5 March 2007Amid debate on growing cellphone usage in schools, South Africa’s Meraka Institute is piloting a project that makes use of innovative applications to turn the handheld devices into instruments of learning.Begun 18 months ago and running for a further two years, the project – dubbed MobilED – is being conducted in collaboration with the University of Pretoria and Finland’s Helsinki University of Art and Design. Participating schools include Cornwall Hill College and Irene Middle School in Centurion, Pretoria.According to lead researcher Merryl Ford, MobilED has shown that cellphones can be very useful where students have limited access to information sources such as libraries or the internet.In a statement issued last week, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which manages the Meraka Institute, said the project “will be piloted internationally by countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines and Finland. Interest has also been shown by New Zealand, Mexico, Colombia and Mozambique.”Audio-WikipediaThe first mobile function developed by MobilED was an “audio-Wikipedia” – Wikipedia is a popular online encyclopaedia – from which students can receive information.“Children send an SMS with a keyword to a cellphone number,” Ford explains. “In response, they receive a call and a speech synthesiser ‘reads’ an article on the subject. Both the fast forward or rewind functionalities can be used, almost like old analogue tape recordings.”The group is also developing an MMS (multimedia message service) content-addition and delivery module. All the innovations are being tested in real classroom situations with direct feedback from children and teachers.Tapping into MXitAnother MobilED innovation seeks to make educational use of MXit, a locally developed chat programme that allows mobile users to converse with each other at the fraction of the usual cost of sending text messages – an application so popular that it is causing headaches for South African teachers.One of MobilED’s researchers has started a “Doctor Maths” service offering maths support to high-school MXit users, and the Meraka Institute is working on making the service available through other chat platforms as well.“With a reported million school-going children having subscribed to MXit, one can hardly ignore this tool,” says Ford.The people’s computerAccording to the CSIR, today’s high-end mobile phones have the computing power of a mid-1990s personal computer, while consuming only one-hundredth of the energy. “Even the simplest, voice-only phones have more complex and powerful chips than the on-board computer that landed a spaceship on the moon in 1969,” the CSIR notes.“It seems a great pity that our children and teachers are not using one of the most accessible, affordable computing devices in the developing world in more positive ways,” says Ford.Asked whether the new tool would not infringe school policies on cellphone use, Ford says: “The internet has resulted in immensely powerful, positive business applications, but is also used in not-so noble applications. While the irresponsible use of cellphones by learners has caused an uproar, we should not ignore the untapped latent applications and benefits.Facing the dangers“Since we live in the new digital age, it is imperative that teenagers are taught life skills for this digital age,” Ford argues, noting that it is the role of parents and teachers to inform children of the issues that may be faced. “We warn children at a young age not to speak to strangers – this needs to be translated to the online world too.”As part of the pilot, students’ messaging costs are being covered by the CSIR. At the same time, the MobilED team is investigating ways of making the service affordable to scholars around South Africa.“I am extremely excited by the results of this pilot project,” says Ford. “It has been hugely successful.”SouthAfrica.info reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo material
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest On Monday, April 3rd, the Anthony Wayne FFA Chapter held their annual banquet at Nazareth Hall. At the banquet, members and guests enjoyed a delicious dinner. Following dinner, multiple members received pins to place on their jacket for their participation in CDEs (Career Development Events).Several chapter awards were presented, including:Star Greenhand member: Reegan KehresStar Chapter member: Laura CaswellOutstanding Junior member: Haley SchmersalOutstanding Senior member: Camryn Buskey110% Award: Kalie AndersonMr. & Miss Volunteers: Patrick Miller and Hannah MitchellAdditionally, the Les Disher Leadership Award is one of the highest honors that the Anthony Wayne FFA Chapter bestows on its members, and this year Marleigh Kerr received the award.At the end of the banquet, the 2016-2017 officer team gave Mrs. Short and Mrs. Bockbrader a gift, and the 2017-2108 officer team was installed.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Peter Thomison, Ohio State University ExtensionRecent heavy rains have caused widespread flooding and ponding, especially in river bottoms and along streams. In some localized areas, this may have resulted in partial and complete immersion of corn in nearby fields, especially in low spots. When water drains off these fields, plants may be covered to varying degrees with a layer of mud. Will corn plants covered by a layer of mud survive and can it perform normally? The layers of silty mud covering plants will limit or prevent leaf photosynthesis. Bacteria deposited in leaf whorls by flooding can result in disease and kill plants.On the positive side, most corn in Ohio was at a stage of growth less vulnerable to flood damage when it occurred. Most corn is well beyond V6 (the six leaf collar stage) when the growing point is at or above the soil surface and less sensitive to flooding and associated anaerobic soil conditions. If the duration of flooding was brief, limited to several hours, and temperatures are moderate (which they are supposed to be the remainder of the week), flooding injury damage should be minimal. If corn was subjected to flooding at mid-vegetative stages of development, most leaves on affected plants should not be severely impacted by the mud coatings (assuming that mud in the whorl does not inhibit normal emergence of subsequent leaves). Corn plants produce up to 21 leaves, so at V10, about half the corn leaves have yet to emerge from the whorl. The leaves that have yet to emerge are the most important for the corn plant because the upper canopy produces most of the corn plant’s yield potential.According to the National Crop Insurance Service’s defoliation charts, complete leaf loss at about V10 results in 28% yield loss. However, it’s unlikely that the photosynthetic capacity of leaves has been completely destroyed in plants covered with mud. What’s needed now? More rain (without flooding) to wash silt off leaves allowing for resumption of photosynthesis. It will also help wash mud out of leaf whorls allowing new leaves to emerge.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh continued his four-day “outreach” visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, vowing to “turn Kashmir into a heaven (jannat), even as a delegation of the Congress party led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh landed in Jammu as part of a similar outreach to several other areas of the State this week.Mr. Rajnath Singh, who visited Anantnag in south Kashmir on Sunday, praised the role of the Jammu and Kashmir police as well as paramilitary forces for their “unassailable and unmatched courage.”“Kashmir will be free from terror and no force in the world will be able to stop it from becoming heaven again,” said Mr. Singh, during his interactions with the police and CRPF in Anantnag, one of the Valley’s most volatile areas.Police role laudedOn his second day in the State, Mr. Rajnath Singh lauded the role of the police force, which lost 25 personnel this year in militant attacks, the highest in the past four years.He promised more bullet-proof vehicles, bullet-proof vests and a trauma centre for the police, as well as helicopter services for security forces in J&K. Monmohan Singh arrives for a meeting with party leaders, in Jammu on Sunday. “This is not an ordinary sacrifice, this is the supreme sacrifice. Even the Prime Minister has praised your courage. Not only J&K but the whole nation is proud of your bravery and valour in facing terrorism sponsored by the neighbouring country,” said Mr. Singh.Paying tribute to constable Imtiyaz Ahmad, killed on Saturday in a militant attack, Mr. Singh said he “can’t bear the tears” of families of policemen killed.“J&K police are giving their sacrifice for Kashmir, for the country and for Kashmiris, but it is unfortunate that people are not ready to understand it,” he added.Congress delegationThe high-level Congress group, headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh, met a number of delegations in Jammu, which included groups representing women, minorities, migrants from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, besides prominent civil society members.The Congress delegation, which is planning to visit the Kashmir Valley next week, is holding a wide-ranging interaction with civil society groups to “understand the changing ground realities.” It will later apprise the party at the executive meeting being held on Kashmir.Senior Congress leader Dr. Karan Singh, former Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, and AICC general secretary Ambika Soni are also part of the group.“This visit is aimed at holding talks with a cross section of society in J&K to know about issues confronting the State. We had announced our visit much earlier than him (Union Minister). However, it’s good if any engagement has started with Kashmir,” said Mr. Azad.Omar meets MinisterNational Conference working president Omar Abdullah led a party delegation to meet Mr. Rajnath Singh and raised the issue of J&K’s special status. Referring to the “deteriorating situation” in the Valley, Mr. Abdullah sought a sustained and open-ended political engagement with the stakeholders in Kashmir “irrespective of their ideology.” He also urged New Delhi and Islamabad to make sincere and sustained efforts towards resumption of a comprehensive dialogue on all outstanding issues including that of Kashmir.As a result of the VIP visits to the State, heavy security arrangements have been made in Jammu, Srinagar and Anantnag.“The shutdown during Mr. Singh’s visit once again proved that Kashmir is not a law and order issue or an internal matter of Delhi but a human and political issue which needs to be resolved by accepting its disputed nature,” said Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.However, another Hurriyat faction chairman Syed Ali Geelani said, “It’s meaningless to talk about development as people are being mercilessly killed and properties vandalised.”