Category Archives: Technology

Beware of Deepfakes: Digital Impersonations That Can Deceive Us

“To those fearful of a future in which videos of real people are indistinguishable from computer-generated forgeries, two recent developments that attracted an audience of millions might have seemed alarming.” D. Victor, The New York Times, March 10, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Lesson Plan

A video of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who died last year, was created using MyHeritage’s Deep Nostalgia tool.

Excerpt: Your Loved Ones, and Eerie Tom Cruise Videos, Reanimate Unease With Deepfakes,By Daniel Victor, The New York Times, March 10, 2021

“First, a visual effects artist worked with a Tom Cruise impersonator to create startlingly accurate videos imitating the actor. The videos, created with the help of machine-learning techniques and known as deepfakes, gained millions of views on TikTok, Twitter and other social networks in late February.

A looping video of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was created using a photograph and a tool on the MyHeritage genealogy site.

Then, days later, MyHeritage, a genealogy website best known for its role in tracking down the identity of the Golden State Killer, offered a tool to digitally animate old photographs of loved ones, creating a short, looping video in which people can be seen moving their heads and even smiling. More than 26 million images had been animated using the tool, called Deep Nostalgia, as of Monday, the company said.

The videos renewed attention to the potential of synthetic media, which could lead to significant improvements in the advertising and entertainment industries. But the technology could also be used — and has been — to raise doubts about legitimate videos and to insert people, including children, into pornographic images.

The creators of the viral Tom Cruise TikToks said the expertise required to use the technology makes abusing it much harder, and the company behind the photo-animating tool said it put in place safeguards to prevent misuse…‘Although Deep Nostalgia itself is innocuous, it’s part of this set of tools that are potentially very threatening,’ said Sam Gregory, the program director of Witness, a nonprofit organization focused on the ethical use of video, and an expert on artificial intelligence…The Deep Nostalgia tool was created for MyHeritage by D-ID, an artificial intelligence company based in Tel Aviv. Gil Perry, the chief executive of D-ID, said that the company works only with partners it can trust not to abuse the technology, and that it had a four-year relationship with MyHeritage.

Videos created using the tool have watermarks to indicate that they aren’t real, and the videos do not include audio, a decision that Mr. Perry said makes it harder to use them for unsavory purposes…The effects could also be used in Hollywood to better age or de-age actors, or to improve the dubbing of films and TV shows in different languages, closely aligning lip movements with the language onscreen… Of course, people who have died can’t consent to being featured in videos. And that matters if dead people — especially celebrities — can be digitally resurrected, as the artist Bob Ross was to sell Mountain Dew…Henry Ajder, a deepfakes researcher, imagined a future in which our own voices could be used with assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, allowing us to stay connected with loved ones after our deaths.”

STAY SAFE — KEEP LOVED ONES SAFE

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

LESSON PLAN

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about Digital Impersonations.Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Advanced K-W-L chart.Intervention for Reading — Michigan State University

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Videos of real people are indistinguishable from computer-generated forgeries.
  2. A visual effects artist worked with a Tom Cruise impersonator to make the forgeries.
  3. MyHeritage is  a genealogy website.
  4. The website offered a tool to digitally animate old photographs of loved ones.
  5. The tool is called Deep Nostalgia.
  6. The videos renewed attention to the potential of synthetic media.
  7. Although Deep Nostalgia itself is innocuous, it’s part of this set of tools that are potentially very threatening.
  8. Many people are focused on the ethical use of the videos.
  9. The digital imitation of Mr. Cruise was no easy feat.
  10. Creating these videos required extensive expertise and time.

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. More than 26 million image had been animated.
  2. The videos renewed attention to the potential of synthetic media.
  3. Experts say the two examples are not overly alarming.

II

  1. The digital imitation of Mr. Cruise was no easy feat.
  2. Most of what you sea in the videos is the body and voice of Miles Fisher.
  3. Videos like this would require extensive manual work.

III

  1. A nongovernmental organization created a videos of a Mexican journalist.
  2. As the technology advances, it will be used more broadly.
  3. People are always trying to think about the perfect deepfake.

 

While Reading: Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “Although Deep Nostalgia itself is innocuous, it’s part of this set of tools that are potentially very threatening.”
  2. “The digital imitation of Mr. Cruise was no easy feat. they required extensive expertise and time…It’s like a small Hollywood studio with the two of us. It’s not something you can do at a home computer, pressing a button.”
  3. “The technology could also have a destabilizing effect on global affairs, as politicians claim that videos, including genuine ones, are fake in order to gain an advantage that they have called “the liar’s dividend.”
  4. “Imagine a future in which our own voices could be used with assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, allowing us to stay connected with loved ones after our deaths…In what cases do we need consent of the deceased to resurrect them?”

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. What is the purpose of the tool Deep Nostalgia? What safeguards has D-ID, the company behind the tool, created to prevent its misuse?
  2. What are some benefits to using ‘synthetic media’? What are some dangers in using this type of media?
  3. Name two ways that people can tell which videos were created using the The Deep Nostalgia tool.
  4. Who was Javier Arturo Valdez Cárdenas? Joaquin Oliver? Why are they important to this article?
  5. What are some other ways this technology be used?
  6. (e.g., In the movies/TV shows–in Politics)
  7. How can this technology  have a destabilizing effect on global affairs?
  8. Have you ever seen a deepfake video? If so, where did you see it? Did you think it was real or could you tell it was fake?  If Yes, explain how you knew.
  9. The article concludes with a discussion of consent from people both living and dead. In your opinion, in the future, will we need the consent of dead people to reanimate them? Explain your answer.
  10. Write down three new ideas that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention. Review all  responses as a class.

Extra Activity:

Main Idea / Debate

Directions: Divide students into two teams for this debate. Both teams can use information from the article and additional articles from various newspapers including the New York Times to support their arguments.

Team A will list reasons that support arguments for Deepfake technology.

Team B will list reasons that support arguments against Deepfake technology.

Each team will have time to state their points of view,  and the teacher decides which team made their points.  

For organization, have students use Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology

Pros and Cons Scale

Additional Articles on Deepfakes:

Facebook Says It Will Ban ‘Deepfakes’ (New York Times)

Internet Companies Prepare to Fight the ‘Deepfake’ Future‘ (New York Times)

Deepfakes Are Going To Wreak Havoc On Society. We Are Not Prepared.” (Forbes)

Deepfakes and the New AI-Generated Fake Media Creation-Detection Arms Race” (Scientific American)

What Are Deepfakes — and How Can You Spot Them?” (The Guardian)

ANSWER KEY

New Remote Learning Classes For Older Adults

“New online tools and an array of remote classes and programs are ramping up education and training for adults.” K. Hannon, The New York Times, Feb. 9, 2021

Image- James Yang-The New York Times

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt:  Remote Learning Isn’t Just for Kids, By Kerry Hannon, The New York Times, Feb. 9, 2021

“Deb Livingston, a former business consultant, was always curious and eager to learn just about anything. ‘When the pandemic hit, I was confined at home and found myself diving into online exploration,’ said Ms. Livingston, 61. She discovered GetSetUp, an interactive website that delivers virtual education to older adults. Even former chief executives like Jeff Mihm, a Miami resident who led Noven Pharmaceuticals, sometimes need a new life direction… The internet has empowered adult learners by providing new online tools to ramp up education and training. ‘The need for workers to keep pace with fast-moving economic, cultural and technological changes, combined with longer careers, will add up to great swaths of adults who need to learn more than generations past — and faster than ever,’ said Luke Yoquinto, a research associate at the M.I.T. AgeLab… By 2034, the number of adults age 65 and older will outnumber those under the age of 18, according to the Census Bureau. ‘That growth of older age demographics will translate to new demand for enrichment in the form of digital education,’ Mr. Yoquinto said… Virtual learning has become “the great equalizer,” said Gene O’Neill, the chief executive of the North American Veterinary Community, which provides continuing education for veterinarians around the world. ‘Because of virtual learning, veterinary professionals everywhere, even in remote, undeveloped countries, can learn from the world’s most renowned leaders and virtually participate in conferences,’ he said…Ms. Livingston’s goal was to improve her skills so she could become a paid teacher on the GetSetUp platform, which offers classes — all taught via Zoom by teachers older than 50 — on skills from professional development to technology, health, wellness and hobbies like photography…There are three membership levels, starting at free and topping out at $20 a month for unlimited access.”

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine  any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Deb Livingston was a former business consultant.
  2. When the pandemic hit, she  was confined at home.
  3. She discovered GetSetUp, an interactive website.
  4. Mr. Mihm decided to return to school empowered because of the pandemic.
  5. Ms. Livingston’s goal was to improve her skills.
  6. A nonpartisan group supporting entrepreneurship, found that more than 25 percent of new entrepreneurs were ages 55 to 64.
  7. GetSetUp, for example, offers courses on running an e-commerce marketplace.
  8. The good news, is the level of sophistication of online education.
  9. I love that I can help others keep their zest for life and help myself in the process.”
  10. After resigning from his corporate post, Mr. Mihm, 55, decided to go back to school.

Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

“The good news, though/tho, is/are the level of sophistication  on/of online education is increasing and/an more access is coming/come to rural communities,” Mr. Kamber said. It’s a breve/brave new world of learning/learn for people, an/and that gives/give me hop/hope. For Ms. Livingston, that means continuing to take/took and/an teach classes at/ate GetSetUp.

“Learning at/on any stage of life is/are what stimulates creativity and joy,” she said. “So much energy emerges/emerge from connecting the dots, having ‘aha’ moments and gaining skill/skills. I love that I can help other/others keep their zest/rest for life and help myself in the process.”

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “When the pandemic hit, I was at home and found myself diving into online exploration.”
  2. I have a love of learning, and it was an opportunity to step back, study and explore.”
  3. “The need for workers to keep pace with fast-moving economic, cultural and technological changes, combined with longer careers, will add up to great swaths of adults who need to learn more than generations past — and faster than ever.”
  4. “Virtual learning has become “the great equalizer.”
  5. “The traditional way of designing training and reskilling is a long, drawn-out program where you get a certificate or a degree. By the time you get that certificate, the skill is already outdated. We’re changing that model.”
  6. “I really wanted to create a program that would be able to get older adults to use technology and give them the kinds of training and support in environments where they could succeed.”

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Why did Ms. Livingston begin  exploring online education courses?
  2. What new information did Ms. Livingston learn from her online classes?
  3. According to the article, how has the internet empowered adult learners?
  4. According to the Census Bureau, what will happen to the number of people 65 and older in 2034?
  5. Why is adult education referred to as ‘the Wild West’ of education technology?
  6. According to Mr. Yoquinto, what are two reasons older adults are taking more online classes?
  7. Why is virtual learning considered to be ‘the great equalizer’?
  8. Describe the ‘GetSetUp’ platform.
  9. What does the acronym OATS stand for?
  10. In addition to learning new skills, what are older adults doing with new  the new information they have learned?

 

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Students and Faculty Say ‘NO’ to Exam Surveillance Tools

“Algorithmic proctoring software has been around for several years, but its use exploded as the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to quickly transition to remote learning… Invasive test-taking software has become mandatory in many places, and some companies are retaliating against those who speak out.”T. Feathers and J. Rose, vicemagazine (9/2020)

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Image- 9to5mac.com

EXCERPT: Students Are Rebelling Against Eye-Tracking Exam Surveillance Tools, By Todd Feathers/Janus Rose.

“As a privacy-minded computer science student preparing to start his first year at Miami University, Erik Johnson was concerned this fall when he learned that two of his professors would require him to use the digital proctoring software Proctorio for their classes. The software turns students’ computers into powerful invigilators—webcams monitor eye and head movements, microphones record noise in the room, and algorithms log how often a test taker moves their mouse, scrolls up and down on a page, and pushes keys. The software flags any behavior its algorithm deems suspicious for later viewing by the class instructor.In the end, Johnson never had to use Proctorio. Not long after he began airing his concerns on Twitter and posted a simple analysis of the software’s code on Pastebin, he discovered that his IP address was banned from accessing the company’s services.

image- edsurge.com

He also received a direct message from Proctorio’s CEO, Mike Olsen, who demanded that he take the Pastebin posts down, according to a copy of the message Johnson shared with Motherboard. Johnson refused to do so, and is now waiting to see if Proctorio will follow up with more concrete legal action, as it has done to other critics in recent weeks.

His case is just one example of how college campuses are revolting against the use of digital proctoring software, and the aggressive tactics employed by proctoring companies in response to those efforts.

In recent weeks, students have started online petitions calling for universities across the world to abandon the tools, and faculty on some campuses, like the University of California Santa Barbara, have led similar campaigns, arguing that universities should explore new forms of assessment rather than subjecting students to surveillance…Proctoring companies cite studies estimating that between 50 and 70 percent of college students will attempt some form of cheating, and warn that cheating will be rampant if students are left unmonitored in their own homes….’Any plan that calls for schools to just ‘stop using’ proctoring will make cheating more common than it already is, escalating a severe threat to all higher education,’ Scott MacFarland, the CEO of ProctorU, another proctoring vendor, wrote in an email to Motherboard…Students’ and educators’ objections to exam proctoring software go beyond the privacy concerns around being watched and listened to in their bedrooms while they take a test.

As more evidence emerges about how the programs work, and fail to work, critics say the tools are bound to hurt low-income students, students with disabilities, students with children or other dependents, and other groups who already face barriers in higher education…’They aren’t taking into consideration people from underprivileged communities,’Alamri said. ‘This sort of online exam is really measuring a person’s generationalwealth and not their knowledge of the law.’

 

NOT RELATED, BUT FUN TO WATCH:

Smithsonian’s Pandas in the Snow!

Feb. 1, 2021:  Slides, somersaults and pure panda joy. Happy snow day from Giant Pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian!  ~Smithsonian’s National Zoo ~

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine the photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be helpful.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. The software turns students’ computers into powerful invigilators.
  2. Webcams monitor eye and head movements and algorithms log how often a test taker moves their mouse.
  3. The software flags any behavior its algorithm deems suspicious.
  4. Johnson  discovered that his IP address was banned from accessing the company’s services.
  5. In recent weeks, students have started online petitions.
  6. Algorithmic proctoring software has been around for several years.
  7. Proctoring companies cite studies estimating that between 50 and 70 percent of college students will attempt some form of cheating.
  8. Some believe cheating on college exams is escalating.
  9. The system measures suspicion levels as students take exams.
  10.   Other proctoring companies have also been litigious when faced with criticism. 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Students and educator object to exam proctoring software.
  2. Law students around the country are organizing to fight against the use of any kind of digital proctoring.
  3. Oregon, and Wisconsin have already scrapped their upcoming bar exams as a result of student pressure.

II

  1. Other states, including New York, are fumbling for solutions as deadlines for the exams quickly approach.
  2. In their petition, the students say the used of ExamSoft discriminates against people of color.
  3. The California bar exam would require test takers to verify their identity with facial recognition checks.

III

  1. They aren’t taking into consideration people from underprivileged communities.
  2. If a student looks away from the screen more than their peers they are flagged for an abnormality.
  3. in general, students and faculty are worried about the spread of proctoring tools on campuses.

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1.  “If my professors weren’t flexible, I’d be completely unable to take exams.”
  2. “We’re supposed to be protecting our students.”
  3.  “Any plan that calls for schools to just ‘stop using’ proctoring will make cheating more common than it already is, escalating a severe threat to all higher education.”
  4.  “It just seems to me that this mock exam is reading the poor lighting as my skin color.”
  5.  “These coders are defining, mathematically, the ideal student body: how often it does, or doesn’t do, these certain attributes, and anything outside of that ideal is treated with suspicion.”
  6.  “Each academic department has almost complete agency to design their curriculum as far as I know, and each professor has the freedom to design their own exams and use whatever monitoring they see fit.”
  7. After this person began sharing Proctorio training videos and documents that explained the company’s abnormality methodology on Twitter, the videos were removed from YouTube, and Proctorio filed for a court injunction to prevent  this person from sharing its training material.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. . Why was Erik Johnson against using  the digital proctoring software Proctorio for their classes?
  2. On which media site did Johnson air his concerns?
  3. In general, how do the faculty feel about using forcing students to endure surveillance during exams?
  4. Algorithmic proctoring software has been around for several years, so what caused this sudden explosive need to use it now?
  5. According to the proctoring companies, what percentage of college students will attempt to cheat?
  6. What is the concern about allowing students take exams in their homes? Do you agree with this statement? Why are why not?
  7. According to Scott MacFarland, “Any plan that calls for schools to just ‘stop using’ proctoring will make cheating more common than it already is, escalating a severe threat to all higher education.”  Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Please provide a reason for your answer.
  8. According to the article, some programs hurt certain groups of people. Who are these groups and how are they hurt by Surveillance Tools during exams?
  9. Have you ever had to take an exam that used digital proctoring? If yes, what was it like? If no, would you be comfortable taking an exam with digital proctoring?

Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading. They can write about something they did not understand. In addition, have students write something that they would have liked to see in the article.

.ANSWER KEY

2021: Assessing Applicants Online Without Interviewers

“Video responses to set questions, online games that measure a person’s traits and skills: The future of interviews is coming to a wider variety of professions in the pandemic.” J. Weed, The New York Times, Nov. 27, 2020

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Image- Northeastern University

 

Excerpt: Job Interviews Without Interviewers, Products of the Pandemic, By Julie Weed, Nov. 27, 2020

“So much of our work lives has moved online during the pandemic: group meetings, chats with the boss — even interviewing for a new job. The pandemic has also led companies to conduct ‘interviews’ without an interviewer. Job applicants are being asked to video record answers to set questions about their experience, skills and personal qualities, rather than speaking with a recruiter by phone or video chat. So-called case questions that pose a business problem and would typically lead into a 30-minute conversation with a hiring manager may now require solely written responses. Online tests in the form of games aim to measure job-seekers’ cognitive and personal traits.

Image- The Addison Group

The new systems are used most often for high turnover hourly jobs like fast-food worker, phone representative or warehouse employee, said Madeline Laurano, founder of Aptitude Research, a firm based in Boston that studies business hiring practices. But the systems are beginning to be used more often for professional jobs, too, especially in the financial, consulting, technology and health industries, she said.

Recruiters who use the systems no longer have to spend large parts of their days in the back and forth of scheduling interviews — the software handles that.

Image- The Confident Career-Conquering Virtual Interviews

The company can evaluate more applicants by reviewing more videos, written responses and game results, less encumbered by interviewers’ schedule restrictions.

Hiring bias, too, can be reduced using the new technology, since each applicant is asked the same questions in the same way, making performances easier to compare objectively… The pandemic has accelerated the use of this technology. In February… 58 percent of businesses were using or considering using digital hiring systems, including ones with the ability for applicants to schedule their own appointments online and participate in video interviews, either with a recruiter or recorded.”

In Response to the Attack on Our Capitol By Cowards:

“My message to my fellow Americans and friends around the world following this week’s attack on the Capitol.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger~ January 6, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic. Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming chart by UIE

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Now there are online games that can measure a person’s traits.
  2. In the past, applicants spoke with a recruiter by phone.
  3. So-called case questions that pose a business problem would typically lead into a 30-minute conversation.
  4. Online tests in the form of games aim to measure job-seekers’ cognitive and personal traits.
  5. The new systems are used most often for high turnover hourly jobs.
  6. The company can evaluate more applicants by reviewing more videos.
  7. Hiring bias, too, can be reduced using the new technology.
  8. Some of the new systems can answer questions about benefits using chatbots.
  9. There are tools that can be used to test the programming acumen of software engineers.
  10. Technical snafus still happen.

 

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,  as, across, around,  about, by, during,  for, from, in, into,  of, on,  to, over,  off, through, up,  with, since,

  1. So much ___our work lives has moved online ____the pandemic.
  2. Job applicants are being asked ___video record answers ___set questions ___their experience.
  3. Recruiters who use the systems no longer have ___spend large parts ___their days ___the back and forth___scheduling interviews.
  4. Some ___the new systems can contact references, answer questions___ benefits using chatbots, and send along training modules ___newly hired employees.

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. The new systems are used most often for high turnover hourly jobs like fast-food worker, phone representative or warehouse employee.”
  2. “The face-to-face interviews don’t really work that well because there is unconscious bias, and some people may not know how to do an interview well.”
  3. Sixty percent of the nearly five million interviews conducted so far this year using his company’s video recording software were completed after work hours.”
  4. It feels weird… With a person, she can receive cues on how things are going, like encouraging nods or requests for details.”
  5. They reduce bias in hiring because they evaluate personal qualities that applicants can possess without attending elite colleges or fitting into a preconceived image of what a ‘good’ candidate looks like.”

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. What is the purpose of online tests in the form of games?
  2. Which professional jobs are starting to use the new technology?
  3. Why are recruiters no longer required to conduct job interviews?
  4. How does a company evaluate applicants with this new process?
  5. How is hiring bias reduced  with the new  technology?
  6. When using video recorded interviews, what can an applicant do if they do not like the manner in which they answered a question?
  7. According to the article what a some of the problems that might occur with the new technology?
  8. According to Ms. Tobón which part of the recorded interview takes more practice? Why?
  9. What are some of the ways companies can reduce the stress on applicants making videos?
  10. After reading this article which do you prefer, online or in-person interviews? Explain why.
  11. What new information have you learned from this article?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

 

Boston Dynamic’s Robot Dog Has Joined the Fight Against COVID-19

“A Boston hospital is using Spot, the dog-like robot of Internet fame, to screen for coronavirus.”H. Bray, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Spot, a four-legged robot, is being tested at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a way to treat some COVID-19 patients. Boston Dynamics

 

Excerpt:The Robot Dog that helpsHospitalsscreen for coronavirus –ByHiawatha Bray, The Boston Globe

“At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the first encounter a potentially infected person might have is not with a doctor or nurse swathed in protective gear, but with a talking, animal-like robot that looks like it might have wandered off the set of ‘Star Wars.’

Spot, the agile walking robot from Waltham-based Boston Dynamics, gained Internet notoriety for showing off its dance moves on YouTube.

But now it’s going to work in the real world, striding into the danger zone, armed only with an iPad. The robot is posted just outside the hospital, not so much as a sentinel, but asan intake worker that will help doctors safely interview people who fear they may have been infected with the coronavirus.

Research scientist Hen-Wei Huang talked about Spot the robot during a demonstration at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.CRAIG F. Walker-Boston Globs

‘This collaboration is really looking at how we can do all the things we do as emergency medicine physicians, but at a distance,’ said Peter Chai, an emergency medicine doctor at the Brigham.

The yellow-and-black Spot robot, which resembles a large dog, is positioned inside a big white tent set up in front of the hospital’s main entrance as a triage area for potential COVID-19 cases.

It is fitted with an iPad that displays a physician located safely inside the hospital who can use the device’s camera to see the patient’s physical condition.

The doctor can talk to the patient through the built-in microphone and a mounted speaker, asking standard diagnostic questions.

The physician is also able to remotely control Spot, directing the machine to move around for a better perspective of the patient.

The Brigham began real-world trials of the system last week, with a handful of patients who had agreed in advance to the robotic interviews.

Michael Perry, Boston Dynamics’ vice president of business development, said that as early as February the company began receiving inquiries from hospitals worldwide. ..There are already lots of wheeled robots trundling through hospitals, delivering meals and medications…The current version of Spot is only good for conducting interviews. But the Brigham will soon deploy an upgraded model with cameras that can measure a patient’s respiration rate and body temperature, with no need to make physical contact. And Boston Dynamics isn’t hogging the technical innovations. The company said it is giving its medical hardware and software designs at no charge to any robotics company that cares to use them.”

Related News Articles: “Spot, a four-legged robot, has been sent to Singapore to remind people about social distancing guidelines.” F.  Gans, The Boston globeThis Waltham-built, dog-like robot is crawling through Singapore to remind people about social distancing, By Felicia Gans- The Boston Globe

Spot, a four-legged robot, has been sent to Singapore to remind people about social distancing guidelines. Boston Globe

Boston Dynamics

Website www.bostondynamics.com

Boston Dynamics is an American engineering and robotics design company founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Boston Dynamics is best known for the development of a series of dynamic highly-mobile robots, including BigDog, Spot, Atlas, and Handle.

Watch “UpTown Spot”  and his famous dance moves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHBcVlqpvZ8

VOTE 2020

Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden -2020

“I promise you this: A Biden Administration will listen to scientists and heed their advice — not silence them.”

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine the photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Boston Dynamics  produces robot dogs.
  2. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital the first encounter a patient might have is with a  robot dog.
  3. Usually medical personnel is swathed in protective gear.
  4. Spot, the agile walking robot  is from Waltham-based Boston Dynamics.
  5. Spot gained Internet notoriety for showing off its dance moves on YouTube.
  6. But now it’s going to work in the real world, striding into the danger zone, armed only with an iPad.
  7. The robot is posted just outside the hospital, not as a sentinel, but as an intake worker.
  8. This collaboration is  helping emergency medicine physicians but at a distance.
  9. The yellow-and-black Spot robot, is positioned inside a triage area for potential COVID-19 cases.
  10. The doctor can talk to the patient through the built-in microphone asking standard diagnostic questions.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Perry said/say the hospitals needed something/some different. Many had/has set/sit up their COVID triage areas outdoors, in/on lawns or in/on parking lots. On/In such uneven surfaces, traditionally/traditional robotics doesn’t make cents/sense, he said. We need/needs something that can handle this/those difficult terrain. Enter Spot, the latest in/on a long series of/on legged robots develop/developed by Boston Dynamics.

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article.

  1. “This collaboration is really looking at how we can do all the things we do as emergency medicine physicians, but at a distance.”
  2. “The Brigham began real-world trials of the system last week, with a handful of patients who had agreed in advance to the robotic interviews. They’re loving it so far.”
  3. “…as early as February the company began receiving inquiries from hospitals worldwide. Was it possible to use a Spot robot to conduct triage interviews?”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions:  Have students  discuss the following questions.  To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Have you ever encountered a robot in your everyday activities?
  2. Which hospital is using the robotic dog?
  3. Where was Spot built?
  4. What was the first thing Spot was known for?
  5. According to Boston Dynamics, why wouldn’t a regular robot work in the triage areas  outdoors?
  6. Was Spot the first robotic dog Boston Dynamics built?
  7. Doctors at Brigham have been working on remote diagnostic sensors with engineers from what other institute?
  8. What small items can Spot deliver to infected patients?  In what ways does this small task help the medical personnel?
  9. In your opinion, what other helpful tasks might Spot be programmed to perform in the future?
  10. According to Farah Dadabhoy  how are the patients reacting to Spot?
  11. What new information have you learned from this article?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY