Category: Education

Do online courses spell the end for the traditional university?

“It’s going to change. There is no doubt about it.” Specifically, Thrun believes, higher education is going to change. He has launched Udacity, an online university, and wants to provide mass high quality education for the world. For students in developing countries who can’t get it any other way, or for students in the first world, who can but may choose not to. Pay thousands of pounds a year for your education? Or get it free online?

University, of course, is about so much more than the teaching. There’s the socialising, of course, or, as we call it here in Britain, drinking. There’s the living away from home and learning how to boil water stuff. And there’s the all-important sex and catching a social disease stuff. But this is the way disruptions tend to work: they disrupt first, and figure out everything else at some unspecified time later.

Thrun’s great revelation came just over a year ago at the same TED conference where he unveiled the self-driving car. “I heard Salman Khan talk about the Khan Academy and I was just blown away by it,” he says. “And I still am.” Salman Khan, a softly spoken 36-year-old former hedge fund analyst, is the founding father of what’s being called the classroom revolution, and is feted by everyone from Bill Gates (who called him “the world’s favourite teacher”) down.

The Khan Academy, which he set up almost accidentally while tutoring his niece and nephew, now has 3,400 short videos or tutorials, most of which Khan made himself, and 10 million students. “I was blown away by it,” says Thrun. “And frankly embarrassed that I was teaching 200 students. And he was teaching millions.”

Thrun decided to open up his Stanford artificial intelligence class, CS221, to the world. Anybody could join, he announced. They’d do the same coursework as the Stanford students and at the end of it take the same exam.

Read the complete article at The Guardian.

Not a Remix–Nor a Sampling: Why Fareed Zakaria’s Plagiarism is Unacceptable

Image: Huffpost

By Eduardo Navas

Note: This entry was updated on August 19, 2012 with an extra commentary at the end of the main text.

As an educator in higher education and researcher specializing in remix culture and authorship, when I first learned about Zakaria’s admission to plagiarism, I was very disappointed in him, and thought that there was no way around it, that his admission of plagiarizing parts of Jill Lepore‘s work on gun control written for the New Yorker puts into question his intellectual integrity.

I thought that his apology was quick and to the point, but that somehow it was not enough. I thought that it was necessary for Zakaria to come forward and explain in as much detail as possible the reasoning for his behavior. And I thought that I wasn’t alone in hoping for this to happen–that if an actual explanation was delivered, it would all serve the constructive purpose of discussing the seriousness of plagiarism with students while providing a concrete example of a public intellectual who committed such an unacceptable act.

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Apps & Education

Infographic via onlinecolleges.net

Korea’s Textbooks Are Going Online By 2015

South Korea, which leads the world in high-speed broadband connectivity, appears ready to convert all paper textbooks into digital versions within the next four years. Not only will students read from smartphones, tablets (most likely Samsung) and smart TVs, but the Education Ministry wants to move all nationwide testing online as well.

In addition, the ministry will encourage students to take college-level courses under the “University-Level Program.” As if all that wasn’t enough, the ministry will use Internet Protocol Television to run after-school programs teaching foreign languages, multiculturalism and other subjects.

Read the complete article at Dice.

Augmented Reality: A new tool in teaching children

Books aren’t just reserved for ink and paper anymore. Augmented Reality is a new technology that turns children’s books into an interactive experience, much like a video game.

Popar Toys has launched a children’s book series, that is also available through a mobile app, that uses this tool to make learning fun and more interactive.

Read more: www.abc15.com

Learn Science While Playing Video Games? Video Game Maker Valve Makes Dreams Comes True

For decades, video games and education have gone together like oil and water. No matter what attempts were made to merge the two, it seems students and teachers had to pick between one or the other, with The Oregon Trail being the only tolerated exception to the rule. But a growing number of educators have become open and eager to use video games in the classroom, especially when it comes to teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Now, a video game developer has stepped up to attempt the seemingly impossible: convert a popular video game into a modern educational platform.

Valve recently launched a free initiative called Teach With Portals that aims to help teachers use the game Portal 2 (click here for a review) to engage students in learning STEM and critical thinking. By converting its level-building software, Hammer Editor, into a much easier to use interface called Puzzle Maker, Valve has made it possible for anyone to design challenging Portal rooms. The Teach With Portals website also offers community-submitted lesson plans (here’s an example of a harmonic oscillator) that utilize the game and align with national STEM standards so teachers can directly incorporate them into their curriculum. Teachers can sign up for the ‘Steam for Schools‘ beta program, which offers a limited version of the popular Steam gaming platform that hosts the free version of Portal 2 and the Puzzle Maker.

The inspiration for Teach With Portals came in part from a project called Learn With Portals, in which seventh graders from Evergreen School in Washington who were working on a spatial reasoning project visited Valve last year. From the video, it’s clear what an eye opening experience it was for the Valve staff to see students’ interest and creativity sparked by their game:

Read the complete article at Singularity Hub.

Gabriella Coleman: Helping Hackers Infiltrate Academia

As a grad student in anthropology, Gabriella Coleman was warned that studying the culture of computer hackers would make it hard to get a job teaching in a university. She went ahead anyway, becoming one of the first academics to explore the meaning and implications of the open source movement in software. Coleman now holds an endowed chair in scientific and technological literacy at McGill University in Montreal, and is currently researching the digital activism of the hacker collective Anonymous for a new book. Here, she discusses why software wants to be free, why hacker culture matters for the rest of us, and whether traditional academic disciplines are still relevant.

FAST COMPANY: You have degrees in religion and anthropology–how did you get gravitate to hacking and digital activism?

GABRIELLA COLEMAN: I was in the anthropology program at University of Chicago. I meant to major in anthropology as an undergrad as well, but at the time, the anthropology department at Columbia was in disarray, so I had decided to do religion. In college, I’ll never forget when this programmer who lived on my floor got a software CD of the Linux operating system in the mail. He was so excited, and I was dumbfounded. The thing is, when Linux was first being developed, in the early 1990s, you had to download it from the Internet, probably with a dial-up connection. It took days to download and burn to floppies. Ordering a CD and plopping it into your system was huge time savings.

And then the programmer told me about copyleft, which refers to a class of free software licenses, such as the GNU General Public License. It’s built on copyright, but with an additional provision that basically disables the copyright so that software has a way of replicating itself. At the time, I was interested in patents in medicine and was following activists protesting patents on AIDS drugs. When I learned about copyleft, I was hooked. While there are some traditions that have managed to confound intellectual property law–like folk music and rap–what fascinated me about the open source movement, which at the time was only called free software, was that these people had created an alternate, parallel legal system.

Read the complete article at Fast Company.

Augmented reality gaining more notice as an educational tool

Given established and emerging trends around the world, it is becoming more apparent that society is growing more attuned to technology. Newer generations are coming into the world already immersed with various forms of technology, all of which are vying for their attention. As technology becomes more enthralling, the concept of education is changing. Many educators believe that by adopting technology they can provide students with a more fulfilling learning experience. As such, many have begun making use of augmented reality, which is quickly becoming a leader in the world of interactive technology.

Read more at qrcodepress.com

A Digital Revolution for Studying Human Anatomy

Medical informatics experts want to bring the digital revolution to studying human anatomy.

The BioDigital Human is a three-dimensional, fully interactive visualization program. While it won’t completely replace old-fashioned dissection, its users can explore a human body in ways not possible with a cadaver, much less a medical atlas.

With traditional anatomy atlases, “you’re at the mercy of what they’ve created for you. Here, you can manipulate it yourself,” said New York University anatomy instructor Victoria Harnik, who helped design the BioDigital Human.

Unlike cadavers, the digital body can be explored again and again. Real dissections are one-shot deals.

BioDigital tissues and organs are also labeled so users can see how they connect to other parts of the body. The zoomable, rotatable computer-animated human is also linked to educational resources, like MEDLINE, that have information about medical conditions associated with their object of interest.

Read the complete article at Wired.

Teaching technology: we need a digital revolution in the classroom

There’s an old saying in business: if you don’t know who the sucker in a room is, it’s probably you. A similar adage can be applied to technology: if you don’t know how to control the systems you’re using, these systems are probably controlling you. As John Naughton argues in his special report for this week’s New Review, Britain is in danger of producing a generation of technological suckers: people who know how to word process a letter, buy apps for their iPhones and to search in Google, but have no understanding of the inner workings of these services.

This is, above all, an issue of education and training. For more than a decade, the teaching of information technology in schools has focused on using software rather than understanding systems; and on treating computers more like magical boxes than tools to be programmed and critiqued. With the government’s recent decision to throw away this old syllabus and replace it with something better fit for 21st-century purpose, we have an opportunity to rectify a dangerous imbalance and set a new standard. It’s an opportunity we can ill afford to miss – and that touches on some of the most fundamental questions surrounding what role computer technologies can, and should, play in 21st-century life.

Understanding modern computing means far more than typing at a desktop machine or picking up mail on a smartphone. Whether we’re meeting friends, reading books, checking our bank balances or going shopping, computer systems increasingly mediate every aspect of our lives – and shape the ways in which we both see and are seen by the world. Opting out is no longer a serious option, while ignorance risks simply handing over control to those, from corporations to fellow citizens, who may not have our best interests at heart.

Read the complete article at The Guardian.