Trends in Ed, 11.03.2010: The melting pot

Submitted by Angela Lee on Wed, 11/03/2010 - 11:32am.
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One of the best learning experiences in my life was a trip I took in high school. It was a trip the international students learning English as a second language organized.

Ten students and two faculty members organized the trip at the lowest budget possible ($1500) and through international hostels with interesting characters telling their life stories on half broken down mini vans, Amtrak, Greyhound buses and on airplanes. We traveled from Massachusetts down to New York, DC, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and back up to the four Corners (Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico), then Nevada and finally the infamous LA, before flying back to Massachusetts. Throughout the trip, I was educated on more things than the English language. I learned not only about America’s rich history on civil rights, Native Americans, Southern culture, Jazz, and European influences, but also experienced some of the most beautiful natural scenery such as the Grand Canyon, Navajo nation, and the California redwood forests. I really understood why America has the nickname “the melting pot” after the trip and the experience is the most precious, enjoyable, and effective education.


Email's Dark Side

Submitted by Megha Agarwala on Wed, 11/03/2010 - 11:32am.
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This article comes from the results of 10 psychology studies which apparently reveal the "dark side" of email.

I found these facts particularly intriguing:

1) 59% people check email from the bathroom.
2) Most people check their email every five minutes.
3) On average, people spend 23% of their working day dealing with email.
3) It takes 64 seconds to recover from one's train of thought after an email interruption.
Interestingly, it has also been found that people spend an average of only three minutes on each task before they switch to another. Given this, it is difficult to see how anyone can achieve the psychological state of 'flow' necessary for complex tasks.
4) People lie more over email and feel that lying is justified.

The practical up shots of this research? Well, check your email less, remember the costs of task-switching and keep your email succinct.


Elections - Data Visualization using Tweets

Submitted by Pranay Dharmale on Tue, 11/02/2010 - 10:24pm.
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I came across this data visualization of the elections based on the tweets and re-tweets in the particular areas. Check it out.


Keyboard for mobile devices

Submitted by Pranay Dharmale on Tue, 11/02/2010 - 2:41am.
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8pen is a keyboard design specifically for small devices. Take a look -


Progress of the Nationwide School Food Reform

Submitted by Duncan Asiedu on Mon, 11/01/2010 - 7:31pm.
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There has been a recent surge in the movement to reduce obesity and reform the American food system so only healthy foods make it to our tables and menus. There have been well documented books such as Fast Food Nation and documentaries, most notably Super Size Me, that depict the consequences of obesity and how it is plaguing our nation. Most restaurants are now required to list the amount of calories each food has and there has been a mandatory regulation on the amount of trans-fat certain foods can have. This movement has trickled down to the school cafeteria.

American schools are now engraved in the thought that the food they offer must solely be healthy and suitable for a student’s well being. As a result it often lacks approval from students that consume it who claim it‘s a bit too healthy while others go as far as to calling it mediocre. This makes one wonder whether if this full-scale reform is actually working as planned. From my observation (since there are currently no long term study on the results of the reform), students are finding ways to “beat the system,’ by bringing in their own lunches or taking part in an underground soda and snack selling business. These activities have risen drastically, especially in New York City due to the recent food regulations enforced on the public school system. There are no longer bake sales allowed and vending machines that sell sugary substances are banned. On the broader note Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper have pledged to eliminate their full calorie drinks from schools and unfamiliar, unknown low calorie or organic drinks are their replacements. This action, as you can imagine, doesn’t sit well with students and is one of the reasons why they are finding alternatives ways to still get their hands on those snacks they crave in schools.


Trends in Ed 11.01.2010: Midterm Elections and its Implications on Education

Submitted by George Nantwi on Mon, 11/01/2010 - 4:59pm.
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On the eve of a highly contested and bitter election season, it is worth noting few, if any of the contesting politicians, have made education one of the priorities of their campaign. With the health of our economy chief among voter concerns followed by national security in the wake of new threats, education has been essentially relegated to the bottom of the list. Considering the recent buzz surrounding the educational reform documentary “Superman,” school bullying and controversy surrounding for profit colleges, one can argue education should be among one the major issues this election cycle.

With Republicans presumably set to gain the majority in one or both chambers of Congress, we could be left with a lame duck Congress for the rest of the year until a new and very different looking Congress reconvenes in January, a move that is bound to have some sort of effect on education, especially the financing of many of President Obama’s educational goals such as the Race to the Top. A lame duck session is when Congress convenes a sessions following elections in even numbered years in November. Since there is always a turnover in membership, those lawmakers sitting in these sessions are considered lame duck since they wont participate in the next Congress the following January.


Open Bookmarks

Submitted by Patrick Carey on Thu, 10/28/2010 - 4:03pm.
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I came across Open Bookmarks via its creator James Bridle. The project aims to create a standard format for sharing reader information from e-books. The wiki outlines some sparse uses cases, as well as discussing the project in greater detail. I can think of a few applications where readers could share research or citations from e-books and e-journals.


Trends in Ed, 10.27.2010: The Future Classroom

Submitted by Angela Lee on Wed, 10/27/2010 - 5:02pm.
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Continuing from my last Trends in Ed post, I found this article about future classrooms very interesting. Below are some of the key points of the article:

* Classrooms will be “workstations”.
* Micro-robots (Roboteach) will help students with advice and resources.
* Students will still discuss projects face-to-face.
* Classrooms will be re-designed, teachers trained and managements ready to revolutionize school practices.

The article further led me to think about workspace – especially here at the EdLab. The lab is filled with creativity and positive energy, but our space and is a little cluttered by old book shelves and some outdated equipments. Maybe creating a workspace that really represents what EdLab is about can be our next project?


Google TV Giveaway for Web Developers

Submitted by Gonzalo Obelleiro on Wed, 10/27/2010 - 2:39pm.
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Google is giving away 10,000 GoogleTVs to web developers. We should request one!



If You Can Type - You Can Make Movies

Submitted by Gary Natriello on Wed, 10/27/2010 - 8:01am.
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Check out Extranormal, a site that allows you to create video animations with relative ease. I would be interested in ideas for using this in some of our EdLab projects.

If you are feeling particularly brave, check out the the Chronicle viral video page where you will find "So You Want to Get a Ph.D. in the Humanities."

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