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The Learning Bulletin Board: Adaptation in Education

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This article is part of a learning special report on how the pandemic continues to change the way we approach education.

Ayush Agarwal loves speeches and debates. During his sophomore year of high school in San Jose, Calif., when the pandemic forced his tournaments to debate online, he digitally understood what it meant to live across his divide.

Many of Ayush’s friends who attend other schools in the city did not have computers or reliable internet connections to participate in online tournaments and sessions. Then, on his Reddit debate channel, he saw posts from all over the country. These online he can’t participate in tournaments” or “I can’t access Zoom because the internet is too slow,” said Ayush, who is 17 years old.

“It was a real disappointment for me,” he said. “They’re great debaters. They’re probably better than I am, but they’re not going to be in the tournament because they didn’t qualify, just because they don’t have the resources.”

So Ayush, now a senior at Basis Independent Silicon Valley, a private school in San Jose, decided to do something about it.

In March 2021, he and three students from San Jose’s Evergreen Valley High School and Leland High School started ClosingTheDivide, a nonprofit that collects and refurbishes used electronics to donate to low-income families and students. was launched.

This group does more than just provide devices. Ayush says: It also focuses on other aspects of technical proficiency, such as enabling low-income residents to connect to digital he literacy initiatives such as internet discounts and coding classes through affordable connectivity programs.

Since its inception, the nonprofit has expanded to 29 chapters in the United States, Asia, Africa and Europe, all run by high school students.

Students donated over 1,145 devices. Received a grant of approximately $32,000. Worked with 10 sponsors and 32 corporate partners. Opened 12 computer labs, 6 in Tanzania, 1 in Cambodia and 5 in California.

Students recently applied for the San Jose Digital Inclusion Partnership, a project sponsored by the City of San Jose, and received a $17,500 grant.

We know Peyton Poole wore a maroon suit with bell sleeves to this year’s National Speech and Debate Tournament in June. She remembers little bright lights, nausea in her stomach, or anything else.

“If I say I don’t remember anything,” said Mr. Poole. Her dramatic interpretation of it earned her her second-place result. She said, “I saw darkness. I saw the faces of the judges and I was like, ‘OK, this is happening.’ ”

When high school speech and debate teams from across the country gathered in Louisville, Kentucky, it was the first in-person national convention since the start of the pandemic. I was both excited and nervous about what was coming.

Poole, 18, from Lafayette, Louisiana, is now a freshman at Western Kentucky University.

Educators across the country report that more students are reluctant to speak in public, whether in the classroom or on stage. Coaches are retraining skills such as eye contact and voice projection.

“Public speaking is about ‘how you relate to others, how you respectfully disagree.'” Language teacher and debate coach in Baltimore A Kyair Butts said.

Virtual school didn’t help. “The screen was a masquerade ball for the students,” he said. “Now that we can meet in person, we need to pull a little bit to help our students reach their full potential.”

“Of course I was nervous, but more than that, I was relieved,” said Dan Hodges, a speech and debate coach at Apple Valley High School in Apple Valley, Minnesota. And it felt right.

Can baseball tell us anything about our short attention spans? A study of major league umpires found that umpires called balls and strikes more accurately at key moments in a game. I understand. However, shortly after these intense moments of concentration, the referees made noticeably more errors. (Thanks to a video technique called PITCHf/x, it’s clear if you’re right or wrong.)

Fortunately, according to this study, humans can quickly reset their attention spans. No increase in errors was detected after the end of each half of his innings when the umpire took his two-minute rest. Although the results must be replicated in a classroom setting, there is reason to believe that students’ attention spans are similarly depleted during class, and that well-timed short breaks can help them.

James E. Archsmith, an economist and co-researcher at the University of Maryland, said in an email: “When thinking about settings that allow us to concentrate for long periods of time without breaks, we need to take that into consideration. This applies to both schoolchildren and their teachers.”

The study, “The Dynamics of Inattentiveness on the (Baseball) Field,” is currently under review for publication in a journal. A preliminary draft is being circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

What is clear is that sometimes staring out the window or zoning in left field might be a good idea.

Trekkies: Robots from Starship Technologies may be delivering the next Java Chip Frappuccino. Their mission is to plan a new college campus. Hunt down hungry students and save them from a crowded cafeteria. Entertain boldly with song and dance.

San Francisco-based Estonian company Starship is deploying a fleet of autonomous robots to provide contactless food delivery on college campuses and other locations as a welcome service during the Covid-19 pandemic. The 6-wheel minicar will accommodate mobile ordering with the Starship app, where students can swipe food or purchase items with points. Her Starship robots took off rapidly across 12 campuses when the pandemic began.

Starship’s Vice President of Marketing Henry Harris-Burland said:

The robot moves at a pace of four miles per hour and plays music as the student unloads the cargo hold. With her 360-degree view of her surroundings, 12 cameras, an array of radar and ultrasonic sensors, she can cross roads and navigate around people, animals and objects.

“We really appreciate the availability of bot delivery as it provides another option for accessibility,” said Alexander, Junior and Co-President of Brandeis Disabled Students Network. Cheatham said, adding that some students with disabilities may avoid the cafeteria when in a wheelchair or wheelchair. Malfunction of the mobility lift.

For now, what can be delivered depends on campus and food provider participation. AI technology allows each robot to adapt to its environment and adjust when encountering unknown objects. They’re like freshmen and they always take time to learn and get used to campus.

For decades, college advice was primarily thought of as a way to help students enroll in classes. It has often become a tool to help me deal with other aspects of my life as I graduate from college. This is sometimes called a case management approach and is becoming more and more imperative.

For example, at San Antonio College in Texas, a student is required to meet with an advisor four times at the time of admission and after completing 15, 30, and 45 hours of credit to earn a 60-hour associate’s degree. there is. Otherwise, enrollment in the class will be prohibited.

Other universities around the country have taken similar approaches, including the University of Utah, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and several community colleges. At regular meetings, counselors go beyond academics and ask students about their personal needs and obstacles they face.

Many of these obstacles have been exacerbated during the pandemic, with historically marginalized students being hit hardest. According to university leaders, the students who need the most advising support are often unaware or unaware of what resources exist to help them.

Robert Vela Jr., former president of San Antonio College and now president of Texas A&M University-Kingsville, has traditionally said: There are services available here. If they want to participate, they will. ”

Now, there has been a shift to “a parent approach that we know best for our students,” he said, adding, “Sometimes we need to get rid of the word ‘optional’ because we know best.” There is,” he added.

The Bulletin Board is produced by The Hechinger Report, a non-profit independent news organization covering education.