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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New Ebook Released: How to Use Rapid Authoring Tools for Converting PPTs to E-learning

Here is an eBook that helps with the process. Titled “Converting PPTs to E-learning Using Rapid Authoring Tools: Tips for using Storyline, Captivate, Presenter, and Lectora”, the eBook is a must for those who want to explore different authoring tools to convert their in-house PPTs into online courses.

Download the eBook now

A PowerPoint presentationis not capable of knowledge transfer by itself. In a classroom, it needs an instructor, and in online environment, it needs an instructional design strategy. To implement the strategy, you need authoring tools.

It is not surprising that we have a host of rapid authoring tools that are meant to efficiently convert PowerPoint slides into engaging and interactive eLearning courses. Each of them comes with different features and capabilities. How do we know which one is the best for our purpose?

More specifically, this eBook:
  • Explains why you need to use rapid authoring tools to convert PPTs into eLearning courses
  • Lists the criteria that help you choose the right authoring tool that best caters to your training situation.
  • Describes the step-by-step process of using authoring tools such as Storyline, Presenter, Captivate and Lectora
Get an overview of the most popular rapid authoring tools and see how you can use them to address your training needs. 
Download the eBook now

Source: CommLab India 

Purdue To Offer New Degree Based on Skills, Not Credits

Follow on Twitter as @Petit_Smudge
Sarah Fentem, reporter and producer for WFIU/WTIU News summarizes, "The school is the first public school in Indiana to offer a "competency-based" degree."

Starting next fall, Purdue University will become the first public institution in the state to offer a degree program based on competency and not credit hours.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education last week approved Purdue’s Bachelor of Science in Transdisciplinary Studies degree, which will be offered through the school’s Polytechnic Institute.
Photo: Indiana Public Media

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education last week approved Purdue’s Bachelor of Science in Transdisciplinary Studies degree, which will be offered through the school’s Polytechnic Institute.

The degree is one of the state’s first examples of competency-based education, or “direct assessment”— a form of learning that awards students for skills they display rather than the credit hours they receive.

“[Competency-based] programs can look different from college to college and state to state, but what they all have in common is a move away from a typical seat-time credit measurement of what students know to really a project-based demonstration of student knowledge,” says commission spokesperson Stephanie Wilson. “Instead of progressing according to the hours you spend in the classroom or the credit you earn, you progress based on the knowledge you can demonstrate and the skills you bring to the table.”

Polytechnic Institute Dean Gary Bertoline says the program can be compared to earning merit badges.

“You get a badge for lighting a fire with sticks, you can either do it or you can’t,” he says. 

“You can’t earn a badge until you can actually light a fire with sticks. The same idea goes with competencies.”

Students will create e-portfolios to demonstrate their competence in multiple categories, such as ethical reasoning and systems thinking.

However, a hundred years of educational institutions is difficult to unseat completely.

While it’s easier for certain distance-learning and online schools such as Western Governors University to implement competency-based programs, more traditional four-year schools are bogged down by decades’ worth of administrative conventions.

For example, most financial aid is based on grades and credit hours, and it’s difficult to find an employer that isn’t curious about a job candidate’s GPA.

Source: Indiana Public Media  

Test Yourself | Making Art With Lego Bricks

Photo: Michael Gonchar
Michael Gonchar writes, "Below, several paragraphs from a June 26 article, “A Legoland Builder Turns Her Childhood Hobby Into an Adult Art Form.”"

Photo: New York Times (blog)

Can you choose the best word for each blank?

When you’re finished, you’ll find a link to the original article.

1 Pablo Picasso’s birthday was coming up and Veronica Watson wanted to celebrate. She was standing in her workshop at the Legoland Discovery Center in Yonkers last October, where she serves as the master model builder, and was _________ online through the artist’s paintings.   

2 She settled on “Guernica,” since she thought the antiwar mural would look cool in Lego. She found a picture of the painting and, working from the upper left corner, began to _________ it — brick by brick.

“I’d do a little bit, walk away, come back, look at it, and then add to it,” Ms. Watson said.

Read the entire article

Source: New York Times (blog) 

First GED Test Module Free for First-time Testers until Aug. 1

"Anyone interested in earning a GED who has never taken the test before can begin the process for free for a limited time." continues SurfKY News.
Photo: SurfKY News

West Kentucky Community and Technical College's Adult Learning Centers are helping individuals prepare to do that.

From now until Aug.1, 2015, GED Testing Service is hosting a promotion that provides $10 off the first GED test module for individuals taking the 2014 series GED test for the first time. This discount, when used along with a $20 GED test module voucher provided by Kentucky Adult Education, allows qualified individuals to take their first module of the GED test for free.

Unlike the previous GED test series, the 2014 GED test series allows testers to take each of the four modules, or subject areas, of the test one at a time. This is beneficial because it allows individuals to focus on one subject at a time.

"This wonderful opportunity provides first-time GED seekers with the option of taking the module they are most confident in, whether it is Reasoning through Language Arts, Social Studies, Science or Mathematical Reasoning without having to pay to try their first GED test module, and will provide great savings to our students" said Samantha Williams, WKCTC director of adult education...

The GED Ready Test is offered on Fridays at the WKCTC Adult Learning Centers, located in the Anderson Technical Building, Room 111, 4810 Alben Barkley Drive and the Skilled Craft Training Center, 70 Hickory Road in Hickory.

The GED exam is given on Wednesdays and Thursdays at the WKCTC Workforce Assessment Center located in the college's Emerging Technology Center.
Read more... 

Source: SurfKY News

Monday, June 29, 2015

It's Here! NMC Horizon Report - 2015 K-12 Edition

The New Media Consortium (NMC) and CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) are jointly releasing the NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition in a special session at the annual ISTE Conference. This edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in K-12 education.

NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition

Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology are identified across three adoption horizons over the next one to five years, giving school leaders, educational technologists, and teachers a valuable guide for strategic technology planning. The format of the report provides in-depth insight into how trends and challenges are accelerating and impeding the adoption of educational technology, along with their implications for policy, leadership, and practice.  

"The NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition stimulates crucial conversations about what trends and challenges are influencing the adoption of forward-thinking strategies in schools throughout the world,"says Larry Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the NMC. "In this year's edition, we found that an increasing number of schools are incorporating online learning through blended learning models, allowing learners to accelerate at their own pace. Creativity and the integration of making are also key themes that have recently come to the forefront in K-12 learning."

Download the Report  (PDF)

"This year's report is the result of a rewarding long-term effort between CoSN and the NMC to keep the discussion regarding technology in schools accurate and flourishing," notes Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. "At CoSN, we tackle some of the greatest challenges facing schools today. The NMC Horizon Report has become a fundamental reference for us as we decipher the trends that are shaping the complex landscape of K-12 education." 

Key Trends Accelerating K-12 Education Technology Adoption The NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition identifies the "Increasing Use of Blended Learning" and "Rise of STEAM Learning" as short-term impact trends accelerating the adoption of educational technology in K-12 education over the next one to two years. The "Increasing Use of Collaborative Learning Approaches" and the "Shift from Students as Consumers to Creators" are mid-term impact trends expected to drive technology use in the next three to five years; meanwhile, "Rethinking How Schools Work" and "Shift to Deeper Learning Approaches" are long-term trends, anticipated to impact institutions for the next five years or more.  

Significant Challenges Impeding K-12 Technology Adoption  
A number of challenges are acknowledged as barriers to the mainstream use of technology in schools. "Creating Authentic Learning Opportunities" and "Integrating Technology in Teacher Education" are perceived as solvable challenges - those which we both understand and know how to solve. "Rethinking the Roles of Teachers" and "Personalizing Learning" are considered difficult challenges, which are defined and well understood but with solutions that are elusive. Described as wicked challenges are "Scaling Teaching Innovations" and "Teaching Complex Thinking," which are complex to define, much less to address.  

Important Developments in Educational Technology for K-12 Education  
Additionally, the report identifies bring your own device (BYOD) and makerspaces as digital strategies and technologies expected to enter mainstream use in the near-term horizon of one year or less. 3D printing and adaptive learning technologies are seen in the mid-term horizon of two to three years; digital badges and wearable technology are seen emerging in the far-term horizon of four to five years. The subject matter in this report was identified through a qualitative research process designed and conducted by the NMC that engaged an international body of experts in K-12 schools, technology, business, and other fields around a set of research questions designed to surface significant trends and challenges and to identify emerging technologies with a strong likelihood of adoption in K-12 education. The NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition details the areas in which these experts were in strong agreement.

The NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition is available online, free of charge, and is released under a Creative Commons license to facilitate its widespread use, easy duplication, and broad distribution.  
Download the Report  (PDF)
About the New Media Consortium  
The New Media Consortium is an international not-for-profit consortium of learning-focused organizations dedicated to the exploration and use of new media and new technologies. For 22 years, the NMC and its members have dedicated themselves to exploring and developing potential applications of emerging technologies for learning, research, and creative inquiry.  To learn more, visit  

About CoSN
CoSN is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. The mission of CoSN is to empower educational leaders to leverage technology to realize engaging learning environments.
Visit to find out more about CoSN's focus areas, annual conference and events, advocacy and policy, membership, and the CETL certification exam.

Source: New Media Consortium and NewMediaConsortium Channel (YouTube)

The secret to groovy drumming may be math

"People have long known that professional musicians don’t keep time with the dogged precision of a metronome. However, in deviating from a perfectly steady beat, one professional drummer makes patterns in his timing and loudness that have a particular mathematical form—a fractal—a new study shows. Previous research has shown that the fractal nature of time deviations makes music sound distinctly human." reports , science reporter. 

Photo: Science Now

A fractal is a pattern that looks "self-similar" on many different scales. For example, statistically, a coastline may look just as jagged on the scale of 10 kilometers as it does on the scale of 1000 kilometers. Fractals can emerge in temporal patterns, too, and researchers have observed rhythmic fractal patterns in many controlled musical experiments. Such work sheds light on the unique signatures that musicians impart into their work, and it could help researchers make the rhythmically perfect music generated by computers and drum machines sound more human.

Holger Hennig, a physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen, Germany, and colleagues decided to analyze the technique of prolific drummer Jeff Porcaro, one of the more famous musicians most people have never heard of. For more than a decade he drummed for the band Toto, and as a session musician he kept time for an extensive list of musical icons including Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. Porcaro died of a heart attack in 1992. Hennig and his colleagues chose to study Porcaro’s technique because the paper’s lead author, physicist Esa Räsänen of the Tampere University of Technology in Finland, is himself a drummer and admires Porcaro’s work.

Source: Science Now

The U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index Shows Gender and Racial Gaps Widening in STEM Fields

The 2015 U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index shows that despite an uptick in hiring overall, many women and most minorities are still being left behind.
Photo: U.S. News 

"Multi-million dollar initiatives by both the public and the private sectors have failed to close gender and racial gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to the second-annual U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index, unveiled today at"

The STEM Index, developed exclusively by U.S. News & World Report with support from Raytheon, provides a national snapshot of STEM jobs and education. The index measures key indicators of economic- and education-related STEM activity in the United States since the year 2000.

The 2015 STEM Index shows that while employment and degrees granted in STEM fields have improved since 2000, gaps between men and women and between whites and minorities in STEM remain deeply entrenched.

Mathematics remains the Achilles' heel of STEM fields: Across all demographic groups, interest in mathematics has declined since 2000.

Key insights on women and minorities in STEM from the 2015 U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index:

The gender gap in engineering and technology fields is already well-formed by high school:
  • High school girls are much less interested in pursuing engineering and technology than their male peers. In 2014, only 3 percent of high school females reported an interest in engineering, compared to 31 percent of males. In the same year, just 2 percent of girls reported an interest in technology, while 15 percent of boys expressed an interest in the field.
  • On Advanced Placement (AP) tests, male students scored higher than females in all STEM subjects; on the SATs, males of all demographics scored at least 30 points higher on the math section than females.
Gender gaps remain deeply entrenched in college and graduate school:
  • At the college and graduate levels, women earned more STEM degrees each year, but they kept pace – rather than catching up – with their male counterparts.
  • In 2014, only 6 percent of associate degrees and 13 percent of bachelor's degrees granted to females were in a STEM field. By contrast, 20 percent of associate degrees and 28 percent of bachelor's degrees granted to males were in STEM fields.
  • At the graduate level, in 2014 only 10 percent of graduate degrees earned by females were in STEM fields. In the same year, 24 percent of graduate degrees granted to males were STEM degrees.
While high school interest in science has increased among white, black, Hispanic, Asian and American Indian students, gaps between whites and non-Asian minorities in STEM are apparent in high school and continue into college and graduate school: 
  • On the SAT, black students scored an average of 105 points lower than white students and 169 points lower than Asian students on the math section.
  • Race gaps were pronounced in students' scores on the math and science sections of the ACT. While Asian and white students had the highest scores; black, Hispanic and American Indian students lagged behind.
  • From 2009 to 2014, the percentage of bachelor's degrees granted to white students in STEM has grown from 16.8 percent to 19.5 percent, rising every year. Over the same time period, the percentage of bachelor's degrees granted to black students in STEM has grown more slowly, from 12.7 percent in 2009 to 13.6 percent in 2014.
"Over the last decade, there has been significant national interest in improving STEM employment and education," said Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News. "The U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index allows us to chart our progress – or lack thereof. It's clear that we need to focus our efforts on engaging the majority of the future labor pool – young women, Latinos and African-Americans – in STEM."

"Clearly, we need to do more to make diversity a priority in science, technology, engineering and math fields to keep the United States competitive and the economy growing," said Mark E. Russell, vice president of engineering, technology and mission assurance for Raytheon Company. He pointed to organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Engineering is Elementary and National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering as change agents that are delivering successful outcomes for underserved populations throughout their academic years and into their professional paths. "It's our collective responsibility to identify, support and scale programs like these and the vital service they provide," he said. 

About U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report is a digital news and information company that empowers people to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives. Focusing on Education, Health, Personal Finance, Travel, Cars and News & Opinion, provides consumer advice, rankings, news and analysis to serve people making complex decisions throughout all stages of life. 30 million people visit each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C. 
For more about U.S. News, follow us on Twitter @usnews.

About Raytheon 

Raytheon Company, with 2014 sales of $23 billion and 61,000 employees worldwide, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government and cybersecurity markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 93 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as cybersecurity and a broad range of mission support services. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass. 
For more about Raytheon, visit us at and follow us on Twitter @Raytheon.

Source: PR Newswire (press release)

Maths competition adds up to success

Massey University writes, "Twenty-one teams of secondary students from across the Manawatū crunched numbers today in the hopes of winning the Massey Manawatū Maths and Stats (M3S) Competition."

Palmerston North Girls’ High School students Maddie Rowan (left), Kate Costello and Aneka Patel.
Photo: Massey University

The competition was organised by the Mathematics and Statistics group in the Institute of Fundamental Sciences as a way to engage students with mathematics and statistics through fun and challenging problems.

Students worked their way through 35 questions of increasing difficulty for one mark each before tackling a more difficult “finisher” question where the mark depended on speed and accuracy of answer.

In the end, the boys’ team from Wanganui High School won with a total of 23 out of 35 questions correct.

Connor Cresswell from the team said the hardest part of the competition was timing. 
“Knowing when to pass was really important because we only had an hour so we had to time it right.”

Tutor in statistics Anne Lawrence says she is delighted to see the event grow from 16 schools last year to 21 this year.

“Last year the students and their teachers clearly enjoyed the challenge of solving our problems.There is quite a bit for them to get their heads round in terms of working as a team, deciding how long to struggle with a particular question, and of course, applying their mathematical and statistical thinking to tackle the problems.”

Director of the Mathematics in Industry group at Massey University Professor Emeritus Graeme Wake says mathematical skills are applicable now, more than ever.

“Many industry and community problems can benefit from a mathematical or statistical approach.  Worldwide, countries have discovered that mathematics is a high-tech thing that can add value to their enterprise.”

“Mathematics is everywhere and can underpin everything. This is something not everyone appreciates.”
Read more... 

The history of Massey University

Massey University has grown from a small agricultural college in Palmerston North to become New Zealand's largest residential university spread over three cities. Massey University now has three campuses in the North Island, and the highest number of extramural students.

Massey offers the only veterinary science programmes in New Zealand. Massey also offers the only Bachelor of Aviation degree in New Zealand. Massey University qualifications are recognised worldwide and several programmes have international accreditation.

From 85 students in the first year, Massey now has over 35,000 internal and extramural students. 

Source: Massey News (press release)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Singapore experts to boost local Math teaching

"Less than one week after British officials reported the success of a scheme to help English schoolchildren improve their mathematics skills by copying Singaporean teaching methods, a similar programme has been announced for Jamaica." summarizes Jamaica Gleaner.

Photo: Jamaica Gleaner

Last week, a report out of Britain said a study by the UCL Institute of Education and the University of Cambridge provided the first evidence that the new 'Mathematics Mastery' programme had influenced the performance of students after just one year.

With the teaching of mathematics long identified as a weak area of the local education system, the Mike Henry-led LMH Publishing is seeking to help correct the problem.

The publishing house will be joining force with the Ministry of Education and Marshall Cavendish educational publishers, out of Singapore, to introduce the concept to the local education sector.

Two-day seminar
The move comes in the form of a two-day seminar on the Singapore method of teaching mathematics.

According to LMH Publishing, it is reinforcing its core focus on educational publishing by teaming up with the publishing giant from Singapore, which is the acknowledged leader in mathematics performance worldwide...

The seminar will target up to 200 participants, mainly mathematics teachers, school principals and other Ministry of Education personnel, including administrators.
Read more... 

Related links

Photo: John Jerrim
The study’s lead author John Jerrim of the UCL Institute of Education

The causal effect of East Asian 'mastery' teaching methods on English children's mathematics skills?  PDF - John Jerrim 

Source: Jamaica Gleaner

Learn about capital markets in free online course

"The University of Melbourne's free online course on capital markets starts soon." continues The Australian Financial Review.

This free online course from the University of Melbourne covers financial analysis and corporate decision making. 
Photo: The Australian Financial Review

The University of Melbourne is moving forward with the second part of its multi-course free online program on financial analysis and corporate decision-making. A new course, The Role of Global Capital Markets, starts on July 6 on the Coursera massive open online course (MOOC) platform. It promises to help learners "develop an understanding of the key financial markets commonly available to CFOs and investors looking to maximise value while managing risk".

The course follows on from the first unit, The Language and Tools of Financial Analysis. Two more courses are to come and then a capstone project, in which students take the role of a financial adviser. The latter is necessary for those who want to earn a certificate, which costs $445. However, the first four courses are free for those who do not want to do the capstone. All of the courses are presented in conjunction with financial services house BNY Mellon.

The suite of courses make up what Coursera calls a "specialisation" – a learning package that gives students some systematic knowledge in a particular field. The recommended background for the courses is knowledge of simple statistics and algebra, plus familiarity with Excel spreadsheets.

Source: The Australian Financial Review

University of Adelaide is phasing out lectures

We don't like lectures, says Adelaide uni chief. University of Adelaide is phasing out lectures in favour of online learning and small-groups.  

University of Adelaide vice chancellor Warren Bebbington says lectures are not a good way to teach. 
Photo: The University of Adelaide 

Lectures are obsolete, says University of Adelaide vice-chancellor Warren Bebbington.

"My view is they're gone; they're never coming back," he said as he described his university's experience in replacing lectures with online learning.

If students can get the material online, they are not going to come to lectures, he said.

Last year Adelaide began a major shift in its teaching program, beginning to phase out traditional lectures and replacing them with online learning integrated with small-group work.

The aim in the initial year was for every first-year student to have at least one small-group discovery experience, Professor Bebbington said. In the event they reached 82 per cent of first-year students last year.

He considers it a success. "The retention rate went up and the overall satisfaction rate went up," he said.

The small-group experiences are what it known as "blended learning" or "flip the classroom" – a new style of teaching that many universities worldwide are experimenting with...

The University of Adelaide's free courses on edX are also used within the university as part of its small-group discovery initiative.

MIT is also on the small-group discovery path and Adelaide has had a visit from then chancellor Eric Grimson (one of MIT's senior academic officers) to discuss this learning revolution.

Professor Bebbington said MIT had gone even further than Adelaide and abolished academic office hours, where students are able to see their lecturers.
Instead, lecturers are rostered on to be available in the student hub.
Read more... 

Related link
Vice Chancellor's Blog - Professor Warren Bebbington

How I Finished Two Years of Math in Six Months: A Student Perspective on Blended Learning

Photo: Charley Locke
Photo: Mary Jo Madda
"We hear about edtech from the perspective of entrepreneurs and educators. But what about the viewpoint of a student?" according to Charley Locke and Mary Jo Madda.
Photo: EdSurge

This week, EdSurge hears from Kaela Quinto, a rising sophomore at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in San Jose, CA. Kaela's experiences with blended learning completely changed the way she thinks about math—but we'll let her tell you herself. (And for more from Kaela, check out her article on EdSurge!)

Episode 21: "A Student Perspective on Blended Learning" - Edtech Recap 6/27

Source: EdSurge

Students learn better in informal environment

"A Baylor sociologist who reshaped “test day” in his class — transforming it with balloons, streamers, treats and music — found that students in “learning celebrations” scored higher than students who took standard-style exams in previous semesters." reports Baylor University.

Photo: Baylor University.

“Assessment is too important for students to dread,” said Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, in the article “Reframing Test Day,” published in Teaching/Learning Matters. “My goal is to create an ambience for assessment that enhances learning and joy.”

Students are initially skeptical, he said, and “often slip into the familiar language of quizzes and tests.” But “members of our teaching team, myself and two graduate teaching assistants gently remind them that no such activities occur in our course.”

The celebrations are used in Dougherty’s “Introduction to Sociology” class, which usually has more than 200 students.

With Learning Celebrations, Dougherty noted that the mean percentage on exams in three previous semesters, with standard tests, was 84.65; the mean percentage on three semesters of the celebrations was 86.48.

Students consistently did better on Learning Celebrations, with statistically significant differences, Dougherty said.

More than balloons and music, “the content of Learning Celebrations is amusing,” he said...

Photo: Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D.
*Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., is an award-winning teacher and active researcher. His research explores religious affiliation, religious participation, racial diversity in congregations, congregational growth and decline, and religion’s impact on community involvement, politics and work. His published research appears in leading academic journals and has been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, CNN, National Public Radio and USA TODAY.  

Additional resources 
Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D. Reframing Test Day. Teaching/Learning Matters, June 2015

Source: Baylor University 

Music and Maths – is there a Learning Connection?

Photo: Gerard McBreen
Gerard McBreen, Co-founder, Komodo Learning ltd writes, "We know the brain adapts and physically changes when it’s exposed to new experiences and this remarkable plasticity is the the basis for learning. Brain mapping using MRI images provide us with glimpse into which part of the brain is active during particular tasks." 


Some research papers have used brain mapping to suggest that learning music develops the same cognitive spatial-temporal part of the brain as mathematics – so there’s a possible maths benefit in learning music.

Find out how Komodo can help your child get to grips with math

Innovation Awards 2014 KOMODOMATHS.COM from Media Coop on Vimeo.

Let’s put the neuroscience to one side. As a parent of two children who are learning a musical instrument I notice quite a few obvious connections:
  • Many aspects of maths – such as times tables and series – are based on repeating patterns. So too is music
  • Rhythm is a form of counting
  • Reading music requires counting – for example to know when to come back in
The Value of Practice 
In music it’s pretty well accepted that to be good you have to practice a lot. However in mathematics education “practice” appears to have slipped down the agenda. This is a shame because children need a lot of time and practice to master the basic numeracy skills that underpin their future understanding and confidence in maths. The goal in learning both maths and music is to become fluent – to build an instinctive sense of the notes or numbers that feel right. When you’ve achieved this it stays with you for life and it’s very rewarding.

About Komodo  

Komodo is a fun and effective way to to boost primary maths skills. Designed for 5 to 11 year olds to use in the home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning maths (10 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week) that fits into the busy routine. Komodo users develop fluency and confidence in maths – without keeping them at the screen for long.

Source: Komodo (blog)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Princeton music course debuts through online learning platform Kadenze

Photo: Jamie Saxon
"Princeton University is expanding its online course offerings through Kadenze, an online learning platform specifically created to support the arts and creative technologies. On this platform, Princeton Professor of Music Daniel Trueman will offer the course "Reinventing the Piano," in which students will explore a new instrument called the Prepared Digital Piano." writes Jamie Saxon, Office of Communications.

Trueman (standing behind piano) conducts Sideband, a professional offshoot of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk), which he cofounded at the University in 2005. Both Sideband and PLOrk feature the use of computer-based musical meta-instruments created with laptops, custom-designed speakers and a variety of control devices including keyboards and graphics tablets.
Photo: Princeton University

Princeton is among the first institutions to utilize Kadenze, which launched June 16. Kadenze offers a range of interactive courses with unique capabilities tailored to the arts, including media–rich lessons and algorithms to analyze and measure students' performance and progress. The courses are open to learners worldwide.

"The Prepared Digital Piano is an instrument I've been creating over the last couple of years, in tandem with a host of composition projects including the Nostalgic Synchronic Etudes, a set of eight pieces for the new instrument," Trueman said.

"This course will explore this instrument and the music, though it will also delve into how and why we might build instruments like these, using the history of the piano and its music as an initial model, but also the flexibility of software as a new space for instrument building and composition," he said.

Jeff Himpele, the director for teaching initiatives and programs at the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning at Princeton, said Kadenze is a significant addition to the variety of online learning environments available to our faculty, including Coursera and NovoEd, which focus largely on text- and number-based courses and less on the creative and performing arts.

Himpele said Kadenze presents the opportunity to engage with a lively community of artists and learners. "In the arts and beyond, faculty across the campus will be able to integrate this platform with their Princeton classes and enrich the student experience by extending their classroom activities into an online environment that supports new forms of creative work," Himpele said.

The development of Kadenze has a direct connection to the University.
Kadenze's cofounders are Perry Cook, professor of computer science, emeritus, and Ajay Kapur, a 2002 alumnus. Kapur met Cook his junior year when he took Cook's course "Transforming Reality by Computer." The following year, Cook served as Kapur's thesis adviser. After Princeton, Kapur went on to earn his Ph.D. at the University of Victoria, working under one of Cook's former graduate students, George Tzanetakis...

There are 22 courses in the Kadenze catalog.

"Kadenze offers students the opportunity to learn from the best and brightest in arts-focused education," said Cook. "We view ourselves as a bridge, and our goal is to connect students and institutions in a way that elevates everyone."
Anyone wishing to enroll in Princeton's open online courses may do so at no charge. These offerings do not result in Princeton University credit.

Source: Princeton University

Friday, June 26, 2015

Are Statistics a True Measure of Learning in Schools?

"Let’s face it. School evaluations are ruled by statistics these days. Teachers are being evaluated by how well their students are doing on standardized tests. Student end of year grades are being influenced by their statistical performance on standardized tests because those measurements are now being averaged as a percentage of those grades." continues Clarksville Online.


Statistics is a branch of math that is involved with looking at numerical data and interpreting what those numbers mean.

Let’s put aside the statistical possibility that a child might have had a bad night the night before the test (like the police arriving to take a parent to jail, or a sibling who was sick and cried most of the night, or the child himself/herself being so nervous s/he was up all night throwing up!). 

Let’s eliminate the kids who have test phobias and just can’t concentrate well enough to focus on the test at hand.

Let’s forget about the classroom where a member of the class had a seizure during the test and all the other kids had their concentration eliminated for a period of time.

Let’s just assume that everything was perfect and every child did his best on the test.

Some unusual factors can still influence those all important statistics for results on the test. Educators know that groups of children from year to year just don’t perform the same way. Some years a high percentage of the children seem to have come into the world with higher capacities for learning; that’s called a “good year” by those teachers.

Other years a class will have a high percentage of children who are below average achievers; many times this is because those children are chronologically younger; in other words, more kids in this group have birthdays just before the deadline to be able to enter school. That’s called a “difficult year” by the teachers who are working with shorter attention spans and an increased number of children with a less successful background.

Sometimes changes in the curriculum can strongly affect achievement levels. For instance, if the total approach to teaching math changes that year, teachers may be struggling with the new techniques of teaching these concepts and children who have been taught using a different system may be just plain confused.

Another possibility that can influence statistics is a change in the testing procedures. Moving from taking the test on paper to taking it on the computer—especially for young students who are just getting accustomed to typing—can make significant dips in statistical results.

Source: Clarksville Online

This Ph.D. Student's Dissertation Is The First Thesis Ever To Be Written Entirely In Comic Book Form

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"A Ph.D student wrote his thesis as a comic book." according to Crystal Paul.

Writing a dissertation doesn’t always have to be painful drudgery. In fact, you might even get away with using pictures! Columbia graduate student Nick Sousanis did when he wrote his entire dissertation as a comic book. But don’t expect to find caped superheroes and villains in this one. Sousanis’ dissertation, which was published by Harvard University Press with the title Unflattening in April this year, uses the combination of words and images to argue for the importance of using visual thinking in education

Photo: Bustle

As much as recent grads might be smacking their foreheads with a “why didn’t I think of that?”, Sousanis didn’t choose the comic book form just for fun. As Sousanis told Inside Higher Education, “this form was as meaningful and as complex and could handle as much academic discourse as anything else.” And the crazy detail and uniqueness of the images in the excerpted pages from the book on Boing Boing show just how hard Sousanis worked. But don’t worry, grads, there are other ways to quirk-ify your thesis, like removing all the punctuation.

Although the book just became available, Sousanis actually defended his thesis back in May 2014, and, eager to get the word out about it, he went old school and actually handed out printed, folded-up copies of his thesis to people wherever he went.

Source: Bustle