Open textbooks are receiving a potential boost by an ambitious new, organized peer review project organized by the University of Minnesota. The average college student suffers with $1,000 or more in annual textbook costs; however, if more professors adopt open textbooks, higher education will become more affordable.
The vast majority of museums are totally ignoring mobile apps.
At present, ~350 iPhone apps have been actually created by museums. Of those, only one out of ten was created by a U.S. museum (the rest are non-U.S.). The other 760 iPhone apps matching “museum” in their title or description were created by travel and culture publishers, most of which are poor quality.
These pathetic numbers ignore smartphone reality. In the U.S. alone, half of all mobile phone customers now have smartphones, and there will soon be 1 million new smartphone (smartphones run apps) subscribers a week. This will be virtually all U.S. households in 5-7 years. Currently, Android and iOS are the two main app platforms. Numbers in Europe are similar.
Over 30,000 objects are now available for anyone to savor and study online, for free, in impressive high resolution, in Google’s ‘Art Project.” This is 30x expansion from the thousand objects in the first version launched in February 2011. See our prior article, The virtual vs. the real: Giga-resolution in Google Art Project. The project now has 151 partners in 40 countries; in the U.S., the initial four museums has grown to 29 institutions, including the White House and some university art galleries.
See the site: Google Art Project
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.
Advertising is a classic, well-proven way to earn money for a publication, blog or site. “It’s the cost of not having direct, paid reader support,” says John Rennie, an experienced science writer, editor and lecturer, and former editor in chief of Scientific American.
Readers are acclimated to ads, but you have to use good taste. “Many readers may blame you for misleading claims or ugliness in ads, and they may think the ads undermine your editorial integrity,” says Rennie. In a few fields, readers enjoy ads (e.g., SuperBowl ads, or fashion magazines), but in science and cultural fields, that’s rarely the case. They best you can hope for is that your ads are benign.
This article examines the ad business on a broad level, and looks closely at how to use or launch an ad network.
“Being able to teach machine learning to tens of thousands of people is one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve ever had,” says Stanford University computer science professor Andrew Ng.
Over 100,000 students signed up for his free, fall 2011 course on machine learning. The impacts were huge. Over 12% of the students completed the course, and received a statement of accomplishment. Ng says he “heard many stories from students about how they’re using it at work, about how it’s inspired them to go back to school, and so on.” In contrast, Ng’s normal, for-credit course at Stanford, one of the most popular on campus, would enroll 350 students.
It’s part of a new revolution in higher education, and it’s serious learning. They deliver complete courses where students are not only watching web-based lectures, but also actively participating, doing exercises, and deeply learning the material. Students are expected to devote ~12 hours a week to the course, to read and watch course materials, complete assignments, and take quizzes and an exam. Online students did not receive one-on-one interaction with professors, the full content of lectures, or a Stanford degree — those who completed the course received a statement of accomplishment. Course materials include prerecorded lectures (with in-video quizzes) and demos, multiple-choice quiz assignments, automatically-checked programming exercises with an interactive workbench, midterm and final exams, a discussion forum, optional additional exercises with solutions, and pointers to readings and resources.
Online courses can be a great way to teach (and learn) new skills. They can be small and highly personal, or scale to thousands of students. As followup to my post about “What is an online course?”, let’s look behind the scenes at a few kinds of successful online classes, rich with video, feedback and large amounts of real-world work.
Structuring a course
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) currently has six 8 or 10 week online courses. The cost is $200 for self-guided courses, or $350 for instructor-led. The latter enroll 30-45 students. MoMA offers both knowledge classes, e.g., “Modern and Contemporary Art: 1945–1989,” and knowledge/skill courses, e.g., “Materials and Techniques of Postwar Abstract Painting,” in which students do hands-on work at home.
The instructor-led classes offer structure, socialization and personalization; whereas, the self-guided courses are about individual freedom, providing access to curated articles and video, with no live instructor facilitation nor social interaction with other students.
The studio-art offerings have weekly assignments. For example, students paint canvases using the materials and techniques of iconic artists. They photograph their works in progress and finished, and upload them to discuss with other students and the instructor. Wendy Woon directs MoMA’s education department. She feels the 10-week timeframe has worked well for studio art, allowing enough time for a sense of trust and community to develop in the discussion forums so that students are willing to have “critical conversations” criticizing each other’s work.
“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.
The delightful app presents 19 different objects in 3D, to spin and zoom, providing an immediacy that rivals seeing an object in real life. In fact, it’s better in many ways than peering at an object through a protective case because the objects can be spun through a full 360°, view under bright lighting, at high resolution.
The free app presents the mobile visitor with a grid of objects (below, left):
Metadata is a the glue that makes information useful. It is data about data. It could be a title, location, and camera settings for a photo; the history of a painting; the materials in a museum object; the authors of a journal article; or the time, date, and location of photo of a butterfly for a citizen science project. “Tags” added to blog posts, photos, or tweets are all a form of metadata, allowing others to quickly hone in on related items.
To make some sense of the sea of metadata, Jenn Riley mapped 105 metadata standards for cultural heritage.