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Entrepreneurial educators tout product that lets today's multi-tasking students take in many images
The Grand Rapids Press ^ | Saturday, August 03, 2002 | Erin Albanese

Posted on 08/04/2002 10:18:45 AM PDT by FourPeas

Building better brains: Entrepreneurial educators tout a product that lets today's multi-tasking students take in many images at once.

Saturday, August 03, 2002By Erin Albanese
The Grand Rapids Press

BYRON CENTER -- Byron Center High School's former principal and technology director are collaborating with a school board member to launch a business for making and selling multimedia education systems.

William Skilling, who was principal for 10 years, and Technology Director Nick Sheltrown left their jobs in June to join forces with school board member Rod Kuznicki. They hope to tap the potential of a virtual-instruction system called Super Teaching.

Skilling is now executive director of ST Concepts, which opened its office at 7612 Clyde Park Ave. on July 1. Kuznicki is president and Sheltrown is vice president of professional development. The company has seven employees.

ST Concepts was launched after a nonprofit educational group in Alabama called International Learning Trust contracted with Innovative Communications Inc. to design Super Teaching Products. Kuznicki formerly served as president there.

Kuznicki and a partner hired Skilling to start ST Concepts to build and sell the product. The base price for the system is $169,000.

One of ST Concepts' main products is a multimedia classroom, which allows distance learning, virtual information and immediate feedback.

The Super Teaching system consists of three screens that allow students to take in images both in front of them and peripherally. It also integrates the use of the Internet, distance education, cable television, VCR, DVD, CD-ROMs, satellite communication, computer software programs and live interactive media.

"It's teaching to both the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere of the brain, simultaneously," Skilling said. "The more senses that we are engaging, retention, recall and comprehension increases."

Caledonia's Emmons Lake Elementary is a test site for the program.

The school installed the system in January, and Principal Gordie Nickels said teachers already have used it to communicate with another Michigan classroom as well as a class in Wisconsin and an Iditarod sled-dog team. It has been used to present social studies instruction and current-events information.

Nickels said the system seems to interest the students. "I believe the impact could be great," he said.

The system also is being tested at Salt Lake Community College in Utah. The company is working to set up a test site at a private school in Australia.

Skilling has studied brain research and has noticed the rising number of children taking the drug, Ritalin, in Michigan for attention deficit disorder. Kids who live in a multimedia world are used to multi-tasking and absorbing and responding to information quickly, such as what they get in video games.

"You have a situation where you have two types of kids: kids with true ADD and kids that act like it," he said. "I think we're teaching children who have symptoms of ADD who don't really need (Ritalin)," Skilling said.

Rapid, multi-engaged activity is not part of traditional classrooms, he said. "Contrast their world to traditional classrooms where we still have 'chalk talk' going on," Skilling said.

The result is under-stimulated, disengaged students, he said.

The system reduces learning anxiety by using nature scenes from all over the country and classical music to relax students. Touch screens and picture icons also are user-friendly.

It also allows students to answer questions from their desks and displays the percentage of students who answered correctly. Tests can be corrected immediately.

"Super Teaching accelerates learning by taking away the mind wandering," Skilling said. "It makes the teacher much more efficient."

Sheltrown said he could not pass up the opportunity. "I think it's something that could be a very pervasive technology," he said. "It helps presenters instruct and get their message across."

Skilling said the company might expand sales to the military and government.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; News/Current Events; US: Michigan
KEYWORDS: add; adhd; education; educationnews; schools
Truly scary.
1 posted on 08/04/2002 10:18:46 AM PDT by FourPeas
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To: *Education News
2 posted on 08/04/2002 10:19:06 AM PDT by FourPeas
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To: FourPeas
I don't see anything "scary" about this on its face. Like anything that deals with education, it depends on what is being taught as opposed to how it is being taught.
3 posted on 08/04/2002 10:23:37 AM PDT by rdb3
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To: FourPeas; dighton; aculeus; general_re
One of the most, if not the most ridiculous idea in education to come down the sewer pipe in recent history. Gives a renewed meaning to the phrase, American education is going down the tubes.
4 posted on 08/04/2002 10:24:31 AM PDT by Orual
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To: FourPeas
Truly scary.

Why? I think they're right on target, this is the next logical step in education, information processing, and possibly evolution. Actually I discussed designing this type of system with my 18 year old son less than two weeks ago.

5 posted on 08/04/2002 10:29:23 AM PDT by FreeLibertarian
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To: All
The amount of information that a conscious healthy brain in it's early learning years can integrate is way beyond what we currently think...

The concept of faster and better learning based on better ways to integrate information into young, growing conscious minds only increases the capacity of knowledge for future conscious humans...

So if it works, it cannot possibly be bad or wrong...

Also notice this came from a for profit business...

Not from the beloved government...

6 posted on 08/04/2002 10:50:37 AM PDT by Ferris
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To: Orual; dighton; aculeus

The Works of Scriblerus X. Machina

When the Communications Department blasted off into the unknown regions of interdivisional space, its chairman left us to mull over his now famous Farewell (sans Hail):

But in the sober light of day after the intoxicating elixirs of self-delusion have begun to fade, after the sonorous tones of your voices have begun to sound hollow, after the technicolor hues of your dreams have begun to mute into the blacks and whites of reality - then you may perhaps face these details of reality.

He was reminding us that we had not yet entered the twentieth century, so he must have chosen that quaint and antiquated tone of purple fustian for ironic emphasis - don't you think? How subtly he reminds us of our enslavement to outworn tradition by his innovative use of "mute" as an intransitive verb and that multimedia metaphor in which our elixirs "fade" before our very eyes!

Now the Communications Department re-enters our atmosphere, blazing like another Kohoutek, and bringing no faded elixirs but a heady draft proposal for a F--------- of its very own.

We looked at the part where they tell all about the teaching of writing, twentieth-century style. Here's the plan:

The communications Department proposes to establish an ideal classroom for the teaching of the basic writing course. . . . While there is no single classroom prototype that could be considered ideal for all circumstances, there is a concern that different approaches be taken. One of the keys in suggesting an ideal classroom is that traditional classrooms have a way of perpetuating traditional approaches.... By bringing together in one room a large variety of audiovisual implements, creating a relaxed atmosphere by having the room carpeted with pictures on the walls and easy chairs and tables and by having duplicating equipment and a variety of newspapers and magazines readily available, we can encourage attempts to change both students' perceptions and teachers' approaches to the task of learning how to write.

Now why couldn't we have thought of all that neat stuff? Because we've been hung up perpetuating traditional approaches - things like drill and practice, writing and rewriting - that's why. Even desks! Now we see. What we need is a dentist's waiting room redone by Radio Shack, magazines and Muzak, comfy chairs, and a shiny new Xerox so the scholars won't have to fight over the latest number of Popular Mechanics.

Notice a refreshing absence of flat, empty surfaces where a thoughtless student might accidentally write words on a piece of paper and set the whole class back a century. That's the hard part, all right, putting the words on the paper. That's why hardly anyone was able to write before the advent of that large variety of audiovisual implements. (Implements?)

The proposal itself seems to have been put together in just such an innovative, relaxing setting. Notice, for instance, the creative (or easy chair) treatment of punctuation in that bit about the pictures. The room is carpeted with pictures on the walls. The pictures are on the walls and easy chairs and tables. It's a split-screen effect. Electronic!

Elsewhere we find:

A second prong in the outreach of the department would come from a Communication Consultancy Center. This would be created as an umbrella from which many different kinds of services could be offered to the community.

Stunning. No fuddy-duddy of the age of paper and pencil could ever have accomplished prose like that. The secret is "vision." Only a writer who has learned his craft from long hours of assiduous (but relaxed) scrutiny of a twenty-inch color implement could hope to develop a vision modern enough to see that outreaches have prongs, prongs coming from their Centers, and that a prong, or maybe a Center, can be created as an umbrella, an umbrella from which services can be dispensed, services that can help us all to learn how to communicate in just this fashion.

Well, you can just bet your Bearcat scanner against a busted quill pen that all our staff writers will be standing at the door the day they open that Communications Consultancy Center. We're mired in traditions. We could never, for instance, have come up with these spiffy structures that go the tired old passive at least one better - maybe two:

. . . [the] Department can provide leadership that will cause it to be viewed as a resource .

. . . few of the courses . . . have been able to be offered on a regular basis.

. . . needs should be able to be filled . . .

You just can't hope to master that smooth modern style without spending hours, whole seasons probably, in the old easy chair, beer and pretzels at hand, studying the styles of the greatest play-by-play and color men to be found on the audiovisual implement.

And just look at these daring departures from stodgy tradition. We're so old-fashioned that we almost thought they were mistakes:

. . . the advantages the computer offers . . . lies in continuous availability.

. . . the equipment needs . . . is appended.

. . . there needs to be provisions made . . .

All of this is encouraging for anybody who worries about the teaching of writing here at Glassboro. It shows that the Communications Department is perfectly willing to put some of the taxpayers' money where somebody's mouth is - in a collection of machines. Time was when your basic model communications teacher would rather watch reruns of "Washington Week in Review" than teach a writing course. Now they'll be clamoring to twiddle the dials and leaf through Cosmopolitan and rap about nontraditional approaches to interpersonal communication in the easy chair.

So not to worry. We can all go down to the launching in good conscience, sing in our hollow tones one chorus of "Anchors Aweigh," smash a fifth of faded elixir on the prow of the refitted Starship Triad, newly home from one uncharted deep, sallying forth into yet another, carrying our hopes and dreams, ere they mute, our tuners and amplifiers and, of course, the prongs of our outreach.

- Richard Mitchell, The Graves of Academe

7 posted on 08/04/2002 11:25:16 AM PDT by general_re
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To: general_re; Orual; aculeus; FourPeas; MinuteGal
'Those teach who can't do' runs the dictum,
But for some even that's out of reach:
They can't even teach -- so they've picked 'em
To teach other people to teach.
Then alas for the next generation,
For the pots fairly crackle with thorn.
Where psychology meets education
A terrible bulls**t is born.

-- Ted Pauker, A Grouchy Good Night to the Academic Year.

8 posted on 08/04/2002 11:35:56 AM PDT by dighton
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To: FourPeas; rdb3; Orual; FreeLibertarian; Ferris; general_re; Amelia; rightofrush; Eska; ...
FourPeas, thanks for posting this interesting article. Also, I enjoyed reading everyone's comments.

As a teacher, I can tell you for a fact there is a real need to better engage students in many classrooms. There are still many teachers who think standing in front of the classroom and doing nothing but yapping for an hour constitutes teaching. They do not realize students are already long gone in terms of paying attention.

My concern with this type of system is that based on the limited information in this article, the product as described seems to create more students-as-spectators. I am opposed to this, because I want students to be engaged as creators and problem-solvers, not as mere spectators.

However, I have a feeling this is not the entire story here, and I always look forward to more technology based education which succeeds in better engaging the student.

Fellow teachers and others, what do you think? :)
9 posted on 08/04/2002 11:44:34 AM PDT by summer
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To: dighton
See my post #9. :)
10 posted on 08/04/2002 11:45:11 AM PDT by summer
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To: FourPeas
I prefer a slate and a candle, myself.


11 posted on 08/04/2002 12:04:52 PM PDT by MinuteGal
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To: FourPeas; summer
Skilling has studied brain research and has noticed the rising number of children taking the drug, Ritalin, in Michigan for attention deficit disorder. Kids who live in a multimedia world are used to multi-tasking and absorbing and responding to information quickly, such as what they get in video games.

Actually, some studies suggest that exposing small children to many quick focus changes, such as occur in TV shows like Sesame Street and in video games, is a contributing factor for ADD/ADHD. Therefore, wanting to bring something similar into the classroom is a bit worrisome.

They don't mention in the article whether or not they have any evidence that this program works. In fact, apparently they are just beginning the testing phase?

12 posted on 08/04/2002 12:12:24 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: Amelia
That's true; I have read that as well about the potential ADD link. Thanks for your comments, Amelia. And, yes, sounds like it is just in the testing phase...
13 posted on 08/04/2002 12:19:21 PM PDT by summer
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To: dighton; aculeus; general_re
Dopeler Effect:

The tendency for stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.--- Richard Rathe, MD - Associate Dean for Information Technology, University of Florida

14 posted on 08/04/2002 12:21:11 PM PDT by Orual
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To: summer; FourPeas; rdb3; Orual; FreeLibertarian; Ferris; general_re; Amelia; rightofrush; Eska
This is just a beginning to a workable system, but it is a start and that is extremely important. Development of this type of system is critical to the future of education.

In my line of work Human Machine Interface (HMI) systems are a critical piece of an Automation Control System. Those systems often have dozens of computer monitors presenting data simultaneously. Finding a way to present the data to a system operator is a specialty of its own.

The system described in the article seems to be extremely overpriced but it’s not clear what is included. There would be a huge potential market for a well-designed system.

15 posted on 08/04/2002 1:07:22 PM PDT by FreeLibertarian
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To: FreeLibertarian; summer
Looks good. If the Army buys this, it must have considerable merit.
Most who have not experienced it first hand are not aware of how well the military educates.
16 posted on 08/04/2002 2:27:56 PM PDT by rightofrush
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To: FourPeas; Orual; dighton; general_re
William Skilling?

Hasn't America had one too many Skillings recently?
17 posted on 08/04/2002 3:06:01 PM PDT by aculeus
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To: rightofrush
Thanks so much for your post, rightofrush! :)
18 posted on 08/04/2002 5:16:46 PM PDT by summer
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To: FreeLibertarian
19 posted on 08/04/2002 5:22:13 PM PDT by summer
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