The Effect of Ebola on Education

Submitted by Bismark Appiah on Wed, 10/15/2014 - 9:52pm.
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The outbreak of the Ebola virus has led to worldwide concerns about its spreading and eventually becoming an epidemic. The quest to find a remedy to stop the spread is of urgency in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the two countries most affected by the virus. For instance, the virus has killed 2,200 Liberian citizens. Apart from the death toll and those hospitalized, the virus has had a major impact on education, especially in Liberia. Public and private schools have been closed as a result of the outbreak. As a result, an estimated 1.4 million school-aged children have no access to education.

The most important thing for now is to find any means to educate school-aged children in Liberia. The education sector in Liberia is slowly recovering from the effects of the decades long civil war. The Ebola outbreak threatens to stop any progress or momentum that has been made over the past few years. Students cannot simply sit home until a cure is found. There is no timeline for when that will happen.


How Technology is Facilitating (and Not Overtaking) Learning

Submitted by Joann Agnitti on Wed, 10/15/2014 - 5:27pm.
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Cyborg learning isn’t as sexy as it sounds.

It’s not this:

Or this:

It’s more like this:

Yesterday, Brian and I had the opportunity to attend Dr. Reed Stevens’s talk, Cyborg Learning: How our Mobile and Networked Lives are Transforming Learning and Education.

He defines cyborg learning as such: people learning a practice of any kind WITH devices or tools, in which the devices and the humans are both constitutive of the practice [emphasis his].

Dr. Stevens studies learning that occurs outside of the classroom; he sees only a slight overlap between school and learning. He noted a shift in our relationship with digital companions (and their pervasiveness), referencing Siri, Google Glass, and the quantified self. In fact, the main questions that structured the lecture were: 1) What directions will companion tech take in our near future lives? and 2) What do these directions mean for learning education?

If you have ever been afraid of losing your job to a machine, you may or may not be consoled by this next part. When it comes to knowing who is replaceable, the issue is not in assessing mental vs. manual tasks, but the routine vs. nonroutine. So, for example, stock analysts and parole board members are in trouble. In contrast, cooks and gardeners have nothing to worry about.

So, how does this relate to how we learn? I’m getting there.

Dr. Stevens, through his ethnographic studies, has identified the following categories of teen usage of digital media:

1. Inter-generational making and building

  • Parents are interacting with their kids around media. The generation divide with media that you hear in papers is largely unfounded.

  • Examples: Watching cooking how-to videos on YouTube together, finding lego blueprints online

2. Collaborative play in virtual worlds (e.g., Minecraft)

  • Often played in the same room at the same time as other teens

3. Digital media production and online sharing

  • Unmediated in kids’ lives

4. Families who use media to coordinate with each other

  • Examples: email, google calendars to organize family activities

  • “This is incredibly ordinary in middle class families.” (Though I greatly beg to differ on that one)

5. Previously unplugged activities have a digital component

  • Example: learning the piano and using digital metronome

Everyday life already integrates with all this media; work and school are headed this way, too. People are getting work done by spreading it across themselves (distributed cognition). What would distributed learning look like at school, Dr. Stevens wonders.

He uses math as an example to further illustrate the pervasiveness of digital companions. Kids are asked to solve the same kinds of problems over and over again using some kind of algorithm. But, as computational devices move forward, we decide to blackbox certain things we do by hand and mind (like finding a square root, logarithms, long division). So why not use digital tools as distributed cognition for math? Why do kids have to BE calculators? Denying them use of these devices further alienates them from math. Couldn’t people’s minds be put to more creative uses? “Are we just training slow, poor computers?” His question is met with scattered nods of agreement across the room.

Back to what distributed learning looks like in learning. It just so happens that Dr. Stevens is one of two principal investigators of FUSE. FUSE is an in-person, interest-driven learning environment for young adults. It allows participants to explore STEAM topics through leveled challenges. There are 30 studios located in and around the greater Chicago area.

FUSE Introduction from OSEP on Vimeo.


13th Annual CUNY IT Conference

Submitted by Ting Yuan on Wed, 10/15/2014 - 2:16pm.
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Check out this incoming CUNY IT conference (free registration) if interested! One of the keynote speakers is Dr. Cathy Davidson who has been leading the Future Initiative at CUNY. We might find out how CUNY views the future of higher education from their institutional perspective.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.08.18 PM


The Beauty of a Meaningful Process

Submitted by Gonzalo Obelleiro on Mon, 10/13/2014 - 4:46pm.
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Studio FM Milano designs for the New Doha International Airport features not only beautiful icons, but also a meaningful process through which the geometry underlying the design was generated. The images below are more eloquent than any description of explanation.


The Superdesk

Submitted by Christopher Gu on Mon, 10/13/2014 - 3:51pm.
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The Superdesk is a 4,400 work space, constructed from wooden panels and topped by a single, continuous pour of resin.

It is a literal embodiment of shared work space, in which all staffers sit around a part of the Superdesk.

It's fascinating to see how this fixture blends into the open layout of the office, while still hiding areas for private meetings and quiet space.

And, the construction of the Superdesk was cheaper than a standard cubicle layout. Could this be the future of office design?


The UX Tester Paradox, Solved-ish.

Submitted by Joann Agnitti on Mon, 10/13/2014 - 3:45pm.
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There I was, trying to come up with a way to recruit testers, when it hit me: maybe we (EdLab) should host some sort of usability party, where we invite other edtech startups who have UX questions in and connect them to a pool of willing participants. But then it hit me again (my thoughts are very abusive): surely someone else has already thought of this? And sure enough, someone has.

The Test Tube is a meetup group whose sole purpose is to connect startups to other startups who have a simple UX question to answer. Using a speed-dating-like method, each startup has 7 minutes to watch someone from another startup interact with their product before moving on to the next tester. You'll get feedback from around 5-6 people throughout the night.

Sure, it's no Testing Positive or Test-tacular (the names I was working with for my event. They are good, no?), but the members of the Test Tube could offer some unique insights to our products. At the very least, it'll give us some exposure and maybe even fan the flames for our own event.

I'll be at their next meetup (October 23rd) and will let you know how it goes. In the mean time, try to come up with a better (or worse) name for our imaginary event. Consider the gauntlet thrown.

The people testing our products will be all like...


High Tech Anti-cheating Device

Submitted by Xiang Liu on Mon, 10/13/2014 - 11:46am.
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I randomly stumbled upon this article. There is a university in Thailand that "invented" this anti-cheating device.

Anti-cheating in A Thai University


File under: This could be good!

Submitted by Joann Agnitti on Mon, 10/13/2014 - 11:10am.
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TC's annual Tisch Lecture seems like it would be of interest to many/all reading this blog post but look alive-- it's happening tomorrow!

This year's guest, Dr. Reed Stevens, is a professor of learning sciences at Northwestern University. His lecture is entitled:

Cyborg learning: How our Mobile and Networked Lives are Transforming Learning and Education

“There’s an app for that.” ”Just Google it.” We learn, work, play, search, and connect in a media-saturated world where the image of the cyborg — part human, part machine — no longer seems the stuff of science fiction. As ever new combinations of our embodied abilities and 'smart' technologies reorganize our lives, what are the implications for research on learning and cognition — and for our increasingly outmoded models of schooling?

Event details:
Grace Dodge Hall 179
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

For more info (including how to register), see TC's events page.


Simulation to Imitation: From As If to Just Like

Submitted by Ching-Fu Lan on Fri, 10/10/2014 - 11:36am.
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From Simulation to Imitation Controllers, Corporeality, and Mimetic Play (Simulation & Gaming, 2014) is a very interesting conceptual paper on how advances in controller-technologies and gaming systems present new learning potentials in gaming experiences. The authors argue "digital gameplay undergoes an epistemological shift when player and game interactions are no longer restricted to simulations of actions on a screen, but instead support embodied imitation as a central element of gameplay".

This shift continues to challenge our ideas of gaming, learning and one of the most challenging research topics of transference in the learning sciences. While scholars have been trying to understand how skills performed in simulation games can transfer to real life contexts, new controller technologies push researchers to explore how learning through haptic and embodied imitation (e.g. Wii or Microsoft Kinect games) can improve real world task performance. For instance, does (and if yes, how) playing Wii sports improve the player's real world sport skills?


Top Online Teacher Education Programs

Submitted by Khalil Abubakar on Fri, 10/10/2014 - 1:39am.
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Teachers play an important part of our education system and I can’t imagine a world without them. The current job market for teachers is in very high demand and salaries are competitive depending on certain criteria such as the location, level of education and teaching experience. Salaries for average elementary and secondary school teachers are $55,000 or slightly higher but people who meet some of the aforementioned criteria have an annual salary of $70,000 to $80,000. Elementary and secondary school principals make $87,000 to $100,000 or more a year.

To teach at any public or private school, you need a teacher certification, which is controlled by each state’s Board of Education. Teachers also need a Bachelors Degree in an academic subject and a study in pedagogy (the study of the skills involving teaching). Schools that offer teacher education programs have been ranked based on academic excellence, program varieties and affordability. They offer online classes with a training program, depending on where a student resides to help them achieve a master of science in education. Click here to see the list of 25 schools that offer the best online teacher education.

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