How Not to Drown in Numbers - NYTimes.com
So what can big data do to help us make big decisions? One of us, Alex, is a data scientist at Facebook. The other, Seth, is a former data scientist at Google. There is a special sauce necessary to making big data work: surveys and the judgment of humans — two seemingly old-fashioned approaches that we will call small data.

Facebook has tons of data on how people use its site. It’s easy to see whether a particular news feed story was liked, clicked, commented on or shared. But not one of these is a perfect proxy for more important questions: What was the experience like? Did the story connect you with your friends? Did it inform you about the world? Did it make you laugh?


To get to these measures, Facebook has to take an old-fashioned approach: asking. Every day, hundreds of individuals load their news feed and answer questions about the stories they see there. Big data (likes, clicks, comments) is supplemented by small data (“Do you want to see this post in your News Feed?”) and contextualized (“Why?”).

Big data in the form of behaviors and small data in the form of surveys complement each other and produce insights rather than simple metrics. For example, it’s fairly obvious that clicks aren’t always the same — sometimes people click through to an article because they really want to see the content, but sometimes people are tricked by seductive headlines. Knowing this is useful only once we can go beyond just measuring clicks to actually differentiating one kind of click from another. With this enriched measure of high quality clicks in mind, Facebook can do a much better job of delivering the content that actually leads to a better experience and not just empty clicks.

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Because of this need for small data, Facebook’s data teams look different than you would guess. Facebook employs social psychologists, anthropologists and sociologists precisely to find what simple measures miss.
bigdata  facebook  data_science  public_discourse 
2 days ago
How Humans Can Keep Superintelligent Robots From Murdering Us All
The discourse is so much around super-cognition - not around its deployment.
artificial_intelligence  public_discourse 
2 days ago
The Invented History of ‘The Factory Model of Education’ — The History of the Future of Education — Medium
We tend to not see automation today as mechanization as much as algorithmization — the promise and potential in artificial intelligence and virtualization, as if this magically makes these new systems of standardization and control lighter and liberatory.

And so too we’ve invented a history of “the factory model of education” in order to justify an “upgrade” — to new software and hardware that will do much of the same thing schools have done for generations now, just (supposedly) more efficiently, with control moved out of the hands of labor (teachers) and into the hands of a new class of engineers, out of the realm of
moocs  public_discourse  higher_ed 
3 days ago
IIT Madras Director explains Global University Rankings from an Indian perspective | The IITian
Starting from about 17.00, IIT director talks about MOOCs and online education and the NPTEL program, and what people do. Expresses optimism that we'll know how to do online learning better in the next few years
moocs  india  public_discourse 
3 days ago
5304300022 Nicki Johnson from the IRS stating itis time sensitive. Need to call , Tax Scam. Who called from this phone number? Comments & Reviews.
Mary Reported: 4122265765 Nikki Johnson Claims to be calling from IRS, Threatens that I need to respond immediately or the IRS will take legal action. Don't fall for this one. They are timing this call around April 15th so watch out!
4 days ago
Twitter is not dying. It’s on the cusp of getting much bigger.
Twitter Is Not Dying
It’s on the cusp of getting much bigger. Here’s why.

By Will Oremus


Well, that’s it folks: Twitter is dead. It had a good flight. A short flight, but a noisy one. Sadly, it is now headed the way of Flappy Bird.

So claims the Atlantic in a 1,800-word “eulogy for Twitter” that packs in about 140 characters’ worth of actual evidence. No need to read the whole piece—the fourth paragraph sums it up:

The publishing platform that carried us into the mobile Internet age is receding. Its influence on publishing will remain, but the platform's place in Internet culture is changing in a way that feels irreversible and echoes the tradition of AIM and pre-2005 blogging. A lot of this argument comes down to what we feel.
At least the Atlantic admits that its case against Twitter amounts to an unsubstantiated hunch. On Wall Street, meanwhile, investors are flocking to downgrade the company’s stock on the basis of selective evidence. Two numbers in particular—the amount of users who log into Twitter each month, and the number of timelines they viewed—have been widely interpreted as indictments of the company’s growth trajectory. Both figures are growing, but their rate of growth has slowed slightly. Twitter will probably never have as many users as Facebook, Wall Street is belatedly realizing. Wall Street hates that.

But Wall Street—along with everyone else who’s down on Twitter because it has “a growth problem”—is making a mistake by comparing it to Facebook. Twitter is not a social network. Not primarily, anyway. It’s better described as a social media platform, with the emphasis on “media platform.” And media platforms should not be judged by the same metrics as social networks.

Will Oremus
Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer. Email him at will.oremus@slate.com or follow him on Twitter.

Social networks connect people with one another. Those connections tend to be reciprocal. Facebook even checks in on you now and then to make sure you’ve actually met the folks who are sending you friend requests. As a social network, its chief function is to help friends, family, and acquaintances keep in touch.

Media platforms, by contrast, connect publishers with their public. Those connections tend not to be reciprocal. One Twitter user may be followed by millions of strangers whom she feels no obligation to follow back, any more than an evening news anchor feels the need to check in with each of her viewers every night at 6. As a media platform, Twitter’s chief function is to help people keep up with what’s going on in the world, and what influential people are thinking and doing at any given time. In that regard, it’s closer to a news service than a social network.
twitter  platformization  facebook  public_discourse 
6 days ago
Twitter earnings and acquisitions: The company’s in trouble, and its options are bleak.
Twitter is acquiring users more slowly, particularly on mobile. It is failing to monetize these users as well as expected. And it is tapping other companies like Google, with whom it will partner to take advantage of its DoubleClick ad-serving platform, for lifelines. As a consequence, the ultimate value of the social network’s nearly 300 million users is looking significantly lower than previously thought. Twitter is well aware of these factors. Its recent actions signal that it is trying to redefine its business, not as a service that monetizes its users, but as a crowdsourced media platform and advertising agency—a dangerous bet that is unlikely to pay off.
platformization  twitter  public_discourse 
6 days ago
Obama says we need the TPP to compete with China. That argument has a big flaw.
And that's the problem. Having America write the rules for trade in Asia sounds great until you realize that the people representing "America" aren't necessarily focused on the interests of the American public at large. Too often, they're focused on the interests of narrow US interest groups like drug companies and movie studios.
generalinterest  politics  copyright 
6 days ago
Digital Learning Research Network Conference 2015
Making Sense of Higher Education: Networks and Change

Learning introduces students to practices of sensemaking, wayfinding, and managing uncertainty. Higher education institutions confront the same experiences as they navigate changing contexts for the delivery of services. Digital technologies and networks have created a new sense of scale and opportunity within global higher education, while fostering new partnerships focused on digital innovation as a source of sustainability in volatile circumstances. At the same time, these opportunities have introduced risks in relation to the ethics of experimentation and exploitation, emphasizing disruption and novelty and failing to recognise universities’ long-standing investment in educational research and development.
learning_research  moocs  public_discourse 
6 days ago
The Cybersyn Revolution | Jacobin
Little dissapointed with this piece - it feels too by-the-books, as if the Jacobin editors had edited it all out of its marvelous stuff. Morozov's article on Cybersyn, even if it cited Medina far too less, criminally less, even, managed to be far more entertaining than this.
cybernetics  research  platformization  public_discourse 
8 days ago
What Are We Doing When We Teach Computing in Schools? | May 2015 | Communications of the ACM
In complement to efforts in mathematical and natural language education we need to undertake cognitive research to discover how children acquire computational concepts asking questions (for example) as to whether there is a "best order" for the presentation of concepts, or whether pedagogically focused "initial programming environments" are a more productive way to learn than "real language" teaching. And, if so, under what conditions? This is not virgin territory, but the majority of previous work has been on learning in cognitively mature undergraduates, and that is unlikely to transfer directly.

In parallel, we need a program of educational research to support teachers, to ensure ideas work in real classrooms and with real teachers—and so we do not repeat cycles of error. At the moment, teachers are faced with a plethora of plausible approaches and no way to choose between them but the conviction (and charisma) of their inventors. A recent Computing at School magazine (Autumn 2014) is not short of ideas: A four step scaffolding exemplar using Scratch ... A simple project utilizing the python turtle library ... Functional programming: an example in VB. Each of these is a response to the need for teachers to have something to teach, to be able to fill their lessons with engaging and useful material. But, at the same time, the evidence these are based on is solely "Do it like this! It works for me!"

Finally, we need policy research so we may effectively coordinate and disseminate practices at scale. It is not only individuals who can learn from research—districts, countries, and governments can, too.
moocs  public_discourse  computer_science  education 
8 days ago
FFIEC Census Reports
Allows a way to get at census and demographic data
10 days ago
College for the Masses - NYTimes.com
As it happens, two separate — and ambitious — recent academic studies have looked at precisely this issue. The economists and education researchers tracked thousands of people over the last two decades in Florida, Georgia and elsewhere who had fallen on either side of hard admissions cutoffs. Less selective colleges often set such benchmarks: Students who score 840 on the SAT, for example, or maintain a C+ average in high school are admitted. Those who don’t clear the bar are generally rejected, and many don’t attend any four-year college.

Such stark cutoffs provide researchers with a kind of natural experiment. Students who score an 830 on the SAT are nearly identical to those who score an 840. Yet if one group goes to college and the other doesn’t, researchers can make meaningful estimates of the true effects of college.

And the two studies have come to remarkably similar conclusions: Enrolling in a four-year college brings large benefits to marginal students.
college  higher_ed  public_discourse  moocs 
10 days ago
Simple Rules for Healthy Eating - NYTimes.com
Nicely done

1. Get as much of your nutrition as possible from a variety of completely unprocessed foods. These include fruits and vegetables. But they also include meat, fish, poultry and eggs that haven’t been processed. In other words, when buying food at the market, focus on things that have not been been cooked, prepared or altered in any way. Brown rice over white rice. Whole grains over refined grains. You’re far better off eating two apples than drinking the same 27 grams of sugar in an eight-ounce glass of apple juice.


1b. Eat lightly processed foods less often. You’re not going to make everything yourself. Pasta, for instance, is going to be bought already prepared. You’re not going to grind your own flour or extract your own oil. These are meant to be eaten along with unprocessed foods, but try to eat less of them.

1c. Eat heavily processed foods even less often. There’s little high-quality evidence that even the most processed foods are dangerous. But keep your consumption of them to a minimum, because they can make it too easy to stuff in calories. Such foods include bread, chips, cookies and cereals. In epidemiologic studies, heavily processed meats are often associated with worse health outcomes, but that evidence should be taken with a grain of salt (not literally), as I’ve written about before.

2. Eat as much home-cooked food as possible, which should be prepared according to Rule 1. Eating at home allows you to avoid processed ingredients more easily. It allows you full control over what you eat, and allows you to choose the flavors you prefer. You’re much less likely to stuff yourself silly if you eat home-cooked food. I’m not saying this is easy. Behavioral change takes repetition and practice. It also, unfortunately, takes time.


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3. Use salt and fats, including butter and oil, as needed in food preparation. Things like salt and fat aren’t the enemy. They are often necessary in the preparation of tasty, satisfying food. The key here is moderation. Use what you need. Seasoning is often what makes vegetables taste good. Don’t be afraid of them, but don’t go crazy with them either.

4. When you do eat out, try to eat at restaurants that follow the same rules. Ideally, you should eat at restaurants that are creating all of their items from completely unprocessed foods. Lots and lots of restaurants do. Follow Rule 1 even while out to dinner. Some processing is going to be fine, but try to keep it to a minimum.

5. Drink mostly water, but some alcohol, coffee and other beverages are fine. As I’ve pointed out before, you can find a study to show that everything either prevents or causes cancer — alcohol and coffee included. But my take is that the preponderance of evidence supports the inclusion of a moderate consumption of most beverages.

6. Treat all beverages with calories in them as you would alcohol. This includes every drink with calories, including milk. They’re fine in moderation, but keep them to a minimum. You can have them because you like them, but you shouldn’t consume them as if you need them.

Continue reading the main story

Arletta 10 hours ago
Thank you for this lovely article. It annoyed me a little bit, but, only because I had been writing something similar, last night, for my...
Liz 18 hours ago
I appreciate this approach. I would argue you really only have 2 rules: eat whole foods and moderation in everything. While I agree that no...
Dan 22 hours ago
I have one more rule for myself: eat in quiet places. I try to eat at home as much as I can. When we eat out, we do so to enjoy ourselves,...
7. Eat with other people, especially people you care about, as often as possible. This has benefits even outside those of nutrition. It will make you more likely to cook. It will most likely make you eat more slowly. It will also make you happy.
10 days ago
Philosophy from the Zettabyte » 3:AM Magazine
LF: If I restrain myself to five philosophical books, and I force myself to avoid the most obvious classics that readers are likely to know already, then I would recommend:
1. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, What is Philosophy?
2. Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge
3. Herbert Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd ed.
4. Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, corrected ed.
5. Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society, 2nd ed.
And if I may add six recommendations about reading, they would be:
1. Read only classics. There is no time to confront any lesser foes.
2. Choose your classics. Do not enter into other people’s fights, it is your life, you are at least entitled to choose your foes.
3. Never read a classic defenceless. A classic will deeply and irreversibly conquer your mind, so entrench yourself carefully, by digging deeply into your own thoughts, and make these strong enough to withstand the assault that will be almost irresistible.
4. Never study a classic, interpret it. After resisting its assault, counterattack as violently as you can: misinterpret a classic, steal from it, use it for your own purposes, be unfair, force it to confesses what you need to know, reduce it to something else, never show any hermeneutical mercy.
5. Never underestimate your reading list. Choose your foes judiciously. The order in which you will engage with classics will forever determine who you are. Two minds will be very different, depending on whether they wrestled with The Tempest before or after Faust, with Anna Karenina before or after Madame Bovary, with Life A User’s Manual before or after Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, with Waiting for the Barbarians before or after Waiting for Godot.
6. Reread the classics. The Leopard is not the same classic at fifteen, thirty-five, or sixty-five. The more you read your classics the more you can make peace with them. What were once foes become loyal allies, who will join you in your new battles against other unknown classics
information  philosophy  research  tips 
11 days ago
The Tangled History of Soviet Computer Science
The irony of the situation was not lost on Soviet humor. As one joke tells it, Brezhnev is gifted with the latest in artificial intelligence, so he asks it “When will we have built communism?” The computer responds, “In 17 miles.” Brezhnev thinks, “There must be something wrong,” and repeats the question. The computer again replies, “In 17 miles.” Angered by the incomprehensible reply, Brezhnev orders a technician to investigate the machine. “Everything is correct,” replies the technician after some time. “You said it yourself: Every five-year plan is one step toward communism.”
history  research  cybernetics 
12 days ago
10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings
I love #6. One way to appear cool at meetings is to ask: "will it scale?"
platformization  public_discourse 
12 days ago
What Problem Are ASU and EdX Solving? | Confessions of a Community College Dean | InsideHigherEd
To the extent that MOOCs were going to disrupt higher education, I thought the argument was that they’d undercut incumbent providers on cost. But with over 1,100 community colleges in America routinely undercutting the MOOC on cost, I don’t see it.
I guess there’s a presumption about prestige, but at this point, community college credits are far more widely recognized than MOOC credits are. ASU is offering to launder the currency, in a sense, but if you’re going to jump through extra hoops anyway, why not work with a real professor?
Maybe in a few places, the local community colleges are oversubscribed. But online, you aren’t necessarily tied to a local college.
Scheduling might be the issue, to the extent that MOOCs start whenever you want. (I couldn’t tell from the article if that applies here.)
Wise and worldly readers, am I missing something? Does the ASU/edX solve a problem I’m not seeing?
moocs  public_discourse  asu  edx 
12 days ago
Arizona State, edX team to offer freshman year online through MOOCs | InsideHigherEd
I wonder if this will actually work...

Generally speaking, Regier said, each course will last seven and a half weeks and will be led by a “master teacher” working with a team of university teaching assistants, who will be responsible for answering student questions. 
“What we aren’t going to do is put a course online that is an automaton -- in other words, when the student engages with the course, there’s no interaction, no chance to have a question answered by a human,” Regier said. “Technology has made us more efficient at delivering courses, but there’s still a need for human interaction, and that won’t go away because we’re offering an open online course.”
moocs  edx  public_discourse 
13 days ago
What we get wrong about lobbying and corruption - The Washington Post
Great piece taking on why simplistic corrupt/good distinctions are not conducive to understanding the relationship between money and politics.
sciencevspolitics  generalinterest  sciencestudies 
13 days ago
EDX grading (automated) - Google Groups
Dhananjay has questions on edx auto grading
edx  openedx  forums 
13 days ago
De-mass'd: Why PBS moved from 'owned & operated' media to YouTube
The trade-off here is this: sacrificing the owned and operated PBS platform for access to YouTube’s 1 billion+ monthly users. The costs? Well, for starters, YouTube takes 45% of the ad revenue, but they’re the elephant in the room, and as such they can take (close to) the lion’s share of the revenue. And apologies for the mixing of animal metaphors but I couldn’t resist. 

The other beast in the room is Facebook, where YouTube video is commonly shared. It's responsible for about 25% of all traffic referred online.

And finally we have Twitter, where, from a marketing perspective, we find distribution done by the public at large, as seen here during a momentary glance at a column on Tweetdeck. This kind of circulation of comments, links, images, and videos goes on, of course, 24/7, and is driven by fans and enthusiasts, not the content creators themselves.

This is a very different supply chain. 

Distribution is essentially free. Plus you’re not buying media for promotional placement, as was the case in the past. Instead, you’re contributing content to a platform that generally doesn’t create its own. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are not like the BBC or the New York Times in this way; they are the pipe, and others fill the pipe. 

And why do we fill it? Because the pipe has a global reach, and because the content that flows through it can achieve exponential, not just linear growth, thanks to its circulation in networks with many, many outward reaching nodes and hubs.
platformization  media  pbs  youtube 
14 days ago
Is Slack Really Worth $2.8 Billion? A Conversation With Stewart Butterfield - NYTimes.com
This CEO is pretty straightforward, and shooting from the hip type.

It’s pretty straightforward. I’ve been in this industry for 20 years. This is the best time to raise money ever. It might be the best time for any kind of business in any industry to raise money for all of history, like since the time of the ancient Egyptians. It’s certainly the best time for late-stage start-ups to raise money from venture capitalists since this dynamic has been around.

And as a board member and a C.E.O., I have a responsibility to our employees, to our customers. And as a fiduciary, I think it would be almost imprudent for me not to accept $160 million bucks for 5-ish percent of the company when it’s offered on favorable terms.

We don’t have an immediate use for that money. But it increases the value of our stock and can allow potential employees to take our offers, and it reinforces the perception for our larger customers that we’ll be around for the long haul. All of that stuff.
siliconvalley  public_discourse 
14 days ago
Slack's CEO: This is the best time in world history to raise money for a startup - Vox
Why do investors have a seemingly insatiable appetite for technology companies like Slack? In trying to answer this question, I think a lot of people focus too much on characteristics of the technology sector itself. Silicon Valley companies are pioneering a lot of important innovations right now, but the same thing was true 10, 20, 30, and 40 years ago.

Rather, I think the increasingly favorable environment for fundraising in Silicon Valley is a reflection of broader macroeconomic trends. Inflation-adjusted interest rates have been declining for decades, a sign that businesses are finding it more and more difficult to invest available capital in things like factories or research and development in ways that will produce high returns.

Silicon Valley is one of the few remaining bright spots. The worse the returns on other investments get, the more willing investors become to take big risks in pursuit of higher returns.
siliconvalley  public_discourse 
14 days ago
The full-stack employee — Medium
Silicon Valley ideology -- I couldn't quite make what this employee actually does.
siliconvalley  platformization  public_discourse 
17 days ago
Airplane Seat Swapping Turns Rough-and-Tumble - NYTimes.com
This article could be an interesting addition to my post on the KneeDefender as a pedagogical device.
generalinterest  research  pedagogy  latour  ANT 
20 days ago
How Vox aggregates - Vox
Vox's aggregation policies by Ezra Klein. Could be useful in thinking about new media landscape that is emerging
platformization  journalism  media 
21 days ago
LinkedIn To Buy Online Education Site Lynda.com For $1.5 Billion | TechCrunch
Professional network LinkedIn is getting into the professional skills education market in a big way: The social company purchased Lynda.com, the online learning company founded in 1995 by technical skill instructional book author Lynda Weinman and co-founder Bruce Heavin. Lynda.com has long been the go-to resource for online learning on subjects like Photoshop, basic HTML, CSS, management practices and many more, offering instructional videos and tutorials from industry experts and vets long before e-learning was at anywhere near the level of interest it enjoys today.
platformization  public_discourse  linkedin 
26 days ago
edtech startup: Intel - Google Groups
Hi all,

Some of you may find this new project by Intel of interest (disclaimer, I am involved as an advisor on the project) - funding opportunities for ed/tech startups: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/accelerator/intel-education-accelerator.html

Since learning analytics/personalized learning are important aspects of the edtech landscape, there are good opportunities here for members of our community to create LA products/services.

learning_analytics  learning_research  engineervsinstructor 
26 days ago
Technology and Socialist Strategy | Jacobin
Nice analysis of how different Marxist-socialist thinkers have looked at technology. The article looks at Marx, Lenin, Gramsci and then Braverman.
research  marxism  platformization  public_discourse 
27 days ago
How to Socialize Uber | Jacobin
Well, in that case Kalanick should have no objection to what I’m proposing. Once these laws are passed, Uber can continue to sell its innovative software services at whatever price the market will bear, a price it will obviously set so as to ensure it is fully compensated for the technology and risk-bearing it’s already supplied. (Or, at least, it will hope the market will bear that price.)

Except that now, Uber will be transacting with genuine business partners — worker cooperatives who are free to purchase software and service from the company (or one of its many competitors) in a free-market business transaction. Now it will be the workers who democratically set their own fares, determine their own work rules, and, of course, pocket any profits. And since Uber claims it already sets fares with the best interest of drivers in mind, it should have no reason to worry about losing its fare-setting control to them.
uber  platformization  public_discourse 
27 days ago
Apple Watch Review: Bliss, but Only After a Steep Learning Curve - NYTimes.com
Similarly, the most exciting thing about the Apple Watch isn’t the device itself, but the new tech vistas that may be opened by the first mainstream wearable computer. On-body devices have obvious uses in health care and payments. As the tech analyst Tim Bajarin has written, Apple also seems to be pushing a vision of the Watch as a general-purpose remote control for the real world, a nearly bionic way to open your hotel room, board a plane, call up an Uber or otherwise have the physical world respond to your desires nearly automatically.
research  generalinterest 
27 days ago
Making Open edX a Thriving Open Source Project (Stanford Report) - Google Groups
The discussion announcing Nate Aune's report on how to make edX a thriving eco-system.
openedx  edx  forums 
27 days ago
how to install ora component? - Google Groups
ORA1 is deprecated. It is no longer installed by default.

You really, really don't want to install it on a new setup as-is, because it also wrecks the rest of edx as a side effect.
edx  openedx  forums 
28 days ago
Dear New York Times, | Confessions of a Community College Dean | InsideHigherEd.com
If Campos were to draw the connection between, say, Baumol’s Cost Disease and price increases, he would have been on much more solid ground. But like community colleges, Baumol’s Cost Disease is entirely absent from his piece. I guess it doesn’t fit his preferred narrative of administrative fat cats with seven-figure salaries. I would invite him to my state to find a single community college administrator here with a seven-figure salary -- just one -- but that would be, as he would put it, disingenuous. No such person exists.
higher_ed  public_discourse 
29 days ago
Paul Campos probably does not know the real reason for tuition increases. — Crooked Timber
As it happens, rising tuition in the CSU system has (together with rising tuition for the University of California1) been the subject of a study by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), which finds that what Campos dismisses as “conventional wisdom” – that state universities charge higher tuition because states have cut public funding to higher education – is not only conventional, but supported by data. The PPIC study concludes,
higher_ed  public_discourse 
29 days ago
The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much - NYTimes.com
The rapid increase in college enrollment can be defended by intellectually respectable arguments. Even the explosion in administrative personnel is, at least in theory, defensible. On the other hand, there are no valid arguments to support the recent trend toward seven-figure salaries for high-ranking university administrators, unless one considers evidence-free assertions about “the market” to be intellectually rigorous.

What cannot be defended, however, is the claim that tuition has risen because public funding for higher education has been cut. Despite its ubiquity, this claim flies directly in the face of the facts.
moocs  higher_ed  public_discourse 
29 days ago
Online Test-Takers Feel Anti-Cheating Software’s Uneasy Glare - NYTimes.com
Some schools use software that prevents students from opening apps or web browsers during online exams. Others employ services with live exam proctors who monitor students remotely over webcams.

But the rise of Proctortrack and other automated student analysis services like it have raised questions about where to draw the line, and whether the new systems are fair and accurate.

The University of North Texas Health Science Center, for instance, is partway through a two-year pilot test of Proctortrack involving the 160 students enrolled in its online public health master’s degree program.

“If you are going to offer online learning, you need to find ways to ensure the integrity of the course, the test-taking and the degree,” said Jeff Carlton, a university spokesman. “For us, this is high-stakes.”

These schools are not simply trying to protect the academic integrity of their brands. They are seeking to stay competitive in a rapidly expanding industry. The market for online higher education could reach $32 billion in the United States this year, up from $25 billion in 2012, according to estimates from Eduventures, a research firm in Boston.
moocs  public_discourse  higher_ed 
29 days ago
Tesla Stockholders Can't Take a Joke - Bloomberg View
More generally, though, this is a nice data point for a problem that I think about a lot, which is the problem of materiality. It's securities fraud to "make any untrue statement of a material fact," etc., "in connection with the purchase or sale of any security," and companies that make misstatements that are material to their own shares can get in trouble even if they're not buying or selling. The "materiality requirement is satisfied when there is '"a substantial likelihood that the disclosure of the omitted fact would have been viewed by the reasonable investor as having significantly altered the 'total mix' of information made available."'"

Would this press release significantly change a "reasonable investor's" view of Tesla? Obviously not. Did it move the price? Apparently! This joke added -- very briefly, sure -- more than $100 million to Tesla's market capitalization. Would a reasonable investor care about a price move? Does the unreasonableness -- let us say charitably, the speed and literalness -- of the market make things that would not otherwise be material, material? My instinct is no: I think that materiality means what it says, and if people or algorithms do dumb things with trivial information that's their problem. But markets are a lot faster and more literal than they were when the materiality standard was created, and I wonder whether regulators or courts will one day decide that materiality is too reasonable a standard for modern markets. The materiality standard depends on the reasonable investor, and in many important contexts the reasonable investor has been replaced by a computer. 
research  algorithms  trading 
29 days ago
Paid opportunity to participate in "worldwide SPOCs" - Google Groups
The idea behind Optucourse is to take the "facilitated MOOC" model a step further: allow *local* mentors, who have the blessing of the original course authors/instructors, to hold private sessions with MOOC-enrolled students while the MOOC runs, and provide them with additional materials and supervised activities/exercises just for them.  Customizations could also include localizing/translating parts of the course, setting a schedule that works for the students in their own "section", and so on.  A further enhancement (which Optucourse is approaching universities and aggregators for) would be to allow the mentors to run the course as a SPOC, with their own SPOC instance (like many of you have), on their own schedule that works for their students in their timezone, etc.

MOOC-enrolled students who are interested would do a separate transaction with Optucourse to pay a modest fee for this boutique service; the mentors would get paid a share of those fees.

With Berkeley's approval, I allowed Optucourse to do a trial run of the "private sessions alongside a MOOC" model during the most recent offering of the SaaS MOOC.  The results were positive, and they're now moving ahead with additional courses and more trials to build up some momentum.

They are looking for help in three categories (and you or your students may be interested in more than one):
edx  openedx  forums  moocs  platformization  engineervsinstructor  siliconvalley 
4 weeks ago
Get Rich U. - The New Yorker
An article describing Stanford's rise. It covers a lot of material - and describes its push towards a New York campus. It closes by describing online learning - which is supposed to be Stanford's new thing.
moocs  public_discourse  stanford 
4 weeks ago
Land-shackled economies: The paradox of soil | The Economist
In the middle of the 20th century many big, previously vibrant cities in the rich world were shrinking. In the 1980s, in some of them, that turned around. Edward Glaeser of Harvard University and Giacomo Ponzetto of CREI, a research centre in Barcelona, reckon that this was because information technology made work in some knowledge-intensive industries far more lucrative. Financial traders could manage more money across more investors; software firms could sell their products cheaply and easily across a global market. As the return to knowledge-intensive activities exploded, so did the economic fortunes of idea-producing places.

There is support for this idea in research done by Thor Berger, of Lund University, and Carl Benedikt Frey, of the University of Oxford. Before the 1980s there was no statistical link between the skill-level of a city’s workforce and its tendency to create new kinds of work. From the 1980s on, by contrast, new job categories appeared with much greater regularity in places with highly skilled workers than in those that lacked them. What is more, Mr Glaeser and his colleague Matthew Resseger find a close relationship between the population of a metropolitan area and the productivity of workers within that area. It seems that workers accumulate knowledge faster in cities with lots of idea industries.

Top cities became hotbeds of innovative activity against which other places could not easily compete. The people clustered together boosted each others’ employment opportunities and potential income. From Bangalore to Austin, Milan to Paris, land became a scarce and precious resource as a result; the economic potential of a hectare of a rural Kentucky county is dramatically lower than that of a hectare in Silicon Valley’s Santa Clara county. And there is only so much of Santa Clara to go around.
platformization  public_discourse 
4 weeks ago
Urban land: Space and the city | The Economist
An interesting line in this essay. What a thing to say. I mean the great cities like Chicago were very much a product of the industrial revolution, no?

"Two long-run trends have led to this fractured market. One is the revival of the city as the central cog in the global economic machine (see article). In the 20th century, tumbling transport costs weakened the gravitational pull of the city; in the 21st, the digital revolution has restored it. Knowledge-intensive industries such as technology and finance thrive on the clustering of workers who share ideas and expertise. The economies and populations of metropolises like London, New York and San Francisco have rebounded as a result."
platformization  public_discourse 
4 weeks ago
Stanford and edX Collaborate on Open Source edX Platform | edX
Anant's metaphors are interesting: Linux of Learning, particle accelerator of learning, Youtube of education. what next? but these are interesting metaphors because they tell us something about the system.

"I’ve often said that edX will become the “Linux of Learning.” I believe as we continue to develop and adapt edX’s open source platform, that it will grow, evolve and touch many areas of education; just as Linux has become integrated into many of the technologies we rely on today. Here’s to the future of learning!"
edx  openedx  public_discourse  moocs 
4 weeks ago
Learning to See Data - NYTimes.com
“The problem today is that biological data are often abstracted into the digital domain,” Dr. Greally added, “and we need some way to capture the gestalt, to develop an instinct for what’s important.”

And so it is in many fields, whether predicting climate, flagging potential terrorists or making economic forecasts. The information is all there, great expanding mountain ranges of it. What’s lacking is the tracker’s instinct for picking up a trail, the human gut feeling for where to start looking to find patterns and meaning. But can such creative instincts really be trained systematically? And even if they could, wouldn’t it take years to do so?

The answers are yes and no, at least when it comes to some advanced skills. And that should give analysts drowning in data some cause for optimism. 

Scientists working in a little-known branch of psychology called perceptual learning have shown that it is possible to fast-forward a person’s gut instincts both in physical fields, like flying an airplane, and more academic ones, like deciphering advanced chemical notation. The idea is to train specific visual skills, usually with computer-game-like modules that require split-second decisions. Over time, a person develops a “good eye” for the material, and with it an ability to extract meaningful patterns instantaneously.
data_science  public_discourse  bigdata 
4 weeks ago
An MVP is not a Cheaper Product, It’s about Smart Learning — Medium
The team confused the goal of the MVP, (seeing if they could find a delighted farmer who would pay for the data) with the process of getting to the goal. They had the right goal but the wrong MVP to test it. Here’s why.

The teams’ hypothesis was that they could deliver actionable data that farmers would pay for. Period. Since the startup defined itself as a data services company, at the end of the day, the farmer couldn’t care less whether the data came from satellites, airplanes, drones, or magic as long as they had timely information.

That meant that all the work about buying a drone, a camera, software and time integrating it all was wasted time and effort — now. They did not need to test any of that yet. (There’s plenty of existence proofs that low cost drones can be equipped to carry cameras.) They had defined the wrong MVP to test first. What they needed to spend their time is first testing is whether farmers cared about the data.

So I asked, “Would it be cheaper to rent a camera and plane or helicopter, and fly over the farmers field, hand process the data and see if that’s the information farmers would pay for? Couldn’t you do that in a day or two, for a tenth of the money you’re looking for?” Oh…

They thought about it for a while and laughed and said, “We’re engineers and we wanted to test all the cool technology, but you want us to test whether we first have a product that customers care about and whether it’s a business. We can do that.”

Smart team. They left thinking about how to redefine their MVP.
platformization  agile  software_engineering 
4 weeks ago
Orion Magazine | Defending Darwin
This lecture should put students at ease knowing that religion and science need not be at odds. Of all the lectures I give, this one provokes the most discussion after class. And yet it often results in students expressing concern that I might not be saved. I never say anything about my personal religious beliefs, yet it is assumed I am an atheist. One student told me she hoped I could find God soon. When I again pointed out that John Paul accepted evolution—and he certainly wasn’t an atheist—the student countered that Catholics aren’t Christians. Several simply let me know they will be praying for me and praying hard. One student explained that as a devout Catholic he had no choice but to reject evolution. He accused me of fabricating the pope’s statements. When I explained that he could go to the Vatican website for verification or call the Vatican to talk to a scientist, he insisted that there was no such information available from the Vatican. He then pointed his finger at me and said the only way he would believe me is if Pope John Paul II came to my class to confirm these quotes face-to-face. The student then stomped out, again slamming the auditorium door behind him.
research  generalinterest  politics 
4 weeks ago
Justin Reich » EdTech Start-ups and the Curse of the Familar
Justin on why ed-tech is profoundly conservative:

Wrapped in a language of transformation and disruption, the ed-tech start-up scene is profoundly conservative.You have no time to dream up something new. You need to eat. 
moocs  public_discourse  platformization 
4 weeks ago
Justin Reich » The iPad as a Trojan Mouse
Justin sent this to Klemmer as something that's similar in both their works.

In the best circumstances, the iPad is a Trojan Mouse. The outside is shiny and attractive, all the better to lure our unwary colleagues into opening the gates to their black box. Those of us interested in meaningful change in teaching and learning need to make sure that the shiny exterior of the Trojan Mouse is stuffed inside with serious questions about practice, student relationships, assessment, a shared language about pedagogy, and a shared vision for our students.
higher_ed  technology  moocs  public_discourse  platformization 
4 weeks ago
Demystifying MOOCs: An Eye-Opening Ethnographic Study of Online Education | Ethnography Matters
A key insight for MOOC start-ups is that students who are just starting college may not be the ideal users of MOOCs, since they may need more learning support than MOOCs can provide. MOOCs are a more obvious fit for professionals who have already developed strong independent study skills. The high failure rate of MOOCs may make them unattractive to universities in the end. And in fact, no one has formulated an effective business model yet for partnerships between universities and MOOC start-ups! There may not be one. The idea that MOOCs will transform university education could turn out to be another example of short-lived media hype, celebrated today and forgotten tomorrow. A lot depends on the next point…

A key insight for people who study, design and teach MOOCs is that social presence and teaching presence are the biggest challenges that need to be resolved in order for MOOCs to fulfill their promise of democratizing higher education. Some of the people working in this field have realized this and are looking for solutions. But the challenges will not be easy to solve. It may be impossible to create adequate support structures for students who don’t have advanced skills in independent learning. On the other hand, this could be an exciting and fertile field for creative experimentation! Researchers and educators may generate a completely new paradigm for collaborative online learning. I am currently overseeing a small ethnographic pilot study on MOOC pedagogy; the topic is so intriguing that I am considering a larger study.

Finally, a key insight for students who take MOOCs is that they need to be fairly self-motivated. In order to obtain the learnings offered by the course, they need to stay with it to the end, and engage in independent problem-solving where necessary. If the course is free and not offered for credit, there will be a strong temptation to drop out, especially if the pedagogical design is not that engaging. But it could be a convenient way to learn a valuable workplace skill or acquire deeper knowledge about a topic of interest.

Secondly, in order to be successful in a MOOC, students need to be independent learners who require little support. Some students may need more support, for instance if they come from schools that were not strong academically, or if they are the first in their family to attend college. Students who think they might do better in a course with more support should compare failure rates between face-to-face and MOOC versions of the course they are considering.

In conclusion, MOOCs are still early in their evolution. They may lead to exciting and creative developments in collaborative online learning techniques that open educational opportunities to a broader cross-section of learners and significantly change the educational landscape. Or they may end up being regarded as a minor innovation with limited applicability. Time will tell.
moocs  public_discourse  learning_research 
5 weeks ago
Obama has Harry Reid to thank for his biggest accomplishments - Vox
When historians look back at Obama's presidency, they'll record a slew of legislative accomplishments. There was the stimulus, and Obamacare, and the TARP extension, and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms. There was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Serve America Act for community service, and the expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program. Obama signed new anti-tobacco regulations into law, reformed student loans, ratified the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, and ended "don't ask, don't tell" in the armed forces.

These laws — love them or hate them — are still reverberating through the economy today. They are Obama's legacy. But they all passed between 2009 and 2010, and they only passed because Reid was able to do something that sounded impossible: hold 60 Democrats together on painful vote after painful vote. This legacy is his just as much as it is Obama's.
generalinterest  politics 
5 weeks ago
Human or Machine? | April 2015 | Communications of the ACM
We wish to clarify an account of the 2014 Turing Test experiment we conducted at the Royal Society London, U.K., as outlined by Moshe Y. Vardi in his Editor's Letter "would Turing Have Passed the Turing Test?" (Sept. 2014). Vardi was referring to a New Yorker blog by Gary Marcus, rather than to our experiment directly. But Marcus had no first-hand experience with our 2014 experiment nor has he seen any of our Turing Test conversations.

Our experiment involved 30 human judges, 30 hidden humans, and five machines—Cleverbot, Elbot, Eugene Goostman, JFred, and Ultra Hal; for background and details see http://turingtestsin2014.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/eugene-goostman-machine-convinced-3333.html. We used social media to recruit judges and a variety of hidden humans, including males, females, adults, teenagers, experts in computer science and robotics, and non-experts, including journalists, lecturers, students, and interested members of the public.
Prior to the tests, the judges were unaware of the nature of the pairs of hidden entities they would be interrogating; we told them only that they would simultaneously interrogate one human and one machine for five minutes and that the human could be a male or female, child or adult, native English speaker, or non-native English speaker. We asked the hidden humans to be themselves, that is, to be human.

The 30 judges, each given an anonymous experiment identity—labeled J1–J30—interrogated five pairs of hidden entities. Likewise each human and machine was given a unique identity—E1–E35. We ran 150 "simultaneous comparison" Turing Tests in which we instructed the judges that their task was to determine which was human and which was machine in the pair, a decision to be made based solely on the responses the hidden entities posted in reply to what a judge said.

Eugene Goostman was not correctly identified as the machine in the pair in 10 of its 30 tests; that is, 10 judges did not recognize it was a machine. Eugene Goostman's personality is that of a 13-year-old boy from Odessa, Ukraine, a character we do not consider contrary to Alan M. Turing's vision for building a machine to think. In 1950, Turing said, "Instead of trying to produce a programme to simulate the adult mind, why not rather try to produce one which simulates the child's?"

The figure here includes one simultaneous conversation from the experiment, showing one of Judge J19's tests after that judge simultaneously interacted with two hidden entities, in this case E20 and E24. In this test, E20's responses to the judge were relayed to a message box displayed on the left of the judge's screen; E24's answers were relayed on the right. Timings and text are exactly as they were in the test.

So, could you "pass the test" and be able to say which of the two entities—E20 and E24—is the human and which the machine?

Huma Shah, London, U.K., and Kevin Warwick, Reading, U.K.

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Author's Response:
The details of this 2014 Turing Test experiment only reinforces my judgment that the Turing Test says little about machine intelligence. The ability to generate a human-like dialogue is at best an extremely narrow slice of intelligence.

Moshe Y. Vardi, Editor-in-Chief
artificial_intelligence  public_discourse 
5 weeks ago
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