Saturday, December 7, 2013

After MOOCs, the next challenge to Academia

Increasing Challenges to Traditional Academia 

The huge surge in interest in MOOCs underlines more the problem with the current status of academia and less the qualities of MOOCs as a replacement model. Part of the attraction of MOOCs is that they present a potential solution to address the eternal triangle of education - Access, Quality and Cost.  

As if the ridiculous cost of higher education combined with the absence of matching quality is not a problem enough, the traditional publish-or-perish tenure process is being called into question. Peter Higgs, the man behind the Higgs boson, and recipient of the Nobel Prize was quoted as saying 
"(He) doubts work like Higgs boson identification achievable now as academics are expected to 'keep churning out papers"
 Doing high quality research and disseminating the results should not be controversial.  The problem is that the publication process has been tied with tenure.  A high-stake summative examination promotes teaching to the test, and creates an industry around the examination and preparation process, while causing distractions for the actual process of education.  The publish-or-perish tenure process is similarly flawed and has been compounded by the issues with the peer-review itself.

Problems with the peer-review process

Problems with the peer-review process have been well-recognized.  While it is a valuable process, it is not perfect.  In a previous blog (from 2010) we looked at some of these problems as highlighted by Richard Smith (former editor of BMJ).
  • Faith based not evidence based
  • Slow
  • Expensive
  • Largely a lottery
  • Poor at detecting errors and fraud
  • Stifles innovation
  • Biased

Can Web 2.0 play a role?

In that same blog, I outlined a model for using technology and Web 2.0 tools to create a post-publication review process.  Here is an outline of the model:
  1. A central resource for online hosting of all research articles in each area of biomedical science.  We would not have multiple journals competing and catering to the same audience
  2. There would be some kind of simple review process to filter out "junk" and "spam" publications
  3. The articles would need to include all the necessary raw data so anyone could rerun the statistical tests and verify the results.
  4. There would be a robust authentication scheme for authors.
  5. Each article would have a place for commenting much like a blog, but you would need to have to be authenticated before submitting your comments.  There would be no anonymous comments.
  6. Readers after logging in could rate each article on various criteria e.g. study design, practical value, etc...  
  7. The comments could also be rated up or down
  8. It would be possible to track how many times the article was cited, tweeted and posted on Facebook; how many times it was downloaded, favorited,  etc.
  9. Other studies on the same topic would also be linked from the article making it easy to find all the studies in one place.
  10. Part of the publication process would be to search for all the previously published related articles in this central repository and provide links to all of these.
  11. Viewers could see a timeline of development of literature on a specific topic 
  12. Over a period of time, some studies, authors, commentators would rise to the top.  
  13. There would be a robust search and tagging system.
  14. Some articles could be accompanied by "editorials".
  15. Every time the IRB at an institution approved a protocol, it would create an entry in this central repository.  Investigators would have to provide their data and a short summary at end of the study even if they did not write it up fully.  This would remove the problem of publication bias for positive studies and make meta-analyses more complete.  If they did not provide this information, their ratings would go down. 


This was a proposal made almost 3 years back.  Some of the pieces are beginning to fall into place.

Authentication in the online space

Google is stepping up by having people create a profile on Google+ with their real names.  This is getting tied with comments in other Web 2.0 spaces like YouTube and Blogger.  When you search on Google, you can see results that were "1+'ed" by people you know on Google+.  You can see "likes" by Facebook friends on public sites.  These are the first steps to creating authentic personae in the online space.  
When scholars "1+'s" an article or comment on a website, their online persona is tied to that article and will increasingly carry the same weight as commenting on a print article e.g. a letter to the editor.

Public comments on PubMed

Just recently, PubMed Commons was opened to invited researchers to comment on any article indexed on PubMed.
PubMed Commons is a system that enables researchers to share their opinions about scientific publications. Researchers can comment on any publication indexed by PubMed, and read the comments of others. PubMed Commons is a forum for open and constructive criticism and discussion of scientific issues. It will thrive with high quality interchange from the scientific community. PubMed Commons is currently in a closed pilot testing phase, which means that only invited participants can add and view comments in PubMed.

Online communities using reference and citation managers

Sites like Mendeley, CiteULike and Zotero allow scholars to collect online publications in their libraries and share these within groups/communities.  This activity provides data on the frequency with with each publication is included in a library and the number of people doing this.

Tracking impact of an article in the digital world

Altmetric is a terrific tool that tracks the impact of an article in social media and on sites like Mendeley, Zotero and CiteULike. There is a very cool bookmarklet and a Chrome extension that lets one see the Altmetrics of an article.  For example a recent article that I co-authored was published in Academic Medicine in October 2013 just over a month back.  It has been cited twice in literature according to Google Scholar.  It will take a long time to see how many times it will actually be cited in peer-reviewed journal articles.  But using the Chrome extension, I could easily see the impact factor it has in social media.  
Clicking on the link brings up detailed statistics:

It shows the overall impact of the article compared to all articles in Academic Medicine and also provides the impact for all articles of similar age, i.e. published 6 weeks on either side of it.
Altmetric has made is API public and this is being used to create innovative tools.  Thus PaperShip recently created an app for iOS that connects to Zotero or Mendeley and also displays Altmetrics data for each article.

The foundations of traditional academia are being challenged on multiple fronts and are beginning to show their age!  How long before the foundation is rebuilt or the house comes tumbling down?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

3 tools to help remember and find information

We are inundated with information.  While some would call it information overload, the word "overload" has a negative connotation.  Is it not better to have so much information rather than not have any?  A better term is information abundance.

The challenge is to use tools that will help make the most of this information abundance.  Here are 3 simple tools to help get started:

1.  Diigo

This is one of many excellent social bookmarking tools.  Get the Diigo extension for the Chrome browser and start bookmarking and adding notes and highlights to web pages that you want to find again.  When you search for information using Google Search, it will automatically display results from Diigo that you might have bookmarked earlier.  Make sure you check the box under settings to "Search your Diigo library when searching Google.

Thus when I search for the famous study by Drs. Sparrow and Wegner on how using Google changes our memory, it brings up results both from my Diigo library and from the Web.
Searching Diigo when doing a Google Web search

2.  Google Search for Drive and Gmail

Another tool to use is the ability to search through your email and Google Drive from the Google search.  While this is still in trial, anyone can sign up to be part of this.

Seach Google Drive and Gmail from Google search

3.  Memobutton 

This is another extension for Chrome and is based on the Spaced Learning theory.  It allows you to create flashcards for yourself as you surf the web and come across critical bits of information that you want to remember.  Just click the memobutton in the extension toolbar, and paste the text into the pop-up.  Double click the key word you want to remember and it makes a flashcard.  It then reminds you to review these flash cards periodically.  

Creating flashcards while surfing the web - get periodic reminders till you master the content

There are many other tools but if you use Chrome as your default browser these will meet most of your needs for storing and searching and remembering information that you find.

The search for that elusive single device - Tablet and/or Laptop

A lot of people own multiple devices - a desktop, a laptop, a tablet and a smartphone. They carry the latter 3 around when they travel. While the smart phone is not a big issue, I have often wondered about eliminating either the laptop or the tablet when traveling.

Is it possible to get rid of one or the other? Laptops have traditionally been heavier, take longer to boot up, generally have not had a touchscreen human computer interface. Tablets while being great consumption devices are often a compromise when creating content.

Recently I blogged about the HP Revolve. I took it, along with an iPad and an Android tablet to course that is was giving for medical educators. On the last day of the 5 day course I realized that I had not taken out the tablets out of my bag during the entire course except to do a couple of demos. I also used one of them to read in bed and one to play a game on the plane trip back.
The laptop is light, boots up in a few seconds, is rock stable, has a touchscreen so I can draw and write with my finger, runs full versions of all the creative software, has an excellent keyboard and is thus becoming my go to device. What drove the point home was that I was able to do a demo of Educreations on it - normally I have to use an iPad for this to draw on the screen as I speak.

We keep talking about the tablets replacing the laptop but it is very possible that with the right form factor and features, the reverse could be the truth. Imagine if the MacBook air had a touchscreen and all the iPad apps? Or if the Chromebooks had touchscreens and android apps? Or if the windows apps store got all the key apps you used? If Apple made the move, it might cannibalize the sale of its iPads, Google might very well be poised to do this, and Windows is clearly well on the way with Surface Pro.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Top 5 Reasons Why Educators Should Learn About Social Media

Just this morning I saw an excellent SlideShare presentation by +Jennifer Legarde that was shared by +Linda Lindsay on Google+.  The theme of the narrative is about making sure that curriculum and pedagogy are considered before choosing technology to enhance learning.

I loved the presentation as I often begin my presentations with a quote like, "Content is King" or "Pedagogy eats technology for lunch".  This slide deck is replete with great quotes that I have used or will quite likely use myself.  Alvin Toffler's gem on Slide 54 hangs on my office wall.  

The message for the the technophile is to look before you leap and remember that technology is only a tool.  On the flip side, there are many educators who are either waiting for evidence that technology actually enhances learning, or late adopters, or technophobes or anxious or uncomfortable about or too busy to learn new tools.  There may be many possibly valid reasons for an educator to keep doing what "works" for him or her.  But there education is all about curiosity, about simulating, motivating and exploring.  So educators of all people should be eager to learn about new methods, tools and techniques.  

Social Media is an amazing force that allows for creativity and collaboration.  If educators are still wondering about the need to learn about this medium, here are 5 top reasons to wait no more!

Top 5 Reasons Educators Need to Use Social Media

Sure there are potential hazards to using social media but only by exploring these tools can educators get comfortable with them and help guide their learners in making the most of these in a safe manner.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Will "Digital textbook" be the "MOOC" of 2014?

MOOC was the buzzword of the year 2013.  MOOCs can potentially replace some of the redundancy in higher education and thus save money.  Clearly there are problems with MOOCs but used appropriately they have value.

Another area in education that is ripe for disruption is the textbook market.  The publishers charge exorbitant prices for content that may not change much over many years and many editions.

Take an example of a pretty expensive textbook:
This book costs over $100 on Amazon and even the Kindle eBook version costs over $80.  There are other options e.g. renting the book, getting a used book or a loose leaf version of the book.  I just selected this book at random so I can compare its price across various platforms, there are many similar very expensive books covering other topics like history which don't change very much.  So why do these books cost so much?

There are so many free online resources that could be used instead of these books.  The problem is that teachers would have to spend a lot of time reviewing the content for appropriateness and accuracy and then monitor that this content as it changes.  In addition, one would assume that the book organizes the content in some pedagogically appropriate manner which is worth something.

Enter Boundless - this is potentially a disruptive innovation that overcomes this problem.  Boundless provides alternative textbooks that match the content of these traditional books but uses open source material for the content.  Boundless has been reviewed at several places like TIME and INSIDE HIGER ED.
The alternative to this same textbook costs a flat $20 on Boundless.  There are also other books on Algebra that are free if you do not want flashcards and quizzes.

The challenge that this model needs to overcome:
  1. Getting students and teachers comfortable with eBooks
  2. Ensuring the quality/accuracy of the content
  3. Legal issues - Boundless is currently being sued by some publishers over copyrights - schools and colleges would not like to adopt this while there is uncertainty about this.
We wish Boundless all the best in overcoming these challenges.  The commercial textbook market is ripe for disruption and it should happen sooner rather than later.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

First chromecast experience - problems with Corporate WiFi.

I got the Chromecast finally and was eager to try it out.  If you saw my previous post, I was hoping to test it in our small-group learning rooms to share content from each student's mobile device.

The directions are so simple that you can read them upside down!  The monitor I was trying it on has the HDMI and USB ports co-located and thus made it easy to plug in the stick and its USB powered supply cord.  Once you change the monitor input to the HDMI port, it shows the set up screen.
Next you use your smart mobile device to navigate to  On my Win 7 laptop it downloaded an app to help me connect to Chromecast and configure it.  Right now there is no app for iOS and so on my iPhone I could connect to it via my Chrome browser.  Chromecast sets up a hotspot around it that lets your mobile device connect to it to set up the WiFi.
My problem was that Chromecast was not able to connect to either our secure corporate WiFi (LEAP).  I then tried our Public WiFi but it requires users to accept a boilerplate agreement.  Unfortunately there is no way to accept this agreement on a monitor with Chromecast.  
So my last attempt was to try a Verizon MiFi.  This worked reasonably well and I was able to test the system.  The best news is that I was able to project a tab from Chrome to the monitor.  There was a bit of lag with scrolling.  The most disconcerting thing was that you don't see the cursor on the monitor.  So you have to look at your mobile device to use the mouse but the entire audience can see the content on your screen.  

So overall I am happy with the ability to cast content from a Chrome tab though the lag and the absence of the cursor are small drawbacks.
The inability to connect to even a public WiFi due to inability to accept an agreement needs to be fixed.  This may be a problem with other entertainment devices like Roku but is a clear handicap when trying to use Chromecast at work or in a hotel for example.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Look Ma, no Chromecast!

Chromecast is making the news recently.   A cheap device/platform agnostic solution for casting content from any smart device to a large screen and then controlling the content from the original device seems magical.
The device is sold out and there is a 2-3 waiting period Google Play.  I had resigned myself to waiting it out and then this morning I was able to test it without the device!
What I mean is that I was able to test the functionality without actually having the device. 
I have an LG Smart TV which is connected to my iPhone with a LG TV Remote app.  This app allows the iPhone to be a fully functioning remote for the TV.  I was trying to watch the Ashes (England vs. Australia) Cricket match.  I checked my iPhone to see if it was available on YouTube (Willow Channel).  I found that the highlights were available and an then I noticed the Google Cast icon on the upper right of the YouTube App screen.  I tapped it and  the option came up to share on my Smart TV.

Casting a YouTube video from iPhone to Smart TV

I chose the TV and in a couple of seconds the match was being streamed to the Smart TV.  I could control the video from my iPhone.  

Controlling the content on the large screen via iPhone

watching the casted content on large screen
Seeing how well it worked, I can hardly wait for the device so this process can be extended to other apps and Chrome tabs.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

ChromeCast - the reverse Second Screen Experience: Perfect for small learning groups?

The buzz created by Chromecast has been so "loud" that is appears to have caught Google by surprise; the device having been sold out at multiple sites (BestBuy, Amazon) and the 3 month NetFlix offer taken down within the first few hours.

A lot has been written about Chromecast, highlighting its features and comparing it to AppleTV and Roku.

The key point about Chromecast is that it is an affordable platform agnostic "Reverse Second Screen" device. What is a reverse second screen device?
Lets see what a second screen device is first.

Mashable defines second screen as
"Second Screen is the use of an additional monitor (e.g. tablet, smartphone) while watching television. It allows the audience to interact with what they’re consuming whether it’s a TV show, video game or movie."  
Thus a TV channel wanting the audience to interact with a TV show would get them to go to a web site with a smartphone or tablet and respond to polls during the show.  The key fact is that the process is initiated from the TV screen and the challenge is to get the watcher to go through the required steps on their second screen (phone/tablet/laptop).  This can be achieved by a audio or visual announcement or a QR code.

Chromecast enables the reverse process and makes it seamless.
The user starts at the smart mobile device and then extends the experience from a small to a large (TV) screen.  Make that from multiple small screens to a large TV screen.
The trend in education is to use small collaborative learning groups and not large group lectures.
Chromecast can be the prefect way to share each learner and faculty's screen on large TV screens on the wall.  As more and more content is stored in the cloud and is accessed via smart mobile devices, this would be a perfect accessory for education institutions.


Scientists can implant false memories into mice - Getting close to the heart of Constructivism


BBC News - Scientists can implant false memories into mice


Amazing research on the frailty of memory and how we can be convinced something is true even though it is not.  Research like this can explain the case of how a woman believed she was raped by a person who actually she had been watching on TV when she was raped.

If we can implant memories, maybe someday we will understand how to optimize learning?  We are getting close to the heart of constructivism - how with every new event, we learn by building upon prior experiences.

'via Blog this'

Inside Microsoft's House Of The Future - Ideas for collaborative education spaces

Just read this post on Business Insider.
A concept place for the using technology in the future.  Has tons of ideas for use in designing collaborative education workspaces.

Inside Microsoft's House Of The Future - Business Insider:

3D printing with Air Gestures

'via Blog this'
Truly Interactive Whiteboards

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Technology and Medical Education: An Opportunity to Dream BIG!

Recently the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic announced that they will partner to build a new medical education building.

One of the 13 committees formed to come up with ideas for the new building is the Information Technology/Global Connectivity Committee.  The committee is looking for ideas and suggestion for designing a building that will support the medical education needs of the future.

What would a medical education building of the future look like in your dreams? Would love to hear from you!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pleasantly surprised with a Windows 8 device.

Windows 8 has come in for a lot of criticism:

  • Not having a start button
  • Forcing the Tile interface on everyone
  • The touchscreen interface is useless on most current devices that people own
  • The number of steps it takes to power the device off.
  • etc...
A number of these are legitimate gripes but I was recently testing the new HP Elitebook Revolve 810 and got to experience Windows 8 first hand on a device designed for it and found myself quite pleasantly surprised.  (Disclaimer - I have used Windows all my computing life and have never used a Mac and thus this post is NOT about Windows vs. Macs).

I have used an iPad, a Motorola Xoom tablet, a Blackberry, a Motorola Razr smartphone and an iPhone 5. Frequently I carry a backpack with a laptop and a tablet and have the iPhone 5 in my pocket.  

On a plane the tablet is great because: 

  • The size 
  • Rapid boot up and shut down
  • Games
  • Ease of reading and doing some annotations
Once you get to a destination like a meeting, you do need the full computer functionality of a laptop.

HP Elitebook Revolve 810

The HP Revolve is as close to the ideal between the tablet and computer that it can get.  While it does not have most of the apps that I use on my iPad or Xoom tablet, it does not need most of them.  

What I liked about it:

  • The size - folded down it it just about the size of a tablet
  • The lightening fast boot up and shut down (SSD)
  • The multifunctional touchpad with 1,2 and 3 finger gestures
  • The full keyboard
  • The full functionality of a regular laptop
  • The news, weather, and Office apps
  • OneNote with ability to draw, write with a finger and handwriting recognition
  • The lighted touchpad - detects whether you are using it or not and turns off and on as needed automatically

What did I not like?

  • The lack of a VGA out - has a HDMI out so needs a special dongle
  • The touch pad is large and till I figured out how to change the settings, it kept moving my cursor to random places as I was typing due to my palm contact.
  • The lack of apps 
  • The WiFi is somewhat finicky.  It kept dropping intermittently till I tweaked the settings.  Now it is better but still needs a reset of the WiFi adapter at times.
  • The resolution is a bit underwhelming for such an expensive device.
The revelation for me has been how often I ended up using the touchscreen rather than the touch pad as I was typing or surfing.  Having to move the cursor from one end of the screen to the other and then having to click on something suddenly started to feel inefficient compared to just touching the screen.  Whenever the object to be clicked was large enough, I found myself instinctively skipping the touch pad.

This configuration of the Acer R7 now makes sense 

As I was realizing this, I saw the Acer R7 which has a phenomenal design. The touch pad and the keyboard positions are reversed and the hinge allows the screen to be pulled forward and thus eliminates the touch pad completely if the user desires.  This started to make sense based on my own 2 week experience.  

As the next generation of devices designed for Windows 8 start coming out, I expect to skip having to carry the tablet around.  Many people already own a tablet; I would not be surprised if their next purchase would be one of these new Win 8 convertibles or the Surface Pro.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tools for Leveraging Open Education Resources

We are experiencing the democratization of education.  There are numerous free and open resources for learning on the Web:
While these sites have terrific videos, they have a limitation inherent to such content; they tend to be linear and difficult to change once published.  In order for them to be more useful to students, the teacher often may want some control over the content so she is not stuck with what the creator of the video created or intended.
  • She may want to use only a part of the content of the video, and then link it to another part of another video
  • She may want to add some questions or additional content to the video
  • She may want her students to create a project that is like a collage - containing parts of videos they find and stitch together.
The good news is that there are now many services that are popping up to help

TedEd has a beta project called Lessons Worth Sharing that allows you to flip a YouTube video and add questions, resources and discussions.  Here is a screenshot of one of the most popular flipped videos

YouTube has a somewhat similar capability to ask questions that pop up during the video.  You can find more information here.

I just found out about Weavly which allows you to do online drag and drop editing and trimming of videos from YouTube and audio from SoundCloud.  You can interpose text to add questions and comments.  

Recently James Sousa of Phoenix College made his fabulous collection of mathematics videos available via Creative Commons by attribution license.  I have looked a some and they appear to be higher quality content than some of the Khan Academy videos with nice graphics, models and animations.  

Looking at one of the videos on Similar and Congruent triangles, I was struck by the questions I had above.  The content starts with basic concepts of congruent triangles and moves on to similar triangles and several numerical exercises.  It then comes to the application of using this to find the height of a building or a tree.  What if the teacher who wants to reuse the video in her class, wants to actually present the practical problem of finding the height of the tree first and then allow the students to think about which math concept would help them solve this?  And then present some clues and then allow them to view the basic concepts if they want?  

Well Weavly can help you do this.  Here is my 10 minute effort on flipping this video.  

You can try out Weavly here.  It is free and does not need a manual to get started.
As more Open Education Resources (OER) become available, educators will need to stay current not just with the OERs but also tools that can help them customize these for their own learners or create projects for learners to customize these for themselves and peers.

Since I posted this, I found out about Mozilla Popcorn Maker which appears to be a terrific tool.  Here is a clip of a flipped TEDTalk.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Does the Medical Profession need to lighten up?

Recently the Israeli Army (Israel Defense Forces to be precise) reacted to its soldiers doing the Harlem Shake and posting the video on Social Media.  Some of those responsible were put in jail!

STOP right there!!
What are you thoughts at this point?
Most likely if you do not have a close connection with that part of the world, you are thinking, "What's the big deal?  They are just young adults, let them have some fun, keep their sense of humor!"
OK hold that thought.

Now take a story closer to "home".  If you are related to the health care profession or close to someone who is, you know that we take our professional image very seriously.
We hear stories of how students were forced to take down a video of them dancing with skeletons.  Most would side with the school authorities due to the disrespect to the dead and those who made the ultimate sacrifice by donating their bodies for education and research.
But, remember the skeletons are plastic models and not human bones. Clearly there is a fine line between entertainment and disrespect to our patients or the dead.

Many medical schools have theater programs where students present parodies of the medical profession and these are supported by the school administration with the proceeds from the ticket sales going to worthy charities.

Are we fooling ourselves?  Does the general public feel the same way about our reaction to the medical student videos as we feel about the Israel Defense Forces reaction to the soldiers' video?

Are we too close to this?  What do non-medical people think?  If we think that we should not risk disrespect to the dead or a threat to our professional identity for just entertainment value, what if videos were used for patient education?

What if a video full of sexual innuendo increased the number of patients getting flu shots?

What do you think?  Does the medical profession need to lighten up?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Top Reasons to use Google Drive

Why do I use Google Drive?

  1. Cloud storage with files available from anywhere, using any (web-enabled) device.  I have not had to use a flash drive (Thumb drive/USB drive in a long time).
  2. Avoid sending large files by email - just share the file or send a link.
  3. Ability to have offline files (when there is no Internet access) and still edit them - even on a tablet that does not have specific word processing software
  4. Collaborative editing with any device - earlier today, my laptop battery drained and I used an iPad to co-edit a meeting notes.
  5. Ability to share and edit files collaboratively synchronously during a hangout
  6. The commenting feature is terrific - you can carry on a conversation around a document by responding to comments - if you @name someone it notifies them via email
  7. The auto save and versioning means you never lose any data 
  8. The spreadsheet allows for custom scripts which have been used for many purposes, my favorite is a auto-scoring online quiz.
  9. The ability to create online forms and surveys that save the data to the spreadsheet.
  10. You can publish documents to the web essentially creating web pages

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Digital Divide - Redivided! Score yourself on the Digital Divide Scale!

By now (almost) everyone has seen the video of the Grandpa using the iPad as a cutting board.  It made the rounds of social media about mid-last year.  If you want to see it again (or for the first time), here it is:

It is a great example of the Digital Divide between the generations.

Well why this blog post now?

Just this morning, I got a forwarded email with an attachment from a bright and well meaning colleague with the subject, "Needs immediate attention" and the body of the e-mail talked about how we could use this video as an example of a digital divide.

Attached to it was a 2 MB file of this video!
I was struck by the irony of it - how the manner in which we disseminate a digital video on Digital divide reveals our own digital status.
(This colleague is actually what I would classify as a long-term well-accommodated digital immigrant - uses social networking, Dropbox, manages web sites etc and sent this more due to time constraints).

Here is a set of 2 cases - score yourself on where you stand

1.  You want to share a large file with a group of people
  • You email everyone and attach the file - 0
  • You write a brief summary of the file in the body of the e-mail and folks can request the full file from you by replying to the e-mail + 1
  • You use "yousendit" or "transferbigfiles" and include a brief summary of the file in the message + 2
  • You put it on Google Drive/Dropbox and share it with them. + 3
2.  You get a funny video as an attachment in a chain e-mail
  • You forward the email as it is (showing the e-mail addresses of every previous recipient) -0
  • You forward it after stripping off the emails of previous recipients +1
  • You search and find the video online and send a hyperlink to the video by email with a an apology to those who may have already seen it a hundred times +2
  • You embed the video in your blog or social network and share +3
    • BONUS point if you post on Google+ and share with appropriate circle!
5-6Digital Native
3-4Digital Immigrant
0-2Digital tourist

Disclaimer: This is written purely in jest and has no scientific basis ;-)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Gagne, eLearning Tools, and Personal Information Management

I have blogged many times about various Personal Information Management (PIM) tools like:

  • RSS Feeds and Google Reader
  • Social Bookmarking and Diigo
  • Reference Management and Zotero
I have tried to put it all together into custom workflows like:
Google Reader >> Zotero>> Tablet 

Recently I have been doing several faculty development sessions on eLearning tools.  Some questions I often get asked are:
  • What are some tools and apps that we can use for eLearning
  • There are so many tools.  How do we organize (storyboard) our eLesson?
To answer these questions I decided to put together a demo lesson on PIM using eLearning tools and used the age old Gagne's 9 events of instruction model to help build the storyboard. 
So here is the demo.

How I set it up:
  • Engage - Animated video (GoAnimate), Cartoon (makebeliefscomix) and Interactive image (Thinglink)
  • Goals - Flowchart (Lucidchart) and a (Camtasia) screen capture of a narrated PowerPoint animation
  • Activate prior knowledge - Google images (used advanced search to get images labelled for reuse)
  • Content - YouTube videos, Videos with embedded questions (Ted Lessons), blogs
  • Practice - Flashcards (Quizlet)
  • Assessment - HotPotatoes Quiz
Still have a few steps (events to cover) but it was an interesting exercise.  The part that I could not include was the collaborative learning since this is not going to a real course with real learners.  If it was, I could have used Tweetchats, Google+ Communities, etc to add a collaborative element.

Hope this will be helpful to others!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Are we close to being GOD?

Ignore the title, I am NOT a creationist but the title makes sense if you remember that a large number of people believe that a supreme being created humans.

2 pieces of information caught my eye this week.

And last year IBM Watson was able to beat 2 champions at Jeopardy. 

Putting these together let my imagination make the next leap to connect the missing links.  

But lets start with the background:

  • 3D printing is taking off in a big way.  Recently, Gael Langevin posted about how he had created a 3D printable robot that could move and follow voice commands.  The best part of the story is that you can download the files for the project as they are "open source". 
  • So now anyone with a 3D printer and some skills can assemble a robot that talks, moves and obeys voice commands.
  • The DNA project will require help from a company that can create synthetic DNA strands.  They would make the strands in the right sequence using a cipher to convert bits (1 and 0's) into the ACGT nuleotides.  Once you have the DNA you need a sequencer to read the sequence and then convert it back to binary code which can be read by a computer.  
  • DNA is a very efficient way to store information.  1 gram of DNA can store as much information as can be burned on 1 million CD's
  • DNA does not require any energy.
  • The cost of DNA sequencing is dropping and in a few years we will probably see these become mainstream.  
  • Next combine the DNA sequencer with the robot and store the DNA containing the worlds information on it, and power it with IBM Watson's AI and you have something close to a human being?  There is just something amazing thinking about DNA storing all the necessary information on board a humanoid that can speak talk and respond to voice.
  • Sure there are lots of missing pieces still but we do live in exciting times!