news (external)

This is what AI sees and hears when it watches 'The Joy of Painting'

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2017-04-07 14:48

Andrew Tarantola, Engadget, Apr 07, 2017

Bob Ross's  The Joy of Painting is probably the most relaxing show in the history of television. But in this video recording of how an AI might perceive the show, it's a collection of eyeballs, creepy insects, spiders and assorted sea creatures. Humans do the same thing, but with less creepy results, as we have a much greater store of images to select from and match to the phenomena. When we see things, we're always trying to match what we see to what we've seen before. What the video should make you do is question how much of what we see is 'really' there and how much is our interpretation. Exercise for the reader: compare what the AI does with  what science does and draw your own conclusion.

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Why digital learning is re-shaping education

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2017-04-07 02:10

by Matthew Lynch, tech Edvocate

Technology has changed just about every field, including education. Digital learning is reshaping education in unprecedented ways. The ways in which students learn are changing rapidly thanks to technology, and both students and teachers will benefit from it. There are several specific changes that we can expect to see as digital learning takes over education. For one, the way teachers present information and how students work with that information has changed. Students are asked to be more hands-on and collaborative than ever before. There are also new skills that students must learn, such as digital literacy.

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Supplement or Replacement: Exploring the Role of AI in Teaching and Learning

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2017-04-07 02:04

by Kyle Johnson, EDUCAUSE Review

These two competing visions of AI in higher education need to be discussed now, before the decisions get made for us. The LAT session brought some important perspective and in-depth conversation around the issue, and I think this is one of the valuable assets LAT brings to the broader teaching and learning community within higher education. I hope that more of these facilitated group-expert discussions can be planned for future conferences so we can continue to grapple with these issues together.

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Transforming Our Libraries from Analog to Digital: A 2020 Vision

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2017-04-07 02:02

by Brewster Kahle, EDUCAUSE Review

By 2020, we can build a collaborative digital library collection and circulation system in which thousands of libraries unlock their analog collections for a new generation of learners, enabling free, long-term, public access to knowledge. Much of modern knowledge still exists only on the printed page, stored in libraries. Libraries haven’t met this digital demand, stymied by costs, e-book restrictions, policy risks, and missing infrastructure. We now have the technology and legal frameworks to transform our library system by 2020. The Internet Archive, working with library partners, proposes bringing millions of books online, through purchase or digitization, starting with the books most widely held and used in libraries and classrooms. Our vision includes at-scale circulation of these e-books, enabling libraries owning the physical works to substitute them with lendable digital copies.

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Incinerator - Fri, 2017-04-07 02:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

How French “Intellectuals” Ruined the West: Postmodernism and Its Impact, Explained

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-04-06 17:48

Helen Pluckrose, Aero Magazine, Apr 06, 2017

I am more or less a post-modernist, though I arrived at my understanding of the core ideas independently of the authors cited in this article (though on reading them find myself nodding in agreement). So I appreciate this clear and articulate description of postmodernism, and the argument offered against it. And I am sympathetic with the observation that the postmodernists did not exactly make their position clear. To me, it is clear, but you have to step through a rhetorical mess to get to it. It's a bit hard to do in one paragraph, but let me try:

Let's take the criticism offered by Erazim Kohak to the effect that "tennis balls do not fit into wine bottles". How is this not a fact? he asks. On observation, it is easy to see that tennis balls do fit into wine bottles, but the context here is of trying to squeeze it into the bottle through the opening. Now what has happened here is that the problem has been framed in such a way as to allow only one way for a tennis ball to 'fit' into a wine bottle. But why would we frame it that way? Why do we privilege Kohak's description of tennis balls and wine bottles and how one fits into the other? Once you ask that question, you become a postmodernist.

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Why we never think alone

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-04-06 17:48

David Gurteen, Gurteen Knowledge-Log, Apr 06, 2017

This short post is a restatement of something  from Steven Sloman that has appeared numerous times in these pages over the years: "Humans have built hugely complex societies and technologies, but most of us don't even know how a pen or a toilet works. How have we achieved so much despite understanding so little? Because whilst individuals know very little, the collective or ‘ hive' mind knows a lot." To make this work, though, is to walk a fine line. Yes, there is the "fundamentally communal nature of intelligence and knowledge," but we can create it only if we interoperate as autonomous individuals.

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Getting Web Services Up and Running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) Using Vagrant and the AWS CLI

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-04-06 17:48

Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, Apr 06, 2017

This is the sort of stuff I've been working on recently. This is a particularly useful project: "here’ s an example of how to get a browser based application up and running on EC2 using vagrant from the command line." The description is pretty detailed and is probably not for everyone. But the main point here is that this type of server virtualization is the wave of the future - and (more importantly) is what will enable the next wave of personal web presences (I'm not really sure what to call them - more than sites, less than applications).

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Produktive Gletscher: Bakterien liefern Kohlenstoff

ScienceTicker.Info - Thu, 2017-04-06 12:52
Bisher ging die Wissenschaft davon aus, dass Mikroorganismen auf Gletschern hauptsächlich von sehr altem Kohlenstoff leben, der schon zur Zeit der Gletscherbildung dort abgelagert wurde. Neue Untersuchungen in der Antarktis zeigen jetzt, dass ein großer Teil des organischen Kohlenstoffs stattdessen von photosynthetischen Bakterien stammt. Die Bakterien leben im Eis und werden aktiv, sobald es schmilzt. […]
Categories: Science News

5 ways to drastically improve the impact from virtual classrooms

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2017-04-06 02:09

by Ilja Rijnen, Human Resources Online

Since the late 90s, e-learning has been introduced to the world of learning and in the recent times, especially with the arrival of enterprise systems, the digital form of education has become the preferred choice for many organisations due to its perceived benefits: it offers its learners a flexible schedule, cheap and efficient ways of education and convenient ways of offering content on demand. However, the individual learning experiences that are being created seem contradictory though to the social ways in which people learn, which is why many digital forms of learning have failed in the past decade. Nevertheless, by working with the approaches from the social learning theories, it is possible to drive the learner’s intrinsic motivation and involvement. This will drastically improve the effect from virtual classrooms in the enterprise world.

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Trump budget cuts could hit research universities hard, Moody’s warns

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2017-04-06 02:05

by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Washington Post

The credit rating agency warns that the proposed $5.8 billion cut in funding to the National Institutes of Health would have the most significant impact on higher education. Roughly 80 percent of NIH’s budget supports grants to 300,000 researchers at universities across the country. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, for instance, was awarded $651 million in NIH funding in 2016, while University of California at San Francisco received $578 million. Moody’s analysts are also concerned about the ripple effects of the proposed elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Many of the schools rated by Moody’s receive grants from both entities, though the awards are a small portion of their budgets. Still, those grants often fund programs that are appealing to students and donors, who might lose interest in the school if certain arts programs disappear, Fitzgerald said.

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11 online tools & apps for dyslexic students

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2017-04-06 02:03


In the past, dyslexia was rarely recognized, and when it was, very little was put in place for the student. It was assumed that students were being lazy, not paying attention, or being disruptive because they were badly behaved, not because they were infuriated. Nowadays, however, so much has changed, and students with dyslexia are able to thrive in the classroom. The following teaching tools and apps can make learning a lot more enjoyable for dyslexic students.

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Vodafone Zambia introduces e-Learning portal

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-04-05 23:47

IT News Africa, Apr 05, 2017

Vodafone Zambia is launching something called the JUMP Academy, "an internet-enabled application that offers unlimited access to a wide range of educational materials, tailored to the local curriculum and accessible through any device." Access to the academy is free and it was planned and developed locally in Zambia. "The JUMP Academy is a major component of the company’ s online portal dubbed JUMP, which is an educational and socially managed portal that serves to enhance e-learning for personal development and growth."

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Computing Conversations: Bob Metcalfe on the First Ethernet LAN

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-04-05 20:47

YouTube, Apr 05, 2017

From the description: "Computer magazine's multimedia editor Charles Severance interviews Bob Metcalfe about the creation of the first Ethernet local area network 40 years ago at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center." We still use ethernet today, and Metcalfe, of course, is the namesake for "Metcalfe's Law", which states that"the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system" (per Wikipedia). More on Metcalfe's Law.

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Can pre-school children learn to do science?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-04-05 17:47

Jenny Rohn, The Guardian, Apr 05, 2017

Of course the answer to the question in the headline is 'yes'. If you've ever tested the water with a toe before diving in, you've done science. But what, exactly, is science? This article is a bit weaker on this front. True, it's not just measurement and units of measurement and it's not just description. But science isn't just about asking questions, either, not even if they're 'why' questions. And children aren't "naturally prone to being good scientists," as the author avers. Science is, at core, about method - it's a process of looking and discovering, trying things out, seeing what happens, and reasoning about that in a more or less systematic way. This is a process that takes skill and development; it needs to be learned.

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It’s Not Their Pop Idol, but a Bot. Fans Cheer Anyway.

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-04-05 17:47

Ben Sisario, New York Times, Apr 05, 2017

I suppose the new form of fame and immortality will be to have someone create a bot based on your personality. The 'Downes' bot will visit websites randomly and give them negative reviews. More seriously, this article on bots focuses - as it should - on the growing acceptance of bots in society. It turns out that we don't mind communicating with bots if they give us the sort of experience we're looking for (and that experience is not 'press 1 if you want to renew your account'). "“ As A.I. develops, everything is going to go into a mixed-reality world where you could dial up a hologram of your favorite pop star and have ‘ real conversations’ with the artificially intelligent version of that person." Or as Steven Tyler would say, "Rock on!"

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What you’re revealing to your ISP, why a VPN isn’t enough, and ways to avoid leaking it

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-04-05 17:47

Benjamin Hutchins, HackerNoon, Apr 05, 2017

This is a long, detailed and technical post about what information your internet service provider (ISP, called 'BIAS' in this article) can gather about your internet use and sell to the government or other customers. It's written clearly, though, and it should be easy enough for most readers to follow. In a nutshell, here's what you should do to protect your personal information (quoted):

  1. Switch providers (see below) is at all possible, to one that will not sell your data.
  2. Use a VPN  to protect and encrypt your traffic from your BIAS and to hide your source (your home’ s) IP address from others.
  3. Enable DNS security, use DNSCrypt or DNSSEC and change your DNS provider.
  4. Use HTTPS as much as possible, install HTTPS Everywhere.
  5. Be sure to use a device you control as your Internet gateway, so none of the device’ s unique identities can be revealed. Setup your own wireless network and replace any provided hardware if possible.

This is fairly comprehensive and not the easiest things for an average home user to set up (corporate users already do most of this, or should). At a certain point these need to be bundled into a 'secure' internet service. ISPs will be loathe to offer such a package. But a market exists.

[Link] [Comment]

Langstreckenflieger: Mikroben kommen im Wüstensand nach Europa

ScienceTicker.Info - Wed, 2017-04-05 15:51
Winde transportieren jährlich 600 bis 700 Tonnen Staub aus nordafrikanischen Wüsten in andere Regionen der Welt. In den Wolken können Mikroorganismen, oft auf Partikeln sitzend, sehr weite Strecken zurücklegen. Wissenschaftler haben nun komplette mikrobielle Gemeinschaften im Eis der Dolomiten gefunden.
Categories: Science News

An Open Online Harvard

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2017-04-05 02:05

By AKHIL S. WAGHMARE, Harvard Crimson

Thanks to the explosion of the internet, it is now possible to share content with billions of people. This has also allowed for increased access to high quality education through online platforms. Services like Khan Academy have reached millions of students worldwide and offered them resources for the classroom and traditionally expensive test prep for exams such as the SAT. And the rise of Massive Online Open Courses has given universities platforms for offering free, online versions of their own classes. Harvard has produced many of these, replicating almost 100 courses through the edX platform which it cofounded with MIT.

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Facebook launches e-learning site for journalists

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2017-04-05 02:03

by The China Post

The e-learning courses for journalists are now available in Chinese, English and eight other languages, and are designed to help journalists discover content, create stories and engage audiences using Facebook. Every course features best examples, guides and cases of successful utilization of Facebook by journalists. Facebook is studying new methods to support journalists and help users make accurate judgements on news stories that they read and facilitate meaningful discussions on subjects of common concern, a statement said.

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