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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A dose of philosophy can validate doctorates in science | The Australian

Photo: Ee Ling Ng
"The modern doctor of philosophy is generally devoid of philosophy. Perhaps you started searching the meaning of the P in PhD midway through completing it, as I did." insist Ee Ling Ng independent scientist at the Future Soils Laboratory.

‘We need a little more philosophy in science.’
Photo: Michael Perkins.

It is precisely the time when you feel the need to wax lyrical — yet you are deprived of philosophising because that is not really what your PhD is about.

According to know-it-all Wikipedia, backed up by additional commentaries from the worldwide web, the academic degree uses philosophia in its original Greek meaning, which is translated into English as “love of wisdom”. This brings more head scratching because what, after all, is the meaning of wisdom? Given that a PhD in science and technology is focused on knowledge, I prefer sophia to be translated as knowledge. This is not totally baseless: Socrates is believed to have said that the artisans were wise, in so far as they knew how to practise their art. Besides, is it not such a relief to think of the PhD as love of knowledge, which is abundant in academe, while one cannot say quite say the same with equal certainty about wisdom?

One may argue that philosophy is irrelevant romanticism and unnecessary to one’s primary subject of study. I would argue that it is necessary, perhaps even more now in our competitive world.

But it seems inappropriate to propound the virtues of philosophising without dealing with the fundamental questions of “What is philosophy?” and “What has it got to do with science?”

It would be brazen to try to explain these questions in a few lines, so instead I would recommend an excellent summary in A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living by philosophy professor Luc Ferry. Failing that, you may take the words below as an abstraction of his explanation of the relevance of philosophy to science. I will also include direct pickings of wisdom from other philosophers along the way.

Science is the fruit of critical spirit and scientific method nourished at its birth by philosophy. Initially, the project of scientific mastery is about understanding the world and, if necessary, being able to exploit it, to dominate nature or society so that human can be happier and more free.

But we have now moved on from that to scientific advancement for its own sake — domination for the sake of domination.

Why? Because the nature of today’s society, governed entirely by competition, makes it an imperative to “advance or perish”.

At the core of scientific laboratories and research centres, the unceasing need to measure oneself against others, to increase productivity, to develop expertise and, above all, to apply the fruits to industry and the economy — consumption, in other words — has become the primary goal.

The modern economy functions like Darwinian selection — for instance, a business that does not “progress” is doomed to extinction but its advancement is devoid of any purpose other than to stay in the race with competitors. The conscious collective will of human beings is absent from this endeavour and, as a result, nobody knows the direction in which the world is moving.
This, to me, is the Victor Frankenstein reason why we need a little more philosophy in science.

In the research arena, it has become “publish or perish”. We can thank this system for flooding us with publications of varying quality. According to the STM Report by the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, there were about 2.5 million articles published in 2014, and the quantity has been increasing by about 3 per cent a year.

In the process of narrowing down what to read, we are likelier to read a paper written by someone we know. This also means we are likelier to read something from someone whose views coincide with ours.

In this accidental, loopy manner of positive reinforcement of selective reading and negative reinforcement from the too many papers out there, science is a dance of one step forward and three steps back.

To make matters worse, the types of publication rewarded by academe do not coincide with what policymakers are reading, so you are compelled to draw discomfort from the knowledge that your work has no impact in the real world.


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Google’s Hand-Fed AI Now Gives Answers, Not Just Search Results | WIRED

Photo: Cade Metz
"Ask the Google search app “What is the fastest bird on Earth?,” and it will tell you." according to Cade Metz, WIRED senior staff writer covering Google, Facebook, artificial intelligence, bitcoin, data centers, computer chips, programming languages, and other ways the world is changing. 

Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg/Getty Images

“Peregrine falcon,” the phone says. “According to YouTube, the peregrine falcon has a maximum recorded airspeed of 389 kilometers per hour.”

That’s the right answer, but it doesn’t come from some master database inside Google. When you ask the question, Google’s search engine pinpoints a YouTube video describing the five fastest birds on the planet and then extracts just the information you’re looking for. It doesn’t mention those other four birds. And it responds in similar fashion if you ask, say, “How many days are there in Hanukkah?” or “How long is Totem?” The search engine knows that Totem is a Cirque de Soleil show, and that it lasts two-and-a-half hours, including a thirty-minute intermission.

Google answers these questions with the help from deep neural networks, a form of artificial intelligence rapidly remaking not just Google’s search engine but the entire company and, well, the other giants of the internet, from Facebook to Microsoft. Deep neutral nets are pattern recognition systems that can learn to perform specific tasks by analyzing vast amounts of data. In this case, they’ve learned to take a long sentence or paragraph from a relevant page on the web and extract the upshot—the information you’re looking for.

These “sentence compression algorithms” just went live on the desktop incarnation of the search engine. They handle a task that’s pretty simple for humans but has traditionally been quite difficult for machines. They show how deep learning is advancing the art of natural language understanding, the ability to understand and respond to natural human speech. “You need to use neural networks—or at least that is the only way we have found to do it,” Google research product manager David Orr says of the company’s sentence compression work. “We have to use all of the most advanced technology we have.”

Not to mention a whole lot of people with advanced degrees. Google trains these neural networks using data handcrafted by a massive team of PhD linguists it calls Pygmalion. In effect, Google’s machines learn how to extract relevant answers from long strings of text by watching humans do it—over and over again. These painstaking efforts show both the power and the limitations of deep learning. To train artificially intelligent systems like this, you need lots and lots of data that’s been sifted by human intelligence. That kind of data doesn’t come easy—or cheap. And the need for it isn’t going away anytime soon.
Read more...

Source: WIRED


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Improved access to Imperial PhD theses | Imperial College London

"Imperial PhD theses from July 2007 onwards are now available on open access in the Spiral Repository." inform Janet Corcoran, one of the User Services Managers in the Library at Imperial College London.
 
Photo: Imperial College London

Library Services have been working with colleagues across the College to improve this provision - previously only theses published from 1 March 2013 onwards were available on open access.

To find an online thesis search the Spiral Repository or Library Search. Click on the link and you will be able to download the full text.

For full information about access to the complete collection of Imperial PhD theses held by the Library please visit our Theses web pages.

Source: Imperial College London


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Science and Storytelling Collide in PhD Plus Program | Duke Today

Photo: Liz Neeley
Liz Neeley, executive director of the Story Collider podcast teaches graduate students how to include storytelling in their communications.


Liz Neeley working with graduate students on storytelling
An overnight slumber party at a science museum. Participating in a piece of peer-reviewed research as a high-schooler. An enthusiastic teacher adorning the classroom wall with a memorable piece of animal anatomy.

Conducting research isn’t always a slog through daily routines. Most every scientist has had a transformational moment—either personally or professionally—that transcends measurements, field notes and experiments. Those are the moments that can transfix an audience and make science seem more vivid and tangible then they had ever imagined.

That was the message to a room full of Duke Engineering PhD students as Liz Neeley, executive director of the popular podcast Story Collider, taught them how to work narrative into their communications.

“I thought the event was very helpful in making us think of how we narrate our scientific work, especially with the suggestion of starting and ending a narrative with an action,” said Mercy Asiedu, a graduate student in biomedical engineering. “That really keeps the audience engaged from the start, instead of just going blandly into ‘my research is so and so.’ It made me more aware of what I lacked in narration and gave me really good pointers for future scientific presentations.”

If you’ve ever heard of The Moth, you have a pretty good idea of how Story Collider works. In both series, a number of people come to the stage to tell a personal story from their lives, often evoking laughter as well as deep introspection. The difference between the two is that Story Collider features narratives from scientists.

The storytelling seminar was the capstone event this semester for Duke Engineering’s PhD Plus program—a student-led initiative that conducts workshops and connects graduate students with internship and networking opportunities for those interested in careers outside of academia. This semester focused on communications, with previous workshops on improv and science communications...

Learn more about PhD Plus at phdplus.pratt.duke.edu.
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Source: Duke Today 


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Find a PhD: how to choose the right doctorate | Times Higher Education

Robert MacIntosh, head of the School of Social Sciences at Heriot-Watt University and Kevin O'Gorman professor of management and business history and director of internationalisation share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD below.

Choosing the right doctoral programme means asking a lot of questions before you embark on your studies
Photo: istock
Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success.

Take your time 
A doctorate is for life not just for Christmas, so avoid making rash commitments in the heat of the moment.

Don’t rush into it, but if you've been thinking about it for some time there is probably more to it than just the desire to be called doctor.

The idea of doing a PhD might have sneaked up on you or it might have been loitering with intent for a while.

One way or another you need to figure out how to move from "thinking about it" to "doing something about it". It’s not that difficult, but it not necessarily obvious because you'll need to understand how academics think.

Choose your quest 
Choose a topic that genuinely fascinates you. This will sustain you in the bleak mid-winter of your doctoral quest.

Your doctorate has to be like a quest. It should be about something that you really, really want to figure out. That might seem straightforward but most people without a doctorate struggle to articulate their quest in a way that would get them a doctorate. Typically, applicants paint their quests with far too broad a brush. Something like :"I want to do a doctorate in strategy" or "I want to study social inclusion" can be simultaneously true yet woefully inadequate as a starting point for a doctoral proposal.

Doctorates are awarded on the basis of contributing something new to our existing knowledge base. Given that we have been researching and producing doctorates in management for decades and in the social sciences more generally for a lot longer, such novelty usually comes in modestly-sized packages. You’ll have to do some research in order to figure out what to research.

Try before you buy 
Take multiple doctoral topics out for a first date then choose wisely. It’s a lifetime commitment.

Even if you don’t have access to a university’s library database, the wonders of GoogleScholar should allow you to dip into the literature and browse published research on the topic of your quest. Do this for four or five variants of your potential topic. Make sure to check that the academic version of your noble quest still intrigues you and that heavy research articles on the topic don’t bore you to tears.

Mind the gap 
Having chosen a broad area, identify a specific gap that is not yet fully explored in the literature.

To pass your doctorate you will need to contribute new knowledge about your chosen topic. That means you need to be able to establish what is usually referred to as "a gap in the literature" -. something that has not yet been researched. You need to be able to articulate what previous studies have shown and use this as the means of pointing toward things that are not yet known. Helpfully, academic papers often conclude with a call for further research on something or other. This might be a useful starting point.

However, you shouldn't rely on others to solve your problem. Whenever you read anything - an article, a book, a chapter or a thesis - write out your own summary of what they've told you and what you still don't know.
Read more... 

Additional resources
Finding Your PhD: How to Choose the Right Doctorate Degree by
Things to consider when choosing the appropriate doctorate degree for yourself and ensure that your time and efforts are well invested. ...

#GradSchool101 - Choosing the Right Program
 

Source: Times Higher Education, UNIVERSITY HERALD and Idealist Channel (YouTube)


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The university lecturer teaching a course on 'The Simpsons' explains why the show appears to predict the future | Business Insider

Photo: Edith Hancock
When Donald Trump was elected president earlier this month, people all over the world became fascinated with the fact that "The Simpsons" predicted it 16 years before it happened." notes Edith Hancock, Lifestyle Fellow for Business Insider UK. 

A still from a short animation released after Donald Trump announced he would be running for president.
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Now, the University of Glasgow's Philosophy Department has gained worldwide notoriety after one of its lecturers announced he's teaching a class on the show next year.


The one-day class called "D'oh! The Simpsons Introduce Philosophy," will take place in January 2017, exploring a range of philosophical topics from ethics to political theory, using the animated TV show as a guide. 

Dr John Donaldson, a graduate tutor at the University, told Business Insider why the show is a perfect tool for teaching philosophy, and how it has managed to predict the future so often throughout its 27-year history. 

"It's a show about life," Donaldson told Business Insider. "It deals with situations close to our own hearts and touches on themes we see in our day-to-day lives, so it's unsurprising that some of the things they touch on can become a reality." 

As well as Trump's presidency, "The Simpsons" has accurately predicted the future in lots of different ways — from the discovery of the Higgs Boson to faulty voting machines in the 2008 US election. The inadvertent predictions have happened so often, they've been labelled as "eerie," and "spooky," by several news outlets, and more predictions continue to come out of the woodwork.

Despite the strange knack the writers have for clairvoyance, Donaldson said these predictions are purely coincidence. 
Read more... 
 

Source: Business Insider 


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Andrew Kohlhofer: We need a revolution in education | The Union Leader

"THE ANTI-TRUMP DEMONSTRATIONS all over the country highlight one of the main reasons why I ran for state representative in Rockingham County District 33, and I wish I had been a better candidate." writes Andrew Kohlhofer, lives in Fremont.


It is not the protests themselves, which of course began after the election, but the complete ignorance of American history and political philosophy and the outright violence that they exhibit. Safe spaces, micro-aggressions, the epithet of “racist” against anyone who opposes them, and skipping classes are symptoms of a failed education system. These attitudes have been fostered from kindergarten through college by the social justice warriors that currently dominate academia, from local schools through our colleges.

During my six years on a local school board, I have seen the abandonment of the idea of core knowledge. It has been replaced with a mish-mash of self-directed learning, differential instruction and materials that are more focused on political correctness than actual facts, history or skill building.

With Republicans now in control of both Houses of the New Hampshire Legislature and the governor’s office, the wave of social justice can be rolled back and replaced by the deep sea of human liberty. We need to go further than promoting school choice and eliminating Common Core.

Some things will be easy, some will be hard, but we need to take a view that is longer than our social justice counterparts.
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Source: The Union Leader


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The Return of Engels | Jacobin magazine


Photo: John Bellamy Foster
"On the occasion of his birthday, let’s celebrate the incredible contributions of Marx collaborator Friedrich Engels." according to John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is the author of Marx’s Ecology along with numerous other works.

Photo: Friedrich Engels. Edward Gooch

Few political and intellectual partnerships can rival that of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They not only famously coauthored The Communist Manifesto in 1848, both taking part in the social revolutions of that year, but also two earlier works — The Holy Family in 1845 and The German Ideology in 1846.

In the late 1870s, when the two scientific socialists were finally able to live in close proximity and to confer with each other every day, they would often pace up and down in Marx’s study, each on their own side of the room, boring grooves in the floor as they turned on their heels, while discussing their various ideas, plans, and projects.

They frequently read to each other passages from their works in progress. Engels read the entire manuscript of his Anti-Dühring (to which Marx contributed a chapter) to Marx before its publication. Marx wrote an introduction to Engels’s Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. After Marx’s death in 1883, Engels prepared volumes two and three of Capital for publication from the drafts his friend had left behind. If Engels, as he was the first to admit, stood in Marx’s shadow, he was nevertheless an intellectual and political giant in his own right.

Yet for decades academics have suggested that Engels downgraded and distorted Marx’s thought. As political scientist John L. Stanley critically observed in his posthumous Mainlining Marx in 2002, attempts to separate Marx from Engels — beyond the obvious fact that they were two different individuals with differing interests and talents — have more and more taken the form of disassociating Engels, viewed as the source of all that is reprehensible in Marxism, from Marx, viewed as the epitome of the civilized man of letters, and not himself a Marxist.

Almost forty-two years ago, on December 12, 1974, I attended a lecture by David McLellan on “Karl Marx: The Vicissitudes of a Reputation,” at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. The year before McLellan had published Karl Marx: His Life and Thought, which I had studied closely. But McLellan’s message that day, in a nutshell, was that Karl Marx was not Frederich Engels. To discover the authentic Marx, it was necessary to separate Marx’s wheat from Engels’s chaff. It was Engels, McLellan contended, who had introduced positivism into Marxism, pointing to the Second and Third Internationals, and eventually to Stalinism. A few years later, McLellan was to put some of these criticisms into his short biography, Friedrich Engels.

This was my first introduction to the anti-Engels outlook that emerged as a defining characteristic of the Western academic left, and which was closely connected to the rise of “Western Marxism” as a distinct philosophical tradition — in opposition to what was sometimes called official or Soviet Marxism. Western Marxism, in this sense, had as its principal axiom the rejection of Engels’s dialectics of nature, or “merely objective dialectics,” as Georg Lukács called it.

For most Western Marxists the dialectic was an identical-subject object relation: we could understand the world to the extent to which we had made it. Such a critical view constituted a welcome rejection of the crude positivism that had infected much of Marxism, and that had been rationalized in official Soviet ideology. Yet it also had the effect of pushing Marxism in a more idealist direction, leading to the abandonment of the long tradition of seeing historical materialism as related not just to the humanities and social science — and of course politics — but also to materialist natural science.

Disparaging Engels became a popular pastime among left academics, with some figures, like political theorist Terrell Carver, constructing whole careers on this basis. One common maneuver was to use Engels as the device for extracting Marx from Marxism. As Carver wrote in 1984: “Karl Marx denied that he was a Marxist. Friedrich Engels repeated Marx’s comment but failed to take his point. Indeed, it is now evident that Engels was the first Marxist, and it is increasingly accepted that he in some way invented Marxism.” For Carver, Engels not only committed the cardinal sin of inventing Marxism, but also committed numerous other sins, such as promoting quasi-Hegelianism, materialism, positivism, and dialectics — all of which were said to be “miles away from Marx’s painstaking eclecticism.”

The very idea that Marx had “a methodology” was attributed to Engels, and hence declared false. Removed from his association with Engels and stripped of all determinate content, Marx was easily made acceptable to the status quo, as a kind of intellectual forerunner. As Carver recently put it, with no apparent sense of irony, “Marx was a liberal thinker.”

But most criticisms of Engels have been directed at his alleged scientism in Anti-Dühring and his unfinished Dialectics of Nature. McLellan in his Engels biography stated that the latter’s interest in natural science “made him emphasize a materialist conception of nature rather than of history.” He was accused of bringing “the concept of matter” into Marxism, which was “entirely foreign to Marx’s work.” His main mistake was in attempting to develop an objective dialectics that abandoned “the subjective side of the dialectic,” and that led to “the gradual assimilation of Marx’s views to a scientific world outlook.”

“It is not surprising,” McLellan charged, “that, with the consolidation of the Soviet regime, the vulgarizations of Engels should have become the main philosophical content of Soviet textbooks.” Just as Marx was increasingly presented as the refined intellectual, Engels was seen more and more as the coarse popularizer. Engels has thus served in the academic discourse on Marxism as a convenient whipping boy.

Yet Engels had his admirers, as well. The first real sign of a reversal in his fading fortunes within contemporary Marxist theory arose with historian E. P. Thompson’s The Poverty of Theory in 1978, which was primarily directed against the structuralist Marxism of Louis Althusser. Here Thompson defended historical materialism against an abstract and hypostatized theory divorced from any historical subject and from all empirical reference points. In the process, he valiantly — and in what I have always seen as one of the high points in late twentieth-century English letters — stood up for that “old duffer Frederick Engels,” who had been the target of so much of Althusser’s criticism.

On this basis, Thompson made a case for a kind of dialectical empiricism — what he admired most in Engels — as essential to a historical-materialist analysis. A few years later, Marxian economist Paul Sweezy’s Four Lectures on Marxism began by boldly reasserting the importance of Engels’s approach to dialectics and his critique of mechanistic and reductionist views.

But the real shift that was to restore Engels’s reputation as a major classical Marxist theorist alongside Marx was to emanate not from historians and political economists, but from natural scientists. In 1975 Stephen Jay Gould, writing in Natural History, openly celebrated Engels’s theory of human evolution, which had emphasized the role of labor, describing it as the most advanced conception of human evolutionary development in the Victorian age — one which had anticipated the anthropological discovery in the twentieth century of Australopithecus africanus.

A few years later, in 1983, Gould extended his argument in the New York Review of Books, pointing out that all theories of human evolution were theories of “gene-culture coevolution,” and that “the best nineteenth-century case for gene-culture coevolution was made by Friedrich Engels in his remarkable essay of 1876 (posthumously published in The Dialectics of Nature), ‘The part played by labor in the transition from ape to man.’”
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Source: Jacobin magazine


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Taking a closer look at online social networking and depression | EurekAlert

Here's another interesting article published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News.  
 

Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking is the essential, peer-reviewed journal for understanding the social and psychological impact of today's social networking practices view more 
Photo: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, 2016

While frequency and duration of online social networking may have a negative effect on mental health outcomes such as depression, a new systematic review suggests that the relationship between online social networking and depression is more complex. In fact, not only may how a person uses sites such as Facebook and Twitter be more important factors, but for some people, social networking may serve as a resource for managing depression, thereby contributing to more positive outcomes, according to a review published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking website until December 30, 2016. (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/cyber.2016.0206)

David Baker and Guillermo Perez Algorta, Lancaster University, U.K., coauthors of the article entitled "The Relationship Between Online Social Networking and Depression: A Systematic Review of Quantitative Studies," conclude that multiple psychological, social, behavioral, and individual factors may all impact this complex relationship. Online social networking can have both a positive and a negative effect on a person's well-being, and the frequency, quality, and purpose of the experience will all factor into the outcome.
Read more...

About the Journal
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published monthly online with Open Access options and in print that explores the psychological and social issues surrounding the Internet and interactive technologies. Complete tables of contents and a sample issue may be viewed on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking website. (http://www.liebertpub.com/cyber)

About the Publisher
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Games for Health Journal, Telemedicine and e-Health, and Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. Its biotechnology trade magazine, GEN (Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News), was the first in its field and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm's 80 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers website. (http://www.liebertpub.com)

Additional resources
Baker David A. and Algorta Guillermo Perez. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. November 2016, 19(11): 638-648. 
doi:10.1089/cyber.2016.0206. 
 
Source: EurekAlert


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DFG to fund 20 new research training groups | EurekAlert

EurekAlert inform "Topics range from medical imaging to analysis of authority and trust in US politics and society; €87 million in funding for an initial 4.5 years."


The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing 20 new Research Training Groups (RTGs) to further support early career researchers in Germany. They include three International Research Training Groups (IRTGs) with partners in the UK, New Zealand and Austria. This was decided by the responsible Grants Committee during its autumn session in Bonn. The Research Training Groups will receive funding of around 87 million euros for an initial period of four and a half years. In addition to the 20 new collaborations, the Grants Committee approved the extension of seven Research Training Groups for another four and a half years. This funding instrument enables doctoral researchers to complete their theses in a structured research and qualification programme at a high academic level.

In total the DFG is currently funding 206 Research Training Groups, including 41 International Research Training Groups; the 20 new groups will commence their work in 2017.

The new Research Training Groups in detail (in alphabetical order by their host universities, including the name of the applicant universities):

Sketches, abstracts, notes, records, excerpts, essays, articles and glosses: all these 'small forms' of writing are an essential part of the practice of research, teaching, art and the media. The Research Training Group "The Literary and Epistemic History of Small Forms" intends to study their emergence and development, with which they are also involved in the success of prose, from antiquity to the present day. The group will also seek to understand how processes of understanding are controlled, reflected and channelled in specific media using these small forms.
(Host university: Humboldt University of Berlin, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Joseph Vogl)


Imaging techniques such as ultrasound, X-rays and CT scans are well known. Medical findings are established on the basis of the image data produced in technically and mathematically complex processes. However, physicians' diagnoses are normally made on the basis of qualitative arguments, which do not make full use of the information content of image data and in particular the potential of imaging methods. The "BIOQIC - BIOphysical Quantitative Imaging Towards Clinical Diagnosis" Research Training Group will therefore study biophysical quantitative medical imaging to further develop these quantitative methods and apply them in clinical pilot studies to obtain more information from the imaging process...
(Host universities: Humboldt University of Berlin and Free University of Berlin / Charité - University Hospital Berlin, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Ingolf Sack) 


For many mathematical questions, approximation and dimension reduction are the most important tools for achieving simplified representation and therefore saving computing time. The Research Training Group "Mathematical Complexity Reduction (CoRe)" will approach complexity reduction in a more general sense and will also investigate when problems can be made easier to solve through embedding in higher dimensional spaces ('liftings'). The group also intends to systematically examine the influence of the costs of data collection.
(Host university: University of Magdeburg, Spokesperson: Professor Dr. Sebastian Sager)

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Source: EurekAlert (press release)


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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Professors in doubt over value of distance education | Higher Ed - Education Dive

"A new survey suggests that a majority of college faculty members are not confident in the rigor and reach of online learning." continues Higher Ed - Education Dive.

Photo: Higher Ed - Education Dive
Dive Brief:
  • A new survey from Gallup suggests that a predominant number of college and university faculty members, about 55%, are not confident in the outcomes of distance education when measured against traditional learning models.
  • Of a respondent pool of more than 1,600 professors from all private, public and for-profit institutions, 40% said they have taught at least one online class, and 32% believed that learning was possible through digital and traditional classroom settings at any institution. 
  • More than 60% of professors with no online teaching experience believe that positive outcomes are possible in either academic setting. 
Dive Insight: 

It is natural that perspectives vary among the experience levels of professors in digital teaching and learning space, but what is most interesting is that a majority of professors still have no online experience to begin with.
Considering that nearly all colleges and universities have some form of distance learning, or at a minimum, digital communication methods between teachers and students, campuses would seemingly emphasize more investment and participation in digital learning platforms. 

For those campuses which have not taken the step, they should immediately look to adopt a digital learning plan that recognizes the future of the industry and the revenue it could create from enrollment and student engagement.

Source: Education Dive


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What are you reading? – 24 November 2016 | Books | Times Higher Education (THE)

"A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers" summarizes Times Higher Education (THE).

Photo: iStock
Carina Buckley, instructional design manager, Southampton Solent University, is reading Teffi’s Rasputin and Other Ironies (Pushkin Press, 2016). “A playwright, author, journalist and social observer, Teffi lived through some of Russia’s most tumultuous years before eventually emigrating to Paris in 1919... 

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor of the University of Reading, is reading Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity (Penguin, 2012). “When The Better Angels of Our Nature was published in 2011, it was acclaimed as an outstanding piece of scholarship that drew from a number of disciplines...

Sharon Wheeler, visiting lecturer in media and communications, Coventry University, is reading Angus MacVicar’s Duel in Glenfinnan (Endeavour Press, 2016).
Read more... 

Source: Times Higher Education (THE)


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Best mobile apps for coding and learning on the go | SlashGear

"With holidays approaching, you will likely have some free time to kill. Even if you’re the gaming type, such moments can be exploited to start a new project or learn something new." inform JC Torres - SlashGear. 
 

Photo: SlashGear

In this digital age, that something new can easily be learning how to code. Of course, it’s not something you can completely learn in a weekend, or even a week.

Fortunately, it’s entirely possible today to learn at your own pace, anywhere through your smartphone or tablet. Even better, you can actually code right on your phone or, preferably, tablet. No desktop or laptop required. To help get you started on the road to become a developer rockstar, we present 8 of the best apps on Android or iOS to code right on your Android or iOS device.
Read more... 

Source: SlashGear


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K-12 Educational Technology Market in ASEAN - Analysis, Technologies & Forecasts to 2020 - Key Vendors are Dell, D2L & Samsung - Research and Markets

Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "K-12 Educational Technology Market in ASEAN 2016-2020" report to their offering. 

Information about this report

The report forecasts the K-12 education technology market in ASEAN to grow at a CAGR of 24.76% during the period 2016-2020.

The report has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.

According to the report, one of the primary drivers in the market is adoption of new learning methods. Over the past decade, the adoption of innovative learning approaches has increased in the ASEAN. Some schools in Indonesia and the Philippines have adopted an e-learning platform known as Quipper School. The platform allows students to attend online classes, source study materials, and take online quizzes. This will influence the adoption of mobile-learning and education apps to a large extent.

The K-12 schools in the ASEAN are emphasizing on delivering learning content with rich multimedia. A growing number of instructors are incorporating active learning methods that include project-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and experiential learning to improve the learning experience of students and enhance student performance assessments.  

Key vendors:
  • Dell
  • D2L
  • Educomp Solutions
  • Samsung
  • Seiko Epson
Key Topics Covered:
Part 01: Executive summary
Part 02: Scope of the report
Part 03: Market research methodology
Part 04: Introduction
Part 05: Market landscape
Part 06: Segmentation by product
Part 07: Geographical segmentation
Part 08: Market drivers
Part 09: Impact of drivers
Part 10: Market challenges
Part 11: Impact of drivers and challenges
Part 12: Market trends
Part 13: Vendor landscape
Part 14: Key vendor analysis
Part 15: Other prominent vendors
Part 16: Appendix

Source: Business Wire


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Mass learning must mean web-based study | Times Higher Education (THE)

We have all the elements needed to make online courses succeed, but institutional inertia at well-established universities stymies progress, argues Laurence Brockliss, professor of early modern French history at the University of Oxford.

Photo: James Minchall

Despite what sceptics about university expansion might say, more need not necessarily mean worse. But if expansion amounts to just more and more of the same, then it can do.

The UK is a prime example. At the turn of the 1980s, there were some 500,000 students in full-time higher education. Although this was a sixfold increase since the eve of the Second World War, it still accounted for only 13 per cent of 18-year-olds, and was relatively low by Western standards. But by 1995-96, the number of full-time students had risen to more than a million, and in 2011‑12 it peaked at more than 1.7 million, accounting for 49 per cent of 18-year-olds.

But, as is usually the case, public financial support did not expand commensurately. Amounting to about 0.8 per cent of gross domestic product in the 1960s, it rose to 1.2 per cent in the mid-1990s but then fell back and stands at about 0.9 per cent today.

The financial shortfall has been met largely by transferring costs from the public to the private purse, and not just in teaching: much research is supported by private charities and foundations, and institutions compete for donors to support new buildings and underwrite academic posts. The rest of the deficit has been made up by eroding staff-to-student ratios and, outside Oxbridge, all but abolishing small-group teaching.

Meanwhile, the emphasis on research has encouraged academics to take as much research leave as possible. Nor is it clear that the teaching excellence framework will do much to redress the balance given that only the very weakest institutions will lose out financially and that international league tables will still be primarily research-driven.

Yet new technology offers the possibility of developing an entirely different type of mass higher education, well beyond the experiments with flipped classrooms. At a fraction of the present cost, undergraduates, if not postgraduates, could study far away from their host institutions, accessing books, articles, lectures, demonstrations and debates at any hour. They could be brought together frequently via Skype with their peers and teachers in one-to-one conversations and group tutorials, topped up from time to time with short visits to the parent institution. They could balance study with paid work and finish their courses as quickly or as slowly as they wished.

If this all sounds familiar, that is because it is. The Open University has been offering flexible distance learning since 1969, and there are plenty of examples internationally of institutions that focus primarily or exclusively on distance learning. However, they are rarely lauded for their high academic standards; in the US, for instance, the University of Phoenix was criticised in a 2012 Senate committee report into for-profit higher education for its high dropout rates and for appearing to have prioritised “financial success over student success”.
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Source: Times Higher Education (THE)


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