In the US, an undergraduate education used to be an option, one way to get into the middle class. Now it’s a hostage situation, required to avoid falling out of it. And if some of the hostages having trouble coming up with the ransom conclude that our current system is a completely terrible idea, then learning will come unbundled from the pursuit of a degree just as as songs came unbundled from CDs.Napster, Udacity, and the Academy - about how online education startups are changing the notion and practice of higher education - by Clay Shirky (previously)
Dear Mr. President: “You're the President of the United States: a country with 5000 nuclear weapons, birthplace of the world's computing and telecommunications industry, home of the first atomic clock and creator of the global positioning system. But chances are, if you just took regular American high school physics, you don't know one iota about the science behind these things (no offense). That's because high school physics students across most of America are not required to learn about pretty much any physical phenomena discovered or explained more recently than 1865.” From Henry Reich of Minute Physics. (Can't watch video? Click the "interactive transcript" button under the video to read it instead.) Minute Physics previously, previouslier. [more inside]
What's Wrong With Online Reading, a slide presentation by Randy Connolly, argues that the relatively recent and increasingly popular approach to reading and learning - on computers, tablets and smartphones instead of traditional print - influences what and how we read, research and think, with disturbing consequences.
What do chemists do in a "work day"? What kind of schooling do they have? How does chemistry inform their work? Do chemists have any funny stories to tell? [more inside]
Flash cards are an effective study aid because they are founded on the principles of rote and memorization. With Flashcard Exchange | Study Stack and Flashcard Machine, you can use web-based flashcard makers to create, share, export and print flashcards to assist your studying.
British Education Secretary Michael Gove was a dick to his French teacher 30 years ago, so he apologized. The Guardian goes a step further and asks a bunch of writers if they'd like to apologize to their former teachers. To wit: "I was, in fact, incredibly high. So was Pete. Now I can't even remember what happens in The House of Seven Gables, but I learned a lesson that day, just the same. Sorry again, Tim Dowling"
On the 40th anniversary of the release of "Free To Be... You and Me," a three-part piece in Slate examines the genesis and impact of this influential album and its accompanying TV special.
"Milgram and Bishop are opposed to reforms of mathematics teaching and support the continuation of a model in which students learn mathematics without engaging in realistic problems or discussing mathematical methods. They are, of course, entitled to this opinion, and there has been an ongoing, spirited academic debate about mathematics learning for a number of years. But Milgram and Bishop have gone beyond the bounds of reasoned discourse in a campaign to systematically suppress empirical evidence that contradicts their stance. Academic disagreement is an inevitable consequence of academic freedom, and I welcome it. However, responsible disagreement and academic bullying are not the same thing. Milgram and Bishop have engaged in a range of tactics to discredit me and damage my work which I have now decided to make public." Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics education at Stanford, accuses two mathematicians, one her colleague of Stanford, of unethical attempts to discredit her research, which supports "active engagement" with mathematics (aka "reform math") over the more traditional "practicing procedures" approach. [more inside]
Blackboard Sketching by Frederick Whitney, Director of Art, State Normal School, Salem, MA, 1908. [more inside]
Schools in Missouri, Maryland, and other states are using fingerprint scans and RFID chips to track students as a means to speed up service in the cafeteria and to track student whereabouts in and around school. [more inside]
Are you the type of person who, when flipping through a book or scanning a website, immediately searches for the diagrams or charts because you'd rather absorb the information visually than have to read a bunch of text? If so, then you are probably a visual learner and you may find Useful Charts helpful. The goal is to present useful information in the form of study charts so that students, teachers or simply those interested in increasing their general knowledge can absorb the information quickly and visually.
Blast from the past: scans of posters from schools in India. That's all.
Bret Victor: We often think of a programming environment or language in terms of its features -- this one "has code folding", that one "has type inference". This is like thinking about a book in terms of its words -- this book has a "fortuitous", that one has a "munificent". What matters is not individual words, but how the words together convey a message. Likewise, a well-designed programing system is not simply a bag of features. A good system is designed to encourage particular ways of thinking, with all features carefully and cohesively designed around that purpose.
... a new EPUB export feature has been enabled on English Wikipedia. You can use it to collate your personal collection of Wikipedia articles and generate free ebooks. These can be read on a broad range of devices, like mobile phones, tablets and e-ink based e-book readers. ... Collections can be exported in a variety of formats like PDF, EPUB, or OpenOffice.
Quiet at the back: classrooms around the world – in pictures From the Russian pupils in Prada to the Nigerian children who sit four to a desk, photographer Julian Germain takes us on a journey around the world's classrooms
McGill could lose $90 million from PQ decision to scrap tuition increases. The administration is not amused.
In school, most grades have a favorite teacher. For Rockport-Fulton Middle School's seventh grade, it's Bobby Jackson. He teaches Texas History. (Via) [more inside]
Tens of thousands of protestors have been gathering outside the Hong Kong government headquarters every night since the start of the new school year to protest the introduction of "moral and national education" classes at primary and secondary schools. At the forefront is Scholarism, a student group led by 15-year-old Joshua Wong. [more inside]
Is your elementary school youngster struggling with math? Are they a visual person? Would math games and videos help them learn? Enter Math Playground, to assist with problem solving and real world math. Try the enticing logic game Sugar, Sugar or beef up your math word problem skills. There are plenty of games to help educate while entertaining.
Recent developments in online learning have increasingly democratized the exchange of information in higher education: the launch of University of the People, a tuition-free online university; Khan Academy's acquisition of SmartHistory and its growing emphasis on humanities and liberal arts; the University of Reddit's crowd-sourced lessons being taught in real-world classrooms; Skillshare creating a community marketplace for teachers and students; Lore opening its doors to learners from all walks of life; major institutes in India putting every class lecture on YouTube in English; LectureFox collating together free university lectures from across the web. Of course not everyone is happy with the way things are going.
Years of labour peace between the government of Ontario and teachers came to an end this year. Like their colleagues in British Columbia, Ontario teachers and support staff are complaining of unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional legislation -- the Putting Students First Act, 2012 -- that gives the Education Minister, Laura Broten, unchallenged power to ban strikes, job actions, set compensation and benefits, and to take over local school boards who are non-compliant. Ontario school boards are unanimously opposed to the Act, which reduces their power, and so are teachers and support staff, who feel the government is manufacturing a crisis. Most see this as a cynical ploy to capture public support for two by-elections this week that could nudge the Liberal government into majority status. ETFO and OSSTF, two of the teacher unions involved, have repeatedly pointed out that "the school year is not in jeopardy", that they had already accepted a wage freeze, and that local bargaining is proceeding well. As legislation looms aheads, teachers, support staff, and labour activists are wondering: is this the end of collective bargaining for the public sector? [more inside]
Many people say that a law degree enables the holder to do virtually anything. Am Law Daily explores the logical fallacies behind this statement.
“'Funding for public universities comes from, as the term suggests, the state and federal government. Yet starting in the early 1980s, shifting state priorities forced public universities to increasingly rely on other sources of revenue. For example, in the University of Washington school system, state funding for schools decreased as a percentage of total public education budgets from 82% in 1989 to 51% in 2011.' That’s a loss of more than 1/3 of its public funding. But why this shift in priorities?" How The American University was Killed, in 5 Easy Steps.
Citizen science refers to science conducted by average persons, e.g., people who are not full- or part-time professional scientists but nevertheless have a keen interest in scientific inquiry. Citizen Science Center is a resource for books, papers, discussions, and project listings related to citizen science that aims to convince you to get your hands dirty and do science now.
Education, Income, and Fertility in America, and What They Mean for the Future of the Country "Since the average American woman has 2.1 children, you might think we aren't experiencing a national fertility crisis. Unlike some European countries whose futures are threatened by low birth rates, Americans, on average, produce just the right number of future workers, soldiers, and taxpayers to keep our society humming... Two new studies bring the contrasting reproductive profiles of rich and poor women into sharp relief. One, from the Guttmacher Institute, shows that the rates of unplanned pregnancies and births among poor women now dwarf the fertility rates of wealthier women, and finds that the gap between the two groups has widened significantly over the past five years. The other, by the Center for Work-Life Policy, documents rates of childlessness among corporate professional women that are higher than the childlessness rates of some European countries experiencing fertility crises."
Big Data On Campus (NYTimes) “We don’t want to turn into just eHarmony,” says Michael Zimmer, assistant professor in the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, where he studies ethical dimensions of new technology. “I’m worried that we’re taking both the richness and the serendipitous aspect of courses and professors and majors — and all the things that are supposed to be university life — and instead translating it into 18 variables that spit out, ‘This is your best fit. So go over here.’ ”
The Gates Foundation's Leveraged Philanthropy: Corporate Profit Versus Humanity
Part I on the Gates Foundation's international aid projects and II on Gates' domestic education projects. [more inside]
Part I on the Gates Foundation's international aid projects and II on Gates' domestic education projects. [more inside]
"Institutions of learning should be devoted to the cultivation of curiosity and the less they are deflected by considerations of immediacy of application, the more likely they are to contribute not only to human welfare but to the equally important satisfaction of intellectual interest which may indeed be said to have become the ruling passion of intellectual life in modern times." -Abraham Flexner, in his 1939 Harper's Article "The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge" (available at Harper's for money or in PDF from the IAS for free)
John Goerzen, an IT development manager in Kansas and a developer for Debian, has been teaching his two sons, ages five and two, respectively, how to use Linux. [more inside]
Discover Magazine posted a couple of blog entries about the law school scam as a cognitive bias and why law school tuition isn't more dispersed.
Slate: Technology is doing to math education what industrial agriculture did to food: making it efficient, monotonous, and low-quality. [more inside]
The Ph.D. Grind: A Ph.D. Student Memoir is Philip J. Guo's candid book about his six years of working towards a Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University. Lots of Hard-earned wisdom and useful advice (especially in the epilogue) for those thinking about getting a Ph.D. [more inside]
Fundamentalist Christian schools in Louisiana will soon be citing the existence of the Loch Ness monster as proof that evolution is a myth. [more inside]
A Conversation With Bill Gates About the Future of Higher Education at the Chronicle of Higher Education. As always, Bill is honest and interesting as he talks about new developments and how they fit into a realistic view of the next 10-20 years of higher ed.
Rohinton Mistry's convocation speech to Ryerson [video - g&m, must wait for short ad) this link is to the text, with no ads, but hearing his reading is nice.
Teach With Portals. Last summer, a New York Times review of Portal 2 made the following prediction: "Somewhere out there an innovative, dynamic high school physics teacher will use Portal 2 as the linchpin of an entire series of lessons and will immediately become the most important science teacher those lucky students have ever had." With Teach With Portals, Valve's new education initiative, this just might be possible. [more inside]
The U.S. National Institute of Heath has urged steps to curb growth in "training" positions in biomedical research (report). [more inside]
On Thursday 26-year-old Michael Vipperman walked up to the podium during University of Toronto's Convocation Hall ceremonies, held up his 'no' sign and said, "I hereby renounce this degree." [more inside]
Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science Videos is an 8 minute video by Derek Muller that offers some skepticism as to the usefulness of science videos that only teach the facts without investigating existing misconceptions. TL;DW? Here's a 1 minute 29 second version. Too brief? Here's his PhD thesis.
Learning and Unlearning Math explores topic in mathematics from the perspective of a teacher. The author has developed series of articles on such varied topics as Multiplication, Quantity, Central Tendency, Math in Comics, and things not taught in schools. More recently, the blog has focused on the conventions for Mathematical Notation.
When the Penn State scandal came out last year, I kept getting tangled in the questions everyone else was getting tangled in: How does an institutional culture arise to condone, or at least ignore, something that, individually, every member knows is wrong? An alumnus of Horace Mann School writes a shocking expose (NYT) of a culture of sexual abuse at the elite prep school, some at the hands of teachers who were allowed to remain for years after accusations were first made.
Soo Bin Park in Nature has reported that South Korean highschool textbook publishers will be removing examples of evolution due to demands of creationist groups [more inside]
Traditionally, the Tuesday of the first full week of May is the National Teacher Day in the USA. Here's a message (SLYT) from your kids' teachers.
On May 18, after a hearing with the Superintendent of Edmonton Public Schools, Lynden Dorval was suspended for insubordination after repeatedly refusing to comply with his school's Grading Policy (PDF). This has sparked outrage and discussion about high school grading policies. Opponents of the "no-zero" policy claim that it does not prepare students for real life, while the Superintendent of EPSB, Edgar Schmidt, claims that it helps the School District achieve it's goal for "more students to complete high school". The 35-year veteran teacher expects to be fired for his position on the grading policy.
Guidelines [pdf] recently published by a coalition of religious liberty and free speech organizations caution educators against violating student rights when trying to enforce anti-bullying policies. Other groups, however, worry that concern for free speech rights may keep educators from effectively addressing bullying. [more inside]
"It's the dirty little secret of higher education," says Mr. Williams of the New Faculty Majority. "Many administrators are not aware of the whole extent of the problem. But all it takes is for somebody to run the numbers to see that their faculty is eligible for welfare assistance." [more inside]