I enjoyed reading (July)

Artificial Intelligence Is Now Telling Doctors How to Treat You (Daniela Hernandez)

Artificial intelligence is still in the very early stages of development–in so many ways, it can’t match our own intelligence–and computers certainly can’t replace doctors at the bedside. But today’s machines are capable of crunching vast amounts of data and identifying patterns that humans can’t. Artificial intelligence–essentially the complex algorithms that analyze this data–can be a tool to take full advantage of electronic medical records, transforming them from mere e-filing cabinets into full-fledged doctors’ aides that can deliver clinically relevant, high-quality data in real time.

Carl Sagan on Science and Spirituality (Maria Popova)

Plainly there is no way back. Like it or not, we are stuck with science. We had better make the best of it. When we finally come to terms with it and fully recognize its beauty and its power, we will find, in spiritual as well as in practical matters, that we have made a bargain strongly in our favor.

But superstition and pseudoscience keep getting in the way, distracting us, providing easy answers, dodging skeptical scrutiny, casually pressing our awe buttons and cheapening the experience, making us routine and comfortable practitioners as well as victims of credulity.

Is it OK to be a luddite?

Perhaps, there is some middle-ground, not skepticism or luddism, but what Sean calls digital agnosticism. So often in our discussions of online education and teaching with technology, we jump to a discussion of how or when to use technology without pausing to think about whether or why. While we wouldn’t advocate for a new era of luddism in higher education, we do think it’s important for us to at least ask ourselves these questions.

We use technology. It seduces us and students with its graphic interfaces, haptic touch-screens, and attention-diverting multimodality. But what are the drawbacks and political ramifications of educational technologies? Are there situations where tech shouldn’t be used or where its use should be made as invisible as possible?

Reclaiming the Web for the Next Generation (Doug Belshaw):

Those of us who have grown up with the web sort-of, kind-of know the mechanics behind it (although we could use a refresher). For the next generation, will they know the difference between the Internet and Google or Facebook? Will they, to put it bluntly, know the difference between a public good and a private company?

7 things good communicators must not do (Garr Reynolds): Reynolds creates a short list of items taken from this TED Talk by Julian Treasure. If you can’t watch the video, here are the things to avoid:

1. Gossip
2. Judgement
3. Negativity
4. Complaining
5. Excuses
6. Exaggeration (lying)
7. Dogmatism
Reynolds added another item to the list; 8. Self-absorption

Personal Learning Networks, CoPs Connectivism: Creatively Explained (Jackie Gerstein): Really interesting post demonstrating student examples of non-linguistical knowledge representation.

The intent of this module is to assist you in developing a personalized and deep understanding of the concepts of this unit – the concepts that are core to using social networking as a learning venue. Communities of Practice, Connectivism, Personal Learning Networks, create one or a combination of the following to demonstrate your understanding of these concepts: a slide show or Glog of images, an audio cast of sounds, a video of sights, a series of hand drawn and scanned pictures, a mindmap of images, a mathematical formula, a periodic chart of concepts, or another form of nonlinguistic symbols. Your product should contain the major elements discussed in this module: CoPs, Connectivism, and Personal Learning Networks. These are connected yet different concepts. As such they should be portrayed as separate, yet connected elements.

The open education infrastructure, and why we must build it (Davis Wiley)

Open Credentials
Open Assessments
Open Educational Resources
Open Competencies

This interconnected set of components provides a foundation which will greatly decrease the time, cost, and complexity of the search for innovative and effective new models of education.

Posted to Diigo 03/28/2010

    • If you can master these fundamental concepts, your graphical treatments — from PowerPoint slides to Microsoft Word documents to company brochures — will greatly improve
    • Seven basic graphic design principlesUnity
    • Unity may be the single most important concept. All elements on a page (or slide, poster, etc.) must look like they belong together
    • However, it is important to break up the unity once in a while (or on parts of a page). You need unity so that the message you want to communicate comes out clearly and strong. But you also need variety in the design to add interest and life and to grab attention
    • Gestalt
    • The whole is more — sometimes much more — than the sum of the design elements
    • Gestalt helps us to perceive the overall clear message of the design
    • Space
    • Often, the more space you don’t use on a page, the clearer your message becomes
    • empty space also implies importance, elegance, professionalism
    • Empty space is beautiful
    • Color
    • The conscious use of color to create hierarchy, dominance, and balance in a design can be very effective
    • Consistency is easier to achieve if the designer (i.e., you) limits the use of color choices to just a few
    • Make your color choices at the beginning of the design process rather than at the end. Leaving color choice to the end will likely end up leading to a superficial application of color. Color, like good design in general, is not cosmetic or veneer. Color choice is fundamental
    • Color (say, red on a white page with black body text) can be used to highlight elements on a page which are most important. Color can also provide direction
    • Dominance
    • If one item in a design is clearly dominant, this helps the viewer “get” the point of the design. Every good design has a strong and clear focal point and having a clear contrast among elements (with one being clearly dominant) helps. If all items in a design are of equal weight, with nothing being clearly dominant, it is difficult for the viewer to know were to begin
    • Hierarchy
    • What is most important, less important, and the least important parts of the design can be clearly expressed by having a clear hierarchy
    • In general, according to White, having more than three levels of hierarchy in a single design leads to confusion for the reader
    • Balance
    • If a design is out of balance, the individual elements of the design will dominate the overall design. A well-balanced design has a clear, single, unified message
    • sticky, compelling, and memorable messages and ideas share six common attributes: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories. Ask yourself how your presentations rate for these elements
    • good presenting is like good writing, you’ve got to pare it down and dump the superfluous and the non-essential. But since we are so close to the material it is hard for us to see what works and what does not, or what is repetitive, etc. This is why you cannot only rehearse alone
    • Turn off the computer, grab some paper and a pencil, and find someplace quiet. Think of the audience. What is it they need? What is it you want to say that they need to hear. Identify what’s important and what is not. You can’t say everything in a twenty-minute talk
    • The problem with most presentations is that people try to include too much. You can go deep or you can go wide, but you can’t really do both
    • By the way, if you ask the audience to bear with you as you try to make the computer work, you might as well stick a fork in it because you are done
    • criteria for looking at the effectiveness of instructional innovations
    • 1. Develop and test activities through multiple classroom iterations. Try it more than once! See if the same outcome occurs. See if some minor alternations make it even more effective.

      2. Collect evidence from multiple sources, such as students and outside observers. Yes, your opinion as to whether and how well something worked counts, but verify what you think happened by collecting information from students. They don’t always experience things the way we think they do. Ask a colleague or a professional from the teaching center to come to class and observe and report what results they’re seeing.

      3. Collect evidence using multiple methods. Most of us don’t evaluate what students know by only using multiple-choice methods. So our instructional alternations ought to be assessed with multiple methods—qualitative, quantitative, descriptive, and so on.

      4. Tie evidence to learning objectives. Why did you try the new activity? Is it an attempt to better reach one of your learning objectives for the course? Usually changes are, which makes it natural to judge their effectiveness by looking at evidence documenting how well they accomplish the learning objective.

Giving good presentations

I gave my first conference presentation in June, 2008 and thought that it was terribly boring. I presented the results of my Masters thesis and since I’m quite new to the whole “being an academic” thing, I did it the same way that everyone else was doing it. In other words, I fired up OpenOffice and began adding bullet points. I knew that I wasn’t happy with it, and I knew that there must be a better way of presenting my work, but didn’t really know how.

Since then I’ve learned a little more about giving effective presentations (although I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a good presenter), and with each subsequent one I’ve given I’ve gained the confidence to try something different. I’ll always try something to break the tedium of merely summarising my results into bullet points, and along the way I’ve learned a few useful thing. Here are some sources of inspiration for me.

Finally, I try to remember that my goal in giving a presentation should be to entertain, not just to inform. On a related topic, read this post by Seth Godin on why most academic conferences are…typical.