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Monday, January 21, 2019

How one German city developed – and lost – generations of math geniuses | Science and Technology -

This article first appeared on The Conversation.

Anti-Semitism brought down one of the world's greatest centers for mathematical research, explains David Gunderman, PhD student in Applied Mathematics, University of Colorado.

Auditorium University of Göttingen, Germany
Photo: Daniel Schwen/Wikimeida Cmmmons [Licensed under CC BY 2.5]
There are two things that connect the names Gauss, Riemann, Hilbert and Noether. One is their outstanding breadth of contributions to the field of mathematics. The other is that each was a professor at the same university in Göttingen, Germany.

Although relatively unknown today, Göttingen, a small German university town, was for a time one of the most productive centers of mathematics in history.

Göttingen’s rise to mathematical primacy occurred over generations, but its fall took less than a decade when its stars were pushed abroad by the advent of National Socialism, the ideology of the Nazi Party. The university’s best minds left Germany in the early 1930s, transferring its substantial mathematical legacy to Princeton, New York University, and other British and American universities. By 1943, 16 former Göttingen faculty members were in the US.

The story of the rise and fall of mathematics in Göttingen has largely been forgotten, but names associated with the place still appear frequently in the world of mathematics. Its legacy survives today in other mathematical research powerhouses around the world...

Great mathematicians 
By the late 18th century, the university in Göttingen was a well-known center of scientific learning in Germany. Its enduring mathematical prowess, however, originated in Carl Friedrich Gauss. Often referred to as the prince of mathematics, his research at Göttingen between 1795 and 1855 spanned from algebra to magnetism to astronomy.

Gauss’s discoveries were groundbreaking, but the reputation that he started in Göttingen only grew as mathematicians from across Europe flocked to the town. Bernhard Riemann, the head of mathematics at Göttingen from 1859 to 1866, invented Riemannian geometry, which paved the way for Einstein’s future work on relativity. Felix Klein, the chair of mathematics from 1886 to 1913, was the first to describe the Klein bottle, a 3-dimensional object with just one side, similar to the Mobius strip...

The exodus 
Emmy Noether, who had been the first female professor of mathematics at Göttingen and was described by Einstein as the most important woman in the history of mathematics, left in 1933 to teach at Bryn Mawr College. Richard Courant left in 1933 to help found the top US applied mathematics institute at New York University. Hermann Wey, who had been appointed Hilbert’s successor as chair of mathematics in Göttingen,l moved to Princeton, where he helped to transform the Institute for Advanced Studies into a research powerhouse.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Any Rubik's Cube can be solved in 20 moves, but it took over 30 years for anyone to figure that out | Strategy - INSIDER

  • The Rubik's Cube is an iconic puzzle toy.
  • But it is mathematically complicated — there are 43 quintillion possible configurations of the Cube.
  • Over 30 years after the Cube was invented, a group of mathematicians showed, using a bank of supercomputers at Google, that any cube could be solved in at most 20 moves.

The Rubik's Cube is a classic puzzle toy invented in 1974 by Hungarian architecture and design professor Erno Rubik, notes Andy Kiersz, senior quant reporter at Business Insider.

Competitors solve Rubik's cubes as they prepare for the world's largest Rubik's Cube championship in Aubervilliers, near Paris, France, July 15, 2017.
Photo: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
The toy consists of a cube made up of 27 smaller cubes arranged in a 3x3x3 grid with colored stickers on the outer faces of the smaller cubes. A cube starts out in its "solved" configuration with the smaller faces each of the six sides sharing the same color. Each of the six faces of the cube can be rotated freely, moving the smaller cubes around.

The goal of a Rubik's Cube puzzle is to start with some randomized and shuffled messy configuration of the cube and, by rotating the faces, get back to the original solved pattern with each side being a single color.

Actually solving the puzzle is notoriously tricky. It took Erno Rubik himself about a month after inventing the cube to be able to solve it. 

Since then, several methods and techniques have been developed for solving a Rubik's Cube, like this basic strategy laid out on the official Rubik's Cube site. Practiced cube-solvers can complete the puzzle in a matter of seconds, with the current world-record holder solving a cube in 3.47 seconds.

Puzzles like the Rubik's Cube are the kind of thing that fascinate mathematicians. The toy's geometrical nature lends itself nicely to mathematical analysis...

As Erno Rubik put it in a recent interview with Business Insider, this question is "connected with the mathematical problems of the cube." 


Best online e-learning courses for female entrepreneurs | Technology - JBKlutse says, There are thousands of e-learning courses to choose from, so it can be challenging to make the right choice and pick the one that will truly help you achieve your goals. 

Photo: JBKlutse

Having said that, if you’re looking for an online course designed for female entrepreneurs, you’ll find that it’s much easier to choose, as there aren’t so many such courses. Of course, there’s no reason not to enrol in any other course that’s not specifically aimed at women, because you can certainly learn a lot of useful stuff that can help you build a successful career. Nevertheless, we’ve created a short list of e-learning courses that are aimed at female entrepreneurs. Read on to check them out.
Read more... 

Source: JBKlutse

E-learning course | College Notes - The Tribune

Ludhiana: Khalsa College for Women, Civil Lines, has been selected by SWAYAM-NPTEL to host a local chapter in the institution.  The National Programme on Technology Enhancement Learning (NPTEL), a project funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), provides e-learning through online web and video courses in engineering, Sciences, technology, management and humanities. 

This is a joint initiative by a number of IITs and IISc Bangalore and other selected premier institutions, which act as associated partner institutions.  Dr Monita Dhiman, Assistant Professor Zoology, has been nominated as the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) from the college.  The main objective of the NPTEL is to facilitate students of various institutions through easier competitive means, which will aid in improving the Indian industry in the global market. SWAYAM-NPTEL is playing a vital role for enhancement of knowledge of both teachers and students. 

Placement drive  
The training and placement cell of Guru Nanak Khalsa College for Women, Gujarkhan Campus, Model Town, organised a placement drive in collaboration with CONCENTRIX...

Career counselling for students

The career coaching cell of Khalsa College for Women, Civil Lines, organised a seminar on ‘Career Guidance And Enhancement Of Employability Skills’. The seminar provided the opportunity to the students to learn and pursue various careers after graduation. 

Source:The Tribune

Williams College students help Pownal 5th-graders learn coding | Berkshire Eagle

Computers know what to do — only if you tell them precisely what you want, summarizes Patricia LeBoeuf, Reporter at Bennington Banner.

Students in Taylor Robinson's fifth-grade class learn coding during the hour of code on Tuesday morning at Pownal Elementary School. 
Photo: Holly Pelczynski - The Bennington Banner
Students at Pownal Elementary School learned that lesson from Williams College students in a workshop Tuesday, part of a brand-new effort from the college to teach fifth-graders about coding.

"Have you guys ever baked cookies with your parents, or followed a recipe?" asked Francesca Hellerman, a Williams College student, of the students in Taylor Robertson's fifth-grade glass. Many hands went up.

"That's a lot like coding," she said.

Hellerman, along with another Williams student, Suzanna Penikis, conducted the workshops as part of a winter session course at the college, Hour of Code. The workshops run Tuesday and Thursday for an hour each at Pownal Elementary in Robertson and Traci Cristofolini's fifth-grade classrooms; they're also bringing the workshop to students in North Adams and Williamstown this month.

Students went through the coding exercises at their own pace, telling the program to do things like print words and make emojis — happy and otherwise...

Recipes for computers
An hour isn't a lot of time to actually teach computer science, he said. The workshops are intended to expose kids to the idea of coding, he said.

Students are given "a bunch of little recipes" to follow — basic coding.

"They're sort of drawing things on the screen," Barowy said. "We also have an extensive set of emojis."

Coding itself can be thought of like writing down a recipe for a computer to follow, he said.

And that's the challenge. 

Source: Berkshire Eagle

Cleveland's New Musical Instrument Donation Drive Kicks Off MLK Day | Arts - Cleveland Scene

Thanks to expert tidier Marie Kondo's new Netflix series, people everywhere are purging their homes of unused and unneeded things this new year. 

Photo: via Wikimedia Commons
And in Cleveland, there's a new way to donate your dust-collecting musical instruments (think: that trumpet or violin you haven't touched since high school).

Starting Monday, five non-profit/public groups, including Arts Cleveland, the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning, Cleveland City Council, Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the Cleveland Orchestra, have come together for a city-wide instrument drive for kids called Play It Forward. This year, all gently used instruments will go to children involved with rec center music programs in the Glenville neighborhood, but expansions are planned for the future.
Read more...  

Source: Cleveland Scene

The idea that successful people can teach their secrets isn’t new. Now MasterClass is selling it for $180 | The Goods -

Can a video of Serena Williams teach you tennis? Probably not.
Photo: Sarah Lawrence for Vox

After surviving for five months in space, astronaut Chris Hadfield has a new, tougher challenge: teaching me, a grown man whose only qualifications are narrowly passing 10th-grade science and usually keeping motion sickness at bay when commuting, to be a space explorer.

“It will be a great moment of introspection for humanity if you’re the person who finds that one little fossilized flower on Mars,” he says over rousing music. He points at the viewer when he says “you.” That viewer, not the first or even the millionth, is me as I watch the trailer for his MasterClass.

MasterClass burst onto the scene in 2015 with more star power than Love, Actually. Its pitch was simple: Famous people teach you about the thing that made them famous. For $90, you’d get access to the instructional videos and workbooks that made up each course. Students could also interact with one another and maybe their star instructor. Serena Williams reportedly invited one of her students to play tennis. James Patterson published a novel with one of his pupils.

2015 was a heady time for online learning. It was only a few years after the New York Times announced the “Year of the MOOC (massive open online course).” Universities had started putting lectures by their star instructors online. In 2013, the video e-learning platforms CreativeLive and Coursera completed Series B rounds of $21.5 million and $63 million, respectively. MasterClass appeared to synthesize all these developments, with the addition of copious stardust.

While much of e-learning matured into mundanity, MasterClass has doubled down on celebrity glitz. It now focuses on selling annual, all-access subscriptions...

Every MasterClass follows the same formula. Bathed in soft light, the instructor delivers 15 to 30 brief lectures. If the instructor does something inherently visual for a living, like cooking or sports, those lessons include demonstrations. The writers just talk. Each lesson comes with a PDF workbook containing a summary and links to further reading. Students can record questions for instructors, who periodically post video replies during “office hours.” The formula extends all the way to course titles: Person Teaches Skill. Deadmau5 Teaches Electronic Music Production. Frank Gehry Teaches Design and Architecture. James Suckling Teaches Wine Appreciation. Teaches.
Read more...  


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Do YOU suffer from 'statistics anxiety'? Researchers say stress from math is real (and reveal how to beat it) | Science - Daily Mail

  • Approximately 80 percent of college students suffer from 'statistics anxiety'
  • University of Kansas researchers sought to quantify what factors add to this fear
  • Students were asked how they feel about their ability to do math, fear of statistics teachers, test and class anxiety and if they feared asking for help

Many people find math frustrating, as Daily Mail reports.  

Many people find math frustrating. But for some, it can turn into 'statistics anxiety,' a fear of doing math problems that can be debilitating or even stand in the way of graduation
Photo: Ollyy - Shutterstock

But for some, it can actually turn into 'statistics anxiety,' a fear of doing math or statistics problems that can be debilitating or even stand in the way of graduation. 

A new study from the University of Kansas discovered which factors can contribute to statistics anxiety and how it can be dealt with. 

Previous studies have shown that some 80 percent of college students suffer from statistics anxiety, the University of Kansas explained.  

'We teach a statistics class in the psychology department and see many students put it off until senior year because they're scared of this class,' Michael Vitevitch, professor and chair of psychology at the University of Kansas, said in a statement...

They used a technique called network science, which 'puts the most important contributors or symptoms of statistical anxiety at the center of a visual diagram of connecting nodes.'

'With statistics anxiety, it's not just that you have symptoms, it's how long you have them and which ones are more important?,' Vitevitch explained. 

Source: Daily Mail

Science as a social practice | MIT News

PhD student Marion Boulicault believes in an interdisciplinary path forward for science, feminism, and philosophy, says

Marion Boulicault
Photo: Joseph Lee

Marion Boulicault hates making decisions. “I want to do everything,” she says, “and one of the effects of making a choice is that other choices are closed off.” Alternately drawn to work in environmental science, public policy, and philosophy, she has always felt compelled to bring her interests together.

So when she first began her doctorate in philosophy at MIT, Boulicault assumed that choosing such an abstract field meant letting go of the pragmatic, on-the-ground impact of a career in public service... 

Working at the interface of philosophy and science
Through her HASTS interdisciplinary coursework, Boulicault first encountered a field that intrigued her: the feminist philosophy of science. She was struck that problems of gender in science go far beyond equal representation. “The notion of ‘bias’ can’t be understood only at an individual level — it’s also social, cultural, and structural. Although science is often idealized as value-free and purely ‘objective,’ it’s a practice done by people and institutions,” she says. “Science is inherently social.”...

Bringing a humanities perspective to science
Boulicault has managed to merge her dual passions for conceptual thinking and public service as a founding member of the Harvard GenderSci Lab, which generates feminist critiques, methods, and concepts for scientific research on sex and gender.  

At times, operating within a truly interdisciplinary framework is difficult — the GenderSci Lab consists of biologists, psychologists, philosophers, and historians — but she has found others with similar interests and has created her own interdisciplinary space.
Read more... 

Source: MIT News 

Maths discoveries by amateurs and distractions by cranks | Opinion & Analysis - The Irish Times

The fact that certain problems are impossible to solve does not deter enthusiasts, writes Peter Lynch, emeritus professor at UCD school of mathematics and statistics, blogs at

Srinivasa Ramanujan, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the last century, wrote unsolicited letters to three leading mathematicians at Cambridge
Photo: The Irish Times 
Do amateurs ever solve outstanding mathematical problems? Professional mathematicians are aware that almost every new idea they have about a mathematical problem has already occurred to others. Any really new idea must have some feature that explains why no one has thought of it before.

It is both difficult and rare to come up with a truly original idea. Such insights almost invariably result from an extended period of intensive work. If one mathematician thinks of something original, why would others not have done the same? Yet, there are those who convince themselves, without justification, that they have done what no one else could do.

Pseudomathematics is an activity that fails to observe the rigorous standards of formal mathematical practice and proof. Pseudomathematicians who persist in this activity become cranks. Most professional mathematicians have received communications that contain “proofs” of long-open problems. Often, these claim solutions of problems that have been proven mathematically to be impossible to solve...

The British mathematician and logician Augustus De Morgan wrote a book, A Budget of Paradoxes, in which he introduced the term pseudomath. As an example of a pseudomath, De Morgan mentioned one James Smith who claimed persistently to have proved that pi is equal to three and one eighth. De Morgan wrote that Smith “is beyond doubt the ablest head at unreasoning, and the greatest hand at writing it.”

In the past, many European scientific academies were bombarded by circle-squarers, angle-trisectors and cube-duplicators demanding immediate recognition of their mathematical achievements.

Source: The Irish Times

Third of PhD students in Europe ‘fail to complete in six years’ | Postgraduate and early-career - Times Higher Education

Supervision highlighted as a ‘big challenge’ in wake of study on doctoral education, according to Ellie Bothwell, rankings editor and international reporter at Times Higher Education.

Photo: Getty
Universities have been urged to improve training for PhD supervisors as new figures show that a third of doctoral students in Europe fail to complete their thesis within six years.

A survey of 311 institutions by the European University Association (EUA) reveals that, while the PhD completion rate across the continent is improving, 34 per cent of candidates still fail to finish their doctoral dissertation within six years – with many of these students expected to have dropped out altogether.

The EUA’s Salzburg Principles on doctoral education state that PhD programmes should “operate within an appropriate time duration”, approximately “three to four years full-time as a rule”, but only around half (51 per cent) of respondents said that doctoral students typically completed within this time period. More than a quarter said that the average completion time was five years or longer.

Alexander Hasgall, head of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education (CDE), said that “the risk that the thesis is not defended after six years” increases in cases where the average duration is longer than the recommended three to four years...

However, Professor Biscari added that universities still have “a lot to do” to improve training for PhD supervisors. He said that some institutions have introduced mandatory training for new professors, which will improve the situation in the long term, but institutions could “try to speed up the process”.

“Candidates working with supervisors who have been trained show [fewer] problems and much more satisfaction than candidates working with general professors,” he said.

Alexandra Bitusikova, vice-rector for research at Matej Bel University in Slovakia and author of the 2017 book Structuring Doctoral Education, agreed that supervision was “still a big challenge” across Europe.

Source: Times Higher Education

Online learning vs face to face learning: why you should make the switch | Blog - Elucidat

Are you yet to harness the power of online learning? This article can help, recommends Georgina Cooke, Learning Consultant at Elucidat.


You might be wondering what great digital learning looks like, what benefits you can expect from making the switch and how can you make the transition a success. Read on to answer these questions and get started on your own move from face to face to online learning.

Your learners want digital 
Recent research from the likes of Bersin by Deloitte, Fosway and many more revealed the learning habits of modern professionals in 2018. The results paint a picture of employees adapting to cope with the fast pace of modern working life. They are often busy and overwhelmed but still keen to learn; they value high quality content that’s personalized and relevant to their needs; and they are getting increasingly impatient and turned off by content and experiences that isn’t high value, relevant, and available when they want it.

The reality behind these stats is that both employees and employers struggle to justify the time spent in classrooms; especially when that training is targeted at a broad group...

Final thoughts 
A successful digital learning blend is the solution to the online learning vs face to face learning debate. By harnessing the skills you already have in your face-to-face team and taking inspiration from digital learning examples, you will be able to tackle the move head-on.

Source: Elucidat

The Chinese primary school where nearly a sixth of the parents hold PhDs | Society - South China Morning Post

  • Of the 1,200 pupils at school in Suzhou’s hi-tech innovation district, 194 have highly educated mums and dads
  • Fathers who are academics and scientists regularly give talks to the students on topics including nanomaterials, computer viruses and network security

A primary school in eastern China is generating interest online because of the high number of its pupils’ parents – 194 mums and dads – with PhDs, observes Laurie Chen, Reporter at South China Morning Post.

The highly educated parents of children at Hanlin Primary School in Suzhou, Jiangsu were first featured on the local government’s official WeChat page, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Monday.

Suzhou government said on the social network that 133 fathers and 61 mothers held PhDs – or nearly a sixth of the parents of the school’s 1,200 pupils...

Suzhou is home to a research campus of the prestigious University of Science and Technology of China, as well as the Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics, which is part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Colleges located in the school’s district include Suzhou University, Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University, and campuses of Renmin University and Southeast University.

Source: South China Morning Post

WES Centenary Conference - Celebrating the Past, Transforming the Future | WES events - Women's Engineering Society

Join us for our Centenary Conference to boost your Continued Professional Development as the Women's Engineering Society celebrates 100 years as a leading registered membership organisation supporting women in engineering.

Booking is now live for the 2019 WES Centenary Conference - Celebrating the Past, Transforming the Future on Friday 15 March 2019, 9:30 - 16:00 (followed by a drinks reception) at RAF Museum, London

Join us for a once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate 100 years of the Women’s Engineering Society whilst boosting your Continued Professional Development. Get involved in the debate about how we can face the challenges for the next 100 years and be part of the solution.

If you are an early career professional, we even have a Poster Competition where you can present your work on the theme of Transforming the Future to our multidisciplinary audience.

Confirmed Speakers include:
Mandy Hickson, Ex-fighter pilot, RAF and motivational speaker
Rachel Higham, Managing Director of IT, British Telecom
Air Vice-Marshall Sue Gray, Air Officer Commanding No 38 Group, Royal Air Force
Eva Tutchell and John Edmonds, authors of ‘Man-Made: Why So Few Women Are in Positions of Power?’ and ‘The Stalled revolution: Is equality for women an impossible dream?’ 
Emma Howard-Boyd, Chair, Environment Agency; Steering Committee Member, 30% Club
Dawn Childs, WES President and Group Engineering Director at Merlin Entertainments
There will also be an exhibition of WES’s history, featuring treasures from our archives and showcasing the WES Centenary Trail funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Source: Women's Engineering Society

A computer science degree alone doesn’t equate to strong skills | Classroom Innovation - eCampus News

The full report detailing these and other findings is available here.

Laura Ascione, Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media explains, A computer science degree isn’t always an indicator of strong programming skills, according to a new survey of more than 10,000 computer science students.

Photo:  eCampus News
In the U.S. alone, there are nearly 571,000 open computing jobs with less than 50,000 computer science graduates entering the workforce–that’s roughly 11 job postings for every computer science major.

As businesses across all industries transform into tech companies, competition for software engineers is increasingly competitive. If companies want to beat the odds in a candidate’s market, it is critical for recruiters to understand the specific skills of the students they’re trying to hire, as well as the factors they evaluate when choosing a job.

New data from technical hiring platform HackerRank reveals the technical skills, learning preferences, and career motivators of collegiate software engineers.

Source: eCampus News

Seven Things to Consider Before Developing Your Online Course | Online Education - Faculty Focus

This article will explore seven things that instructors should consider prior to developing an online course, inform Brian Udermann, director of online education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Photo: Faculty Focus

As the number of online courses and degree programs in higher education continues to increase, more faculty are being asked to design and develop online courses. Sometimes this course design and development process is done somewhat reflexively, in a short time period, and with limited planning and preparation. This is not ideal as it can lead to a more stressful course development process for instructors and negatively impact the quality of online offerings...

Designing and developing an online course can be a daunting task for instructors. However, thinking about the seven items outlined in this article on the front end can help make the course development process less overwhelming, more enjoyable, and more successful for instructors.
Read more... 

Source: Faculty Focus

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Call to reimagine artificial intelligence for developing world | Technology and new media - Times Higher Education

Higher education institutions who are developing AI have a responsibility to ensure that it is not biased against developing nations, conference hears, says Anna McKie, reporter covering teaching, learning and student issues, as well as higher education in Africa and the Middle East

Photo: Times Higher Education

Universities must lead efforts to ensure that the evolution of artificial intelligence tools does not discriminate against developing nations, a conference has heard.
Speaking on a panel at Times Higher Education’s Emerging Economies Summit, Sarah Anyang Agbor, commissioner for human resources, science and technology at the African Union, said that the need for global diversity had been overlooked in the development of machine learning technology.

“It is defined by the perspective of the West…the language of the machine is not the language of Africa,” she told the event at Qatar University. “Who is designing the machines that will dictate the future of all of us and do they come from a position of bias?”
Professor Anyang Agbor, who was previously a deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Bamenda, in Cameroon, said that universities must play a key role in correcting the omission of perspectives from the developing world...

Mikhail Strikhanov, rector of the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI in Russia, added that “society should not let [AI] develop without a plan”. Universities must work with policymakers to create new ethical frameworks, he added.

Source: Times Higher Education (THE)   

Debunking the emotional intelligence myth | Culture - TrainingZone

Helen Amery, Executive Coach - Wild Fig Solutions Limited reports, Getting to grips with your emotional intelligence may be easier than you think. It just takes an open mind and self-belief.
Photo: primipil/iStock

Think of a time when you were in flow. Either on your own, or in a group or team. One of those times when things just seemed to happen really naturally and easily. When you didn’t have to put much effort in and yet you were making great progress, or getting great results.

Now compare that to the definition of emotional intelligence: “the capability of individuals to recognise their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one's goal(s)”...

Why aren’t we in flow more? 
For years we’ve been teaching people (me included until recently) that we need to intellectually manage what’s going on for us emotionally. That we need to use our brain muscle to fix ourselves, that we need to practice and repeat to build new habits and new neural pathways, all so we can be better versions of ourselves more of the time because we’ve been led to believe there’s some version of us which is not good enough and not acceptable to society right now.

The trouble is, the application of our intellectual capabilities to these emotional management tasks, takes valuable energy away from our ability to generate fresh new thoughts and ideas in any moment, from our ability to listen and hear others, from our ability to connect and collaborate.

Source: TrainingZone

Learning Engineering: Making Education More "Professional" | Features - Campus Technology.

A Q&A with Ellen Wagner

Learning engineering has taken many forms since the term was coined by Herbert Simon back in the 1960s, explains Mary Grush, Editor and Conference Program Director, Campus Technology. 

"The evolution of ed tech has always demonstrated that as tech platforms get more complex, product teams turn to other disciplines to get the expertise they need."
Photo: Ellen Wagner
Ellen Wagner, who chairs IEEE's ICICLE SIG on Learning Engineering Among the Professions offers some perspective — from Simon's original insight to LE's application and potential today.

Mary Grush: Some 50-plus years ago, Herbert Simon (who we remember today as a famed economist and Nobel Prize winner), coined the term "learning engineering" — a term we are hearing a lot these days. What was "learning engineering" in Simon's original context?

Ellen Wagner: Back in 1967 Herb Simon shared a radical vision that colleges and universities could improve their professionalism by increasing the use of scientific methods and business processes in university administration and operation. In today's era of accountability, analytics, "big data", and performance funding, Simon's recommendations sound almost quaint, don't they?

But by increasing the use of scientific methods and business processes, Simon believed it would be possible to improve the returns on investment in college infrastructure and operational management, which in turn would lead to increased efficiency and better outcomes in curricular development, teaching, and ultimately, in student learning. Does this sound more familiar? Maybe even a bit more like performance-based funding, something that is already in place in 34 states?

Among his suggested strategies for making colleges and universities more professional settings for teaching and learning, Simon believed there might be value in providing college presidents with a "learning engineer" [see Simon, "The Job of a College President," p. 77] — an expert professional in the design of learning environments.

As Simon envisioned this role, the learning engineer would be an institutional specialist with several responsibilities related to optimizing university productivity: Specifically, they would be responsible to work collaboratively with faculty to design learning experiences in particular disciplines. They would also be expected to work with administration to improve the design of the broader campus environment to facilitate student learning and faculty improvements. And, they would be expected to introduce new disciplines such as cognitive psychology, along with learning machines and computer assisted instruction — remember, this was 1967 — to various disciplines on campus.

Source: Campus Technology

6 Things to Know About Textbooks for Online Courses | Online Colleges - U.S. News & World Report

Online students may consider purchasing rather than renting textbooks if they plan to keep course materials as career resources, according to Jordan Friedman, New York-based freelance reporter.

There are several ways to buy – and save on – textbooks.
Photo: Getty Images

When Regina Kizer took online nursing classes in two graduate nursing degree programs, she bought textbooks in all different formats.

“I've tried eBooks; I've tried Kindle. I've tried purchasing them in hardback, and I've rented them as well,” says the 45-year-old Oklahoma resident, who earned a nursing master’s and doctoral degree from Frontier Nursing University.

She says the decision to buy or rent textbooks – either from the school or elsewhere – in part boiled down to whether she planned to continue using the textbook as a career resource once a class finished. If so, she typically chose to purchase textbooks, often in print... 

Some online courses are going textbook-free.  
Certain professors may not assign any textbooks and will simply have students download a series of journal articles and other reading materials at no cost.

Other online courses may utilize Open Educational Resources, or OERs, which are free materials on the internet that are often available to anyone and are produced through university, state or federally funded projects, says Tony Contento, program manager for the School of Professional Studies at Colorado State University—Global Campus.

“What they represent is a free resource for students designed by active professors,” Contento says. “And sometimes these professors even design other materials – videos, interactives, assessments – for student and faculty use.”
Read more... 

Source: U.S. News & World Report

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tech Talent Charter: Tackling gender diversity in tech through collaboration | Diversity - Information Age

Nick Ismail, editor for Information Age notes, Today, the Tech Talent Charter (TTC) launched its inaugural benchmarking report, tracking gender diversity in technology roles across the UK.
Over the course of a year, TTC signatories have more than doubled, which shows the tech sector is taking the gender gap seriously.
Photo: Information Age
The Tech Talent Charter — partner of Information Age’s Women in IT Awards Series — has done something that few diversity initiatives can claim: bring business competitors together to share data and collaborate for one purpose: to end the gender gap prevalent in the technology sector.

In a first-of-its-kind report, the TTC has collated data from across large corporates to start-ups, which provides practical insights — or best practice tips — in helping close the gender gap.

In late 2017, I attended the Tech Talent Charter’s first annual event at the top of the Gherkin. Then, the diversity initiative announced its 90th signatory. Today, there are over 200. But, as Debbie Forster — CEO of Tech Talent Charter — told me, “we’re ahead of the pack, but there is still along way to go.”

The fight (and I use that word carefully) to close the gender gap is fraught with obstacles: recruitment practice, cultural change etcetera. But, the report released today will help companies — who care about diversity — to improve the inclusion practices...

Does size matter in gender diversity? 
Yes, is the answer.

The data collected shows clear differences between the size of an organisation and its gender representation in technology roles. However, no clear trend was found between size and gender representation.

Surprisingly, the micro-companies (or digital native, culturally progressive start-ups) had the highest representation with 53% of all technical roles held by women, in comparison with small companies at 20%, medium at 23% and large at 19%.

Zoe Amar, founder and director of micro-business Zoe Amar Digital, said: “There is an arms race for employees with good tech skills and all organisations need to think creatively about how to attract them. 92% of my team are women and as I founded my social enterprise when I had a toddler and a baby I knew how important it was to offer flexible work, so I could create more opportunities for women in tech.

Source: Information Age