Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Children Learning and Advancing at a Younger Age

Children and even infants are beginning to learn a much more advanced curriculum at a much younger age. Playtime may be cut short as learning takes a front seat.

More Work and Less Play for Kids These Days


Shows like Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader really leave the older population wondering how children these days are so smart.

It seems that children now a days are learning a much more advanced curriculum at a younger age.  Primrose Schools offer a Balanced Learning curriculum to their students which focuses on placing emphasis on literacy instruction, hands on learning activities, building a foundation for understanding mathematics, and integrating technology to support learning. Primrose Schools extend their advanced curriculum ranging from infants to the kindergarten classes. 

Infants Follow Strict Curriculum

The 1 to 2-year-olds, some of which are just learning to talk, are gaining knowledge by learning sign language.  When Brandi Bounds, a teacher at Primrose, was asked about the daily activities of her 1 to 2-year-old classroom, she explained that she must follow a very strict schedule.

“We mainly focus on their motor skills, language development, and sign language. Since most 1 to 2-year-olds are just learning to talk, we emphasize on their weekly words verbally and signing. We also have art time, where we allow them to use different mediums to create something of their own,” said Brandi Bounds, teacher at Primrose. “We have different centers where they transition in to different activities. Some of which are blocks, which helps them to build. Some are links that they connect together. We also have small puzzles, where they figure out where each piece goes.”

Bounds also expressed that teaching this type of curriculum at a young age helps as the children move forward in grade level. 

“Without a strict and steady curriculum to follow, the kids would not be as advanced as they are now. At this age they soak up new information so easily and when they learn something new they are constantly repeating it,” said Bounds. 

What About Playtime?

Even though the infants are following a strict curriculum, they are provided with outside playtime as well. Also, when the infants are engaging in the different learning activities they see it as playing but they are learning at the same time. 

Primrose advanced curriculum is not all work and no play, the children are allowed to engage in two outside playtime's that lets them enjoy their freedom. Bounds also explains that when the infants are playing, she notices some of the sign language being used to communicate with her and even the other infants.

“If we didn't have such a strict curriculum the kids that aren't verbal, wouldn't even know how to sign "more food", "drink", "ball", and much more. Thanks to our curriculum, the children that are nonverbal are able to communicate what they want,” said Bounds.

Curriculum Helps as Children Move Forward

Although some may feel that infants and children at such a young age should be able to play and enjoy being a kid, the teachers at Primrose feel that a strict curriculum is very important now a days.  Learning even the basic building blocks at such a young age helps as they move forward not only in school, but in everyday life. 

Sara Reilly is a teacher at Primrose who mainly focuses on the 4 to 5-year-olds.  She teaches them daily activities such as reading, computers, drawing/writing, mathematics, and much more. She has worked at multiple preschools and feels that Primrose has a much stricter curriculum than most others. 

“I think it’s definitely helpful when the kids are taught this type of strict curriculum and it’s easy to tell who has and has not been taught it. When kids come into the class not knowing what the others do I have to start over with them and it is harder to catch them up,” said Sara Reilly, teacher at Primrose. 

Reilly feels that as time goes by, more preschools will also start using an advanced curriculum.

Kids Will Be Kids

Think back to when computers were merely used to write papers and the car phone was the newest and best piece of technology created. Think back to when kids could be kids and parents had to drag them inside after playing hide and seek, dodge ball, and hop scotch for hours.

As this new age of technology is advancing, so are the minds of children.  The Internet, smart phones, and social networking sites are now considered “fun” in a child’s mind. Is this increasing amount of technology doing good or bad for the youth of today?

Some may argue that children aren’t spending enough time having “wholesome” fun such as enjoying activities outside. Others may argue that children need to stay on top of this new technology because it’s only going to advance even more as years pass. Children are now learning more advanced material at a younger age, but don’t they need to as society becomes more advanced?

Children are now born in to this new digital age where the Internet isn’t only something to use in one’s free time, but something that is used as a necessity. Brandi Bounds and Sara Reilly, both teachers at Primrose, feel that learning must start at a much earlier age than it used to. They feel that to keep up with this growing amount of technology, children need to start learning it as soon as possible.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Most Popular Video Camera in the US is Being Discontinued

The Flip Video created by Cisco Systems Inc is being discontinued just two years after it bought the startup that created it.

Cisco plans to shut its Flip camcorder business

The Fall of The Flip Video Brings Benefit to Competitors

Cisco plans to shut its Flip camcorder business

The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Cisco Systems Inc., one of the titans of the technology industry, on Tuesday said it is killing the Flip Video, the most popular video camera in the U.S., just two years after it bought the startup that created it.

FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2009 file photo, a Cisco Systems' Flip Video camera is displayed at Best Buy in Mountain View, Calif. Cisco Systems Inc. is exiting parts of its consumer businesses, with plans to shut its Flip video camera business Tuesday, April 12, 2011.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

It appears to be a case of a big company proving a poor custodian of a small one, even one that makes a hit product. Cisco never meaningfully integrated the Flip Video into its main business of making computer networking gear.

Flip Video users are now lamenting the demise of a camera that broke new ground. It was inexpensive, pocketable and very easy to use, from shooting to editing and online sharing. These features have been copied by many other manufacturers, but the Flip Video still outsells them.
Nicole Bremer Nash, a freelance writer in Louisville, Ky., calls the Flip Video "the little camera that could."
"I was hoping they'd continue the line and expand the accessories for it instead of getting rid of it altogether," she said.
The Flip Video is named after an arm that flips out of the camera body and lets the user connect it directly to a computer. The camera even contains video-editing software that fires up on the computer.

"I just find it a really easy process to use, and that's why I really enjoy my Flip camera," said Courtney Sandora, another Louisville resident. She's been using Flip cameras for three years, and said she was "saddened and shocked" by Cisco's decision.

"There were many opportunities for Cisco to integrate Flip more into its vision of a networked world," said Ross Rubin, an electronics industry analyst at NPD Group. "The camcorders, for example, never even had Wi-Fi built into them."

"It was a brand the company had invested heavily in and could have leveraged for all kinds of consumer video experiences — video conferencing, security applications, et cetera," Rubin said.
Cisco didn't explain why it's shutting down the Flip Video unit rather than selling it. But the decision is part of a larger shakeup at the world's largest maker of computer networking gear. After several quarters of disappointing results and challenges in its core business, it's reversing years of efforts at diversifying into consumer products.

A week ago, CEO John Chambers acknowledged criticism that the company has been spreading itself too thin. He sent employees a memo vowing to take "bold steps" to narrow the company's focus.
The shakeup announced by the San Jose, Calif., company on Tuesday will result in the loss of 550 jobs, or less than 1 percent of its work force of about 73,000.
Cisco expects to take restructuring charges of no more than $300 million spread out over the current quarter, which ends April 25, and the following one.

The company is also retrenching on another consumer video business — home videoconferencing. In November, it started selling the umi, a $599 box that turns a high-definition TV into a big videophone. But signs soon emerged that the umi wasn't doing well. It cut the price of the unit in March, along with the monthly service fee, which went from $24.95 per month to $99 per year.
On Tuesday, Cisco said it will fold umi into its corporate videoconferencing business and stop selling the box through retailers. Instead, it will sell it through corporate channels and Internet service providers.
Cisco's Home Networking business, which makes Wi-Fi routers and has the 2003 acquisition of Linksys at its core, will be "refocused for greater profitability," but Cisco will keep selling the routers in stores.
Cisco shares fell 3 cents to close at $17.44 Tuesday. The shares are close to their 52-week low of $16.97, hit a month ago.

Analyst Simon Leopold at Morgan Keegan said the pullback on the consumer side is a good thing for investors, but not enough to set off a stock rally.
Consumer products have been a drag on Cisco's results because they carry profit margins that are far lower than the big-ticket capital equipment the company sells to corporations and governments, Leopold said. But the drag has been minor, because consumer products are still only a small part of Cisco's overall business.

The Fall of The Flip Video Brings Benefit to Competitors

Last year, the Flip Video was still the top-selling video camera in the U.S., with 26 percent of the market, according to IDC analyst Chris Chute. But that only amounted to 2.5 million units sold. Dedicated video cameras are small potatoes compared to digital still cameras and smart phones, both of which now shoot video.

Top competitors in the pocket camcorder field, which could benefit from Flip Video's demise, are Eastman Kodak Co. and Samsung Electronics Co. Rubin expects Kodak to pick up much of Cisco's market share.

Leopold said the performance of Cisco's corporate products has been a bigger factor for investors than the consumer business. He believes the selling is overdone because its market share losses are mainly in fringe products rather than bread-and-butter routers and switches.