Prions - June 25th, 2008

It was during my undergraduate years that I started appreciating the trascendence of the work as a scientist. Dr. Stanley Prusiner was not taken seriously initially when he announced the existence of a nonliving transforming agent to the scientific community around the mid 80s.

Prions are chaperone proteins, polypeptides in charge of the folding of other proteins. When a cell contains the infective form, the consequences can be counted by the millions, of cows and dollars. But as humans, we are not exempt of the risks. We can contract a type of prion disease called CJD or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, where the brain becomes something like a sponge, literally.

A new report has come out informing that prions are a very strong form af aberrant proteins, describing the work of Wisconsin scientists reporting the persistence of prions in wastewater 20 days after the water passed through regular sewage treatment.
This report is available as open-access in this link.

World Wide Web 2.0 - June 24th, 2008

There has been an explosion followed by a snowball coming to us at all times, it is called flow of information. The resources derived from and to handle all sorts of information generated from the ever-expanding knowledge, but most of all by the practically unlimited availability of it, is astounding. Proof of that is the exponential amount of blogs and wikis that have been in the last few years. This is certainly a new generation of interaction between user, interface and the powerful feedback.

There are several websites that promote the use of the new types of tools available: cool, fresh, dynamic and friendly web 2.0 tools. Pages such as Go2Web2.0, and Mosaic are good examples of that.

the best of all is that a new way to interact and present information is available in Education. Generating contents with new approaches, visions and levelsof interactivity. Let's celebrate the web 2.0 and the possibilities it brings us for our social, academic, business and personal life.

Educating with Skills - June 24th, 2008

My school is very interested in students learning skills through the Inquiry-based Learning, an investigative method that allows students to search, review, filter and integrate information in order to answer to open-ended questions.

This is a great approach for kids to develop the skills that remain dormant for many years, in some cases. And that would make student's life much easier in higher education instances.

Learning that you have skills is probably the greatest part of all, because it is a discovery in any student's mind and body capability to solve problems, or difficult situations. Does it sound like real lfe? Yes it does. Those skills are so important that will be required for the rest of your life. Might as well start learning them now as a kid than later when the pressure and promptness to succeed make it much more difficult.

This learning approach has been around for some time with other similar names, PYP for example. I was lucky to be part of a training given by Lesley & Kenneth Snowball, founders and strong promoters of this learning approach around the world.

Integrating the inquiry-based learning with the Bloom's taxonomy, and the strong theoretical contents of today's education, is the goal to prepare a student to solve a problem in Peru, USa or China, because the skills will be there to assist in the journey of life and its academic problems.


Quality in Education - June 16th, 2008

Education is a very clear concept, obtaining knowledge and experiences to enlighten one's background. The education has been around us for thousands of years, in one way or another.
Education, as well as any other part of the human expression, has suffered "revolutions" along time.
It wasn't until a few decades ago that the use of a green board with dusty chalks (white at the beginning, coloured later) was the gold standard. Time after, year after year, the evolution of technology and the implementation of it around the sociocultural environment has marked distinct changes in education.
State-sponsored education, still very popular in many countries around the world, is no longer the prime source of knowledge production. Private institutions, with a significant presence in forming renowned scientists and thinkers are probably the leading machinery of knowledge production nowadays.
However, Education has entered into a new era. Knowledge is no longer reserved for the elite families or people with lots of financial resources. Money is not the primary obstacle for a person to be educated. Willingness and progress desire is the main ingredient, but technology and its open and immensely vast of available resources, not only of educational material but also in the current ways to creating, communicating, disseminating, and sharing information.
Perhaps the "obstacle" nowadays is to decide what to study, where to study and when. Age is not a problem, many universities in different countries have older adult programs.
It is the amount of information that is unstoppable what sets people in jeopardy if good education is not part of its resume.
Finally, developing countries like Peru are used to form and educate people with lots and lots of skills to compensate for the lack of resources (books, equipment, technology, etc) that are perfect for facing the first world working markets as well as postgraduate studies.
Even though my country has been placed in one of the last positions in educational achievements of our region, there is a lot valuable people trying to revert this uncomfortable truth. Unfortunately, usually the ones in charge of taking the decisions are the first blockers of progress, here and anywhere.


Bionic Hand - June 10th, 2008

On April 23rd I posted a picture and a brief comment about a bionic eye implants that was developed for blind people to recover, or obtain, detection of light and imagery.

Now a new report has come out about bionics, in this case it is a bionic hand that has won Britain most prestiged award in engineering, the Mac Robert Award.

This is an interesting device called the iLimb, it has the five fingers separately powered. This device came out for sale in July 2007 with a price of 10,000 pounds and has been used in mutilated soldiers and patients with no limbs. It's worth taking a look at this technology and the video that the BBC presented with the interview of one of the patients using the device.


Immersed in Technology - June 6th, 2008

It's been only 4 months since I came into this world, yes into the eLearning, Web 2.0, Teacher 2.0, world. It all came amazingly fast to me. I started working in St. George's College in february of this year, and from there on my appreciation on technological tools changed dramatically.
I didn't have a blog or a wiki before. Now I have 2 blogs and 2 wikis.
The Wikis I've prepared are mostly dedicated to class contents, dates, homeworks, assignments, deadlines, etc.
The blogs are focused into something fresh. Something you can read if you're interested in Science or any topic of significant cultural or academic impact.
My first Wiki is a dedicated, and very useful and powerful tool that allows me to extend the communication I have with my students, but also with their parents. That's one of the powerful parts. Although I have to recognize it was not easy to introduce students...and parents into this "new" technology. Even though Blogs and Wikis are not new, in computer time, they are still entering into the Educational world, faster and faster everyday.
The most difficult part was to let people open their eyes, including myself, to an endless list of possible resources, techniques, designs, and content that was usually reserved for elite populations.
that's the beauty of it, knowledge has entered into a real democracy, anyone with an internet connection has access to a limitless amount of information.
All you need to KNOW is that the resources are there for you to start using them and exploiting them, at home, at work and now, in classrooms.
Although it is extremely important that facing such an immense flow of information we must FILTER that information, because not everything will be useful for you at the same time.
My students from lower 5th grade up to middle 1st grade (5th to 7th grade) have learned in the past 3 months to deal with Interactive SMART Boards, Notebook presentations, Issuu displays, PDF documents, Flash Animations, Inserted Images and Videos, Blogs, Wikis, and Podcast.
Three months ago they were not used to this, nowadays they demand that from me. They request that I publish classes and information faster.
I don't know how this will keep changing and evolving, but one thing is certain, it is here we might as well use it or, our student will leave us behind sooner or later.


Teachers Teaching Teachers

Teachers Teaching Teachers TTTThis past saturday, May 31st, the TTT event took place in Lima-Peru. In Peruano Britanico, the primary teachers, and in San Silvestre for Secondary Teachers, we all had a great experience to learn from peers.I was fortunate because I could present a lecture about "Demonstration of Wikis and Blogs and Internet Resources in the Science Claaroom". For those who couldn't assist to my lecture I publish it in the following link :

Clicky Web Analytics