Let’s brainstorm, collect and develop ideas regarding the topics we will be covering in our May project.
Since we are creating reading comprehension materials for learners of English we pretty much can any topic as long as it related to our users’ situation. With the corona pandemic still in its early stage it is obvious that our world will not be same as it was prior to COVID-19. Every single aspect of life is being and will be affected by this virus. So, it makes sense to cover the following aspects and ideas:
What does COVID-19 tell us about our value system?
What happens if we carry on trying to raise the GDP of our economies perpetually maximizing profits and increasing efficiencies?
Can the ‘degrowth’ movement be a viable alternative to our existing economic system? (If you google the term ‘degrowth’ you will find enough ideas and inspirations for several units.)
When and where is ‘growth’ possible and healthy and when is detrimental? (positive: knowledge, physical and psychological strength, health, wealth, knowledge, information – although this is questionable – negative: GDP, cancer, depression, etc.)
Why is climate change caused by global warming much worse than COVID-19?
Can new technologies such as AI, big data, blockchain, 5G, etc. help us solve the problems caused by COVID-19?
*The concept of ‘powerdown’ as an effective means to solve many of our current and future problems. Here is a great article on powerdown.
Which countries and nations are suffering the most due to COVID-19 and why?
Because of the current ‘shutdown’ (which isn’t really a shutdown) at all more people are saved because of a dramatic improvement in air quality than from preventing a shortage in IC units.
Quote: “Providing information, degrees and policy is no longer enough, if ever it was to begin with.” You can use this article as the basis for several units.
Google the phrase ‘save people not planes’ and you will find lots of information on why we should not bail out fossil-fuel driven companies this time around.
Why now is the time to truly make the transition from a ‘linear’ to a ‘circular economy’.
The main reasons of the coronavirus pandemic can be explained by the model of The Window of Viability. This makes a great topic for a series of units.
So I’ve been reading about Universal Basic Services today, which I’d like to cover in my exercises. It’s the idea that, instead of having a basic income with which you’re free to do what you want, you have free access to basic services like housing, food, healthcare, education, public transport, access to the internet, etc. That way, people won’t struggle to survive, and can instead focus on getting a better education, ultimately letting them lead more fulfilled lives.
I’m not sure if we’ve already covered this topic - if we have, I’d love to read the text! Otherwise I’ll be snatching this one up for myself
Hi Sumejja, I love the concept of ‘Universal Basic Services’ and so far we have not covered it, you are the first to bring it up so please do go ahead and create exercises educating us about UBS (Universal Basic Services).
Torsten, we can also include the neologism in the form of portmanteaus that has crept into the lexicon. Covidients (meaning those those who obey the instructions) and Covidiots (meaning those who defy the orders) are the words being talked about. I suggest that the lockdown during covid period may specially be termed as Covidown.
Further, we WILL find a paradigm shift from Physical to Virtual in the post covid days.
Up until recently, my country had imposed a complete lockdown on children and the elderly, but has now relaxed the measures somewhat, so we’ve been taking our son on walks whenever it is permitted. That’s why I’m only checking in now
Here are my topic suggestions:
The Case for Universal Basic Services
Universal Basic Income vs Universal Basic Services: Tackling Global Poverty
Common Criticisms of Universal Basic Income/Services
UBI/UBS During a Worldwide Crisis
The Story of Sadio Mane
Hi Sumejja, great to have you back and yes for all means please do take as many walks with your son as you can, exercise is absolutely essential during the pandemic and I’m glad to hear your government has started allowing children and the elderly to take walks.
All of the topics you have suggested are great because the concept of a universal basic income has been around for quite some time. Automation and other technologies such as AI have contributed to a tremendous increase in efficiency and productivity so there is no need for everyone to ‘work’ full-time all the time. One of the side effects of this has been the creation of ‘bullshit jobs’ and a lot of other negative consequences.
Now with the pandemic in full swing the benefits of a UBI become more obvious as larger parts of society are being affected. Thanks again for bringing up universal basic (or ‘public’) services as a step towards UBI. I think the concept of ‘universal public/basic services’ is closely connected to the model of the ‘post-scarcity economy’. So, as you can see there is enough information here for a series of texts and exercises all of which will increase in popularity. In a couple of years your son will read your articles and he will be proud of his mother
And yes, Sadio Mané’s story fits in greatly with these topics since he is one of the people who uses their popularity and reach to actually change the world for the better.
My only “issue” with Sadio Mane is that he plays for Liverpool and I’m a Manchester United supporter. Luckily, that’s minor compared to his charity work so I’m willing to overlook our quite vast differences, lol
Hi Sumejja, here is an idea for another mini-series of exercises: What impact will chatbots have on the ESL world? I’ve read the following article and think that now learners of English can use chatbots to practise their speaking writing skills. I mean, we are now at a point where chatbots can replicate intelligence. Imagine if an A2/B1 learners is talking a chatbot capable of replicating intelligence. Do you think the student will be able to understand that they are communicating with a chatbot? I don’t think so.
That sounds amazing! I’ll make chatbots the general topic of my next batch of texts. I actually made a chatbot for an engineering competition my senior year of high school - it’s pretty simple with all the tools available on the internet, and it’s really fascinating to see how they learn and implement new knowledge.
Whether or not humans are able to tell that they’re talking to a bot is what’s known as the Turing test. Once an artificial intelligence reaches the point where a human can’t tell they’re not talking to another human, it has passed the test. This hasn’t happened yet but it definitely seems like only a matter of time, and the possibilities are amazing!
Hello Elida, welcome to back Yes, I like the three topics you have proposed very much and would like to add that Google have increased their efforts to compete with Zoom and already https://meet.google.com/ is much better than Zoom based on my experience. If you have a Gmail account you can now start a Google meeting by clicking on the ‘Start a Meeting’ button.
Hello @Torsten. No, I hadn’t realized this about Google. That’s great! Especially after Zoom faced a lot of backlash due to its problems with security. I’m glad you like the topics. A group Google meeting next week sounds great. We’ll be in touch soon. Have a great day!
@Natalia_Polteva, you’re welcome. I’ve just discovered this source and I think it will be great for future texts.
A meeting sounds great! Let’s do it anytime next week except for Wednesday. My husband is in the office that day and I’d rather not unleash my baby on the rest of you. @Torsten met him already - he’s tenacious and kept trying to wrangle my phone out of my hands to take a better look at him! If it was a more formal business meeting, that could’ve spelled trouble
Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a pleasant end of the week. As we’ve discussed before, I’m going down the rabbit hole of chatbots and AI in general, so that’s also the main topic of my next batch of exercises, pending @Torsten’s approval.
Learn English by Talking to… Bots?
The Case of Blender, Facebook’s Empathetic Chatbot
Fact-checking COVID-19 Info With WhatsApp’s Chatbot
Human vs AI: Who Is the Better Teacher?
Should We Let AI Replace Us?