Monthly Archives: March 2012

Can Your Education Keep Pace with Technology?

Source: Fortune, Mar 2012

Incomes in the broad middle have gone nowhere for more than 20 years after rising slowly but steadily through most of the 20th century

. Why? Many theories have been advanced, but the one that holds up best is set out by Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz in articles and a book, The Race Between Education and Technology. The economy continually demands higher-level skills from workers, they argue, and for most of the 20th century the U.S. workforce kept up. In 1900 few people stayed in school past eighth grade; by 1970 a large majority finished high school, and many went on to college. American workers became the world’s best-educated and earned the rewards.

The problem is that the middle class isn’t supplying the new skills that the world is demanding.


Tapping into Online Education for Detailed Data

Source: NYTimes, Mar 2012

At Stanford University, an intriguing big-data experiment in online education is under way. Last year, three computer science courses, including videos and assignments, were put online. Hundreds of thousands of students have registered and participated in the courses.

The courses generate huge amounts of data on how students learn, what teaching strategies work best and what models do not, said Daphne Koller, a professor at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

In most education research, teaching methods are tested in small groups, comparing results in different classrooms, Ms. Koller explained. With small sample groups, research conclusions tend to be uncertain, she said, and results are often not available until tests at the end of school semesters.

But in an online class of 20,000 students, whose every mouse click is tracked in real time, the research can be more definitive and more immediate, Ms. Koller said.

“If 5,000 people had the same wrong answer, it’s obvious a concept is not getting through, and you have a clear path that shows where students went wrong,” she said.

That kind of data tracking in education, she said, provides “an opportunity no one has exploited yet.”

Stanford education online …

Source: Wired, Mar 2012

Last fall, the university in the heart of Silicon Valley did something it had never done before: It opened up three classes, including CS221, to anyone with a web connection. Lectures and assignments—the same ones administered in the regular on-campus class—would be posted and auto-graded online each week. Midterms and finals would have strict deadlines. Stanford wouldn’t issue course credit to the non-matriculated students. But at the end of the term, students who completed a course would be awarded an official Statement of Accomplishment.

People around the world have gone crazy for this opportunity. Fully two-thirds of my 160,000 classmates live outside the US. There are students in 190 countries—from India and South Korea to New Zealand and the Republic of Azerbaijan. More than 100 volunteers have signed up to translate the lectures into 44 languages, including Bengali. In Iran, where YouTube is blocked, one student cloned the CS221 class website and—with the professors’ permission—began reposting the video files for 1,000 students.

Becoming a Better Student

Source: Mindshift, Mar 2012

Students can assess their own awareness by asking themselves which of the following learning strategies they regularly use (the response to each item is ideally “yes”):

  • I draw pictures or diagrams to help me understand this subject.
  • I make up questions that I try to answer about this subject.
  • When I am learning something new in this subject, I think back to what I already know about it.
  • I discuss what I am doing in this subject with others.
  • I practice things over and over until I know them well in this subject,
  • I think about my thinking, to check if I understand the ideas in this subject.
  • When I don’t understand something in this subject I go back over it again.
  • I make a note of things that I don’t understand very well in this subject, so that I can follow them up.
  • When I have finished an activity in this subject I look back to see how well I did.
  • I organize my time to manage my learning in this subject.
  • I make plans for how to do the activities in this subject.

These questions, too, can be adopted by any parent or educator to make sure that children know not just what is to be learned, but how.

  • What is the topic for today’s lesson?
  • What will be important ideas in today’s lesson?
  • What do you already know about this topic?
  • What can you relate this to?
  • What will you do to remember the key ideas?
  • Is there anything about this topic you don’t understand, or are not clear about?

March 2012 Update

The Summary:
  • KA-BM version 2.0 (down to the level of learning objectives)
  • Number of Malay/Bahasa Melayu translations completed thus far: 58 (as of March 2012)
  • 11th March 2012 TV Interview about the Khan Academy 
  • Reaching out to the PPSMI folks 
The Details
KA-BM version 2.0 (down to the level of learning objectives). 
KA-BM version 1 identified KA video-clips at the level of topics.  However, we have realized that it’s worthwhile (though very time-consuming) to curate KA video-clips to the level of learning objectives.  
Thus Suhaimi and his team have started doing so with Form 4 math (= 65 KA video-clips), and will eventually handle math/additional math for the other Forms. 
Number of Translations Completed Thus Far: 58
Based upon the information contained here: 
Inline image 2
Please note that Education Republic, a for-profit organization, is working on KA content that correspond to the primary school content.  Fortunately, there’s no overlap because we are concentrating upon the secondary school curriculum.  
11th March 2012 TV Interview about the Khan Academy
News report: 
We are discussing with some Malaysian educators about the flipped classroom mentioned in the interview. 
Reaching out to the PPSMI folks  
We have reached out to the pro-PPSMI folks to share about the potential of using the KA content as an “outside the school” opportunity for learning mathematics in English, and have shared the following presentation with a CPS person. 
In addition, I have shared via the PPSMI FB page: 

KA for the Masses

Source: TechCrunch, Mar 2012

ShowMe wants to bring the classroom-flipping power of Khan Academy’s platform to the millions of teachers out there looking to share their knowledge and experience with students of every age. “We want to create thousands of Sal Khans,” ShowMe CEO San Kim tells us, taking Khan’s approach and turning into a community and P2P-based model.

To do so, the startup built an iPad app (with a corresponding web platform) that transforms the device into an interactive video whiteboard, allowing teachers of all stripes to record lessons while speaking into the iPad’s microphone and drawing on the accompanying touchscreen whiteboard. Once those instructors have created a video, they can then be shared on the app or on the Web, where other users can peruse through videos, voting them up, and sharing their own favorites.

Since the app debuted on the App Store last summer, it has racked up over 400K downloads (which is impressive for an educational app), and Kim tells us that ShowMe teachers have now created over 1.5 million lessons. ShowMe’s technology is also now powering Princeton Review’s SAT prep app.

The half-life of any skill is 5 years

Source: Radar O’Reilly, Mar 2012

John Seely Brown tells us the half-life of any skill is about five years. This astounding metric is presented as part of the ongoing discussion of how education needs to change radically in order to prepare students for a world which is very different than the one their parents graduated into, and in which change is accelerating.

It’s pretty straightforward to recognize that new job categories, such as data science, will require new skills. The first-order solution is to add data science as a college curriculum and work the prerequisites backward to kindergarten. But if JSB is right about the half-life of skills, even if this process were instantaneous, the learning path begun in kindergarten might be obsolete by middle school.

The second-order solution is to include meta-skills into the curriculum — ensuring young people learn how to learn, for instance, so that they can adapt as new skills are required with increasing frequency. This is essential, but raises the question of how to stay ahead of the skills curve — what are the next critical things to learn, how do you know, and how do you find them?

John Seely Brown and co-author Douglas Thomas propose in their book “A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Changea third-order solution, which is to inculcate the mindsets and dispositions that will lead us, as independent agents, to the things that matter. These include curiosity, questing, and connecting.