Category Archives: technology

Student Data Mobility, Diversity and Inclusion, and Emerging Trends for 2017

April 27th, 2017

DARPA_Big_Data

In light of our new administration and changes in the international landscape, there are positive efforts being done to advocate for internationalism and foster partnerships. ACEI and AICE President, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, is in Australia signing the Groningen Declaration on behalf of ACEI and the Association of International Credential Evaluators, Inc. (AICE) to move our profession forward.

What is the Groningen Declaration?

According to their website, “The Groningen Declaration seeks common ground in best serving the academic and professional mobility needs of citizens world wide by bringing together key stakeholders in the Digital Student Data Ecosystem – we make Digital Student Data Portability happen. Citizens world wide should be able to consult and share their authentic educational data with whomever they want, whenever they want, wherever they are.”

Students are technically savvy more than ever. International admissions offices should provide positive messages while adapting to the advances of technology.  More than 80% of international students use their mobile devices to conduct their communication. Not only do we have to address the advancements in technology, we need to provide positive messages that international students and immigrants are welcome and safe at our campuses and in our country. Diversity and inclusion helps foster this message.

What is diversity and inclusion?

Diversity is any aspect that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another, but it also means appreciation of and respect for differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion. Inclusion is about focusing on the needs of everyone and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve their greatest potential.

There are many factors that increase the need for student data mobility:

  • Rising demand for immediate information. There is a huge increase in the use of apps and the need for immediate communication. (Whatsapp, Viber, Tango, WeChat, Skype, etc.).
  • Key players for international student data mobility and referrals include USA, UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, France, China, and New Zealand.
  • Rising popularity of transnationalism. The forces of globalization and transnationalism have transformed many countries once known as immigrant countries into both immigrant and emigrant countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Singapore.
  • Rise of web-based technology and learning. This is often called online learning or e-learning because it includes online course content. Discussion forums via email, videoconferencing, and live lectures (videostreaming) are all possible through the web. Web pages may contain hyperlinks to other parts of the web, giving access to a vast amount of web-based information.
  • Targeting and knowing your audience. By matching international students’ needs will increase engagement and improve significantly the relationship with them, as students want to be in control of the communication preferences. Send not only the right message to the right person at the right time, but also through the right channel.

Here are key trends affecting international education in 2017:

  • The price of oil. Russia, Venezuela, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria all rely heavily on the oil industry, where low oil costs will affect their population and their currency. Countries that depend on oil exports and will be affected by low oil prices.
  • English as a Second Language face-lift. The English language market is finding themselves in competition for market share, so providers are overhauling their course offerings and revamping their programming. Agents are also drivers of this trend as they see added value to English language learning.
  • Instant Messaging marketing. Mobile marketing provides international student offices direct and personal contact with potential students. Instant messaging is immediate and these messages are more targeted and have a higher target success rate.
  • Refugee crisis. During this difficult time, international educators are finding solutions to help students and scholars who were among the millions of refugees seen fleeing war and persecution. There will be an increasing need to assist this population and migrant support and credit recognition will be in the forefront as more educators move to provide scholarships, assistance, and language training.
  • Political climate and our current administration affect internationalism, immigration policy – especially for STEM graduates, H1 visa issues, and overall international relationships shapes our future.

By moving forward best practices and common ground for student data mobility, we can provide the best service to our international students. Pairing this with the message, “You are welcome and safe here,” we can provide positive messages to ensure international student admission growth and stability.

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Yachay: A South American Silicon Valley in Ecuador

August 14th, 2014

yachay

Ecuador is creating a new city of knowledge called Yachay; a Quechua Indian word that means knowledge, or learning. It is building a research university and city in Urcuquí, Imbabura Province to function as an academic, technological and scientific. The campus expands over an area of approximately 12,000 acres near the snowcapped Andean peaks in northern Ecuador. In one promotional video on Yachay, the tag line is: Ciudad de Conocimiento (City of Knowledge) Investiga! Innova! Produce! (Research! Innovate! Produce!)

Yachay is to become the first planned city of its kind and its mission is to transform the country into an exporter of knowledge which Ecuador sees as the key to access the new global economic structure. Yachay University is a proposed institution planned by the government of Ecuador.

yachay_future
Image of the future City of Knowledge, Yachay

The idea came about in 2013 after President Rafael Correa toured Asia and so impressed was he with the technologically advanced research and business clusters in the countries he had visited, in particular South Korea and Singapore, that he envisioned something similar for Ecuador. Rich in oil and gold deposits, the country’s natural resources may soon run out which is why President Correa wants to steer Ecuador away from an economy that is largely based on oil-extraction and mining. He wants to take Ecuador through an academic and technological revolution with Yachay; a $1.04 billion initiative to build a research university surrounded by labs, industrial parks and, ultimately, a city…a South American Silicon Valley in Ecuador.

The heart of Yachay will be Yachay University (Universidad de Investigación de Tecnología Experimental), the technological experimental university that Ecuador wants to make into an important academic establishment. The focus of the university is to develop research around five key areas: life science, nanoscience, petrochemistry, renewable energies, information and communications technology. Yachay University will be one of four universities, and supposed to collaborate with public and private research institutions. Here’s the link to the promotional YouTube video on Yachay

The university will cater to 4000 students, offering internationally recognized undergraduate, graduate and doctorate degree programs. It will facilitate access to national and international research endeavors. The institution is said to retain world-class teaching staff that will work with Ecuadoran universities on research projects. According to a July 14th article in the Miami Herald: “Some 174 students have been recruited from across the country and are taking intensive math and English courses on campus as they prepare for formal studies next year.”

Rene Ramirez, Ecuadorian Minister of Higher Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation, hopes Yachay University will one day be on par with the likes of Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the California Institute of Technology. Yachay University has already attracted the likes of Sanford, Cal Tech and Kansas State University is offering English language instructions. According to September 2013 plans, the University was to open in the first quarter of 2014.

Yachay wants to attract new, innovative and high tech businesses in telecommunications, petrochemistry, health sciences and nano technology. Companies such as Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and China Telecom have already set up in Yachay. The goal is to attract foreign investors converting Yachay into a hub of employment.

Success as a world-class research university requires not only financial security as well as also autonomy on the part of the institution, but to the critics of this project, Yachay is seen as a government enterprise leaving little room for academic freedom. Other critics see Yachay as a university of the elites, isolated and cut off from the rest of Ecuador operating in a vacuum while much of the country is poor and underdeveloped. Many also argue as to why the billions spent on building Yachay is not being allocated to Ecuador’s existing struggling public universities. Supporters of Yachay argue that Ecuador’s public institutions have failed to make any progress in research and innovation and that Yachay University in fact will help reduce the country’s brain drain. An example I recently heard was a report on Yachay by NPR’s All Things Considered about a 17-year old Ecuadoran who turned down a full scholarship to a top university in Belgium to study genetic engineering in order to attend Yachay University.

All this sounds very ambitious, or as the blogger Eric Mack said in his post, this could very well be the pipeline to the future or a pipe dream. I, for one, would like to see this ambitious endeavor succeed, but not at the expense of the country’s existing public universities. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Frustrated
The Frustrated Evaluator
acei@acei-global.org

ACEI
http://www.acei-global.org

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The Web-based Brain: Redefining Intelligence

May 30, 2013

pg 226 Our Brain

“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” – Plato

How do we choose to measure intelligence, and what kind of intelligence do we value in society today?

On the Science page of the Huffington Post, the recent article, People Getting Dumber? Human Intelligence Has Declined Since Victorian Era, Research Suggests, stated, “Our technology may be getting smarter, but a provocative new study suggests human intelligence is on the decline. In fact, it indicates that Westerners have lost 14 I.Q. points on average since the Victorian Era.” Hmmm.

We currently measure intelligence with the understanding that each successive generation’s IQ will be smarter than the last, (The Flynn Effect.) It should stand to reason then, that each successive generation’s average IQ test scores would be higher. So why are our test scores lower?

There are two different types of intelligence which psychologists believe to be separate neural systems; Crystallized Inteligence, Gc. which is our ability to use skills, knowledge and experience we build over time as we memorize information, and Fluid Intelligence. Gf, which is the ability to analytically solve complex problems using logic, independent of acquired knowledge,

Recent scientific studies show that individuals trained on a video game could improve short-term memory skills, or working memory, i.e. the kind of memory you use to hold information and manipulate facts. If you improve your working memory– your Fluid Memory– from these computer games, the ability to solve complex problems increases, and it can be argued that we are actually increasing intelligence. Neurobiologists know that the brain has plasticity, and when stimulated, more “branching” appears at the “cortical” level, connecting different regions of the brain to one another; we make more fluid associations. Perhaps what looks to us now like stupidity, or a general dumbing-down may actually turn out to be a different sort of intelligence.

Dr. Gary Small, the Director of UCLA Longevity Center, proposes that we are at a major milestone in brain evolution, and clearly we are redefining intelligence. He states that it is important that we acknowledge the results of how we are searching and gathering information on the worldwide web. He says,” …what we may see with all the new technology is sort of a super brain which is evolving right now….”

Daniel Weinberger author of “Too Big to Know” says, “…we may be seeing the emergence of a type of Web-Form thinking, that is far looser, driven more by interest, less focused and reduced, and is more collaborative…”

Are current IQ tests a good measure of intelligence?
In December 2012, Malcolm Gladwell wrote an article for Smithsonian.com, “Are You Smarter Than Your Grandfather? Probably Not.” He explained the theroy proposed in political scientist James Flynn’s book ” Are We Getting Smarter? Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Are-You-Smarter-Than-Your-Grandfather-Probably-Not-181842991.html

Gladwell explains, “Ultimately, Flynn concludes that human beings are not smarter—just more modern.” He begins with Flynn’s investigation into the character of the standard intelligence measuring tests. He explains,” the Flynn effect puts the average IQs of the school children of 1900 at around 70, which is to suggest, bizarrely, that a century ago the United States was populated largely by people who today would be considered mentally retarded.” Harsh.

Flynn explores the nature of the tests, and explains that the IQ tests today want you to “classify,” thus children today “…picked up the habit of classification and use the vocabulary of science. They classify the world as a prerequisite to understanding it.”

Standard IQ tests have various subtests, such as “similarities” which ask children to find commonalities, or relationships. These showed significant gains, while the subtests that test arithmetical reasoning, had significantly smaller gains. Gladwell explains,”…In 1910, schools were focused on kids memorizing things about the real world. Today, they are entirely about relationships.”

The extreme intelligence of Autism
It turns out that the fastest growing trend in global IT companies is the hiring of autistic software developers. It is a proven fact that highly functioning people on the autistic spectrum display an extraordinarily high talent for both math and science.

The title of a recent cover story in the May 22 issue of Handelsblatt, Germany’s economic and financial newspaper, “Looking for Autism” caught my eye. The sub-headline was basically a disclaimer, stating that, lest you think that SAP (SAP AG, a large German, multinational software corporation which manufactures Enterprise Software – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_software) has discovered its social conscience, in fact its plan to hire 650 Autistic workers by 2020 is actually fueled by the desire to take advantage of their special programming talents. Very Interesting.

In the highly competitive race for creative innovation in software development, most IT corporations have recognized that some of the most startling advances in IT technology are created in collaborations. But what many may not realize is that IT corporations such as SAP have discovered that development teams with one or more Autistic team members had the highest rate of team member satisfaction, and out-performed other teams by a large extent in terms of the rapid advancement in technology and innovation. Bringing together such diverse talents frees each team member to express and use their individual strengths to their full potentials, as the autistic members could most effectively and rapidly handle the intricacies of testing the software codes and other time consuming repetitive tasks, by rapidly finding mistakes.

IT companies have begun collaborating with social institutions such as Specialistern, based in Denmark (which now has branches in the U.S, Poland, Switzerland and Germany), Left is Right, in Sweden and Auticon in Germany. Specialistern describes itself as, “… a socially innovative company where the majority of employees have a diagnosis on the Autism spectrum.” Based on the particular skills of those Autistic individuals, Specialisterne, Left is Right, and Auticon, work directly with corporations to help autistic people find work with IT companies, who are willing to work with them in order to increase their competitive advantage.

In explaining this unusual partnership, Luisa Deplazes Delgado, the chief human resources officer at SAP says that both Specialistern and SAP believe that, “…innovation comes from the edges,” and, “…Only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st century.”

Interestingly enough, while training Autistic children how to use the computer, human resources trainers at SAP reported that they had a noticeably higher success rate using the Apple iPad, because of its simple user-friendly interface.
One could say that we have embraced our destiny by creating and participating in the global change brought about by the construct of the Internet, and the endless free-flow and exchange of information it offers. If we have developed and are continuing to evolve a Web-based form of thinking, we are in effect increasing our brain plasticity, or Fluid thinking. We are right on schedule, and as James Flynn would contend, we are “becoming modern.”

Why not begin to consider that we are in fact creating new societies, which could be said to function on a higher, and more effective level as proven by the SAP team models?

We might just find out that if we respect and embrace our innate differences, and create school models and working situations which are intuitively “fluid” we actually allow the strengths of each individual to reach their full potential, because….they are doing what they really want to do.

Read more:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/people-getting-dumber-human-intelligence-victoria-era_n_3293846.html

http://www.ibtimes.com/sap-recruits-autism-employees-spark-innovation-1275541

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Are-You-Smarter-Than-Your-Grandfather-Probably-Not-181842991.html#ixzz2UfxWubQh

Listen:
A web cast on the Science page of the Huffington Post called Reverse Intelligence. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, it is worth a watch. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/people-getting-dumber-human-intelligence-victoria-era_n_3293846.html

Jeannie Winston Nogai
Owner / Winston Nogai Design
www.jeanniewinston.com / E: jeanniewn@gmail.com

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MOOCs: Game-changer in higher education? Or, trouble maker?

November 29, 2012

Question!

What are MOOCs?
The acronym “MOOC” stands for “massive open online course.” It’s “massive” because the online courses often enroll hundreds or even thousands of students per course. They are also massively open in terms of enrollment, allowing anyone interested in learning to sign up for free, which makes them openly available.

MOOCs are already a huge hit in rural communities and developing countries where access to traditional schools or education as a whole is limited or nonexistent. MOOCs are letting people educate themselves based on what they want to learn. It provides people all around the world with access to high-quality, community-based online classes without having to travel to a college campus, sit in a classroom, and, most importantly, pay tuition fees. Currently, MOOCs are being created with massive funding from participating universities and private for-profit businesses with the intent to keep the courses free to the learners.

Who likes MOOCs?
MOOCs are attracting stay-at-home parents who want to take real classes according to their own schedule. They help high school students take some college-level courses to stay challenged and business people take MOOCs to stay abreast of developments in their field which ultimately looks good on their resumes.

What do you get from MOOCs?
Some MOOCs offer certificates for course completion and there’s talk that in the near future, MOOC learners may be able to earn an entire online degree for free by completing an approved series of courses. Even employers are beginning to look at MOOCs in their hiring decisions.

Where are MOOCs?
Here’s a list of MOOCs you can check out: http://distancelearn.about.com/od/isitforyou/tp/Top-Massively-Open-Online-Courses-Moocs.htm.

An example of a successful MOOC is Coursera, a company founded by computer science professors Andrew Ngand Daphne Koller from Stanford University.[3] Coursera partners with various universities and makes a few of their courses available online free for a large audience. As of November 2012 more than 1,900,241 students from 196 countries have enrolled in at least one course.

Should we fear MOOCs?
Many academics worry that MOOCS will diminish the traditional face-to-face interactions students have with professors and do away with the classroom experience. They question the adequacy of the learning offered through MOOCs and whether it will take away from the well-rounded liberal arts education provided in undergraduate programs by encouraging students to become more skills-based in their studies. They’re also concerned that this style of learning will create fewer scholars or experienced instructors. And though MOOCs are currently free, it is possible that the very groups which have been creating the courses may begin charging for them once the market for this alternative mode of study has been proven successful. I think the biggest fear with MOOCs is with more people enrolling in these on-line courses, the traditional options of higher education may become fewer and even obsolete.

What do you think?

(For an interesting debate about MOOCs, check out this interview on KCRW’s “To the Point.”)


The Frustrated Evaluator
www.acei1.com

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Democratizing Higher Education: The Rapidly Changing Face of Online Learning

November 08, 2012

MSc ULOE Wordle

Imagine a world in which the best possible quality in higher education is available to all students, even those in the most remote parts of the planet, and you enter the world of MOOCs. There certainly has been a very intense buzz lately about the efficacy and future potential of MOOCs as the new wave in higher education reform. For those that don’t already know the moniker, MOCCs are “massive open online courses” offered by and in conjunction with some of the highest ranking, most elite universities in the U.S. The rapid rise of these online courses does not diminish the importance of institutions of higher learning, but it surely has begun to shake things up.

Up until now we characterized online learning as “non-traditional” however, there is a paradigm shift happening, as the undemocratic costs of higher learning have reached the breaking point. MOOCs offer a rapidly growing alternative. The trend is overwhelmingly gaining popularity as a way to level the playing field in a world where elite universities have the monopoly on the highest quality education at equally exorbitant prices.

And this is where it gets interesting. Many of the most respected and esteemed universities in the U.S. such as Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, U.C. Berkley and numerous others are involved in collaborative programs with developers to create new web-based interactive learning studies taught by award-winning professors and professionals at top levels in their respective fields. In addition, all of these courses are offered for free or a nominal fraction of the price. Suddenly, the highest quality of education becomes available to students around the globe. With the ability to source free online resources and open-sourced textbooks the price falls even further.

Want credits and a college degree?

Now that we understand the high points of MOOCs we can move onto the controversy surrounding online learning, which has been founded on the fact that although these courses teach an exceptionally high skill set, they do not push students any closer to an academic credential as they receive no official credits for course completion. But, things are changing. The next wave of learning-to- credits is being explored by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Richard DeMillo who is trying to put together a massive, open online seminar in conjunction with other universities, which will actually offer acceptable credits.

An interesting article on MOOCs appeared in September of this year on the website The Chronicle of Higher Education. In it the author Kevin Carey predicted that,”… Some accredited colleges—don’t forget, there are thousands of them—will start accepting MOOC certificates as transfer credit. They’ll see it as a tool for marketing and building enrollment. This is already starting to happen. The nonprofit Saylor Foundation recently struck a deal whereby students completing its free online courses can, for a small fee, take exams to earn credit at Excelsior College, a regionally accredited nonprofit online institution.”

It is interesting to note that Mr. Carey serves as the director of the education-policy program at the New America Foundation, a non-profit public policy institute, which describes itself as,“…New America emphasizes work that is responsive to the changing conditions and problems of our 21st Century information-age economy — an era shaped by transforming innovation and wealth creation, but also by shortened job tenures, longer life spans, mobile capital, financial imbalances and rising inequality.”

Providers such as edX, Coursera, Udacity, Class2Go, Khan Academy and Udemy are exploring how to translate students completed courses into campus credits, by using their earned MOOC credits as a substitute for Advanced Placement. There is also the idea that eventually these online courses will work their way into acceptable credits at universities, which will go towards a final degree. Not unlike the programs in place for transfer credits.

Who makes the money?

And let us not forget that people like profits! But what is fascinating here is that some of the burgeoning startup MOOC providers see eventual profits through creating a database of students who have taken online courses and helping them to get jobs by selling these lists of qualified students to recruiters in their specific geographical areas. Take an MIT course from your home computer in Mumbai and come away with the technical expertise needed to get a job right around the corner!

Connecting directly to these new provider platforms is the very idea that quality education is the most important way to enrich entire communities and to ensure that everyone prospers. This is really nothing new, though it seems to have been pushed to the back of the file drawer. An interesting paper appeared back in March of 2010 published by The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government/ University At Albany –State University of New York, titled A New Paradigm for Economic Development: How Higher Education Institutions Are Working to Revitalize Their Regional and State Economies, by David F. Shaffer and David J. Wright. In it they make the very clear point that,”…The twenty-first century paradigm, in contrast, is shifting toward putting knowledge first. For states, increasingly, that means connecting their higher education systems more closely to their economic development strategies.” For the entire paper see: http://www.rockinst.org/pdf/education/2010-03-18-A_New_Paradigm.pdf

What about quality?

While there is no substitute for the valuable teacher-student interaction, many online courses have begun to make use of social platforms, which allow students to have real time chats, discussion boards, and the ability to set up meetings and join groups in their own communities. This might be one way to alleviate the isolation of online learning.

Many of these institutions have “virtual office hours” and specific online forums that enable students to ask and answer thought provoking questions. Compare this to the normal stadium seating-400 student- classrooms, where not everyone is able to ask a question and not everyone is able to follow at the same pace. The structure of these new online courses offered in multiple languages, allow accessibility to information, which is ever available and can always be replayed until it is understood. In addition, many of these courses use teaching assistants to monitor the various discussion boards as well.

Enter Digital Badges.

And finally a system is being developed in which electronic images or Badges would be earned for completed courses of study, which could follow students throughout their lifetimes, be displayed on various digital forums and used for college applications and later as résumés. These would actually serve as portals of information that students can use providing opportunities based on achievements and competency accrued in “earning their badges.” With companies such as Disney-Pixar, Intel and NASA, Carnegie Mellon and the Smithsonian– to name a few, currently working to develop digital badges, there is a good chance that securely acknowledging and crediting learning achievement is just around the corner.

The badges are going to be loaded with metadata which will include; why the badge was awarded, the skill or achievement it carries and which school or institution awarded it, the teacher who verified the badge, and even the score the student received on the final exam. The badges will carry the power to legitimize learning, which is taking place online, all the time, all over the world. It reinforces the fact that collaborative learning in the classroom and especially online, can be a life long pursuit, and there is no turning back the clock.

For more discussions about the changing nature of higher education check out: http://edfuture.net/blog1/course-topics/

Jeannie Winston Nogai
Owner / Winston Nogai Design
www.jeanniewinston.com / E: jeanniewn@gmail.com

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Adversity and Ingenuity: Partners in Creation

October 11, 2012

Human beings have shown amazing ingenuity in fashioning musical instruments, often in less than ideal conditions. Many of these instruments were conceived and designed by people at the bottom of the social spectrum, most of whom were slaves in the Americas. Here are four examples that demonstrate amazing creativity by people who managed to make very distinctive music:

1) Cuba: Claves
The claves, or rounded hardwood sticks, were fashioned from pegs used by slave shipbuilders in Havana and Matanzas. The rapacious Spanish had built so many ships to ferry trade (and slaves) in Seville that their forests were depleted. So they moved the shipbuilding to Havana, where the abundant forests offered superior hardwood. Hardwood supplies guaranteed ample ship production, and during construction pegs from Havana’s forests were used fasten the boat parts together (nails would have rusted and not been strong enough anyway).
Some smart slave workers picked up some pegs, hit them together, and there was the magic sound that has helped fuel the percussion section of great tropical Latin orchestras ever since. All this from discarded scraps left on the ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Trinidad and Tobago: Steel Drums

A similar phenomenon occurred in Trinidad and Tobago, where the big oil companies would discard large oil drums and let them rust. Sometimes the groups were named after the oil companies; a famous pan orchestra was called the Esso Steel Orchestra.
But the genesis of steel pans actually started long before the industrial revolution mandated the need for and production and distribution of oil. During the French Revolution of 1789–according to Wikipedia’s entry on steel pans–slaves working for French planters in Haiti and Martinique emigrated to Trinidad, before the British arrived. The West African slaves were not allowed to participate in Carnival, so they created their own parallel carnival festival, called canboulay. They used bamboo and other wooden sticks, beating on frying pans, trash can lids or whatever they could find. In 1880 percussion music was banned by the British colonial authorities.
Later, during the 1930s, however, finding discarded oil drums plentiful and cheap, black Trinidadians started using those. Steel bands became famous, a popular Carnival staple, and a magnet for tourists as well.
What is amazing here is that the instrument they crafted from a crude, dirty oil barrel became such a refined and sophisticated instrument. These instruments could play a three octave chromatic western scale. Today steel bands play music by Miles Davis, Beethoven, Brubeck, and Bach. I have recordings of both Handel’s and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, performed by a large orchestra of different-sized drums.
Whoever would have thought scrap metal could produce such a magical sound, one used in carnival celebrations ever since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Brazil: Berimbau

The distinctively Brazilian berimbau actually descended from archers’ bows used by the pygmy hunter-gathers in Eastern Congo. When slaves went from Angola and Congo to Brazil, they re-fashioned these hunter’s bows, attaching a gourd and enlarging them. It is a most distinctive twang, and has been featured in northeastern Brazilian music, in capoeira, the martial arts dance, and the great Baden Powell and poet Vinicius de Moraes wrote a beautiful and famous song named after it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Brazil: Forró: Triangle
I don’t know if the Brazilians in northeastern Brazil knew about the use of the triangle in European orchestras or as an instrument used to summon cowboys to dinner in western movies, but after the British started building railways in the 19th century, they left a lot of scrap iron around. Some enslaved blacksmith (Brazil only ended slavery in 1888, later than any other country) took some of this scrap metal, and beat it, shaped it, tempered and tuned it. The triangle has been used in Brazil ever since, especially in Pernambuco state, forming 1/3 of the rhythm section found in local bands (the other two instruments are the sanfona, or button accordion, and the surdu, or large drum).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are just four examples of human ingenuity applied to music. There are countless other equally imaginative and remarkable examples in the other arts and sciences. It’s a phenomenon that distinguishes us homo sapiens and an occasion to celebrate our creative intelligence and endless imaginations.

Tom Schnabel, M.A.
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Host of music program on radio for KCRW Sundays noon-2 p.m.
Blogs for KCRW
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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The Voyager Spacecraft: Amazing, Musically & Otherwise, after 35 Years

June 28, 2012

The other night I hosted a dinner party. One of our guests worked at JPL. I brought out my copy of the box set Murmurs of Earth, published by Time Warner about 20 years ago. It’s one of the box sets I saved when moving and downsizing last summer, because it’s rare and amazing. Even the book’s dedication: ”To the Makers of Music—all worlds, all times” is astounding.

http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html

The Voyager Spacecraft has fascinated me, not because I have a scientific mind, but because there are so many interesting things about it. Among them are the fact that President Jimmy Carter wrote a letter, put on the time capsule aboard the spacecraft, that implied an awareness that otherworldly civilizations might be out there. Second, that there was a music soundtrack on the time capsule, put together by Carl Sagan and Alan Lomax, that included classical music, jazz, blues, and world music. Third, that Voyager is still out there, 40 million+ miles away, still pinging earth from deep space after 35 years.

Jimmy Carter once saw what he thought was a UFO. Perhaps that was his interest in becoming more involved with not only space exploration but with funding it as well. Whatever the case, The Voyager Spacecraft remains an amazing human feat, parlayed with amazing vision and with vast implications. I hope that extraterrestrials someday discover who we were, what we were made out of, what earth was like, and perhaps even discover a Scott Joplin rag, some Bach or Louis Armstrong, or even some Southern blues by Blind Willie Johnson, all permanently encoded on the gold record in the time capsule aboard the craft.

Voyager Spacecraft Statement by the President.

Jimmy Carter UFO

Here is a link to the contents of the Voyager Golden Record:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contents_of_the_Voyager_Golden_Record

Here is Blind Willie Johnson’s song “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” which is now way out in the universe for other beings to enjoy and frame a picture of us earthlings.

Tom Schnabel, M.A.
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Host of music program on radio for KCRW Sundays noon-2 p.m.
Blogs for KCRW
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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