Training Troubles

As American classrooms gain more and more technology we begin to run into the problem of teachers not having enough training to use this technology correctly or to full potential. In Education Week’s, Technology Counts 2017 Survey it became apparent that teachers in high-poverty school districts are receiving less technology training than teachers from wealthier schools. Google, Digital Promise and EdTechTeam have teamed up to curb this issue. They began a program in July that provides 6.5 Million dollars to 50 different school district with a focus on informing teachers on how to better use devices in the classroom. These different districts all reside in 5 different states (Alabama, California, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas). We hope that this creates the ability for people in high-poverty school districts to receive better instruction and produce better than they have in the past.

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Tech Troubles

As we move further and further into the future technology keeps developing. Technology is used to increase productivity in most businesses today. The original thought is that the more technology you have the greater the productivity of your workers will be but this is starting to cause problems for some businesses. In most companies employees are outnumbered 4 to 1 by technological devices. These include switches, routers, hubs or firewalls, desktop or laptop computers, smartphones, tablets, factory controllers, printers and multi function fax, copy and print devices. Now this may not seem very much but this can cause major problems for the IT departments of many businesses. With this many devices IT departments have started to require more people and more money to work. This also requires them to receive more training as the have to be prepared to see all sorts of different devices with all sorts of issues.

What can we do to resolve this issue? A solution that has some potential is RPA’s or Robotic Process automation. RPA’s would be able to run the basic tedious tasks that would take the time out of most IT departments day. It can evaluate most of the issues in most devices and act upon them. This will save businesses time and money in the future.

Strikes in Oakland

Members of the OEA or Oakland Education Association went on strike the week of Feb. 21st. The demands of the strike were an 11% increase on total salaries, a delay on school closures, and smaller class sizes. The strike lasted 5 days with many conversations happening between the OEA and the Oakland school district. Before the strike the school district said that the best they could do was a 7% increase on salary with a one time 1.5 percent  bonus. With the school district failing to meet or comprise with the unions demands it left the 86 schools and 36,000 students out of school for a whole week. With the pressures of getting these children back to class the OEA secured a deal which they felt was fair. Salaries would be raised by 11% plus a 3% bonus once the new contracts were ratified. Along side of this it opened up additional spots for counselors and medical personnel, as well as reducing the size of high school classes by 1 person by the 2019-2020 school year. This is one of many times this school year that a major city’s teaching work force has gone on strike to secure raises and has done so successfully. These city’s include Oakland, Los Angeles, and Denver. Along with these city’s states such as West Virginia and Kentucky have payed attention to teachers needs this year.

Newest Defense Against Breast Cancer

On Monday, March 5th, iCAD, an artificial intelligence company, developed a partnership with Karolinska. This partnership expands on an existing agreement between the two companies that will be able to provide AI assistance to scan mammography images. This program shows promise in developing an individualized way to scan for the potential to develop breast cancer in the future.

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in all women. The key to stopping and treating breast cancer depends on how early you can catch it. This makes screening and early detection a major key to preventing breast cancer. The model that is being produced by this partnership shows promise in providing individualized screening for each person. Turning the current model of age based screening on its head. Instead replacing this with a means of risk related screening. They accomplish this based off of mammography images.  Per Hall, professor and senior physician at the Karolinska Institutet says that, “Most current risk models are population-based and focus on lifetime or long-term risk. Our research using the iCAD AI technology has shown that by simply using the information available in the mammogram images, we can more accurately stratify women based on short-term risk. Understanding short-term risk will open the door to new paradigms in both the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.” We can expect to see this form of detection soon under the name ProFound AI.

Snow Days

Sometimes the best way to innovate inside the classroom is to focus on what happens outside of it. It seems that this year we have had an abundance of snow days. A usually celebrated day might be on its way out. As school moves more to the online sector it becomes easier to teach classes while not at school. This also avoids the make up days at the end of the school year that take away from summer vacations.

There are many positives to eliminating snow days. It allows college level classes to stay on pace. Advanced Placement classes have a set testing day that isn’t adjusted due to snow days. Having an online element where kids can check in and get instruction on days where they would have been at school is very helpful. If you lose a day due to snow it causes major problems in lesson plans. Teachers from Neenah High School, in Wisconsin have experienced 5 snow days this year. They have described the ability to go online and teach as a “life save” because of how it allows them to stay on pace.

At the end of the day some students may be upset that they no longer get a free day off in the middle of the week but with this loss they have the potential to gain in other areas. Test scores and overall understanding of the topic will go up due to being able to learn without condensing lessons.

Retail meets AI

As AI continues to flourish and grow in today’s expanding society, we see multiple industries trying to incorporate it into their business model. Today we are focusing on the retail industry. Retailers today are struggling to adapt to expanding fulfillment and unlimited selection. In the 2019 Retail C-Suite Viewpoint Survey conducted in collaboration with Microsoft it was found that big businesses view AI as a possible solution to these issues. Artificial Intelligence can create the ability to visualize all current inventory of these retail stores creating a better customer experience and increasing the efficiency of the supply chain. 

Imagine being able to walk into a store and see exactly how much of each item there is in stock and where to find it. This is what AI is promising to give us. A fast easy way to do any sort of shopping that we would desire. Cutting down the amount of time we would have to spend searching the store for one single item.  Expect to be seeing innovations such as these in years to come.

AI Integration Overseas

Artificial Intelligence can have a significant impact in the future of education. I’m not suggesting that we cut traditional teaches out of classrooms or even that a robot acts as the primary teacher. I am simply suggesting to integrate different sorts of programs that would improve the classroom efficiency.

The best example of this is in India. A study done by Tracxn, a data firm, suggests that 300 Indian Startups currently provide AI as their main product. Around 11% are based in the education sector. Complete curriculum customization is what India is striding for. Vikas Singh MD shows that this is true when he says, “Though it is still too soon to start seeing robotics in classrooms, AI is already becoming an effective teaching tool because of its ability to adapt and offer customized curricula. AI-enabled tools help assess an individual’s current level of understanding, identify gaps and offer tailored suggestions, just like a teacher would.”

Another way that India is integrating AI into the classrooms is through the app Toppr. Toppr is an app that focuses on keeping student engagement in lessons is higher. They accomplish this through the heavy use of AI focused on providing fully customizable lessons from grades five through twelve. Toppr has shown nearly instant results as well. The average qualification rate of the JEE, an entrance examination conducted for various engineering schools in India, shot up from 22% to 36% and continues to rise. It is an obvious decision to continue to work and improve on AI for the betterment of society.