Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

New Tennessee Tech Could SuperCharge Education

SuperCharge-Education

The technologies of tomorrow are making headway into Tennessee classrooms as one of the largest Digital Resources Library was announced today in Nashville, Tennessee. It took nearly eighteen months to complete the library, which brought fifty-eight Tennessee teachers together, who curated digital learning resources for high school courses that are aligned to state standards.

While Texas and a handful of other states have also created digital libraries, this is one of the largest digital libraries which combined the efforts of numerous organizations including the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA), Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS), Tennessee Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (TASCD), and the Tennessee Educational Technology Association (TETA).

“We are very excited about the launch of the digital library and believe it will be a tremendous resource for our educators and students,” said TSBA Executive Director Dr. Tammy Grissom.

Funded by the American Public Education Foundation and Pickler Companies, the Tennessee Digital Resources Library was created to help school districts use and share open educational resources to help teachers deliver content in the classrooms. Many top educators see the process of technology coming into the classroom as “inevitable” which is why Tennessee took such a strong position in embracing new technologies and creating partnerships with Apple, Inc., which provided technical support to all fifty-eight teachers.

In August 2015, teachers began curating digital learning materials for the following fourteen high school courses: Algebra I and II; Biology; Chemistry; Economics; English I, II, III and IV; Geometry; Government; Physical Science; U.S. and World History.

“Tennessee has been a true reform leader in the post-common core world. The state has established Tennessee-specific standards. They are developing curriculum around these high standards, and with the TDRL, we have the opportunity to bridge the digital divide and create greater educational opportunity for all students,” said Foundation president David A. Pickler, J.D, founder and president of Pickler Companies. The Foundation and Pickler Companies provided all fifty-eight teachers supporting the project with iPad Air 2s and stipends ranging from $500 to $1000 (team leaders).

While many are hoping technology will save time and offer personalized and adaptive delivery of curricula, it is also a potential savings for school districts. The curated digital materials replace costly textbooks that often are obsolete before ever reaching students. Additionally, at a time of significant national concern with the price of higher education, there is also hope that innovative technology can better prepare students for tech-driven workplaces. Early supporters include Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) and Rep. John Forgety (R-Athens), with Tracy noting that to accomplish TDRL “took leadership,” and that these digital resources “will improve the quality of education across the spectrum in Tennessee.”

The Tennessee School Boards Association website, www.tsba.net (click TDRL), houses the materials, which are free to all teachers.

Read Article (Mia Toschi | huffingtonpost.com | 07/12/2016)

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

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The Most Technologically Advanced County in the World

most-technologically-advanc

Have you ever been to Estonia? It’s tiny. Could you find it on a map?

The Baltic nation of only 1.3 million citizens stands out from its Eastern European neighbors in that it has an advanced economy and a high standard of living. And it’s also a technology paradise. You may know it as the home of Skype. But there’s a lot more to the tiny country than that.

In Estonia, voting, signing documents and filling out tax returns is done online, thanks to X-Road, an online tool that coordinates multiple online data repositories and document registries. X-Road provides all Estonians — ordinary citizens, enterprises and government officials — with unparalleled access to the data they need to do business, get licenses, permits and other documents that would take days, weeks or even months in other countries.

X-Road is built with scalability in mind, so that the growing number of services and repositories can easily be attached to the system. Although this digital backbone alone is rather impressive, it’s just one of many products in tech-forward Estonia.

Instead of being held back by its past and falling victim to ailments that plague many post-communist countries, such as corruption, a bloated government and an obsolete education system, Estonia has decided to start with a clean slate and invest in its future. To transform its society into a community of tech-savvy individuals, children as young as 7 are taught the principles and basics of coding. (In comparison, only one in four schools in the U.S. teaches computer programming.)

Such strong foundations have yielded impressive results: Estonians are driven, forward-thinking and entrepreneurial, and the same goes for the government. It takes only five minutes to register a company there and, according to The Economist, the country in 2013 held the world record for the number of startups per person. And it’s not quantity over quality: Many Estonian startups are now successful companies that you may recognize, such as Skype, Transferwise, Pipedrive, Cloutex, Click & Grow, GrabCAD, Erply, Fortumo, Lingvist and others. By the way, Estonia uses the euro.

If all this sounds enticing and you wish to become an entrepreneur there, you’re in luck; starting a business in Estonia is easy, and you can do it without packing your bags, thanks to its e-residency service, a transnational digital identity available to anyone. An e-resident can not only establish a company in Estonia through the Internet, but they can also have access to other online services that have been available to Estonians for over a decade. This includes e-banking and remote money transfers, declaring Estonian taxes online, digitally signing and verifying contracts and documents, and much more.

E-residents are issued a smart ID card, a legal equivalent to handwritten signatures and face-to-face identification in Estonia and worldwide. The cards themselves are protected by 2048-bit encryption, and the signature/ID functionality is provided by two security certificates stored on the card’s microchip.

But great innovations don’t stop there. Blockchain, the principle behind bitcoin that also secures the integrity of e-residency data, will be used to provide unparalleled safety to 1 million Estonian health records. The blockchain will be used to register any and all changes, illicit or otherwise, done to the health records, protecting their authenticity and effectively eliminating any abuse of the data therein.

While there are many lessons that the U.S. and the rest of the world can learn from Estonia, these are especially important: A country must be willing to adapt and change the infrastructure of both the government and the economy if needed, and to continually optimize them. A nation needs to understand that a change of mindset should be thorough and start with the young. An education system should be designed in a way that doesn’t cripple young minds, or overburden them with too much irrelevant information. And, finally, if you want entrepreneurship to thrive, it is necessary to remove bureaucratic and technical obstacles at all levels.

Read Article (Jurica Dujmovic | msn.com | 07/10/2016)

Not to rain on anyone’s parade but there is no information about how (or if) senior citizens in Estonia became tech savvy. Focus seems to be totally on the young members of society and none on their elderly. Other than that, the relationship between government and the public is very impressive and should be viewed as an example of how the digital era can provide benefits to all.

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Tech-Savvy Algonquin Students Help Senior Citizens

Algonquin-Students

Northborough, Massachusetts – Senior citizens who have questions about their iPhones, iPads, Macs and PCs can find answers at Technology Afternoons, held from 2:15 to 4 p.m., two Thursdays a month at the Northborough Senior Center. Eileen Parker, Algonquin Regional High School math teacher, leads the school’s Community Action Program (CAP), which provides student volunteers for a variety of activities, including Technology Afternoons.

According to Palmer, “[CAP] consists of 35 [Algonquin] teens who are dedicated to giving back in the community. These students currently support the Northborough and Southborough senior centers, the Southborough Youth & Family Services, the Coleman House (in Northborough), and other community organizations.”

Palmer said that she recruits students, and advises them how to behave respectfully when volunteering. In her classroom, she keeps a large calendar listing upcoming service opportunities.

Currently there are 10 students who participate in Technology Afternoons. About their qualifications, Palmer said, “… Let’s face it. Teenagers are super savvy when it comes to technology. They have been using computers since elementary school and cell phones are really important to them!”

On a recent Thursday, Algonquin senior Danielle DellaPenna, 18, counseled Lisa, who was struggling to decide whether to replace her “Windows” cellphone with an iPhone, given to her by her son’s girlfriend.

“Windows allows me to do very safe text to speech while I am driving. With the iPhone, I’ll have to deal with Siri, and look at the phone while I’m driving,” Lisa said. “I’m going to tell my son that I’m not too old to learn about it, but I’m not changing phones.”

DellaPenna tried to sell Lisa on the benefit of apps with the iPhone, to no avail.

She said, “I’ve been doing [Technology Afternoons] since last year because community service is important to me.”

That sentiment was shared by Algonquin freshman Bradi Mullens. Both students said that they often help seniors set up email accounts on cellphones, and download music into iTunes.

Palmer added that the students deal with cellphone ring tones, cellphone pictures, texting, iPad usage, Kindle usage, and a lot of Word and Excel documents.

“One senior citizen had an [Algonquin] student help prepare all their labels for their Christmas cards this December,” she said. “Anything goes in this program!”

Kelly Burke, director of the Northborough Senior Center said, “It’s been phenomenal to work with all these students who are great experts, having grown up using technology. Our seniors sometimes need help, and we knew that we were going to the right place to find knowledgeable, willing helpers.”

Palmer echoed Burke’s sentiment, “The Algonquin students have a lot of energy, and good hearts. They embrace these CAP service projects.”

For more information and the schedule for Technology Afternoons, contact Kelly Burke at 508-393-5035 or Kburke@town.northborough.ma.us. Palmer can be reached at Epalmer@nsboro.k12.ma.us.

Read Article (Jane Keller Gordon | fiftyplusadvocate.com | 02/26/2016)

Internet availability and access is important without a doubt, but knowing how to fully utilize the constantly evolving devices that connect to it and the Internet itself, is an issue just as important if not more.

Despite technology not providing an adequate alternative for device user manuals, there are still many in society that see the need and do-the-right-thing. And no, apps don’t cut it, they obviously require a certain level of tech skill to use and understand.

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Leak Reveals Galaxy Note 7’s One Key Advantage

Galaxy-Note-7

Putting aside the discussion over potential screen sizesdesign echoes of previous handsets, and the tweaks to Samsung’s Android UI, the upcoming phablet from the South Korean manufacturer has one key advantage over the rest of the Galaxy family which will help it stand out in the internal competition with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

The S-Pen.

As Samsung rationalizes its production chain, focuses on more cost-effective marketing, and looks to create a connected set of devices, it is only natural that the phablet is going to start looking more like the base handset and the innovative brother with the curved screen. The glass design, the iconography, the physical buttons, everything is played out the same field.

The Note range already has its fans, attracted by the larger screen and the highest possible specifications on a Samsung device. They are going to be very satisfied with the expected package, although it looks like the Note 7 is going to ship with the same 3600 mAh battery as the S7 Edge - which is lower than the hoped-for 4000 mAh. The challenge is not how to sell to the faithful, but how to reach beyond that group and boost sales of the device.

Although the S-Pen is not a new addition to the phablet, as the Note 7 design moves towards the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, it acts as a clear point of difference. The jump in screen size between the S7 Edge and the Note 7 is appreciable, but when you lay the handsets out on the retail shelves, only one of them will have a stylus fashionably lying over the touchscreen.

The perceived value of a stylus has grown over the last year. Both Microsoft (with the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book) and Apple (with the iPad Pro’s Apple Pencil)  have pushed the idea of creativity and consumption of media with a stylus. Samsung might be forgiven for feeling a touch chagrined because it has been saying this for years, but the smart thing is turn this around to its own benefit.

The latest information is that the South Korean company will be doing just that. The S-Pen for the Note 7 will have improved BlueTooth LE hardware to allow for more accuracy and features to be utilized by the phablet. Air Command, which is triggered by the S-Pen, will have new options to create a better input experience without actually touching the screen.

The Galaxy Note 7 is expected to be announced on August 2nd, with an appearance in US, South Korean and European retail markets shortly afterwards.

Read Article (Ewan Spence | forbes.com | 06/21/2016)

In an amazing age of technology, it’s so unfortunate that not everyone knows how best to use it to their best advantage.

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After Nice, France Fights Fear With Social Media

France-Fights-Fear

Driving a truck, full speed into Nice’s busy promenade on Bastille Day one Tunisian man inflicted the “worst tragedy” in the modern history of the Cote d’Azur’s capital city. After November’s deadly Paris attacks and the linked March bombings in nearby Belgium, such tragic scenarios have become sadly familiar to the people of France.

With that familiarity, France’s people have set up their own crisis protocols. Sylvain Lapoix, journalist and now social media activist knows this better than most. Within less than an hour of the truck ploughing into Nice’s crowded Promenade des Anglais on Thursday Sylvain Lapoix’s hashtag #PorteOuverte (Open Door) was the top trend in France. Its purpose was to bring together those fleeing the site of attacks with those willing to give them temporary accommodation until it was safe to go outside.

“I came back to my flat on Thursday night after having a drink and I saw those tweets from Nice about what had happened,” Lapoix says. “Then someone sent me a direct message that just read ‘Go Sylvain, Go!’ and I jumped in.”

Via the hashtag, Lapoix, and some of his friends and followers, retweet every request for shelter near the site of an attack and every offer for shelter, in the hope that one click on the trending phrase will be able to connect anyone stranded in the chaos with someone offering them an “open door” nearby.

“Something I have learned in crises like these are that as a civilian there are two ways to help online. The first way to help is just not making things worse. Don’t spread hate online, don’t spread false information or speculation,” Lapoix says. “The second way to help is just to share something useful like shelter or even just a positive word.”

Since November Lapoix has inadvertently become a kind of spokesman for the phrase which he coined but says he did not technically create. “With #PorteOuverte I was the first one to come up with that particular term, but the solidarity was already there,” Lapoix says.

The hashtag was set up during the Paris attacks by Lapoix as numerous attacks began hitting cafes and places of leisure in the city, leaving many without an apartment nearby, afraid to stay outside and afraid to go indoors. Lapoix was cooking in his Paris flat when the first reports of a blast in the Stade de France stadium came in. He logged on to Twitter to find out what was happening, frantically checking his texts and messenger apps to make sure his loved ones were OK.

Within 20 minutes, shooting and explosions had been reported in five sites in central Paris, including the Bataclan concert venue where the largest part of the carnage took place.

“After the attack I was invited on a news TV show to talk about it and the host asked me how I felt that this needed to be done, that it would become something huge,” Lapoix says. “I didn’t feel anything. I just saw one-person tweet that they are lost and they gave their address and then I saw someone else on my feed, writing ‘if you are in this place, you can get in my house for safety.’ They happened to be near and I just thought here are two people who will never meet if they do not have the same newsfeed as I do.”

“There is demand for shelter and there is an offer and they cannot meet,” Lapoix says. “I just coined a phrase and put them in touch. That is all I did. And the host of the show was looking at me like I had some sort of epiphany. I just coined a term and then it got out of my hands in a very good way because everyone started doing the same.”

The hashtag was used during the Brussels attacks, and in Nice, although no follow-up attack occurred, it was not only used but became the top trend within minutes of the reports of the attack, thanks to people across France and abroad understanding how it works.

“There is one very specific thing that makes a huge difference between what happened during the Nice attack and Paris and Brussels,” Lapoix says. “For the first time the hashtag was eventually used by local authorities. Nice Matin, one of the biggest local papers coined the local hashtag #PortesOuvertesNice, which was then relayed by the Nice local authorities.”

Lapoix’s hashtag had become shorthand for civilian crisis response. And it was not the only one. Before long, #RechercheNice became an emerging hashtag, with people posting images of loved ones they had been separated from in the chaos of the events at the promenade. The national Gendarmerie, now aware many were likely looking to their phones, tablets and computers for answers, began tweeting instructions in five languages. With the death toll varying drastically from reports and a hoax video of the Eiffel Tower on fire spreading, speculation was rife. Even Parisian police kept an eye on Nice social media space, quickly debunking that an attack had hit the capital's landmark on Twitter. What had been learned from Paris and Brussels was being implemented swiftly.

“Sadly, people are now used to the threat but they also realise the importance of social media and they are more demanding for information,” Lapoix says. “There were complaints that the Safety Check feature on Facebook was too slow to activate,” he says referring to the social media’s site’s tool, asking anyone in the vicinity of an attack or disaster, indicate they are safe. The feature was widely used and praised during the Paris attacks.

“The taxi companies pretty much decided to give free rides but the news didn’t flow through the prefecture or the mayor. The companies communicated it on social media,” he adds.

Beirut-born Joseph Ayoubm, 27, was among those offering shelter in Nice. He was living in Paris during the Paris attacks and says he was impressed with how quickly the Cote d’Azur city mobilized.

“Once the information was official, the response from everyone was quite impressive,” Ayoubm says. “I think it is because we were preparing for something like this to happen, with France hosting the Euro football championship. We saw what happened in Paris and we already lived this once. People knew what was effective and what wasn't.”

Ayoubm and his girlfriend were quick to offer shelter via #PortesOuvertesNice, but nobody called on them, as there were several hotels nearby including hotel Mercure. He became a French citizen five years ago and believes the country will outlast the violent threat that has shed blood across the continent’s big cities.

“I grew up knowing we have to live with that in Beirut,” he says. “Now it feels like we're going also to live with that in France. I'm a positive person, so you cry for one night, and you move forward. It's easy to say and hard to do. But it's not a couple of fanatics who are going to teach us how to live.”

Alizée, 17, also joined the campaign, offering shelter. “If I was in the same situation I would love to see people involved like I was and to offer some help to me,” she says. “I was so impressed, that night and I was wondering If someone would do this hashtag, like during the attack in Paris. I agree that French people are very united (now) but the government need to do their job too.”

The investigation into why the Nice attack happened is ongoing and the French government is already faced with much pressure from the opposition to explain how they allowed another attack to end in the death of innocent civilians in the middle of a French metropolis. According to Lapoix however, people are creating their own crisis response.

“I am proud of coming up with a positive word in the middle of this mess. The real heroes are the ones offering help and shelter,” Lapoix says. “Emotionally you can never prepare for this unless you’re a Special Force agent, a navy seal or Jack Bauer. But practically you can learn what to do,” he adds.

“What I have learned is that people are truly amazing sometimes. Just give them the right tool and they can make anything happen,” Lapoix says.

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

In times of crisis such as this, the human spirit can be truly amazing though tasks the need to be accomplished may be depressing. Not surprisingly, there are many a harsh word in the comments.

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