Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Is blogger a jounalist

From WebProNews
In 2004, Apply took the following actions towards Mac fan sites AppleInsider and PowerPage when they reported the technological details about a product codenamed "Asteroid."

Apple sought the identity of the sources who leaked the information by filing suit against the bloggers, and subpoenaed their email records from email service provider The company claimed that the reports violated California's trade secret laws.

As a result, a Santa Clara County court ordered Apple to pay the legal fees ($700,000) of their opponent this month, a development considered "a large moral victory for bloggers".

WebProNews asks the following questions, which no doubt have been in a lot of bloggers mind for a long time:

Do bloggers qualify as journalists? Can blogs be considered news sites? Does a private company have the right to suspend the protection of journalistic sources guaranteed by the First Amendment?

The situation is still inconclusive. But it seems to be step in the right direction.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

2006 Generation Next Study

This recent 45-page report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press offers a portrait of the so-called “Generation Next”, which applies to those young persons between the ages of 18-25. Based on phone interviews conducted in late 2006 where Pew researchers spoke to approximately 1500 individuals, this report asked participants about their political beliefs, their use of technology as a form of social communication, and their thoughts on immigrants.

I have captured a summary of the statistic on the left.

International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

An electronic publication, twice annually by Center for Excellence in Teaching at Georgia Southern University.

As a way to learn about various perspectives on teaching and learning, it will be greatly appreciated by educational theorists and practitioners. Visitors to the site can learn how to submit manuscripts, learn about the review process, and read details about the editorial review board. Some of their recent articles include “Dialogic Communication in Collaborative Problem Solving Groups” and “What’s It Really All About? The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning as an Authentic Practice.”

Monday, 29 January 2007

Ethics Challenges & Information

David Warlick posted the following questions to his readers and then posted his own response.

"What is your greatest challenge in teaching appropriate, ethical use of web-based media to your students?”

I totally agree with the opening of his response: Content is becoming increasingly networked, digital, overwhelming. Perhaps even more crucial to this discussion is the fact that information has become nearly impossible to contain. There is a critical difference between information and material goods. Information is information is information. Information itself needs a media before it can be manifested. The incremental cost of producing extra copies of the information is decreasing rapidly. Information cannot exist without a media. (Here, media refers NOT to the paper or the plastic of the CD. Media here refers to the community-built system of symbols that the information is used.)

One moral question which we, perhaps most teachers included, has to struggle with - and we can see lots of such discussion especially related to the notion "information wants to be free" - is the concept of Intellectual Property. Is information a property that one can own and hence can demand exclusivity of that property? How and what is the harm to the owner if someone else also enjoys an extra copy of the same information? More fundamentally, should there be an owner of information?

I am writing this post, so common law asserts that I own the copyright of this post. Let say I try to lock away this post so that you are NOT allowed to quote, copy etc... any of this post. So from now on, you are NOT allowed to use any alphabets that I have used in this post without my permission. (Ooops, I did not use the letter z, so you may use it. But now you can't because I have just used it!)

You might say, "No, copyright does not apply to the components of your post. You only have the copyright of your whole piece - the part that is original!"

OK, in fact I used the alphabets which already existed! The alphabets are not my original ideas and hence I cannot restrict others to use them. But is there ANY original idea here? I recycled words. If I have invented all new words in create this post, it will make no sense to you (because you won't know any of the invented words) and hence defeat the purpose of writing this post to communication. So does arranging words constitute originality? In fact, how many new arrangements of words are here? Probably not much, if any!

Strictly speaking, I cannot own any of this post! There is just no "original" parts here.

"I did work in writing this post and if you are enjoying my writing, should I be rewarded?", some may argue.

Right! If I don't want you to read this, I should NOT have published it in the first place. Now thst I have published it, I am demanding reward from you. I am enjoying multiple rewards - the joy of writing and joy of having a readership. My initial motivation to write is already satisfied. Asking for more, to me, seems to be too greedy.

Well, this piece may be too trivial. There are other information that represents a lot of work and they should be protected. OK, if that the case, keep it as a secret. It is unfair for you to plant an idea in my mind and then limit my use of the same idea! Once an idea has gone into my mind, there is no way to unload that information. I may even argue that the information "owner" should pay us to compensate for the damage (if loading a piece of useless information into our mind).

Without an understanding of "property" and how it may be applied to information, the ethical journey has hardly begun.

coop Top Level Domain

This is the first time I see a website with a top level domain of coop. I guess it stands for co-operation. The website itself is about energy use and sustainability.

Sunday, 28 January 2007 is up again

I did not realise that the resources on role play simulation were down, probably for a whole month. It is now up and running.

If you have published any paper on the use of role play simulation, please let me know. I would like to link to your paper if possible.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Never Discussed

via OLDaily

Like Stephen, I agree with Roger Schank's observation that many things are not discussed, or even forbidden to be discussed in school environment.

I understand and totally agree that "School as an instrument of indoctrination" should be made more transparent and acknowleged.

My question is, "Is there anything topic that *really* should NOT be mentioned?" E.g. the debate between evolution theory and creation theory. Should the latter, being totally rubbish, be allowed at all? (OK, this is not the best example! But I hope you get my point!)

Sunday, 21 January 2007

The Eureka Moment

I was reading an article by Guenther Knoblich and Michael Oellinger of the same title of this post in the November/December 2006 issue of Scientific American Mind.

The opening paragraph is
Albert Einstein finally hit on the core idea underlying his famous theory of relativity one night after months of intense mathematical exercises. He had given himself a break from the work and let his imagination wander about the concepts of space and time. Various images that came to mind prompted him to try a thought experiment: If two bolts of lightning struck the front and back of a moving train at the same time, would an observer standing beside the track and an observer standing on the moving train see the strikes as simultaneous? ...

As a Physics students (I even named myself after Einstein), I am ashamed to admit that I have not read that original paper. Now with search so easily done on my desk, I googled and found the English translation of the paper: On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies. It was a delightful and satisfying reading.

During the search I also found an essay "'What Song the Syrens Sang': How Did Einstein Discover Special Relativity?" by John Stachel written in 1983.

How did Einstein's Eureka Moment occur?

The Eureka moment might have occurred, as described by Guenther Knoblich and Michael Oellinger in a night suddenly, but Einstein himself had said
"A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. That means it is not reached by conscious logical conclusions. But, thinking it through afterwards, you can always discover the reasons which have led you unconsciously to your guess and you will find a logical way to justify it. Intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience."

The essay by John Stachel gave a good account of the earlier intellectual experience. The final Eureka moment might be [quoting John Stachel]:
[John Stachel] believe that the first principle, the relativity principle, recapitulates his struggles with the mechanical ether concept which led finally to the first crucial liberation of his thought - the abandonment of the ether. The second principle, the principle of the constancy of the speed of light, recapitulates his struggle, once he had definitely opted for the relativity principle, first to evade the Maxwell-Lorentz theory by an emission theory; then to isolate what was still valid in the Maxwell Lorentz theory after giving up the ether concept and abandoning absolute faith in the wave theory of light. The struggle to reconcile the two principles could only end successfully after the second great liberation of his thought: the relativisation of the concept of time.

As reported by Mark Jung-Beeman, Edward M. Bowden, Jason Haberman, Jennifer L. Frymiare, Stella Arambel-Liu, Richard Greenblatt, Paul J. Reber, John Kounios in
Neural Activity When People Solve Verbal Problems with Insight,
Functional magnetic resonance imaging [snip] revealed increased activity in the right hemisphere anterior superior temporal gyrus for insight relative to noninsight solutions. The same region was active during initial solving efforts. Scalp electroencephalogram recordings [snip] revealed a sudden burst of high-frequency (gamma-band) neural activity in the same area beginning 0.3 s prior to insight solutions. This right anterior temporal area is associated with making connections across distantly related information during comprehension. Although all problem solving relies on a largely shared cortical network, the sudden flash of insight occurs when solvers engage distinct neural and cognitive processes that allow them to see connections that previously eluded them.

Also as noted in the article in Scientific American Mind,
step by step problem solving took place mainly in the left hemisphere, through the conscious application of logical rules, which would rely on deliberate language. The right hemisphere, [snip] played a critical role in solving insight problems, which require restructuring - a spatial task. Individual would experience a eureka moment only when the right hemisphere sent the solution to the left hemisphere, thereby putting the solution into discernible terms.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Intrinsic Motivation Learning Design

Way back in May 2005, Scot Aldred posted this piece which is still 100% relevent today. How slowly has education/learning theory advanced?!!

Up until recently, the concept of external motivators has worked well enough for schools and universities who use the lure of certification to ensure that most of their students apply themselves and attain the institutions’ requirements for a qualification.

Scot suggested PBL (problem-based learning) as a potential candidate for providing a more intrinsic motivation. I see role play simulation as an enhanced form of PBL in which we have added game goals in order to give players a more enjoyable learning experience.

Recently, I have been thinking what are the essense of a game when used in a learning situation. I am now starting to converge to two key elements:
1. the underlying context model (simulator if you like, which provides the "content")
2. game goals which provide the motivation for the players within the game context.

The key to designing a good education game is matching game goals with learning objectives. Game goals should be achieved, or better achieved, if the requirement knowledge as specifiied in the learnig objectives have been mastered.

If we can take apart a commercial game and modify either the game goal and/or the simulator, we should be able to create more engaging games.

I think, this is a big IF!

Friday, 12 January 2007

OLPC to include Australia?

From today's Age:

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project aims to put low-cost laptops into the hands of impoverished children in the developing world, but work is already underway to trial them among indigenous populations in Australia.

Proponent acknowledges one major hurdle:
refining the software to a point where it is intuitive and bug-free*, as it is unlikely there will be anyone living among the target populations with the technical expertise to troubleshoot configuration problems when they arise.

While providing affordable hardware to the hands of students may be necessary condition for participation in digital world, it is NEVER the sufficient condition to ensure effective use of the hardware. There are lots of promising uses of digital technology in learning, most educators are still stuggling to understand how digital technology can be fully integrated into k-12 schooling. Hope DEET can understand this and also put in matching initiatives to ensure any available hardware are put to good use.

*Is it possible that a software can be bug-free?

Running is OK, standing is NOT

A strange behaviour of non-newtonian liquid (dilatants - fluids become solid when stressed).

Of course it will be good to be able to do this at a school laboratory. But if you are thinking this is too much, use this smaller version in the laboratory instead.

or this

Science is FUN!

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Microformat & MetaData

Is the world going round and round?

When "IT professionals" discover metadata, everyone is going after it. Well the librarians have years of experience in cataloging information already! The debate, when covering a very diverse set of communities, has difficulty in standardising "metadata elements" and the allowed values in set of the "controlled vocabulary". Everyone has different needs and when politics take front set (and most politicians can code!), metadata is like dead-sea.

Microformat makes use of classes in tags to add "meaning" to the html elements. The class is like "metadata element". We need agreement so that it can inter-operate.

When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? - I heard my CD playing.

This time around, microformat is driven by coders, people who actually put html elements together. Hopefully, it will not end up like metadata!

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Physics problem: Poof and Foop

Mark Frauenfelder of Boingboing posted a Physics MC quiz:

This is a stumper. If a can of compressed air is punctured and the escaping air blows to the right, the can will move to the left in a rocket-like fashion. Now consider a vacuum can that is punctured. The air blows to the left as it enters the can. After the vacuum is filled the can will

a) be moving to the left
b) be moving to the right
c) not be moving

As always, the answers (including explanation) submitted are interesting read and review a lot about mis/concept of Physics. All the submitted answers are here.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Research-Based Learning Blogs

First of all, thank you for including this blog as a "research-based learning blog". Frankly, I only do desk-top research and look at data from Fablusi implementations. But I blog a wide range of subjects of interest to me.

I share with Doug that there are several "walls" dividing educational researchers and education partitioners. Presenting research results in conferences is too expensive and targets only the same group of people. Publishing results in journal can only reach those in univerities, likely to be teachers-to-be rather than real teachers. Blogging, again is blocked by unnecessary firewalls and filters. The practising teaching professionals, unfortunately, working in isolation, do not provide a good environment to advance this field.

Is this indicative of the attention span of web-reader?

[Disclaimer: I was accused of skip-reading years back and I am a serial committer of the same crime. The following is completely speculative!]

Boingboing pointed to a post Female beauty: Ruebens - today which is itself a summary from Dissastifaction with our bodies/eating disorders by Lillith Gallery. The former is a series of photos with minimal description whereas the latter (using the same photos as illustrations) is a lengthly piece. The latter (original as clearly indicated by the former) does not allow comment, so I don't know if the readers would have the same reaction. The interesting thing is the first few reactions from the readers in the former post.

For a short history, yours seems to be quite revisionist. The women shown in the first two paintings aren’t typical ideal women from the 1600’s & 1800’s at all, my guess is you simply chose them to illustrate your rather flimsy “point”.

Since when does boingboing link pages with less merit than a bad grade school essay?

I’m going to have to go ahead and say HIGHLY doubtful.
First of all, you have no proof on whether the Rubens and Renoir represent “ideal” female form of the time, or if they were merely the only women they were able to get to pose nude.
Second, you COMPLETELY skipped the 30’s and 40’s and only giving one example for every other decade.
Last, If you look at examples that actually represent the ideal female form to males (pornography), from the 50’s on to present day the “ideal” female form has pretty much stayed the same.. curves and breasts. If you’re talking the ideal female form to females (fashion magazines) then you’ll find the slender, slim, stupid skinny sharp feature girls pretty much from the 70’s on to present day. Since when was Karen Carpenter’s anorexia EVER considered an ideal female form by anyone? I know more guys that would have chewed off their own leg to sleep with a Russ Meyer girl or Farah Fawcett. I’ve never heard of anyone that thought Karen Carpenter was hot, female or male.

I am going to have to say this is probably one of the most disappointing articles/websites boingboing has ever linked to

Here are my speculative summary:
Web-reader reacts, like me, to the immediately presented information without too much thought given to what s/he wants to say.

Web-reader forgets about the original purpose of the website once s/he gets used to the website (here, I am refering to Boingboing) and switchs back to the way s/he always percieve information. What I am trying to say here is that the two readers who left the two quoted comments above come from an academic background and forget that "BoingBoing is NOT the pinnacle of information, but just a pool of interesting web savvy."

Discussion is where the learning really occurs. A few comment down, here is an example:
Just because the author used only two examples of the weight of women in the 1600 and 1800 doesn’t mean that was the artists preference. Being thin during that time was a sign of poverty. It meant you didn’t have enough to eat or the nutrients to gain and maintain weight. Just as in that time as well women were ideally never tanned. If a woman was tan it meant she was also poor. She worked in the fields. She didn’t have servants to care for her SHE was the caregiver.

In addition I believe the author’s use of Karen Carpenter and her Anorexia is simply to show how women and society has grown towards women should be these thin, whisper of a being. Anorexia is one of the biggest problems facing young girls today. There are advocates and websites devoted to advocacy of it.

Discussion is triggered by stupid responses at the beginning. I doubt if there were no such response at the beginning, there would have such lively discussion later on.

The power of A-list website is also clearly demonstrated there as well. The original post was posted on 12.27.2006 (What!! there is no month 27th! Sorry it must be the American.) 27th December, 2006. The flood of comments started on January 5, 2007. The two comments I reported here at the beginning belonged to those coming from Boingboing.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Roger Schank, an educator or not?

Here are some quotes from his blog Education's Place for Debate

[All emphasis are mine.]

On November 03, 2006 he wrote,

Universities dictate curricula to high schools to make professor’s lives easier. If everyone takes physics and calculus and most never use it, well, professors claim it was good for the students anyway when in fact it was only good for making sure professors didn’t have to teach it in college. As long as professors don’t have to teach the basics it is okay that high school students are forced to study stuff they will never use in their whole lives. We have ruined an entire generation of high school students who don’t like learning and think the subject matter is irrelevant because professors only want to teach the good stuff.

We sacrifice the joy of learning for an entire generation so professors can have an easier time teaching incoming students.

On December 15, 2006 he wrote,

we need to make education exciting and interesting. ... If we did all that we would get more Americans interested in math and science because we would get more Americans actually interested in being in school.

This quote is also true if we remove the reference to "America".

On January 02, 2007 he wrote,

* To teach someone to reason one does not have to teach about congruent triangles.
* To teach someone to write effectively, one does not have to ask them about themes in Shakespeare.
* To teach someone about daily economics one does not have to teach about tariff acts.
* To teach someone to be a good citizen one does not need to know about Lincoln or Washington but about how to analyze for truth in what current Presidents are saying.
* To teach someone to be employable, one does not have to teach nearly any subject required by colleges for admission.

Let’s think again folks. Education is about teaching people how to live and how to make a living (to paraphrase John Adams.) We have plenty of intellectuals. Feeding the colleges is not the priority of the modern day high school -- making high functioning citizens is.

I think he is a greate educator!

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Attention of the world leading thinkers

via BoingBoing

The Edge Annual Question — 2007

As an activity, as a state of mind, science is fundamentally optimistic. Science figures out how things work and thus can make them work better. Much of the news is either good news or news that can be made good, thanks to ever deepening knowledge and ever more efficient and powerful tools and techniques. Science, on its frontiers, poses more and ever better questions, ever better put.

What are you optimistic about? Why? Surprise us!

Of the 157 responses, the following are related to education/learning:

HOWARD GARDNER (Psychologist, Harvard University; Author, Five Minds for the Future): Early Detection of Learning Disabilities or Difficulties

KEITH DEVLIN (Mathematician; Executive Director, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford; Author, The Millennium Problems): We Will Finally Get Mathematics Education Right

JAMSHED BHARUCHA (Professor of Psychology, Provost, Senior Vice President, Tufts University): The Globalization Of Higher Education

DAVID DALRYMPLE (Student, MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms; Researcher, Internet 0, Fab Lab Thinner Clients for South Africa, Conformal Computing): Technology in Education

CHRIS ANDERSON (Editor in Chief, Wired Magazine; Author, The Long Tail): Metcalfe's Law of Minds

LEON LEDERMAN (Physicist and Nobel Laureate; Director Emeritus, Fermilab; Coauthor, The God Particle): The Coming Revolution in Science Education>

and the following that may be somehow linked to education/learning:

DANIEL EVERETT (Researcher of Pirahã Culture; Chair of Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology, Illinois State University): Humans Will Learn to Learn From Diversity

ROGER SCHANK (Psychologist & Computer Scientist; Engines for Education Inc.; Author, Making Minds Less Well Educated than Our Own): The End of the Commoditization of Knowledge

REBECCA GOLDSTEIN (Philosopher, Harvard University; Author, Betraying Spinoza):We Have the Capacity to Understand One Another

TERRENCE SEJNOWSKI (Computational Neuroscientist, Salk Institute, Coauthor, The Computational Brain): A Breakthrough in Understanding Intelligence is around the Corner

GARY MARCUS (Psychologist, New York University; Author, The Birth of the Mind): Metacognition For Kids

Since the original question is asking "WHAT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT?", the answer is inclined to be speculative. However, the number 6 out of 157 does indicate the "mind-share" of this non-representative group about the importance (or lack of) of education/learning.