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Sunday, July 23, 2017

It really has happened already

I saw a Facebook picture of a long-standing colleague of mine in a bookstore.  The picture was an ad for Half-Price Books.  I thought it was really unusual for this friend to be in such an ad.  She and I were going to co-write a book at one time back in the year 2000 about the coming decade's effect on reading and writing.  We both thought that all the new technology would have a ravaging effect on reading and writing.  Unfortunately, her life led her in a different direction from our task in writing that book.  But, she has since received her doctorate in education and is currently a principal in a high school in the North Texas area.  Conversations with her between the year 2000 and now have shown me that she hasn't changed her mind from the days when we were mapping out chapters to write of the coming demise of reading and writing.

So, I thought it strange to be perusing through my Facebook images and see my friend's picture advertising a book store.  I just wrote one word in my comment on her picture.  Books? 

Her answer confirmed what we all know to be true 17 years past that millennial year of planning.  Really, Barnes and Noble developed the Kindle just to stay in the game.  But they, like all the others, know what the end game is for reading.  If you walk into a modern Barnes and Noble, you will see the number of aisles dedicated to books have dwindled.  So, that is why my friend's response to my comment was something that made me reply with You know I'm going to have to write a blog about this. LOL. 

She really had not changed her stance on reading and writing.  Half-Price Books needed all the advertising help they could get, even having a good doctor of education pose beside its name in exchange for a discount on a couple of old LPs she was purchasing - music, not even books.  I'm still laughing.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Let's celebrate - no, not really

Well, well, well.  The result that everyone wanted has been 100 years in the making, but it is finally coming to fruition.

High School Seniors make A's

This year celebrates the centennial for the compulsory education laws in the United States.  Mississippi in 1917 was the last state to pass such a law for its students.  The idea, of course, was that the U.S. would be better off with an educated work force with a by-product of everyone being able to perpetuate the idea of democracy because they would be an enlightened public.

Well, congratulations to the U.S. for seeing that everyone not only gets an education, but an excellaent one at that, because now half of graduating seniors make As as they pass into society as adults.

I am sure you can hear me laughing hysterically at this point.  Seriously!  And I'm also sure you have tried to like carry on like a conversation with like one of the like seniors who has like graduated like from a 2017 class.  It's quite disturbing.

This class of seniors graduated with a 24 point drop in the average SAT score from last year's average, which had also dropped from the previous year.  Every year states publish articles in their newspapers railing against how poorly students have performed on their states' tests.  Students from this class never had a 100 point grading system in their entire school career.  The lowest grade any student could make was 50.  So their A is from a 50 point playing field rather than a 100 point field.  Statistics from this class, if disaggregated into ethnic groups, have a at least two subgroups that have one of the lowest graduating rates in 40 years.

But... okay, let's celebrate those As and ignore the crumbling system that produced them.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

A formal goodbye

At this point, the die has been cast.  Over the last ten years the world has changed from print-intensive to digital-file-intensive.  If I "write a note" to someone, it is by text or email - a digital file. In two more years, texting will be only for those who learned how to text and capped their knowledge of how to use technology at that point. Most new cars being sold today can change text to voice if you receive a text while driving or change your own voice to text to send to someone.  But, the next step is already on the rise.  A lot of people even now use video messages, such as Glide, Tango, Skype, Hangouts, ooVoo, Peer, and iVideo, to send short messages.  Even if you don't want to send messages, people like to have fun by sharing their experiences.  SnapChat knows this and sells glasses that record 10 seconds of video of whatever you are looking at, stores it in the cloud, and sends it to anyone by voice command.

Probably not in the public schools because they lag from 5-10 years behind, but everywhere else - students in schools, universities, corporate training sessions, professional and continuing education development for medicine, law, engineering, technology, and sciences - printed materials are not being used.  People are imparting information through video means, objects from 3D printers, 3D simulations, and holographic presentations.

It's really too late in the game now to stop reading and writing from carrying the load of sharing information any longer.  The two are being relegated more and more to minor chores.  This blog itself will change when 2017 changes to 2018 into a video blog.  It's hypocritical at the very least to continue in written form.  But what better way to illustrate the change from the written word to the visual world than to celebrate the end of the ten-year war that has outlined and tracked the demise of reading and writing by dropping the written version of this blog in favor of a video version.

To the dinosaurs among us, the meteorite has hit the Earth, exploded, and created the catastrophic forces of water deluge, mach 1 sound waves, and burning rain of rock and Earth from the force of the strike that will completely eliminate the species.  Death is imminent.  There will not be a funeral.  People will move on, not using print, but the devices they carry (for now), to present, transmit, receive, and enjoy the world around them and preserve any knowledge they want to perpetuate.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Modern sham

Education in the modern world is really a sham compared to what it should be.

What?  Why would you say that?

Well, have you ever gone through a drive-thru of a fast food restaurant.  Who hasn't!  The experience is the same all across the country.  You drive to the order menu, order whatever, receive at the pick-up window, and drive away.  When you look in the sack at least two blocks and two traffic lights away, you realize you ordered a chicken sandwich and you got a hamburger.  Or you cut the onions and your hamburger is loaded with them.  Or you said, "No cheese please," and they put two slices on the sandwich.  Or you got someone else's order.  Or you ordered and paid for two sandwiches, french fries, and a drink.  When you opened the sack - right, now fries.  Since these orders were put together by teenagers, usually, you have to think These are  supposed to be students of a world class educational system.  We're in trouble if they represent the whole. Oh, no, they do.  Because you have the same experience no matter what the brand name of the drive-thru, no matter which city, no matter which cuisine, no matter what state.

Yeah, these are the students that are making 70% or higher on tests, homework, projects, and final grades.  And talk to a university professor to see if gets any better.  Talk to human resource interviewers to see if their entry level applicants are any better.  Talk to the government agents who are trying to collect on student loans.  Talk to the voters who convinced Bernie Sanders to allow free college tuition for all students who want to attend college.  Talk to the parents, and there are many, many, who have 30-year-old children living in their homes.

The only thing modern education seems to be producing is a group of people whose 70% knowledge of a general curriculum tells them that what they have learned is nothing or next to nothing.  In 10 more years when society's adult population will be paying the piper for these educated people's lack of knowledge about general matters, a huge portion of adults are going to find it hard to exist above the subsistence level.  Lots of them.  Lots and lots of them.  If there is a time coming when the Haves will take the opportunity to take from the Have Nots, this will be the time.  I'll probably witness it.  By then, I hope to have my spot in the top 5% of the nation consolidated.  But for many... I already feel for them.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What people give up

I sit on Easy Street if I think about it.  I really don't have to leave my house except for work and exer.cise.  It's a self-contained bubble.  I eat there, watch t.v. there, sleep there, compute there, and enjoy year-round 74 degree temperature there.  Sometimes I drive to the store, but I don't have to.  I can order nearly all food to my front door.  I can order anything online, really, so that I never have to go to a store.  I can receive clothing, shoes, computers, furniture, dessert, vitamins, prescriptions,just whatever.  It's really a great day and age to live in.

But then, occasionally, I get to see something else that still exists in the world.  I had an occasion to visit with some young people who were in the U.S. from other countries.  They were all here on student visas because they wanted the education that America offers.  Those with an American education, they said, catapult themselves far ahead of the crowd when they return.  One young lady told me she comes every single day of the week without fail to her classes.  She gets to the school after riding the light rail 2 hours in the mornings.  Every afternoon is the same trip - two hours to her house to study.  But she will return to Vietnam as a pharmacist and be able to have the highest quality of life there. 

Another young man's story made me really grateful that I really don't have to lift a finger anymore, but reminded me of some of the days gone by.  Originally he rode the light rail to school, but then he moved so that he could be closer to the school.  He still walked to and from, and everywhere else he wanted to go.  Finally, he was able to buy a bicycle.  Now, it takes him only 30 minutes to ride to and from.  When he returns with his MBA to Nigeria, he will outstrip any of his home-grown colleagues with opportunities for business and a luxurious life because he will be paid handsomely.  

Even students from China, the second leading economy in the world, come to the U.S. for the same reason.  One young woman wanted very much to get a graduate degree in international business because even though she was at the head of her classes in China, she knew that her income would be limited.  She wanted a degree that would allow her to be in her homeland as a business woman, but to have the added dimension of great respect from the business community because they valued international experience over the intelligent people who never left the country.  She worked diligently to learn English fluently so that she would have no disadvantage in the graduate school competing against native English-speaking Americans for the best grades.  She gave up her upper adolescent years to strive for her goals.  She has to live with people she doesn't know and has to make friends in different states as she pursues her education.

After these visits, I returned to my house, to my life of irrealis compared to the students I visited with.  I have had to do some hard things in life.  I haven't always been able to receive life sustenance at my doorstep.  But I am in awe of people who give away so much of their lives, much more than what I had to endure, to achieve a quality of life mainly from living in the best economy in the world and taking advantage of some of its perks.  I find my self grateful, and I admire those who live as I do, but who gave up friends, family, language, culture, and familiarity to accomplish a dream for a high quality of life.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Next phase please

One of the most amazing advances is the ability to stream a television subscription to any device.  I think it's amazing because of what it will pave the way for.  All communication is meant to be streamed.  The television companies have dominated the streaming business for 70 years.  But their shelf life is at an end.  Now people can choose when, where, and what they want to stream.  All that is needed  is an internet Reaconnection.

It follows that if I can receive video transmission of any kind on any device, that sooner or later, devices will begin to send and receive video transmissions much like we receive email and text at the moment.  It will just be video instead.  The capability already exists, it's just not packaged in consumable form at the moment.  However, when it becomes readily available, then no longer will people be willing to stop and text or stop antype an email.  They will simply press "record," then "send."  The video will play the message on the other end.

That will in turn put pressure on the industry that publishes books or any other type of printed material for both entertainment and education, even including the little short messages found in Twitter and Instant Messaging.

In case one wonders about the wisdom of leaving behind print, one has only to look at what happened with the fax machine.  The fax was useful for about a 15 year period, some of those years after .pdf files were available.  But, very soon after Adobe made available transmissible documents through digital files, electronic signatures were made into law.  A few years thereafter, real estate documents, legal documents, and other important filings. began to be used, and a person's real signature was no longer required.  PINs and digital IDs are a whole lot more valuable these days than signatures.  No one needed the fax machine any longer.  They're museum pieces now,

The world has changed.  Those who can't stream a live video on Facebook, who can't snapchat an experience, or who don't have a smart t.v. with streaming programs of what they want to watch will not do well in the phase that's coming.  The coming phase will be feature the populace wearing Fitbit-like bracelets for small amounts of information (not necessarily health related) and screens that transmit light beams for 3D viewing.  Clarenden Schools will fare well.  Businesses always adapt.  The legal world will not be far behind other businesses.  The medical profession will absolutely expand and become infinitely better at diagnosing and treating diseases.  The public will adapt (some of them kicking and screaming).  But the next 50 years will be a pole away from the last 50 years.  Imagine routine trips to Mars and doctors diagnoses sent to you without doctors' visits.  Imagine self-driven cars and electro-magnetic trains everywhere between cities.  Imagine wireless electricity and living in a home with mostly holographic furniture rather than real furniture.  Imagine never talking with someone if they only voice call.   They either show their faces or you will not accept their calls.

Ah-h-h the possiblities!!!  I think I'll do some meditating now by streaming Iđź’—Radio from the t.v... kicking back to enjoy the next phase!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A new face

I found myself on a university campus today.  International students were learning English.  They had plans of continuing their educations at American universities, but had begun their educations by bringing their language skills up to near-native fluency levels before trying to listen to professors teach them their career knowledge.

The lesson started with a short speaking exercise in which each student answered a question from the professor.  At the first grammatical mistake made, the student had to stop speaking.  There was nothing from a book.  They listened to a song so they could learn vocabulary, cultural implications of phrases, idioms, and native pronunciation.  A speaking exercise occurred where students sat across from each other in rows.  They were given a topic and 3 minutes to discuss it.  When the 3 minutes were up, one side of the row moved one chair to their left so students could have new speaking partners.  Other activities came and went since this was a three-hour class.  One was a reading activity, but there were no books.  An internet website was used for the activity.  And one activity involved writing but there was no pen or paper.  Students were writing in an online journal, not with the end result as an essay but as a check for specific grammar evidence.  Writing was to support their speech.  They practiced listening by watching a psychologist speak on YouTube about how the brain remembers.  Comprehension check of this was done by oral rather than written questioning.

Amazing. A whole three-hour block of time with no books, no labs, very little reading and writing except to enhance their speaking abilities.  Now that's a good environment for learning a language.  And when the students came to class they had either a phone or a computer.  They sat at tables.  Each table had a plug built into it for their devices to charge.  The lesson included use of a USA Today app so that students could choose two pictures to complete an exercise where they came to a podium to speak about the pictures.  When it came time to type into their journals about a third of the students use their thumbs and fingers to type on their phones.  The others logged into their journal by computers and typed away. 

In just a few short years, this classroom experience, which has already been transformed from the laborious days of books, writing, and labs, into even a better environment because it will have a seamless environment between the real and virtual worlds and include even less writing and more interaction as a way of learning.  I cannot wait for the next five years to complete the evolution from a learning culture heavily invested in books, classroom, reading, writing, and desks in rows to a world of three dimensional learning, sometimes virtual bringing anything you want to study, no matter how remote, and sometimes real, interacting with physical object and people around you.

Yes, there was a ten-year war from 2007 to 2017.  Technology and visual presentation have annihilated education as it happened in 2007 and before.  The dinosaurs who wanted the status quo before all the changes have begun to die.  Now there is nothing holding the next phase of virtual and real integration from happening.  Alex Kipman in the video below will preview what is already being done and which will be done on a more widespread basis in the short term ahead. 

Can you imagine how much easier space exploration and colonization will be when students began learning with what happens on this stage?  (Most pertinent to the answer to this question is the 4 minutes between time slot 10:00 and 14:00 in the video.)