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
The Grand Canyon is yet another place that Google brings to your digital screens, from their Street View family of content. Google has been collecting street-level views of our world at a vast scale possible only because of it’s deep pockets and technical expertise. (more…)
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.
“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.
Wikipedia, the free, online encyclopedia that “anyone can edit,” is a useful way to deliver scientific and cultural knowledge to the public. Wikipedia is the 5th most visited web site, with 400–450 million unique visitors per month.
It’s not “merely a larger audience, but a different audience,” says Sara Snyder, webmaster for the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art, who has recently started to use Wikipedia more. She says, “Our main website is geared towards an academic-minded or university-level student, researcher, curator, or professional art historian. Yet we have information and collections that may inform or appeal to a broader set of folks, such as younger students and art enthusiasts. Wikipedia is a platform for trying to start serving those researchers too, without overhauling the current way we do business or our existing website.” (more…)
Mobile is exploding, and this has vast implications for education. Here’s a summary of top news and trends for mobile this summer…
Smartphones are popular phones. According to Nielsen, 38% of Americans now own smartphones, and 55% of those who purchased a new handset in the past three months bought a smartphone (rather than a dumb one), up from 34% a year ago. Android’s growth curve flattened in 2011 while the iPhone’s got a boost. Collectively, Android and iOS are activating over 800k devices per day.
Smartphones (e.g., the iPhone or Android) are commonplace, and education outreach projects need make use of this reality. People use their smartphones while doing all kinds of things. For example:
(Left to right, top: while waiting in line, socializing, in the bathroom, while watching TV; bottom: while using a computer, playing video games, reading a paper, or a book.)
The most common place to use a smartphones is at home (93% of smartphone owners), but people use their smartphones all kinds of places: (more…)
The growing field of digital humanities is hampered by a lack of motivation to share tools, and a lack of direct rewards from the academic establishment, says a new study published last month in the Digital Humanities Quarterly.
Digital humanities uses computers as part of research in arts and humanities. Computers are useless in isolation; they need software written to do interesting analyses. Some processing can be done using simple text processing tools to sort and count words. More complex research requires new tools (new computer programs) to be created. The study looked at the people who create those new tools. One key finding was that creating new software does little to help researcher’s careers.
Real life has a close competitor in the “Art Project,” released by Google last week. Their initial release is a clean, inviting site for browsing over one thousand artworks from 17 of the world’s most famous museums. At least one piece from each of the 17 museums is displayed in gigapixel resolution, so that online visitors can zoom in to the brushstrokes. Each piece also has information about the artists, text or video commentary, bios, and links to related pieces. Some museums have 3D walk-throughs, analogous to Google’s map street views (there are 6000 3D panoramas), and there’s a way to create personal art “collections” to revisit or share later.