Robot Jellyfish Patrolling the Oceans

Robot Jellyfish Patrolling the Oceans
Apr 9, 2013
The Navy has commissioned a GIANT ROBOT JELLYFISH! It’s real. It works.
But that’s not all.
Anthony shows us this amazing machine in action and explains how it may soon help patrol our oceans.

Virginia Tech researchers unveil large robotic jellyfish that one day could patrol oceans
April 3, 2013


Education online: The virtual lab

Education online: The virtual lab
Confronted with the explosive popularity of online learning, researchers are seeking new ways to teach the practical skills of science.
M. Mitchell Waldrop
17 July 2013

But for many people working in education, MOOCs do not yet take the revolution far enough.
Online lectures by video are fine for conveying facts, formulas and concepts, but by themselves they cannot help anyone learn how to put those ideas into practice.
Nor can they give students experience in planning an experiment and analyzing data, participating in a team, operating a pipette or microscope, persevering in the face of setbacks or exercising any of the other practical and social skills* essential for success in science.
“You only understand something when you know how to do it,” says Chris Dede, who studies simulations for education at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
* see also:

immersive gaming software

problem-focused learning

Today, almost all the lab work is available online through the university’s OpenScience Laboratory.
Just like many working scientists, students can collect real data from remotely controlled instruments — among them a γ-ray spectrometer for identifying elements and isotopes, and a 0.43-metre telescope in Majorca, Spain.
Students can also explore real data with simulated instruments such as the virtual microscope, with which they look at high-resolution images instead of real specimens.
“They zoom in, adjust the focus and control where in the sample they’re looking,” says Sharples — just as they would on real instruments.

Schatz created Introductory Physics I with Laboratory, a MOOC that started in May and is devoted to the elementary science of motion. One of the first MOOCs to thoroughly integrate hands-on learning

The Open University is also exploring the educational uses of mobile devices. In 2008 it launched iSpot, in which people roaming outdoors can upload digital photographs of plants, birds, insects, fungi and other organisms, along with their best guess as to what they are.

Lab as video game Systems such as iSpot and Schatz’s MOOC are heavily influenced by the philosophy of ‘enquiry-based’ learning.
Unfortunately, he adds, “in any big, national-scale debate, these approaches always lose out”, in part because they are considered too expensive and time-consuming to use in a classroom.

These days, however, they are finding a natural venue in the multiuser virtual environments (MUVEs) pioneered by online games such as World of Warcraft.

A prime example is EcoMUVE, a course on ecosystems developed by Dede and his colleagues at Harvard.
Students form teams to spend two weeks exploring a virtual pond and its surroundings.

The EcoMUVE software has been tested with school students aged 11–13, who showed substantial gains in their understanding of concepts such as quantitative measurement, food webs and watersheds.

Some educators complain that enquiry-based learning lacks focus and instruction.
“If you just let kids interact by themselves in a game environment, they may have fun — but they won’t learn much about science,” says Art Graesser, a psychologist at the University of Memphis in Tennessee.
To address that, designers generally include some kind of digital or human mentor to keep students on task.

a system based on ‘trialogues’, in which a student interacts with two animated computer agents — a tutor and a student — that converse in natural language and adapt their behavior to the real student’s response.

One system that uses trialogues is Operation ARIES!, a game designed to teach critical thinking and scientific reasoning to secondary-school and university students. (Operation ARA, Pearson)

[Higher Education] The Future Is Now: 15 Innovations to Watch For

The Future Is Now: 15 Innovations to Watch For
The Chronicle of Higher Education. July 22, 2013
By Steven Mintz
Executive director of the University of Texas system’s Institute for Transformational Learning

1: e-Advising

2: Evidence-based pedagogy

3: The decline of the lone-eagle teaching approach

4: Optimized class time
At Stanford’s medical school, 70 percent of formal instruction now takes place online. This shift will become more general as Web-enhanced, blended classes become the norm.

5: Easier educational transitions

6: Fewer large lecture classes

7: New frontiers for e-learning

Student engagement in online learning will be encouraged by much higher levels of interaction through collaborative learning, as well as animations, educational gaming, immersive-learning environments, and hands-on simulations.

Distance learning will bolster a sense of community through social networking, team-based projects, and frequent student-student and student-instructor or -coach interaction.
Student assessments will be based on digital stories, collaborative Web sites, student-written annotated texts and encyclopedias, and multimedia projects like virtual tours.

8: Personalized adaptive learning

9: Increased competency-based and prior-learning credits

Pressure to accelerate the time needed to get a degree and to demonstrate greater accountability for student learning will encourage institutions to provide credit for learning that takes place outside the regular curriculum, whether from MOOCs or from “real world” experience.

10: Data-driven instruction

11: Aggressive pursuit of new revenue

We will see a proliferation of online-degree programs, virtual universities, and corporate training programs.
Today, most online programs serve an institution’s existing students, but over the next three years, a significantly higher number will pursue nonmatriculated students at all levels. This rush will result in bone-crushing competition, so only a few of these efforts will succeed.

12: Online and low-residency degrees at flagships

13: More certificates and badges

14: Free and open textbooks

15: Public-private partnerships

Success in online instruction requires a stack of support services, including strategic enrollment plans, marketing and academic support, and software, which most institutions can’t deliver on their own. Already, campuses that want to rapidly ramp up their online offerings have proved willing to trade 50 percent of tuition revenue for a decade in exchange for such services.

Online learning: Campus 2.0

Online learning: Campus 2.0
Massive open online courses are transforming higher education — and providing fodder for scientific research.
M. Mitchell Waldrop
13 March 2013

MOOCs: Internet-based teaching programmes designed to handle thousands of students simultaneously, in part using the tactics of social-networking websites.

MOOCs had exploded into the academic consciousness in summer 2011, when a free artificial-intelligence course offered by Stanford University in California attracted 160,000 students from around the world — 23,000 of whom finished it.

major universities around the world, as dozens — 74, at the last count — rush to sign up.

“In 25 years of observing higher education, I’ve never seen anything move this fast,” says Mitchell Stevens, a sociologist at Stanford and one of the leaders of an ongoing, campus-wide discussion series known as Education’s Digital Future.

The ferment is attributable in part to MOOCs hitting at exactly the right time.

could free faculty members from the drudgery of repetitive introductory lectures.*

*Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México’ “Ser más creativos” needs to update its first week videos as the net balance from teleworking is not positive for an organization anymore.
In order to replicate some of Google’s workplace innovation, Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer’ killed a popular work-from-home policy on February 2013.

What’s more, they can record online students’ every mouse click, an ability that promises to transform education research by generating data that could improve teaching in the future.

MOOC companies still face challenges, such as dealing with low course-completion rates** and
proving that they can make profit.

And they have a lot of convincing to do among faculty members, … “Others say, ‘Wait a minute. How do we preserve quality?
How do we connect with students?’”

MOOCs are largely a product of one corridor in the Stanford computer-science department

Koller particularly wanted to promote ‘flipping’, a decade-old innovation in which students listen to lectures at home and do their ‘homework’ in class with their teachers, focusing on the most difficult aspects or discussing a concept’s wider implications. This lets the instructors concentrate on the parts of teaching most of them enjoy — interacting with the students — and relieves them of the repetitive lecturing that they often dislike.
see also:

Koller also wanted to incorporate insights from the many studies showing that passively listening to a lecture is a terrible way to learn
(Levels of processing: A framework for memory research
F. I. M. Craik and R. S. Lockhart J.
Verb. Learn. Verb. Behav. 11, 671–684; 1972

The idea was to get them to think about what they had learned; the deeper their engagement, studies showed, the better their retention.

Hundreds of students might end up asking the same question.
So the developers implemented a real-time search algorithm that would display related questions and potential answers before a student could finish typing.
Ng and Koller also let students vote items up or down, much like on the link-sharing website Reddit, so that the most insightful questions would rise to the top rather than being lost in the chatter.

The two researchers even set the system up so that students could mark one another’s homework for essay questions, which computers can’t yet handle.

[Thrun] I thought it was a social responsibility to take it online

160,000 students … With those numbers, venture-capital funding quickly followed.

Thrun announced his company Udacity in January 2012.
Arguing that most professors don’t have a clue about how to exploit the online medium, he and his colleagues elected to develop their courses in-house

Ng and Koller announced Coursera in April 2012 … let them provide the content while Coursera provided the hosting and software platform.

It became edX in May 2012

the term MOOCs, which had been circulating quietly in educational circles since it was coined in 2008

270000_students_Udacityelectric-circuits MOOC in spring 2012 included an 81-year-old man,
a single mother with two children, and
a 15-year-old prodigy from Mongolia who got a perfect score on the final exam.
Udacity’s Introduction to Computer Science MOOC, currently its most popular, has enrolled more than 270,000 students.

takes a fair amount of thinking.” So does coming up with good, compelling questions to engage the students between the segments. …. “It takes many hours to produce one hour of quality video.”

**MOOCs’ dismal completion rates, which rarely rise above 15%.
Completion has been a problem for distance learning ever since the first correspondence courses in the nineteenth century

Only a small fraction of students have the drive and the perseverance to learn on their own, he says, and most people need help: “social support from their fellow students to help them keep going, and
intellectual support from their professors and fellow students to help them figure out the material”.
At the moment, says Dede, the MOOC companies’ peer-to-peer communication tools don’t do nearly enough to provide that kind of help.
“They’re just kind of hoping that people will figure out from the bottom up how to support each other,” he says.

The companies acknowledge that completion rates are a concern and that their platforms are still works in progress.
“My aspiration isn’t to reach the 1% of the world that is self-motivating,” says Thrun, “it’s to reach the other 99%.”
The companies are already working on enhanced social tools such as live video and text chat, for example.

they also see plenty of opportunities to make money using the ‘freemium’ model followed by Google

they are already working with accreditation agencies

In October 2012, for example, edX licensed a circuit-theory MOOC designed by Agarwal to San Jose State University in California, where it was used as the online component of a flipped classroom experience.
the San Jose course’s usual 40% failure rate fell to 9%.

When data from individual students are multiplied by tens or hundreds of thousands of students per course, they reach a scale big enough to launch a whole new field of learning informatics — “big-data science for education”, Pea calls it.

No one knows exactly where that restructuring might end up.

Major universities such as Stanford are taking the lead, “trying to integrate and embed digital learning into the fabric of the entire university” — and trying to master the new technology before it masters them.

“education is more than just knowledge”, says Dede.
“It’s abilities like leadership and collaboration, and traits like tenacity”, all of which are best learned face to face.
see also:

An unspoken irony weaves through almost every discussion about MOOCs: thanks to innovations such as flipping, online technology’s most profound effect on education may be to make human interaction more important than ever.
… But there is also no substitute for a conversation.”

eBook: “The Science of Education: Back to School”

The Science of Education: Back to School
September 17, 2012

Pell Grants, charter schools, home schooling, SATs, report cards, and yes, even permanent records.
The language of education is familiar to most everyone, but the science of education is much more elusive.
Educators, academics and scientists have struggled with issues like how to make learning approachable yet challenging, what to include in the curriculum and when, what the optimal class size is and so on.

In this collection Scientific American explores the many, many ways that learning is also a scientific process and offers the latest theories of teaching and learning.

Section 1, The Lesson Plan, begins with how children learn, including an eye-opening piece by Scientific American Editor Ingrid Wickelgren on how honing certain psychological skills not only enhances learning but helps kids fight frustration and ward off stress.

Section 2 focuses on the three Rs, including the relationship between math and language skills and effective methods to teach reading.

Section 3 offers insight into the special requirements of gifted children, while

sections 4 and 5 discuss the classroom itself, delving into class size and roles of teachers and parents. Finally, the book closes with an issue near and dear to Scientific American: the importance of improving science education. What is the best method to teach science? How do children think and acquire knowledge? What policy changes should be made at state and federal levels to improve the quality of education? Science in education is far more than a subject – it is an approach, an aid, and a resource. In this anthology, Scientific American has gathered some of its best reporting on the challenges, successes and the execution of a scientific approach to education. Together, they help construct a path for success for the next generation.


Is Conscientiousness Compatible with Creativity?

Is Conscientiousness Compatible with Creativity?

Creative people are both Conscientious and not Conscientious at the same time

August 26, 2011
by Scott Barry Kaufm an, Ph.D

When it comes to achievement, Conscientiousness is a great thing.
All else being equal, the person who has tenacity, persistence, stamina, and grit will be more successful then the person who is lazy and unmotivated.
Over 25 years of research supports this commonsense view: Conscientiousness is the most consistent and best predictor of both  job and academic performance.

Mapping Transversal/Non-Cognitive Skills in Education

Mapping Transversal/Non-Cognitive Skills in Education

“What are the most important skills a child today should be learning?”
When participants at UNESCO’s recent expert meeting on the future of education were asked this question, responses included
critical thinking,
core values and
But when we look to school curriculum, are these “skills” really being encouraged effectively?
How can we define these skills and how can they be measured, if they are measurable?


Resilience for medical leaders

Resilience in late bloomers


The most powerful form of time travel is memory

‘Looper’ Director: Memory A Form Of Time Travel    
September 30, 2012

Time travel is a notoriously tricky plot to work with.
Johnson says he looked back at classic time travel movies like 12 Monkeys and Back to the Future, and was reassured to find things even there that didn’t make sense.
“But the magic trick of those movies is, it constructs this story where it really is like a magician with a deck of cards,” he says.
It fools you into believing it makes sense for two hours, so that you can go along on this ride.”

“I think the most powerful form of time travel is memory,” he says. “Every day … we’ll kind of go off in our heads and revisit moments in our lives, and wish that we had done them differently.”
And time travel stories can also be a warning, “the same way that Frankenstein stories are kind of a cautionary tale, sort of a ‘yes, you think you want that, but it actually wouldn’t help, it would actually make things worse’ … you think you want to revisit the past, but in reality you should just be living in the present.”

‘Looper’: Time-Travel Nonsense, Winningly Played
by David Edelstein
September 27, 2012

I adore time-travel pictures like Looper no matter how idiotic, especially when they feature a Love That Transcends Time.
I love Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, The Time Traveler’s Wife, even The Lake House with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in different years sending letters through a magic mailbox.
So terrible. So good.
See, everyone wants to correct mistakes in hindsight, and it’s the one thing we cannot do.
Except vicariously, in movies.

Oddly, though, it took me a while to warm up to Looper, an unusually arty time-travel thriller that evokes bits and pieces of 12 Monkeys, The Terminator and Blade Runner — good models, but not when they’re blended so haphazardly.

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