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Arts & Letters Daily

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Essay: Analyze a Problem

Analyze a Problem

Analyze a Problem 2

      Dr. Otto
Let’s start with the ‘Problem’. Do you agree with the statement that ‘every problem begs for an answer or solution’? I do. So, whenever I think of something or you say something to me that is in need of an answer or solution, I have a problem. That is probably the best way of defining a problem.
YouTube Tutorial – click HERE
Text for Tutorial –  click HERE
Sample – scroll down to Sample
Assignment – scroll down to Assignment
Answer Key – scroll down to Answer Key
Practice oral English – click HERE
ASK DR. OTTO – click HERE

Notes

 

Focusing on a problem means breaking a problem into its component parts using a logical process (find a problem in a bank balance, discuss one of the major problems of the world, analyze the psychological pressure on high school students)

Analyzing a problem is usually done for the purpose of solving it. Although there are many ways of analyzing a problem, the following template offers a basic organization for analyzing a problem.

  • State the problem

Whichever approach is used to analyze a problem, a clear and concise statement of the problem is essential.

  • Describe the problem

Describe a problem by explaining why it is a problem, for whom, the setting in which the problem arises, etc.

  • Outline alternative solutions

Frequently, there are several solutions to a problem even though one or two solutions may be preferrred. Present alternative solutions together with their strengths and weaknesses in different situations. Be as objective as possible.

  • Identify the best solution

State the best solution(s), the context in which they are preferred and the reasons for selecting them.

  • Conclusion

Restate the problem, highlight the evidence/logic used to analyze the problem and focus on the preferred solution(s).

Sample

Teaching and Learning: Where to from Here?

“The struggle to use computers wisely and well is one of the most important challenges we and our children face, and schools are a crucial area in which this challenge must be confronted.”

Alison Armstrong and Charles Casement, the child and the machine (1998).

This quote summarizes the fundamental concern raised by Armstrong and Casement about the use of computers in education. Driven by a commitment to quality education, Armstrong visited many classrooms in North America to observe how computers are used and Casement reviewed the research literature on the use of computers in schools . The book is devoted to a thorough documentation of the large scale failure of the use of computers in schools. In this paper, I will summarize and acknowledge failures in the use of computers identified by Armstrong and Casement and advocate some alternatives.

Armstrong and Casement describe numerous application of computers in schools that have failed. For example, they quote Bettelheim and Zelan, “for most children, learning to read is not an entertainment but hard work, a difficult task requiring serious application.” From this they conclude that, “the multimedia attractions of electronic books and CD-Rom encyclopaedias might well lead children to equate reading with visual entertainment so that they keep looking around for meaning instead of creating it inside their own heads. Another example cited in the book refers to computer-based learning programs, which require no teacher input. The third example refers to writing. Armstrong and Casement acknowledge that using a word processor makes writing easier for children – the text can be changed instantly, children are more likely to take risks and discuss and revise their texts with peers because the text is visually displayed. On the other hand Armstrong and Casement found that lack of efficient keyboarding skills and knowledge of software commands made writing on computers more difficult.

Some educators have latched on to this comprehensive critique to denounce the use of computers in education.  Derwin Davies, a retired librarian, assailed advocates of the use of computers in schools in a review of the child and the machine. He concluded that these advocates see the computer as the only tool or as “the hammer that is going to reshape our schools.” (1999). Critics like these fail to acknowledge the merits of the research which identifies successful applications of computers in schools.

What these critics fail to see in this book is a challenge thrown out to educators to explore how computers could or should be used to drive education as part of a wide range of educational opportunities. To single out the use of computers as the only element that contributes to learning is as short sighted as it is to single out any other element be that play, memorization, physical education, or music. To deny the value of each element is equally short sighted.

At the same time, I challenge educators to consider seriously some computer applications in education that drive effective teaching and learning. I do so because I believe that is the real challenge we face as we provide appropriate educational opportunities for people of all ages in today’s society. First, Judah Schwartz, co-director of Harvard’s Educational Technology Center, demonstrated his belief in the effective use of computers for teaching and learning when he developed the Geometric Supposer in the mid eighties.

A second example of a successful application of computers, River East School Division Literacy Initiative, shows how they can be used for learning to write information text. This Literacy Initiative illustrates an attempt to use computer technology to create conditions in which students can improve their writing. A researcher was contracted to collect pre and post data for control and pilot classes to monitor any change in students’ writing. Adopting a broad definition of literacy that included the ability to think critically, reason logically, and be technologically capable, the initiative addressed four basic requirements. First, students need specific thinking and writing strategies to think through and refine their ideas. Second, they need a writing environment that enables them to move easily among the organizing, composing, revising and publishing processes of writing. Third, students also need to share and exchange their texts with peers, teachers and other adults. Finally and most important, students need teachers to demonstrate how to apply the writing and thinking strategies and the technical skills related to the use of computers. Armstrong and Casement acknowledged the success of this initiative. Students in the pilot group performed significantly better on two counts. They improved their performance from the pre-test to the post test and they performed better than the students in the control group.

The challenge of using computers for teaching and learning is acknowledged by Armstrong and Casement when they conclude their book with the following statement, “Children’s educational needs are best met by giving them a range of appropriate tools. We cannot rely on a single technology to do the job of educating our children.” Advocates and critics alike want schools to provide quality education to which students are entitled.

Template: Analyze a Problem

1. State the problem

“The struggle to use computers wisely and well is one of the most important challenges we and our children face, and schools are a crucial area in which this challenge must be confronted.”

2. Describe the problem

Armstrong and Casement describe numerous application of computers in schools that have failed… they conclude that, “the multimedia attractions of electronic books and CD-Rom encyclopaedias might well lead children to equate reading with visual entertainment so that they keep looking around for meaning instead of creating it inside their own heads … Armstrong and Casement found that lack of efficient keyboarding skills and knowledge of software commands made writing on computers more difficult.

3. Outline alternative solutions

First, Judah Schwartz, co-director of Harvard’s Educational Technology Center, demonstrated his belief in the effective use of computers for teaching and learning when he developed the Geometric Supposer in the mid eighties.

 

A second example of a successful application of computers, River East School Division Literacy Initiative, shows how they can be used for learning to write information text.

4. Identify the best solution

A second example of a successful application of computers, River East School Division Literacy Initiative, shows how they can be used for learning to write information text.

Armstrong and Casement acknowledged the success of this initiative.

5. Conclusion

“Children’s educational needs are best met by giving them a range of appropriate tools. We cannot rely on a single technology to do the job of educating our children.”

Assignment

Read the following report and complete the template below.

Real Innovation

… is just getting the basics right

A recent issue of The Globe and Mail (The Globe and Mail, Friday, November 8, 2002) identified five technology sectors: 1) Aerospace, 2) Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Systems, 3) Biotechnology, 4) Environmental technologies, and 5) Information and Communication Technologies. This report identifies a sixth technology sector that should be added and suggests how that sector may be initiated.

The feature article also presented a diamond-shaped graphic to describe a city’s ‘Advanced Technology Quotient’ – its ability to support advanced technology industry growth. A perfect diamond meets the following key factors: 1)human assets (education, organization);  2)technology (technology infrastructure); 3) money (venture capital, banks and government seed money); and 4) leadership (individuals who create opportunities). The Advanced Technology Quotients were identified for seven Canadian cities – Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Markham, Waterloo, Halifax, St. John’s.  Based on the four factors, Ottawa came first and Calgary second. Over-all, this snapshot suggests that Canada is active in advanced technology across a number of significant sectors.

One critically important sector is missing from this article. That is the education sector – primary grades through university. The importance of education is recognized in the Advanced Technology Quotient and human resources are frequently recognized as the most significant resource base of a nation.

The serious omission of an advanced technology in education offers an opportunity for a city to develop a leading and up-and-coming technology sector in education. A rigorous and long term commitment to applied research and implementation in education could lead to the establishment of advanced technology centers in education. Such a commitment should require the involvement of the private sector and all three levels of government.

SmartPark, an IT innovation center that supports the development and commercialization of information technologies, could serve as a site for a national Education Technologies Center. Since it is attached to a university, the University of Manitoba, it could offer research and field testing support to the Center.


An advanced technology application for teaching writing at the secondary and post-secondary level is currently located at SmartPark. This online technology, MyEnglish, has been field tested in Canada and Asia for the past five years and is available for large scale implementation in any country that wants to improve English writing in schools, colleges and the workplace. To enable MyEnglish to meet the changing educational needs of countries around the world, it needs the support of ongoing research that could be offered through an Education Technologies Center.

More significant, the Education Technology Center at SmartPark could support many Canadian companies, both local and national, with researching and developing advanced technology for education. Areas of research and development might include administrative applications, distributive  education, synchronous and asynchronous online learning environments, multi-media authoring, assessment and reporting just to mention a few.

Real innovation – getting the basics right for advanced technology industry growth in education – is a challenge that Canadians should not ignore. SmartPark could make an initial move in establishing a Center for an advanced technology industry in education.

Template: Analyze a Problem

  1. State the problem

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Describe the problem

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Outline alternative solutions

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Identify the best solution

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Conclusion

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

Assignment

Writing Assignment: Analyze a Problem

Write a paragraph in which you analyze a problem on a topic of your choice. Complete the template below to ensure that you have included all aspects of the analysis you have applied. Submit it to your teacher or tutor for feedback. Then edit your paragraph based on the feedback you received.

Template: Analyze a Problem

  1. State the problem

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Describe the problem

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Outline alternative solutions

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Identify the best solution

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Conclusion

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

Answer Key

Analyze a Problem

  • State the problem

identifies a sixth technology sector that should be added and suggests how that sector may be initiated.

  • Describe the problem

–        One critically important sector is missing from this article. That is the education sector – primary grades through university. The importance of education is recognized in the Advanced Technology Quotient (a city’s ‘Advanced Technology Quotient’ – its ability to support advanced technology industry growth.) and human resources are frequently recognized as the most significant resource base of a nation.

  • Outline alternative solutions

–       The serious omission of an advanced technology in education offers an opportunity for a city to develop a leading and up-and-coming technology sector in education. A rigorous and long term commitment to applied research and implementation in education could lead to the establishment of advanced technology centers in education. Such a commitment should require the involvement of the private sector and all three levels of government.

  • Identify the best solution

–       SmartPark, an IT innovation center that supports the development and commercialization of information technologies, could serve as a site for a national Education Technologies Center. Since it is attached to a university, the University of Manitoba, it could offer research and field testing support to the Center.

  • Conclusion

–       Real innovation – getting the basics right for advanced technology industry growth in education – is a challenge that Canadians should not ignore. SmartPark could make an initial move in establishing a Center for an advanced technology industry in education.