents students from copying or circumventing
the cost.

  • Saturday, June 2, 2018

    Can Robots Deliver Utopia?

    In my blog entry of January 21, 2013, I made a number of predictions on the effects of robotics on the future of society. I alluded to how technology will result in a massive loss of jobs and the need to provide an income to the unemployed. Today, this idea has come to be known as Universal Basic Income (UBI). I also mentioned the government's role in dealing with the problems of an idle society by providing various social programs that would appeal to the populace. The loss of jobs need not be a catastrophe as some would imagine if the government takes remedial action and producers of goods and services cooperate.

    A key result of robots is a large increase in productivity. They can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their only downtime would be for repairs and maintenance. They receive no compensation or benefits. The result would be a significant decline in the cost of goods and services; in other words, deflation. Obviously, companies would want a large share of the resulting profits since they produced the robots that caused the increase in productivity. However, the unemployed should be provided with a UBI, adjusted for deflation, that at least guarantees a comfortable existence; they should not be penalized if they find work to supplement this income. The UBI will be funded from taxes imposed on the producers of goods and services. The amount of taxes imposed would be determined by the number of jobs lost due to automation. Companies will realize that without a UBI, there will be only a minimal market for purchasing their products.

    The government will have to develop social programs that allow the unemployed to enjoy a meaningful existence. Otherwise, there is the risk that an idle population could result in violence or withdrawal from society. These programs should encourage creativity and pride in accomplishment. Included would be hobbies, participation in competitive sports, and furthering one's education. The latter could provide the opportunity to become employed in a rewarding technical career.

    Those who are trained in robotics will become the elite and most highly compensated members of society. They must be competent in the development, maintenance and control of robots. As Artificial Intelligence (AI) progresses, and many processes become automatic and even self-improving, the danger of complacency increases.  Control must always be the responsibility of humans.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2018

    Letter to the editor of Rivereast News

    Letter to the editor of Rivereast News
    May 29, 2018

    To the Editor:
    I agree with Mr. Steven’s letter to the Editor of May 25, 2018, where he states that   “.. despite three
    decades of economic growth, middle-class incomes have risen only slightly.” I would like to add
    two more reasons why this has occurred: (1) outsourcing production to foreign countries, especially
    China, and (2) automation, especially robotics. Both have the effect of reducing costs and increasing
    profits for manufacturers. Both have placed downward pressure on middle-class employment and compensation.

    Automation is increasing more rapidly due to progress in artificial intelligence (AI). This means that machines have the potential to replace workers at ALL levels of employment. Productivity will increase immensely as robots work 24/7, are not compensated, and have no fringe benefits.
    This trend has the potential to eliminate most jobs. Positions involving technology and social
    assistance will increase. The ultimate result will be massive unemployment. However, people will
    need income to purchase goods and services. The government must tax companies according
    to their rise in productivity due to automation and job loss. The result will be a Universal Basic Income
    (UBI) provided to all the unemployed. Also, the government must sponsor social activities for an idle,
    restless population.