Techno-News Blog

June 30, 2013

Get Rich Quick: Become a Teacher

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By Will Oremus, Slate
Victor Bastos has made close to half a million dollars teaching classes on Udemy, an online learning startup.  Victor Bastos was making $20,000 a year as a freelance Web developer in Lisbon, Portugal, when he started posting videos to YouTube. Already fluent in several programming languages and looking to branch into new ones, he thought making instructional videos would help him keep track of what he’d learned. “It was like an online notebook for myself,” Bastos, 33, told me. “But then I started getting a lot of subscriptions. People told me, ‘Your tutorials are great—why don’t you make a full course?’ ” Within a few months, Bastos got an email inviting him to do just that. The proposal came from an online-learning startup he had never heard of called Udemy. The offer: Host his course on Udemy’s Web-based platform, and he could charge students to take it and keep 70 percent of the revenues. Udemy would keep the other 30 percent.

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4 ways higher ed has changed, post recession

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by Associated Press

More urgent. More crowded. More expensive. Also, more flexible and accessible to millions. That, in a nutshell, is how higher education has changed around the world in the wake of the global financial crisis that struck five years ago, and the Great Recession that followed. Here’s how it happened: Increasing financial pressures to get more people through higher education more efficiently opened the door to new technologies. Those technologies, in turn, have begun “unbundling” individual classes and degrees from traditional institutions — much in the same way iTunes has unbundled songs from whole albums and the Internet is increasingly unbundling television shows and networks from bulky cable packages.

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To multiply maths students, take away classrooms and add online courses

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by Chris Tisdell, the Conversation

We need to think beyond the classroom if we’re going to improve maths and science education.  What’s your worst memory of mathematics from high school? And the best? Unless you’re a mathematician now, I’d bet the first answer came much faster than the second. Mathematics is the enabling discipline. It provides the foundation and framework necessary for major advancements within such fields as: science; engineering; technology; and finance. Pilot studies at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) reveal employers’ attitudes are unanimously positive towards graduates with strong mathematical skills.

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June 29, 2013

A Detailed 3-D Atlas of a Human Brain

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By Courtney Humphries, Technology Review

Scientists have imaged the anatomy of an entire human brain at unprecedented resolution. More detailed models of the human brain will help researchers explore both normal function and disease. Making connections: The protuberances on this 3-D model of a neuron are “pre-synaptic terminals” –points where the cell will form connections with other neurons. A new resource will allow scientists to explore the anatomy of a single brain in three dimensions at far greater detail than before, a possibility its creators hope will guide the quest to map brain activity in humans. The resource, dubbed the BigBrain, was created as part of the European Human Brain Project and is freely available online for scientists to use.

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Instagram Becomes Instavideo

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By Rachel Metz, Technology Review

On Thursday, Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom announced an update that will allow users to shoot and share 15-second videos composed of one or more clips. When Facebook acquired the popular photo-sharing app for a staggering $1 billion last year, Silicon Valley’s attention shifted to nascent video startups and speculation about which would become the “next Instagram.” Despite the emergence of many contenders—including Vine, an app released by Twitter in January, which allows sharing of very short videos (see “Twitter Releases Video App Called Vine”)—it looks as if Instagram intends to take that title itself.

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Online Accessibility a Faculty Duty

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By Lauren Ingeno, Inside Higher Ed

The Americans with Disabilities Act prevents any college or university from excluding disabled students in activities, services and programs. The Department of Education and Department of Justice sent a letter to college presidents three years ago, telling them that inaccessible education technology violates the Act. But the letter did not lay out any specific, national standards for what is and is not considered accessible. More recently, the National Federation of the Blind drafted a bill, which would require the federal Access Board to develop national standards for accessible higher education technology products. In the absence of clear standards, the line between what is and isn’t discriminatory is often blurred in an online setting, and colleges have faced a number of discrimination lawsuits in the past few years because of this.

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June 28, 2013

Unemployment Prompts Online Training Challenging Colleges: Jobs

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By Ari Levy, Bloomberg News

While online courses have been around since the early days of the Internet, job training has remained the purview of community colleges and vocational schools, requiring students to spend thousands of dollars to learn word processing, financial spreadsheets and web development. With unemployment hovering at 7.6 percent, companies like TrainSignal and Inc. are pitching what they call a more efficient and affordable route for people who need retraining on their own schedule. They’re part of a revival in web education startups. Venture capitalists poured $632.3 million into the market in 2012, up 41 percent from the previous year, and the most since the dot-com bubble’s peak in 2000, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

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You Can Take Stanford’s Course On Startup Engineering Online

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by KYLE RUSSELL, Business Insider

Interested in joining or founding a startup but have no idea where to begin? Or perhaps you’re interested in walking a mile in the shoes of a developer at a startup to see what it’s like? There’s a (free) class for that, and it’s taught by two of the best computer science professors in the Silicon Valley. Available on Coursera, one of the companies we recently wrote about that’s trying to disrupt education in this country, Startup Engineering aims to teach you everything there is to know about creating a modern tech startup.

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University Of Ether

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Last month, the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, US, announced that it will offer its first online master’s degree course in computer science. It would also be one of the first full credit online courses in the world. In India, an initiative led by the IITs and the Indian Institute of Science is attempting to do something similar. Recently, the Indian government announced a tie-up between the US-based Cornell School of Administration and the holding body of hotel management education in India under which hotel management aspirants would be able to study and get, right here in India, a degree from the famous seat of learning. The entire course will be online. These are not scattered developments but part of a gradual move the world over to offer serious, mainstream education online. The question, however, is qualitative: can technology-aided access to quality education transform India’s education system?

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June 27, 2013

e-portfolios – Taking Ownership of your learning

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by Virtual College (UK)

It is an interesting time for e-portfolios as they appear to be sitting at the crossroads of technology, where we have to watch this space and possibly see e-portfolios emerging as something slightly different in the future. People are likely to be more than ever stamping their own individuality on their online presence, and it will stay with them for life, long after they move from fulltime education and into the workplace. In fact, will e-portfolio quickly become an m-portfolio particularly in the workplace as mobile learning is now becoming a reality? LMS vendors need to keep pace with these issues if they are to keep providing what learners need as technology moves on at a pace–Taking-Ownership-of-your-learning–newsitems-110.aspx

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The Future of Learning According to Millennials

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By Samantha Whitehorne, Associations Now

A new study of 1,345 U.S. college students by Millennial Branding and says that may indeed be the case, as respondents said that they are more willing to learn online and that they view the future of learning as more virtual and social media driven.

Here’s a closer look at the results:

39 percent said the future of education would be more virtual, and 19 percent said that social media will be used to engage in the classroom in the future.

50 percent of students said they don’t need a traditional classroom to learn, but 78 percent do think that it’s easier to learn in a traditional classroom than online.

43 percent say that online education will provide them with courses of the same or higher quality than traditional colleges.

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How online education can create a ‘global classroom’

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By Daphne Koller, CNN

At Coursera, only one-third of our students are from the U.S., and 40% are from the developing world. Not surprisingly, three of our biggest countries outside the U.S. are Brazil, India, and Russia, where the number of jobs that require a higher education greatly exceeds the number of people with education sufficient to do these jobs. In Russia, for example, new student enrollments rose 230% since January 2013 (surpassing new student growth from the U.S., which is up 178%). Our large international growth poses challenges in dealing with cultural and language differences… To me, achieving a “global classroom” means using education to erase barriers between people of different cultures and backgrounds; it means giving people the opportunity to learn without the limits imposed by physical or socio-economic circumstances; and it means giving schools and instructors around the world the ability to transcend boundaries to bring high-quality education to their students.

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June 26, 2013

Moocs are the clever way to keep up to date

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by Helena Pozniak, the Guardian

The world of distance learning has changed beyond recognition since the first correspondence courses dropped onto doormats more than 40 years ago. Classes of thousands from around the world can now join interactive lectures for free. This is the world of moocs – massive open online courses – which have blazed a trail in the US. This autumn, 21 UK universities – including Bristol, Leeds and Southampton – are preparing to launch their own moocs in partnership with the Open University. While moocs mostly don’t set entry requirements, they are pitched between “taster” and postgraduate level – short chunks of learning that will enable students to dip their toe into a subject – science or arts – or keep up to speed with changing career needs.

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Fujitsu AND MIT Announce New Online Learning Platform

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by MIT

Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Inc. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)announced the joint development of a personalized learning platform that enhances the effectiveness of online learning.  In recent years, a wide range of learning materials has become available online. However, traditional online learning systems have not sufficiently utilized learning environments that fully leverage the advantages of ICT, such as the ability to easily organize appropriate learning materials for users from among an infinite amount of disparate content, nor have there been systems to provide personalized learning materials and learning pathways based on users’ level of understanding and interests. Using navigation technology that can organize a massive volume of online learning materials into multi-layer topics, the platform makes it possible to navigate 100,000s of learning materials, which has been a challenge for students. In addition, by developing learning behaviour simulation technology based on an advanced probabilistic learner model, it is possible to predict learning outcomes through simulations without having to rely on actual students, a major problem faced by learning system providers.

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Oklahoma U launches cost-saving online textbook initiative

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By Tulsa World

Students and their parents know first-hand the nightmare of buying college textbooks.  Textbook prices have been increasing about 8 percent a year and many are in triple digits. The old-school way of saving money on textbooks – buying them used – is difficult nowadays because of minor editing changes that render year-old texts out of date.  One chemistry prof at the University of Oklahoma, Mark Morvant, says he was shocked to learn that the textbook for his organic chemistry class cost $252. That equals nearly a fourth of the amount students pay in tuition and fees for the class.  Adopting or creating new digital course materials has saved students about 25 percent of their yearly textbook costs, which typically are $1,400.

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June 25, 2013

Just Lectures? — A Review of the edX Justice MOOC

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by Jonathan Haber, MOOC News and Reviews

Harvard Professor Michael Sandel made headlines twice this year with regard to his ethics class (called Justice), which has become a staple of the Harvard experience. But Justice has also generated its share of controversy. But beyond those headlines, those of us who decided to commit a dozen weeks to the class were more concerned with whether or not Justice was anything special.  Sandel’s lectures are based on highly polished set pieces (his book What’s the Right Thing to Do? contains many of the same arguments and anecdotes), and production values are as high as anything I’ve seen in a MOOC class to date. But keep in mind that these are the same lectures that have been floating around iTunes U and YouTube for many years, meaning edX’s Justice is largely built from repurposed existing material. I wish they had put a little more time into the ancillary material related to the class, notably homework assignments and quizzes which consisted primarily of multiple-choice questions with obvious answers.

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Can We Move Beyond the MOOC to Reclaim Open Learning?

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by Anya Kamenetz, Huffington Post

Open learning can mean many things to many people. It can mean learning that takes advantage of Creative Commons-licensed open educational resources or OER (of the major MOOC platforms, EDx is open-source, but none have open content). It can mean learning that is self-organized, experimental, peer-to-peer, DIY, badged or otherwise nontraditionally accredited. It takes place where theory meets practice, in communities of practice, in bar camps, hackathons, hacker spaces, Maker Faires, chat rooms, virtual worlds, archaeological digs, libraries, on Twitter, on Vine, on Instructables, on Vimeo, at the after-afterparty to the conference, at the Occupy encampment, in abandoned churches in Pittsburgh, coworking spaces in Nairobi or the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. xMOOCs have never been and will never be the sum total or even the best example of experimentation with truly open learning.

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Online students meet each other at graduation

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by Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times

Insight High graduates got their degrees on Saturday and met for the first time many of their classmates at the online school. High-school senior Rosemary Perkins studied German for four years, but it wasn’t until Saturday that the 17-year-old finally met her teacher in person. Perkins and about 425 of her peers graduated Saturday from Insight High School of Washington, a public, online high school that opened in fall 2006. The graduation ceremony was held at Bellevue College. Insight High is one of about 20 online schools in Washington that offer students an alternative experience to brick-and-mortar high schools.

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June 24, 2013

Massive Open Online Courses useful

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By Erin Chapin, Knox News

The most content people I know are lifelong learners. They are unafraid of having their ideas challenged, are ravenous for knowledge and are self-guided devourers of information. Not all of us are so disciplined. Some of us require the structure of a classroom and a syllabus to guide us. In post-collegiate years, when ensconced in a career, there aren’t many options for someone who wishes to delve back into academia. Night classes at a local university or junior college are sometimes undesirable due to price or time constraints. One must be dedicated to drive to school after working eight hours at a regular job. I began looking into alternative paths to education this year in order to refine my job skills and to challenge some of my dormant synapses. Flexible class schedules and the ability to study at my own pace is paramount due to the unpredictable hours in a journalist’s life. My search led me to MOOCs — Massive Open Online Courses.

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Learning to Learn Faster: the One Superpower Everyone Needs

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by Steven Kotler, Singularity Hub

I have a new book coming out early next year, The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance. As the title suggests, my subject matter is the outer limits of human potential and the question of what might actually be possible for our species. This is a story about one of them, a really nice guy named Jim Kwik. It’s also a story about learning and education, innovation and entrepreneurship, and, well, superheroes. Actually, mostly, it’s a story about superheroes. Jim Kwik’s superpower is learning. He’s the CEO of Kwik Learning for a reason. Kwik is really, really quick. He can learn faster than mere mortals.

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Professors Envision Using Google Glass in the Classroom

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By Sara Grossman, Chronicle of Higher Ed

New digital eyewear from Google, which features a built-in Webcam and the ability to display e-mail messages and other information, has sparked a mix of curiosity and skepticism in the popular press, but several professors are rushing to try it out in their teaching and research—and early reviews are mixed. Google Glass, as the product is called, is not yet available for general purchase, but the company has sold a limited number to developers and to a group of people selected based on their tweets about how they planned to use the gear.

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