The tornado that killed Emily Washburn’s grandfather this week also destroyed his Mississippi home, leaving his family with nothing to remember him by — until a picture of him holding the dog he loved surfaced on Facebook, posted by a woman who found it in her office parking lot, 175 miles away in Tennessee.
Like hundreds of others finding keepsakes that fell from the sky and posting photographs of them on a Facebook lost and found, the woman included her e-mail address, and Ms. Washburn wrote immediately: “That man is my granddaddy. It would mean a lot to me to have that picture.”
Created by Patty Bullion, 37, of Lester, Ala., a page on the social networking site has so far reunited dozens of storm survivors with their prized — and in some cases, only — possessions: a high school diploma that landed in a Lester front yard was traced to its owner in Tupelo, Miss., for example. A woman who lost her home in the tiny town of Phil Campbell, Ala., claimed her homemade quilt found in Athens, Ala., nearly 50 miles away: “Phil Campbell Class of 2000,” it read.
But the page is also turning social networking software designed to help friends stay in touch into an unexpected meeting ground for strangers. Along with the photographs of found items are the comments of well-wishers and homespun detectives speculating as to the identities of their owners. For those spared by the storms that killed hundreds in the South, the page is a bridge to its victims, a way to offer solace and to share in their suffering.
Lee Sheldon wanted to find a way to engage students in his class on multiplayer-game design at Indiana University at Bloomington. So, the assistant professor thought, why not use the course’s subject?
Mr. Sheldon’s class introduces students to design elements and production requirements for online games. He decided last semester to format the course itself as a multiplayer game.
Class time is spent completing quests (such as presentations of games or research), fighting monsters (taking tests or quizzes), and “crafting” (writing game-analysis papers and a video-game concept document). The 40-person class is divided into six “zones,” named after influential game designers, in which students complete group tasks.
Mr. Sheldon says last semester’s students performed a full letter grade better in the course than students had under the traditional approach — the class average was a B instead of a C.
Anyone else get geeky chills when you read about stuff like this?
1. Teaching WITHOUT technology is just not acceptable any longer. Can you imagine a teacher refusing to implement special education accommodations? It would be a travesty. Same thing with current technology. New generations of teachers will (I hope) realize that there are always going to be new technologies to master every year. Previous generations look at learning new technology as something they want to have to do once and then be done. We need to change the way we look at learning to integrate technology to see it as a fluid evolution and not a checklist of skills.
2. Online learning is inevitable, and is arriving soon. The only question at this point is the model upon which it will ultimately become standard. Students already learn plenty online. It would be nice if Algebra or French were a part of that.
3. Online learning does not mean students stare at screens for a majority of the time. Online learning is used to interact with instructors and other students about experiences that should be designed to be off-line. For instance, students video record the building of the volcano experiment, and then upload to a chat setting so others can give feedback on the process or result.
Students want hybrid programs that blend online and face-to-face experiences. But colleges don’t seem to be providing enough of them to meet the demand.
That’s one message that emerges from the results of a national survey of more than 20,000 current and prospective adult students that were just released by Eduventures, a consulting firm.
The finding is notable because blended education has been hot lately. In 2009, the U.S. Education Department released a report praising it. And this year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is pouring millions into supporting it.
But the Eduventures survey found a gap between supply and demand: 19 percent of respondents said they were enrolled in blended programs, while 33 percent of prospective students listed that format as their preference.
This is particularly interesting to me because the research we have indicates hybrid courses, especially for teenage and older students, are more effective than purely face-to-face or fully online courses.
This Wednesday, in commemoration of Earth Day, and under the shadow of the one year anniversary of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf, the UN General Assembly will discuss implementing new international standards that afford rights and legal standing not just to individuals and businesses adversely affected by the exploitation and damage to natural resources, but to nature and ecosystems themselves. The discussion follows the adoption into law of similar protocols by over a dozen American municipalities as well as into the federal laws in Bolivia and Ecuador.
In 2008, Ecuador became the first nation in the world to rewrite their Constitution to include rights for nature to exist, flourish and evolve. And in the United States, in November 2010 the city of Pittsburgh became the first in the nation to assert the rights of communities and nature over those of corporations when it passed a city ordinance banning the practice of “shale fracking” within city limits. In addition, nearly two-dozen US municipalities who have passed similar ordinances, finding that existing laws are unable to protect their local ecosystems.
Civil society representatives participating in Wednesday’s panel say that the event will serve in stark contrast to the 2009 COP 15 and 2010 COP 16 the UN Climate Change Conferences in Copenhagen and Mexico. The COP’s failure to generate government led solutions to reverse human-induced climate change led Bolivian President Evo Morales to host the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2010. The Conference was attended by over 35,000 people and produced a “People’s Accord” and launched the global movement for the “Rights of Mother Earth”. This week’s UN dialogue meets the Bolivian governments’ commitment to champion the Rights of Mother Earth.
This is going to sound sort of obvious, but here we go: A study from University College London published this week in Current Biology has discovered that there are actually differences in the brains of liberals and conservatives. Specifically, liberals’ brains tend to be bigger in the area that deals with processing complex ideas and situations, while conservatives’ brains are bigger in the area that processes fear.
According to the report: “We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala.”
People with larger amygdalae respond to perceived threats with more aggression and “are more sensitive to threatening facial expressions.” The anterior cingulate cortex, however, “monitors uncertainty and conflict.” “Thus,” says the report, “it is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts, allowing them to accept more liberal views.”
The London researchers say they’re unsure whether the brain’s structure causes political views or is the effect of them. Regardless, this puts the “Obama’s a Muslim socialist” fearmongering at Tea Party rallies into a whole new light.
University students faced with a sudden Internet and media blackout begin to feel withdrawal symptoms after 24 hours, according to a study conducted by the University of Maryland’s International Center for Media & the Public Agenda. The study followed the reactions of 1,000 students around the globe after they were asked to abstain from all forms of media for a day, leading the researchers to believe that Internet addiction is a real phenomenon, even if there’s debate about it as a clinical diagnosis.
Education is under attack in the U.S., but cutting teacher benefits won’t correct the ongoing downward trend in our schools. According to President Obama, American 15-year-olds rank 21st in science and 25th in math compared to their peers around the world. STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) may be fundamentally flawed. STEM proponents should start focusing on creativity, originality, and design thinking. Here’s why.
“In my experience, when you say the word “design” to people across a table, they tend to smile politely and think “fashion.” Say “design thinking,” and they stop smiling and tend to lean away from you. But say “creativity” and people light up and lean in toward you.