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Friday, October 24, 2014

Should the Nobel Prizes move with the times?

Follow on Twitter as @wilsondasilva
Wilson da Silva, founding Editor-in-Chief of COSMOS, the literary science magazine finds that the winds of change are blowing in Stockholm.
"For more than a century, the Nobel Prizes have represented the zenith of scientific achievement. But are they an accurate reflection of science as it is done today?"

Sitting in the magnificent Blue Hall of the Stadshuset, listening to a trio of sopranos singing from a Swedish opera, while sipping from a flute of Gaston Chiquet Cuvée Tradition, it’s easy to be transported by the mythical dimensions of the evening. Here on the Riddarfjärden waterfront of central Stockholm on 10 December each year the world’s most exclusive science party celebrates the pinnacle of scientific achievement. Only a very select few get to sit on the table of honour with Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf, who annually rises to offer a toast in memory of Alfred Nobel.

Alfred Nobel – shown here on the medal that bears his name – had no problem with the prize going to two or more people.
Photo: Cosmos

But for some, the Nobel Prize has lost a little of its glow. Determining who should win, and for what, is subject to rules that were mostly drafted 114 years ago. At that time, science was a genteel endeavour carried out by brilliant individuals working, mainly, in isolation. That just three individuals are awarded for the pre-eminent advance in their field in any one year fits uncomfortably with the way science is done today. These days a breakthrough Nature paper is likely to devote half its title page to the names of contributing authors. And back-to-back with that paper, there’s likely to be another paper or two, describing related results from the same research.

One of the four Nobel Prizes awarded on the glittering Riddarfjärden waterfront in 2013 was the Nobel Prize in Physics, shared between Britain’s Peter Higgs and Belgium’s François Englert. In the 1960s both predicted the existence of what has come to be known as the Higgs boson. This particle is held to be responsible for giving other particles mass, making it the foundation for the entire Standard Model of physics. Their insight proved the power of theoretical physics in a way not seen since the days of Albert Einstein.

Yet the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physics also perfectly exemplifies the mounting doubts about the Nobels. It’s a growing controversy that is clearly not far from the minds of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences selection committee, even as they narrow the shortlist for this year’s prize. 

Elusive British physicist Peter Higgs is a little like the particle that bears his name. 
Credit: SPL Creative/GETTY IMAGES


Peter Higgs is a little like the particle that bears his name. He’s not easy to find, scarcely interacts with others, and yet, when he moves through a crowd, people cluster around him as if some invisible force is drawing them closer.
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Source: Cosmos


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Online Learning Revolution Energized By New Business

"The online learning revolution is coming to the office. Mooc makers and business schools are selling customized online courses to businesses – a lucrative market." continues BusinessBecause.
 

Photo: BusinessBecause 

For MBA and business school students, it means an online network of additional knowledge to tap into outside of the classroom, free of charge. For the learning technology companies that produce the courses, it is a way to turn their enormous popularity into cash, and widen their student pools.

These online learning specialists now offer businesses tailored online content for a fee, with perks like user analytics and the freedom to create their own subject matter.

According to Bersin by Deloitte, a HR research firm owned by the consultancy, the corporate training market is worth $70 billion in the US alone. Deloitte says that 44% of training outfits it surveyed say they are experimenting with Moocs.

The operators of these Moocs including edX, Coursera and Udemy are tapping into this market with a cadre of courses aimed at executives – pitching them against business schools – and customized corporate programs which are developed in collaboration with universities.

It is one of many measures designed to monetize the Mooc which both learning tech companies and business schools are researching, and represents a potentially lucrative market to move into.
Earlier this year, edX ran a pilot course on big data that enrolled 3,500 people from more than 2,000 organizations including Microsoft, the computer juggernaut, grossing about $1.7 million.

An initiative of leading US universities MIT and Harvard, edX has shown signs it is evolving into the fee-paying market with courses that target business professionals.
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Source: BusinessBecause


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The Education of Everything

Follow on Twitter as @spirrison
"From early childhood through higher education and beyond, there is little debate that the iPad -- still less than five years old -- is transforming how we learn." reports Brad Spirrison,  Managing Editor of Appolicious'. 

Yet the flipped classrooms, personalized learning programs and real-time student assessment tools that the iPad and similar devices enable are really just appetizers for what we should expect over the next half decade. Technological advancements involving connected objects and wearables (the so-called Internet of Things), along with hyper-personalization and an exponential increase in the volume and sophistication of digital content will transform all walks of life.

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For education in particular, expect to see digital innovations that range from shoes that teach toddlers how to tie knots, to holograms of world class surgeons who explain state-of-the-art procedures to medical students.

For better and worse, connectivity is extending beyond the screen. Here are three ways that the Education of Everything will impact us in the months and years ahead. 

Smart Toys and Early Childhood Learning
We've come a long way since the days of Teddy Ruxpin and the Speak and Spell. Today's connected toys weave technology like sensors, accelerometers and transmitters within building blocks. While smart toys like Stanford University-created Dr. Wagon are often cited as devices that teach kids elementary concepts behind computer programming, there is also a set of toys accessible to babies and toddlers that serve as physical extensions to iPads, iPhones and other touch screen devices.


Boulder, Colorado-based Seamless Toy Company has a series of toys in development called ATOMS that (among other things) latch onto and manipulate the movement of Legos. So with ATOMS, kids cannot only build a toy car with these components, but also steer it around the house with an iPhone-turned remote control. Investors in Seamless Toy Company include Bono and a number of former Apple executives.

Marketed to children as young as 18 months old, Tiggly Shapes are colorful blocks that can stick to an iPad screen. The toy not only offers a series of basic math and geometry games, but also teaches kids how to balance touch screen gestures with physical objects.
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Source: Huffington Post


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What do you get out of an MBA? Marylhurst University's expert weighs in

"The smorgasbord of MBA programs available to Oregon and Southwest Washington professionals and entrepreneurs is proliferating with new industry specializations, formats, time-frames, dual-degree options and professional certifications." according to Portland Business Journal (blog).

Susan Marcus, chair of the Marylhurst University MBA – which enrolls the most MBA students in the state – discusses how her school engages students in its wide selection of programs and concentrations.

Susan Marcus chairs Marylhurst University's MBA program.

How do you prepare new instructors to teach in the online environment? 
We give them an opportunity to facilitate online conversations that use the various tools from our learning management system platform. They're given textbooks and some articles that talk about adult learning styles. And of course we give them a lot of time sot sort of demo and get used to the technology that we use for our online course delivery.

Actually, prior to all that, our faculty coordinator will spend sometimes about an hour on the phone just making sure they understand our online approach may not be what they're used to or seen in the past. So we work especially work in that area to make sure that they're coming into this faculty community clear on what they're expectations are in terms of timeliness, in terms of substantive feedback, in terms of acknowledging the value and perspective that the students bring to the interaction – and being prepared to bump up their game in terms of who is in the room, so to speak for a given cohort of students.

Not only are we looking for qualified instructors but they really have to understand the importance of bringing a full sense of engagement to this online community. And the part-time aspect, also, because students are often going at part-time pace, which means they're going to be in the community longer.
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Source: Portland Business Journal (blog)


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What Happens When Students Control Their Own Education?

Follow on Twitter as @EWAEmily
Emily Richmond, public editor for the National Education Writers Association writes, "When a New Hampshire district found itself struggling with low test scores and high turnover, it made a radical decision: Flip the traditional model and let kids take over the classrooms."

Teacher Jenny Wellington (bottom) sits apart from her students, taking notes on their self-led discussion. (Emily Richmond)

In an 11th-grade English class at Pittsfield Middle High School in rural New Hampshire, Jenny Wellington’s students were gathered in a circle debating Henry David Thoreau’s positions on personal responsibility.

“Do you think Thoreau really was about ‘every man for himself?'” asked one 16-year-old boy.

“He lived alone in the woods and didn’t want to pay taxes,” another student shots back. “So, yeah.”

Sitting off to the side, Wellington took rapid notes. When she noticed the conversation being dominated by a couple of voices, she politely suggested someone else chime in. Otherwise, she stayed out of the way and let the discussion take shape.

Welcome to student-centered learning at Pittsfield, a grade 7–12 campus in its third year of an innovative approach to education.

“There used to be a lot more of teachers talking at you—it didn’t matter if you were ready to move on. When the teacher was done with the topic that was it,” said Noah Manteau, a senior this year at Pittsfield. “This is so much better.”

Educators, researchers, and policymakers at the state and national level are keeping close tabs on Pittsfield, which has become an incubator for a critical experiment in school reform. The goal: a stronger connection between academic learning and the kind of real-world experience that advocates say can translate into postsecondary success.

Pittsfield, a former mill town, has about 4,500 predominately white residents, and the Middle High School serves about 260 residents. Fifty-six percent of them qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Student-centered learning is fully in place in the high school, and elements of it are being phased in at the middle-school level. The long-term plan is to eventually add it to the nearby elementary school.
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Source: The Atlantic


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Designa: technical secrets of the visual arts

"A new sourcebook aims to reveal the secrets behind the many of the patterns and symbols that occur in the traditional visual arts. From Celtic and Islamic designs, to studies of curves, perspective, symmetry and the 'golden section', Designa is a real box of delights..." summarizes Mark Sinclair, Deputy Editor of Creative Review, the UK's leading magazine and blog on design, advertising and visual culture.

Photo: CR Blog

The book is actually composed of six previously published editions from Wooden Books, with various appendices included to provide further context. And each chapter – ostensibly one of the six books published between 2007 and 2013 – is at once scientific and philosophical about the process of design. After all, much of the work charted here is centuries old, the product of cultures from all over the world. It's had a lot of time to prove that it works.
 
Photo: CR Blog

Designa brings together observations of the natural world and astronomy, optics, geometry and mathematics to show how the visual arts are heavily indebted to science. If your creative practice involves drawing and designing patterns – or incorporating them into your work – then this packed book unlocks the secrets to countless aspects of the artform.
Read more...

Related link
Designa is published by Wooden Books; £14.99. 
See woodenbooks.com. It is available from Amazon UK, here. 

Source: Creative Review (blog)


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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Calculus kids exposed to math problems in real-life settings

Elizabeth Barrett, Editor of the Gothenburg Times in Gothenburg Nebraska writes, "From Monsanto to the superintendent’s office at Gothenburg Public Schools, high school calculus students are learning how math works in the real world."

MONSANTO EXPERIENCE: Gothenburg High School calculus students recently visited the Monsanto breeding building where they learned how employees use trigonmetery with a global positioning system (GPS) to track and plant different hybrids of corn. Pictured during a presentation are Remmy Rocha (left) and Amanda Kowalewski.

Recently, the class visited Monsanto where they listened to how employees use trigonometry to track and plant the different hybrids of corn.

From using satellites and connecting to maybe 18 of the 24 satellites available in the solar system, math teacher Sharise Scherer said they find the coordinates of the plots of corn exactly.

“So someone in St. Louis working for Monsanto can plug in these same coordinates on their iPhone, iPad or computer and see the plot of the hybrid of corn they want to collect data from,” Scherer explained. “They can also run and/or see the equipment that plants corn from these GPS systems and be very exact in the placement of the crop.”

Because the class is interested in real-life activities, Scherer invites the public to let her know other possibilities. She can be contacted at sharise.scherer@goswedes.org.
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Source: Gothenburg Times


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SAS and Capella University Help Adult Learners Fill Analytics Skills Gap

With the demand for analytical talent projected to outpace supply by 60 percent in the next few years, and a persistent shortage of female analytic experts, new educational options are required to help address these needs. SAS and Capella University are helping adult learners jump-start careers in the hot field of analytics with two minor degrees.


Capella University, a regionally accredited* online university, is now offering a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology minor in data analytics and a Bachelor of Science in Business minor in business intelligence. Capella University offers online degree programs that help working adults advance their careers. Students in the new minors gain free access to SAS Self-Paced e-Learning courses to prepare for SAS Certified Base Programmer professional certification.

Capella's collaboration with business analytics leader SAS provides students with SAS knowledge and the high-demand competencies that address the nation's analytics skills gap.


"Students benefit from an interactive, collaborative learning environment that blends theory with practical application, including sophisticated SAS tools accessible from their desktops," said Sue Talley, EdD, Capella's Dean of Technology. "Working with SAS lets Capella provide a well-rounded, foundational education in data as well as a deep dive into specific skill areas."

Talley described Capella's efforts to increase the participation of women in analytics at this week's Analytics 2014 conference and will revisit the topic at The Premier Business Leadership Series. Women represent only 24 percent of US IT professionals, and just 22 percent of 2013 graduates in computer and information sciences.

A revolutionary new path to a degree.

Both female and male data analysts interested in becoming SAS experts may find they are well on the way to a Capella University degree, thanks to the university's FlexPath learning option. FlexPath is a self-paced style of learning that allows students to move more rapidly toward their degrees by directly demonstrating competences, regardless of how they learned them. This can also leave more time to work through new or more challenging material. FlexPath's self-defined deadlines, robust and timely faculty feedback, and responsive support structures can result in decreased time to degree and lower tuition costs. Degrees earned through the FlexPath option are the same as those received through Capella's traditional, credit-bearing programs.

"Employers are clamoring for analysts that can turn data into knowledge. Capella and SAS help adult learners combine workforce experience with new analytics skills to seize lucrative jobs," said Emily Baranello, Director of the SAS Education Practice.

Career opportunities fuel popularity of SAS Analytics U.

Collaboration with colleges and universities is pivotal to SAS Analytics U, a broad academic initiative that includes free software, university partnerships and engaging user communities that support the next generation of SAS users.

Driven by rising employer demand for analytics talent, more people than ever before are pursuing SAS skills, aided by free SAS software and training. SAS University Edition has been downloaded more than 111,000 times since its launch in May. It provides free access to foundational SAS software faster and more easily for students, professors and adult learners.
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Source: Broadway World


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Davenport launches online competency-based MBA degree

"Program puts more emphasis on business experience than classroom time." continues Grand Rapids Business Journal.  

Business professionals interested in earning an MBA can now be graded based on their proficiency of material rather than time spent in a classroom.

Davenport MBA students are tested for their understanding of materials, which could shave time off their degree track.  
Courtesy Davenport

Davenport University announced Oct. 6 that its Donald W. Maine College of Business is launching an online competency-based Master of Business Administration program in January 2015 that is tailored for experienced business professionals.

The competency-based MBA allows students to earn credit based on their proficiency of a certain subject matter through online assessments to complete the curriculum at a self-motivated pace.

Designed for experienced professionals, prospective students are required to have at least three years of experience in a business field. Depending on transfer credits and prior experience, a student is able to earn an MBA in less than a year, according to the press release.

Irene Bembenista, interim dean of the college of business, said the competency-based MBA is a completely different approach to graduate education and is the first of its kind in Michigan.

“We are eager to offer this online program to business professionals wherever they may be, helping them prepare for accelerated career advancement in a more cost-effective way,” said Bembenista in the release.

Brian Miller, vice president of IT services, chief information officer and interim dean for Davenport Online, said the program allows the university to measure a student’s proficiency and provide credit based on knowledge rather than time spent in a classroom.

“The competency-based program allows us to coach a student through the learning process — however much of that learning they need to get to a certain level of competency — and then we assess their progress and knowledge,” said Miller. “When they can prove they have mastered a certain subject or certain proficiency, then we can give them credit.”

With a framework of more than 80 modules comprising 14 competency areas, students will work with a faculty coach to help design a customized degree plan, and receive topic materials and related information from a modular facilitator. The 14 competencies were identified as core subject areas of a MBA program, such as leadership and management, according to Miller.
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Source: Grand Rapids Business Journal


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Impacts of MOOCs on Higher Education

"An international group of higher education institutions—including UT Arlington, Stanford University, Hong Kong University and Davidson College—convened by learning researcher and theorist George Siemens gathered last week to explore the impacts of MOOCs on higher education (full list of participating institutions below)." according to Inside Higher Ed (blog).

The takeaway? Higher education is going digital, responding to the architecture of knowledge in a digital age, and MOOCs, while heavily criticized, have proven a much-needed catalyst for the development of progressive programs that respond to the changing world.

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After sharing challenges, key innovations and general impacts, we were collectively awed by our similarities. Sure, Harvard and Stanford have larger budgets and teams, and the Texas system is, well, a system, while Davidson College enrolls a little under 2,000 students; yet, these fundamentally different institutions voiced similar challenges in their transitions to digital environments.

During a wide-ranging, engaging conversation, participants focused on themes that have to do with organizational change, the state of higher education, and what it is we want our purpose to be—collectively—over the coming years.

Here are a few of the effects MOOCs have had on our colleges or universities:
  • Increased institutional consciousness around the future of digital. Not surprisingly, the most prevalent topic of conversation was that our institutions are increasingly thinking, debating and dreaming about the role of MOOCs—and digital education more broadly—in defining future models of higher education. Four years ago, many of our faculty senates and upper level administrations infrequently engaged deeply with questions pertaining to the higher education in the digital era. Today, those conversations populate strategy documents, capital campaign materials, and inform decision-making and exchanges between students, staff and faculty on a daily basis.
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Source: Inside Higher Ed (blog)


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