5 Ways Everyone Can Easily Learn Coding

Secret codes have existed since the dawn of time. Children creating new ones is nothing new, however with the push to advance STEM education, coding has taken on an entirely different meaning.

Learn Coding Without a Computer

The need to code has become a major platform in education. Coding is seen as the gateway to the future, and in many ways it is. Coding teaches problems solving and helps students understand technology that hasn’t even been invented yet.

As with every latest and greatest trend, funding is an issue. With coding not only being a preferred class, but a requirement in many districts, educators are wondering where they will find the capital to fund this mission.

The great Digital Divide is no secret. If school are required to teach coding, will it only grow larger. How can students in underserved and underfunded districts compete in the global economy of the future?

Thankfully, coding does not require a computer!

Wait…what??

That’s right, coding can be taught with simple, low budget items most teachers probably already have. So, no need for a Chromebook in every hand. Global Learn Day is here to help!

Here are FIVE ways to learn coding for cheap without any additional technology needed. (Sure those robots are amazing, but this is for the rest of us!)

A Coding Course for Kids That’s Unplugged

Computer Science Unplugged is a website dedicated to teaching the technology skills of the future with the help of an ordinary printer and copy machine. These printable teach important concepts like binary language and networking to kids.

Coding is a language, so think of this as the grammar. No one becomes fluent without real world application, but being able to read the target language is the first step in becoming a proficient speaker.

iGame Mom DIY Computer Camp is designed by a tech savvy mom who knows how to have fun. Tech camps, coding camps, and robotic camps are all the rage for summer enrichment, they are also extremely expensive.

Through printables, fun games, and easy to implement, hands-on lessons, iGame Mom gives every child the ability to have a high tech camp experience, right that his or her kitchen table.

The resources on iGame Mom are for ages 3 and up, so every aspiring coder in the family can participate.

Beading Binary Name Bracelet is a fun project that kids will love and grown ups can learn from. Have you ever made a beaded bracelet that followed a pattern? Then you are half way to understanding binary beading.

Using beads to represent 0,1, and spaces, children can create a beaded bracelet out of any combination of beads that spells his name. After learning the pattern for letters, children can then create new codes for everyday words. Just like learning any other language!

In fact, Morse code and braille are binary languages just like C++, Java, and other computer languages. All involve a set pattern that communicates a message from the creator to the recipient. Learning either of these will help children to understand coding.

Lego Maze Challenge builds on the popularity of LEGO bricks in STEM education and childhood play. Using ordinary blocks that can be found in most homes and schools, children progress through levels of challenge and dive deeper into the world of coding.

Learning how to give and follow directions precisely is an important part of writing code. Every step must be spelled out, computers can’t fill in the blanks left by programmers. It takes the code writer’s imagination to create the wonder the computer performs. The Lego Maze is a project created by Research Parent and includes a free printable. One bucket of LEGO
bricks, endless adventures!

ThinkFun Robot Turtles Coding Board Game is one game in a growing collection of good, old fashioned board games that teach hi tech concepts. Designed for players as young as 4, it is fun for the whole family.

Through playing cards and a catchy plot to win, the whole family can develop the cognitive abilities necessary to code. It even teaches the concept of debugging–meaning someday, your child may be able to just fix that computing error that is driving you mad!

Are you ready to close that screen and start teaching your children or students how to code? Oh, you are worried they won’t be able to keep up with the rest of the world, well, Finland is way ahead of you! They teach computer science computer-free!

How will you learn the code?

 

 

This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through the links benefits the Global Learn Day project. Thank you for your support!
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Technology and the global connection

How Technology Can Unite and Divide Us

We are living in a time of rapid change. The technology that is revolutionary today is being replaced tomorrow. Technology is changing how we live our lives, plan our futures, and build relationships. In this digital age, we may wonder where it is heading.

As Amazon unveils its cashless store where shoppers just grab and go, former executives to some of the largest technology and social media companies continue to speak out about the problems these new innovations can cause.

What is the answer? Is technology ripping apart the world, or are the advances the way to finally unite us all?

Technology can unit or divid eus by Global Learn Day

How Is Technology Uniting Us?

Over 7.4 billion people live on Earth speaking 7,106 languages. For centuries, connecting with others in distant parts of the globe was arduous and even dangerous. Letters could be written but would take months to reach their destination. Even finding a contact in a far off land was a monumental task.

As the technology of travel improved, interconnectedness was established. Crossing the ocean or flying to the other side of the world took hours, not month or years. Postal routes became well organized and mail could seamlessly be transported from a home mailbox to virtually anywhere on the planet.

The advent of computers and the Internet changed anything. Messages could circumnavigate the globe in minutes, even seconds. A new era of global relationships began. Now finding someone in the far reaches of the world became as easy as a click of a button.

Events, such as Global Learn Day, became possible. We are very thankful for the technology that can unite us in ways that were just science fiction a generation ago. (Still no flying cars, but we can virtually meet face to face!)

How Has Technology Divided Us?

With all these advances the possibilities have grown and our ability to experience people, places, and events has reached further and further distances. However, at the same time the connects at home has broken down.

The fabric of socialization and community has moved from block parties to virtual communities and Facebook groups. The art of conversation is being lost, and despite our growing interdependence and resources, more people feel isolated than before.

Is Social Media Tearing Us Apart?

The dangers and disadvantages of social media have been in the spotlight recently. Cyber-bullying has created a suicide crisis among children, some as young as 8. Social media and smart phone addiction are on the rise. Face to face interaction, even with video conferencing technology, is becoming rare.

As technology advances and infiltrates every aspect of or lives, the connectivity that provides for a healthy and stable lifestyle has waned. As we stare into our screens and build up our networks, more and more people feel isolated and alone. A 2016 Harris Poll showed that 72% of American regularly feel lonely, one third of those suffer from loneliness at least once a week.

Is social media to blame? The answer isn’t an easy yes or no. The phenomenon of social media certainly has its downfalls. Coupled with smartphone addiction, the future may look grim.

The fact is that social media has the power to rip us apart but it also is an amazing vehicle for collaboration. In building up global connects, we must also invest our time and energy locally, being a force for good in our homes, communities, and countries.

The upcoming generation is the first to have grown up on social media. Their birth was announced via Facebook, their birthdays and school projects planned via Pinterest, and they “meet” their friends not on the sidewalk but in Snapchat. Setting up healthy boundaries and teaching good digital citizenship to these young people is vital. It isn’t enough for them to know how to use the technology, they must learn how to use it well and for good.

How Do We Go Forward with Technology?

Technology is here to stay and is so very ingrained in daily life, it would be catastrophic for it to be swept away.  As the shortcomings and dangers of this brave new world continue to be learned and fill the headlines, we must work to take what is good from our new found freedoms and continue to build a world of connections.

Education can unite the world, education not just taught by technology but education of how to effectively use it. As we build a global community, we must also encourage the development and preservation of our local communities. Teaching children how to reach out across the world wide web, but still interact and build friendships in real life. This is an arduous task and one that we are still very much learning how to do.

With great power comes great responsibility. We are at a crossroads for the increasing power of modern technology and social media. How will we use this power? It is the responsibility of each of us to wield it for good!

The human connection will always be the true tie that binds us close at home and across continents and oceans. Want to join our discussion on the future of education and global connections? Become a member of our Friends of Global Learn Day Facebook group.

 

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Global Learn Day Edtech

7 Edtechs to Try in 2018

It’s a couple weeks into 2018. Have you made any resolutions yet? Picked your word for the year?

New Year, New Opportunity

January offers a fresh start, even if it is in the middle of the school year for the northern hemisphere.  Technology is advancing and changing at record breaking speed.

While it is hard to keep up with every change, it’s important to be open to learning something new.  Trying out a new platform not only will enhance your learning experience but expand your brain.

Whatever your goals for 2018, add these 7 edtechs to the list.  Learn something new this year!

7 Edtech Applications to try in 2018

WeVideo–Do you like watching a movie? Have you ever wanted to make your own? WeVideo is a simple to use film editing platform that even young children can use. Don’t let it’s ease of use fool you though. WeVideo creates such amazing results that it is used by businesses to create marketing films.

Flipgrid–Flipped education is turning school on its head. Flipgrid is taking it a step further by using collaborative technology and film editing software to reach every student. In the Flipgrid classroom, student discussion runs the course not teacher lectures. The creative tools give every student a voice.

NewseumEd–This is an extension of the Newseum in Washington, D.C.  It’s virtual collection delivers primary sources right to your tablet, laptop, or phone. More than just a database, NewseumEd is packed with tools and classes for educators.  This is a must use for teaching students, and yourself, about history and discerning factual news.  There is even an EDIDEAS section for learning more about current events.

 myOn-myON is not just a program, it’s a “literacy ecosystem.”  The virtual library of interactive books teaches children to read while engaging them to keep learning by reading. myOn’s adventure isn’t only for students, the site offers professional development for teachers as well.

Quizalize–Quizzes are a part of education that will never go away. Move out of the way notebook paper and pen, though, Quizaline offers a new platform for quizzes that helps both teacher and students. Quizaline tracks students’ progress, provides a means for differential instruction, and gives students instant feedback. Make your quizzes engaging, fun, effective, and authentic.

Sway–Is a program with so many applications.  An ultra modern and slick answer to Powerpoint, Sway also generates high quality newsletters. Get students writing, or teach yourself a new skill for business. Sway is enjoyable and useful for all ages.  like other popular edtech, Sway works through collaboration and access anywhere technology.  Imagine the possibilities!

FluentU– FluentU offers an immersion experience that comes to your classroom. Image being able to take your students into the heart of everyday life in your target language. This platform offers high quality videos to enhance the learning experience and keep students engaged. Even better, FluentU can be used anywhere (including at home) and it tracks students progress.

What are your goals for 2018? Here at Global Learn Day, ours is always to never stop learning and find better ways to connect the world.  These edtech applications can do both.

What edtech would you recommend?

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light

Electric Education Part 2

Electricity is a blessing to education, as we explored earlier in the week.  Now let’s look at innovative ways that electricity is coming to remote places and building bridges to the future.

Innovative Supplies of Electricity

Bundles of Energy

Have you ever watched children play? They run, they jump, they seem to just never stop.  More than once each of us has joked about harnessing their energy to power a small city.  What if I told you the joke is now a reality.

Jump to It

When on a trip to visit family in Nigeria, Jessica O Matthews, founder of Uncharted Play(now Uncharted Power), struggled with the fumes from a diesel generator used to power the lights for her aunt’s wedding celebration.  Determined to find a way to solve the problem of energy sources in developing nations, Matthews got her chance in college and not only built a high scoring project with a few of her classmates for her engineering class, but founded a company.

Their first product SOCCKET is a soccer ball that is actually a generator.  It provided 2 hours of power for a lamp used by students to study in areas without electricity. Then there is PULSE a jump rope that can charge a cell phone to half power after just 15 minutes of use. Play become power.

Uncharted Power’s mission is to reach areas most in need of electricity with clean, easy to use generator options.

Shine Some Light on the Situation

Groups like Solar City are bringing brightness to developing areas of the world, including Mali Malawi, Nicaragua, and Haiti, through donating solar panels.  The solar panels are attached to school roofs or mounted on the ground. They power simple LED lights and include a battery back-up feature.

These panels allow for better access to education for children and parents, spreading not only light but hope.  A school in Nigeria that received the panels now functions as a community center at night.

Not only are the panels usable in areas that would never see on the grid electric, they are cost effective and clean–creating no harmful fumes.

Gravity Works

The GravityLight  uses a simple pulley system and sand bag to provide off the grid power anywhere.  Available for use as emergency lighting in the USA, Deciwatt Ltd funds donations of the GravityLight to those who need it most around the world.

The system provides clean energy that is much safer than kersene lamps, traditionally used in developing nations, and costs only $5! Aside from the dangerous fumes that cause health problems and make homes prone to disaster by fire; kerosene also consumes a large percentage of a developing world family’s budget–as much as 30%.

By using a clean, renewable, and safe source of light, children have more time to study and parents have more resources to provide for their family. Both help to break the cycle of poverty.

What’s Next?

With the advancements in solar and kinetic power generation, the hope of spreading light across the globe is closer than ever.  After all, who doesn’t want a magic machine to wash their clothes?

 

Electricity is only the beginning. By providing access to lighting, schools become open to adding technology. Currently, mobile phone usage is growing in developing nations more than anywhere else on the planet.

Mobile phones build bridges through providing communication to the most remote parts of the globe.  Phones are also used to increase literacy by providing incentive to learn to write and spell through texting and download information from the Internet.

No longer are remote school relegated to out of date textbooks.  Simple phones can open an entirely new world of information and learning.

It is important to not just jump on the bandwagon of technology donation, though, without the proper infrastructure and education, this technology is rendered useless. Program which can build, teach, and provide technology programs to underserved schools can be the key to bridging the gap in education worldwide.

As one school rises, so does an entire town, area, region, country, and generation.  Little by little, light by light, we can see a future where every child get to learn and poverty is extinguished.

How would you help a school in need?

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Electric Education

As the world heads into the “season of lights” with many faith and cultures celebrating special holidays and festivals, we are awash in the prospect of light amid the darkening days of winter.   Light has always signified hope. Yet, 1.3 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity.

Spread Hope, Peace–and Light!

The greatest provider of hope is education. While education does not require a building, nor a collection of high tech gadgets, access to basic electricity increases access to education and provides greater tools for teachers.

By creating opportunities and pathways to electrify schools in the most desperate areas of the globe, we as One Planet, One People can affect the change we long to see in the world. Greater numbers of educated world citizens means less conflict, greater chances for peace, reduced poverty, increased health, and a more stable economic outlook.  In a word, hope!

What Can Electricity Do?

On the most basic level, electricity can ensure open school doors more days of the year. By providing artificial light, students can continue to study even when it is stormy and dark outside.  Ventilation also helps to keep school running despite the weather or extremes of a climate.

Electricity opens doors for teachers and makes their job easier.  Simple tasks such as photocopying test pages or homework sheets can be completed inexpensively right on site, saving teachers the time and expense of traveling to commercial copying services in areas with sparse electric access.

Step Into the Future

A basic education for all is a fundamental right and should be a top goal for the global community, but what about going beyond the basics?  The digital age is a ever changing landscape of innovation and opportunity. The longer we leave schools of the developing world in the dark, the greater the gap in prospects for first world vs developing nation students becomes.

The lack of access to information, collaboration, and technology that is fueling the global economy is a handicap that plagues over a million people in the world?

How will we build bridges and knock down barriers if we cannot effectively collaborate?  The greatest minds of our time may be living in areas unable to join in global community of innovation. What opportunities will be missed by students cut off from information and technological advancements?

Open the World

Providing electricity to education centers throughout the world not only opens a new world to underserved students and teachers, but opens the door for those already “wired” into the information web to reach out and make new friends. The interrelations are the stepping stones to greater diplomacy and understanding for future generations.  An open world breaks down the walls that separate us and helps to close the gaps wrought but poverty, prejudice, and ignorance.

Later this week, we will continue this “electrifying” discussion and explore incredible and innovative ways that some organizations are bridging the great divide and building hope one light bulb at a time!

Please stop back to learn more and how you can help!

What opportunities has electricity afforded you in your education?

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The Skills Gap and Real Education

There is a debate going on that is not easily settled. Does the skills gap exist? If it does, why? How do we close it?

Opponents blame the recession for high unemployment rates and say there is no skills gap, just no jobs. On the other hand, analysts, journalists, business executives, and employment specialists say the gap is real and it is growing.  Which side is correct?

 

The Gap or Not The Gap, That’s Not The Question

Regardless of the actual gap, the answer to all of the questions is education.  Real education, not just the years spent in a school.  Education is a bridge to a brighter future for everyone.  It should not be limited to check lists and basic requirements.  Wherever you are on the learning continuum, there is always more to learn.

This is why at Global Learn Day, we emphasize and promote lifelong learning and endless, self education.  How can these principles solve the skills gap? Let’s explore three reasons.

Adult Education and Essential Skills

Basic skills like reading, writing, and computation are foundational to the educational process.  Yet, millions of prospective employees lack these cornerstone, building blocks.  In the United States alone, 36 million adults of working age are not proficient in language usage, fluent reading, and everyday math.

Without these skills, not only will the search for employment be difficult, but acquiring new skills is nearly impossible. A base of knowledge must be laid in order to build a lifetime of learning.  This is a skills gap that plagues every corner of the world.  In countries with mandatory, universal education, it should be a wake up call that our methods must change in order to reach and teach every student.

Adult education does not address the cause of this gap, but effectively treats the symptoms of it.  Investing in adult education creates a ripple effect that allows for better opportunities for the adult learner, as well as greater hope for future generations. Low income children who have at least one parent who has earned a G.E.D, are more likely to finish high school themselves.

Education begets education. Learning inspires more learning. By building up one segment of the population that is underserved and underskilled, the entire society is boosted and inspired to work harder.  So, providing adult education to close the basic skills gap will help ensure that gap continues to lessen in the future generations.

Continuing Education in Corporate Culture

Gone are the days of learning a finite skills set, earning a degree or diploma, and finding a lifelong career in one organization. The information age has ushered in a wave of advancing technology that continues to evolve and develop. What was top last year or even last month has now been replaced by a new software or operating system.

Basic education and higher education are still so vitally important, but in order for workers and employers to compete in this brave new world, continuing education must be a central tenet of how they do business.

Corporate learning retreat, incentives for continuing education classes, and encouragement for passive learning among employees are the hallmarks of what will not only close the skills gap in growing fields but also keep companies afloat in these volatile economic waters.

Continuing education is not just a buzz word, nor a race to a higher salary, for every employee it must be a way of life.

The Ben Franklin Way–Self Education

In locations where education is mandatory and universal, there is a tendency to equate education with school. However, these are two very different concepts.  Schools may be where you get educated, however an education is not exclusive to school.

Like the rest of the world, schools are struggling to keep up with the pace of the digital age.  Even the best schools are not adequate in providing all of the skills a person would need by the time he enters the workforce or looks to advance his career. This is because the skills that will be needed at that time are for platforms that do not exist today.

The push to include subjects like coding in school is part of a movement to prepare students for a future that we cannot even imagine right now. However, even these efforts will not insulate the next generation from a skills gap of their own.

Self education is the answer to the skills crisis. It has always been the answer. No matter what education you are lacking, individual study and pursuit of knowledge is what propels the motivated forward.

Like our patron, Benjamin Franklin, Global Learn Day recognizes and celebrates the on going efforts of self education.  In an age where skills are demanded but not being formally taught, adopting a habit of independent study apart for certificates, degrees, or pay incentives to be earned will provide much greater opportunity than any corporate education structure or formal education.

The skill to self educate is the the greatest skill to acquire. Those able to stay ahead of the curve, learn new technologies, and be flexible in how common procedures are done will be the ones to achieve and succeed.

How will you close your own skills gap today?

For more information on where to continue your own education, check out these posts:
Education: The Gift You Give Yourself
The Fun of Self Education
When Should Education End?
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Education Has Flipped Out!

Has your classroom flipped?  Like desks on the ceiling you might ask.  No, flipped in terms of structure and instruction.  Flipped education is the latest trend but how is it really done?

The History of the Flip

Though the general idea dates back to a thesis paper from University of Miami professors in 2000. Although the true flipped learning movement took really took root in 2007 when Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann, Colorado High School teachers, began using technology to record their lectures for absent students.

Shortly after, they came up with the idea of prerecording all their lectures for students to view at home, so classroom time could be spend on in depth projects and collaborative learning.  Originally called pre-broadcasting, it eventually became known as a flipped classroom.

What It’s Flipping Not!

As the trend has grown, so has the misconceptions of it’s aim and practice.  Flipped education does not simply mean watching videos and answering multiple choice questions.  Neither does the idea of “school work at home, homework at school” capture the true essence of the technique.

The recorded classes are a means to the method’s end but not the whole method.  The technology serves the purpose to make flipping possible but does not define the shift in educational practice.

Reservations and Requirements

One of the top concerns with starting a flipped classroom is the requirement for all students to have the Internet at home.  However, founders Sams and Bergmann say the Internet should never be a sticking point.

Videos can be loaded onto thumb drives, burned onto CDs, or uploaded to Ipods.  In addition, students should have the option of how they will learn the material.  Learning the material from a textbook or series of worksheets is just as valid as from a video.  The importance is how classroom time is spent.

Classroom Time in a Paradigm Shift

Flipped classrooms provide the space and time for teachers to interact on a more interpersonal level with students.  Affording students to indulge in project based learning, hands-on activities, lab experiments, and collaborative experiences.

Instead of the teacher being the center of the classroom time, learning and projects are.  The teacher becomes a facilitator as opposed to a lecturer.

Four Pillars of a FLIP

Authentic flipped education contains these four elements:

  1. Flexible Environment
  2. Learning Culture
  3. Intentional Content
  4. Professional Educator

With these four elements and a drive to provide accessible resources for student led study outside of classroom and student driven learning within the classroom walls, flipped education has the potential to revolutionize schools.

All of this innovation and initiative is aimed at one very dire epidemic–the high school drop our rate.  In the United States alone, 7,200 students drop out of high school each day.  That leads to 1.3 million young adults with incomplete educations every year.

By engaging students in meaningful learning and exciting class sessions, teachers like Sams and Bergmann hope to retain those who just are not being reached by the traditional model of lecture, homework, testing.  In addition, self directed learning leads to lifelong learning, the ultimate goal of any education.

What do you think?  Are you ready to flip?

 

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The New Classroom Must Have

Make Your List and Check It Twice!

It’s no secret that teachers spend hours planning and accumulating supplies for their classroom–many purchased with their own money.  In the 21st century, the supply wish list continues to grow in order to address the growing needs and interests of our digital age.

  • pens
  • notebooks
  • crayons
  • grade book
  • planner
  • stickers
  • chalk
  • folders
  • posters
  • paper
  • drone

Drone?!? Yes, drones are making their ways into schools and shaking up lessons across the globe.  No longer limited to police or military use, drones are becoming a common, yet still hotly debated, part of everyday life.

An Up and Coming Classroom Staple

Even thought they are common, what does a drone have to do with learning ABC’s and studying Algebra? More than you realize!

Drones not only provide a new and innovative way to express creativity, hone engineering and design skills, and inspire innovation; they also lend themselves to imaginative play and changed perspective.

When Am I Going to Need Math, Anyway?

Equations, proportions, fractions, geometry…students often groan over the “uselessness” of such arduous learning.  Projects like drones bring math to life. No longer are math lessons simply problems on a page, but a mission, an opportunity, an adventure.

Designing, planning, and using drones all require computations that give mathematics a real world, hands-on approach.  Need a little spice for your math class, consider adding a drone!

The Language and Rhetoric of High Tech Tools

Drones are not only for the science or math wings of the school, language arts can get a boost from some high flying antics, as well.  As drones allow for photography from angles never experienced before, these images can be used as writing prompts.  What a way to spice up your writing task arsenal!

In addition, drones are as controversial as they are fascinating.  Even enthusiasts have reservations of how and by whom they should be used.  Hosting a classroom debate or assigning written position papers will integrate the subjects and lead to critical thinking.

*Gasp* Sheer Brilliance! 

Another Masterpiece from Drone’s Blue Period

Art and STEM may seem to have nothing in common but as any supporter of arts education will tell you, the world need art!  Innovation and invention thrive on creativity.  Did you know art could use technology as well?

By attaching various tools, such as paint brushes, students can use a drone to create a new masterpiece.  This process will also require development of hand-eye coordination–a true cross-curricular activity.

STEM + New Technology = Lots of Money Spent

Drones, like all new technology, are expensive. With ever increasing demands on teachers’ generosity and school budgets, it may seem impossible for the average classroom to have its own drone.

Here is where Maker’s Stations shine in the darkness.  Creating your own drone is not only economical but an incredible learning opportunity.  If you have access to a 3D printer, your class could build a drone start to finish by their own design.  However, even low-tech school can add drones to the supply closet with low cost kits that use Legos to build functional but resilient drones for less than $200!

Good or bad, like it or not, drones are a growing part of the everyday landscape. Integrating them into the classroom not only provides new opportunities but provides tools for students to understand this rapidly advancing world of the information age.

How would you use a drone in your classroom?

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Five Reasons to Learn Another Language

Our world is shrinking. Not the physical world, but our connectedness and interdependence is bringing the far reaches of our planet right to our door step.  Global commerce and increased ease of travel, not to mention virtual communication, are creating a future where circumnavigating the globe will not only be possible at lightening speed, but necessary to maintain business and political relations on a daily basis.

Google Translate Is All I Need

With advances in Artificial Intelligence and intuitive software, the ability of computer generated translation has skyrocketed.  New programs are able to translate in real time via voice recognition. This leads many to believe that learning a second or third language is obsolete.

Just as understanding of geography and map skills should never be replaced with reliance on GPS systems, learning a foreign language can never be usurped by an app on your phone.  Technology has limitations. Even the best software will not be correct 100% of the time.  In addition, technology can fail due to user error, loss of power, or computer viruses.

The need for another language is growing, not shrinking. Here are five reasons why you should start to learn a new language today!

  1. Job Prospects: Knowing a second language has huge career advantages.  It not only makes you more employable, leading to greater choice of jobs in a difficult economy, being bi-lingual provides for higher salaries as well.  Employees able to speak more than one language are great assets to companies competing in the global marketplace.
  2. Brain Power: Learning something new is the best exercise for your brain. Moreover, language learning is the apex of brain development. Learning another language not only flexes your gray matter to keep it in top shape, it helps to stave off brain related disease such as Alzheimer and Dementia. By creating an infrastructure of multiple neural pathways, learning and using a second language has been show to push off development of brain disorders by over 4.5 years!
  3. Cultural Understanding: Learning the language of a country or region not only opens doors of communication but immerses you in the nuances of the culture. Language is a living organism. It grows, changes, and adapts to the ways and history of the people who speak it.  By learning the language, you will understand the people’s culture and be more able to interrelate on a personal level.  You will become integrated into the experience instead of just looking from the outside in!
  4. Understand Your Native Tongue: Since a first language is always acquired organically, the use of grammar is something that is understood and rarely analyzed. However, by studying a second language, you will gain an appreciation and proficiency in your native language that cannot be learned otherwise.  This leads to better communication in both languages and improved writing and reading skills.
  5. Build Bridges to New Gateways Where could another language take you? Anywhere you want!  Our technology affords us the opportunity to travel without passport or plane ticket. Features such as Skype, Facebook, and Youtube open the door to the world–a rich world full of endless learning possibilities.  Language learning is the key to this pathway, for if you get to the door but don’t know the secret password (in this case understanding to the target language) even the best technology will leave you out in the cold.

As One Planet, One People, let’s work for not only greater interdependence but greater understanding.  Learning is not a one way street. What you learn not only enriches your life, but connects you to others and builds bridges.

To where will you build a bridge today?

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Where in the World? Building Map Skills

Globetrotting on a Map

Our planet is so vast. From mile high peaks to low lying islands, arctic tundra to arid rain forests.  The beauty and splendor is amazing.  This breathtaking canvas is occupied by 7.6 billion people and organized by the invisible borderlines of 195 countries. How many could you find on an unlabelled map?

Exploring a map or atlas is an adventure in itself.  The different names, the topography, the climates and animal habitats all weave a tapestry like none other.  As One Planet, One People, we have so much in common but, also so much to share that makes us each unique.  Understanding our world begins with understanding our globe!

Why Learn Map Skills?

With the advent of GPS our reliance on technology has decreased our perceived need to learn how to read a map.  Moreover, not only are we not versed in how to uses maps, but are less likely to even encounter one.

Map skills are still an important ingredient to understanding your surroundings and the world at large.  When listening to the news, our knowledge of geography helps us better understand where items of interest are happening and how they could effect other parts of the world.

How to Build Better Map Skills

The easiest way to learn more about maps of the world is to spend time exploring them.  Hear a geographic name you don’t recognize?  Look it up!  Not sure which countries border an area in conflict? Pull out an atlas and find out.

Here are four other projects to build map skills for young and old:

  1.  Google up some geography. While technology has made us less able to self-orient, it has also opened doors to experiencing geography like never before. Instead of just a static drawing or photograph in a book, interactive maps, such as Google Earth, brings the maps to life.  Spending time exploring and “voyaging” via Google Earth you can become a globetrotter right from your living room. There are numerous projects online to enhance your learning.
  2. Build the world by hand! Making a globe by hand is a great way to gain an understanding of where places are and how they relate to each other.  Globes can be made from pumpkins, paper mache, styrofoam balls, or printable that are assembled.
  3. Map what you read. Find locations mentioned in the books, and news that you read.  Learn more about the area around the point you discovered.  Get a wall map and mark each of these spots to keep track of your reading travel.
  4. Play a game. Playing games, both board games and video games, that include travel is a fun and easy way to learn more geography. Puzzles, as well, turning playing into learning. Try some of these:

Where will you explore today?

 

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