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Sunday, August 19, 2018

The EdTech Efficacy Handbook | DreamBox Learning

Check out this Handbook below. 

Download The EdTech Efficacy Handbook

DreamBox Learning Releases EdTech Efficacy Handbook to Empower School District Leaders to Critically Evaluate Math Learning Programs and Software and how to make smart investments that impact student achievement.

This handbook offers examples of the kinds of independent efficacy studies and district use cases educators and district leaders should seek out and validate before investing in education technology, and shares best practices for evaluating those studies.

DreamBox Learning writes in the introduction, "If your district or school is in the market for education technology programs, it’s essential to find and validate evidence of efficacy before you adopt and purchase."

Third-party studies are essential, as is research conducted internally by school districts. In this guide for district leaders and educators, we’ll explain why you should insist on both—and show you where to find evidence-based information on solutions that truly move the needle and improve outcomes.
Download The EdTech Efficacy Handbook

Source: DreamBox Learning

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Scientists Are Developing a Unique Identifier for Your Brain | Science - WIRED

Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences.

A neurological “functional fingerprint” allows scientists to explore the influence of genetics, environment and aging on brain connectivity, as WIRED reports.  

Damien Fair (at right), an associate professor of neuroscience and psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University, heads a lab that maps how brain areas work together during tasks and behaviors. With colleagues such as assistant professor Oscar Miranda-Dominguez (at center) and research associate Michaela Cordova (at left), Fair turns MRI data from human subjects into profiles of the functional “connectome.”
Photo: Jordan Sleeth/OHSU
Michaela Cordova, a research associate and lab manager at Oregon Health and Science University, begins by “de-metaling”: removing rings, watches, gadgets and other sources of metal, double-checking her pockets for overlooked objects that could, in her words, “fly in.” Then she enters the scanning room, raises and lowers the bed, and waves a head coil in the general direction of the viewing window and the iPad camera that’s enabling this virtual lab tour (I’m watching from thousands of miles away in Massachusetts). Her voice is mildly distorted by the microphone embedded in the MRI scanner, which from my slightly blurry vantage point looks less like an industrial cannoli than a beast with a glowing blue mouth. I can’t help but think that eerie description might resonate with her usual clientele.

Cordova works with children, assuaging their fears, easing them in and out of the scanner while coaxing them with soft words, Pixar movies and promises of snacks to minimize wiggling. These kids are enrolled in research aimed at mapping the brain’s neural connections.

The physical links between brain regions, collectively known as the “connectome,” are part of what distinguish humans cognitively from other species. But they also differentiate us from one another. Scientists are now combining neuroimaging approaches with machine learning to understand the commonalities and differences in brain structure and function across individuals, with the goal of predicting how a given brain will change over time because of genetic and environmental influences.

The lab where Cordova works, headed by associate professor Damien Fair, is concerned with the functional connectome, the map of brain regions that coordinate to carry out specific tasks and to influence behavior...

Characterizing the Connectome 
Traditional techniques for mapping the functional connectome focus on just two brain regions at a time, using MRI data to correlate how the activity of each changes in relation to the other. Brain regions with signals that vary in unison are assigned a score of 1. If one increases while the other decreases, that merits a –1. If there is no observable relationship between the two, that’s a 0.

This approach, however, has limitations. For instance, it considers these pairs of regions independently of the rest of the brain, even though each is likely to also be influenced by inputs from neighboring areas, and those extra inputs might mask the true functional connection of any pair.

Source: WIRED

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Paintbrush meets pixel at India’s first Artificial Intelligence art show | AI - Livemint

This event is a call to action for artists to embrace AI. Let this not limit us, let’s not be in fear, says Raghava K.K., as Livemint reports.

‘Imaginary Landscape’ by Nao Tokui.
Photo courtesy: Nature Morte Gallery
Delhi’s Nature Morte gallery opened its doors to a one-of-a-kind show on Friday—India’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) art exhibition.

From a series titled The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Algorithm that exhibits images of what artificial intelligence imagines the interiors of a human anatomy to be, to a video of artificially generated, grotesquely distorted human faces made by German artist Mario Klingemann, the exhibition provides unique insights into the visually-striking works that machines—in conjunction with human beings—are capable of producing.

Titled Gradient Descent and curated by 64/1, a Bengaluru-based AI research collective founded by Raghava K.K. and Karthik Kalyanaraman, the exhibition showcases the works of seven artists from around the globe.
Read more... 

Source: Livemint

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Machine learning: How to create a recommendation engine | Insider - InfoWorld

Photo: Noah Gift
One of the chapters to my book , "Pragmatic AI" is featured in InfoWorld according to Noah Gift, Founder Pragmatic AI Labs | Author | UC Davis & Northwestern ML Adjunct Professor. 
Photo: Getty Images

What do Russian trolls, Facebook, and US elections have to do with machine learning? Recommendation engines are at the heart of the central feedback loop of social networks and the user-generated content (UGC) they create. Users join the network and are recommended users and content with which to engage. Recommendation engines can be gamed because they amplify the effects of thought bubbles. The 2016 US presidential election showed how important it is to understand how recommendation engines work and the limitations and strengths they offer.

AI-based systems aren’t a panacea that only creates good things; rather, they offer a set of capabilities. It can be incredibly useful to get an appropriate product recommendation on a shopping site, but it can be equally frustrating to get recommended content that later turns out to be fake (perhaps generated by a foreign power motivated to sow discord in your country).

This chapter covers recommendation engines and natural language processing (NLP), both from a high level and a coding level. It also gives examples of how to use frameworks, such as the Python-based recommendation engine Surprise, as well as instructions how to build your own. Some of the topics covered including the Netflix prize, singular-value decomposition (SVD), collaborative filtering, real-world problems with recommendation engines, NLP, and production sentiment analysis using cloud APIs.
Read more... 

Related link 
Pragmatic AI:
An Introduction to
Cloud-Based Machine Learning

"Pragmatic AI will help you solve real-world problems with contemporary machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing tools..."  

Source: InfoWorld

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UNCP professor makes music international | The University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Tim Altman has a passion for music, notes Mark Locklear, Public Communications specialist for UNCP.

Timothy Altman
Photo: The University of North Carolina at Pembroke

He has been performing and teaching it for 30 years, including the past two decades at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

When he’s not molding students at Moore Hall, this travel enthusiast is busy adding stamps to his already colorful passport.

Next spring, Altman will combine his love for music and travel as a visiting professor at the University of Malta, after being awarded a prestigious Fulbright Award.

“It is an honor to be selected,” Altman said. “The Fulbright program has a long history and it is great to be a representative of this organization. I love traveling and learning about new countries.”

Malta is a group of islands in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast. It is one of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries, with 122 square miles and a population of 450,000...

At UNCP, Altman is the director of bands, teaches trumpet, and conducts and leads the UNCP Wind Ensemble and Concert Band. This fall will mark his 20th year on the faculty. He recently stepped down as department chairman, after serving 10 years.

Before coming to UNCP, Altman taught instrumental and general music at the elementary, middle, high schools and at the university level in Virginia, Wisconsin and Kentucky. He completed his doctor of musical arts in trumpet performance at the University of Kentucky. He also holds degrees in music education from Virginia Tech and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Tim’s father,Edward Altman, was a trumpet player in the Richmond Symphony.

Altman is an active conductor, clinician, adjudicator and trumpet performer. He has performed at several international conferences. He is the principal trumpet for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and the Carolina Philharmonic.

Source: The University of North Carolina at Pembroke

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A new musical season at the Gardner | Music - The Boston Globe

"Some of George Steel’s earliest music-making encounters came when he was a choirboy at Washington’s National Cathedral." inform David Weininger, Writer/Editor at Analysis Group, Freelance Music Journalist.  

George Steel is Abrams curator of music at the Gardner Museum.
Photo: Liza Voll Photography/Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

While this isn’t an uncommon start for future classical musicians, Steel’s experience was unusual in that during the entire time he sang there, the cathedral was under construction. He spent hours exploring its spatial and structural details, top to bottom. The cathedral thus became for him more than a place to sing; it was a site where different art forms — architecture, various visual arts, music — came together and coexisted.

“My friends and co-workers were stonemasons and sculptors and carvers, stained-glass window-makers and gardeners,” Steel said recently by telephone from northern Michigan, where he was vacationing with his family. “I’ve been a musician all my life, and I’ve been happiest when I’ve found a way to make music and bring music to audiences in interdisciplinary contexts.”

Steel’s passion for connecting the arts through music forms a thread through his artistic career, especially during his 11-year tenure as executive director of Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, which he made a focal point of new music, and where he established a reputation as a creator of illuminating and imaginative concert programs. After a tumultuous few years as artistic director at the New York City Opera, Steel has now returned to those roots. In November, he was chosen to succeed Scott Nickrenz as Abrams curator of music at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. His tenure began on Jan. 1, and the first Gardner concert series under his direction opens on Sept. 8 and 9, with performances by its resident chamber orchestra, A Far Cry...

Steel, who before starting the new position had served as a visiting curator for performing arts, said that when Nickrenz retired most of the artists and many broad outlines for the concerts were already in place for the 2018-19 season. Steel took the opportunity to, as he put it, “open up the programs” by teasing out themes and working with musicians to create what he called “Gardner-y” programs, ones that would be particularly apt for the museum’s setting and serve his vision of interconnection among the arts...

He also coaxed musicians into playing works of Leonard Bernstein wherever possible, for the museum’s “In Boston, It’s Bernstein” series. Bernstein’s works have been everywhere during this, his centennial year, but Steel sees this series as focusing on lesser-known pieces — such as his 1937 Piano Trio, which the Claremont Trio plays on Nov. 11 — and those with a Boston connection. “I’m trying to tell the story of Bernstein the composer rather than Bernstein the box-office gold,” he quipped.  
Read more... 

Source: The Boston Globe

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Kids with learning challenges reach milestones with 'kinesthetic listening | Education - Buffalo News

Scott Scanlon, award-winning reporter explains, "Will Barrett, 15, was struggling on the baseball team and in the classroom last spring at Christian Central Academy when he tried an unfamiliar therapy designed to retrain the brain through sound waves."

“Your brain can grow and change – and you’ve got to challenge it,” says Sarah Smith, owner of Kinesthetic Listening Center of Western New York in East Aurora. She is pictured helping Olivia Greiner during a recent craft session.
Photo: Shuran Huang/Buffalo News

Olivia Greiner and her parents decided Olivia should give it a try, too, as part of the steps they’ve taken to help the 10-year-old from Lancaster address mood and non-verbal learning challenges.

Will, Olivia and their families can’t explain in detail how sessions work at the Kinesthetic Listening Center of Western New York – but the results speak for themselves.

Anxiety gripped Will before sporting events and tests. Within a few weeks, kinesthetic listening boosted his performance on the ballfield and golf course. His grades improved dramatically. He passed all three Regents tests he took, including pulling an 87 on the year-end Spanish exam.

"It's trained my mind to calm itself down," he said...

The sessions are designed to improve hand-eye coordination and challenge the mind with what Sarah Smith called “old-fashioned play.” Clients perform a variety of balancing or detail-oriented tasks, following directions and establishing patterns, while wearing a headset. Classical music, air and sound waves pulse through the headset, stimulating the nervous system and brain.

Will favors jazz drummer Buddy Rich, country singer Toby Keith and rapper Post Malone, but said he’s grown to like Gregorian chants and the Beethoven and Mozart music used as part of the technique. It’s set at a tone low enough for him to hear instructions from the Smiths. He wears a headset as the couple put him through paces that include using a balance board while throwing and catching balls with both hands.

Source: Buffalo News

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Vancouver Memory Care Facility Using Music Therapy | U.S. News & World Report

Wyatt Stayner - The Columbian writes, "Daniel Maruyama sits in the center of a circle of residents, tapping his feet, playing his guitar and singing."

In this Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018 photo, Daniel Maruyama plays "Twist and Shout" during a weekly music therapy session at The Hampton at Salmon Creek, a memory care facility in Vancouver, Wash...
Photo: Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian via AP - The Associated Press

Maruyama, and nearly 20 residents at The Hampton at Salmon Creek, a memory care facility in Vancouver, are just getting warmed up during their weekly Wednesday music therapy session.

The 32-year-old Maruyama plays "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," ''This Little Light of Mine," and a handful of other classics before tambourines and shakers are passed out about 20 minutes into the hour-long session earlier this month.

"You ready, Roger?" Maruyama cheerily asks one of the residents.

The residents shake and tap their instruments as Maruyama plays "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "You Ain't Nothing but a Hound Dog." The session is fairly simple, but its benefits are helpful. There's a growing body of research that shows performing and practicing music can help contain the effects of aging and diseases of the brain.

Learning new music can strengthen connections in the brain and improve myelin, a covering around the nerve cells in brains, research shows. That can help conduct nerve impulses at higher speeds, and enhance communications between different areas in the brain.

Source: U.S. News & World Report

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Meet the artist channelling Buckminster Fuller to create her graphic worlds | Art - Wallpaper*

Drink up striking colours and minimalist compositions in this solo exhibition by Sinta Tantra in London, as Wallpaper* reports.

Sinta Tantra’s floor installation at  Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery gives visitors a splash of the public and architectural spirit of her work.
Photo: Luca Piffaretti

The British-Balinese artist is using the space at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery to explore her artistic journey, from public art to architectural interventions and works on canvas.

The exhibition title ‘Your Private Sky’ is lifted from a manuscript of the same name written by Buckminster Fuller, the American architect and polymath who inspired Tantra’s investigation into philosophy and the imagination by way of mathematics. It was in this text that Fuller outlined the design for his glass geodesic structure, relevant to Tantra for its ability to project and reflect. ‘The idea of “your private sky” expresses a twofold experience – a mode of thought that is both collective and individual. Blue-sky thinking, where visionary ideas can grow from simple musings,’ she says...

The second part of the exhibition features a floor installation, giving visitors a splash of the public and architectural spirit of her work. It’s a maximalist piece that absorbs its riders in graphic shapes and dazzling colours lifted from tropical motifs and nature.

Source: Wallpaper*

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Mathematicians solve age-old spaghetti mystery | Mathematics - Science Daily

Summary: It's nearly impossible to break a dry spaghetti noodle into only two pieces. A new MIT study shows how and why it can be done.

ScienceDaily reports, "If you happen to have a box of spaghetti in your pantry, try this experiment: Pull out a single spaghetti stick and hold it at both ends. Now bend it until it breaks. How many fragments did you make? If the answer is three or more, pull out another stick and try again. Can you break the noodle in two? If not, you're in very good company."

Photo: Courtesy of the researchers.

The spaghetti challenge has flummoxed even the likes of famed physicist Richard Feynman '39, who once spent a good portion of an evening breaking pasta and looking for a theoretical explanation for why the sticks refused to snap in two. 

Feynman's kitchen experiment remained unresolved until 2005, when physicists from France pieced together a theory to describe the forces at work when spaghetti -- and any long, thin rod -- is bent. They found that when a stick is bent evenly from both ends, it will break near the center, where it is most curved. This initial break triggers a "snap-back" effect and a bending wave, or vibration, that further fractures the stick. Their theory, which won the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize, seemed to solve Feynman's puzzle. But a question remained: Could spaghetti ever be coerced to break in two? 

The answer, according to a new MIT study, is yes -- with a twist. In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report that they have found a way to break spaghetti in two, by both bending and twisting the dry noodles. They carried out experiments with hundreds of spaghetti sticks, bending and twisting them with an apparatus they built specifically for the task. The team found that if a stick is twisted past a certain critical degree, then slowly bent in half, it will, against all odds, break in two.

The researchers say the results may have applications beyond culinary curiosities, such as enhancing the understanding of crack formation and how to control fractures in other rod-like materials such as multifiber structures, engineered nanotubes, or even microtubules in cells.

"It will be interesting to see whether and how twist could similarly be used to control the fracture dynamics of two-dimensional and three-dimensional materials," says co-author Jörn Dunkel, associate professor of physical applied mathematics at MIT. "In any case, this has been a fun interdisciplinary project started and carried out by two brilliant and persistent students -- who probably don't want to see, break, or eat spaghetti for a while." 

The two students are Ronald Heisser '16, now a graduate student at Cornell University, and Vishal Patil, a mathematics graduate student in Dunkel's group at MIT. Their co-authors are Norbert Stoop, instructor of mathematics at MIT, and Emmanuel Villermaux of Université Aix Marseille. 
Read more... 

Additional resources
Journal Reference:
  1. Ronald H. Heisser, Vishal P. Patil, Norbert Stoop, Emmanuel Villermaux, Jörn Dunkel. Controlling fracture cascades through twisting and quenching. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 201802831 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1802831115
Source: Science Daily

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