2017/09/19: A well meaning math teacher finds herself trumped by a post-fact America.
2019/01/04: a master list of topics related to the use of new technologies in education of potential operational relevance to the World Bank in its strategic advice, lending activities and research going forward
2018/10/10: Someone checked in on Bing search and the results aren't pretty. At some point it became a sewer of racism, antisemitism, pedophilia and conspiracy theories—and that's just the recommendations.
The BBC reports:
In his investigation, Mr Hoffman looked up racially-themed terms and found that the majority of suggestions for further searches that accompanied results pointed people to racist sites or images.
Racist memes and images were also returned for many of the words he tried.
"We all know this garbage exists on the web, but Bing shouldn't be leading people to it with their search suggestions," wrote Mr Hoffman.
It is believed that the suggestions for further searches connected to these terms have emerged from a combination of user activity and concerted action by far-right groups to skew responses.
a typo when searching Bing for “grill” gives you really sketchy porn. The problem then becomes much worse, with Bing suggesting you search for images of underage children.
When searching for “gril,” the suggestions at the top of the page recommend you search for some disturbing things, including “Cute Girl Young 16.”
If you click that, it suggests “Cute Girl Young 12”, “Cute Girl Young 10,” and “Little Girl Modelling Provocatively.”
The results are filled with pornography of young-looking models. We hope they’re all 18 years of age or older, but who can say?
Bing leads you down a path from a simple typo to 16-year-old girls to 10-year-old girls, and it’s disgusting.
2018/10/08: Upon closer inspection, GVCs and new technologies exhibit features that limit the upside to – and may even undermine – developing countries’ economic performance. One such feature is an overall bias in favor of skills and other capabilities. This bias reduces developing countries’ comparative advantage in traditionally labor-intensive manufacturing (and other) activities, and decreases their gains from trade.
Second, GVCs make it harder for low-income countries to use their labor-cost advantage to offset their technological disadvantage, by reducing their ability to substitute unskilled labor for other production inputs. These two features reinforce and compound each other. The evidence to date, on the employment and trade fronts, is that the disadvantages may have more than offset the advantages.
The usual response to these concerns is to stress the importance of building up complementary skills and capabilities. Developing countries must upgrade their educational systems and technical training, improve their business environment, and enhance their logistics and transport networks in order to make fuller use of new technologies, goes the oft-heard refrain.
But pointing out that developing countries need to advance on all those dimensions is neither news nor helpful development advice. It is akin to saying that development requires development. Trade and technology present an opportunity when they are able to leverage existing capabilities, and thereby provide a more direct and reliable path to development. When they demand complementary and costly investments, they are no longer a shortcut around manufacturing-led development.
Compare the new technologies with the traditional model of industrialization, which has been a powerful engine of economic growth in developing countries. First, manufacturing is tradable, which means domestic output is not constrained by demand (and incomes) at home. Second, manufacturing know-how was relatively easy to transfer across countries and, in particular, from rich to poor economies. Third, manufacturing did not make large demands on skills.
These three characteristics collectively made manufacturing a fantastic escalator to higher incomes for developing countries. New technologies present a very different picture in terms of the ease of transferring know-how and the skill requirements they imply. As a result, their net impact on low-income countries looks considerably more uncertain.
2016/10/29: Students in rural areas often do not have access to the internet because there are not adequate service providers. Even if there are internet service options available, low-income families cannot afford to pay for this access.
An innovative solution to these problems is to use school busses as Wi-Fi hotspots. During evenings and weekends, each bus is parked in a strategic location throughout the district to serve as Wi-Fi hotspots.
This allowed for the district’s teachers to utilize educational methods like the flipped classroom. Students can now work on projects from home without having to travel long distances to a library to get internet access
In other districts, buses with internet access are being used to help with another obstacle to educational opportunities. This would be extraordinarily long bus rides.
2018/04/05: Teachers can take a break from menial tasks. AI can help set more realistic student goals. Gaps in the curriculum are clearly identified.
2018/05/08: Apple has dominated the education market for a generation. However, in recent years, Google seems to be challenging Apple for domination of the education sector. Google is an excellent option for cash-strapped districts.
Chromebooks are substantially less expensive than Apple's laptops.
schools can begin and remain within the Google ecosystem and not face an awkward transition at the beginning of third grade.
Google products show a high degree of compatibility with each other, which makes things much easier for teachers and students.
2018/09/12: In the book, the narrator, a sociologist, describes how a system in which status accorded by birth had been replaced by a society in which the classes are reconstituted in the basic formula, IQ plus Effort = Merit. The belief in a common good and a flourishing civic life is corroded. “If the meritocrats believe…that their advantage comes from their own merits,” Young wrote. “They can feel they deserve whatever they can get.
As Young’s book predicted, opportunities to accrue social capital, the springboard that allows the middle classes to leap ahead, have been drastically reduced for those at the bottom of society even as, contrary to one of Young’s predictions, the rich have grown wealthier with 10% owning 40% of this country’s wealth.
Democracy does not require perfect equality but it does require that citizens share a common life.
Do we want a society in which everything is up for sale? Meritocrats might say, “Yes”. As Young pointed out all those years ago, the ability to buy what it wants when it wants is one way in which the meritocracy proves its “worth” – at least to itself.
2018/09/10: American Indian/Alaskan, Hispanic/Latino, and African American students had the least access. White and Asian students had the most. Nearly a quarter of students who reported that family income was less that $36,000 a year had access to only a single device at home, mostly a smartphone: a 19% gap compared to students whose family income was more than $100,000.
2018/09/13: Amazon chief Jeff Bezos is launching a $2bn fund to help homeless families and build a network of preschools, saying the “child will be the customer” in his philanthropy announcement.
The tech founder and the world’s richest man unveiled the Bezos Day One Fund on Thursday. He said he would fund existing organizations that aid homeless people and pledged to build new not-for-profit schools to serve low-income communities.
“We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon. Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession,” he wrote on Twitter. “The child will be the customer.”
The bottom line is that most edtech companies are falling painfully short of adhering to excellent data privacy practices. Our students and their information are at risk while the industry tries to figure out what the best practices are. In the meantime, school districts must hold companies to a higher standard and demand better practices before paying them for their services. This is the only way that we will begin to see effective change take place.
2018/06/16: Researchers show that children learn from both print and digital picture books. Digital storybooks (e-books) that pair spoken word with pictures and print text can enhance vocabulary.
Apps that allow a “read-along” experience, for example, can help children develop a better understanding of concepts about stories and print, especially if they have printed text that children can see. E-books that highlight words as they are read, help young children learn that print is read from left to right in English.
2016/02/24: the mere presence, in a class, of a robot that can be customized in many ways makes children with special needs "blend" and participate with the others, more than they would have done without the robot as a "catalyst" (in other words: DIY robotics helps all children, whatever their capabilities are, to interact more and more naturally with each other).
2010/02/21: In a kind of Wikipedia of textbooks, Macmillan, one of the five largest publishers of trade books and textbooks, is introducing software called DynamicBooks, which will allow college instructors to edit digital editions of textbooks and customize them for their individual classes.
Students will be able to buy the e-books at dynamicbooks.com, in college bookstores and through CourseSmart, a joint venture among five textbook publishers that sells electronic textbooks. The DynamicBooks editions — which can be reached online or downloaded — can be read on laptops and the iPhone from Apple. The modifiable e-book editions will be much cheaper than traditional print textbooks.
Trump-like so many other politicians and pundits-has found search and social media companies to be convenient targets in the debate over free speech and censorship online. "This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!"rnrnBut in this moment, the conversation we should be having-how can we fix the algorithms?-is instead being co-opted and twisted by politicians and pundits howling about censorship and miscasting content moderation as the demise of free speech online. It would be good to remind them that free speech does not mean free reach. There is no right to algorithmic amplification. In fact, that's the very problem that needs fixing.rnrnThe algorithms don't understand what is propaganda and what isn't, or what is "fake news" and what is fact-checked. Their job is to surface relevant content (relevant to the user, of course), and they do it exceedingly well. So well, in fact, that the engineers who built these algorithms are sometimes baffled: "Even the creators don't always understand why it recommends one video instead of another," says Guillaume Chaslot, an ex-YouTube engineer who worked on the site's algorithm.rnrn YouTube's algorithms can also radicalize by suggesting "white supremacist rants, Holocaust denials, and other disturbing content," Zeynep Tufekci recently wrote in the Times. "YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the rnrnThe problem extends beyond YouTube, though. On Google search, dangerous anti-vaccine misinformation can commandeer the top results. And on Facebook, hate speech can thrive and fuel genocidernrnSo what can we do about it? The solution isn't to outlaw algorithmic ranking or make noise about legislating what results Google can return. Algorithms are an invaluable tool for making sense of the immense universe of information online. There's an overwhelming amount of content available to fill any given person's feed or search query; sorting and ranking is a necessity, and there has never been evidence indicating that the results display systemic partisan bias. rnIt's imperative that we focus on solutions, not politics.
Somebody once asked Warren Buffett about his secret to success. Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said,rnrn "Read 500 pages like this every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will..."rnrnWhen I first found this quote of Buffett's two years ago, something was wrong.rnrnIt was December 2014. I'd found my dream job. Some days, I would be there, sitting at my dream job, and I would think. My god what if I'm still here in 40 years? I don't want to die like this rnrnSomething wasn't right. I'd followed the prescription. Good grades. Leadership. Recommendations. College. Dream Job. I was a winner. I'd finished the race. Here I was in the land of dreams. But something was terribly, terribly wrong.rnrnrnin these last 2 years, I've read over 400 books cover to cover. That decision to start reading was one of the most important decisions in my life.rnrnBooks gave me the courage to travel. Books gave me the conviction to quit my job. Books gave me role models and heroes and meaning in a world where I had none.
2014/03/21: Britain is in a state of self denial, sitting at the bottom of European league tables, but convinced it still rules the waves. The aspirations of the SNP may seem ambitious, but all they are really proposing is to be a normal European country.