Archive for November, 2011

Khan Academy site to allow uploaded content from teachers

6 Months back, I came across the amazing Khan Academy site. Since then, I had been aggressively promoting it in my circles as well as strangers where ever I saw or met school going children. 3 days back, I read the following news and felt, it worth sharing with our community here. So here it goes:

The Khan Academy, an online repository of educational videos, soon will allow teachers to upload their own instructional videos to the academy’s collection, and create and customize their own “knowledge maps” for their classes. “The deal will be, you can use our tools if we can put your stuff onto our noncommercial public domain,” the site’s founder Salman Khan said. “We don’t know how it’ll turn out, but we suspect there will be some amazing things put up.”

I personally look forward to seeing new stuff online…

(via SmartBrief on EdTech)

November 25th, 2011

Online K-12 schools partner with top universities

Students who attend the online Education Program for Gifted Youth will now receive diplomas from Stanford Online High School, after the university agreed to attach its name to the online institution. Supporters say the partnership marks a significant milestone for online K-12 learning and the alignment of secondary and higher education. Critics, however, fear such partnerships could lend credibility to lower-quality programs.

(via SmartBrief on EdTech)

November 24th, 2011

Toyota Touch Life

Toyota introduced Toyota Touch Life, a technology that allows drivers to fully integrate their smartphones into their Toyotas. The technology uses the latest industry connectivity protocols to mirror the smartphone’s display on the infotainment system’s touchscreen.

Drivers can access smartphone functionalities using steering wheel-based controls or the touchscreen surface. Toyota Touch Life will be available for the Toyota iQ city car towards the end of 2011 in selected markets.

 

November 23rd, 2011

Google’s Daily deals strategy

Google launched its Google Offers daily deals service earlier this year and the service is currently available in New York, San Francisco, Portland, OR, Austin, TX, Boston, Denver and Seattle.

Google has some advantages in the competitive daily deals space. It has a credible brand, a set of features that might plug into deal marketing and the ability to highlight deals on the Google homepage, something it recently tried in New York. Despite these advantages, Google faces stiff competition from Groupon, the leader in the space.

Google also introduced an Android mobile application for Google Offers which speaks about the important role that mobile plays in the daily deals space. The Google Offers app enables users to discover, buy and redeem deals on the go. It also notifies users about offers that match their interests.

The new Google Offers app is just one of the ways that the company is building out its daily deals offering. Google also acquired DealMap and DailyDeal to boost its daily deals strategy.

The Google Offers app is available only in the United States for Android 2.1 and higher devices. Users can purchase offers via the app in a just a few clicks and redeem them paperlessly with select merchants.

November 21st, 2011

Tablet owners more active m-commerce users

Last one year has seen a large number of e-commerce and deal site ventures getting funded in India and worldwide. Thus most of these companies are spending good amounts on online marketing etc. they are not leaving any stone unturned and thus adopting mobile and tablet friendly sites and apps too. My friend also bought an iPad2 recently and gifted to his wife to give her an entertainment mode beyond iPhone without imagining that his credit card expense will sky rocket as a result. Within in a week of gifting the tablet, he started seeing purchase alerts from his credit card company in denomination between 99cents to $5. He had to go back and ask her to stop playing so many paid games that she picked up new craze for, since she has got hold of the tab. My friend had never seen his wife purchasing through her iPhone before. No wonder m-commerce has increased and will increase further as all kinds of tablets will penetrate all stratas of society.

Increased tablet adoption could be the push that mobile commerce needs to get off the ground. Data from Ipsos indicates that tablet ownership leads to greater mobile purchasing, perhaps due to an improved shopping experience on the media-rich devices. According to Ipsos, tablet owners shop via mobile devices on a more frequent basis and spend more than smartphone owners.

Ipsos also presents a group of consumers called “dual owners”—those who own both tablet and smartphone devices. Dual owners, Ipsos determined, conduct m-commerce purchases twice as often as those who own only smartphones. Dual owners, on average, made more than 20 mobile purchases over the past year.

November 18th, 2011

Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many

There’s a place for tech in every classroom.

Technology is ubiquitous, touching almost every part of our lives, our communities, our homes. Yet most schools lag far behind when it comes to integrating technology into classroom learning. Many are just beginning to explore the true potential tech offers for teaching and learning. Properly used, technology will help students acquire the skills they need to survive in a complex, highly technological knowledge-based economy.

Integrating technology into classroom instruction means more than teaching basic computer skills and software programs in a separate computer class. Effective tech integration must happen across the curriculum in ways that research shows deepen and enhance the learning process. In particular, it must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts. Effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent and when technology supports curricular goals.

Many people believe that technology-enabled project learning is the ne plus ultra of classroom instruction. Learning through projects while equipped with technology tools allows students to be intellectually challenged while providing them with a realistic snapshot of what the modern office looks like. Through projects, students acquire and refine their analysis and problem-solving skills as they work individually and in teams to find, process, and synthesize information they’ve found online.

The myriad resources of the online world also provide each classroom with more interesting, diverse, and current learning materials. The Web connects students to experts in the real world and provides numerous opportunities for expressing understanding through images, sound, and text.

New tech tools for visualizing and modeling, especially in the sciences, offer students ways to experiment and observe phenomenon and to view results in graphic ways that aid in understanding. And, as an added benefit, with technology tools and a project-learning approach, students are more likely to stay engaged and on task, reducing behavioral problems in the classroom.

Technology also changes the way teachers teach, offering educators effective ways to reach different types of learners and assess student understanding through multiple means. It also enhances the relationship between teacher and student. When technology is effectively integrated into subject areas, teachers grow into roles of adviser, content expert, and coach. Technology helps make teaching and learning more meaningful and fun.

(via eduTopia)

 

November 17th, 2011

Mercedes is @yourCOMAND

Mercedes-Benz announced @yourCOMAND, a comprehensive cloud-based system that provides drivers with in-car connectivity and access to the latest apps. The system is voice controlled and offers high-end sound and high-resolution, 3D screens.

Mercedes believes the innovation will keep their vehicles up-to-date with the constant evolution of apps and cloud-based services. The company implemented the approach for the first time in its F 125  research vehicle, a fuel-cell hybrid that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

“@yourCOMAND turns the car into a mobile communications center that provides the driver and passengers with access to all modern media and services at all times,” says Thomas Weber, Daimler’s head of Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

November 16th, 2011

Location data is worth a premium for advertisers

Mobile advertisers put a premium on location, paying near four times as much for ad impressions that include location-specific data over the past three months, according to bidding exchange Nexage. Demand is up too, a fact that can be traced to local-deal providers whose coupons are time and location sensitive as well as brands targeting specific areas, said Nexage CEO Ernie Cormier.

Demand for location-based ads are also going up, jumping by 170 percent over the same period. More and more, advertisers are pursuing mobile ads that include location data because they can find users where they are, target specific areas and can drive consumers to take actions locally.

Some companies are seeing an even bigger pop from location-enabled ad impressions. Social gamification platform Beintoo said its partner apps like Fruit Ninja have seen an 11x premium in location-enabled impressions over ad impressions without location data, said Nexage. Beintoo has doubled the number of ads it has requested on the Nexage Revenue Platform over the last three months.

(via Gigaom)

November 15th, 2011

E-Readers Help Spread Literacy, No Apps Needed

We often talk about the power of the Internet to spread knowledge and information globally, to make digital content accessible and affordable. But as we’re also often caught up in the “latest and greatest” gadgetry, sometimes we overlook that broad promise of global education and accessibility.

Such is the case, one might argue, with the news three weeks back from Common Sense Media about the so-called “app gap” — the disparity between children in low-income and higher income families and their access to mobile applications.

There’s little denying that the popularity of mobile devices — Androids and iPhones and tablets — has afforded a concurrent explosion in exciting new educational apps. The touchscreen screens, the accelerometers, the size, and the portability of these devices has enabled whole new genres of software and of imaginative and educational gameplay.

But if we focus on the “app gap” — those who have iPads and those who do not — are we ignoring or obscuring other aspects of the digital divide? Are we overlooking the potential for wide spread dissemination of and access to information by rushing to prioritize that information bundled in the shiniest new package?

While many schools in the U.S. are rushing to embrace iPads, other types of e-readers haven’t been widely adopted — even though they cost less and display digital textbooks, which is one of the rationales for transitioning from print books to tablets. But a non-profit organization called Worldreader is demonstrating how utterly transformative e-readers can actually be, even without apps and videos.

Worldreader distributes Kindle devices to students in sub-Saharan Africa. The devices are pre-loaded with e-books — some 63,000 e-books all told have been distributed through the program (including the recent addition to the Worldreader catalog of several of the best-known titles by children’s author Roald Dahl).

The e-readers offer a huge advantage over their printed counterparts. There’s the ability to put an entire library onto one device. A child can be given the e-reader at school and that device can be circulated throughout her or his family or village. There’s the ability to distribute those devices to the most remote villages without additional shipping costs of thousands of titles. Plus, the cost of e-readers continue to fall. Furthermore, there are thousands upon thousands of titles available for free.

While e-readers don’t have all the apps and features of tablets, they do contain some. They all include dictionaries. They often have 3G or WiFi capabilities. They have Web browsers. And they allow for the subscription to other news forms — magazines, newspapers, and newsletters for example. These devices also tend to have extraordinarily good battery life, which is necessary in regions that don’t have reliable electricity.

Literacy is one of the most important drivers of economic growth. Rather than concern over the “app gap” — over who has access to iPads and who doesn’t — Worldreader highlights how the discussions around access to the Internet and to digital content still needs to address some of the more fundamental “haves and have-nots.”

(This article was first written by Audrey Watters)

November 14th, 2011

Games for Science Learning & Scientific Discovery

God created mankind who in turn created fire, paper and technology. Everybody started learning technology to do various innovations and discoveries. Further, man created offline games and then online ones for entertainment. Now these games are again being used to learn science and scientific discoveries…and the loop goes on…

Games have generally been considered good for children to learn team work, articulation, bring in precision, and speed in multi-tasking. Now, even though more people are recognizing the potential for teaching and learning through video games, there are still plenty of skeptics — those who see video games as a mindless distraction, as entertainment and not education. But the work of a research center at the University of Washington may be at the forefront of challenging that notion. And this isn’t just about how students can benefit from educational gaming either; it’s about how scientific discovery can benefit from gamers.

That latter element has found UW’s Center for Game Science in the news a lot lately, as one of the games it developed has helped lead to a breakthrough in AIDS research.

Creative Research Outsourcing

The game in question is called Fold.it, an online protein-folding game. Fold.it asks players to work with proteins’ 3D structures (in other words, how the proteins “fold”). The game evaluates how good of a fold the player has made, gives them a score, and rates them on a leader board so that players from around the world can compete with one another.

Since the game’s release, some 100,000 people have played Foldit, most of whom have little or no background in biochemistry. This hasn’t stopped the players from developing folding models superior to other computer-based or lab-created models — so much so that Fold.it players recently solved a scientific problem in three weeks’ time that has stumped researchers for more than a decade. For some 14 years, scientists have been trying to figure out the structure of a particular protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus, but failing to do so, turned the information over to the game’s players, challenging them to see if they could produce an accurate model.

“We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed,” Dr. Firas Khatib of the University of Washington Department of Biochemistry told Science Daily. And indeed, it did. In this case, by playing Fold.it, the gamers generated models that were good enough for the researchers to determine the enzyme’s actual structure, something that in turn could help scientists develop drugs to target the enzyme.

A Peek Under the Hood

But Fold.it isn’t the only project from the Center for Game Science. It’s also working on another game called Refraction, this one aimed at “discovering optimal pathways for learning early mathematics.” Refraction is a Flash-based puzzle game for learning about fractions, although players don’t immediately get the sense that the game offers lessons in math. Nonetheless, the ability to understand and manipulate fractions — to understand equal partitioning, addition, multiplication, improper fractions, and common denominators — is necessary to help save the cute little animated animal that is stranded in space.

But what goes on “under the hood” of Refraction is also interesting. The researchers at the Center for Game Science are using the game to help identify “what works” in terms of students’ game-play and in terms of their mathematical learning and comprehension. “The goal of this project,” according to the center’s website, “is to leverage this popularity to acquire huge amounts of learning data and discover the best ways to teach early mathematics. If players receive different versions of a game that have particular concepts changed or introduced differently, and the game records how players perform, researchers can use this data to understand how students learn. An additional goal is to make the game adapt to every player, so that it will never be too easy or too difficult and each student will always be working on the next concept he or she needs to learn.”

In other words, this game isn’t just about student learning; it’s about researchers learning how students learn.

Both Fold.it and Refraction highlight how game-play is far from meaningless distraction. Both of them encourage players to play and learn, but they’re also supplying researcher’s data to investigate the human capacity for problem solving and discovery.

This article first appeared in eduTopia

November 11th, 2011

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