Watson Session

Submitted by Pranav Garg on Tue, 03/29/2011 - 2:16pm.
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Live blog of Watson session.


Trends in Ed: Charter School Politics

Submitted by Skanda Amarnath on Tue, 03/29/2011 - 1:27pm.
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The New York Times has been reporting on the controversy over the placement of Castle Bridge, a charter school that was to be up and running in Washington Heights until the rights to the given location were given to KIPP.

What seems apparent in all of this is that charter school chains like KIPP have more political muscle than progressive schools like Castle Bridge. I have to think that even if Castle Bridge manages to pull this one out against KIPP, the trend towards more test-prep oriented schools like KIPP will lead to the crowding out of progressive schools like the one Zuckerman wishes to run unless some wealthy philanthropists start taking up the cause of progressive education.


Project Proposal: Better Integration of Math in Games

Submitted by Skanda Amarnath on Tue, 03/29/2011 - 10:50am.
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As you can see, I tend to take a lot of inspiration out of TED Talks (except for that Ken Robinson one). While there are many themes in her talk, many of which are controversial, I want to focus on her analysis of educational computer games. Too often they are precisely flashcard games slapped onto some "game" context. Think back to what Ryan Baker presented at the EdLab seminar; when the questions posed are formulaic word problems, students try to game the system. But when students are given a lot of context and background, the students are more likely to work through the problem without gaming the system. Simply put, there needs to be more emphasis on developing context and background for the learner. Only then will enough learners have a real incentive to engage with the given concepts that underlie the problem or application.


Project Proposal: Using Computer Science to Teach Math

Submitted by Skanda Amarnath on Tue, 03/29/2011 - 10:07am.
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As Conrad Wolfram points out, we spend way too much time teaching students how to learn how to calculate math through various tricks and procedures without ever allowing students to engage with the logic and reasoning that underlies them. Wolfram really appears to be onto something when he states that math is a four-step process: 1.) Posing the Right Question, 2.) Formulating from the real world to a mathematical expression, 3.) Computation, and 4.) Determining whether the mathematical conclusion is verified or verifies what occurs in the real world. Already math begins to look more interesting than what is often taught in schools (primarily 2 and 3).

Another key point in this TEDTalk is on the value of programming. As someone who has very limited programming skills, I always wish I had more time in high school to take a computer science class. For me at least, computer science serves as a way of formalizing mathematical algorithms and procedures. There has been a trend in math education to require students to describe process. The don't-just-tell-me-the-answer-tell-me-how-you-got-there attitude has made its way into everything from state-level standardized tests to the Advanced Placement Exams. I have no problem with this attitude but it strikes me that if English were the best way to describe mathematics, this would be more prevalent than actually so in the professional world. Yet it is computer science that often serves as the framework for accomplishing quantitative processes in the real world.


Web into video production

Submitted by Ankit Ranka on Mon, 03/28/2011 - 10:52pm.
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I recently came across this HTML5 Video Framework.

It allows you to embed maps, Twitter feeds and other resources at certain points in the video. They have a fascinating demo video on the home page. I think this has a lot of potential in terms of making videos more understandable and as they say, this helps video and the web play nicely together.


Trends in Ed: Teacher Use of Social Networking

Submitted by George Nantwi on Mon, 03/28/2011 - 4:29pm.
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Virginia’s Board of Education is among one of the first around the nation considering measures to curtail how students and teachers interact on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The states’ concern comes mainly from a need to prevent social networking interactions between teacher and student from developing into one that puts the students at risk of a potential sexual predator. The considered measures come as a result of a recent molestation scandal between a student and teacher.

Though the state’s Board of Ed didn’t pass any sweeping measures, it did recommend that school boards and districts take the lead in properly establishing the circumstances under which students and teachers may interact on social networking sites. This comes on the heels of an earlier set of rules, which was met with strong resistance from certain teachers and school officials. Thus, the battle lines for this fight are already drawn. Virginia legislators have noted the educational potential of social networking but their primary motive is to ensure the safety of the state’s students from online predators.


An Online Degree At A Fraction Of The Cost: The WGU Model

Submitted by Frank Webster on Mon, 03/28/2011 - 11:47am.
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This article in Bloomberg Businessweek describes the highly-successful Western Governors University (WGU) affordable alternative to state colleges and for-profit online universities geared toward older students.

Online Education, With a Low-Cost Twist

Tuition is one-half to one-third of typical for-profit program.

The average age of students is 36 and rural, first-generation, low-income, and minority students make up the majority of the school's population.

  • No full time faculty with tenure and benefits.
  • Mentors by phone and e-mail.
  • Tuition-driven non-profit pricing model.
  • No lectures or required class attendance.
  • Student assessment based on performance on online tests, projects, and assignments.


Next Version of Vialogues out!!

Submitted by Pranav Garg on Sun, 03/27/2011 - 2:29pm.
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The Vialogues team is proud to announce the release of an updated Vialogues site with new features and many bug fixes.

Included in this release are:
- Inbuilt Login and Signup: So no more going to a separate screen for logging in and signing out of Vialogues.

- Much needed user interface improvements with new graphics for header, footer with better then before manage page for Vialogues.

- Vialogues would now maintain the aspect ratio in which the Vialogues was uploaded.

We're looking forward to people using these and other features in a variety of educational/commerical settings. Thanks to the entire Vialogues team in getting this release out: Yana, Gonzalo, Josh, Patrick, Faisal, Stephen, Yudan, Megha, Joann, Hui Soo, Zhou, Angela and others.

Enjoy and keep the feedback coming!


India Business Conference organized by Columbia Business School

Submitted by Pranav Garg on Fri, 03/25/2011 - 2:53pm.
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Columbia Business School is organizing a conference on India Business.
They are inviting renowned people from various sectors like pharmaceutical, finance, and NGOs, among others.

I feel it would be a wonderful opportunity to network and promote products we are making at the EdLab so that we can still keep the private sector marketing open for us.

Here is the link to register for the conference.

Friday April 1 from 8:30AM to 5:30PM
Alfred Lerner Hall,
Columbia University
2960 Broadway,
New York, NY 10027

Please let me know if you are interested in going to the conference so we can register together this coming Monday.


Trends in Ed: Female Ph.D's in STEM; MIT

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Fri, 03/25/2011 - 12:16pm.
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Earlier this week the New York Times reported on a recently released study carried out by M.I.T., chronicling the successes (and failures) of a twelve-year attempt to increase female faculty representation. After a report in 1999 detailing the disparity between male and female representation and achievement among the M.I.T. faculty, they committed themselves to a process that has now resulted in nearly a doubling of female faculty in science and engineering.

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