Daniel Koretz on Access to Technology

Daniel Koretz:


I mean, clearly, it’s a gap in access.  But what’s very unclear is how many of the kids who have access are using it for things that are valuable and how many are using it for things that are no more valuable than, say, television which we know from the academic point of view is for the most part a waste of time.  We just don’t know.  And, moreover, the efforts to bring digital media into schools have been, in many cases, real failures.  It’s been a hammer in search of a nail.  People know that there’s this powerful technology out there, it ought to be to in schools and I agree it ought to, but they weren’t quite sure how to do it, many of them.  We have a number of really promising things, some of which have been going out for a long time.  So, for instance, there has been very interesting work going on for at least a dozen years in the development of intelligent, computer based intelligent tutors in mathematics, software that will allow diagnosis of errors and present kids with new problems based on the reasons why they fail to get a previous problem correct and so on.  But that’s not, generally, what you see when you go into schools.  And when I went, I used to go and watch my kids in school, I rarely saw, there were computers, but I rarely saw any activity on the computers.  It was very valuable other than learning to type on them.  So I think there is a problem that the world has reached a point at which a lack of access to the digital media and for that matter a lack of access to broadband can be crippling.  But the other side of it is we still have a relatively weak grasp of how kids use it and how to encourage them to use it in ways that are more productive.  There are lots of interesting pilots in development efforts but there is, in my view, a lack of consensus in the policy world about what really to do with all of these.  And some of that, by the way, is also expensive.  It will cost money. 

A gap exists, Daniel Koretz admits, but he wonders how much of technology is used for educational purposes.

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Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash
Mind & Brain
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New alternative to Trump's wall would create jobs, renewable energy, and increase border security

A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.

Credit: Purdue University photo/Jorge Castillo Quiñones
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
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Image source: Wikimedia commons
Surprising Science
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The bodies that remain in view are often used as waypoints for the living. Some of them are well-known markers that have earned nicknames.

For instance, the image above is of "Green Boots," the unidentified corpse named for its neon footwear. Widely believed to be the body of Tsewang Paljor, the remains are well known as a guide point for passing mountaineers. Perhaps it is too well known, as the climber David Sharp died next to Green Boots while dozens of people walked past him- many presuming he was the famous corpse.

A large area below the summit has earned the discordant nickname "rainbow valley" for being filled with the bright and colorfully dressed corpses of maintainers who never made it back down. The sight of a frozen hand or foot sticking out of the snow is so common that Tshering Pandey Bhote, vice president of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association claimed: "most climbers are mentally prepared to come across such a sight."

Other bodies are famous for not having been found yet. Sandy Irvine, the partner of George Mallory, may have been one of the first two people to reach the summit of Everest a full thirty years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did it. Since they never made it back down, nobody knows just how close to the top they made it.

Mallory's frozen body was found by chance in the nineties without the Kodak cameras he brought up to record the climb with. It has been speculated that Irvine might have them and Kodak says they could still develop the film if the cameras turn up. Circumstantial evidence suggests that they died on the way back down from the summit, Mallory had his goggles off and a photo of his wife he said he'd put at the peak wasn't in his coat. If Irving is found with that camera, history books might need rewriting.

As Everest's glaciers melt its morbid history comes into clearer view. Will the melting cause old bodies to become new landmarks? Will Sandy Irvine be found? Only time will tell.

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