Keep it Simple (Not) Stupid

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Thu, 10/02/2014 - 11:25am.
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I came across this Entrepreneur article from 2013 and was struck by the applications to our work both promoting and creating content for Written by an ex journalist turned marketer, the piece is full of sage promotional and content advice all honing-in on the ethos of, "keep it simple, not stupid." The author also makes a clear case for creating content for a narrow niche of readers/users/buyers and being sure to "speak" these consumers "language."

Key excerpt from the piece:

A favorite adage of my college journalism professor was this: "Assume the reader knows nothing, but don't assume the reader is stupid." In other words, deconstruct the complex to make it easily understood, but don't dumb it down. In my years since school, I've realized the wisdom of that approach applies not just to journalism, but to business and marketing, too.

I would love to learn your thoughts on this piece!


Years Students Attend School

Submitted by Bismark Appiah on Wed, 10/01/2014 - 10:43pm.
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I came across this article that I want to share. I know this is something that many people have not thought about. However, I believe it to be something worth discussing. Do you know the amount of years a student is expected to spend in school, from the primary school level until tertiary, or post-high school level? The article highlights the number of years students around the world spend in school. For instance, students in Pakistan and Ethiopia can expect to spend less than 10 years in school. However, students in Australia and New Zealand can expect to spend nearly 20 years in school. Thus, can we conclude that students who spend more years in school are more successful than those who spend fewer years in school? Please feel free to share your thoughts.


EdLab Seminar: OpenSchool ePortfolio, 10.01.14

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Wed, 10/01/2014 - 10:07am.
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Add your thoughts to the vialogue below. Link to the original even blog post is in the vialogue description.


Adaptive Learning Project Uses Video Games in the Classroom

Submitted by Xiang Liu on Wed, 10/01/2014 - 9:57am.
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This paper talks about using computer games to measure students for adaptive instruction purpose.

The idea is actually very straightforward. Through interaction with video games, students are asked to make a series of choices related to sciences. The researcher then used the captured data to train the Neural Network. Once enough data have been collected, the students' behavior patterns are essentially captured. It is at this stage that instructors can test different instructional models to "students" (simulated here). Without even implementing the instructional model in classroom settings, instructors are now able to gain knowledge on how students will react to different instructional models. Thus, they can choose the model that has the highest probability of success.

The effectiveness of this will heavily depend on the quality of the test items (multiple choice questions embedded in video games). If psychometric property of the items is good enough, we can very accurately measure/model students.


Urbanization Issues

Submitted by Ahmed Bagigah on Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:26am.
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Cities across the world are becoming increasingly difficult to define due to different cultural, social, and economic factors. Different cities have their unique features that make them different from one another. However, cities around the world face urbanization issues that affect its residents. Growing poverty, homelessness, and pollution, among others, impacts cities. The challenges in a city are enormous. New York City is no exception to this and its battle to stop homelessness was addressed in this NYT editorial.

Urbanization issues have increased significantly as cities expand. Urbanization is not just the physical, but also the social and economic structure. The increase in population by migrants from rural areas and other countries has contributed to overpopulation in many urban centers. Population increase causes traffic congestion and housing problems. As population grows in cities, the demand for clean water and food also increase. Sometimes the local authority cannot supply enough clean water and food to match the demands due to high population. The main problem with urbanization is unsustainable development. In developing countries, high population always need more supply. It is always a difficult task to keep up with energy, food, housing, sanitation and transportation.


Teaching Kids Programming With a Robot

Submitted by Xiang Liu on Mon, 09/29/2014 - 9:51am.
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This NY Times article is a very cool idea. The little blue robot can be programmed by kids through a tablet or smartphone. Per creators, the interface and procedures to program this robot is appropriate for children around five years old.

I agree with the creators that teaching kids programming at a young age is very important, especially for the development of mathematical thinking. Some mathematical concepts (like logic operation, sequencing, looping, etc) cannot be easily understood by kids most of the time. Programming a robot would be a perfect way for them to learn these concepts.

The article also mentioned that computer programming is part of the first grade curriculum in Estonia. I was shocked by this fact. The K-12 Math and Science education kids receive in this country is lagging behind in many areas compared to their international peers.


Palestinian Education

Submitted by Bismark Appiah on Sun, 09/28/2014 - 7:17pm.
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It appears that Palestine has emulated some aspects of K-12 education in the United States. In the Palestinian Territories and Jordan, students must take the General Secondary Certificate Examination (GSCE) in order to be on track for higher education. This exam is similar to SAT, but slightly bigger. It is common for communities in Palestinian territories and Jordan to host parties, fireworks, and gifts to illustrate the importance of this exam. However, due to the crisis in Gaza, students have been reluctant to celebrate their achievement in passing the exam.

The crisis in Gaza has inflicted a lot of pain and shattered a lot of students’ dream. For instance, over 200 students have died in the ongoing crisis, mostly killed by Israeli airstrikes. Among those are 18 students from Gaza. These students didn’t have the opportunity to receive their scores. I think this is sad because to work hard for many years to achieve your goal, and as you’re about to take the final hurdle. you lose your life. This adds to a long list of reasons why Palestinian children continue to struggle to receive a decent education. To add to the crisis, Palestinian students who earn scholarships or admission to study abroad are barred from traveling outside of Gaza. You can learn more about their plight here.


Learning Outcomes and Assessment

Submitted by Xiang Liu on Fri, 09/26/2014 - 9:44am.
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This article talks about measuring learning outcomes in MOOC settings. It does have some good points. They pointed out that current peer grading is like producing teacher clones which might not be the best approach. It is problematic that we ask peers to rate each other like a teacher would. I was thinking that instead of giving peers holistic scores, learners would simply extract features that would be helpful to predict or classify learning outcomes. It is pretty funny they mentioned "teachers grade students in the way the USDA grades beef." The image is just hilarious.


Gaming and Education

Submitted by Khalil Abubakar on Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:14am.
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The White House recently invited teachers, game developers and policy makers to witness gaming softwares that might play a part in how we educate children in the future. At the event, some of the biggest game developers presented games they created in 48 hours to teachers and selected students. The event was deemed a success. President Obama has preached for continuous investment on educational gaming. Studies have shown there is a 12 percent increase in learning outcomes when students engage in gaming. I think gaming is a great concept to incorporate into class activities. However, it might not produce the desired educational outcomes due to the makeup of schools and lack of instructional time for educators.

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