Learning Bulletin Board: Adaptation in Education
This article is part of our Learning Special report on how the pandemic continues to change our approach to education.
bridging the digital distance
Aayush Agarwal loves speech and debate. When the pandemic forced online debate tournaments during his sophomore year in high school in San Jose, Calif., he realized what it meant to live on the other side of the digital divide.
Many of Ayush’s friends in other schools in the city did not have computers or stable internet connections to participate in online tournaments or sessions. Then, on a Reddit debate channel, she saw postings from across the country, like, ‘Hey, I need help; I can’t join these online tournaments,’ or ‘I can’t use Zoom because my internet is too slow,’ said 17-year-old Aayush.
“That, to me, was really disappointing,” he said. “These guys are great debaters. They’re probably better than me, but they won’t be in the tournament not because they didn’t qualify for it, but simply because they don’t have the resources in terms of capacity.
So Ayush — now a senior at Basis Independent Silicon Valley, a private school in San Jose — decided to do something about it.
In March 2021, he and three other students from Evergreen Valley High School and Leyland High School in San Jose started CloseingTheDivide, a nonprofit that collects and refurbishes used electronic devices, then recycles them. Donates to low-income families and students.
The group doesn’t stop at providing equipment. Ayush said, “We also focus on other aspects of technological proficiency, such as helping low-income residents connect to the Internet discounts through affordable connectivity programs and digital literacy initiatives such as coding classes.
Since its launch, he said, the nonprofit has expanded to 29 chapters in the United States, Asia, Africa and Europe — led entirely by high school students.
The students have managed to donate over 1,145 equipment; received approximately $32,000 in grants; Collaborated with 10 sponsors and 32 corporate partners; and started 12 computer labs, six in Tanzania, one in Cambodia, five in California.
Recently students applied for the San Jose Digital Inclusion Partnership, a project sponsored by the city, and received a $17,500 grant to help them combat the digital divide in their own backyards.
More on US schools and education
Drop-Off Outfits: As kids return to class, style-obsessed parents are looking for ways to create some chic feel on their way to school. Turn to the Sun: Public schools are using savings from solar power to rapidly upgrade facilities, help their communities and pay teachers – often at no cost to taxpayers. High school football: Supply chain problems have slowed helmet manufacturing, leaving coaches across the country scrambling to find protective gear for their teams. Teacher shortage: While the pandemic has led to an urgent search for teachers in some areas, not every district is suffering from a shortage. There are factors at play here.
Public Speaking, Now Back in Public
Peyton Poole knows she wore a maroon suit with bell sleeves to this year’s national speech and debate tournament in June. He remembers bright light, feels discomfort in his stomach and nothing else.
“When I tell you I don’t remember anything,” said Ms. Poole, whose dramatic explanation earned her second place. “I saw the blackness. I got the faces of my judges and I was like, ‘Okay, this is happening.’ ,
When high school speech and debate teams from across the country gathered in Louisville, Ky., it was the first individual national tournament since the pandemic began. After two years of virtual competitions, students felt both excitement and nerves about the return of the live audience.
“It’s like taking your heart out of your chest,” said Poole, 18, who is from Lafayette, LA, and is now a freshman at Western Kentucky University.
Across the country, teachers report an increase in student hesitation about public speaking, whether in the classroom or on stage. There are coaches re-teaching skills such as eye contact and voice projection.
“With public speaking it’s like ‘How do we relate to others, how do we respectfully disagree?’ Kyir Butts, a language arts teacher and debate coach in Baltimore, said.
Virtual school did not help. “The screen was a masquerade party for the students,” he said. “It takes some time to help students realize their full potential now that we are back in person.”
Once they were in front of a live audience again, “there were nerves, but there was even more relief,” said Dan Hodges, who trains speech and debate at Apple Valley High School in Apple Valley, Minn. . “They were finally there, and it felt right.”
For focus reset, don’t do what umpires do
Can baseball teach us anything about our short attention spans? A study of major league umpires found that they called balls and attacked more accurately during critical moments in a game. Yet immediately after these moments of intense concentration, the umpires made notably more errors. (Thanks to a video technique called PITCHf/x, it’s clear when they get it right and wrong.)
The good news, according to this study, is that humans can quickly reset their attention span. No increase in errors was found after the end of each half-inning, when the umpires took a two-minute break. The results will need to be replicated in a classroom setting, but there is reason to think that students’ attention spans evenly throughout the school day and that well-timed short breaks can help them.
An economist at the University of Maryland and one of the researchers, James E. “People’s ability to pay attention is an absolute resource,” Archsmith said by email. “We must keep this in mind when we are thinking about settings where we let people focus for long periods of time without breaks. This applies to both schoolchildren and their teachers.”
The study, “The Dynamics of Intention in the (Baseball) Field,” is currently under review for publication in an academic journal. A preliminary draft has been circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
What is clear is that sometimes looking out the window – or zoning out into left field – can be a good idea.
Leave the dining hall. Call a robot.
Red alert, Trekkies: Starship Technologies’ robots could deliver your next Java Chip Frappuccino. Their mission: to map new college campuses; Searching for hanging students and saving them from crowded dining halls; To entertain boldly through song and dance.
Starship, an Estonian company headquartered in San Francisco, deploys a fleet of autonomous robots offering contactless food delivery in locations including college campuses, a welcome service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The six-wheeled mini vehicles respond to mobile orders made on the Starship app, where students buy items via food swipes or points. At the start of the pandemic on 12 campuses, Starship robots took off rapidly.
“The robots will be activated on 30 college campuses by the end of this month,” said Henry Harris-Burland, vice president of marketing at Starship.
The robots travel at 4 mph and play music as the students unload the cargo bay. With a 360-degree view of their immediate surroundings, 12 cameras, and a collection of radar and ultrasonic sensors, they can traverse roads and maneuver around people, animals, and objects.
“I really appreciate bot delivery being available because it provides another option for accessibility,” said Alexander Cheetham, a junior and co-chair of the Disabled Students Network at Brandeis, adding that some students with disabilities are in wheelchairs or dining halls. can be avoided. Mobility lift malfunction.
For now, what is available for delivery depends on the premises and the involvement of food providers. AI technology enables each robot to adapt to its environment and adjust when it encounters unknown objects. They are like freshmen to college themselves – constantly learning and taking some time to get used to the campus.
In some colleges, mentoring required
For decades, mentoring the college was primarily thought of as a way to help students register for classes. It is now often a tool to help students address other aspects of their lives as they navigate college, including housing, transportation, health or family issues, and mental well-being. This is sometimes called the case management approach – and, increasingly, it is mandatory.
For example, at San Antonio College in Texas, students are required to meet with an advisor four times during a 60-hour associate degree degree—when they enroll and to complete 15, 30, and 45 credit hours. After. If they do not do so, they are barred from registering for classes.
Across the country, other colleges have taken a similar approach, including the University of Utah, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and several community colleges. In regular meetings, counselors check beyond academics to ask about students’ personal needs or obstacles they face.
Many such barriers have increased during the pandemic, and students who have historically been marginalized have been hit hardest. College leaders say the students who need mentoring most often don’t think they do or don’t know what resources exist to help them.
Robert Vella Jr., former president of San Antonio College and now president of Texas A&M University-Kingsville, said that, traditionally, the mindset has been: “These people are adults. We have services available. If they want to participate , then they will participate.”
Now, he said, “there has been a shift in parenting attitudes toward what we know best for our students,” adding: “Sometimes, because we know best, we need to replace the word ‘alternative’. needs to be taken out.”
The bulletin board was produced in conjunction with The Hechinger Report, a non-profit independent news organization covering education.