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Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Mon, 2015-03-30 13:26

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Autodesk is known for highly advanced design and 3D modeling software used by architects and designers the world over. So I definitely took notice when I read that they were designing a new innovation lab on the South Boston Waterfront (Read the Boston Globe article here). The lab is meant to foster innovation and learning for both employees, visiting scholars and entrepreneurs who would be granted 6 month residencies. What really stood out for me was the following descriptions and how inline this is with the EdLab's plans for the 4th floor learning theater experience:

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Fri, 2015-03-27 13:54

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Apparently "epigenetic" infant robots are a thing. And a thing that allows researchers to study infant behavior without the hassle of diaper changes or feedings. Specifically, in the case of this learning study focused on how infants map words to objects (summarized in this gizmag article), "The creation of a robot model for infant learning has far-reaching implications for how the brains of young people work." And researchers discovered that posture at time of knowledge acquisition and manipulation of objects, does in-fact impact learning.

My Questions:
I wonder what this research will mean for early learning programs and their design? Will body posture be given primacy to other modes to facilitate learning?

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Thu, 2015-03-26 13:25

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While the eBook flag has been flying at publishing houses big and small for a number of years now, young readers may not be fully sold. As the authors of a Washington Post report on the new book, "Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World," point-out in this this BoingBoing article:

The preference for print over digital can be found at independent bookstores such as the Curious Iguana in downtown Frederick, Md., where owner Marlene England said millennials regularly tell her they prefer print because it's “easier to follow stories.” Pew studies show the highest print readership rates are among those ages 18 to 29, and the same age group is still using public libraries in large numbers.

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Tue, 2015-03-24 13:25

(Image: Screencapture from IDEO U homepage)

IDEO has launched its first online course under their new "IDEO U" series of courses aimed at helping anyone increase their creative prowess (for $399 a course). (Read more in this FastCo. article)

The first course, dubbed "Insights," which is a mix of multimedia content (mainly videos paired with text prompts) covers the following topics and was created to mimic the IDEO team's own well established creative insights process:

  • Observation without judgement
  • Lessons in extremes
  • Interview wisdom
  • Fostering empathy
  • Sharing insights

Most interesting to me is the connection to work EdLab is doing on mSchool and the potential to possibly collaborate with IDEO on this series in the future! For example, one of the organizers of the course describes his overarching hope for the courses in a way that is apropos to the mSchool mission:

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Mon, 2015-03-23 10:22

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As knowledge workers and skilled managers are continually expected to "skill-up" to meet increasing changes in technology, there is also an increase in workplace burnout and dissatisfaction. Or, at least, this is the premise of Harvard Business Review's recent blog piece, "When Learning at Work Becomes Overwhelming." As the author points out:

Many skilled jobs require a considerable amount of learning while doing, but learning requirements have reached unrealistic levels in many roles and work situations today. This phenomenon of “too much to learn” is not only feeding the perception of critical skills shortages in many sectors, but it can also accelerate burnout.

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Mon, 2015-03-16 10:38

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Everyone knows that wearables and fitness tracking software are helping users game the fitness and health fields, but, what if you apply the same leaderboard concepts, quantified "nudges" and dashboard metrics to the workplace? This is an emerging trend according to this, New York Times article. "Quantified work" is spreading through Silicon Valley and beyond thanks to software like Better Works. What is most fascinating to me is this idea of transparent goal setting that allows other teammates to view and "encourage" or "shame" workplace peers. This is a fascinating way to view teamwork though perhaps not the most helpful or healthy approach. As the article listed above cautions:

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Fri, 2015-03-13 09:14

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Have you seen, or, do you plan to see Martin Blomkamp's, "Chappie?" Regardless, it is an interesting study in robot ethics and the potential for humans to act as moral teachers to their robot underlings. Less a pre-programmed worker with Asimov's three laws neatly in place, Chappie is more childlike in his need to be shown how to behave and given a lesson in moral values as he "develops" cognitively. This is where the relevant learning and teaching aspect comes to bear and provides questions for educators as we prepare to potentially teach and interact with robots in our schools (possibly?!) and continue to teach humans morals as well. As The New Yorker describes in this article:

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Thu, 2015-03-12 10:52

In case you haven't heard, Slack is taking over workplace email. Long purported to be dead in the age of Google chat and other options for more instantaneous office communication, messaging app Slack, may finally be the nail in email's coffin.

Slack is apparently a more transparent option for workplace chats and has a few compelling features that are missing from other options from Google, Apple and more.

As this New York Times article describes:

But Slack has a few unusual features that make it perfectly suited for work, including automatic archiving of all your interactions, a good search engine and the ability to work across just about every device you use. Because it is hosted online and is extremely customizable, Slack is also easy for corporate technology departments to set up and maintain.

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Wed, 2015-03-11 16:19

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Dubbed one of the "weirdest" libraries (perfect for #WeirdWednesdays) in the world and one with the most "serendipitous" (thematic cataloguing system), the Warburg Institute's Library in London is an amazing combination of both the origins of modern art history and the concept of the "icon." Here is more on the library from this New Yorker article:

It is a library like no other in Europe–in its cross-disciplinary reference, its peculiarities, its originality, its strange depths and unexpected shallows. Magic and science, evil eyes and saints' lives: these things repose side by side in a labyrinth of imagery and icons and memory. Dan Brown's hero Robert Langdon supposedly teaches “symbology” at Harvard. There is no such field, but if there were, and if Professor Langdon wanted to study it before making love to mysterious Frenchwomen and nimbly avoiding Opus Dei hit men, this is where he would come to study.

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Mon, 2015-03-09 13:55

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Today Apple unveiled final details re: the Apple Watch (thanks for the live blog heads-up, Brian!). What struck me is 1) it looks a bit like a Dick Tracey communicator 2) the solid gold "edition" model could cost as much as $10,000(?!!) 3) the Apple Watch could be a useful tool for tracking biostats in the 4th floor learning theater. How might we do this? Well, again, thanks to Brian's aforementioned post, we could develop our own app using Apple's new ResearchKit that would allow researchers to use the watch to record heart rate and movement during learning tasks. What are other ways we could use the Apple Watch or similar wearables in the fourth floor space? What would be some of the limitations? I would imagine that the possibilities and permutations are endless! I wonder if Apple would offer discounts to educational institutions who want to purchase the watch for research?