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Author Archives: Jennifer

Looking Ahead

Today, I am going to reflect on a hot topic of discussion. No it is not another political movement or charity video (by the way April 20th for Kony 2012 is coming up… has anyone else heard anything about the movement after that first week? I know I have not), it is a point of discussion of its’ own class: online learning. This week a few of my classmates, Mr. G, and a handful of other teacher met in a Skype session to discuss our experiences with online classes. After about an hour and a half of discussion we ended the chat and went our separate ways, but the session really got me thinking: what do I think of online classes? And are there any limits to the types of classes you can take? Since I have taken multiple online classes from different schools I feel confident in saying that almost any class can be taken online and be just as, if not more, successful than classes that meet in person regularly as long as the teacher and students are taking advantage of the tools at their disposal.

Honestly, online classes are the future. If an online class uses social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Docs, and WordPress then the people who argue that online classes do not allow students to interact as they would in a classroom lose that argument. I would know because I have been in classes that fall on both sides of the argument. I have participated in classes where the only way teachers interacted with her students was by having us email in our assignments once a week. In the seven week intensive course not once did I interact with a classmate; in fact, I do not even know who else took the class with me. Yes, I got my work done, but I could have done what I was doing on my own without the class. On the other hand, in my current online class it is rare that a week goes by without interaction. Whether it is a group discussion or collaborative project ideas are exchanged, connections are formed, and eyes are opened. As long as future online classes are like my current class then there is nothing to worry about.

Now I am not suggesting that all classes be replaced by online courses. It would be quite hard to do so in physical education, visual arts, and performing art classes (it is possible, but I fear then that the quality of education would deteriorate). What I do strongly believe is that every high school student should take at least one online class before graduating. Why? Because if an online class is done properly the benefits will overwhelm any drawbacks.  As I mentioned before my online class has opened my eyes. You know the saying no two people are the same? Well that saying can also be applied to the United States. By interacting with girls from coast to coast and even some off the coast I learn about different issues going on in each different state. In addition, some of the girls in my class go to boarding schools; some have schools that heavily monitor their internet sites, and so on. Had I taken a government class at my school I can guarantee that some of the biggest discussions that have happened online would not have happened in the class. Another reason students should take online classes is because it better prepares them for the future. We live in a global world and that will not be changing anytime soon. Everyday people from different countries hold conferences through Skype and work on projects through sites such as Google Docs. By teaching students how to properly use these sites and having them use these sites to complete work (in groups and individually) gives them an advantage over other students when they enter the work world.

I could go on and on about more advantages of online classes, they are limitless. Online classes are an undeniable part of students’ futures, and if they employ strategic technological applications the possibilities (and types of classes) are endless.

Note: I just realized that my classmate Elisa also posted about the Skype session. To read more about it click here.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Learning

 

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Stop Ignorance

If you belong to any social media site then more than likely you have been flooded with images like this for the past few days:

This movement is sponsored by Invisible Children, a non-profit organization that fights to end the conflict in Uganda. In Uganda they are fighting against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is lead by Joseph Kony; there is no real purpose of the LRA besides ensuring that Kony has power. Kony’s soldiers are not men from another country or religion, but children that Kony has abducted from all over Uganda (and now other parts of Africa) that are forced to kill. Over the past few days the level of awareness about the Uganda conflict has gone through the roof. People from all over the world are joining the fight against Kony because of this video:video (if you haven’t already seen it, you should watch it). This video also showcases/utilizes the power that American citizens have been granted excellently (freedom of speech, the right to hold a peaceful protest and so on).

The video basically gives you the background of the war in Uganda and other parts of Africa and how Kony needs to be famous to be brought to justice. It is interesting and a bit disheartening that in the first stages of Invisible Children government officials did not support the cause because it was not popular enough. But now that hundreds of people have joined the cause, politicians have deemed it worth their attention. There is just something about that wrong to me.

Of course I cannot put complete blame on the politicians, part of the blame- in fact, most of it is the people of the United States fault. Why did we not make this an issue earlier? If this conflict has been going on so long how come it is just now making major news? Did I miss something? Was this more widely publicized when I was a kid? Yes, Invisible Children is a great cause and people should get involved. But why has it taken so long for an issue as big as children being abducted and forced to murder other people to receive any sort of acknowledgement from the people in the United States. It just frustrates me a little that people, especially people my age, are (for the most part) just hearing about this issue. What is wrong with us? In a world as global as ours is we cannot afford to be ignorant of issues (like Uganda and more recently Syria) going on around the world. Why can we not afford it? Because not only does it inadvertently affect us, but also if we do ignore these issues we could end up with another Holocaust on our hands.

I am suggesting that people of all ages put more effort into seeing what is going on in the world around them. If you are in a classroom setting make it so students have to talk about a current issue once a week, or (teachers or students) just bring up a random issue in class. If you are in the world outside the classroom then make an effort to check a (global) news website such as CNN or BBC once a day. As I said we cannot afford for things to go by unnoticed. If you are like me you do not want future generations looking back at ours and saying “How did they not know what was happening?”

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Learning, Media

 

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Accident to Crime

Talk to anyone who has been driving for more than two years and the chances are they have been in an accident (either they caused it or they were hit). Except for severe cases, there is a protocol to be followed after an accident happens. Put on your hazard lights, pull over (or follow the car in front of you), get out of the car, make sure everyone is okay, exchange your information, and maybe call the police. Seems easy enough, right? Even if you skip a few steps of the protocol, it is alright; but not pulling over and driving off (aka a hit and run) is NEVER acceptable. In fact, if caught after fleeing from the scene the person’s driver’s license can be revoked for a lifetime, and sentenced to jail. Also the moment one party leaves an accident without stopping, it is no longer an accident, but a crime scene. Now you might be thinking: why is she talking about a hit and run? Isn’t this an AP Government blog? Well, originally I was going to blog about something else, but yesterday I was in a hit and run accident. While the person did not cause too much damage, the fact that the person would flee the scene irks me to no end. This irritation lead me to find statistics about hit and run accidents, and what the government is doing to stop them.

Police report that 11% of accidents reported each year are hit and runs. What is even scarier is that a majority of these hit and runs are cases where pedestrians are struck, and that has resulted in 1500 deaths annually in the United States. Why would people run? According to law websites, it a myriad of emotion: shock, fear, shame, that causes a person to flee from the scene of the crime. They could also already be in trouble with the law or drunk.  More information about the mindset behind the drivers who run away can be found at these websites: InjuryBoard and Maryland Criminal Law Part 1 and Part 2.

While the United States government has put in policies to punish people who flee from an accident, what about policies to actually catch the driver? If you do not see the license plate then you are not in luck. One solution is for the government (the local or state) to install cameras at all of the major intersections. Yes, this would be a cost a bit to install, but as technology improves basic cameras become cheaper. Some would argue this is a violation of privacy, but it is not. In no way would these camera’s be watching you while you are in the privacy of your own home, but while you are about with many other people around. That brings me to my second solution. Create higher incentives for witnesses to take down the driver’s license plate number. My third solution goes back to the Driver’s Ed. For most of us it seems common sense to stay at the scene of the crime, but if teachers could drive staying at the scene into our heads at an early age then maybe the number of hit and runs would decrease. Of course, for this to happen, parent taught lessons would no longer be an option (which could be a good thing).  Whatever the government’s course of action is, it needs to be taken soon before any more people suffer because others will not take responsibility for their actions.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Law and Policy

 

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