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Exploring education futures at TEDxLaguna


Photo by Cristóbal Cobo

On Monday, I participated in TEDxLaguna, the second TEDx event ever held in Mexico. I called for “leapfrogging toward Knowmad Society” (video coming soon). Also, Cristóbal Cobo shared an overview and invitation to join our Invisible Learning collaboration. I believe the event was a great success, and I am pleased to have collaborated with Ernesto Gonzales (the event’s organizer), his team, and the other speakers. Videos of the talks will be posted to the TEDx YouTube channel soon, possibly in both English and Spanish… stay tuned!!!

Related on the Net: El Siglo de Torreón: Muestran ideas transformadoras

"This is bullshit!" – Jeff Jarvis on the death of lectures

In a TEDxNYED talk that is destined to become a classic, Jeff Jarvis takes on the industrialization of education and the irrelevance of lectures in an innovation-powered world (Knowmad Society!):

From his notes:

One more from him: “It’s easy to educate for the routine, and hard to educate for the novel.” Google sprung from seeing the novel. Is our educational system preparing students to work for or create Googles? Googles don’t come from lectures.

So if not the lecture hall, what’s the model? I mentioned one: the distributed Oxford: lectures here, teaching there.

Once you’re distributed, then one has to ask, why have a university? Why have a school? Why have a newspaper? Why have a place or a thing? Perhaps, like a new news organization, the tasks shift from creating and controlling content and managing scarcity to curating people and content and enabling an abundance of students and teachers and of knowledge: a world whether anyone can teach and everyone will learn. We must stop selling scarce chairs in lecture halls and thinking that is our value.

And:

We must stop looking at education as a product – in which we turn out every student giving the same answer – to a process, in which every student looks for new answers. Life is a beta.

Why shouldn’t every university – every school – copy Google’s 20% rule, encouraging and enabling creation and experimentation, every student expected to make a book or an opera or an algorithm or a company. Rather than showing our diplomas, shouldn’t we show our portfolios of work as a far better expression of our thinking and capability? The school becomes not a factory but an incubator.

(My apologies for deviating from convention and cutting-and-pasting so much from Mr. Jarvis, but his message is THAT good.)

Thanks to Marcel Kampman for spotting the video!

Fab Lab: Build 'almost anything'

“The Fab Lab program has strong connections with the technical outreach activities of a number of partner organizations, around the emerging possibility for ordinary people to not just learn about science and engineering but actually design machines and make measurements that are relevant to improving the quality of their lives.” [MIT Center for Bits and Atoms] Moreover, each Fab Lab is connected with others around the world, sharing ideas and experiences. Every Fab Lab user is required to document how they created products so that their inventions may be replicated anywhere around the world.

Yesterday afternoon, I visited the Fab Lab at Century College in Minnesota. A Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small-scale workshop with an array of computer controlled tools that cover several different length scales and various materials, and is the brainchild of MIT’s Neil Gershenfeld. The facility, faculty and institutional support for the initiative is amazing. Loaded with 3D printers, laser cutters, and other rapid prototyping and small-scale fabrication tools, allows uses to make “almost anything.”

My take on Fab Labs is that they provide school students and other members of the community with valuable expertise and resources to transform their creative ideas into tangible products … and, hopefully, meaningful outcomes and innovations. Since the Fab Labs blend social and fabrication technologies, I feel that school systems should consider either investing in the concept for every school, or collaborate actively with an institution that already has a Fab Lab.

Last November, I also had the privilege of visiting the Fab Lab hosted by the Waag Society in Amsterdam (the video in this link is worth watching). A couple of the key differences is that this Fab Lab is open to the public (at a cost), but is also integrated with the other services provided by the Waag Society (i.e., Creative Learning Lab, incubators) and its use is eligible for subsidization by the Dutch government through innovation grants.

An observation from my whirlwind tours of both facilities is that is the Minnesota-based Fab Lab seems to produce things that already exist, whereas the Dutch Fab Lab produces many new creations — things that have not existed yet. The question on my mind is, why is there a creativity gap? Is it a cultural phenomenon? Or, is it structural:

  • Is it because our education system is no longer producing many creatives (focusing instead on creating functionaries)?
  • Is it because the Dutch have access to a broader support system that draws creatives to the Fab Lab?

Or, is something else happening?

Noel Sharkey on the inexorable rise of robots

From Silicon.com:

In this video interview, Noel Sharkey, professor of robotics and AI at the University of Sheffield, discusses developments in robotics – from the proliferation of robots in Japan’s automotive industry to the stair-climbing dexterity of Honda’s Asimo robot and beyond.

He also discusses ethical issues, and in which countries we can find the most robots … and some implications.

Read the original article…

The Bank of Common Knowledge: A mutual education network

The Bank of Common Knowledge (Banco Común de Conocimientos) is a pilot experience dedicated to the research of social mechanisms for the collective production of contents, mutual education, and citizen participation. It is a laboratory platform where we explore new ways of enhancing the distribution channels for practical and informal knowledge, as well as how to share it. BCK is a project initiated by platoniq.net

This video was contributed to the Invisible Learning project. Do you have a video to share? If so, simply upload it to YouTube and assign it the tag invisiblelearning.

Is ASU building the New American University?

This video has been floating around for seven months, and I somehow haven’t seen it until today. Not only does Arizona State University specifically address the growing needs for transdisciplinarity, design, relevancy, and innovation in higher education, but they seem to have a grasp on what it all means. In designing the “New American University,” are they poised to leapfrog the rest?

Arthur Benjamin: Drop calculus, mainstream statistics

A short video with a compelling argument from TED:

Someone always asks the math teacher, “Am I going to use calculus in real life?” And for most of us, says Arthur Benjamin, the answer is no. He offers a bold proposal on how to make math education relevant in the digital age.

Siftables: A promising future for toys

Wow-oh-wow, oh wow!!!! From TED earlier this month:

MIT grad student David Merrill demos Siftables — cookie-sized, computerized tiles you can stack and shuffle in your hands. These future-toys can do math, play music, and talk to their friends, too. Is this the next thing in hands-on learning?

More elsewhere: