02

Student Brainwashing Proves Effective

Here’s a slightly modified/mockified version of a recent Chronicle article. Some deletions. My additions in italics. College students were given the chance to ditch a traditional classroom for an online virtual world. Fourteen out of fifteen declined. The fifteenth student was required to return to K12 education to have the rest of the curiosity and spirit beaten out of her. “We’ve taken great steps to make sure all that spirit is gone by 12th grade.” Lamented Ms. Demeanor, a local principal. “I don’t know what could have happened. We failed her. There’s nothing else I can say.” When Catheryn Cheal, assistant vice president of e-learning and instructional support at Oakland University, was designing a course on learning in virtual worlds, she thought the best way to research the topic would be to immerse her class into one such world. Her thought was that the “motivating factors identified in games, such as challenge, curiosity, control, and identity presentation” would help the course along. “Of course she wasn’t thinking,” writes Ms. Demeanor. “How could they adapt to such an environment when we’ve spent so many painstaking years doing just the opposite? Where were the tests? Where were the lectures? She could have killed them.” While the interactive style could be fun, Ms. Cheal’s students worried they were having too much fun. Students […]

05

The Future of Search

It has been interesting to see the excitement surrounding WolframAlpha . The new “Computational Knowledge Engine” called Wolfram|Alpha has gone through a full media cycle before it has even been unleashed on the world. It has been hyped as a “Google Killer” and denounced as snake oil, and we’re still at least a few days from release. The simple goal behind the engine is to connect searchers with precise information. Wolfram|Alpha’s search magic comes through a combination of natural language processing and a giant pool of curated data. That quote is from Radio Berkman (which is a very interesting podcast out of Harvard Law) and they’ve got an interview with the creator as well. Watch the abbreviated 10 minute version below. I’m not sure how well the idea of a curated semantic web will work (although I can understand that urge). This does really show a different way to think about searching for information. It really takes it beyond search, making it closer to exploration maybe. It’s similar in some ways to one of David Huynh’s Parallax project (of Simile Exhibit fame) which has been out for quite a while now. Video of that is below. Freebase Parallax: A new way to browse and explore data from David Huynh on Vimeo. While the media may be portraying Google as being […]

03

Even a Duck’s Quack Echos: The Danger of Networks

Ok, so that wasn’t the original TED title but I like mine better (it’ll make sense if you’ve ever gotten one of those “amazing fact” emails). This is an old TED video from way back in 2005 but this one portion really hits home with me. I started to transcribe the notes and then got lazy- so my non exact notes are below and the video clip is embedded. I trimmed it to 3:30 but the whole thing is interesting, especially when looking back at 2005 and thinking how much more enmeshed in networks we have become and how much print journalism has continued to change. duck echos Rough notes for those who will never watch the video It’s easy to believe networks are good. The dark side, the more tightly linked we become the harder it is to stay independent. A network is not just a product of its component parts, it is something more than that. The problem is that groups are only smart when the people in them are as independent as possible- paradox of collective intelligence. Networks make it harder for people to think independently because they drive attention to the things the network values. one of the phenomenons – meme gets going it’s easy to pile on, that piling on phenomenon, that essentially throws off […]

27

Two Bits From NPR This Morning

Apparently old news1 but The world’s data centers are projected to surpass the airline industry as a greenhouse gas polluter by 2020, according to a new study by McKinsey & Co. link to original article It makes an interesting point on how things have changed and was part of a story on why data centers ought to move to Iceland2 The other interesting quote was from Tim Geithner – just replace “capital” with “intellectual capital” or “self-directed learning.” In the same way he’s saying we need banks etc. to be prepared for an uncertain future- to have the capital in reserve to handle the unexpected, we’ve got to have people who have the intellectual capital to change and learn as they have to handle increasing changes and complexity in our world. geihtner-quote-on-capital 1 Article is from May 1, 2008 2 Cool temperatures and cheap, carbon-free electricity – I wonder if those types of geographical moves won’t start to happen.

A Future Intro

I made this so we could talk to our staff about the TIP Chart (our technology integration progress rubric- which is pretty good). It’d work well for parents as well. It’s pretty interactive and fun in the beginning with a number of pretty funny questions mocking our ability to predict the future. The intro slide sets the tone. I basically say “Where is my jet pack?” Then I try to get people talking about what they expected to have in the “future” that hasn’t materialized. I then pose this question and then invite guesses from the audience as to why this eminent scientist believed high speed train travel would be impossible. After a while I show them the answer. The key is that it gets people engaged at the beginning and it’s pretty funny- yet it is amazing how quickly things change. The presentation then segues into what’s going on now. Since we can’t predict the future very well, we might as well show the “futuristic” things going on now. I showed brief selections from a few TED videos that I thought were cool and relevant to the topic. We hit parts of – Do schools kill creativity? Hans Rosling on poverty – both to touch on globalization and to show how the data is presented Will Wright’s Spore It’d […]