Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

Technology is the most important School Investment

Important-Investment

But educators in poorer schools also need basic supplies. Teachers want more technology in their classrooms — and fast.

A new study from DonorsChoose.com, a nonprofit organization that lets teachers request items for their classes so donors can fulfill their requests, found that teachers rank technology as the most important expenditure for schools, followed by school supplies and books.

In recent years, DonorsChoose says, teachers’ requests for tablets have increased dramatically on the site — and educators say they’re the piece of technology they need the most.

However, not all teachers request technology products to the same degree. Those who work in schools with more affluent students are more likely to request help with bringing technology to their students. Teachers who work in lower-income schools are more desperate for basic school supplies.

After books, tablets are the next most-requested item in low-poverty school districts, while paper and “paper crafts” are the next most-requested item. The disparity in student access to technology could have dire consequences, contributing to the achievement gap and widening digital divide between rich and poor students.

Overall, only about 6 percent of teachers have a tablet for every student, and only about 5 percent have a desktop computer for every student. Forty-five percent of teachers say their school is outfitted with technology that is too outdated to be helpful, the report found.

Exposure to technology in school can be especially important for students without access to computers or the internet at home. In 2013, about 75 percent of households reported internet use, according to the U.S. Census.

The most affluent schools are being outfitted with the fastest internet connections. About 39 percent of schools with an affluent student population have high-speed internet, compared to 14 percent of schools with a low-income student population.

Since 2000, over 600,000 teachers have made requests for help with classroom projects and items on DonorsChoose.org.

In March, Iowa educator Tera Sperfslage said she raised $3,500 through the site to buy classroom supplies, including reading games and number charts, for her first-grade class.

“Our students are hungry. They come hungry for food, and hungry for love and affection, and hungry to learn,” Sperfslage told The Huffington Post at the time. “They need us to make school entertaining for them and engaging. They have so many other things on their minds and plates.”

Read Article (name | domain | 03/11/2016)

Clearly, the efforts of volunteers, family or friends and whoever, to teach others to use high-tech mobile devices and the Internet, have only slowed the growth of the digital divide. But it’s still growing and we will keep asking for your help in addressing this growing issue.

For some odd reason, many are under the delusion that the divide is miraculously closing or are just in denial. But the sooner this is addressed the easier it will be to contend with the millions left behind.

A mobile device and the Internet are capable of so much more than just communication and entertainment.

Master Level High-Tech Webinars

Why a Current Online Presence Matters?

Current-Online-Presence

Why does Sunrise Senior Living have a blog?  Actually, it appears to have been updated today.  You might think that a company in the residential senior care business wouldn’t.  And further, Brookdale can be followed on Twitter.   So can JoAnn Jenkins of AARP – that makes great sense – AARP is a content/media company.  So what’s up when you can’t find any reasonably current content, or worse, the site offers up a suggestion to meet up in…2015? Or when the last tweet from a company that is still in business and is doing quite well – but their last Tweet was in 2012?

Online presence builds confidence – especially for new connections.  So let’s say that Mr. Offline Consultant is well-liked among prospective clients, has many repeat engagements based on someone he knows. What if a client replaces his last senior contact with someone new?  It happens – there’s a new sheriff in town, so to speak (as with the Philips-to-IBM-move example).  So Mr. Offline finishes up his get-acquainted meeting, leaves the building, and the new executive searches the web. But finds…nothing new from the past 6 months.  Should confidence in Mr. Offline be shaken? And why?

No online presence signals market disinterest or worse -- out-of-business.   Perhaps your files are filled with material from departed companies.  For their time, perhaps they were great ideas, service offerings or products.  Perhaps these firms thought they could market without channel partners or perhaps they picked the wrong partners. Perhaps they led with a poorly-thought out product description.  Whatever the reason for their exit, future prospects have the right to know that they are gone. Consider Emeritus Senior Living -- online now as part of Brookdale but also immortalized on Wikipedia and elsewhere.  Does it matter that Brookdale tweets?  Of course it does -- it shows that they are still around and view Twitter as the searched environment that it is – that they want their website to be found.  And the redirect from the search for Emeritus?  Ditto.

All market segments depend on search. Whether through Twitter or Google, if in business, firms want and need to be found – and with good and reasonably recent content.  Some that disappear without a trace leave the consumer wondering – what happened?  Remember the Floh Club and Florence Henderson?  Probably not, but that one, unlike Emeritus, quietly evaporated, leaving behind only head-scratching.  But as that article just showed, you can be gone but the Internet never forgets. And if you really want to be remembered right now for your current offerings, fix the site, the tweets, aging marketing, and why not…follow lots of people and offer up a few Tweets.

Read Article (Laurie Orlov | ageinplacetech.com | 06/08/2016)

In this digital era, having a current online presence can also extend to individuals as they job hunt and seek to extend their career. An outdated or missing online presence can project a negative impression even if the company doesn’t require a high level of digital skills. This seems to just be the trend in today’s job market.

This is another niche where our service can benefit many individuals in a very convenient way. We really need your support to bring this vital service to the masses. #socialcitynet

Master Level High-Tech Webinars

Facebook Outreach Blatantly Ignores “Black Lives Matter”

Outreach-Blatantly-Ignores

When Facebook launched a new system in January to help news outlets and other groups target posts to particular audiences, a representative of the New York Times said it had the potential to kindle “vibrant discussions” within “niche Facebook communities” that might otherwise get lost amid the social network’s 1.6 billion users. And indeed, in the system’s first several months, software algorithms have generated hundreds of thousands of special tags for connecting to even the most obscure groups, including 7,800 Facebook users who are interested in “Water motorsports at the 1908 Summer Olympics.”

But there’s one set of people who can’t be reached via Facebook’s system: those interested in Black Lives Matter, the nationwide grassroots movement protesting police violence against black people.

Facebook’s targeting mechanism, designed to route articles and videos from Facebook Pages into users’ news feeds, will gladly help reach other protest communities. For example, publishers can target people interested in the conservative Tea Party or in its largely forgotten liberal response, the “Coffee Party,” as well as those enthusiastic about the “Fight for $15” labor movement and the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement” around Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians, all by attaching to their posts selectors known as Preferred Audience interest tags.

That there’s no such tag for Black Lives Matter is particularly baffling given that BLM began on Facebook in 2013 and has dominated headlines ever since.

Facebook tells The Intercept that the omission does not reflect its own stance toward the movement and blamed the lack of a Black Lives Matter targeting tag on the software that automatically generates the tags.

But BLM’s absence from Facebook’s targeting program looks all the more stark in the wake of high-profile revelations from a Facebook news curator who told Gizmodo that he and his colleagues had to “inject” Black Lives Matter into Facebook’s “Trending News” section because it was having a difficult time gaining traction.

It also hearkens back to a controversial moment in 2014, when protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police killing of Michael Brown blanketed Twitter feeds. Facebook feeds were instead saturated with posts about the “ice bucket challenge,” a boisterous viral campaign to raise awareness for the brain disease ALS. The success of that effort, which according to the ALS Association raised $115 million — nearly six times the group’s annual budget — shows what a favorable algorithm ranking can do for a campaign.

On the other hand, algorithms can also have a potentially crushing effect on social and political movements, which increasingly rely on social media and journalism to grow and sustain their support bases. By providing a tag to target a particular group, Facebook encourages the production of content for that group. And good reporting strengthens political movements and shapes public discourse.

Social media teams, including ours at The Intercept, use interest tags to promote their journalism and expand their reach. If said journalism isn’t reaching its intended audience — and if a publication’s traffic reflects that — outlets are disincentivized from investing limited resources into covering the movement and the issues its followers care about.

According to Christian Sandvig, an associate professor at the University of Michigan who studies the cultural consequences of algorithmic systems, groups like Black Lives Matter may be missing from the system because Facebook’s programmers wrote a “machine-learning” algorithm — based on artificial intelligence — that produces results even Facebook does not understand.

“Machine learning writes its own software. [It] writes its own rules,” he said. “The reason that a particular item or content is selected or not selected may not be recoverable.”

Lending credence to this theory, Facebook said there is no way to know with any certainty why any specific interest tag is included or missing from its list. “We’re committed to and working on improving our system to generate a more comprehensive list of interests that are relevant for people and useful for publishers,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

Companies that write software like the Preferred Audience system often act like “there’s no human intervention — as though writing software wasn’t human,” said Sandvig. “If you ran a business that did something like that you wouldn’t necessarily have this defense.”

Part of the problem may actually be that Facebook is eager to create pleasant user experiences. Its News Feed algorithm brings people content they’re expected to like and hides content that might make them unhappy. So if a lot of users block or hide posts related to Black Lives Matter because they find the violent or controversial nature of the issue objectionable, that can affect how visible other Black Lives Matter content is.

“Because we learn about the world through the social media algorithm, in the future we might be learning about a new kind of world,” said Sandvig. “One that reflects certain decisions — made by internet platforms — about what kind of mood they want us to be in or what feeling they want us to have while using them.”

“The computer and the user coproduce relevance,” said Sandvig. “You’re training the algorithm and it’s training you.”

Read Article (Travis Mannon | theintercept.com | 06/09/2016)

When software engineers are contracted to develop and algorithm, this is done from a standpoint that provides “Plausible Denial” for the entity issuing the contract.

Just as businesses are well aware of any finger-pointing that may arise from their projects in the digital era, all consumers should hone their digital skills as much as possible. We are striving to help individuals in this endeavor. #socialcitynet

Master Level High-Tech Webinars

Connect Everyone to Internet & Gain $6.7 Trillion

Gain-$6.7-Trillion

Bringing internet access to the 4.1 billion people in the world who do not have it would increase global economic output by $6.7 trillion (£4.6tr), and raise 500 million people out of poverty, according to a study by PwC’s strategy consultants.

The report, titled Connecting the world: Ten mechanisms for global inclusion, was prepared for Facebook.

Getting everyone in the world online is not as tall an order as one might think, according to the company: affordability, rather than infrastructure, is the main barrier to internet adoption in most areas. More than nine-tenths of the world’s population live in places where the infrastructure exists to get them online, but the majority of them cannot afford to do so.

For 66% of the world, a 500MB data plan costs more than 5% of their monthly income, the level the report’s authors describe as “unaffordable”. But some people decide to get online despite the cost – in China, just 22% of people can have a high enough income by that measure to make internet access affordable for them, even though 46% of the population is online. Even if it’s expensive, if there’s enough of a reason for someone to get online, they may look past the cost.

By contrast, in most of the developing world, the necessary infrastructure is already in place to get internet to the whole population, if they could afford it. China, Brazil and Indonesia all have 100% of their populations covered by internet-capable infrastructure.

While cost reductions sound easier to achieve than total infrastructure creation, that can understate the magnitude of the reductions needed. To get 80% of their populations online, for instance, Ethiopia, Nigeria and the Philippines would all have to see a cut in the price of internet access by well over 90%.

Improvement of existing technology, or even simply installing existing technology in developing nations, will suffice to bring about much of this cost reduction. For instance, the vast majority of the world’s mobile spectrum is being used to deliver 2G internet: if it was upgraded to 3G or 4G, the cost of mobile data would plummet. But such an upgrade requires money spent upfront, not only by carriers, but also by users, who must buy (comparatively) more expensive phones.

The focus on cost reductions marries with Facebook’s own Internet.org project, which is aimed at partnering carriers in developing nations to give low-cost internet access. It has come under criticism, however, from web luminaries such as Tim Berners-Lee, who dislike Facebook’s approach of limiting the low-cost access to a subsection of the web.

So-called zero rating, which lies at the heart of efforts by Internet.org to expand web access, involves allowing internet users to access some websites, such as Wikipedia and Facebook, without paying for the data they use. But the approach is criticized by net neutrality advocates like Berners-Lee, who said: “I tend to say ‘Just say no.’ In the particular case of somebody who’s offering … something which is branded internet, it’s not internet, then you just say no.”

But Jonathan Tate, technology consulting leader at PwC, argues that Facebook’s approach is worth it in the long term. While zero rating provides access to a slimmer version of the internet than the full web, he says it’s a crucial stepping stone to full access. “The important thing here is to get things moving,” he added.

Facebook’s motivation for paying for Internet.org is partially explained by PwC’s estimates of where the benefits of new access accrue. While most of the economic benefits of new internet access come to those freshly online, the consultancy estimates that content providers such as Facebook stand to gain a $200bn (£138bn) opportunity over the next five years.

But new technology will still be needed to achieve total connectivity. The reports’ authors estimate that the last 500 million people to get online won’t be able to rely on piecemeal improvements. Instead, they’ll need new “disruptive technologies” being created by companies like Google, with its Project Loon plan to mount internet access points on balloons, and Facebook, with its solar-powered, laser-armed 4G drone called Aquila.

Read Article (Alex Hern | theguardian.com | 05/17/2016)

Though self-serving Facebook does stand to gain monetarily over those five years, the access all those individuals will gain is worth it, I believe. And as they’ve already said, it’s an important stepping stone to full access. It’s also better than doing nothing at all.

But even though Internet access is without a doubt important, knowing how to fully utilize the constantly evolving devices that connect to it and the Internet itself is an issue just as important, it not more. Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage, and we need your support.

Master Level High-Tech Webinars

Digital & Media Literacy for Today’s Learners

Digital-&-Media-Literacy

The definition of literacy has evolved in the 21st century. The basic definition of literacy means to be able to read and write. To be successful in today’s digital world, literacy goes far beyond being able to read and write. What it means to be digitally literate has reflected the change in how information is processed, delivered, and received in today’s highly connected world. The University Library of The University of Illinois defines digital literacy as:

  1. The ability to use digital technology, communication tools or networks to locate, evaluate, use and create information.
  2. The ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers.
  3. A person’s ability to perform tasks effectively in a digital environment… Literacy includes the ability to read and interpret media, to reproduce data and images through digital manipulation, and to evaluate and apply new knowledge gained from digital environments.

Digital Literacy includes learning how to use technology’s tools. The list of digital tools is never ending. New releases make something that was new yesterday old today. Educators as well as students must thoughtfully determine which tools are essential to their digital literacy tool kit. Tool kits vary from one educator to another as they do from one student to another. Once you have mastered a particular tool, move on to another so you can increase your digital power.

Students are wired to learn digitally. They come to us with handhelds practically attached to their limbs. Our obligation is to teach them to become responsible digital citizens as well as discerning users of everything the internet has to offer in our globally collaborative world. Pamela Ann Kirst states in a November 2013 Zanesville Times Recorder article “Accessing information takes a nanosecond; the assimilation of that information, the interpretation and application of it, are the skills we need today. Anyone with Internet skills can find the data; it’s the finder who can tell us why it’s important that gets recognized.”

Media literacy is a 21st century approach to education in which the Center for Media Literacy defines as:

A framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms — from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.

“Technology ignites opportunities for learning, engages today’s students as active learners and participants in decision-making on their own educational futures and prepares our nation for the demands of a global society in the 21st century.”

US Digital Literacy believes in supporting Instructional Technologists in every school to facilitate digital and media literacy instruction for all children and all teachers and staff. School systems should make provisions for a certified Instructional Technologist in every school to truly embrace 21st century education in their schools. All districts need to look forward to what will continue to transform education and what has only been a taste of the evolution of technology in the lives of our children.

While in her blog article “14 things that are obsolete in 21st Century Schools”, Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson states “The idea of taking a whole class to a computer room with outdated equipment, once a week to practice their typewriting skills and sending them back to the classroom 40 minutes later, is obsolete. Computers or technology should not just be a specific subject, that’s not sufficient anymore but rather it should be an integral part of all the subjects and built into the curriculum.” But be careful in your plans for that old computer lab, it does NOT have to be removed from the building, it simply needs a visionary at your school to help repurpose it.  Regenerating a computer lab into a Maker Space, Reading Lab with devices, a SMART lab or other 21st Century space will help teachers understand the need to step out of dated practice.

Technology must be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.”  -Chris Lehmann, Principal of Science Leadership Academy

Read Article (Staff | digitalliteracy.us | 04/19/2016)

For most of us education did not begin in this fashion. The digital literacy of technology just left us behind (though some will deny it). Nevertheless, all adults have been striving in some way to either learn & catch-up or upgrade their skills ever since the digital era began.

The problem is, this stuff can be complicated for most of us without some kind of assistance which shouldn’t be hard to find. But unfortunately, that’s not quite true. Beyond family, friends or volunteer organizations there are not many places to turn to for gaining that assistance. Then when you do find a source to learn, many times, it’s not easy to get there or access.

Which brings us to this campaign. Assistance with learning to use high-tech devices that connect to the Internet and digital literacy is what we are all about. Check out our campaign and see how we can provide face-to-face assistance, where you can even ask questions, right from the comfort and security on home.

Master Level High-Tech Webinars