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You learn while they watch

Eye tracking study. Image by (cc) Flickr user pixer.

Harvard & MIT to offer free online courses

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will team up on a $60 million initiative to offer free online, college-level courses: edX.

The New York Times (5/3, Lewin, Subscription Publication) reports, “The edX project will include not only engineering courses, in which computer grading is relatively simple, but also humanities courses, in which essays might be graded through crowd-sourcing, or assessed with natural-language software.”

Inside Higher Ed (5/3, Kolowich) adds, “Harvard and MIT say one of their main goals with edX is to generate learning data that the universities can share freely with education researchers. The MITx platform, which will serve as the technology platform for edX, ‘already has a lot of mechanisms for understanding how students are learning,'” Agarwal said.

The Boston Herald (5/3, Kantor) reports, “EdX will release its learning platform as open-source software so it can be used by other universities and organizations who want to host the platform themselves, while allowing other universities and individuals to improve the platform and add features to the technology.”

PC Magazine (5/3, Moscaritolo) reports, “Students who demonstrate mastery of the subject will be able to obtain credentials for a ‘modest fee,’ the schools said. Certificates of completion will not be issued under the name Harvard or MIT, however. In addition, the courses will not give students any credit at either university.”

CNN Money (5/3, O’Toole) reports, “The Harvard-MIT project faces some competition in the push to make high-quality educational courses available online.” In April, “Princeton, Stanford, Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania announced that they would offer free Web-based courses through a for-profit company called Coursera that was founded by two Stanford computer science professors. One of those professors, Andrew Ng, taught a free online course in machine learning this past fall with an enrollment of more than 100,000 students. There’s also Udacity, co-founded by a former Stanford professor, and Khan Academy, which boasts 3,100 free educational videos across a variety of subjects.”

The AP (5/3) notes, MIT’s OpenCourseWare lists 2,000+ classes free online. “It has been used by more than 100 million people.” Last year, MIT “announced it also would begin offering a special credential, known as MITx, for people who complete the online version of certain courses.”

Fast Company (5/3, Kamenetz) reports, “Edx’s offerings are very different from the long-form lecture videos currently available as ‘open courseware’ from MIT and other universities.” Eventually, it “will offer a full slate of courses in all disciplines, created with faculty at MIT and Harvard, using a simple format of short videos and exercises graded largely by computer; students interact on a wiki and message board, as well as on Facebook groups, with peers substituting for TAs. The research arm of the project will continue to develop new tools using machine learning, robotics, and crowdsourcing that allow grading and evaluation of essays, circuit designs, and other types of exercises without endless hours by professors or TAs.”

The Christian Science Monitor (5/3, Trumbull) notes that “the move comes amid a wave of experimentation and angst in the world of education. The cost of earning a college degree has soared, and the recent job market for graduates has been weak. A range of start-ups is now moving to promote the online model of learning. Some financial experts talk of higher education as a ‘bubble’ that will burst, as new technologies such as online learning allow students to earn credentials at a lower cost.”

Update: UCB will join edX. They are already on Coursera.


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Getting apps into your car

Remember KITT?  The Knight Rider car from the 1980’s?

KITT is finally here and not just for those with BMWs.  With the proliferation of smartphones, automakers have found a hook to pump sales. And, consumers now expect constant grid connectivity. Last year 4.5 million cars were sold with “telematics“, by 2015 that will increase to 22.7 million, according to IHS iSuppli. source

What will we see more of?

  • smartphone management (aka radio off the dial) through in-car audio systems or via voice recognition, source – see MyFordTouch and AppLink
  • antenna systems that allow TV reception, sports and kids shows seem to be the main push on this, care of KVH, DirecTV, SiriusXM, Backseat TV now comes preinstalled in select Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeeps
  • improved navigation databases that inform electric cars of the closest energy fill-up station
  • built-in wireless connection that connects the car to the cloud and allows owners to communicate with the car from their smartphones
  • real-time traffic updates, games, streaming video in old cars via 4G – see  Harman source

“About 50 car models in the United States already have Internet radio app integration or will have it in their model-year 2012 versions. BMW, Ford, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Scion, Buick, Chevrolet and Hyundai integrate Internet radio apps in the United States. In Europe, only BMW and Mini offer Internet radio so far. In China, there are four Chinese luxury models that are in the process of adding Internet radio integration.

A range of Internet radio service providers have entered the U.S. market, including Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker and Spotify. These companies’ services represent direct competition to standard broadcast radio and subscription-based satellite radio.
Global sales of automobiles with Internet radio capability are set to rise by a factor of more than 30 during the next eight years, leading a wave of in-vehicle apps that will be integrated into car electronics systems in the coming years, according to the IHS iSuppli Automotive Research Service from information and analysis provider IHS (NYSE: IHS).

Sales of cars with Internet radio integrated into their head unit will soar to 24 million units in 2018, up from 168,000 in 2010, as presented in the figure below. The United States will lead the Internet radio market, with sales growing to more than 10.9 million units in 2018, from 149,000 in 2010.” source
“…in the past year, 5 percent more drivers are using their cell phones to listen to Internet radio on the road. Overall, time spent listening to online radio has also increased an impressive 49 percent in the last three years. Over the recent Christmas weekend alone, an estimated 6.8 million new Android and iOS phones and tablets were activated, more than double the previous year’s count.”  source.

More info:

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Stuxnet and the power of video

Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus from Patrick Clair on Vimeo.
An infographic styled video dissecting the nature and ramifications of Stuxnet, the first weapon made entirely out of code. This was produced for Australian TV program HungryBeast on Australia’s ABC1. Direction and Motion Graphics: Patrick Clair. Written by: Scott Mitchell; Production Company: Zapruder’s Other Films. See more of Patrick’s great work:

And here’s another great infographic styled video:
Dissecting China’s housing market
See more of Lam Thuy Vo’s great work:

Stuxnet related articles:
Defense trains sights on threat to internet
China rallies forces to focus online firepower

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It’s an awards morning

In addition to notices that both Oakland Local and Making Contact won SPJ awards, the following award winning stories also ended up in my inbox. These are great inspiration for what I’m cooking up, and much more interesting than just an 800 word text story.

LA Times: Caught in the crossfire
Minnesota Public Radio: Youth Radio Series The other welfare
Seattle Times: Invisible families

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on family in the new America

American Couples Get “More Selective”

U.S. couples living together and getting choosier about their prospective spouses is leading more people to delay marriage. Almost 47 percent of women from 25 to 29 had never been married in 2009, almost double the 26 percent reported in 1986, according to a Census Bureau report released today.
A majority of married couples don’t last anywho.
September 23, 2011
Married Couples Are No Longer a Majority, Census Finds

WASHINGTON – Married couples have dropped below half of all American households for the first time, the Census Bureau says, a milestone in the evolution of the American family toward less traditional forms. Married couples represented just 48 percent of American households in 2010, according to data being made public Thursday and analyzed by the Brookings Institution.
Three-Generation Households Are Making a Comeback

Bloomberg News has a report out today saying grandparent, parent, and child are all living in the same home at a higher rate than they have in years. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are nearly 5.1 million multigenerational homes–households where three or more generations live under the same roof–in the United States.
Ukrainian women|Survey of Couples Who Use International Marriage Service Shows the Majority are Married an…
September 27, 2011
Is marriage for white people?

Over the past century, the institution of marriage has undergone a tremendous transformation in America – especially when it comes to African-Americans. Over the last half century, marriage rates in the black community have dwindled.
Northwest Herald | Census data shows rise in homes with several generations

By Christopher Palmeri and Frank Bass – Bloomberg News Created: Monday, September 5, 2011 5:30 a.m. CDT NORWALK, Calif. – When advertising executive John Gallegos wanted to promote a new package of Spanish-language channels for client Comcast, he put together a spot featuring the fictional Gutierrez clan gathered around TV sets in their home.

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What makes a great podcast?

As always with the subjective, I’d love to hear what you think.

Here are my thoughts:

* online script
* good photo(s) on the associated webpage
* the option of hearing a 5-30 min segment and of hearing the 30 sec – 3 min clips that make it up
* catchy, simple intro
* calm host with a clear voice
* resources – linked in the script and in the podcast
* conversational tone throughout

Here’s Paste Magazine’s list of 10 best podcasts. And then, there’s always NPR’s What Makes it Great series.

Indy favorites
Answer Me This, by Olly Mann
Kermode and Mayo, both by Spencer
The Fringe Podcast- Entertainment
UC Radio- Podsafe Music
The Audacity to Podcast- Technology
Christian Meets World- Religion Inspiration
Gamertag Radio- Gaming
Bend over and Take it- GLBT
Joe Rogan Experience- Best Video
Kid Friday- People’s Choice, Education
Inside the magic- Best Produced, Travel
Amateur Travel- Travel
File Under Horrible (FUHcast)- Comedy