Saturday, July 25, 2009

The importance of Wikitude for Print and High School Education

Enabling the Ecosystem: WIKITUDE, Part One | AndroidGuys: "ML: WIKITUDE is an augmented reality world browser which supports the visualization of IP based information within the physical world. In other words, WIKITUDE enables the world to become a platform for information to be displayed in a mixed reality, within a situational context. WIKITUDE is also a platform for AR development API and a crowdsourced geo-information portal,"

The Future of Education: Technology and How People Learn

The point is "There’s a mimicking of biology: instead of top-down control, we see a bottom-up, evolutionary-based set of rules, based on parallelism rather than serialism. Wright applies a Darwinian analogy, echoing the set of Darwin-related themes bouncing around Aspen this week."
The Future of Education: Technology and How People Learn:
. . . "Gardner gives us the Five Minds in Under Five Minutes (pretty impressive speed here…): the five are the disciplined mind, the synthesizing mind, the creating mind, the respectful mind, and the ethical mind. The disciplined mind is about becoming an expert in something. It’s hard to imagine that the digital media are helping in this respect. The synthesizing mind, some have said, is the most important in the digital era: to sort through lots more information than has ever before been available to human beings. Digital natives like to search, but it’s unclear that they are in fact good at it. The creating mind comes up with new approaches, new methods. Creating minds think outside the box — but you need the box first, which are from your discipline and your synthesis. One of the big questions: can these media help creativity, or might they instead inhibit creativity, by giving too much of a frame and discouraging going beyond that box.

. . . There’s a mimicking of biology: instead of top-down control, we see a bottom-up, evolutionary-based set of rules, based on parallelism rather than serialism. Wright applies a Darwinian analogy, echoing the set of Darwin-related themes bouncing around Aspen this week.

Arthur Benjamin's Formula for Changing Math Education

Are engineers the Rock Stars of Tomorrow?

Engineering Students Rock -- Mechanical Engineers Rock Out On Guitars They Construct Themselves

See the video by clicking the title:

Engineering Students Rock -- Mechanical Engineers Rock Out On Guitars They Construct Themselves:
January 1, 2009 — Mechanical engineers combined their skills with that of electrical engineering and computer science to create a college class inspired by the Guitar Hero game. The hands-on course requires students to build their own guitar. To do this, students choose a shape for the guitar, which is cut out of lumber by a computer. Located under the guitar strings, magnets detect vibrations and wire coils send an electronic signal to an amplifier and speaker. Effects pedals can also distort the sound and add special effects."

The video at clicking the title:

DNA 'Sloppier Copier' Surprisingly Efficient: Three Major Puzzles About Famous Enzyme Solved

DNA 'Sloppier Copier' Surprisingly Efficient: Three Major Puzzles About Famous Enzyme Solved:
"The enzyme known as DNA polymerase V (pol V) comes in when a cell's DNA is reeling from radiation damage or other serious blows. Pol V copies the damaged DNA as best it can – saving the life of the bacterial cell at the cost of adding hundreds of random mutations.

The July 16 Nature study reveals pol V's key attributes: economy of motion and quickness to engage.

The study also solves two other stubborn mysteries about the mechanics of DNA repair: the exact composition of the active form of pol V and the crucial role of a protein filament, known as RecA*, that is always present around DNA repair sites, but was never shown to be directly involved."

The Good Life: Where Psychology Stands On Living Well

The point is that as it has been said, science is just common sense, systematically applied. Just a quibble with the snippet. I would put "feeling healthy and safe" at the top of the list. It's the necessary, but not sufficient condition for everything else.

The Good Life: Where Psychology Stands On Living Well:
"So far we have learned from psychology that a good life includes experiencing more positive than negative feelings, feeling like your life has been lived well, continually using your talents and strengths, having close interpersonal relationships, being engaged at work and other activities, being a part of a social community, perceiving that life has a meaning, and feeling healthy and safe. And while these conclusions may seem like common sense, we as humans fall short on knowing just how to obtain and maintain these qualities.

Psychology still has a ways to go until the perfect formula for a good life is found. As Park and Peterson put it, "At present, psychology knows more about people's problems and how to solve them than it does about what it means to live well and how to encourage and maintain such a life." They suggest researchers across all disciplines of psychology come together and collaborate on their findings, perhaps pulling together a more complete picture of the human experience.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Potential New Drug Target For Diabetes And Alzheimer's Disease

The point is that experiments on rodents can help us understand how Alzheimer's works in people.

Potential New Drug Target For Diabetes And Alzheimer's Disease
"The study, which focuses on diabetic rodents, appears this month in PLoS One and is the first to show a role in glucose metabolism for humanin, a small protein (peptide). The researchers also demonstrated that humanin resembles the peptide leptin by acting on the brain to influence glucose metabolism.

Humanin is found in mitochondria — structures that populate the cytoplasm of cells and provide them with energy. The peptide was first detected in brain nerve cells in 2001, and subsequent studies suggest that it protects nerve cells from death associated with Alzheimer's and other brain disease."

An Evolutionary Approach to Financial History

The point is that an evolutionary approach to learning makes the most sense to me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Teen’s Report Causes International Twitter

Web Watch: Teen’s Report Causes International Twitter: "The 15-year-old was put to work in the bank’s media and internet research department where he wrote How Teenagers Consume Media, a report that has caused a sensation among fund managers, CEOs, and analysts in Tokyo, London, and on Wall Street. The report, which Matthew says reflects the collective views of about 300 teenagers, appears to spell doom and gloom for print and traditional media. He said teens don’t read newspapers or listen to the radio because they can access this media more easily on the Web. Robson also claims that “teens don’t use Twitter,” adding that it appeals to an older crowd.

Edward Hill-Wood, Robson’s Morgan Stanley supervisor said the report proved to be “one of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen. So we published it.”"

To get the PDF How Teenagers Consume Media

Top News - What educators can learn from brain research

"As technology advances, new discoveries based on brain mapping are helping researchers understand how students learn. And those discoveries, in turn, are enriching and informing classroom practices in a growing number of schools.

Thanks to functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)--a type of non-invasive, low-radiation brain scan that measures neural activity in response to certain stimuli, and the most recently developed forms of neuroimaging--researchers are learning more about how we learn than many thought possible."

Worth the click to read the rest:
Top News - What educators can learn from brain research:

Newsweek should consider clickable magazines to replace K -12 textbooks.

McClatchy Watch:
Amazing stat of the day: Newsweek's paid newsstand circulation is less than 67,000 copies a week: "Newsweek lost $20.3 million in the first quarter of this year on revenue of $46.1 million. Those are ugly numbers. But given the circulation statistics, they're hardly surprising. It's a little hard to see why—especially in an age of real-time online news—The Washington Post Co. is keeping Newsweek alive. Readers (and advertisers) just don't seem to care."

Misdiagnosis Of Disorders Of Consciousness Still Commonplace

The point is that if they can't diagnose a vegetative state, how can they diagnose much more subtle cognitive problems with certainty.

Misdiagnosis Of Disorders Of Consciousness Still Commonplace:
"ScienceDaily (July 21, 2009) — A sixteen-month study of consensus-based diagnosis of patients with disorders of consciousness has shown that 41% of cases of minimally conscious state (MCS) were misdiagnosed as vegetative state (VS), a condition associated with a much lower chance of recovery. Researchers have demonstrated that standardized neurobehavioral assessment is more sensitive than diagnoses determined by clinical consensus.

The researchers prospectively followed 103 patients with mixed etiologies and compared the clinical consensus diagnosis provided by the physician on the basis of the medical staff's daily observations to diagnoses derived from the CRS-R. They found that of the 44 patients diagnosed with VS based on the clinical consensus of the medical team, 18 (41%) were found to be in MCS following standardized assessment with the CRS-R. According to Laureys, "It is likely that the examiners' reliance on unstructured bedside observations contributed to the high rate of misdiagnosis of VS patients. Unlike traditional bedside assessment, the CRS-R guards against misdiagnosis by incorporating items that directly reflect the existing diagnostic criteria for MCS, and by operationalizing scoring criteria for the identification of behaviors associated with consciousness".

The researchers conclude, "The results of this study suggest that the systematic use of a sensitive standardized neurobehavioral assessment scale may help decrease diagnostic error and limit diagnostic uncertainty".

Brain's Center For Perceiving 3-D Motion Is Identified

Brain's Center For Perceiving 3-D Motion Is Identified: "Neuroscientists have now pinpointed where and how the brain processes 3-D motion using specially developed computer displays and an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) machine to scan the brain.

They found, surprisingly, that 3-D motion processing occurs in an area in the brain—located just behind the left and right ears—long thought to only be responsible for processing two-dimensional motion (up, down, left and right).

This area, known simply as MT , and its underlying neuron circuitry are so well studied that most scientists had concluded that 3-D motion must be processed elsewhere. Until now."

Trash Or Treasure? Families And Their Beloved Possessions

The point is that objects are one way humans can see their personal history, family history, national history and the history of the human race. That's why Print can be so important.

Read the full column at Science News.

Amber M. Epp (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Linda L. Price (University of Arizona, Tucson) conducted a two-year case study that tracked the origins, movements, and placement of one family's objects. "It is not necessarily the history of an object that rescues it from being discarded, but also its place in a network of other objects, practices, and spaces that determine whether and when it's replaceable," the authors write.

"Our study suggests that families should consider the downstream consequences when introducing new products or services into their homes," the authors write. "It's important for families to be conscious about which activities or objects are important to preserve, especially during times of change."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What is Learning? . . . according to Wikipedia

If the object is to improve learning, it makes sense to define the terms. The learning we're interested is the kind that is best done by children coming of age. That's usually between about 13 and 20 years old. The place where that is supposed to happen is in last years of high school and first years of college.

From wikipedia:

Learning is acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, preferences or understanding, and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves.

Human learning may occur as part of education or personal development. It may be goal-oriented and may be aided by motivation. The study of how learning occurs is part of neuropsychology, educational psychology, learning theory, and pedagogy.

Learning may occur as a result of habituation or classical conditioning, seen in many animal species, or as a result of more complex activities such as play, seen only in relatively intelligent animals[1][2] and humans. Learning may occur consciously or without conscious awareness. There is evidence for human behavioral learning prenatally, in which habituation has been observed as early as 32 weeks into gestation, indicating that the central nervous system is sufficiently developed and primed for learning and memory to occur very early on in development.

Study Calls For New Approach To Teaching English As A Lingua Franca

The point is that speaking a language is both a token of group membership and a method to communicate. It's hard to be a member of a group. It's much easier to learn to communicate.

Study Calls For New Approach To Teaching English As A Lingua Franca:
"Doctoral student, Wafa Zoghbor from the School of Education said, “I was taught English as a foreign language and after years of learning Standard English pronunciation I found a wide gap between the target I have been trying to achieve and the level of intelligibility required to communicate effectively. Very few users of English today would claim that aiming at native-like pronunciation is necessary or even desirable. I hope that my contribution to this field can challenge the existing stereotypes of teaching English pronunciation. ”

Her research explores the notion that teaching native pronunciation might eliminate a significant indicator of an individual’s identity. She said, “We recognise Indian, South African, Egyptian and Chinese speakers from their accents. As long as they are intelligible and have the potential to communicate effectively there should be no reason for them not to retain their accents – something which they might like to do as this accent carries their identity, ethnicity and indicates the group of people they belong to.”"

Lumosity - Brain Exercises

I haven't tried it yet, but could be interesting.
Lumosity -
From the website:
# Shown to improve memory and attention
# Detailed feedback and improvement tracking
# Fun and easy: full workout in less than 10 minutes/day
# Start your training today"

'Heart Healthy' Diet And Ongoing, Moderate Physical Activity May Protect Against Cognitive Decline

My bet is that it has more to do with exercise than what people eat. Since correlation does not equal causation, it's still too hard to isolate the contribution each plays.

'Heart Healthy' Diet And Ongoing, Moderate Physical Activity May Protect Against Cognitive Decline:
"ScienceDaily (July 20, 2009) — Eating a 'heart healthy' diet and maintaining or increasing participation in moderate physical activity may help preserve our memory and thinking abilities as we age, according to new research reported July 14 at the Alzheimer's Association 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (ICAD 2009) in Vienna.
. . .
Studies have found that older adults who are physically active may experience slower rates of cognitive decline. Less is known about the impact of changes in physical activity levels on rate of cognitive decline.
. . .

Alzheimer's Risk Gene May Reduce Benefits of Physical Activity to Cognitive Ability

While the relationship of physical activity with cognitive performance as we age is a subject of considerable research, much less is known about how this relationship is impacted by the Alzheimer's risk gene Apolipoprotein E (APOE). The APOE gene comes in three types, or alleles, known as e2, e3, and e4. Each person gets one type of APOE from each parent, making the possible combinations: e2/e2, e2/e3, e2/e4, e3/e3, e3/e4, e4/e4. Having two copies of e4 conveys the highest risk for Alzheimer's; having one e4 also raises one's risk. E3 is the most common type. E2, though rare, is thought to be protective.

. . .

n their analysis, the researchers found that physical activity was associated with enhanced cognitive function, and that this relationship was differentially influenced by the person's APOE genotype: non-E4 carriers and people with one copy of E4 performed better than people with two copies of E4. After adjusting for age, ethnicity, severe chronic medical illness, lean body mass, and education, aerobic physical activity continued to show a statistically significant association with cognitive function in non-E4 carriers but not in people with E4 (any combination)

"In our nationally representative sample, persons who reported higher levels of aerobic physical activity had better memory than those who reported no such activity. This was especially true in those people who didn't have the APOE-e4 Alzheimer's risk gene," Obisesan said.

"Because physical activity is a low-cost, low-risk, readily available intervention, it may prove to be an important public health strategy to reduce or prevent memory loss and other symptoms of mental decline in the elderly. Future rigorous clinical trials are needed to confirm these findings," Obisesan added.

Could Older Population Have Enough Exposure To Past H1N1 Flu Strains To Avoid Infection?

The point is that there is an ongoing competition between viruses and other living things. It's one of the reasons that looking at history through the lens of demography, genes and evolution can be so useful in figuring out why what happens, happens.

Could Older Population Have Enough Exposure To Past H1N1 Flu Strains To Avoid Infection?: "ScienceDaily (June 25, 2009) — A letter to the editor by Rhode Island Hospital infectious diseases specialist Leonard Mermel, DO, identifies characteristics of the outbreak of H1N1 in 1977 and speculates its impact on this pandemic.

Mermel notes that in the late 1970s, an influenza H1N1 reappeared in humans. It had a pandemic-like spread that began in younger aged individuals. This strain, known as the "Russian flu" H1N1, was similar to H1N1 strains that circulated internationally between 1946 and 1957. The Russian flu spread rapidly across the former Soviet Union, initially affecting individuals between the ages of 14 and 20 in schools, as well as young military personnel, and later spread to preschool children. Individuals older than age 30, however, had dramatically lower attack rates and the overall mortality was low. The epidemic peaked rapidly, with a relatively short duration.

H1N1 Influenza Pandemic Modeling For Public Health Action

The point is that if genes = viruses and memes=genes in the world of learning, then it's plausible to believe the mathematical modeling of memes could help measure learning. The only way to manage something is to be able to measure it.
H1N1 Influenza Pandemic Modeling For Public Health Action: "ScienceDaily (July 21, 2009) — Mathematical modelling can help inform public health policy in outbreaks such as the H1N1 pandemic, write members of the Pandemic Influenza Outbreak Research Modelling Team in Canada in a CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) article. These models are useful tools for simulating plausible scenarios, developing control strategies and identifying important areas for immediate research.
. . .
Mathematical models have shown that small seasonal variations in transmission of the influenza virus can drive large annual surges in the disease.
. . .

The authors conclude that "making these models better understood and more accessible will provide a valuable additional weapon in the fight against emerging infectious diseases."

In a related article, Canada's first human-to-human transmission of the H1N1 influenza virus is presented in a research case study. The article looks at the cluster of cases in Nova Scotia in April 2009 and outlines transmission, diagnostic testing and public health measures to control the outbreak.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Brain Response To Information About The Future Suggests That Ignorance Isn't Bliss

The point is this might be one of the underlying nueral mechanisms for the "thirst for knowledge."
Brain Response To Information About The Future Suggests That Ignorance Isn't Bliss: "The authors conclude that the same dopamine neurons that signal primitive rewards like food and water also signal the cognitive reward of advance information. Importantly, this finding has important implications for modern theories of reinforcement learning. 'Our data shows the need for a new class of models that assign information a positive value,' says Dr. Bromberg-Martin. 'Dopamine neurons might treat information as desirable because it can help us learn how to predict and control our environment.'"

Trying to learn how learning works -

The point is that a science of learning is emerging from the art of teaching and learning.
Trying to learn how learning works -
"'New insights from many different fields are converging to create a new science of learning that may transform educational practices,' begins a report led by Andrew Meltzoff of the University of Washington in Seattle. The review in the current Science magazine makes the case for psychologists, neuroscientists, roboticists and teachers combining to quietly create a new field that combines everything from how brains grow to how classrooms work into a new kind of learning research.

For example, a companion study in the current Science by John Gabrieli of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, illustrates how neuroscience and education researchers have teamed up to tackle dyslexia, a difficulty with reading and vocabulary that afflicts 5% to 17% of children. Behavioral and brain measures can now identify dyslexic tendencies in infants, and lead to teaching that can "prevent dyslexia from occurring in the majority of children who would otherwise develop dyslexia," according to the study.
. . .
In April, President Obama called on National Academy of Sciences members to "think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering" and announced an initiative to raise those TIMSS scores.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Delinquent Behavior Among Boys 'Contagious,' Study Finds

The point is that if behavior is framed as a contagious disease and the accelerator is the culture, then small changes in in the culture can lead to huge changes in the behavior.

Delinquent Behavior Among Boys 'Contagious,' Study Finds: "The more intense the help given by the juvenile justice system, the greater was its negative impact,' Dr. Tremblay stresses. 'Our findings take on even greater importance given that the juvenile justice system in the province of Quebec has the reputation of being among the best. Most countries spend considerable financial resources to fund programs and institutions that group deviant youths together in order to help them. The problem is that delinquent behavior is contagious, especially among adolescents. Putting deviant adolescents together creates a culture of deviance, which increases the likelihood of continued criminal behavior.

Learning Is Both Social And Computational, Supported By Neural Systems Linking People

The point is that given the plasticity of the brain a science of life long learning is possible.

Learning Is Both Social And Computational, Supported By Neural Systems Linking People:
"ScienceDaily (July 19, 2009) — Education is on the cusp of a transformation because of recent scientific findings in neuroscience, psychology, and machine learning that are converging to create foundations for a new science of learning.

Writing in the July 17 edition of the journal Science, researchers report that this shift is being driven by three principles that are emerging from cross-disciplinary work: learning is computational, learning is social, and learning is supported by brain circuits linking perception and action that connect people to one another. This new science of learning, the researchers believe, may shed light into the origins of human intelligence.

"We are not left alone to understand the world like Robinson Crusoe was on his island," said Andrew Meltzoff, lead author of the paper and co-director of the University of Washington's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. "These principles support learning across the life span and are particularly important in explaining children's rapid learning in two unique domains of human intelligence, language and social understanding.

"Social interaction is more important than we previously thought and underpins early learning. Research has shown that humans learn best from other humans, and a large part of this is timing, sensitive timing between a parent or a tutor and the child," said Meltzoff, who is a developmental psychologist.

"We are trying to understand how the child's brain works – how computational abilities are changed in the presence of another person, and trying to use these three principles as leverage for learning and improving education," added co-author Patricia Kuhl, a neuroscientist and co-director of the UW's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.