Issue Number 230 March 31, 2018

This free Information Age Education Newsletter is edited by Dave Moursund and produced by Ken Loge. The newsletter is one component of the Information Age Education (IAE) publications.

All back issues of the newsletter and subscription information are available online. In addition, seven free books based on the newsletters are available: Joy of Learning; Validity and Credibility of Information; Education for Students’ Futures; Understanding and Mastering Complexity; Consciousness and Morality: Recent Research Developments; Creating an Appropriate 21st Century Education; and Common Core State Standards for Education in America.

Education and Quality of Life

David Moursund
Professor Emeritus, College of Education
University of Oregon

Introduction

In recent years I have written three IAE Blog entries about quality of life (QoL). I have also discussed this topic in many of my other writings. This IAE-pedia document summarizes my current thinking about quality of life and also contains the three IAE Blog entries I have previously published on this topic.

Every living creature has a quality of life. However, in this document I focus mainly on QoL of humans. Here are three key ideas:
  1. Each of us has our own thoughts about how to measure our personal QoL, and our measure may change over time and even day to day. Thus, for example, if you wake up in the morning with a bad cold and the pressure of deciding whether to skip an important meeting scheduled for the day, this may make you feel that your QoL is not as good as it was the previous day. However, most people think of QoL over an extended period of time, such as months and years. Thus, the death of a spouse or a dear friend may produce a long term decrease in one’s quality of life.
  2. A number of general measures of QoL have been developed. These can be used by an individual for self-assessment and can also be used to make an estimate of the QoL of a group of people such as in a city, state, country, or the world. Such measurements allow researchers to make estimates about whether the average quality of life is better in one country than in another, or whether the overall QoL of people on earth is changing over time.
  3. In spite of the popular press continuing to emphasize bad news, our world is making steady progress in improving the average QoL of people throughout the world.
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in1948. The items in this declaration can be used in measuring individual and group QoL. Here are two items in the list that I believe are particularly relevant to this IAE-pedia entry.

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.


Article 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Each person has a quality of life. Each person’s QoL can be viewed as a personal thing, completely determined by the person. Or, for each person we can look at some general characteristics that are somewhat measurable and apply across people.
For example, we have Maslow’s insights into this issue. We can look at food, clothing, shelter, etc. We can look at healthcare, education, safety, access to needed information, and so on.

Thus, in total, we can select some general characteristics that are somewhat measurable and can be applied to groups of people. This allows us to compare groups, such as people in different regions of a country or the world.

Improving Worldwide Quality of Life

Moursund, D. (2/16/2016). Improving Worldwide Quality of Life. IAE Blog. http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/improving-worldwide-quality-of-life.html.

I have discussed Quality of Life (QoL) in two previous IAE Blog entries, (Moursund, 2/5/2016; Moursund, 12/24/2014).

While we each of us has our own ideas on how to measure and improve our own quality of life, considerable progress has occurred in developing global measures and goals. A Social Progress Index has been developed. Quoting from the Social Progress Index website (n.d.):

MEASURING NATIONAL PROGRESS – To truly advance social progress, we must learn to measure it, comprehensively and rigorously. The Social Progress Index offers a rich framework for measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress, benchmarking success, and catalyzing greater human wellbeing. The 2015 version of the Social Progress Index has improved upon the 2014 version through generous feedback from many observers and covers an expanded number of countries with 52 indicators.

Michael Green is part of the team that has created the Social Progress Index, a standard to rank societies based on how they meet the needs of citizens. Quoting from his recent TED Talk, How We Can Make the World a Better Place by 2030 (Green, October 2015):

Do you think the world is going to be a better place next year? In the next decade? Can we end hunger, achieve gender equality, halt climate change, all in the next 15 years?

Well, according to the governments of the world, yes we can. In the last few days, the leaders of the world, meeting at the UN in New York, agreed on a new set of Global Goals for the development of the world to 2030.… [These] goals are the product of a massive consultation exercise. The Global Goals are who we, humanity, want to be.

United Nations Global Goals


Quoting from the Preamble to the Global Goals, How We Can Make the World a Better Place by 2030 (Global Goals, 8/12/2015):

This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. We recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.

All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.

How to Achieve the Global Goals

The first part of Michael Green’s TED Talk discusses a previous UN goal. Quoting from his talk:
[B]ack in 2001, the UN agreed another set of goals, the Millennium Development Goals. And the flagship target there was to halve the proportion of people living in poverty by 2015. The target was to take from a baseline of 1990, when 36 percent of the world's population lived in poverty, to get to 18 percent poverty this year.

Did we hit this target? Well, no, we didn't. We exceeded it. This year, global poverty is going to fall to 12 percent [1/3 o what it was in 1990]. Now, that's still not good enough, and the world does still have plenty of problems. But the pessimists and doomsayers who say that the world can't get better are simply wrong. [Bold added for emphasis.]

At the Millennium Summit in September 2000, the largest gathering of world leaders in history adopted the UN Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets, with a deadline of 2015, that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals. Quoting from (UN, n.d.):

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the world's time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions-income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion-while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. They are also basic human rights-the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security.

The remainder of Michael Green’s TED Talk analyzes the steps needed to meet the year 2030 goals. He begins by discussing poverty. It remains a major worldwide problem, but further progress in reducing poverty is only a small part of what needs to be done to achieve the 2030 goals. Quoting again from his talk:

We have countries that are under performing on social progress, relative to their wealth. Russia has lots of natural resource wealth, but lots of social problems. China has boomed economically, but hasn't made much headway on human rights or environmental issues. India has a space program and millions of people without toilets. Now, on the other hand, we have countries that are over performing on social progress relative to their GDP. Costa Rica has prioritized education, health and environmental sustainability, and as a result, it's achieving a very high level of social progress, despite only having a rather modest GDP. And Costa Rica's not alone. From poor countries like Rwanda to richer countries like New Zealand, we see that it's possible to get lots of social progress, even if your GDP is not so great.

Final Remarks

Despite the bad news that pervades our daily news media, the world is making good social progress in working for a better Quality of Life (QoL). Michael Green emphasizes the value of having well-defined goals and measures of how well the world is doing at the global and national levels to achieve these goals. Quoting the Cheshire Cat from Louis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland:

“If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

What You Can Do

Here is a group activity that can be used with a classroom group of students, a grade-level group, a school, and so on. Develop a long-range set of goals for improving the quality of life of a group of people. For example, at the secondary school level the task might focus on goals for a school, neighborhood, or community. The project requires developing and agreeing on a set of measurable goals, doing research on past progress in achieving meet.  goals, and carefully analyzing/planning how to achieve the goals.

Retrospective Comment Added 3/20/2018

I am continually impressed by the number of people I meet who are doing volunteer work and/or contributing money to help improve the QoL of others. For example, this past week I attended the California Computer Using Educator’s annual conference held in Palm Springs, California. A large number of volunteers put in many many hours to put on this conference. I interacted with a very large number of teachers and school administrators who are dedicated to improving schools. In brief summary, this conference substantially boosted my hopes for the future.

References and Resources

Green, M. (October, 2015). How we can make the world a better place by 2030. TED Talks (Video: 14:39.) Retrieved 2/7/2016 from https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_green_how_we_can_make_the_world_a_
better_place_by_2030
.

Global Goals (8/12/2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Retrieved 2/7/2016 from http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/69/L.85&Lang=E.

Moursund, D. (2/5/2016). Quality of life. IAE Blog. Retrieved 2/7/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/quality-of-life.html.

Moursund, D. (12/24/2014). Quality of life: Working toward a better future. IAE Blog. Retrieved 2/4/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/quality-of-life-working-toward-a-better-future.html.

Social Progress Index (n.d.). Social progress index 2015. Retrieved 2/7/2016 from http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/data/spi.

UN (n.d.). Millennium project. Retrieved 2/7/2016 from http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/goals/.


Quality of Life


Moursund, D. (2/5/2016). Quality of Life. IAE Blog. http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/quality-of-life.html.

I moved into a modest-sized retirement home (the Eugene Abbey) about four years ago [in 2012], shortly after my wife died. These two events caused me to start paying more attention to my quality of life (QoL) and the quality of life of others. While living in this retirement facility, I began to explore what I could do to help improve the QoL of the residents. Over the past four years I have helped improve their library, computer facilities, outdoor garden and lawn area, and entertainment facilities. I am pleased by what I have been able to do. (Note: I now live on the Oregon coast, but maintain a small apartment in the retirement home.)

I have put my greatest emphasis into the computer area. Here is a recent note I received from a resident:

Thanks so much for all you do for the Abbey [retirement home] and for the confidence you show in the oldsters here. I am learning all about the Kindle Fire [tablet computer] you so generously gave me. I may be 96, but I’ve not stopped learning!

This note brought tears to my eyes. Lifelong learning—an important component of a good QoL!

The new Kindle Fire table retails for about $50. I donated a number of these to the retirement home and also paid for a person to provide instruction. The “requirements” are that a resident receiving a Kindle Fire agrees to take 16 hours of instruction. A quite popular area of instruction is using the digital camera and using email to send pictures to relatives and friends. Residents also enjoy the free video communication applications, the notes (lists) features, and access to books, games, videos, and so on.

A little over a year ago, I wrote an IAE Blog titled Quality of Life: Working Toward a Better Future (Moursund, 12/24/2014). The phrase quality of life keeps running through my head as I think about my life and the lives of other people. When I established Information Age Education, I stated that its goal is to help improve education at all levels and throughout the world. Now, I think that IAE’s goal is to help improve education at all levels and throughout the world as an aid to improving people’s QoL.

The United Nations addressed some basic QoL issues in its December 10, 1948, Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Quoting from this document:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

We can argue about what constitutes adequately meeting these two goals: 1) standard of living, and 2) education. However, there is enough agreement about their meaning so that it is possible to roughly rank countries on the basis of how well they are doing, and we can develop a scale that can be used to measure how well our world is doing.

A 2005 report from The Economist (2005) ranked the United States 13th in quality of life out of 111 countries.

The website (NUMBEO, 2016) provides a list of 56 countries ordered by the QoL in these countries. In this survey, the U.S. is 12th in the list that begins with Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Finland, and the United States.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s 1943 Hierarchy of Needs provides a widely used starting point for discussing and measuring QoL. It has been modified over the years (McLeod, 2014). Here is McLeod’s list, with some of my thoughts interspersed.

• Biological and physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.

Moursund comment: Many parts of the world face problems of air pollution, lack of good drinking water (and irrigation water), and inadequate food. I find it very hard to believe that a nation as wealthy as the U.S. has so many people living in abject poverty and so many homeless people.

• Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, etc.

Moursund comment: The U.S. spends a great deal of money to prevent and to combat terrorism. However, terrorism is a very small part of security, law, and order. Here is a statement that I found poignant:

The Popsicle Index is a quality of life measurement coined by  Catherine Austin Fitts (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Austin_Fitts) as the percentage of people in a community who believe that a child in their community can safely leave their home, walk to the nearest possible location to buy a popsicle, and walk back home.

• Love and belongingness needs – friendship, intimacy, affection and love, – from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.

Moursund comment: Internet-based Social Networking is producing what Sherry Turkle (February, 2012) describes as: Connected But Alone. A “friend” on a social network is a lot different from a face-to-face friend.

• Esteem needs – self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.

Moursund comment: A number of these items are linked to having a decent job that provides a decent and secure income. Many countries throughout the world are faced by a problem of the decreasing available of decent jobs.

• Cognitive needs – informal and formal education; knowledge, meaning, etc.

Moursund comment: Availability of a good education and achievement of a good education are ranked high in measures of QoL. There are varying definitions as to what constitutes “good,” but in the U.S. current national high school graduation rates are about 82% and the quality of these degrees varies considerably.

• Aesthetic needs – appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.

Moursund comment: Over recent years, our schools have cut back the availability of art, music, dance, and related areas of instruction.

• Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

Moursund comment: If you live in poverty with inadequate food, shelter, medical care, and education, you tend to face a major uphill battle in self-actualization.

• Transcendence needs – helping others to achieve self-actualization.

Moursund comment: Each of us can help others to achieve their self-actualization, and by doing so we achieve some of our own self-actualization needs.

Final Remarks


QoL is a huge and very important discipline of study and aspect of our lives. We can all work to help others achieve a better QoL. In doing so, we typically help to improve our own quality of life.

I believe that QoL is an appropriate topic to integrate into our school curriculum and into the minds of our students.

What You Can Do

Do self-assessment to help determine your own QoL, whether it is increasing or decreasing, and what you can do to increase it. Talk with your students, children, friends, and others about how they view their QoL. Work with others to design and carry out projects that contribute to improving the QoL in your local community.

Retrospective Comment Added 3/20/2018

I am bothered by egocentric people. We have always had such people, but nowadays I am particularly sensitive to such narrow-mindedness. Such people seem to have little understanding of Benjamin Franklin’s statement, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

References and Resources

McLeod, S. (2014). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Retrieved 12/22/2015 from http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html.

Moursund, D. (12/24/2014). Quality of life: Working toward a better future. IAE Blog. Retrieved 2/4/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/quality-of-life-working-toward-a-better-future.html.

Moursund, D. (5/1/2014). Hungry children—America’s shame. IAE Blog. Retrieved 1/24/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/hungry-children-america-s-shame.html.

NUMBEO (2016). Quality of life index by country. Retrieved 1/24/2016 from http://www.numbeo.com/quality-of-life/rankings_by_country.jsp.

The Economist (2005). The Economist Intelligence Unit's quality-of-life index. Retrieved 1/24/2016 from http://www.economist.com/media/pdf/QUALITY_OF_LIFE.pdf.

Turkle, S. (February, 2012). Connected, but alone. TED Talks. (Video, 19:48.) Retrieved 2/4/2016 from https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together?language=en.


Quality of Life: Working Toward a Better Future

Moursund, D. (12/24/2014). Quality of Life: Working Toward a Better Future.  IAE Blog. http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/quality-of-life-working-toward-a-better-future.html.

The Winter Solstice has just passed, and the days are getting longer on the Oregon coast where I live. I wish the best for all of my readers during the coming years. Rather than just saying, “I wish you a Happy New Year,” I am instead broadening this wish so that it applies to a much larger audience and a longer time period. I wish an improving Quality of Life (QoL) to all creatures on earth for which such a wish might be appropriate.

I think about QoL in a rather broad manner. Thus, I am concerned with:
  1. My personal QoL. How do I measure or keep track of my own QoL, and what can I do to improve it? People vary considerably in what they personally feel contributes to having a good QoL.
  2. QoL of the people on earth. I believe that living under a very restrictive dictatorship and/or in extreme poverty decreases a person’s QoL. I also believe that lack of access to a good education decreases one’s QoL. Global warming is a major concern. Wars and terrorism are major concerns. What can I do to help alleviate such QoL-decreasing conditions?
  3. Biological sustainability and QoL of all living creatures on earth. What can I do to maintain and/or improve the overall level of sustainability of earth’s creatures?
This list can be expanded. For example, think about ancient artifacts such as cave wall paintings produced tens of thousands of years ago, and pyramids and statues from ancient Egypt, other antiquities across the globe. These increased the QoL of the ancient people who created them and increase our own QoL as we study and admire them today.

In each of the above areas and other areas that might occur to you, we each have our own views of their relative importance and ways of measuring them. Thus, you might be more concerned by the homeless and hungry school age children in your community than you are about children being exposed to Ebola or TB in some far away location—or, vice versa. You might view a Smart Phone as contributing greatly to your QoL or regard it as the bane of your existence. You might be moved by the QoL of a person standing on a corner asking for donations, and making a donation increases your QoL.

Our various forms of media and my personal communications systems bring information about such QoL-related situations to me. The very act of receiving the “good, happy” information increases my QoL while “bad, unhappy” information decreases my QoL. I find it quite depressing to read or view “sensationalist” media that seem to take pleasure in recounting all of the bad things going on.

QoL and Education

Information Age Education is committed to helping to improve informal and formal education at all levels and throughout the world. For me, education and QoL are closely related.

For example, I view every person as both a lifelong learner and a lifelong teacher. I view each interaction you have with another person as a teaching/learning transaction. Each such transaction has the possibility of positively or negatively affecting QoL of the participants.

And, as an aside, think about the transactions you have with computer-driven interactive voice systems when you really want to talk to a human being in order to resolve a problem or answer a question. My QoL has certainly been diminished by automated answering and calling systems!

Through IAE, I am able to share my knowledge, skills, and insights with a large number of people. Doing so improves my own QoL, and I hope it contributes to the QoL of my readers.

Here are two questions to ponder:
  1. How often do you explicitly communicate with others (your children, students, friends, and so on) about QoL? What types of things do you specifically help them understand about this important concept and about how to monitor their personal QoL?
  2. How do the students you know view their school day hours in terms of their overall QoL? For example, is school mainly a “drag” on their QoL, or is a positive aspect of their QoL? What aspects of a typical school day are more positive, and what aspects are more negative to these students?
IAE's Past Year

As you know, all of IAE’s materials are available free on the Web. It is exciting to announce that 2014 has been a banner year. The IAE Blog is averaging over 4,900 hits per day this year. Within the IAE-pedia, the top five content pages have now each exceeded a hundred thousand page-views since this Wiki was established seven years ago. The IAE Newsletter is doing well, and the four recent books that are based on the newsletters have now had a total of over 33,000 downloads.

What You Can Do

I feel a little embarrassed to say this, but part of my QoL is based on how well IAE is doing. So, you can help improve education in our world and my QoL by publicizing IAE’s free materials. If you want to share your progress in this endeavor, feel free to make use of the Comments feature available at the end of this blog entry.

Retrospective Comment Added 3/20/2018

Since I began the IAE publications in 2007, they have had approximately 14-million page views. I am truly amazed by this large number, since IAE has not had an advertising budget. This certainly shows me the power of mouth advertising. I am very appreciative of all of the people who have helped spread the word. Keep up the good work!

Readings from IAE Publications

Moursund, D. (2014). What the future is bringing us. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 12/24/2014 from http://iae-pedia.org/What_the_Future_is_Bringing_Us.

Moursund, D. (11/14/2014). What makes a great teacher? IAE Blog. Retrieved 12/22/2014 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/what-makes-a-great-teacher.html.

Moursund, D. (8/6/2014). Making school more relevant to students. IAE Blog. Retrieved 12/22/2014 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/making-school-more-relevant-to-students.html.

Moursund, D. (5/1/2014). Hungry children: America’s shame. IAE Blog. Retrieved 12/22/2014 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/hungry-children-america-s-shame.html.

Moursund, D. (9/9/2013). Thinking and acting globally. IAE Blog. Retrieved 12/22/2014 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/thinking-and-acting-globally.html.

Moursund, D. (4/5/2013). 40th anniversary of the cell phone. IAE Blog. Retrieved 12/22/2014 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/40th-anniversary-of-the-cell-phone.html.

Concluding Remarks for Newsletter

Globally, we produce enough food so that no one need be going hungry. Similarly, we can provide a decent level of medical care, shelter, clothing, education, access to information, and aids to communication (such as cell phone and the Internet) so that every person has the basic\ goods and services for a decent quality of life.

On average, having more and better basics leads to a better quality of life. However, that seems to be true only up to a certain point. There is much more to life than acquiring more and more money and the things that money can buy.

Every person can be close friends with a number of different people, and every person can have multiple close friends. Such friends are mutually beneficial and a very important contributor to one’s quality of life. Personally, when I am able to help others improve their QoL it gives me considerable pleasure and increases my QoL.

Author

David Moursund is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon, and editor of the IAE Newsletter. His professional career includes founding the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in 1979, serving as ISTE’s executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE’s flagship publication, Learning and Leading with Technology. He was the major professor or co-major professor for 82 doctoral students. He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds of articles. Many of these books are available free online. See http://iaepedia.org/David_Moursund_Books.

In 2007, Moursund founded Information Age Education (IAE). IAE provides free online educational materials via its IAE-pedia, IAE Newsletter, IAE Blog, and books. See http://iaepedia.org/Main_Page#IAE_in_a_Nutshell. Information Age Education is now fully integrated into the 501(C)(3) non-profit corporation, Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) that was established in 2016. David Moursund is the Chief Executuve Officer of AGATE.

Email: moursund@uoregon.edu.

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Information Age Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education for learners of all ages throughout the world. Current IAE activities and free materials include the IAE-pedia at http://iae-pedia.org, a Website containing free books and articles at http://i-a-e.org/, a Blog at http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog.html, and the free newsletter you are now reading. See all back issues of the Blog at http://iae-pedia.org/IAE_Blog and all back issues of the Newsletter at http://i-a-e.org/iae-newsletter.html.