Guess the Desk

As you walk back to your desk from the water cooler, you observe the different desks around you. Your neighbor on the left has files and old take-out boxes piled up so high that you wonder if he’s building a fort, and your coworker on the right is so organized that you wonder if she is working for the CIA. Your work space, however, is more personalized and lightly decorated with pictures of family and friends, that mini Buddha you brought back from your last vacation, and a bowl of M&Ms to share with everyone.

Play the “Guess the Desk” game by looking through the desktop photos here and matching the desks to their owners (pictured below). Then follow us on Instagram to see the answers!

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So with all of these differences, what does your desk say about you? Believe it or not, a lot actually. Your desk habits are a small window into who you are—your personality, your style, and your background. Continue reading

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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.

Continue reading

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

Our Friend the Futurist

It’s always good to have a friend who can predict the future, or at least one who is pretty darn good at predicting the future. With all of that knowledge, the possibilities are endless.

Dr. James Canton is a leading global futurist who has been forecasting future trends and innovations for the past 25 years. Recently, he joined the AlvaEDU advisory board and will be a source of knowledge and expertise as our company creates new technologies.

Click the photo to see our behind the scenes pics from the interview!

Click the photo to see our behind the scenes pics from the interview!

Dr. Canton gained a lot of his experience at Apple, working with Steve Jobs as the Business and Strategic Planning Executive. In that role, Dr. Canton worked on the introduction of the Macintosh Computer, artificial intelligence, and next generation computing applications. After years of working for big, high-tech companies, Dr. Canton founded his own organization—The Institute for Global Futures, in San Francisco California.

When he is not creating out in San Francisco, he is advising and inspiring others. Dr. Canton currently sits on a number of high-tech boards in education, mobile commerce, biotech, and IT. He also advises corporations and governments worldwide involving trends in innovation, IT, health care, work, climate, energy, and security. Some of the groups he currently advises include the Whitehouse, MIT, and the National Science Foundation.

We are honored and excited to have Dr. Canton on our advisory board. Recently, our media team filmed a conversation between Dr. Canton and our President, Tim Loudermilk, concerning AlvaEDU, the future, and what lies ahead—not only for us but for the world.

A frequent commentator on news sources like Fox News, CNN, and The New York Times, Dr. Canton will now also be a returning guest in our studio and at our events. This video is the first installment in our series. We will be posting the videos over the next few months, so stay tuned and keep coming back to the lab. There’s a lot of talk about the future left to hear!

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Introducing AlvaEDU: The Innovators of Education

AlvaEDU sign in our office headquarters

Often when someone hears the name of our company, AlvaEDU, they are curious to know not only what the name means, but also where it came from. The first part of the name “alva” was actually Thomas Edison’s middle name. His father named him after a prominent citizen in Ohio, Captain Alva Bradley, whom he was close friends with. The name means “brightness”, which is incredibly fitting and foretelling because Edison invented the light bulb.

Edison was one of the greatest innovators in history. He developed many inventions that greatly influenced life around the world. He spent most of life continuously creating incredible things in his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. But it wasn’t the amount of patents he produced that was impressive, it was the incredible quality and impact of his work.valerie@desk_4767

The second part of our name is “edu”—short for education. Together, the words designate the mission of our company–“Innovating Education”.

We are now navigating our way through the 21st century, using our newest digital tools. A brand new technological universe has been created where we can access information from anywhere at any time.

As our world adapts to these new ways of giving and receiving information, so does the world of higher education.

Universities are looking for new ways to grab their students’ attention and make them successful. AlvaEDU offers solutions and new technology to schools to enhance their education programs and make online courses fun and interactive—advanced yet easy to use.
edison_4757We are excited to be at the forefront of this new wave of technology and development. Our aim is to create and lead the way in education technology, and we want you to come with us as we accomplish this.

This blog is our lab—a place where we create, experiment, and then share our amazing inventions with you. This space is a place where we also want to start conversations about the issues of the day, bring you the latest news, and give you resources and information.

We hope that you will benefit from reading this blog and be inspired to return. Engagement is our goal, so please feel free to make comments or contact us about anything we post.

Every day when we walk into our office, we see a picture of Thomas Alva Edison. He is a reminder to us of our mission to bring a little more “brightness” into the world by making and sharing incredible innovations.

“If we did all of the things we were capable of, we would astound ourselves.” –Thomas Alva Edison