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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Google promises ethical principles to guide development of military AI | The Verge

The company says the guidelines will include a ban on the development of AI weaponry, as The Verge reports. 


Google is drawing up a set of guidelines that will steer its involvement in developing AI tools for the military, according to a report from The New York Times. What exactly these guidelines will stipulate isn’t clear, but Google says they will include a ban on the use of artificial intelligence in weaponry. 
The principles are expected to be announced in full in the coming weeks. They are a response to the controversy over the company’s decision to develop AI tools for the Pentagon that analyze drone surveillance footage.

Although tech companies regularly bid for contracts in the US defense sector, the involvement of Google (a company that once boasted the motto “don’t be evil”) and cutting-edge AI tech has raised eyebrows — both inside and outside the firm. News of the Pentagon contract was first made public by Gizmodo in March, and thousands of Google employees have since signed a petition demanding the company withdraw from all such work. Around a dozen individuals have even resigned.

Internal emails obtained by the Times show that Google was aware of the upset this news might cause. Chief scientist at Google Cloud, Fei-Fei Li, told colleagues that they should “avoid at ALL COSTS any mention or implication of AI” when announcing the Pentagon contract. “Weaponized AI is probably one of the most sensitized topics of AI — if not THE most. This is red meat to the media to find all ways to damage Google,” said Li.

But Google never ended up making the announcement, and it has since been on the back foot defending its decision. The company says the technology it’s helping to build for the Pentagon simply “flags images for human review” and is for “non-offensive uses only.” The contract is also small by industry standards — worth just $9 million to Google, according to the Times

Source: The Verge


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New machine learning approach could accelerate bioengineering | Biotechnology - Phys.org

Scientists from the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a way to use machine learning to dramatically accelerate the design of microbes that produce biofuel, as Phys.org reports.


Their computer algorithm starts with abundant data about the proteins and metabolites in a biofuel-producing microbial pathway, but no information about how the pathway actually works. It then uses data from previous experiments to learn how the pathway will behave. The scientists used the technique to automatically predict the amount of biofuel produced by pathways that have been added to E. coli bacterial cells.

The new approach is much faster than the current way to predict the behavior of pathways, and promises to speed up the development of biomolecules for many applications in addition to commercially viable biofuels, such as drugs that fight antibiotic-resistant infections and crops that withstand drought.

The research was published May 29 in the journal Nature Systems Biology and Applications.

In biology, a pathway is a series of chemical reactions in a cell that produce a specific compound. Researchers are exploring ways to re-engineer pathways, and import them from one microbe to another, to harness nature's toolkit to improve medicine, energy, manufacturing, and agriculture. And thanks to new synthetic biology capabilities, such as the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9, scientists can conduct this research at a precision like never before.

Read more...

Additional resources  
Zak Costello et al. A machine learning approach to predict metabolic pathway dynamics from time-series multiomics data, npj Systems Biology and Applications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41540-018-0054-3

Source: Phys.org


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Top 5 Deep Learning Research Papers You Must Read In 2018 | Analytics India Magazine

Any newfound theory in science is insignificant without being put to practical use. The same can be said about deep learning (DL). 


Now, with new research and development, the vast pedagogy in this field has found practical applications in various disciplines across new tech businesses.
Research work in DL has taken an innovative stance. Rather than using it to better AI and ML technologies, DL research is seeing new ideas being explored in critical areas such as healthcare and banking. We have listed down the top research papers on DL which are worth reading and have an interesting take on the subject. These papers were published in the recently concluded International Conference on Learning Representations in Vancouver, Canada, in May 2018...

All of these papers present a unique perspective in the advancements in deep learning. The novel methods also provide a diverse avenue for DL research. Machine learning and artificial intelligence enthusiasts can gain a lot from them when it comes to latest techniques developed in research.

In the end of the paper the writer says, "All of these papers present a unique perspective in the advancements in deep learning. The novel methods also provide a diverse avenue for DL research. Machine learning and artificial intelligence enthusiasts can gain a lot from them when it comes to latest techniques developed in research." 
Read more...  

Source: Analytics India Magazine


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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Actuarial Science, Bachelor of Science | St John's University News

An actuary is a business professional who analyzes the financial consequences of risk.
 

Photo: Peter J. Tobin College of Business
Actuaries interpret statistics to determine probabilities of accidents, sickness, death, and loss of property from theft, natural disasters and other causes of loss. Actuaries use mathematics, statistics and financial theory to study uncertain future events, particularly those that are insurable. Actuaries are considered the 'financial architects' of theinsurance world.

The field of actuarial science is demanding, rigorous and rewarding. Professional certification as an actuary in the United States requires passing one of two examination series; one is administered by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the other by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). Actuaries are in high demand. Most work for insurance companies, consulting and investment firms, government agencies, employee benefit departments of large corporations, hospitals, or banks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its Occupational Outlook Handbook, forecasts a 26 percent increase in the number of actuarial positions by 2022. The CareerCast.com rates actuary one of the five best jobs of 2014.

The Actuarial Science program in the Tobin College of Business at St John’s University is recognized by the Society of Actuaries as a Center of Actuarial Excellence. Students learn not only quantitative analysis skills in preparation to pass professional examinations but also earn an undergraduate degree in business, which provides them with an education in accounting, finance, management, marketing, risk management and computer information systems. 
Read more...

Source: St John's University News


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Aristotle’s Wrongful Death | Opinion - New York Times

Frank Bruni, Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times reports, "History is on the ebb. Philosophy is on the ropes. And comparative literature? Please. It’s an intellectual heirloom: cherished by those who can afford such baubles but disposable in the eyes of others."

Photo: Ben Wiseman, photograph by Hiroshi Higuchi/Photolibrary, via Getty Images

I’m talking about college majors, and talk about college majors is loud and contentious these days. There’s concern about whether schools are offering the right ones. There are questions about whether colleges should emphasize them at all. How does a deep dive into the classics abet a successful leap into the contemporary job market? Should an ambitious examination of English literature come at the cost of acquiring fluency in coding, digital marketing and the like?

Last Sunday The Chronicle of Higher Education published a special report that delved into this debate. One of the stories described what was happening at the flagship campus of the University of Illinois and at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, casting these developments as different harbingers for higher education.

Illinois is pairing certain majors in the liberal arts – for example, anthropology and linguistics – with computer science. Assumption is doing away with a host of traditional majors in favor of new ones geared to practical skills. Goodbye, art history, geography and, yes, classics. Hello, data analytics, actuarial science and concentrations in physical and occupational therapy.

Assumption is hardly an outlier. Last year the University of Wisconsin at Superior announced that it was suspending nine majors, including sociology and political science, and warned that there might be additional cuts. The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point recently proposed dropping 13 majors, including philosophy and English, to make room for programs with “clear career pathways.”
Read more...

Source: New York Times


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Expert System Advances Artificial Intelligence for the Insurance Sector | PR Newswire

"New solutions deliver faster and more efficient automation of claims management processes and underwriting" says PR Newswire.

Photo: Expert System

Artificial Intelligence company Expert System continues its growth strategy. By consolidating the position of its Cogito® technology in high-potential vertical markets, the company today released new products for the insurance sector that strengthen the solutions recently adopted by clients such as Zurich Insurance Group, Lloyd's of London and Generali.  

Digital transformation processes are driving new paths of innovation for the insurance market.  Being competitive depends on higher levels of efficiency and a focus not only on the quality of the offer, but also on the ability to reduce costs, simplify compliance and to meet ever-increasing customer demands. It is no coincidence that two of the most relevant insurance processes—which require handling large volumes of data that contain high-risk, unstructured information—are central to digital transformation in the sector: claims management and underwriting. 

To automate these processes, Expert System has developed an offer based entirely on the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to enable the automation of complex, information-rich processes. Thanks to the ability to provide both accurate analysis and text comprehension that distinguishes the cognitive Cogito technology, Expert System supports primary insurance activities where it delivers rapid implementation, easy integration and optimized ROI.

Expert System's offer is based on two new products:...

For more information visit www.expertsystem.com.
Read more...

Source: PR Newswire


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Opinion 10 essential actions for digital success | Digital Insurance

Insurers have to manage the process carefully to get the most out of transformation efforts, as Deborah Smallwood reports. 
 

Photo: Pexels

Becoming a digital insurer is an essential requirement for being competitive in insurance today – but even more so for the future. Your digital strategy becomes the framework from which to leverage all other transformational initiatives, not only for the customer experience but for the employee and operational experiences as well. This process requires clarity on priorities, focus, and mindset to determine the path, the sequence, and the right investments to reach the ultimate goal – going beyond a digital experience to transformation.

Our research shows us that while no single insurer is doing everything, every insurer is doing something, and some are doing more than others. So, how do you ensure you are doing the right things at the right times and in the right sequence? The following is a list the ten essential actions required for success as you develop and execute your digital strategy:
  1. Understand Digital as a New Lens: Digital strategy touches aspects of all strategies – business, technology, and operational plans as well – consider it a new lens for clarity about the possibilities and linkage to strategies and plans.
  2. Obtain Executive Sponsorship:Given the transformational potential, digital requires buy-in from the top – the CEO/Board level – to set the tone, priority, urgency, and funding to create the company’s new value proposition.
  3. Assign a Champion: Create a new position for one executive with the vision, the power, and the resources to champion your company’s digital transformation strategy. This role cuts across the enterprise, not just business or IT.
  4. Be Clear on the Definition: Define a consistent and comprehensive definition of “Digital” across the company and recognize that there is a difference between digital and the customer experience. It’s essential to establish clarity on “what it is” and “what it is not.”
  5. Solicit Input: Ignite the synergy by gaining input and insights from the customers – policyholders, agents, brokers – and employees as well. Set new experience standards and guidelines, leverage journey mapping, develop personas, and create service blueprints.
Read more...

Source: Digital Insurance


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Global Voices: Arts have essential role in our scientific future | Life - Times Colonist

Photo:Craig and Marc Kielburger
Marc and Craig Kielburger notes, "With the same pen, Leonardo da Vinci sketched enigmatic smiles and drew up blueprints for technologies that were centuries ahead of his time. He saw no boundary between art and science."

What would the Renaissance man think of the chasm we’ve since created?

Now, we force intense specialization, streaming students down one path or the other from a young age. By university, arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are distinct faculties with little interaction and sometimes significant campus rivalries.

This might be fine, academically speaking. Practically, it’s a problem. If we want the next generation to realize their full potential, to deploy every resource against the world’s social and environmental challenges-frankly, we want Renaissance kids.

We must reunite art and science.

In a time when people increasingly distrust and doubt the science behind issues like climate change, the arts can be vital to help specialists communicate with the public. When scientist and broadcaster Jay Ingram gives speeches on space exploration or climate change, he brings a backup band to help deliver the message. Song lyrics are linked to the scientific themes. Sometimes he brings actors or plays clips from old movies.

“The point is to frame the information in a different way, to add emotion,” Ingram says.
Who would have thought that robots could be racist? Yet in recent years, legal software used by judges has been found to prescribe harsher sentences for black offenders, and image recognition apps have classified black men as “gorillas.” Computer algorithms use human data to learn; they will pick up and perpetuate human bias. Countering that effect requires programmers with emotional intelligence.

The arts are a perfect way for coders to flex their EI. A 2014 study at the University of Arkansas found students who attended a live theatre performance tested far higher for tolerance and empathy afterwards.

When Google studied its workforce in 2013, it was surprised to learn the most important qualities of its top employees were not their coding or debugging skills. Most valuable were skills like communication and empathy. That’s why tech companies such as Google and Microsoft now actively recruit arts grads.

The arts can help scientists and engineers better understand potential implications of their work. For students learning robotics, for example, a literary study of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot would illustrate the ethical questions surrounding the creation of artificial intelligence.

The book also delves into how that technology could interact with humanity.

A marriage of science and arts could even help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Read more...

Source: Times Colonist 


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The Russian Philosopher Who Sought Immortality in the Cosmos | Atlas Obscura

Photo: Addison Nugent
To create the Kingdom of Heaven, simply reanimate the space-strewn molecules of your ancestors, argues Addison Nugent, Literature, occult, and Victorian technology enthusiast.


The Pashkov House which housed Russia’s first public museum, the Rumyantsev Museum, in the 19th century c. 1890-1905.
Photo: Public Domain

The elderly librarian was a staple at the Rumyantsev Museum and public library in pre-Revolutionary Moscow. With a long white beard growing from his weathered face, he looked almost as old as the ancient artworks and tomes that he shuffled about each day. He was a quiet, humble, and deeply pious man who spoke softly. His demeanor was so unobtrusive that he appeared to seamlessly blend into the Rumyantsev’s austere neoclassical architecture. But like the books he dedicated his life to tending, this man was a silent wealth of knowledge, full of groundbreaking ideas that would influence scientists, philosophers, and writers for years to come.

This librarian’s name was Nikolai Fedorov. He lived from 1829 to 1903 and was one of the most ambitious and quietly influential thinkers in Russian history. His philosophy, which is classified today as “Russian cosmism,” explores ideas of space travel and scientifically-engineered immortality through the lens of Christian mysticism. Though his writings were repressed by Stalin in the 1930s, Federov was highly influential to the Russian space program. One of his students was the astrophysicist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, who is widely considered to be the father of spaceflight for the groundbreaking equations he developed.

Federov was the illegitimate child of a prince and a noblewoman. Fedorov, his mother, and his siblings were forced out of his family home after his father’s death when Nikolai was only four. In spite of this embarrassment, the family remained relatively wealthy. In 1868, he became the librarian at the Rumyantsev Museum, the first public museum and library in Russia, where he worked for 25 years. It was during this period that he became the teacher and mentor of Tsiolkovsky. His works were compiled and published posthumously in 1903 under the name The Philosophy of the Common Task. Fedorov never copyrighted his works and insisted that they should be available to the public free of charge.

Fedorov’s insistence that his philosophy be highly accessible to all perhaps owed to the fact that it proposed nothing short of a new phase of human evolution. As a devout member of the Russian Orthodox Church, Fedorov was dismayed by what he saw as a rampant lack of love and compassion amongst human beings. While good will towards man is a familiar and central tenet of Christianity, Fedorov found its focus only on the living to be exclusionary. His proposed cures for the lack of love he saw between the living and the dead were ambitious to say the least: immortality and resurrection.

Using science, art, and technology, Fedorov believed that humanity’s primary goal should be to create the Kingdom of Heaven...

...who were able to save Fedorov’s writings, which finally emerged from Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. Transhumanism’s revisitation of Fedorov’s work poetically speaks to his philosophy, mentally reviving him from the dead through a camaraderie that crosses several lifetimes.


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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Science Meets Art at the Nature Conservancy's Warhol Preserve | East Hampton Star

"Registration is underway for an art and science workshop at the Nature Conservancy’s Warhol Preserve in Montauk on June 2." inform Star Staff.
 

Photo: The Department of Art

Photo: Cy Keener
For Reimagining Our Coastlines, Cy Keener, a University of Maryland professor and artist, will lead participants as they explore sea level rise and climate change through “an imaginative lense of mapping, prose, and drawing,” according to the Nature Conservancy. In his own art, the conservancy explains, Mr. Keener “works with environmental sensors and data to create 3-D representations of environmental phenomena.”

Participants have been asked to take a sketchbook for the workshop, which will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is free, but advance registration is required through Allison Harrington at the Nature Conservancy, 631-329-3981, extension 211, or a.a.harrington@tnc.org.

Source: East Hampton Star


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Sunday, May 27, 2018

12 books famous scientists think you should read | Business Insider

Photo: Jeremy Berke
"You can learn a lot about what makes a brilliant mind tick by looking at the books on their bedside table" notes Jeremy Berke, reporter on Business Insider's Science and Innovation team.

Photo: Pexels

Beyond reading research in their field, the most famous and successful scientists take the time to read books about every subject imaginable.

We compiled a list of book recommendations from a handful of illustrious minds by combing the web for quotes, checking out personal blogs, and even asking them directly. The picks below come from popular scientists like Bill Nye, surgeons-turned-writers like Siddhartha Mukherjee, and globe-trotting superheroes like Jane Goodall.

The books they've recommended range from high fantasy, like Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," to canonical, like Plato's seminal work "The Republic."

Here are 12 books that brilliant scientists consider must-reads: 
Read more...

Recommended Reading

Photo:

8 New Books We Recommend This Week by Gregory Cowles, Senior Editor, Books, New York Times.

Source: Business Insider


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Suggested Books of the Week 21, 2018

Check out these books below by Cambridge University Press, TradePub and Ancient Origins.

Photo: Storyblocks.com
Understanding Maple

Understanding Maple
Maple is a powerful symbolic computation system that is widely used in universities around the world. This short introduction gives readers an insight into the rules that control how the system works, and how to understand, fix, and avoid common problems. Topics covered include algebra, calculus, linear algebra, graphics, programming, and procedures...

Many concepts which are absent from introductory books and manuals are described in detail. With this book, students, teachers and researchers will gain a solid understanding of Maple and how to use it to solve complex mathematical problems in a simple and efficient way.
  • Takes a programmatic approach to solving mathematical problems using Maple
  • Provides Maple worksheets which can be downloaded from the author's website
  • Highlights the importance of the evaluation rules, helping readers to avoid common pitfalls when using Maple
Read more...

The Making of Friedrich Nietzsche: The Quest for Identity, 1844-1869

The Making of Friedrich Nietzsche:
The Quest for Identity, 1844-1869
How did Nietzsche the philosopher come into being? The Nietzsche known today did not develop 'naturally', through the gradual maturation of some inborn character. Instead, from an early age he engaged in a self-conscious campaign to follow his own guidance, thereby cultivating the critical capacities and personal vision which figure in his books...

It will be essential reading for all who are interested in Nietzsche.
  • The first English-language biography of Nietzsche to make use of German-language scholarship
  • Radically reconceives Nietzsche's youth, recontextualising his early essays
  • Investigates the importance of autobiography in Nietzsche's youth
Read more... 

The Letters of Ernest Hemingway

The Letters of Ernest Hemingway:
Volume 4, 1929-1931
The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Volume 4, spanning April 1929 through 1931, featuring many previously unpublished letters, records the establishment of Ernest Hemingway as an author of international renown following the publication of A Farewell to Arms. Breaking new artistic ground in 1930, Hemingway embarks upon his first and greatest non-fiction work, his treatise on bullfighting, Death in the Afternoon. Hemingway, now a professional writer, demonstrates a growing awareness of the literary marketplace, successfully negotiating with publishers and agents and responding to fan mail...

Despite suffering injuries to his writing arm in a car accident in November 1930, Hemingway writes and dictates an avalanche of letters that record in colorful and eloquent prose the eventful life and achievements of an enormous personality.

  • This volume covers key professional developments in Hemingway's career, notably the publication of A Farewell to Arms, the work that catapults him to international fame
  • Includes letters to other famous figures of twentieth-century literature including F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Dos Passos
  • The letters are accompanied by notes, detailed introduction, chronologies, illustrations and indexes
  • Read more...

    "Online Meeting Guide: Software and Strategies"

    Download Now
    Modern videoconferencing services are easy to use, and available to nearly anyone with a computer or Smartphone.  The ability to connect and meet with people online means we’re no longer limited by geographical location. Furthermore, countless websites provide us with a wide variety of tools and resources for conducting meetings, planning and executing projects, and reducing the amount of printed paper traditionally needed to get things done.
    The purpose of this guide is to introduce you to many of the popularly used, free, or relatively inexpensive, online resources and tools for holding meetings online and working collaboratively on projects, reports, presentations, documents, and the like... 
    Read more...

    "5 Top Tips for Creating a Stand-Out Candidate Experience"

    Download Now
    Did that statistic make you cringe? Do you know that your company’s own careers page could use a pretty significant makeover?
    Listen, we know that sprucing up your careers page can seem like an overwhelming task. So, we’re breaking it all down for you. Our guide shares five simple tips to create a stand-out careers page that catches the eye of the top-notch talent you most want to attract...
    Read more...

    Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture (Time Maps Book 4) 

    Matriarchy and the Goddess Culture
    (Time Maps) (Volume 4)
    What happened when women ruled the world?
    There are many questions about the Old Culture - a culture even before history was written. Whatever happened to the Great Goddess? When did patriarchy start? How did women become objectified?...

    Written with a Mathematician’s precision and a Historian’s curiosity, Time Maps covers over millennia worth of developments & impacts of civilizations, migrations, leaders and continents. Illuminating concepts of societies, dynasties, heroes, kings and eras through incisive and thorough research, looking at ideas, theories & world views with a sense of wonder and delight. 
    Read more...
     
    The Mayan Code: Time Acceleration and Awakening the World Mind

    The Mayan Code:
    Time Acceleration and
    Awakening the World Mind
    Bestselling author Barbara Hand Clow shows how the Mayan Calendar is a bridge to galactic wisdom that fosters personal growth and human evolution
    • Unearths the meaning behind the calendar, its message for modern civilization, and what will happen after the calendar ends
    • Reveals how time acceleration is a manifestation of the acceleration of consciousness
    • By the author of The Pleiadian Agenda
    The Mayan Code is a deep exploration of how, with the end of the Mayan Calendar, time and consciousness are accelerating, giving us a new understanding of the universe. Using Carl Johan Calleman’s research, as well as the ideas of other Mayan Calendar scholars, Barbara Hand Clow examines 16.4 billion years of evolution to decode the creative patterns of Earth--the World Mind. These great patterns culminate in 2011, and then during 2012 and beyond major astrological influences will inspire us to attain oneness and enlightenment.

    The Mayan Code shows how the time cycles of the Calendar match important periods in the evolutionary data banks of Earth and the Milky Way Galaxy. 
    Read more... 

    Source: Cambridge University Press, TradePub and Ancient Origins


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    Saturday, May 26, 2018

    UTSA researcher studies math achievement among Hispanic high school students | UTSA Today

    "Study examines important cognitive and non-cognitive predictors of entering STEM fields for Hispanic high school students" notes Kara (Mireles) Soria, Public Affairs Specialist.

    Guan Saw co-authors study about disparities in math achievement and motivational factors among Hispanic high school students and their peers.
    Photo: UTSA Today

    A researcher at The University of Texas at San Antonio has co-authored a study examining important cognitive and non-cognitive predictors of entering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields for Hispanic high school students.

    Guan Saw, assistant professor of educational psychology in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development (COEHD), worked alongside Chi-Ning Chang, doctoral student from Texas A&M University, to investigate whether and to what extent math achievement and motivational factors for Hispanic high school students differ from that of their White, Black and Asian peers.

    "A recent analysis using 2014-2016 American Community Survey Data, provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, showed that while Hispanics accounted for 16% of employed adults ages 25 and older, only 7% of STEM jobs were held by Hispanics, the lowest percentage compared with other racial/ethnic groups. We were aware that there is a critical need to study the distinctive developmental patterns of STEM-related cognitive and non-cognitive factors for Hispanic students in high schools, a crucial life stage with adolescents forming and reshaping their career orientations," said Saw.

    In the study, published in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, the pair analyzed the nationally representative High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.

    The study traced students' educational trajectories from high school into postsecondary education. It also explored factors at the high school level that could affect STEM participation in college and the workforce.

    Saw and Chang studied responses from more than 18,000 Hispanic, White, Black and Asian respondents in early ninth grade and late 11th grade. 
    Read more...

    Source: UTSA Today


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    2018's top five vocations to study via distance learning | Mail & Guardian

    Sanet Nel, Oxbridge Academy inform, "In 2018, five fields have emerged as the top distance learning choices among students who need to earn while they learn, upskill, or gain a qualification to complement their practical experience." 

    Photo: Oxbridge Academy

    These include HR, business and supply chain management, early childhood education, and technical skills development courses such as occupational health and safety and engineering.

    "With our increasingly competitive job market and our tough economic environment, fewer people are able to take off a year or three to study, which means that distance learning is a viable and attractive option for thousands of South Africans," says Barend van den Berg, MD of Oxbridge Academy, which serves more than 20 000 students annually.

    He says these students are increasingly opting for the distance learning route, and choosing training options that can either strengthen their existing position in the workplace, or that can get them a foot in the door. The most popular fields this year include:

    Technical courses
    Engineering and occupational health and safety continue to be popular choices, says Van den Berg, given the high demand for competently trained vocational practitioners both locally and internationally...  

    Educare
    "The National Certificate: N4 Educare, which is registered on the NQF and accredited by the QCTO, represents the first of three levels in the Educare stream. With the rising demand for quality early childhood care, this qualification provides a foot in the door for those who want to start their own ECD centre or who want to pursue a career as a day care centre administrator or manager," says Van den Berg.
    Read more... 

    Source: Oxbridge Academy (press release)


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    Distance-Learning Students Meet for Classes | WABI

    Students from Maine Connection Academy met at UMaine for an academic summit, as WABI reports. 

    Photo: WABI

    Students from Maine Connections Academy aren't used to seeing each other in person, but today they gathered at UMaine for an academic summit.

    The Academy is usually internet-based, serving seventh through 12th grade students from around the state.

    But today, they met and held classes in a more traditional fashion at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center.

    The event was focused around STEM education, but the students were also encouraged to strengthen connections they had made with their virtual classmates.
    "What happens is that kids from Portland make friends with kids from the Bangor area and vice versa, and they can't see them every day." said Jeremy Bernier, a math teacher and coordinator of the summit. "So we try to organize events like these to make it easier for students to meet with each other in person while also doing some more learning and some really cool things that they might not have already learned about in their curriculum."

    The students will meet in person one more time this year, at graduation in June.

    Source: WABI 


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    3 Tips for Online Students From Success Coaches | Education - U.S. News & World Report

    "Personalized support from university staff can help online students reach their academic and career goals" says Nancy Cervasio, EdPlus at Arizona State University Senior Director of Student Success.

     Speaking to your success coach over the phone is the best way for both the student and coach to get to know each other
    Photo: Getty Images
    Online students often juggle a full-time job and family obligations while working toward their degrees. It can become overwhelming very quickly, so having personalized support from university staff is critical. That's where a success coach comes in.

    Many online colleges offer coaching programs as a way for students to feel connected to the larger institution and its resources. Arizona State University's ASU Online, for example, launched a dedicated student success center to connect students with a success coach who can support them in achieving their academic and personal goals.

    The level of support and engagement varies from student to student. From offering time-management and study-habit tips to providing inspiration and encouragement, coaches are essential to helping a student get to the finish line. 

    Here are the most popular questions ASU Online's success coaches receive from online students who are working toward their degree.
    Read more...

    Source: U.S. News & World Report


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    How team teaching (and other innovations) can impact blended learning | eSchool News

    [Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on The Clayten Christensen Institute blog.]


    A new report from The Clayton Christensen Institute studies the intersection between personalized learning and school staffing, as eSchool News reports.

    Photo: eSchool News

    Personalized learning’s rationale has strong intuitive appeal: We can all remember feeling bored, confused, frustrated, or lost in school when our classes didn’t spark our interests or address our learning needs. But an intuitive rationale doesn’t clearly translate to effective practice. For personalized learning to actually move the needle on improving student experiences and elevating student outcomes, the question of how schools and teachers personalize is just as important as why.

    So how do schools effectively personalize learning? Is it through online learning? Mastery-based learning? Project-based learning? Exploratory learning? Each of these common approaches offers a unique dimension of personalization. Yet one of the most important ways to personalize learning may be easily overlooked in the quest for new and novel approaches to instruction.

    It’s all about the teacher
    Teachers, by far, have the biggest impact on student learning and student experiences. Even in classrooms with the latest adaptive-learning technology, an expert teacher’s professional intuition is still the best way to understand and address the myriad cognitive, non-cognitive, social, emotional, and academic factors that affect student achievement.


    Additionally, one of the most valuable forms of personalization is authentic, personal relationships between students and teachers. It therefore makes sense that any school looking to offer personalized learning should not only explore new technologies and instructional practices, but also think carefully about how to increase students’ connections with great educators.

    To that end, over the past year, The Clayton Christensen Institute partnered with Public Impact to study the intersection between personalized learning and school staffing. Our aim was to observe how schools might be using new staffing arrangements to better meet the individual learning needs of their students. We studied eight pioneering schools and school networks—including district, charter, and private schools—and documented their practices in a series of case studies.

    Our latest report, “Innovative staffing to personalize learning: How new teaching roles and blended learning help students succeed,” released this week, documents the findings from this research. Below are brief snippets on three of our most interesting insights.
    Read more...

    Source: eSchool News


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    Online Learning in North Korea | The Diplomat

    Photo: Tae-jun Kang
    "Is North Korea going through an online learning revolution?" reports Tae-jun Kang, Southeast Asia correspondent and columnist for The Diplomat.

    In this June 16, 2017, photo, North Korean men and women use computer terminals Photo: AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

    In the past, if you wanted to get a degree or certificate, or just learn something new, you needed to physically attend classes. But this is not the case anymore as the online learning revolution has started.

    The global e-learning market was worth $165.21 billion by 2015 and is expected to reach $275.10 billion by 2022, growing by around 7.5 percent each year during the forecast period, according to a report by India-based research firm OrbisResearch.

    The report cited flexibility in learning, low cost, easy accessibility, and increased effectiveness through animated learning as the key factors behind the sector’s growth. It added that the increasing number of internet users and growing access to broadband pooled with mobile phones with online capabilities are also fueling the rise of e-learning.

    The report covered a total of 17 countries, from the United States to Egypt. But it missed one country where not many people would imagine an online education system exists: North Korea.

    Although North Korea provides an 11-year compulsory education, the kind of education one receives or which educational institute one attends often depends on social class. In order to join prestigious universities, for instance, students must have a good family background as well as connections with the government — not to mention enough money to bribe either schools or local authorities.

    However, as recent developments have proven, the hermit kingdom is showing some signs of change. Its education system is no exception.

    In particular, North Korea’s propaganda news websites have extensively promoted online education provided by different institutions and organizations inside the country.

    Take Kim Il-sung University as an example. It is one of the most prestigious universities in North Korea, the alma mater of North Korea leader Kim Jong-un and most of his family members. It is a must-attend educational institute for North Koreans who hope to climb up the country’s social ladder.

    This prestigious university recently awarded degrees to those who finished their program via a distance learning course for the first time.

    Kim Il-sung University is not alone. A distance learning course first became available at the Kim Chaek University of Technology, and now many universities across North Korea, including Pyongyang University of Architecture and Pyongyang Jang Chol Gu University of Commerce, offer degree courses online, according to a North Korean propaganda website, DPRK Today.

    Students in North Korea even can take university courses via their mobile phones, DPRK Today claimed.
    Read more... 

    Source: The Diplomat


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