#3: CommTech and Education

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In elementary school, I remember using the colorful, round iMacs pictured above. By the time I graduated high school, we had a lab full of the latest iMac computers all of which were huge and sleek.

As Professor Esrock stated, communication technologies like computers and the Internet have been an integral part of millennials’ education. And in the future, the role of communication technologies in education will only increase.

Concerning my experience with commtechs in education, I think they have greatly facilitated learning. Things like the Internet and computers have spurred a wider array of classes being offered. Now there are classes focused solely on mastering use of communication technologies. In fact, my high school was a business and technology school that had a student help desk.

A con that I have seen, however, is the these same technologies can be used as a crutch and hinder education. For example, teachers can use online programs as a crutch without putting in as much effort as traditional education. Same goes for students. Students can fall into the trap of relying too heavily on the Internet for answers, in effect ‘taking the easy way out.’

Finding a good balance is a responsibility of the educator and the student. There is nothing wrong with using the internet, computers, or cellphones to help supplement lecture. The relationship needs to be complementary on both ends.

There are now hybrid courses which combine Internet lectures or activities with in-class teaching. A lot of language courses do this. I am currently enrolled in a hybrid course for Arabic. This course is four credits versus three due to the online component. Hybrid courses represent a balance that universities are testing out.

Another commtech that has been slowly emerging as a medium of choice is the e-book. Anyone with a computer screen can access e-books which have many benefits.

E-books tend to be less expensive and better for the environment. They are paperless so there is less waste as a result. In addition, if they are part of a cloud service you can access your books from any device with an Internet connection. Or log in to an account that has your ebooks saved. E-books are easier to search through and the devices for them are relatively inexpensive.

So why aren’t they in the hands of every college student?

Again, I will refer to the cost vs benefit equation. The cost for a e-reader can be much less than the cost of a physical textbook. It’s easier to search for specific passages or quotes and e-readers are better for the environment. According to this theory, e-books should be the hottest mode of reading.

However consumers just aren’t used to them.E-textbooks are a cheaper option, but students remain skeptical. Many people, myself included, find it better to have a physical  book. It’s easier to take notes and write sticky notes. They also strain your eyes less whenever you’re studying late at night. This is a case where individual preferences may outweigh price/benefit calculations. In the USA Today article, many students shared their varying opinions on e-books and their future. Some people have really caught on to e-books and use them regularly. Others see the benefits but want to keep traditional.

College courses are also straying from the traditional. Recently, Massive Open Online Course(s), or MOOC(s), have emerged as an innovative change to the traditional lecture. MOOCs are offered by edX, a MIT-Harvard University nonprofit, free of charge to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. These MOOCs have been raising questions as to just how much they will change higher education.

In “How Online Learning is Reinventing College,” the article identifies the candid question behind the camera which is where is this all leading?

I agree that MOOCs are a great way to reach people that universities might not otherwise engage. In the words of Horace Mann, education is the great equalizer. Now, students in under-served areas can access MIT courses for free. Hopefully, this will have a positive effect on literacy and math rates across the county. Of course this cannot count as the sole solution to education reform but it can be one of many.

Some people think universities will go bankrupt as a result of online learning. Others think it cheapens that value of a degree. Still others are cautiously adopting this technology in their own courses. Like any technology before it, it is hard to predict the success of MOOCs.

I think there is a valid point in the article that digital learning can’t provide the intimacy of the classroom or the social experience of the campus. I think again this is another example of individual preferences outweighing predictions. A student who is not engaged on campus and doesn’t get involved may as well take an online course. But a student who is active on campus may find it better to stick to traditional courses.

There are many questions still left unanswered regarding the future of MOOCs and e-books. Years later we might look back and see that they did fulfill predictions made today. But in our ever-changing now, it continues to be extremely difficult to tell just how successful these technologies will be.

 

 

 

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My Advice to Hispanic/Latinx High School Students

I consider myself privileged despite the fact that I still face things such as racism and sexism. Why? Because I’m already in a privileged position due to the fact that I attend a post-secondary institution. I also don’t have to worry about how I’m going to pay to attend said institution. In fact, I’m fortunate enough to get money back each semester.

I know this to be true when I see my friends work long hours while going to school full time just to pay for their books. I also know that it is my undocumented friends who suffer the most.

I don’t think most people realize the privilege that being documented gives you. You have access to things that you take as a given but are only a dream to others. You can access basic healthcare, get a driver’s license, apply for decent paying jobs, apply for student aid, and many other things.

That is why I get frustrated when I see documented people not taking advantage of the opportunities given to them. I understand that many students have serious responsibilities outside of school such as babysitting and working.

However, I am speaking to those who have the access to resources that many others lack but are not willing to put in the effort.

There is no reason that writing an essay should hold you back from free money. “I don’t feel like it” is not a good reason. As someone who speaks Spanish would say – ponte las pilas

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Really it should be mijit@

I attended a “low-performing” school that was also low-income and had a lot of behavioral problems. I let myself wallow in angst that I couldn’t transfer for two years. Here are a few things I learned as I got my head out of my ass and realized I needed to make the most of my high school experience:

  •  Join clubs and organizations. I know this seems like a generic response but it could be the factor that gets you that full-tuition scholarship. Be an active member. Don’t think that just your attendance will suffice.
  • Take on a leadership position in said clubs and organizations. These really build your resume and lets colleges/employers know you’re committed.
  • Try your best to get good grades. This seems like a given but it can make a world of difference if your state has programs that reward you money for a good GPA.
  • Volunteer. Not only will this boost your applications, but it will also help you empathize with others and continuously check your privilege.
  • Try to have a good relationship with your guidance counselor. Make sure they know your name and what you do. A lot of times they will recommend students for programs and scholarships, but they have to know who you are first.
  • Take the time to review your applications and essays with your English teacher. But don’t change something if you truly feel like you don’t need to. It is your essay.
  • APPLY for programs and scholarships. Really do your research and apply for as many as you can. In Kentucky, the Governor’s Scholars Program is a fantastic way to get a taste of the college experience. It also helps that many state schools offer scholarships for scholars depending on your ACT. Basically, if you qualify, apply for it.

Worst case scenario, you get rejected. Best case scenario, you can tell your parents they don’t have to pay a cent for your education. If an essay, interview, or having to commit to a program seem like too much work, imagine how much harder it will be to pay out of pocket.

I know not everyone’s situation is the same as mine so you will likely find your own path. These are tips for everyone who needs them and are things I learned while preparing for college.

A lot of us have lived as citizens and enjoy the benefits of our parent’s hard work. Now it’s time to show them that their sacrifices have all been worth it. It’s also time to reach out to those who don’t have access to these resources and show our support and solidarity. Si se puede!