Reconceptualizing Enrollment, Curriculum, Assessment, and Participation for MOOCs

Submitted by Ching-Fu Lan on Tue, 04/22/2014 - 1:42pm.
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I recently reviewed a great research paper from Educational Researcher about learning activities in MOOCs for New Learning Times. The authors present great observations about the incompatibility between traditional educational variables and the MOOCs learning context. I think it is worth an earlier preview here on the blog as we continue conceptualizing a new learning platform and novice learning experiences online:

Reconceptualizing Enrollment:
Unlike conventional college course registrants who meet certain preconditions (admitted college students) and express informed commitment (e.g. tuition) at course registration, registrants of MOOCs come from various backgrounds with different reasons for course enrollment. They also have various levels of commitment for coursework. Thus, the common criticism of low course completion rate in MOOCs seems to miss the target. For instance, considering only those users who attempted at least one homework problem, posted at least once in the discussion forum, and clicked on at least one video, the completion rate with a certificate rises to 48% in a 2012 MIT MOOC.


Blurred Lines: Is Coding Closer to Math or Language Learning?

Submitted by Brian Sweeting on Tue, 04/22/2014 - 10:30am.
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Whether or not coding is categorized as a math skill or a foreign language could determine how it is incorporated in curriculum (e.g. math classes in Alabama, foreign language classes in Kentucky, and every class in Massachusetts)

Authors of a study being presented at the International Conference on Software Engineering imaged a programmer's brain through fMRI scans and found that coding exercises (reading, not writing) activated neurons in the brain that fire during language learning.

I've never learned a programming language, but developers: would you consider learning new code to be like learning a new language or math?


The Neuroscience of Cognitive Flexibility

Submitted by Brian Sweeting on Mon, 04/21/2014 - 5:59pm.
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This afternoon Vincent Ferrera, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry here at Columbia, delivered a lecture on Flexible decision-making in prefrontal cortex and dorsal striatum as part of the
Neuroscience Lecture Series.

His research on cognitive flexibility (the ability to adapt behavior to changing circumstances) identified neurons that respond to different decision-making speeds. While running experiments to confirm that rhesus monkeys can adjust their behavior to follow rules in different contexts, he analyzed the neural activity happening during the decision making process. The neurons that responded differently to visual stimuli in experiments are important because they are associated with classification learning and feedback processing.


Disrupting Disruption: Disrupt Magazine

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Mon, 04/21/2014 - 2:16pm.
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I discovered Disrupt Magazine, a digital *magazine, movement and media platform founded by, Houdan Ibrahim, via Twitter and the auto-generated message I received via email alerting that they were now a follower. However, I usually ignore these messages (usually), what stood out for me and caused me to dig deeper is their @DISRUPT_MGZN description:

DISRUPT Magazine
The Freshest and Most Provocative Magazine in Social Innovation. Creatively Destroying Ideas That Don't Serve Humanity. Issue 02 is out now.

Moving further along, their site, while overly stark in black and white contrast, has a really interesting mix of text, video and commercial resources. Also, their "About" description (excerpted below), is intriguing and hard to ignore:

Merge intellectual rigor, passion to lay the foundations for a 21st century enlightenment with attention to aesthetic and you get Disrupt Magazine. We are an army of visionaries.We are in the business of breaking things and breaking systems. We believe in doing so through entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.


Recruiting Middle Schoolers for Collegiate Sports

Submitted by Malik Muftau on Sun, 04/20/2014 - 11:17pm.
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Recruiting athletes for college teams is a very tedious but beneficial process for many colleges. Colleges try to recruit players for their sports programs from mostly youth and high school teams. This article highlights the story of a young female soccer player who went through the recruiting process. Prior to the start of her high school career, Haley was been treated as though she was waiting to start her first year in college. She received a lot of letters from several colleges who were interested in recruiting her for college.

It might be against the rules of the NCAA to recruit players at the ages 13-14, but most schools still recruit middle schoolers who have potentials of playing sports in college. For this young female athlete, it was a great experience to have all these offers even before she kicked a ball in high school. However, there is the concern of whether she was ready to make any commitment to a single college while she was just about to begin her first year of high school.


Education in Haiti

Submitted by Bismark Appiah on Sat, 04/19/2014 - 11:57pm.
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In 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. The impact of the earthquake was so severe that people live in tents and didn’t have access to basic things that we sometimes need to survive. Basically, the earthquake destroyed everything. Before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the poorest countries on earth. The earthquake exacerbated Haiti’s problems. Today, efforts have been made by the UN and other nations to help rebuild Haiti.

The Vialogues below describe efforts to rebuild the education system in Haiti. So far, the government claims that it has managed to put one million children in school. Children in Haiti now have the opportunity to an education and become better people in the future. However, most of the schools in Haiti are run by the private sector. This is something parents will be worried about because I believe government schools are most of the times less expensive than private schools. Nonetheless, the important thing is children are not roaming the streets but are in classrooms. Hopefully this is only the start of positive news for all aspects of life in Haiti.


EdLab Presentation at SkillShare 2014

Submitted by Hui Soo Chae on Fri, 04/18/2014 - 6:51pm.
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Laura and I just presented at SkillShare 2014. SkillShare is an annual event held at the Pratt School of Information and Library Science to highlight the newest ideas in Special Libraries, and provide a chance for all Pratt SILS students to learn and network.

Here were the panels:

- Know What’s Around You: Competitive Intelligence and the Information Professional

- Digital Archive Interface Design/UX with Digital Archives

- The Librarian and the Start-Up

- Leadership and Career Development for the New Information Age

Laura and I were on the Librarian and the Start-Up panel.

Thanks for Alex Provo for setting this up.



Submitted by Carmen James on Fri, 04/18/2014 - 3:29pm.
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Hi everyone,

April is national poetry month and is, for me, a very exciting time of year. I have always (starting as early a I could write) aspired to be a poet and studied poetry as an undergraduate. While I do think poetry should be read all year around, I love this month because it is when everyone celebrates poetry.

I came across a very exciting new way to continue my love for poetry (which I have admittedly lost touch with). Harvard's EdX has a great new course called The Art of Poetry (From the Art of Poetry).

"Overheard," as posted EdX's newsletter by that name, include the following comments:

To read poetry is to sign on to read the same poems again and again and again over a lifetime.
—Professor Elisa New

A poem not only engenders dialogue between two people, allowing each person to bring his or her wisdom to its music, but also engages the reader in a conversation.


Visiting SUNY Canton

Submitted by Sarpong Adjei on Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:16am.
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I am coming to the end of my life in high school. In retrospect, I am very proud of the many things I was able to accomplish. I started high school soon as I arrived from Ghana and took me quite a long time to become acclimated to life in high school, and America. Overall, high school has been a bittersweet experience and it has prepared me well for the personal, social and educational challenges that surely awaits in college.

I am still deciding which college to attend for the fall. Fortunately, I am being recruited to play collegiate soccer by several public and private institutions. One of these schools, SUNY Canton, recently invited me for a visit. I stayed on campus for three days so I was able to feel a little bit of the college experience. The visit was very much an eye opener in so many ways. Almost immediately upon arrival, I felt a connection with everyone and everything at the school. I was able to meet members of the student body and some faculty members, who presented some of their research. I was also able to train with the men's soccer team. The diversity of the student body and faculty was evident and that appealed to me a lot. Overall, members of the SUNY Canton community were welcoming and it is a school I am seriously considering. I am visiting several other schools in the coming weeks and hope to make a decision soon.


Americans Predict the Future

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Thu, 04/17/2014 - 10:43am.
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(Sortie de l'opera en l'an 2000Albert Robida [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, circa 1882)

Pew Research (Internet Project) recently released a fascinating study focused on American's views of future tech advances. Although technology and scientific innovation are overwhelmingly viewed as potentially positively impacting future life, Americans still have doubts about certain advances (designer babies, drones etc.). Interestingly, education and learning are not mentioned. Will "learning" be so ubiquitous as to make traditional learning obsolete? Will the brain implants predicted become an augmented learning device? Only time will tell. Most surprising to me is the negative view of wearable devices (& implants) that provide constant "information about the world around them." Not surprising, if you are keeping abreast of the disturbing "upskirt" debacle, but women are the most skeptical of these devices.

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