Acts of Humanity

Consider this for an educational use of Twitter. 

GUEST COLUMN | by M.O. Thirunarayanan

CREDIT FIUThe “Tweet about Acts of Humanity” project is something that I started to encourage people to tweet about acts of humanity performed by others that they know. Parents and grandparents can tweet about the acts of humanity performed by their children or grandchildren. Teachers can also tweet about similar acts performed by their students. Relatives, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, bosses, and others can tweet about the acts of humanity performed by each other and by others that they know.

Educational Uses of Twitter

Twitter is used by educators as an informing tool, meaning that tweets are being used to inform students about approaching deadlines to submit class assignments, projects, and homework. Schools can use tweets to inform parents about school closures, emergency situations, dates for tests and exams, and other school related events and activities. Twitter can also be used to send small chunks of content information in various disciplinary areas such as mathematics, the natural and physical sciences, the social sciences, fine arts, music, and the language arts.

Why Tweet About Acts of Humanity?

The answer is simple. There is a lot of negative things going on in the world and these events and acts are constantly highlighted on TV and in websites, newspapers, blogs, and other media of mass communications; tweeting about acts of humanity will encourage more people to perform such acts and in the long run make the world a better and more peaceful place for all of us.

What are the Various Acts of Humanity?

There are certainly many acts that can be considered to be acts of humanity. The nature of the different possible acts of humanity and the corresponding suggested Twitter hashtags to use when submitting tweets are listed in the following section. I either created or compiled most of these hashtags a few years ago.

Types of Acts of Humanity Suggested Hashtags to Use When Tweeting

Acts of Altruism                                            #altruism

Acts of Bravery                                              #bravery

Acts of Charity                                               #charity

Acts of Chivalry                                             #chivalry

Acts of Compassion                                     #compassion

Acts of Courage                                            #courage

Acts of Dignity                                              #dignity

Acts of Equality                                            #equality

Acts of Friendship                                       #friendship

Acts of Happiness                                       #happiness

Acts of Help                                                  #help

Acts of Heroism                                            #heroism

Acts of Honesty                                            #honesty

Acts of Justice                                               #justice

Acts of Kindness                                          #kindness

Acts of Peace                                                #peace

Acts of Sacrifice                                            #sacrifice

Acts of Tolerance                                         #tolerance

Acts of Truth                                                  #truth

Acts of Unselfishness                                 #unselfishness

All Other Acts of Humanity                         #actsofhumanity

 

If you choose, you may follow me at Twitter.com/actsofhumanity or just use one or more of the hashtags and start Tweeting about Acts of Humanity that someone you know has performed.

If you have any questions or suggestions, you can contact me via email at: mothiru@yahoo.com

Thank you.

Thiru (M.O. Thirunarayanan) is Associate Professor of Learning Technologies, Florida International University, based in Miami. Write to: mothiru@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/actsofhumanity.

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Cool Tool | LearnFit Desk

CREDIT Ergotron LearnFit deskDigital times call for digital-oriented desks. In an age of one-size-does-not-fit-all, Ergotron, a digital display mounting, furniture and mobility products company, announced its first adjustable desk for the education space. The LearnFit™ Standing Desk is designed to support “active learning” to encourage healthy student behavior that leads to physical and academic improvements. With nearly one in three children in America overweight or obese, coupled with significant research positively linking brain development and movement, Ergotron continues to spearhead programs, medical research and new technology to help positively promote better student health, classroom engagement and academic performance in both the U.S. and abroad.

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Cool Tool | Spiral

CREDIT SpiralA social learning platform created to help engage students through the use of mobile devices, Spiral provides interactive lessons and real-time data collection building a positive and engaging experience ensuring a more efficient lesson delivery. The app creates a unique communication by allowing students to use their devices and contribute to activities in class while the teacher monitors their individual responses from their own device. The whiteboard shares input anonymously, promoting engagement from the whole class. Because the need to raise their hand in class is no longer a necessity, even the quiet children have the ability to participate fully. As the class engages in the learning process as a group this creates a more positive learning experience. Real-time data collection allows the teacher to adapt lessons on the go, and the data can be recorded to be reviewed later. All lessons and class data can be stored on Spiral and accessed from anywhere. The app offers a variety of different interaction options and data display formats, making it adaptable to any subject. In addition, the app supports virtually any device, allowing full participation from any student as well as allowing the teacher to create lessons from anywhere. Check it out.

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Winning with Digital Arts

Boys & Girls Clubs of America encourages STEM education.

GUEST COLUMN | by Edwin Link

CREDIT Jeff Lewis:AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of AmericaFew issues are more important to the future of our nation than science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). According to the National Science and Technology Council, occupations in STEM are expected to grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM occupations by 2018. Studies have also shown that fewer than half of all public schools offer visual arts programs. Additionally, children from low-income families are 50 percent less likely than youth from affluent families to participate in arts programs outside of school.

Few issues are more important to the future of our nation than science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) are helping young people develop passion and aptitude in STEM and the arts, focusing on innovation and the creative power of young people, activating their passion, and helping them push the boundaries of what is possible.

Two programs that are helping to encourage and develop the technology skills of talented youth that might not otherwise have these opportunities are BGCA’s Digital Arts Festivals (DAF) and the ImageMakers National Photography Contest.

CREDIT Jeff Lewis:AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America imageRecently, the national teen winners from various Clubs across the country headed to Los Angeles for a once-in-a-lifetime recognition trip and awards ceremony The recognition trip, sponsored by Comcast and NBCUniversal, Sony Electronics Inc., and Cartoon Network, was a fun and educational way to celebrate the accomplishments of these young adults in the area of computer- generated art. Activities included an awards gala at the historic Globe Theatre and a private tour of Universal Studios, Warner Bros. Studios and Cartoon Network Studios. Additionally, the teens participated in career experiences with Comcast and NBCUniversal executives, covering topics such as music in film and how to pitch movie ideas.

Each of the students has an amazing story. Sanja K., 13, of Porter County, Indiana, is being recognized in two categories – animation and game design. Sanja said that she used to play video games but now takes pleasure in creating them. As a new resident in the U.S. with a language barrier, she found photography to be the perfect outlet for expressing her feelings and point of view. Sanja would like to work in a STEM-related field when she grows up.

For some of these teens, the trip to LA was their first time on a plane, like Samuel W., 18, of Dane County, Wisconsin. Samuel is being recognized for music making.  He currently lives in foster care and finds that spending time creating music helps him channel his energy into something he loves and reduces his stress. He describes the trip to LA as “really amazing and a dream come true.”

CREDIT Jeff Lewis:AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America - theatreAdrian A., a 15 year-old from East Valley, Arizona is known as the “tech guru” at his Club. He is being recognized for movie making and enjoys building and fixing computers. Adrian wants to be an IT assistant or pursue a career in the technology field.

In its 12th year, the Digital Arts Festivals invite Club members ages 6 to 18 to submit their computer-generated art in one of six categories: photo illustration, music making, graphic design, game design, movie animation and film. The ImageMakers National Photography Contest has a rich, 50-plusyear history in Boys & Girls Clubs. The contest calls upon youth ages 6 to 18 to capture photographs in four categories: culture and tradition, portraits, surroundings, and photo with essay or poem.

The talent of this year’s national winners is phenomenal and we are proud to provide these teens with an opportunity to explore a wide variety of career paths, tour a new city and make new friends from Boys & Girls Clubs around the world.  The winning artwork, chosen from 20,000 entries, will be on display at the BGCA National Headquarters throughout the year and online at the Digital Arts Festivals Gallery and ImageMakers Gallery.

Edwin Link is the Senior Director of Academic Success, Innovation & the Arts for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Visit: www.bgca.org 

PHOTO CREDITS

The all-expenses-paid, weeklong recognition trip to LA rewards teen winners for their excellence in digital animation, graphic and game design, filmmaking, music, and photography. Teens are being treated to an awards gala in their honor at the historic Globe Theatre, exploration of digital arts careers with Comcast and NBCUniversal, photography lessons with a Sony Artisan of Imagery photographer and private tours of Universal Studios, Warner Bros Studios and Cartoon Network Studios. 

Sound Mixing photo:  Club teens from around the world learn about sound mixing at Universal Studios as part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Digital Arts Festivals and ImageMakers National Photography Contest. Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis/AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Mario Lopez photo: Boys & Girls Clubs alum and Extra host Mario Lopez meets with 18 Club teens from around the world on the set of Extra at Universal Studios Hollywood as part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Digital Arts Festivals and ImageMakers National Photography Contest. Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis/AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Globe Theatre photo:  Club teens from around the world pose on the steps of the historic Globe Theatre in Los Angeles as part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Digital Arts Festivals and ImageMakers National Photography Contest. Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis/AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. 

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Keeping Track of Technology

Challenges schools face tracking assets and how technology can help.

GUEST COLUMN | by Brian Sutter

CREDIT Wasp barcode technologiesAdvances in technology have a significant impact on the way companies do business – streamlining procedures and increasing employee productivity.  That same technological impact can be seen in the field of education. As schools accumulate computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices to improve teaching methods used to address the variety of student learning styles, they find themselves responsible for high ticket fixed assets.  Over the last decade, state and federal governments have placed many of those computers, laptops, tablets, and SMART devices (boards, projectors, notebooks) in schools throughout the country.  In fact, federal agencies spend more than $300 trillion on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) investments every year.

Schools face a real challenge in tracking equipment: knowing who is using it, making sure only authorized users take possession, and knowing where the equipment is at any given point in time.

When schools experience loss of this technology – whether due to misplacement or theft – it often turns out they can’t provide specific details on the missing assets. Schools face a real challenge in tracking equipment: knowing who is using it, making sure only authorized users take possession, and knowing where the equipment is at any given point in time.

Schools using outdated methods for tracking purchased items – pen & paper or Excel – are spending too much time and money on a process that is labor intensive, difficult to reconcile, and taxing to demonstrate compliance.  Many of these schools are turning to asset management systems to overcome the unique challenges they face: financial restrictions, funding compliance requirements, and unusual time limitations.

Money

A 5% cut to federal programs in 2013 resulted in a $727 million dollar loss of federal aid for public school districts – that’s $50,000 for each $1 million granted.  School districts already facing significant state and local budget cuts experienced the negative consequences of less federal money: laid-off teachers/staff, cut extracurricular activities, increased class sizes, cut elective programs, closed schools, etc.

If a school’s budget is already incredibly tight and it’s difficult to purchase needed items, it may seem counterintuitive to spend more money.  However, an asset management system is an investment that quickly pays off.  Keeping track of purchased items and recording performed maintenance allows assets to be used for a longer period of time, and it’s required when using federal grant money.

The federal government requires any item purchased with grant money to be tracked, maintained, and disposed of appropriately.  An automated asset management system provides schools the necessary tool for recording each step of the tracking process and ensures detailed documentation for compliance auditing.

Compliance

Equipment purchased with grant money must be used by the program or department awarded the funds.  Additionally, there are specific grant compliance requirements for this equipment:

  • Property records must be maintained and include a description of the property, a serial number or other identification number, the source of property, who holds title, the acquisition date, the cost of the property, percentage of Federal participation in the cost, the location, use and condition of the property, and any ultimate disposition data including the date of disposal and sale price.
  • A control system must be developed to ensure adequate safeguards to prevent loss, damage, or theft of the property. Any loss, damage, or theft will be investigated.
  • A physical inventory or audit of the property must be taken and the results reconciled with the property records at least once every two years.
  • Adequate maintenance procedures must be developed to keep the property in good condition.
  • When original or replacement equipment acquired under a grant is no longer needed, disposition of the equipment will be made as follows:

(1)  Items of equipment with a current per-unit fair market value of less than $5,000 may be retained, sold or otherwise disposed of with no further obligation.

(2)  Items of equipment with a current per unit fair market value in excess of $5,000 may be retained or sold and the awarding agency shall have a right to an amount calculated by multiplying the current market value or proceeds from sale by the awarding agency’s share of the equipment.

Manually keeping track of these accountability requirements places the school or district in a financially precarious position.  At any time, the Federal government has the right to audit for grant compliance.  An automated asset management system will track each step of the process and provide the desired evidence.

Time

Once the initial challenge of allocating funds to purchase an asset management system is overcome, finding the time to record all of the details required, for grant compliance or for accounting’s general ledger, is the most significant challenge schools and districts face.  By its very nature, asset tracking is a never-ending process; selecting a system that is easy-to-implement and easy-to-use guarantees continued use by the staff responsible for recording asset details and ensures data accuracy and integrity.

In addition to the time required to record asset details, schools are responsible for auditing assets at least once every two years; however, most schools perform a yearly audit.  The difficulty lies in the traditional auditing method: taking a printed list from location to location and manually checking off fixed assets.  Implementing an automated asset tracking system allows users to take advantage of the technology they’re actually tracking.  Asset tracking systems that include mobile functionality (mobile computers or downloaded iPhone/Android apps) significantly decrease the amount of time required to validate asset information.

Schools that have transitioned to an automated asset management system have found that the unique challenges they face – money, compliance, and time – are easily overcome and the long-term benefits have significant impact on both staff and students.

Brian Sutter is the Director of Marketing at Wasp Barcode Technologies, a productivity solutions company. Brian sets the strategic direction and oversees the tactical execution of the company’s marketing programs. Write to: bsutter@waspbarcode.com  or visit: www.waspbarcode.com

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