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No need for paper

(c) Staff photo by Fritz Busch (www.nujournal.com)

Do you remember the era of the writing slate? Maybe your Grandma does. Paper was too expensive and too rare to be used in schools. Well, that changed over time and everyone who left school in the last 50 years should be aware of the amount of paper used in classrooms. While it’s hard to say that all paper is wasted, every single school can certainly cut down on the volume. Much of the paper that is carried home in students’ backpacks ends up unread in the recycle bin.

Now comes the iPad and with it new ways of thinking about paperless schools. One example is the purchase of 320 iPads in one Minnesota high school. The school district allocated $267,748 to its technology fund to become what is believed to be the first school in the country to have the devices at a cost of $479 each. The money will be used to buy 320 iPads with extended, two-year warranties for students and staff, create Wi-Fi infrastructure and provide staff training. According to an article on NUjournal.com Students like using iPads in school.

“One of the first things we have to do is determine what iPad applications best fit classroom curriculum.” said High School Principal Jeff Bertrang. “Students won’t have to buy $100 calculators anymore either,” he added. Imagine the paper savings over time, not to mention the cost savings as textbooks will be digitized in future.

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S.

Solar Beat feat. Kepler’s Music of the Spheres

Harmonices MundiWhat is the sound of the universe? In 1619, Johannes Kepler published his book Harmonices Mundi (Latin for Harmony of the world) a description of the music of the spheres. He attempted to explain the proportions of the natural world in terms of music. Those “harmonies” had been studied before by Pythagoras, Ptolemy and many others. Kepler gave each planet its own tone. Although from a scientific point of view Kepler is considered the discoverer of the laws of planetary motion, his ideas for the music of the spheres were never really taken seriously.

Today, the designers of White vinyl put the idea on a virtual turntable using the ordered the orbital periods to make music. Listen to the result at the website of White Vinyl Design. It’s contemplative, interactive – in a word, a very impressing update of an old idea!

(c) www.whitevinyldesign.com/solarbeat/
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iPad – a new school slate?

Was the old writing slate an inspiration for Apple’s iPad?

People were speculating about something called the iSlate long before the product’s presentation in January 2010. From the very beginning I had the strong impression, that the iPad could be far more than another gadget for geeks, but THE next learning device for all students from primary level to university. What worked in schools 100 years ago should work tomorrow as schools didn’t change a lot since then.

Nostalgic Apple-fans can already order the nice wood case from versaudio for about $80. Maybe that is why the iPad will gain new markets especially in the area of lifelong learning. A journalist put it like that: “Here are some reasons why I will buy an iPad for my Grandma (and not for myself)”.

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Put more computers outside the classroom

Copyright: www.hole-in-the-wall.com

No, this is not an ATM. This is just a hole in the wall! And the Hole-in-the-Wall project offers a surprisingly fresh perspective on the learning process, breaking the traditional limits of teaching and learning in a school.

The initiative’s founder Sugata Mitra called its approach Minimally Invasive Education to describe how children learn in unsupervised environments. It was derived from a learning experiment he has done in 1999.

Hole-in-The-Wall takes the Learning Station to the playground, employs a unique collaborative learning approach and encourages children to explore, learn and just enjoy.

It can be seen as a ‘Shared Blackboard’ which children in underprivileged communities can collectively own and access, to learn and to explore together. The whole idea is based on the strong belief in the power of collaboration and the natural curiosity of children.

Until today Hole in the Wall Education Limited (HiWEL) set up some 300 ‘learning stations’, covering about 300,000 children in India and several African countries. I think, it is a great idea and I am convinced that it would work not only in developing countries but everywhere in the world. Just put more computers and learning stations outside the classroom!

In a video CNN’s Sara Sidner reports on the Hole-in-the-Wall project linking it to Danny Boyle’s award-winning film Slumdog millionaire. Have a look!

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