The Evolution of Education

Creating Learning for the Next Generation

The average schoolchild probably doesn’t know anything about Prussia, Horace Mann, or the complexities of government regulation. However, their lives and futures are being shaped by them right now.

Horace_Mann_by_Armstrong_&_Co_1875Horace Mann was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1837 and was the most influential person in shaping the American Public Education System. By reading, researching, and visiting other countries like Prussia, he developed the first, widely-used system of education in America.

At the time, the Prussians had one of the top education systems in the entire world. By 1900, all of the PhDs in the U.S. had been attained in Prussia. Teachers would go overseas to study, earn their degrees, and then return to the U.S. to begin working in the leading universities.

However, Prussia’s main goal in setting up their unique-style of education was not just to teach children the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also to instill in them strong loyalty and obedience to the government.

Children were taught how to follow orders, complete tasks quickly, and maintain order in every area of their lives. Yet the values of self-expression, creativity, and critical thinking skills were excluded. Giving the individual the right to solve problems and create was discouraged because of the fear of rebellion against the throne.

When Horace Mann adopted this system of education in America and pushed it to be used across the country, he was actually inhibiting children by not instilling in them key necessary skills and values for success.

Today, schools are still largely focused on pushing students to complete tasks instead of allowing them to solve problems on their own and create new solutions.

At AlvaEDU, our goal is to instigate an evolution of education that enables students to attain a more hands-on learning experience. By giving them new digital tools, men and women will not only gain immense success in their fields, but also attain important values they can use in their everyday lives, such as creativity and critical thinking.

This is an excerpt from interviews with Dr. James Canton on January 31, 2014.

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The Artists of Alva: Heather Little

This is the first post in our new series of articles, “The Artists of Alva”. Each one will feature one of our talented staff and show not only some of their personal and professional artwork, but also what inspires them and drives them creatively. 

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Creative Director Heather Little loves working on a blank canvas—starting from scratch and using that freedom to create anything imaginable. However, she has chosen the canvas of the computer as the backdrop for her art instead of the easel. She has been professionally creating digital art since she graduated with a BFA degree in graphic design in 1996.

“I pursued experimenting and creating art using a computer because the possibilities are endless; technology is always evolving,” she said. “Plus, I really don’t like getting dirty with chalk or paint all over myself.”

Heather’s first piece of digital art was done on the Commodore 64 computer when it first came out with paint programs in 1986. The picture was of a night cityscape of the riverfront in downtown Cincinnati, OH, where she grew up.

“That’s when I realized that I really loved technology,” she said, “…that there was this new drawing software program that you could use to make art. It wasn’t just about painting or drawing anymore; the computer was another tool. I saw it as the future of art.” Continue reading

Inside AlvaEDU: A Look at Our Partnerships

We are excited to share with you the third video in the Dr. James Canton Interview Series. This week we are taking a look at our strategic partnerships with leading universities, and why top-quality content is paramount in designing an online course. We hope you enjoy watching this conversation between our CEO and Founder Tim Loudermilk, and futurist and author, Dr. James Canton. Damage Studios has four more videos left in this special series, so stick around the Lab and see what we are innovating in education.

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The Future of Education: AlvaEDU’s Proprietary Technology

This is our second video in the Dr. James Canton Interview Series. In this episode, AlvaEDU CEO and Founder, Tim Loudermilk, talks with Dr. Canton about the new technology we have to offer leading universities and the world of education.

This new technology is a part of a new paradigm for learning, with exciting graphics and animations, as well as a part of a movement to rethink education in fundamental ways.

Take a look at our video and learn more about this new proprietary technology we are introducing.

3D Printing: Flashy or Functional?

bigstock-Electronic-D-Plastic-Printer--51976807Many articles and blogs have mentioned 3D printing when it comes to the future of education technology, but just how important will this device be and how beneficial is it in the classroom? Today I’m going to take a closer look at this device and see if it’s just a new and flashy gadget without real longevity and practicality, or if it really is going to make a large contribution to the world of education.

For those of you who have never heard of it, 3D printing is the process of making three-dimensional objects from a digital blueprint. The machine creates an object by putting down successive layers of material, such as plastic, bio-material, and food using digital codes that are scanned or designed.

3D printing seems like a new phenomenon, but it actually started in the mid-1980s as a way to make prototypes in industrial settings. Now this device has become commercially available, however it is still not easily affordable to the average American.

3D printing is mainly being used in four different areas: individual homes for pleasure or practical use, businesses for the design and production of new products, medical and mechanical institutions for research and development, and education for teaching students in the classroom.

For in-the-home use, a person can walk into the store “Maker Bot” in Manhattan and purchase a 3D printer for a price between $1,375-6,499. More than 15,000 have been sold since this company’s inception. Larger and more complex machines are far more pricy.

bigstock-Extraordinary-Geometric-Solid--51779587But there are other ways of making objects using one of these printers if you can’t afford one yourself. The company Shapeways offers a service where anyone can buy or create an object made by a 3D printer online. This past Christmas companies advertised “print your gift” on commercial websites.

To the average individual, 3D printing is an interesting and fascinating technology that kind of reminds you of Star Trek. Purchasing one for home use may be driven by curiosity and excitement, but not real necessity.

However, in business, 3D printing is becoming an incredibly useful aid for companies and is transforming the marketplace and the manufacturing industry. A young designer hoping to establish a brand can design and create products easily with a 3D printer without jumping through the hoops of finding a manufacturer. Aside from the individual, Maker Bot’s most common customers come from the aerospace, architecture, automotive, defense, entertainment, and medical industries. Continue reading