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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Students analyze rap lyrics with code in digital humanities class | Future of Learning - The Hechinger Report

Editor’s note: This story led off this week’s Future of Learning newsletter, which is delivered free to subscribers’ inboxes every Wednesday with trends and top stories about education innovation. Subscribe today!


Photo: Tara García Mathewson
Tara García Mathewson, staff writer summarizes, Some teachers are finding a place for coding in English, music, science, math and social studies, too.


In Peter Nilsson’s classes, students use computers to help them analyze text. Nilsson is an English teacher by training, but he has embraced the “digital humanities,” teaching students how to code to answer questions about books, speeches, news coverage, rap lyrics and more.

One of his students analyzed the text of all presidential inaugural and farewell addresses to identify common and unique themes among them. Another compared the tone and frequency of New York Times coverage of Harvey Weinstein before and after the emergence of the #MeToo movement, by analyzing every word in every article filed under the Times Topic “Harvey Weinstein.” A third explored which rappers most use internal rhyme, by importing lyrics, converting words to phonemes and analyzing from there.

Nilsson teaches at Deerfield Academy, a private school in western Massachusetts. The type of text analysis he guides his students through is far more common in colleges and graduate-school programs, but the coding that makes it possible is an increasingly popular skill to teach children...

Pat Yongpradit, chief academic officer for Code.org, said Nevada is the only state so far to embed math, science, English language arts and social studies into its computer science standards. (Editor’s note: We have since learned that Virginia also does this.) The standards create a roadmap for teachers to start teaching coding in their classrooms, specifically connecting computer science with what is being taught in the other subjects in the same grade level. For every overlap, teachers have a concrete opportunity to introduce computer science in more traditional subjects.

Yongpradit has come across a number of lessons in U.S. schools that combine elements of computer science with other subject areas. There are music classes that let students use computer programming to compose songs. There are science classes that let students code their own simulations to explore natural phenomena like chemical reactions, the water cycle or predator/prey systems. An algebra course that uses programming to teach functions and variables has actually been found to improve student understanding of those concepts over traditional math instruction. 
Read more... 

Source: The Hechinger Report


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If you’re not meant to operate heavy machinery, how about playing the viola? | Slipped Disc

From our quartet diarist, Anthea Kreston, as Slipped Disc reports.


Cologne, Amsterdam, Munich, Vienna – big halls, big repertoire, big expectations. Now that the news of the quartet going different directions is out in the open, I can feel a different kind of vibe from the audience, a mix of nostalgia, scrutiny, and tremendous support. Standing ovations before intermission kind of thing, and long hugs at the after-parties. Lots of questions – from presenters, audience, and in my email box. It’s hard to dance around these pointed questions, but the truth of the immediate music-making is clear. Four musicians at their prime, fully committed to the moment, even as off-stage, our minds and lives race with the myriad possibilities of the future.

Exhausted from tour, I was looking forward to seeing my family and hosting a birthday party. When I walked in, Jason was in the backyard, burying clues for a treasure hunt with a miniature yellow shovel. He called into the house with final instructions just as people began to arrive for the party. I put down my backpack and violin, and was stuffing the gift bags as I noticed my phone screen lighting up – how had 17 messages appeared in the last 20 minutes?

As I greeted the gaggle of little girls, I scrolled through the messages. The Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra was in a pickle. Their principal violist was in the hospital for emergency surgery, and my dear friends, power couple cellist/conductor Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt and violinist Indira Koch needed a hand. Starting first thing the next morning. Of course I said yes – we musicians stick together! I said count on me – if you can’t find anyone. After many more updates, by the girls’ bedtime it was clear that I was going to be pulling double-duty this week – learning and daily rehearsing the next round of repertoire for Artemis, then running across town to prepare for the Metamorphosen concert in the Gendarmenmarkt Konzerthaus this week before heading out to Latvia and Brussels for the next quartet engagements.
Read more... 

Source: Slipped Disc


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Google’s AI-powered Piano Genie lets anyone improvise perfectly by bashing buttons | Artificial Intelligence - The Verge

Machine learning is enabling some brilliant things in art and music. The latest example, from Google’s creative research team Magenta, is the Piano Genie — an AI program that lets you improvise fluently on the piano by simply bashing away at eight buttons, writes James Vincent, cover machines with brains for The Verge, despite being a human without one.



The team behind Piano Genie was inspired by Guitar Hero, a game that also simplifies how to play an instrument. They didn’t want users to just tap along to prewritten songs, but to make up pieces of melody on the fly instead. To enable this, they trained an AI program on a huge dataset of classical piano music, teaching it to predict what notes follow each other the same way your phone’s predictive text function guesses what you’ll write next. (You can also try out a web version for yourself here.)

“I really wanted to design a tool that we could give to someone who doesn’t know how to play, and they’d be able to create music with some kind of intention,” Chris Donahue, an intern at Google Magenta and one of the trio that created Piano Genie, tells The Verge...

This was the main training data used to build a predictive model of what piano notes follow one another. This also means that the notes the Genie produces stick to certain keys and scales, although this variant can be tweaked. Donahue adds that the data was also useful as it was from a competition, meaning “people were playing appropriately flashy things.”

The Genie team, which also included Google’s Ian Simon and DeepMind’s Sander Dieleman, then had to design a pair of encoders that could fit this output into a format that suited their Guitar Hero-like controller. In other words, they had to shrink down 88 notes (the standard number of keys on a piano) into just eight buttons. The last part of the process was hooking all this up to a self-playing piano like what you see in the videos.

Donahue says programs like Piano Genie show that AI can work to augment human creativity. 
Read more... 

Source: The Verge and Magenta Channel (YouTube)


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Friday, October 19, 2018

Exploring the future of learning through virtual and augmented reality | Around Campus - MIT News

At a recent symposium, MIT Open Learning invited experts to discuss the power of VR and AR tools to drive engagement with education, says Steve Nelson, Program Manager, MIT Integrated Learning Initiative (MITili).

Guests speakers at a recent MIT Open Learning AR/VR Symposium were: (clockwise from top left) MIT Professor Fox Harrell; director Shekhar Kapur; Berklee College of Music professor Susan Rogers; sound designer Mark Mangini; Princeton University Professor Edgar Choueiri; and MIT Vice President for Open Learning Sanjay Sarma.
Photo: courtesy of MIT Open Learning
At a recent on-campus symposium titled “VR, Sound and Cinema: Implications for Storytelling and Learning,” MIT Open Learning explored the future of storytelling and learning through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).  

The event featured a panel of faculty and industry experts in VR/AR, cinema, and storytelling, showcasing the power of these tools and their potential impact on learning. Speakers included Sanjay Sarma, vice president for Open Learning; Fox Harrell, a professor of digital media and artificial intelligence at MIT; Academy Award-winning director Shekhar Kapur; Berklee College of Music Professor Susan Rogers; Academy Award-winning sound designer Mark Mangini; and Edgar Choueiri, a professor of applied physics at Princeton University.

Harrell, who is currently working on a new VR/AR project with MIT Open Learning, studies new forms of computational narrative, gaming, social media, and related digital media based in computer science. His talk focused on answering the question: “How do virtual realities impact our learning and engagement?” He also screened a preview of Karim Ben Khelifa’s “The Enemy,” a groundbreaking virtual reality experience that made its American premiere at the MIT Museum in December 2017...

Finally, Susan Rogers, a professor of music production and engineering and an expert in music cognition at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, took the floor to talk about how technology is influencing our daily lives.

“Our behavior is becoming further from reality the more our technology imitates reality,” she said.

Rogers’ assessment focused on reality versus truth, examining what would happen to VR once it becomes so close to reality that it no longer seemed virtual.

“Scientists worship the truth — so how can scientists appreciate virtual reality?” she asked.“It isn’t truth.”
Read more...

Source: MIT News   


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Thursday, October 18, 2018

‘Oscars of Science’ award goes to Stanford physicist Aron Wall | Science - San Francisco Chronicle

Aron Wall, a Stanford University physicist who studies black-hole thermodynamics, believes there was a beginning of time, a singular moment of creation like the Big Bang, inform Peter Fimrite, Reporter at San Francisco Chronicle.

Physicist Aron Wall studies black and worm holes and space-time.
Photo: Nicole Egley Wall

It is a much-debated theory that essentially hinges on a question that many a gum-chewing 12-year-old has asked of parents: “If the universe had a beginning, what existed before that?”

Wall’s answer to this fundamental question — which also forces one to puzzle over the definition of nothingness — is what has made him popular in the religious community and a bit unusual for a scientist...

He will be given his award along with 20 other winners of the Breakthrough Prize, during a televised ceremony Nov. 4 at NASA’s Ames Research Center, in Mountain View. The prizes, touted as the “Oscars of Science,” honor world-changing discoveries in life sciences, physics and mathematics.

Wall is the only Bay Area resident to win a prize for the coming year.

Xiaowei Zhuang, who got her doctorate degree from UC Berkeley and conducted her postdoctoral research at Stanford, won a $3 million Breakthrough award for scientific discovery. Zhuang, now a Harvard University professor and optical imaging investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, won in the life sciences category for discovering hidden structures in cells and developing super-resolution imaging.


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Even Digital Natives Need to Learn 'Common-Sense' Tech Skills | Education Week

Today's elementary school students have grown up with devices, but they still need guidance and structure around tech use, writes Natalie Makulski, computer and STEM teacher at two elementary schools in Clarenceville School District in Livonia, Mich.

Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable

Teachers often overestimate students' ability to use technology. Students constantly have their devices in their hands to play games, interact with friends, watch YouTube videos, and complete homework assignments. Because they spend so much time with devices, students are thought to be technologically savvy. These interactions can be beneficial and help promote 21st-century learning skills, but they do not make students technology experts.

I teach computer classes at two elementary schools. This month, all students are learning how to wrap up a mouse cord instead of just throwing it in the box, making a huge, tangled mess. They're also learning about the consequences of spilling food and drinks on the keyboard...

Another misconception about using technology in the classroom is the idea that all teachers need to provide all students the same type of technology. Technology should be viewed like ice cream: Not all students are going to like the same flavor, and not all students are going to be engaged with the same technology.

When selecting a tool to use in the classroom, the teacher should always focus on its purpose.
Read more...

Source: Education Week


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Digital natives need to work on face-to-face skills | Business - Scoop.co.nz

Digital natives need to work on face-to-face communication skills, says Hays.
 


Digital natives are natural online communicators, but recruiting experts Hays warns that for many it’s come at the expense of face-to-face communication skills.


According to the recruiter, employers are increasingly vetting candidates’ skills in this area.

“Digital natives have grown up using the internet and mobile phones, and while they can quickly grasp the latest online communication tools, face-to-face communication has been the cost,” says Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand.

A recent study found that globally, 65% of Gen Z and Millennials communicate with others more digitally than in person.
Read more...

Source: Scoop.co.nz


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Independence tests should ask more of seniors | Health - Medical Xpress

UCR psychology researcher says the bar is too low for "functional independence" in older adults, and should be aligned with skills younger adults must conquer. 

Photo: Pexels

The Activities of Daily Living, or ADL, questionnaire is a standard used by healthcare professionals to decide what services older adults need to remain independent. These activities include eating and bathing. The Instrumental Activities of Daily Life, or IADL, questionnaire is a stepped-up standard that also considers basic skills such as managing money and preparing meals.

But in her recent paper, "Adaptation for Growth Via Learning New Skills as a Means to Long-Term Functional Independence in Older Adulthood: Insights From Emerging Adulthood," Wu argues low expectations set by ADL and IADL questionnaires may be contributing to cognitive decline in healthy older adults...

Wu said younger people have to learn new skills and adapt, including to get and keep their jobs.

"Having a high bar for functional independence for younger adults in terms of learning, growing, and adapting means that they are more likely to achieve long-term functional independence," she said.
Read more...

Additional resources
Courtney Nguyen et al, Adaptation for Growth Via Learning New Skills as a Means to Long-Term Functional Independence in Older Adulthood: Insights From Emerging Adulthood, The Gerontologist (2018).  
DOI: 10.1093/geront/gny128

Source: Medical Xpress


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Adult education program gives students a chance to flourish | Biddeford Journal Tribune

CLASS initiative available at 11 locations in York County, as Biddeford Journal Tribune reports.

CLASS adult education programs are available at 11 locations in York County. The centers for adult education offer everything from high school equivalency tests to English language learning, ciitizenship preparation, mathematics and writing refreshers, digital literacy and access to online courses. 
PHOTO: FILE

Opportunity is knocking for those looking to continue and enhance their education through CLASS, the Consortium for Learning and Student Success.

CLASS is a program that has been running for the past five years and it confers with southern Maine adult education locations including Biddeford; York; Saco; Old Orchard Beach; Kittery; Marshwood; Massabesic; Noble; Sanford; Wells; and Ogunquit. The program is an initiative of the Maine Department of Education, and according to program coordinator Joann Sueltenfuss, it’s the hub for these adult education locations in York County.  

Sueltenfuss said that CLASS is a good program for those looking to continue or return to education because of how the program runs and what it offers. The centers for adult education offer programs such as the high school diploma and HiSet (high school equivalency test); ELL (English language learners) classes for new Mainers; Civics/Citizenship preparation; mathematics and writing refreshers; digital literacy and access to online courses...

The adult education programs are not only meaningful for students, but also for teachers that are a part of this program, such as Smithwick.

“Every morning just saying hello is like a song to hear representatives from all over the world,” Smithwiock said. “I don’t feel like I’m working, I feel like I’m on the receiving end.”

The process of returning to education relies on having the resources available for those seeking assistance to pursue better education and work opportunities.
Read more...

Source: Biddeford Journal Tribune 


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Complete your college degree through SIU’s off-campus program at NAS Pensacola | SIU News

Christi Mathis, Strategist at Southern Illinois University notes, Off-campus learning is on-target for many adult learners these days.

Kayliym Islam teaches in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s off-campus Workforce Education and Development program at NAS Pensacola.
Photos: provided
For people who are already working, these programs allow them to meet their educational and career advancement goals while still handling their daily work and life obligations.  

Off-campus learning suits busy schedules
Southern Illinois University Carbondale launched its first off-campus degree program in 1973 and today offers students the chance to earn their degrees at any one of 32 military and non-military locations – including Naval Air Station Pensacola – located in 13 states. Earlier this year, for the first time ever, all 12 people who graduated at NAS Pensacola were active-duty military personnel. With a new instructor at the helm, a new session began this week and enrollment is already underway for the next class session.

As a veteran himself, Kayliym Islam is pleased to have the opportunity to “give back to those who serve” while helping all of his students strive to achieve their educational and career goals...

Blended program offered at Pensacola
SIU’s Extended Campus offers a hybrid Workforce Education and Development program at NAS Pensacola. It incorporates a combination of online coursework and seated weekend classes and is designed to be completed by working adults in about two years.
Read more...

Source: SIU News


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