New Technologies, New Debates

Once upon a time, people were either fertile or infertile. Period. And there were plenty of infertile men and plenty of infertile women. Just think about Henry VIII and the many wives he beheaded for being incapable of bearing him a son and heir.

Then along came technology, and everything changed. After ages of human existence, infertility was no longer a barrier to child-bearing. Men could donate sperm. Women could donate eggs. Other women could even donate their wombs and bear children as surrogates.

As with all other technological advances, this was a cause for great cheer, as many people who suffered and longed to be parents were now given more options than simply adopting – adoption being the only option previously available to them.

And as with all other technological advances, there was controversy.

While natural child birth seemed quite natural, artificial means seems… well… quite unnatural. And so, the moralizing began.

As anyone who keeps their eyes and ears open, there is no area of life that invites more hyperbolic and extreme positions than those of procreation and coupling. Witness the ongoing battles on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

So it should come as no surprise that there would be controversy over such topics as artificial insemination, invitro fertilization, egg donation and surrogacy. Opposition to surrogacy and egg donation, in particular, reached its most strident pitch when an article was published by the Witherspoon Institute entitled “The New Sexual Predators”. The article equated egg donation with rape, justifying such a stance from a paper written by Randy Thornhill and anthropologist Craig T. Palmer:

“… describe rape (and prostitution) as ‘gene promotion strategies’ that men use when legitimate, consensual sex is not possible. A man who is unable to engage a fertile female in legitimate consensual sex may face the dilemma of using force, monetary incentives, or facing extinction.”

All of a sudden, according to such positions, a woman offering to be a surrogate mother becomes a rape victim. All of a sudden, the act of giving is no longer an act of selfless generosity, but a debasement of oneself in the vilest fashion.

Sure, give a birthday present. Give some advice. Give a kidney. But don`t give the gift of life.

I am not suggesting that a technological advancement as important as surrogacy and invitro fertilization should not be debated, nor that there should not be disagreement on it.

Quite the opposite.

In most cases, we spend far too much time figuring out how to do new things and not enough time considering whether we should. Perhaps there are ways in which we mess with nature that we should avoid. We discovered this was the case with chlorofluorocarbons, which were quickly thinning the ozone layer that protects all plant and animal life on earth. Faced with a rapid possibility of annihilating all life on the planet, humans rallied to the cause with the Montreal Protocol. It was a very close call, much more than most people care to realize.

But artificial child bearing is a totally different matter. We are not dealing with technologies that can change our planet, our ecosystems or humanity. We are dealing with technologies that supplement natural child birth and fill in some holes.

We are not dealing with decisions that affect everybody, but with decisions that affect only the parties who chose to be involved. Are these technologies right or wrong? Given that it affects only the people choosing to be involved, should it not be up to them to make that call?

Ah yes, but if we took that position, I suppose we wouldn’t have the pleasure of constantly debating gay marriage rights.

David Leonhardt is a freelance ghost writer for hire and website marketer. After spending some time working for a company that arranges surrogacy in Canada, he has decided to share some opinions on the matter.

Classroom Technology – New Terms For the 21st Century Classroom

As a teacher, you know the importance of a good vocabulary and using the right technical terms for the right things. So it’s important that you keep your own vocabulary up to date when it comes all the different new pieces of classroom technology. You need to know your Java from your jpegs and your blogs from your browsers.

So what terms do you need to be familiar with for the classroom technology of today? Knowing what they are (and that they exist) is an important first step – understanding what they are can also help you work out how you can use each type of technology in your classroom to best effect.

Classroom Technology Glossary:

Web 2.0: No, this is not a new version of the internet or Windows Explorer/Firefox/Google that you will have to download. Instead, this refers to the way the internet tends to work these days. Before, the internet was a place that you went to look up and read information – kind of like a library or an encyclopedia. Now, the web is a place where you can read and write bits and pieces. One classic example that has its place as classroom technology is the use of forums, where members can write and post their opinions on a given topic.

Blog The word sounds horrible, but it is short for “web log”. This is a sort of publicly available online diary where somebody can post short articles (opinion pieces, information, events, etc.) on a regular basis (daily, weekly, fortnightly). One way that this can be turned into classroom technology is for a teacher to have his/her own blog that students can read, and the teacher can post advice, study tips, homework reminders, etc.

Social networking: Social networking sites are where users can connect and converse -privately or publicly – to others. People can chat via the keyboard, post links to sites they recommend, find people with common interests and so forth. Delicious, Twitter, Facebook and Bebo are some example of the most “basic” social networking sites. Chat rooms are other examples. More sophisticated ones (which tend not to be used as classroom technology) are those of the Second Life type, where users create an “avatar” who lives a virtual life in the Second Life world: shopping, making friends, and the like.

Wiki: “Wiki” is derived from the Hawaiian for “quick” and tends to refer to a website that anybody can edit. Wikipedia is the best known one, and while it may not the be best place for your students to do research in, it does have some strong requirements and standards relating to distinguishing opinion from fact, unbiased writing and supporting references.

RSS “Rich Site Summary”. An “RSS Feed” is a quick summary of new material that has been added to a site of interest to your subscribers. In the world of classroom technology, an RSS feed can be sent to your “subscribers” (i.e. students) who can see the headlines of any newsletters posted online, some of the quick links that have been posted, a brief summary of any new blog posts, and so forth.

Podcasting: Audio and video clips that can be posted for viewing or listening on iPods (which are like the walkman of the 1980s but much more sophisticated). Clips can be distributed to “subscribers” via RSS feeds. Familiar pieces of classroom technology such as digital cameras are used to create these.

Filter: A must for any school computer that has internet access. A filter blocks undesirable sites so your students can’t access them. No filter is 100% perfect. Some over-block and some can be dodged, so teachers need to stay vigilant.

Don’t be put off by the new world of classroom technology. Getting used to the new tools is easier than you think. And don’t feel you have to abandon what you’ve already learned about using videos – these are still some of the most effective forms of multimedia that you can use in your class. Watch this Free Video and download the Expert Guide “The 7 Biggest Mistakes Teachers Make Using Video in the Classroom” for improving your classroom lessons by using videos more-and more effectively.

The small company, SchoolVideos.com, I work for is committed to creating quality educational videos for classroom instruction. From the earliest script stages, all subject area content, images, and music are intensely reviewed and selected for meeting appropriate grade level, curriculum objectives and standards for our proprietary productions. The videos we distribute are also screened to meet our high standards.

Teachers in the 21st century classroom will be better educators if they understand how to use multi media in their lessons, if they understand the processes that research has shown to be the most effective for improved student performance, and if they know how to find quality video resources that will enhance their lessons.

New Technology, New Surprises

Technology in recent times has grown to such a level, that you get almost everything at your finger tips. Electronic gadgets have replaced people in many places. Earlier, we used to go to meet friends, run around in the park, share a coke. These days, all we do is ping someone in yahoo or tweet in a networking site. Gone are the days, when you could go to your friends’ place without having to inform them about your arrival.

Technology is also a nice way to connect, learn and explore. One of the recent developments of technology is e-learning. E-learning is learning by the use of digital tools and content. Simply known as learning through computers.

E-learning is such a huge jump in the world of education. There was a time when certain subjects or certain courses were not available to us, as we could not find anyone who could teach us. With technology, this gap has been bridged. E-learning helps us learn just about anything at anytime and at any place. The education system is fast changing to e-learning, wherein many schools are changing over to E-learning for certain subjects and topics. Students can learn just about anything, right from how a cell phone works to how to fly an aircraft.

Many corporate companies are using e-learning as a tool to improve their employees knowledge without having to travel far.Video conferencing is yet another tool which provides a virtual meeting place. This reduces the cost incurred by a company on travel, stay and hiring professionals to teach.