Helge Scherlund's eLearning News

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Check out the weblog every day and keep up-to-date on the latest news and information about flexible, netbased learning and teaching, e-learning, blended learning, distance learning and m-learning. Links to the best web pages on the internet, articles etc. and conferences and seminars about e-learning. Mediation of knowledge and experiences within research and development of the modern digital, interactive media. I hope that you find this service useful and have a good time reading!

URL: http://scherlund.blogspot.com/

Aggiornato: 5 giorni 13 ore fa

Maryam Mirzakhani Scholarship for Women | Financial Tribune - Art And Culture

In honor of the late award winning Iranian mathematician at Stanford University, Maryam Mirzakhani (1977-2017), Persia Educational Foundation, based in London, has established the ‘Persia Mirzakhani Scholarship for Women.’

Photo: Financial Tribune
The scholarship is designed to support the education of Persian-speaking women of any age or citizenship enrolled in a master of science or final year of a doctorate program studying STEM at the University College London. STEM is a recent department at UCL, which focuses on the interface between science, technology, engineering and math.

The inaugural scholarship will be £1500 ($2,000). Eligible applicants will be encouraged to submit their application for the 2018-2019 academic year to the foundation by February 1, according to the website of the foundation Persia.education.

Scholarship winners will be announced on May 3, marking the first birth anniversary of the accomplished professor.

In 2014, Mirzakhani became a household name after becoming the first woman ever to win the Fields Medal, which is widely referred to as the Nobel Prize of mathematics awarded to honor excellence in the field to mathematicians under the age of 40.
Read more... 

Source: Financial Tribune

The scientific debates of the Vienna circle | The Economist - Books and arts

"Philosophy and science between the wars" appeared in the Books and arts section of the print edition under the headline "Talking heads"  

 Entrance to the Mathematical Seminar at the University of Vienna, Boltzmanngasse 5. Meeting place of the Vienna Circle.
Photo: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
ON OCTOBER 21st 1916 Friedrich Adler, a theoretical physicist turned socialist politician, went to a famous restaurant in Vienna and ate a three-course lunch. Having lingered over coffee, he went up to Karl von Stürgkh, the imperial prime minister, who was sitting at a nearby table, and shot him several times with a pistol, killing him. Adler, the son of the legendary founder of Austro-Hungarian social democracy, calmly waited to be arrested. Something had to be done to change the general way of thinking, he claimed, and he had done it. At first condemned to death, he was pardoned two years later.

When the Nazis came to power in Austria, Adler, by then the secretary of the Socialist Workers’ International, held urgent meetings with other socialist politicians to work out a common strategy. During one of these meetings, an emotional Adler rambled on, seemingly unable to come to the point. “He shoots better than he talks,” one French delegate remarked drily. “Exact Thinking in Demented Times”, Karl Sigmund’s fond and knowledgeable exploration of the ideas and members of the legendary Vienna circle between the two world wars, contains stark warnings not only about demented times, but also about the possible costs of exact thinking.

Exact Thinking in Demented Times:
The Vienna Circle and the Epic Quest for the Foundations of Science
The Vienna circle was made up mainly of physicists, mathematicians and philosophers, whose fortnightly meetings were dedicated to investigating problems of logic, science, language and mathematics. Led by Moritz Schlick, a philosopher, the discussions attracted some brilliant intellectuals, including Kurt Gödel, a mathematician; Otto Neurath, an economist; three philosophers—Rudolf Carnap, Sir Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein (pictured, whose work became the main focus of the discussions for a while)—as well as Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell.

Debates about the possibility of a unified science, the dangerous vagaries of everyday language or the structures of mathematics and logic raged on for more than two decades. These arguments, which seemed so abstract, produced insights of vital importance for computing, astrophysics and cosmology, not to mention theory of science and philosophy. Mr Sigmund devotes a considerable part of the book to explaining some of these concepts. Readers unable to grasp them immediately are in good company. “Most scholars agree”, he writes, “that neither Wittgenstein nor Russell ever really understood Gödel’s ideas.”
Read more... 

Source: The Economist 

Alpha Zero Teaches Itself Chess 4 Hours, Then Beats Dad | Science 2.0 - Life sciences

"Peter Heine Nielsen, a Danish chess Grandmaster, summarized it quite well. "I always wondered, if some superior alien race came to Earth, how they would play chess. Now I know"" according to Tommaso Dorigo, experimental particle physicist. 
Photo: Storyblocks.com
The architecture that beat humans at the notoriously CPU-impervious game Go, AlphaGo by Google Deep Mind, was converted to allow the machine to tackle other "closed-rules" games. Successively, the program was given the rules of chess, and a huge battery of Google's GPUs to train itself on the game. Within four hours, the alien emerged. And it is indeed a new class of player.
The AlphaZero neural network uses reinforcement learning to teach itself things from scratch. It does not rely on previous knowledge - which in the case of chess is surprising, as the mass of knowledge on the game accumulated in centuries of experimentation is hard to shrug off. Combined with a powerful search algorithm, the neural network is at present unbeatable. This was demonstrated in a 100-game match against the strongest chess program around, Stockfish 8.

What impressed me when I saw a few games from that match, which was concluded with 25 wins and 75 draws, no losses from Alpha zero, is that the machine can display an evolved treatment of openings, is keen to sacrifice material for positional gains, and has no prejudices. Indeed, while most chess machines around have pre-defined weights that discourage certain kinds of positions -say, putting your king in the center of the board when there's lots of pieces around potentially capable of threatening it is a no-no strategy, punished with negative weights that prevent chess engines from entertaining the thought- alpha zero knows no borders. Look at this position, e.g.:

It transpires that something has gone wrong for black - while its position is solid, it is left with a white-squared bishop that has no future, blocked as it is from its own central pawns. White, instead, has gotten rid of its own potentially similarly fated darksquared bishop, and enjoys more space. So what is the next move that white does here? 

Source: Science 2.0

Students and Robots, in Harmony | Inside Higher Ed - Digital Learning

"At Michigan State, some online students embody robots to populate face-to-face classrooms, helping bridge the distance gap with their on-campus counterparts" notes Mark Lieberman, Digital Learning Reporter at Inside Higher Ed.

A face-to-face student sits in a class session with her peers at a distance.
Photo: Christine Greenhow/Michigan State University 
Three years ago, Christine Greenhow, associate professor of educational psychology and educational technology at Michigan State University, attended a faculty meeting that would set her on an unexpected path. Presenters from the institution’s design studio showcased two different models of robots: a Kubi, which “looks sort of like an iPad on a neck that sits on a desk,” according to Greenhow, and a Double, which can roll around hallways.

The designers said they were employing the robots at alumni meet-up events, allowing out-of-town participants to mingle with their on-campus former peers. But Greenhow envisioned another place for the robots: in her own classroom.

Greenhow teaches doctoral courses with between 10 and 15 students -- some on campus, others participating synchronously online. For years, she struggled to bridge the “transactional distance” that remote students faced when trying to integrate into classroom discussions and activities. The robots, she thought, could solve that problem.

“If everybody felt embodied in a robot, I as the instructor would know exactly where to look. I’d look them right in the eye,” Greenhow said. “Also the ability to move -- in a videoconferencing environment, you take out a lot of these mobile cues, body language that shows attention. If both of these robots had the ability to move, maybe that would help us break down the distance that we feel.”

Greenhow has been using robots in her classes ever since. She recently published in Online Learning a study detailing her first attempt -- in spring 2015 -- integrating the devices into her classroom, revealing that online students felt more engaged when participating through the robots than when they appeared in the classroom via Zoom or another videoconference platform. The institution has since scaled up its robot inventory, purchasing 14 robots and using 15 more on loan.

“Any time you introduce a new technology, it’s fraught with anxiety. Inevitably problems happen,” Greenhow said. “Everybody has to be willing to take that risk.”

Design Studio - Video Spotlight #1, Robotic Telepresence

How It Works
To populate the robots, online students simply download free software on their personal computers and log in. They can remotely control their movements and zoom level using the arrow keys.

Greenhow says she was able to give more individual attention to students when she felt she could draw all of them into a conversation with equal success. On-campus students felt a greater sense of connection to their remote peers, she said. And online students reported feeling more engaged and less prone to distraction when using robots than when using the less advanced forms of synchronous online learning...

How They Got There
Greenhow said she was nervous to get acquainted with the robots on her own -- but she had help from one of the institution’s “tech navigators,” who sat in on classroom sessions and performed on-the-spot troubleshooting.

John Bell, professor of educational technology and director of the institution’s Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education/College of Education Design Studio, oversees those tech navigators. His team purchased two robots for Michigan State on a whim after a previous project came in under budget. Early responses from students used words like “transformative,” convincing Bell that they merited further exploration.
Read more... 

Source: Inside Higher Ed and DesignStudio MSU Channel (YouTube)

Learn To Build Your Own Neural Networks With This Training Bundle | Interesting Engineering - Innovation - AI

This is a promotional article about one of the company partners with Interesting Engineering. By shopping with us, you not only get the materials you need, but you’re also supporting our website.
IE Shop, The Interesting Engineering Shop features exclusive offers on the latest gadgets, software, and online courses hand-picked for Interesting Engineering readers inform, "Use TensorFlow and Theano to get a firm understanding of deep learning and artificial intelligence."

Photo: Pixabay

Science fiction movies seem to have done Artificial Intelligence (AI) a bit of a disservice. Due to decades of popular yet farfetched sci-fi releases, when most people think of AI, they think only of evil robots taking over the planet, or perhaps friendlier (but still evil, maybe?) robots along the lines of the robot-woman in Ex Machina.
In many ways, however, real-life artificial intelligence has become more interesting than in the movies, with self-driving cars redefining transportation, quantum computing reshaping how we work with large sets of data, and medical robots performing some of the most advanced surgeries known to man with astounding precision.
Indeed, the future of technology in many ways belongs to AI. This means that the most exciting and important careers of the future will belong to those who possess a solid understanding of both deep learning and artificial intelligence principles. The Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence Introductory Bundle breaks down some of the more fascinating topics in these fields into easy-to-understand and entertaining lessons, and it’s on sale for just $39.

The first course in this bundle kicks off your education in this exciting field by giving you a deep understanding of probability theory—one of the most fundamental elements of deep learning and AI, since it allows for complex and accurate predictions to be made. You’ll learn about everything from Moore’s Law and linear regression to large-scale data analysis and beyond.Read more...
Source: Interesting Engineering

How machine learning engineers can detect and debug algorithmic bias | Boing Boing

Follow on Twitter as @doctorow"Ben Lorica, O'Reilly's chief data scientist, has posted slides and notes from his talk at last December's Strata Data Conference in Singapore, "We need to build machine learning tools to augment machine learning engineers."" notes Cory Doctorow, Writer, blogger, activist.

Photo: Boing Boing
Lorica describes a new job emerging in IT departments: "machine learning engineers," whose job is to adapt machine learning models for production environments. These new engineers run the risk of embedding algorithmic bias into their systems, which unfairly discriminate, create liability, and reduces the quality of the recommendations the systems produce. 

He presents a set of technical and procedural steps to take to minimize these risks, with links to the relevant papers and code. It's really required reading for anyone implementing a machine learning system in a production environment. 

We need to build machine learning tools to augment machine learning engineers [Ben Lorica/O'Reilly]
(via 4 Short Links)

Source: Boing Boing

Seven Ways Cybercriminals Can Use Machine Learning | Forbes - Technology

"AI has given cybercriminals new ways to steal information, but there are things you can do to prevent it" reports Alexander Polyakov, CTO and Co-Founder at ERPScan. President of EAS-SEC. SAP cybersecurity evangelist. 

Photo: Shutterstock
Ben Gurion, the main international airport in Israel, is one of the most protected airports in the world. It is known for its multilayered security. On the way from the office to the airport, you get caught in the lens of airport cameras. The road curves several kilometers to the terminal, and when you are driving, the security system has enough time to analyze your identity. In case of any signs of danger, you will be intercepted. The system of behavior anomalies analysis in computer systems works the same way. The implementation of these systems is effective in defense. While a perpetrator is running certain commands, an AI-based system can stave off any damage, having identified an intrusion.

AI deployment is not so rosy in the world of cybersecurity. Hackers move forward and adopt it as well. The U.S. intelligence community reports that artificial intelligence actually works in cybercriminals' favor.

Let's go over a few areas for hackers deploying machine learning and find out which cybersecurity measures should be taken.

Data Gathering

Every single breach starts with data gathering. Hackers maximize the chances of success by gaining more information. They classify users and select a potential victim thoroughly using several classification and clustering methods. This task can be automated.
How can you protect yourself from being their victim? It goes without saying that your personal information must not be available in open sources, so you should not publish an awful lot of information about yourself on social networks.

Neural networks can be trained to create spams that resemble a real email. However, in order for this to work, it is better to know the sender’s behavior. This can be achieved through network phishing that provides hackers with easy access to personal information. Research from BlackHat about automated spearphishing on Twitter proves this idea. This tool can increase the success of phishing campaigns up to 30% -- which is twice as much as traditional automation and similar to manual phishing.

How can you protect yourself from phishing? You could just mail a question to a sender. Hackers have become savvier, however, and can analyze your message and respond appropriately so that you are sure that the account is not compromised. Nowadays systems are not complicated but it will not be long before smart chat bots communicate with you like your friends do.

The most actionable recommendation is to ask the user through other channels and messengers if he or she sent the message. There is little chance that several of his or her accounts are compromised at once...

The ideas above are only some examples of the ways hackers can use machine learning.

Aside from using more secure passwords and being more careful while following third-party websites, I can only advise paying attention to security systems based on AI in order to be ahead of perpetrators. A year or two ago, everyone had a skeptical attitude toward the use of artificial intelligence. Today’s research findings and its implementation in products prove that AI actually works, and it's here to stay.

Source: Forbes 

Artificial intelligence can ‘evolve’ to solve problems | Science Magazine

Photo: Matthew Hutson"Neural networks are using one more trick from nature" says Matthew Hutson, freelance science journalist in New York City.  

Snippet: AI controlled walking success 

Many great ideas in artificial intelligence languish in textbooks for decades because we don’t have the computational power to apply them. That’s what happened with neural networks, a technique inspired by our brains’ wiring that has recently succeeded in translating languages and driving cars. Now, another old idea—improving neural networks not through teaching, but through evolution—is revealing its potential. Five new papers from Uber in San Francisco, California, demonstrate the power of so-called neuroevolution to play video games, solve mazes, and even make a simulated robot walk.

Neuroevolution, a process of mutating and selecting the best neural networks, has previously led to networks that can compose music, control robots, and play the video game Super Mario World. But these were mostly simple neural nets that performed relatively easy tasks or relied on programming tricks to simplify the problems they were trying to solve. “The new results show that—surprisingly—you may actually not need any tricks at all,” says Kenneth Stanley, a computer scientist at Uber and a co-author on all five studies. “That means that complex problems requiring a large network are now accessible to neuroevolution, vastly expanding its potential scope of application.”

At Uber, such applications might include driving autonomous cars, setting customer prices, or routing vehicles to passengers. But the team, part of a broad research effort, had no specific uses in mind when doing the work. In part, they merely wanted to challenge what Jeff Clune, another Uber co-author, calls “the modern darlings” of machine learning: algorithms that use something called “gradient descent,” a system that gradually improves a solution by reducing its error. Nearly all methods of training neural networks to perform tasks rely on gradient descent.

The most novel Uber paper uses a completely different approach that tries many solutions at once. A large collection of randomly programmed neural networks is tested (on, say, an Atari game), and the best are copied, with slight random mutations, replacing the previous generation. The new networks play the game, the best are copied and mutated, and so on for several generations. The advantage of this method over gradient descent is that it tries a variety of strategies instead of putting all its effort into perfecting a single solution. When compared with two of the most widely used methods for training neural networks, this exploratory approach outscored them on five of 13 Atari games. It also managed to teach a virtual humanoid robot to walk, developing a neural network a hundred times larger than any previously developed through neuroevolution to control a robot.
Read more... 

Related link 

Source: Science Magazine and Science Magazine Channel (YouTube)

The AI glossary: 5 artificial intelligence terms you need to know | TechRadar - AI Week

TechRadar's AI Week is brought to you in association with Honor.
"Get your terms straight" continues TechRadar.

Photo: TechRadar - AI Week
Artificial intelligence is fast encroaching into every area of our digital lives, picking the social media stories we see, identifying our friends and pets in photos, and even making sure we avoid accidents on the road. If you want to understand AI though, you need to start with the terms underpinning it.

And so we present the TechRadar glossary of AI: five of the key words and phrases you'll want to know to get a hold on this ever-improving tech – and to keep up your end of the conversation the next time the topic crops up around the dinner table.

First, though, a disclaimer – not everyone agrees on the exact definition of some of these words, so you might see them used differently elsewhere on the web. Wherever possible we've tried to stick to the most commonly used definitions, but with such a fast-growing and new technology, there are always going to be discrepancies.
1. Algorithms 
Ah, the famous (or infamous) algorithm. Algorithms are sets of rules that computer programs can follow, so if one of your best friends posts a photo of you on Facebook, then the rules say that should go up at the top of your News Feed. Or if you need to get from A to B on Google Maps, an algorithm can help you work out the fastest route...

2. Artificial intelligence 
Just what is artificial intelligence anyway? Definitions differ depending on who you ask, but in the broadest sense it's any kind of intelligence that has been artificially created. Obviously.

So when Siri replies to you like a real human being, that's artificial intelligence. And when Google Photos seems to know what a cat looks like, that's artificial intelligence too. And Anthony Daniels hiding inside his C-3PO suit is artificial intelligence as well, in a way – the illusion of a talking, thinking robot which is actually controlled by a human.
Read more... 

Source: TechRadar

NUC approves LASU open and distance learning and research institute | Vanguard - Education

"THE National Universities Commission, NUC, has approved the establishment of the Lagos State University, LASU, Open and Distance Learning and Research Institute, ODLRI" inform Vanguard.

Photo: Lagos State University, LASULASU

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/01/nuc-approves-lasu-distance-learning-research-institute/  The approval came after a recent visit by the universities’ regulatory body to assess facilities of the institute at the Main Campus of the University in Ojo.

The ODLRI was established by the Prof. Olanrewaju Adigun Fagbohun-led administration to replace the now rested LASU External System, LASUES, and provide opportunity for millions of knowledge seekers who are desirous of pursuing their first degrees in the university, but are unable to gain admission into the regular programmes. The ODLRI Board is headed by renowned academic and former Executive Secretary, NUC, Professor Peter Okebukola. 

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Fagbohun, while receiving the NUC team on their assessment visit, had assured the Executive Secretary, NUC, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, that LASU-ODLRI will be the gold standard in the delivery of quality university education in Africa through the Open and Distance Learning delivery platform. The approved take-off programme is the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. 

LASU-ODLRI has several unique features. Course contents are pitched above NUC minimum standards with slant on 21-Century skills especially critical thinking, teamwork, entrepreneurship and digital literacy. It will be delivered on a learner-friendly, easy-to-navigate e-learning platform with 24-hour learner support. It will apply global best practices in Open and Distance learning delivery.
Read more... 

Source: Vanguard

Is Personalized Learning the Next Big Thing in K-12 Philanthropy? | Inside Philanthropy - Education

Photo: Caitlin Reilly"Tech funders like CZI have led the way in backing personalized learning lately, but other foundations are also on board. We take a deep dive into what's happening in this fast evolving grantmaking space" says , Staff Writer at Inside Philanthropy.

Photo: Monkey Business Images/shutterstock
A former senior program officer at the Gates Foundation has noticed something changing when people talk about personalized learning.

“A lot of the conversation would be about why. Why do you need personalized learning? Why is it a good innovation and direction we should be going in?” Helayne Jones said. “And now, you’re not hearing the questions about why. You’re hearing the questions about how.”

“I think most national funders working on K-12 are looking to make personalized learning investments in a variety of ways,” Jones said.

Personalized learning grabbed headlines last year with several big gifts from Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s philanthropic outfit. Jones now works as a consultant to New Profit, a nonprofit accelerator that received one of those big gifts, for $13 million, from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Gates Foundation. In turn, these funds are being dispersed to groups working at the forefront of personalized learning. 

CZI escalated its personalized learning work after bringing Jim Shelton on board. Shelton is a former deputy secretary of education and previously worked for the Gates Foundation.

CZI funded several personalized learning projects in 2017. It helped fund Rhode Island’s move to bring personalized learning to classrooms statewide. CZI made donations of undisclosed amounts to Chiefs for Change, which works with a network of districts across the country, and the College Board, as we reported. CZI is also promoting a free personalized learning tool, the Summit Learning Platform, a project that began at Facebook in partnership with Summit Learning, and is now a centerpiece of CZI's work in this space. 

While personalized learning’s rise is undeniable, defining it is trickier. Generally speaking, the term refers to tailoring instruction to students’ needs, but in practice, it can take a wide range of forms. 

“Personalized learning is not particularly well-defined. There’s no definition that’s coalesced yet within the space,” said Elisabeth Stock, CEO of PowerMyLearning. “And so everyone is doing different things that they are calling personalized learning. There's no definitive answer,” Stock said.

The national nonprofit partners with schools and districts in under-resourced communities to help them implement personalized learning. PowerMyLearning is among the groups that landed recent funding from New Profit. It's also received grants in recent years from a wide range of other funders, including the Carnegie Corporation, the Broad Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and a number of corporations. 

A classroom following PowerMyLearning’s model has multiple stations where students engage in different modalities of learning. For example, Stock said, for a lesson on probability, a teacher may lead a mini-lesson on the topic in part of the classroom, while at another station, students work together on an activity rolling dice. At a third station, students do independent work while logged onto PowerMyLearning’s collaborative platform.

In a PowerMyLearning classroom, there would also be periodic homework assignments designed to engage families in their children’s learning, but that is not necessarily a characteristic of personalized learning.

The third station, the collaborative platform, is the biggest reason we’ve been hearing so much about personalized learning lately.  

Personalized learning doesn’t necessarily have to include technology. Tailoring instruction to student needs is an idea that has been around for a while. The research to back it up dates back to 1980, with work led by Benjamin Bloom, a professor at the University of Chicago. The practice, arguably, goes back further than that to Maria Montessori’s work in the early 1900s.

However, practitioners and funders say new technology has made it easier to put personalized learning into practice.  

Beth Rabbitt, the CEO of Learning Accelerator, an organization that supports implementation of blended learning in schools, has observed this in her work.

“Personalized learning for every student, every day is a really tough load for teachers,” Rabbitt said. 

“I think the places where technology has the most potential as it relates to personalized learning is helping teachers and students do what they’ve been trying to do, but haven’t been able to actually do without new resources and tools.”

Jones reported a similar sentiment: “Teachers would just say to me, ‘Personalized learning allows me to be the teacher I’ve always wanted to be.”

“When you have 30 students in a classroom, you desire to be able to know each student personally, and understand their learning style, and really meet their needs. The reality is that that has been very difficult to do at the individual level,” Jones said...

The field has especially caught the eye of Silicon Valley donors, perhaps unsurprisingly, given the discipline’s new emphasis on technology. As we've reported, the Khan Academy—which offers "personalized learning resources for all ages"—has attracted funding from a number of tech winners, including John Doerr, Reed Hastings, Scott Cook, and the Gates Foundation. We've also written about the CK-12 Foundation, co-founded by Neeru Kholsa, wife of billionaire Vinod Khosla, and bankrolled by the couple's Amar Foundation. Its educational tech tools are currently used by thousands of schools in the U.S. and a growing number of international schools. In addition, personalized learning has received attention from the Emerson Collective, the philanthropic organization of Laurene Powell Jobs.

Source: Inside Philanthropy

Four Tools That Take Blended Learning to the Next Level by Alec Sears | eSchool News

Here are the characteristics of effective blended-learning tools. 

Photo: eSchool News
In any rush of new technology there comes fresh opportunities for learning and growth that were never possible before. We’ve seen this in the past two decades with blended learning, which combines digital media with traditional classroom methods to engage students like never before.

In all of the excitement to use technology, however, the real purpose of blended learning is often lost. Collaborating on a Google Doc is fun and convenient, but blended learning should be more than that.

Effective blended-learning tools should share a few key characteristics that distinguish them from tools that are simply digital in nature. Before implementing a tool, ask yourself these three questions:

1. How does this tool help students learn in personalized ways that are not possible in a traditional classroom alone?
2. How does this tool empower students to take their education into their own hands?
3. How does this tool tap into the collective knowledge of the global community?

For those who are seeking new ways to use technology in the classroom, here are four tools that take blended learning to the next level.
Read more... 

Source: eSchool News

'It's hard to be what you can't see' | Madison.com - University News

"UW-Madison has built a supportive community for women studying in STEM fields" summarizes Pat Schneider, Writer for the Capital Times. 

Participants in UW-Madison’s Women in Science and Engineering learning community board a bus at Elizabeth Waters Residence Hall for an October field trip to the headquarters of Epic Systems in Verona.
Photo: Michelle Stocker
The dining hall in the Carson Gulley Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus was dressed for dinner, complete with white tablecloths. Along with an Asian-inspired buffet, networking was on the menu.Scores of students, all women, gathered at the tables and chatted about their classes as female professors found their places among them.
The weekly seminar of the Women In Science and Engineering learning community gives female undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering and math a chance to meet women succeeding in STEM in a low-key setting.

There’s dinner table conversation, introduction of faculty guests — women who describe their research and announce opportunities for undergrads to work for them — and a presentation by a woman working in STEM.
Along with reassurances that the feeling of not belonging is widely shared among this crowd, sometimes there’s a glimpse of the fire that fuels breakthroughs.
As UW-Madison, like colleges across the country, strives to attract women to study, and pursue careers in STEM fields, research is sending conflicting signals on what works. Nevertheless, women say, they can flourish with the support of one another.
Trina McMahon, an engineering professor who studies aquatic ecology, was the evening’s presenter. She recalled that as a student her passion carried her through setbacks.
“Certainly there were times I came home sobbing, because my experiment was such a failure. But it was the one thing I wanted to do — I didn’t care if it made me miserable,” McMahon said.
Students in WISE say the assistance and moral support provided by the community help them stay the course.
“I don’t know if I would have stuck with it without it,” said Julia Loosen, a senior and WISE program assistant.
“You meet a woman doing research that’s highly interesting and you think: ‘What can I do to get there?’ Two years later you might be working for her,” said Marie Aguirre, a sophomore majoring in applied mathematics.

The proportion of women in STEM, at UW-Madison and nationally, ranges widely from majors that are strongly male-dominated to those where women are in the majority.
Computer science and engineering, for example, are fields where women are pretty scarce. Among UW-Madison bachelor’s degree recipients in computer science in 2015-2016, 13 percent were women. That compares to 19 percent nationally. In engineering, 21 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients that year were women, at UW-Madison and nationally.
Other disciplines are less disproportionate, but still have significantly fewer women than men. For example, 33 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients in physical sciences like chemistry and physics were female at UW-Madison in 2015-2016, compared to 39 percent nationally. In mathematics, it was 37 percent female at UW and 42 percent nationally.
But in biological and agricultural sciences, women are the majority. Sixty percent of bachelor’s recipients in the country in 2015-16 were female, 57 percent at UW-Madison. In social sciences and psychology, 63 percent of graduates, nationally, were women compared to 49 percent at UW-Madison...
Diversity is a top priority at UW-Madison’s Department of Computer Sciences, said professor Michael Swift, who has long worked on such efforts.
“It’s a very pressing issue. We don’t know quite what to do,” Swift said.Introducing more female students to computer science is important all around, he said.
“We feel there is a large population of people who would benefit from learning computer science that we are not reaching,” Swift said. “We like to teach and work with the best students — and we’re not getting all the best and brightest now by not getting many women.”...

UW-Madison’s College of Engineering began to see an increase in women students several years ago, when it followed the lead of competing institutions and changed its policy to allow freshmen to enroll in the school as majors, said Manuela Romero, associate dean for undergraduate affairs.

“It takes away the uncertainty,” Romero said. “It’s been a big recruitment tool for us.”
To support women and other students who are underrepresented in engineering, the Leaders in Engineering Excellence and Diversity program provides peer mentoring and a community of support, Romero said.
The college worked hard over the last decade to change the attitude toward tutoring, so students who most needed help would not feel stigmatized. Such cooperative learning is a key skill for future engineers.

“There is no such thing as the ‘lone engineer.’ Engineers always work through problems in groups,” Romero said.
As in computer science, there have been efforts to change the image of engineering, she said. “We talk about women in engineering, we talk about the impact of women on the engineering profession, we talk about how engineering can also be a helping profession. 

We want young women to be able to see themselves.”
The college also has developed pipeline programs to attract women and other underrepresented students to engineering. Camp Badger brings middle school students to campus for a weeklong residential program. Engineering Summer Camp is a six-week program for high school juniors and seniors.Read more... 

Source: Madison.com

It's elementary: primary pupils explore the science of life | Independent.ie - Going to College

Photo: Katherine DonnellyAn annual science fair for fourth to sixth classes has almost quadrupled in size, writes Katherine Donnelly, Correspondent at Irish Independent.

Molly Smith, Sheelagh O’Donovan and India Spillane from OurLady of Mercy NS Bantry, Co Cork, working on their Pendulums: Time Flies! project.
Photo: Emma Jervis Photography
Does the weight of a hurley impact the length of the strike?
Sixth-class pupils in a Co Galway national school have worked out the answer to what must be one of the most pressing questions in the county that carried off the honours in last year's All-Ireland hurling final, after a 29-year famine.
Generously, the pupils of Scoil Éanna, Bullaun, Loughrea, will share their findings at the annual RDS Primary Science Fair (PSF).

About 3,000 children will exhibit at the first leg of the fair in Dublin's RDS, from tomorrow until Saturday, coinciding with the annual BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE), for second-level schools.
The PSF will also be hosted at two other venues, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick (Bullaun NS pupils will be among more than 3,000 participating there on January 18-20), and Belfast, in June.

The fair has grown hugely since its inaugural year, 2010, when 82 schools and 1,900 students exhibited at a single event at the RDS. This year, across the three fairs, 290 schools and 7,250 students are involved.
The PSF has been independently cited as a potential global benchmark for similar initiatives. International studies have shown links between primary school science engagement and later academic science achievement.

RDS chief executive Michael Duffy says that feedback from the PSF shows that participants' science and maths skills improve, as does their confidence, teamwork and social skills.The fair proves the appetite for science among primary pupils, despite it being somewhat of a Cinderella subject in Irish primary education.

The time devoted to it is less than half the international average, and research shows that a large proportion of teachers are not comfortable with teaching it. A review of the time allocation for subjects in the primary curriculum currently underway the National Council or Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) may lead to changes however.

For this year's fair, curious pupils sought out answers to questions like 'Can we get balloons to lift us off the ground?' and 'Why do onions make us cry?'. This is the fourth year that Bullaun NS has been involved, and teacher and STEM co-ordinator, Gemma Dolan says as this year's sixth class is particularly interested in hurling, they decided to explore how the weight of the stick might influence the game.

Source: Independent.ie

Technical writing opens literacy learning opportunities in computer science | Education Dive

Dive Brief:
  • Milwaukee-based instructional coach and reading specialist Peg Grafwallner writes for Edutopia that recognizing the importance of literacy in all subjects beyond just English and the humanities is critical — even in computer science.
  • Working with her school's computer science teacher, Grafwallner developed a lesson focused on computational literacy and the importance of verbs in programming instructions.
  • Students were asked to highlight "direction words" on sheets of programming instruction handouts, discuss their purpose while considering their thought processes, and take note of words they couldn't figure out based on context.
Dive Insight: 
"Focusing on computational literacy and the importance of verbs in programming can help educators strengthen coding instruction and literacy skills" continues Education Dive.

Photo: U.S. Department of Education Flickr Essentially, the assignment described by Grafwallner is one centered on technical writing, as opposed to the creative or academic counterparts students usually encounter during their educations. The growing focus on literacy nationwide in recent years, especially under newer standards like the Common Core — as well as a growing need for more robust STEM education — has led to a greater awareness of opportunities to tie literacy learning into the sciences, where technical writing is much more prominent than other subjects. 

Exposure to and practice in technical writing can also help students better understand a concept by explaining it to a peer, providing more than just another hard skill by helping to communicate ideas in a collaborative manner. In the long run, exposure to a wide variety of literature — whether creative, academic, business or technical — is a career-readiness necessity regardless of any potential field of interest. 

Recommended Reading: 

Photo: ©Gable Denims/500px
Encoding Literacy in Computer Science by Peg Grafwallner, Instructional Coach/Reading Specialist.
"An instructional coach shares how she and a fellow teacher embedded literacy lessons in his computer science class."

Source: Education Dive

The AI World Will Listen to These Women in 2018 | MIT Technology Review - Intelligent Machines

Photo: Jackie Snow Jackie Snow,  MIT Technology Review’s associate editor for artificial intelligence insist, "There’s a long way to go toward gender equality in the field, but women are taking on more prominent positions."

Photo: AI4ALL | Lauren Yang
Let’s make one thing clear: one year isn’t going to fix decades of gender discrimination in computer science and all the problems associated with it. Recent diversity reports show that women still make up only 20 percent of engineers at Google and Facebook, and an even lower proportion at Uber. But after the parade of awful news about the treatment of female engineers in 2017—sexual harassment in Silicon Valley and a Google engineer sending out a memo to his coworkers arguing that women are biologically less adept at programming, just to name a couple—there is actually reason to believe that things are looking up for 2018, especially when it comes to AI.

At first glance, AI would seem among least likely areas of programming to be friendly to women. Writing in Fast Company recently, Hanna Wallach, an AI researcher and cofounder of the Women in Machine Learning Conference, said that only 13.5 percent of those working in machine learning are female. In the midst of the #MeToo movement, researchers in artificial intelligence also dealt with sexual harassment allegations, as well as complaints that inappropriate jokes were made at a parties around NIPS, a major industry conference.

But three major new AI policy and advocacy groups have popped up lately, with big-time industry backing and lofty goals for changing the way AI is designed and implemented—and all are headed by women.

Partnership for AI, a consortium made up of heavy hitters like Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft, just hired Terah Lyons as executive director. Lyons was formerly policy advisor to the U.S. chief technology officer at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), where she was behind the Obama administration’s deep dive into AI’s potential to change the world.

The goal of Partnership for AI is to “advance public understanding of artificial intelligence technologies (AI) and formulate best practices on the challenges and opportunities within the field.” With funding from some of the biggest tech firms in the world, it’s poised to help shape policy and thinking around AI at the federal level.

Meanwhile, AI Now, a research institute at NYU, was officially launched this fall by Kate Crawford, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, and Meredith Whittaker, a founder of Google Open Research. One of the group’s main focuses is to ensure that the engineers making AI algorithms are working closely with the people who will use them. In the case of a medical application, for example, they want to make sure that doctors are consulted as part of the research. This kind of work will help point AI toward tackling the kinds of problems that actually need solving, as opposed to only the problems that a computer programmer thinks to work on.

Source: MIT Technology Review 

10 Machine Learning Startups to Watch | Datamation - Applications

"Artificial intelligence (AI) looks likely to be one of the most influential technology trends for 2018. And machine learning is poised to be one of the most aspects of AI that enterprises will need to master" continues Datamation.

10 Machine Learning Startups to Watch
These startups are applying artificial intelligence techniques to business intelligence, big data, cybersecurity, APM, autonomous vehicles, healthcare and more.
Photo: Pixabay
According to the latest forecast from IDC worldwide spending on cognitive and AI solutions, include machine learning solutions, is likely to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 50.1 percent from 2016 to 2021. In 2017, total revenue in the market was $12.0 billion, 59.1 percent higher than in 2016. By 2021, the analysts predict that revenues could hit $57.6 billion.

Large technology companies like IBM, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, Salesforce and Amazon have been investing heavily in AI and machine learning. They each have armies of researchers devoted to advancing machine learning capabilities, and they are also acquiring machine learning startups at a frantic pace.

For example, in 2017, Google bought machine learning competition platform Kaggle and India-based Halli Labs, which made machine learning to fix "old problems." Microsoft acquired Maluuba, which had impressive deep learning and reinforcement learning capabilities. Apple snapped up Lattice Data, which used machine learning to make unstructured data more structured, and Amazon reportedly purchased cybersecurity-focused machine learning startup Harvest.ai. And that's just a handful of the biggest machine learning acquisitions of the year.

With more software vendors and enterprises looking to add machine learning capabilities to their applications in 2018, the startup buying spree will almost certainly continue. And entrepreneurs continue to found new machine learning startups at a very rapid rate.

Which of these machine learning startups look the most promising? Here are ten that seem particularly noteworthy and worth watching in 2018.

Source: Datamation

Artificial Intelligence Apocalypse: Scientists Simulate Superintelligence in Video Game and the AI Takes Over | Newsweek - Tech & Science

"Scientists simulate what the introduction of advanced artificial intelligence into society would look like" inform Anthony Cuthbertson, staff writer at Newsweek, based in London.
The superintelligence modification to the "Civilization" game imagines what it would be like if an advanced AI was introduced to society.
The rise of powerful artificial intelligence, professor Stephen Hawking once warned, will be “either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity.” Unfortunately, by the time we find out which, it may already be too late—but a new video game simulation may offer clues as to what we might expect.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk have built a "Superintelligence" modification for the classic strategy game Civilization 5 that envisions a scenario in which a smarter-than-human AI is introduced to society.

One outcome offers a dire prophecy of the demise of humanity, achieving the game’s aim of helping players better understand the existential threat posed by advanced artificial intelligence.

“Artificial intelligence can initially provide some benefits, and eventually can turn into superintelligence that brings mastery of science to its discoverer,” the researchers write in the add-on’s description.

“However, if too much artificial intelligence research goes uncontrolled, rogue superintelligence can destroy humanity and bring an instant loss of the game.”

In this scenario, a message appears in the game that reads: “A device for creating utopia on Earth has been discovered, and your civilization was not the one to discover it. Future generations will live in a perfect world, but someone else’s perfect world, as your civilization lies forgotten in the ancient books of history.”

Steam/ Civilization
It is not the first video game to imagine the detrimental consequences of a rogue AI, with a game reenacting a well-known AI thought experiment going viral in October last year.

The game Paperclips explored the parable of an AI programmed to manufacture paperclips, first described by the philosopher Nick Bostrom in a 2003 paper exploring ethical issues in advanced artificial intelligence.

While the goal of the AI is simple, if it is not programmed to value human life then it could eventually gather all matter in the universe—including human beings—in order to create more paperclips.

Both games highlight the fear that a machine smarter than humans will be impossible to switch off. At a conference in 2015, Bostrom hypothesized why neanderthals didn’t wipe out humans when they had the chance to avoid being taken over as the dominant species on the planet.

“They certainly had reasons,” Bostrom said in his TED (technology, entertainment and design) talk. “The reason is that we are an intelligent adversary. We can anticipate threats and plan around them. But so could a super intelligent agent and it would be much better at that than we are.”
Read more... 

Source: Newsweek  

Would Artificial Intelligence Guide Education or Grab It? | American Spectator

America’s educationists seem to be getting carried away, one fears.
Photo: Robert HollandWhat is artificial intelligence (AI), and should we welcome it as a major force in education and other areas of our lives? says Robert Holland, senior fellow for education policy with The Heartland Institute.

Photo: American Spectator
Closing out 2017, Education Week published essays written by futurists that seemed to give a big “yes” to the second part of that question.
The Encyclopedia Britannica explains AI is, at least in part, “the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience.”

That’s heavy stuff! Machines that think with us, do our thinking for us, or even are flat-out as smart as us. Does advanced AI bode well for civilization?

One of the EdWeek essayists, Arizona State University futurist Michael Bennett, presents vignettes of a “plausible near future” in which a 5th-grader’s virtual mentor has monitored her “cognitive and emotional development since shortly after her conception.” Thus, on a snowy day, “Maestro” guides the child to a favorite storybook, “having determined the intervention will induce an optimal psychological state for the school day’s lessons.”

“As a society, we must get used to the concept of ‘technological legislation,’ the notion that widely distributed technological systems and devices often govern our lives more effectively than local, state, or federal laws,” Bennett added.

Wow! So I guess this means it’s off to the scrapheap for school boards, PTAs, representative governments, and potentially even the Bill of Rights, which has protected Americans’ individual liberties for more than two centuries. According to some, people should just trust everything, our children included, to High Tech.

Strangely, none of EdWeek’s cosmic thinkers explored the possible downsides of dominant AI. Indeed, the featured backpage author, Harvard’s Christopher Dede, argued today’s students must continually “unlearn the old ways” while learning to use digital tools and media to prepare for “a lifetime of amplified collaborative intelligence.”

Although the EdWeek writers seemed all too willing to embrace AI’s control of our lives, it is reassuring to know that there are some very smart people, one of them being famed British physicist Stephen Hawking, who believe that developing artificial intelligence to the max could have dire consequences. Currently, we mostly have a narrow, weak form of AI that’s designed to perform specific tasks, such as an Internet search or driving a car. However, as Hawking made clear, a strong or generalized AI conceivably could go beyond assigned tasks and outperform humans in just about every cognitive realm...

...AI devices might help tutor pupils who have fallen behind in reading and math. It is hard for teachers to do catch-up instruction while keeping the class as a whole on schedule, and there are rarely enough trained tutors to go around. Thus, AI devices might be useful in bringing algorithms for improving literacy to bear in working with kids when teachers cannot.

Source: American Spectator

Artificial intelligence proves major time savings for federal employees | FederalNewsRadio.com - Technology

Photo: Jory Heckman"Federal agencies are embracing the idea of artificial intelligence, and in test cases, adopting machine learning has cut down on some of the tedious aspects of working with government data" notes Jory Heckman, reporter at Federal News Radio since January 2018. 
Photo: FederalNewsRadio.com
The phrase “artificial intelligence” can stir up a lot of panic at some federal agencies, and can give rise to the idea of intelligent machines putting some employees out of work.

However, some federal agencies are embracing the idea of artificial intelligence, and in those test cases, adopting machine learning comes down to a few key strategies like starting small and managing expectations.

While AI isn’t a panacea for every big-data problem in government, agency leaders say they see value in using machine learning to handle the most tedious aspects of handling data, which frees up human operators to address more mission-critical issues.

“Artificial intelligence is an imperative. It’s not something that’s nice to have, or something that we should consider at some point,” Teresa Smetzer, the director of digital futures at the Central Intelligence Agency said Tuesday during an event sponsored by Partnership for Public Service and the IBM Center for the Business of Government. “We have an enormous exponential growth in the amount of data, the variety of data, the velocity of data, and our nation’s security really depends on our ability to quickly understand what data we have, what it means and how we’re going to use it.”

While still in its early stages, artificial intelligence has received lots of buy-in from the private sector and the academic world. But Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), a co-founder of the Artificial Intelligence Caucus on Capitol Hill, said the conversation around AI has not yet addressed the implications for lawmakers and the federal government.

“AI has the ability to provide lawmakers like me with up-to-date information, leading to better-informed decisions. And since AI never, ever forgets, its constant review of the effectiveness of policy gives lawmakers and government officials the opportunity to be proactive and address issues as they first crop up, and not wait to deal with them years and years later, when the problems get much, much, much bigger,” Olson said.

The key to going forward with new developments with AI, Olson said, includes protecting the privacy of individuals’ personal information in databases and educating the workforce to view artificial intelligence as a tool, and not as a competitor.

Mallory Barg Bulman, the vice president of research and evaluation at the Partnership for Public Service, said the rise of AI comes at a time when agencies face new technology-driven challenges, but haven’t received new funds or manpower to address them.
“We’re at a time in government where we’re not able to do more, with more,” Bulman said. 

“We’re really trying to look for that Option C. What is that other option? What is the way to do things differently to achieve critical outcomes?”

Source: FederalNewsRadio.com