26 August 2013

e-Readers, e-Textbooks Advantage for Educational Institutions

Technology, where would we be without it. Today, everything is either an i"Thingy" or a tablet or an e-Reader. Book, you know those things printed on paper, that you read..........they are so yesterday.

However, even with all this technology within our grasps, it is not being fully utilized. That is my point for today. Schools, Colleges, Universities and Technical Schools - need to embrace the technology advantage. What am I speaking about? Good question. e-Readers and e-Books; especially e-Textbooks. A large expense to any institution is the required textbooks and associated reference materials. Solution: e-Readers and e-Textbooks.

A good e-Reader is less than $200 per unit. A good science text book is $200. Text books are expensive because they are hard covered, colour printed, large format and have lots of pages. Oh, and the material changes every 3 to 5 years so they need to be replaced.

A good e-Reader, can be loaded with all the text books, they can be updated midway through the semester or school year, and even the reference books can be uploaded. If tablets are used, the e-Textbooks could be loaded AND the assignments can be completed and e-mailed to the instructor and the marked and graded "papers" can be e-mailed back tot he student. 

So, for the sake of the argument, using e-Textbooks on e-Readers + a tablet, a student could have EVERYTHING they need for academic courses that would fit in a medium sized briefcase. Currently, to carry all the textbooks, binders, pens, pencils, calculators, etc, etc. You need a large duffle bag and very strong arms and back to carry it all. 

This would be a win, win, win solution for all.

For the school/institution: Cost effective e-Readers and reduce expenses on textbooks. Not to mention the ability to have the most current source materials, and rapid updates.

For textbook industry: No longer need to focus on limiting the textbook, to keep it competitive. Now the best materials can be assembled, complete with colour photos and graphs/charts. Master copies would be loaded onto flashdrives and couriered to the schools. The schools would upload onto their e-Readers. Price per text book could be reduced and profits would still increase. And schools would be asking for updates.

For the students: The one who would benefit the most. Less stuff to carry. Information being provided in a format kids understand. It would make learning fun, again. 

So, before technology is used by somebody else, let's encourage the education system to get with the times and use the technology to make a positive difference instead of whining about how kids don't want to learn.

Keep learning and thinking,

Mountainman.

7 August 2013

Flood Warning Index

This year's experience with the floods in Southern Alberta has confirmed a thought I once had, we need a Flood Warning Index or Code. It needs to be simple - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or Green, Yellow, Orange, Red, Violet or Not Bad, Bad, Really Bad, Really Really Bad or Kiss Your Ass Goodbye. 

If it makes sense to have the Richter Scale for Earthquakes, a Category System for Hurricanes, The F Class for Tornadoes; then it certainly makes sense to have some system for floods. 

The methodology to determine what flow of water on which river or stream goes with which colour is beyond the scope of my idea. If accepted, the correct folks with the engineering or scientific  backgrounds will assign the proper values. What is important is that everyday folks will understand a Yellow Flood situation will be bad in certain parts of town and a Violet Flood will probably erase the town.

For High River, AB, the 2008 flood may rate a orange level, where as the 1995 & 2005 may rate a red level. The 2013 flood is starting to look like a violet level event.

Being told that you are going to flood, without some value attached to the warning is almost useless. Being in a geographic area that has a huge water basin to collect rain water and snow pack in, it is conceivable that when conditions are right, all low-laying areas downstream will get wet at one point each year. Having an method to describe how wet and how fast you are going to get wet will help folks make an informed decision on whether to stay and sandbag or pack-up and head for higher ground.

I hope the folks at ESRD - Environment Sustainable Resource Development, will champion this idea to the province and maybe we can have this ready by next flood season.

Remember, have a plan, have good information and take action!

Til next time,

Mountainman.