There are gender wars, and then there are casualties. It wasn’t until 2011 that the behemoth toymaker LEGO acknowledged girls’ desire to build with bricks, even though the company had long before made a seemingly effortless pivot to co-branding, video games, and major motion pictures. So it’s little wonder that girls face all-too-real obstacles when […]Read more
Crowdsourcing can build virtual community, engage the public, and build large knowledge databases about science and culture. But what does it take, and how fast can you grow?
For some insight, we look at a crowdsourced history site: Historypin is an appealing database of historical photos, with dates, locations, captions, and other metadata. It’s called History “pin” because the photos are pinned on a map. (See recent article about Changes over time, in photos and maps.) Some locations have photos from multiple dates, showing how a place has changed over time, or cross-referenced with Google Maps StreetView. Currently, Historypin has 308k items, from 51k users, and 1.4k institutions. This is a graph of pins over the last three years: (more…)
Online education can have a real impact in the developing world. Last week, we needed to hire a programmer for a small freelance job. To my surprise, several candidates advertised they had completed programming MOOCs. These were young programmers in their 20’s, in countries like Pakistan and Thailand, who lacked college-level coursework, but are trying to launch freelancing careers based on online courses.
Online courses and MOOCs may be a poor substitute for in-person learning with a charismatic teacher, but they are light-years better than nothing, and are particularly relevant for higher education and specific skills, when students are self-motivated. (more…)
Online courses with very large enrollments have rapidly matured in the last two years, led largely by experiments outside mainstream academia by Coursera, Udacity and edX. Ambitious educators, technologists, and funders have created courses on diverse topics, and over five million students worldwide have registered for classes. And 3% have completed the courses. What can we learn? (more…)
Crowdsourcing means involving a lot of people in small pieces of a project. In educational and nonprofit outreach, crowdsourcing is a form of engagement, such as participating in an online course, collecting photos of butterflies for a citizen-science project, uploading old photos for a community history project, deciphering sentences from old scanned manuscripts, playing protein folding games to help scientists discover new ways to fight diseases, or participating in online discussions. (more…)
IDEA is in the planning stages of a new project, to create a new thesaurus app for the iPad. As an experiment, we investigated whether “crowd funding” is a viable way to fund new educational apps. Our Kickstarter project was not funded, but we are still making the app!
Here’s some information about our Kickstarter experiment. (more…)
“The debate about which is better, face-to-face learning or online learning is fast becoming obsolete,” says Jennifer Berghage, an instructional designer at Pennsylvania State University. The common goal is that “an online course should be, above all, engaging, so that the learner enjoys the learning and is able to not only assimilate it but retain it and apply it.”
Online courses are revolutionizing formal education, and have opened a new genre of outreach on cultural and scientific topics. These courses deliver a series of lessons to a web browser or mobile device, to be conveniently accessed anytime, anyplace. (more…)
What was once prohibitively complex and expensive can now be done inexpensively with online testing services. Testing will uncover problems that are confusing for your audience. Here’s a list of vendors to start your research process, and some suggestions.
For a real-world example on a recent project, designer Ben Snyder said on his blog, “the purpose of the user test is to get feedback about the new design to understand if there are any parts of the website that are confusing to users, and to test the site for hidden bugs that might prevent a user from getting the information they need” or prevent them from completing actions on the site. (more…)