Saturday, February 9, 2013

Special Blog Post #1

Wolfram Alpha Search
My first search requirement was to compare the populations of India, China and the United States. The results of this search stated that India has a population of 1.21 billion, China has a population of 1.35 billion, and the United States has a population of 309 million. Wow, that's a lot of people in India and China and the rate of increase in those two countries since 1950 was quite surprising as well. So naturally, I was curious about the actual size of each country. Therefore, my next search was to compare the geographic properties of India, China and the United States. The results of this search stated that India's total area is 1.269 million square miles, China's total area is 3.705 million square miles, and the United States total area is 3.719 million square miles. That's 1058 people per square mile in India. My interpretation of this data is that India is overpopulated and this should be a concern for this country considering the high rate at which their population is increasing every year.
Finally, I wanted to see an overall comparison of all three countries. I found the most interesting information to be in the last category at the bottom of the page; the UN Human Development Index. The Human Development Index is a tool the United Nations uses to rank a country's level of social and economic development. I found the education rankings to be of great interest following the information given in Did You Know? The United States had a world rank of 5th, while China was 115th and India was 146th. Does this mean we have the greatest number of students? No, according to the total number of students being educated, India ranks 1st with 251.3 million, China 2nd with 233.3 million, and the United States 3rd with 67.62 million. So does this mean the United States does not put enough emphasis on education? No, you have to look at the percentages. When you take the total number of students and consider the total population, the United States has a student population of 22.24%, while India has 21.4% and China has 17.52%. The United States also spends the highest of GDP on public education. So rest assured, the United States is not falling behind in education.

How can Wolfram Alpha be useful?
There is no short answer to this question. If you go to their blog page, it has a variety of posts analyzing sports, math, Facebook and machines. They claim to have an app for every course which will give you the assistance needed to "gain a competitive advantage." They also have a Wolfram Educational Portal which they say is great for teachers and students. I plan to check that post out in more detail. The amount of data they have compiled seems to be unlimited. They cover a huge variety of subjects. When you are on the page which shows the results of your search, if you look across the top, there is a tab that says examples. This gives you a list of all the topics they cover. I think it is a great research tool and it will also be a great mathematical resource as I continue my studies in Secondary Education Mathematics.

Gary Hayes Social Media Count
I found the social media count very fascinating.  However, I did not need to view this sight to discover that the up and coming generations are on Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, and their phones every chance they get.  I have a teenage daughter who probably makes up a large percentage of the numbers you see in the attached picture except she she should have been in class at the time I snipped this and wouldn't be looking at Facebook or any of the other things listed, right?  Well, I know better because she sent me a text once while she was eating lunch.  She also sent pictures from her phone when the Senior Bowl players visited her school.
So what does all this mean for future educators?  For me personally, as a teacher, I think it's important to know your students.  You want to know their interests and be able to connect with them on their level.  This information tells me that we are dealing with a generation that is hooked to the social media.  Whether you think it's great or not, that's how it is and if I, as a teacher, want to have my students engaged in my classroom, I need to find a way to incorporate technology into my lessons.  I feel I'm being redundant because I'm always saying the things we are learning in EDM310 are the things we will be using in our future classrooms.  I already see them being used by my son's high school history teacher, who just happens to be one of Dr. Strange's former students.  My son says that this is his favorite teacher.  Would you have ever said that about any of your history teachers?  Not me.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that he has designed the course around the things in which the kids are most interested?  You may be thinking EDM310 is just a bunch of frivolous work but you are being equipped with the tools you will need to be a future teacher.

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