|By Shelly Palmer||
|December 21, 2012 12:40 AM EST||
I hope we can all agree that throwing technology at children will not make them smarter.
Let’s start there, because we are throwing a lot of technology at kids these days. Computers have made their way into many classrooms. Shockingly (and sadly), not all classrooms and educators, schools and parents stay up to date.
Tablets have sped up the use of technology in the classroom. The cost of these computing devices keeps dropping, lowering the barrier between the growing minds of kids and the necessity for technological literacy. But technology alone won’t make our kids smarter. This month, some interesting research reminds us: It’s the apps, stupid.
All About the Apps
Produced as part of a collaboration between the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the New America Foundation and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, “Pioneering Literacy in the Digital Wild West: Empowering Parents and Educators” (by Lisa Guernsey, Michael H. Levine, Cynthia Chiong & Maggie Stevens) reviews education apps for kids. The report highlights that over 80 percent of top-selling paid apps in the Education Category target children; of those, 72 percent target preschool-aged children. But what’s the quality of all those apps? In short: not so good.
Out of the 137 recently published “educational literacy” apps, websites and e-books that the group reviewed, most only covered basic skills and basic forms of learning (like letters, sounds and word recognition). Less than 20 percent focused on high lever skills, like comprehension and the ability to understand and tell stories.
This research reminds us that technology alone in the hands of children is not enough. It also tells us that educational apps and software alone also is not enough. Buying our kids a bunch of apps will not make them smarter – a much broader parent, educator and peer learning framework is needed.
I don’t think this will surprise most people. In our better hours, we know that education is complicated and each child’s learning needs to be rigorously personalized. No two kids learn the exact same way, yet we still search for the big road signs to make sure that our kids are on the right road to the future.
Preparing for Tomorrow, Today
As a futurist, I often get asked by caring parents and earnest educators, “What can I tell my kids to do to get them prepared for the future?”
This question troubles me.
Typically, when people think about our kids and the future, they want to know what these young people can do today to prepare for tomorrow’s uncertainty. They talk about the future as if it’s this thing that is coming at our kids, and if our kids aren’t ready, the future will gobble them up like some evil witch in a fairy tale.
It’s this fear that troubles me. When it comes to our kids, many people are frightened of the future. This fear breeds bad decisions.
We throw poorly designed apps at our kids in hopes that the evil witch of the future will not eat them. Instead of taking the time to make measured decisions about our kid’s education, we freak out.
We freak out because we love our kids and we want our kids to have a safe and prosperous future. This is a good thing. More people should freak out. But where should we put all that energy? Can we focus someplace more constructive?
We’re Doing it All Wrong
Douglas Rushkoff has an idea for what we could do with all that energy. Doug is a media theorist and technology writer. In the early 1990s, he wrote one of the first thoughtful books about the Internet: Cyberia: Life in the Trenches of Cybersapce. In his most recent book, Program or Be Programed (2011), Doug wrote:
“The underlying capability of the computer era is actually programming—which almost none of us knows how to do. We simply use programs that have been made for us, and enter our text in the appropriate box on the screen. We teach kids how to use software to write, but not how to write software.”
I take Doug’s advice one step further. When I get the question, “What can I tell my kids to do to get them prepared for the future?” I immediately answer, “Learn to code!”
Typically, the person who asked the question looks puzzled, having expected a more complex answer. I repeat myself: “Learn to code!”
Everyone should learn how to code, not just kids.
It’s a simple solution to the math of the coming future. We know that by 2015, there will be around 15 billion computer and devices that can connect to the Internet. That’s more devices than there are people on the planet. All of those devices run on code, software and applications.
Many people talk about learning Chinese, German or Hindi a valuable skill for the coming decades. While I agree, I would also say that learning to code might be more important. There will be more computers than people in China, Germany and Japan put together.
However, understanding code goes far beyond just being able to talk to computers and understand how those computers talk to each other. When you really dig in and start to understand this code, you learn something very important about the future.
From Baking Cake to Coding Apps
To understand code is really about understanding an algorithm. This might sound super geeky, but an algorithm is pretty simple. It’s a series of steps used to process data and deliver an end result.
Some of the first algorithms were cooking and baking recipes. By following each step, you get the same end result. Some dry ingredients, some wet ingredients… mix them up, pop it all in the oven, wait a bit and boom! You get cake. The algorithm could look like this. I drew it out in my notebook:
When you really get to know how algorithms work you realize two things:
(1) Algorithms are beautiful. They are “recipes” that let us do amazing things. Look at Google’s Page Rank algorithm (pictured below). This is the algorithm that essentially built Google. This collection of steps allows you to do a search for “simple cake recipe” and get back about 41,300,000 results in 0.26 seconds.
When you think about all the amazing things this little recipe allows us to do every day, you become humbled by Page Rank. It is a beautiful creation by people.
(2) Code, algorithms and computers are stupid. Think about the computer or smartphone you use every day. If you don’t interact with it exactly how you are supposed to, it doesn’t work. In this way, computers are kind of idiotic. If anything out of the ordinary happens, BAM! It crashes, freezes or just doesn’t work.
Computers, code and algorithms need us to program them. We need to give them step-by-step functions. They can’t do anything else from what they are programed to do. Algorithms don’t have genius ideas… they are built that way.
However, humans have genius ideas! Understanding the limitations of code and algorithms shows you how valuable we all are as humans. Embracing this allows us to better prepare for a world where there are more computers than humans.
(Stay tuned for another look at the future of education, coming early next week.)
DISCLAIMER: I am Intel’s futurist. I am currently on sabbatical from Intel. My thoughts, observations and analyses are mine personally and I am not speaking on behalf of Intel.
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
Mar. 29, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,417
The WebRTC Summit 2014 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
Mar. 28, 2015 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,498
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Mar. 28, 2015 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,748
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
Mar. 28, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,168
Wearable technology was dominant at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) , and MWC was no exception to this trend. New versions of favorites, such as the Samsung Gear (three new products were released: the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit), shared the limelight with new wearables like Pebble Time Steel (the new premium version of the company’s previously released smartwatch) and the LG Watch Urbane. The most dramatic difference at MWC was an emphasis on presenting wearables as fashion accessories and moving away from the original clunky technology associated with t...
Mar. 28, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,312
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.
Mar. 28, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,790
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Mar. 28, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,433
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed expressly to run Docker. He will also discuss Rancher, an orchestration and service discovery platf...
Mar. 28, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,406
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Things. Akana enables enterprises to share data as APIs, connect and integrate applications, drive part...
Mar. 28, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,484
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
Mar. 28, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,146
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
Mar. 28, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,750
SYS-CON Events announced today that Liaison Technologies, a leading provider of data management and integration cloud services and solutions, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Liaison Technologies is a recognized market leader in providing cloud-enabled data integration and data management solutions to break down complex information barriers, enabling enterprises to make smarter decisions, faster.
Mar. 28, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,410
Cloud is not a commodity. And no matter what you call it, computing doesn’t come out of the sky. It comes from physical hardware inside brick and mortar facilities connected by hundreds of miles of networking cable. And no two clouds are built the same way. SoftLayer gives you the highest performing cloud infrastructure available. One platform that takes data centers around the world that are full of the widest range of cloud computing options, and then integrates and automates everything. Join SoftLayer on June 9 at 16th Cloud Expo to learn about IBM Cloud's SoftLayer platform, explore se...
Mar. 28, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,599
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the M2M space. This really allows some room for influential individuals to create more high value inter...
Mar. 28, 2015 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,625
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on Twitter at @MicroservicesE
Mar. 28, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,399
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark and Intel Edison. You will also get an overview of cloud technologies s...
Mar. 28, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,028
SYS-CON Events announced today that SafeLogic has been named “Bag Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SafeLogic provides security products for applications in mobile and server/appliance environments. SafeLogic’s flagship product CryptoComply is a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic engine designed to secure data on servers, workstations, appliances, mobile devices, and in the Cloud.
Mar. 28, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,372
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
Mar. 28, 2015 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,185
SOA Software has changed its name to Akana. With roots in Web Services and SOA Governance, Akana has established itself as a leader in API Management and is expanding into cloud integration as an alternative to the traditional heavyweight enterprise service bus (ESB). The company recently announced that it achieved more than 90% year-over-year growth. As Akana, the company now addresses the evolution and diversification of SOA, unifying security, management, and DevOps across SOA, APIs, microservices, and more.
Mar. 28, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,017
After making a doctor’s appointment via your mobile device, you receive a calendar invite. The day of your appointment, you get a reminder with the doctor’s location and contact information. As you enter the doctor’s exam room, the medical team is equipped with the latest tablet containing your medical history – he or she makes real time updates to your medical file. At the end of your visit, you receive an electronic prescription to your preferred pharmacy and can schedule your next appointment.
Mar. 28, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 625