Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

July 2011

You are browsing the archive for July 2011.

Carnegie Mellon Improving Disaster Recovery with Educational Technology

July 22, 2011

This past week the TMCnet team headed west to San Jose, Calif., to meet with some of the biggest and brightest in the tech space. Amongst some big-shot names in the industry such as Skype, MegaPath, Alcatel-Lucent and Sprint, representatives from Carnegie Mellon, one of the leading technology schools in the country, made their way over to the event.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Steven Ray, distinguished research fellow at the university, who told me all about how a group of Carnegie Mellon folks banded together to figure out how to use their innovation and technology to improve upon the process of disaster recovery.  The group, called the Disaster Management Initiative, aims to provide open and interoperable next-generation technical solutions for all-hazard multi-jurisdictional disasters. 

Spark Notes: The Good and the Ugly

July 19, 2011

Last week, I referred to Spark Notes, one of the most popular study guides for students as they navigate through English classes, as a “cheater’s best friend.”

After all, before your big AP Lit paper is due, it is pretty easy to go to, type in themes for “Jane Eyre,” and come up with a rocking thesis that the novel is all about the quest to be loved.

But talking about how Spark Notes can be a catalyst for cheating got me thinking further about the online educational platform and whether I am being too hard on it.

Here’s my dilemma.

Has School Plagiarism Gotten a Whole Lot Easier?

July 14, 2011

Let me paint you a picture: Fifteen years ago, if high school freshmen were looking for a little “extra help” on their English papers about deconstructing social hierarchy in “The Great Gatsby,” in order to get that help (and by help, I mean cheat), they would have to dig up their older sister’s paper that she wrote four years earlier on the same topic and copy the passages they liked… by hand.

A process that was tiring, though it got the job done (if, of course, you had a different teacher than your sister).

But, fast forward 15 years later and cheating has gotten a whole lot easier and a whole lot faster.

I recently chatted with my fellow TMC co-worker Rich Steeves, who was a middle school teacher for nine years before venturing to TMC, about school plagiarism and how technology in the classroom has facilitated this frowned upon behavior.

Changing my Tune: iPads Making Positive Dent in Schools

July 12, 2011

My initial gut reaction when I hear the terms “iPads” and “school” together is: “What happened to good ol’ lectures on blackboards and scribbled notes in black composition books?” I mean, at a certain point isn’t too much technology in the schools, homes, workplace – insert anywhere – a bad thing?

But after seeing this video clip on ABC below, I have had a change of heart.

This video follows seven-year-old Zachary who was clinging to his life a year ago after he experienced a fluke bicycle accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury, a two-week coma, a four-month rehabilitation program and a learning disability he did not have before the accident.  Accordingly, he had to enroll at High Road Academy in Maryland, a school for children with learning disorders.

Is Spell Check Making us Less Intelligent?

July 7, 2011

An interesting question was raised by one of my classmates when we were juniors in high school about to take the AP English exam (and no it was not “Does anyone have a pencil?” or “What test is this again?”) Instead it was, “Can we use dictionaries?”

While my peers initially laughed at our classmate, chuckles were soon replaced by nervous giggles as the fear set in that we would actually have to write our essays without (GASP!) the use of Microsoft Word which so kindly “reds” words that are misspelled. Or, better yet, autocorrects.

I am going to venture a guess that this type of panic spanned more than just Westchester County as computer dependent kids nowadays don’t know what to do when they are forced to put the good ole’ pen to paper and try to spell words without their trusty computer companion. 

Move over Blackboard: A New Education Technology Platform is in Town

July 5, 2011

Don’t we all want a little homework help?

As one of the only girls in her undergraduate program at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, an elite engineering school in India, Pooja Nath had a hard time getting some extra help with her work when all the boys band together to collaborate on assignments. In fact, Nath recounts to the New York Times that she sat “on the sidelines just watching” as others got the homework help they needed.

That experience, however, served as the catalyst for her creating Piazza, a website in which students can post questions to their course page and then peers and educators can respond.