Vialogues Discussions Summary

Submitted by Zhou Zhou on Thu, 01/19/2012 - 10:20am.
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A side product of my current work on the Vialogues data mining research is the statistical summary of Vialogue discussions. I'm sharing the stats here as many of you may find it interesting.

There are totally 1,457 Vialogues with 16,821 comments in total by 3:38 PM, January 19, 2012. Averagely each Vialogue has 11.54 comments. The highest total of comments in a single Vialogue is 214.


Tutorial on Latent Semantic Analysis and Its Potential Use for Vialogues

Submitted by Zhou Zhou on Tue, 01/17/2012 - 6:54pm.
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In today's EdLab Development & Research meeting, Manav talked about Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA), an approach to analyzing discussions by clustering similar discussions. It is not difficult to grasp the concept of LSA but it is difficult to imagine a real example of how LSA is applied to discussion analysis even after reading this paper and this website.

I found an excellent tutorial on how to do a mini LSA on search results of book titles on

The most helpful thing that I learned from this tutorial is that we can use a modified version of the Python code example as shown in the tutorial to construct a visualizable graph on how Vialogues discussions are clustered in a semantic space, similar to the graph below:


Research Digest: Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments, and the Future of Learning Management Systems

Submitted by Zhou Zhou on Wed, 01/11/2012 - 6:48pm.
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Sclater, N. (2008). Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments, and the Future of Learning Management Systems

Article Review

Learning Management Systems (LMS) have been widely adopted in almost every institution to host e-learning for students. LMS works well in that it supports a wide range of learning activities and the institution possesses centralized data for every student. However, LMS also has the bad reputation of being inefficient in every learning activity due to its inflexibility, non-personalizability, and lack of communication features. Therefore many students and lecturers choose to use online tools for certain learning activities instead of totally relying on LMS. It is increasing questioned whether LMS should incorporate social networking features, whether using tools other than the LMS should be allowed, and whether students should be allowed to choose whatever tools for learning.


Marco Tempest: The magic of truth and lies (and iPods)

Submitted by Zhou Zhou on Fri, 11/04/2011 - 2:15pm.
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I came across this nice magic show with iPod on TED


Use simulation to teach physics: the SimNewton Project

Submitted by Zhou Zhou on Wed, 01/19/2011 - 6:04pm.
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I met Rajesh Jha in California a few weeks ago at Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine, California. It was raining non stop and there were no seats in the restaurant. So we sat outdoors with a tiny shade above our table. My hair got wet and so did my burrito. But I was very impressed by the SimNewton project Rajesh's company was working on.

SimNewton is a collaborative web application for mechanics simulation designed for use in introductory physics courses at high school and college freshman levels. Teachers can create a challenge by building a mechanical system in the simulation with customized variables and learning scaffolds such as texts, images, videos, and dynamic charts. Then the teacher can export the scenario and share with groups of students. The students in turn will work alone or in the group to solve the problem. Students can also view and comment other groups' work online. Once the problem is solved, the students can export their solutions and share with the teacher for assessment and feedback.


Highcharts: interactive data visualization tool with jquery

Submitted by Zhou Zhou on Thu, 01/13/2011 - 6:28pm.
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I encountered this cool and powerful tool called Highcharts, which uses jquery to create interactive data visualization. The benefits of using jquery are 1) it works perfectly in environments without Flash (e.g. iPad, iPhone), and 2) it's HTML 5 compatible. The tool is free for non-commercial use.

Two demos below.

1) You can supply data (e.g. such as from a static spreadsheet file, dynamic JSON data from server, or even an HTML table) and customize the type, appearance, and interactivity of the chart. You can put multiple graph types in a single chart. And you can even print the chart or download as images/PDF.

2) It's possible to allow the user to interact with data source.

I just love it.


Getting a Google Chrome OS laptop for testing?

Submitted by Zhou Zhou on Wed, 12/08/2010 - 12:47pm.
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Google is now hosting a test drive for its new Chrome OS. In the Chrome OS, everything is online with the free 3G data support by Verizon. They are giving away free laptops with the Chrome OS to eligible users in business, education, non-profit, development, and also on an individual basis. Here is a link.

This is a promising concept as the Chrome OS reflects the current ubiquitous, participatory learning culture. I can foresee tablet devices with Chrome OS in the near future to make it even a greater tool for learning. I wonder if we are interested in applying to the test drive and getting a couple for testing and researching.

More reading about the launch of Chrome OS.


In Two Years: Cellphones and WiFi in NYC Subways

Submitted by Zhou Zhou on Wed, 08/04/2010 - 9:08am.
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MTA has contracted Transit Wireless to equip NYC subway stations with Cellphone and WiFi signals. Read this article from Wired


A history of e-reader products

Submitted by Zhou Zhou on Fri, 07/09/2010 - 9:40am.
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I encountered this website which summarizes the history of e-reader products. It covers e-reader products from digital books on CD-ROM as early as 1985 to the Apple iPad in 2010. It also leaks some notable potential products such as the Microsoft-HP Slate PC and the Google Tablet PC.


ASUS Eee Tablet: The e-reader closer to our needs

Submitted by Zhou Zhou on Tue, 06/22/2010 - 11:07pm.
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I came across a three-week-old article at Engadget previewing the ASUS Eee Tablet which is going to hit the market after September this year. From the Engadget article as well as some Youtube videos, it seems this device is closer to what we have envisioned for an e-reader for learning:

1. Has some computing power
2. Portable
3. Graphic note-taking (should use a pen because it's really hard to write with a finger on iPad)
4. Relatively less expensive

In the YouTube video below, an ASUS employee said the price range will be $199-$299. We are waiting to hear about more details about this product.

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