Helpouts at mSchool?

Submitted by Brian Hughes on Tue, 03/31/2015 - 9:21am.

The news about Google Helpouts shutting down this month caught my attention. Here's an online learning community connected to one of the world's largest social networks (Google+) that couldn't stay open for business—"it couldn't grow fast enough" for Google to justify its continued existence.

You might say, "wait, if Google can't do it, how can EdLab?" But that's the wrong lesson—instead, I prefer to think of it as a tech giant over-reaching into the education marketplace. As of April 20th, mSchool has one less competitor.

But what else can we learn? There are all kind of interesting aspects of Helpouts, not the least of which is the personable, face-to-face element driven by Google Hangouts technology. Perhaps this sort of "synchronous" experience is out of place in the vast marketplace of online learning? Your thoughts?

World's Best Libraries

Submitted by George Nantwi on Tue, 03/31/2015 - 12:29am.

This list features some of the best public and educational libraries in the world. As we continue to think about the learning theater and other aspects of the library, I wonder what aspects of these libraries we could incorporate into our own?

Autodesk Builds an Innovation Lab (Inspiration for the 4th floor?)

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Mon, 03/30/2015 - 2:26pm.

(Image Source)

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:

Combating Poverty in Haiti

Submitted by Bismark Appiah on Mon, 03/30/2015 - 1:09am.

Haiti has made improvements to decrease extreme poverty. However, there is still a lot to be done. Haiti is one of the poorest countries on earth. Extreme poverty in the country is so severe to the extent that one in two Haitians lives on less than $2.41 a day. The 2010 earthquake further compounded Haiti’s problems.

This means that a lot of student needs are not being met. There are no opportunities for students to learn and fulfill their aspirations. They are the future of Haiti, and providing education for them could be the beginning steps of something great. In order for that to happen, the country has to first combat poverty. Part of the solution to this goal is highlighted in this article. The first step is to invest in people. In order to this, they must boost income, opportunities, and protect the poor and vulnerable.

Vagrant — Dependency Management as a Service

Submitted by Santosh Kumar on Sat, 03/28/2015 - 12:11pm.

I’ve been using Vagrant for a while now and it’s been my go-to tool for everything related to setting up my development environment. It’s just amazing how it manages to stay out of the way and help me be productive. That’s a testament to the thought that has been put into it.

Dependency Management as a Service
If there’s one thing, Vagrant really brings to the table, it’s this notion of dependency management as a service. You focus on writing your app (Rails/Phoenix/Django/what-have-you) and Vagrant takes care of bringing in everything else. And by everything, I mean everything. The OS, all of the system level packages, all of your app-specific dependencies, etc.

You get a fully isolated virtual machine that is pre-configured with all of the stuff your app needs, specified in the Vagrantfile..

Posture, Learning & Baby Robots

Submitted by Kate Meersschaert on Fri, 03/27/2015 - 2:54pm.

(Image source)

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?

How Can We Learn from a Reading Tutor that Listens? by Jack Mostow, Carnegie Mellon University

Submitted by Hui Soo Chae on Fri, 03/27/2015 - 11:45am.

Details for the talk are below. I will blog it for folks who are interested.

Learning Analytics Seminar Series
Jack Mostow, Carnegie Mellon University
Horace Mann Hall 144
April 2, 10am

Title: How Can We Learn from a Reading Tutor that Listens?

Abstract: Project LISTEN’s Reading Tutor listens to children read
aloud, and helps them learn to read. It displays text on a computer
screen, uses automatic speech recognition to help analyze a child’s
oral reading, and responds with spoken and graphical assistance
modeled after expert reading teachers but adapted to the limitations
and affordances of the technology. The Reading Tutor logs its
interactions in detail to a database that we mine in order to assess
students’ performance, model their learning, and harvest
within-subject experiments embedded in the Reading Tutor to compare
alternative tutorial actions. This talk will illustrate a few of the
Reading Tutor’s tutorial interactions, student models, and

Online Behavior

Submitted by George Nantwi on Fri, 03/27/2015 - 12:31am.

I am sure we all engage in some sort of banter and fun on our various social media platforms (at least I do). However, when do banter and a little bit of fun cross the line into “mean”? This article tries to answer the question about why people are so mean to others online?

Graduation Rates at Community Colleges

Submitted by Sarpong Adjei on Fri, 03/27/2015 - 12:28am.

There has been a lot of focus on community colleges lately. For instance, President Obama recently announced plans to make community college free for eligible students. This is light of recent discourse about the purpose of community college due to low completion rates.

This NY Times pieces highlights a promising initiative by CUNY, Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) to improve graduating rates at community colleges. One of the major features of the ASAP program is that students enrolled have to attend community college full time (often difficult for most students). In return, ASAP offers students with a host of services such as free Metrocard for transportation, free textbooks and financial aid. One feature of the program that is proving highly effective is student-counselor meetings. The average CUNY advisor has a caseload of 600-1,500 students, while ASAP counselors deal with about 60-80 students.

Obesity In Children

Submitted by Frank Obeng on Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:57pm.

One of the most talked about health issues affecting children is obesity. Researchers are using videos to stop obesity in children. Children nowadays stay glued to their television sets instead of going outside to engage in physical activities. This according to researchers say causes over 12.7 million children and adolescents to become obese. The researchers created a video about nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits to encourage children to engage in physical activity while watching the video.

This video can be used as an alternative for outdoor physical activities when the weather is bad. Cartoons such as Dora the explorer tells children to imitate what they see such as jumping, counting and singing. This can be shown to children during after school programs to help them burn calories and exercise their brain. These videos will go a long way in helping children stay active and fit.

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