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The Future of Learning

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The future of learning is online classes. This is a well known fact in the college atmosphere. Almost Every college offers online courses for their students. The problem with online courses is the impersonalization that occurs in this environment. For some people this isn’t a problem, but in a more difficult subject, one on one time with an instructor or tutor becomes very important. This is a problem that Salmon Khan, the founder of Khan Academy is trying to remedy.

Salmon Khan is attempting to make traditional classroom learning a thing of the past. Khan Academy is a nonprofit organization with a goal of providing anybody, with an internet connection, a world class education for free. Their website is chock full of lecture videos and exercises designed with foundational learning in mind. As of now they currently have over 2600 videos to watch.

The courses are designed to help the student master a subject. How long it takes is dependent on the student. This is different from traditional classroom education in that the students only have a set amount of time to learn the material before the end of a particular term. With the old structure, the student is not guaranteed that they will build the foundation that they need to move on to harder subjects. Khan Academy uses a module generator to create an almost infinite amount of questions on a particular subject in order to help the students develop a solid foundation of the material.

Khan Academy ran a pilot program at the Los Altos school system in California for a class of 5th and 7th graders. The students were still given lectures by the instructor, but they were supplemented by the online videos from the Academy. What was discovered in this program was that the students performed better than the other classes at the school that were not part of the pilot program. The 7th grade class was the most surprising, it was a remedial math class. By the end of the year the students had progressed further than the other 7th grade students, in more advanced math classes, at the same school.

How was this done? The instructor was able to see the progress of the class through a dashboard on their computer. The instructor was able to find the problem areas and tailor their lectures to those particular areas. The data they took away from this program showed that even though some students fell behind in the material, they were able to improve and become highly proficient in the material. The program did so well that the Los Altos school system implemented this program throughout the whole district.

So what does this really mean for traditional college-level classroom teaching? Not much yet, the lessons offered can help strengthen the foundations for lower level math and science courses. But time will tell with the successes of the Khan Academy. They are adding more videos all the time. Give them some time and they may revolutionize education.

For some more information, check out this video from the 2011 Web2.0 Summit

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Written by chadwickiusb

November 1, 2011 at 6:02 am

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Doomsday Comet?

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With the end of the Mayan Calendar coming up in December next year it forces you to step back and think. Was it just an oversight? Did they have some sort of insight into the world ending in 2012, or did they just decide to stop after a certain point? How close have we come to an end of the world catastrophe in the past? According to three astronomers in Mexico, pretty close.

On October 12 2011, Hector Javier Durand Manterola, Maria de la Paz Ramos Lara, and Guadelupe Cordero published a paper (pdf) about the observations made in 1883 by Jose A. y Bonilla. Bonilla observed hundreds of objects passing in front of the sun through his telescope. He was not entirely sure what he was seeing; it could have been birds or insects. The paper that was posted on October 12 seeks to prove that it was something completely different, a broken up comet.

Manterola and company put forth this theory of a broken up comet based on other observations of broken up comets passing by the Earth. They believe that some of these pieces were the size of the asteroid that struck Tunguska in Siberia in 1908. The fact that these pieces were an estimated 600-8000 km from Earth shows how close we possibly came another mass extinction. As amazing as this sounds, there are some facts that are not addressd. Namely if these were pieces of a comet, why didn’t anybody else see them? Objects of that size passing that close to Earth would have been observed by a good number of people. Meteor showers from this comet entering the atmosphere could have even been seen during the day. Yet, nobody else is known to have seen it anywhere else.

The evidence against this reexamination seems to keep stacking up. It shows a possible reason why this was posted online and not in a reputable scientific publication. Perhaps it was still under peer review. Or maybe it is just another example of sensationalist thinking with the end of the Mayan calender approaching.

What do you think?

Written by chadwickiusb

October 18, 2011 at 2:06 am

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Keeping healthy – Cold and Flu Prevention

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As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter that dreaded time of the year gets closer; cold and flu season. Most people can expect to catch at least one cold during this time of year, especially if they are around crowds of people. College students are at a higher risk to get sick as a result of the amount of people in one place during the course of the day.

There are a number of ways to prevent becoming sick. One simple solution is to get a yearly flu vaccination. This is the best way to prevent getting the flu. Contrary to popular belief, the flu vaccine does not cause someone to get sick. The flu vaccine contains the deactivated virus that allows the white blood cells to develop antibodies for the virus. During the cold and flu season hand sanitizer becomes a great tool. Using hand sanitizer after touching high traffic areas such as door handles, keyboards, desks, etc. will greatly reduce the chance of the virus getting into the body.

Keeping a regular sleep schedule goes a long way in preventing sickness. Seven hours of sleep a night keeps the body healthy. Sleeping helps boost the immune system by controlling the release of cortisol. Cortisol suppresses the immune system by muting white blood cells. Another great tip is to keep a balanced diet. Eating plenty of foods high in vitamin D and zinc will boost the immune system. Finally, make sure to exercise at least a few times a week. Exercising increases white blood cells which help fight the virus.

The key to staying healthy is keeping the immune system working. It is too late when classmates start hacking and coughing in the halls. It is best to start now before everybody starts getting sick.

Written by chadwickiusb

September 29, 2011 at 4:51 am

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Money Management

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Money can be the bane of any college student’s existence. It doesn’t help that most student are out on their own for the first time. They must manage to live on what little money they already have. IUSB students may not have the same ratio of job holding students to full-time students as a bigger university, but money issues affect everybody the same way.

There are many ways to save money while in school. The most important thing to remember is to not rack up more debt than what is already owed for school. Credit cards always seem like a good idea at the time; but they tend to leave the card holder swimming in debt for sometime afterwords. Credit card companies love to give their cards to students fresh out of their parent’s house. Credit cards should be used sparingly. Students should always keep a budget of their expenses. It helps to know how much money they are able to spend each month. It keeps them from overspending and resorting to borrowing money. It also helps to keep track of where money is being spent.

Saving money is vital to staying afloat in college. There are many discounts to be had around the South Bend area. It is as simple as asking a business if they offer one for students. It is also vital to open a savings account with a higher interest rate. The best places for higher interest rates are credit unions. The rates may not be significantly higher but in the long run, more money is earned.

Written by chadwickiusb

September 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm

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Technology in the classroom

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Does technology in the classroom help the learning process?  Mark James, a lecturer at the University of West Florida, doesn’t thing it is as effective as people think.  James decided to conduct an experiment on his summer class to find out how his class would do without any technology in the classroom.

The result of this experiment was a success in his eyes.  He did away with Powerpoint and videos he normally used and taught the old fashioned way.  According to James, “The students seem more involved in the discussion than when I allowed them online.”  He also stated that the class discussions improved and the students were more involved.

Another good example came from Barry Leed, an English professor at Central Connecticut University.  Leed still advocates the use of blue books in his classroom.  He uses them for in-class writing assignments.  He says it helps the students craft more coherent arguments; helping them understand the material more effectively.

So does the technology help or hinder students?  In the right context, technology can further a students understanding.  When teachers start relying on technology without  augmenting their lecture to accommodate said technology; it doesn’t help the students understand the material any better.  A Powerpoint presentation will never be as effective as a class discussion in determining the students’ understanding.  A student learns more effectively when they are actively engaged in the material.  Technology can be a great addition to the classroom.  But only if done in a way the keeps the student engaged and focused on the material.

What do you think?  For more information on this subject, check this out 

Written by chadwickiusb

September 8, 2011 at 5:11 am

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Potential Topics for students in college

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There are many subjects that can be approached in regards to students in college.  A big issue regarding college students is their interest in technology.  The explosion of smart phones and tablets allow a student the power of a laptop without the weight.  the use of these devices can greatly enhance the learning experience.  it also has the chance of hindering learning by distracting the student during lectures.  it is a trade-off that can potentially change the way learning is done in the classroom.  A more local, IUSB example of a technology post is a review of the new mobile site for IU.  They have made the most accessed parts of the website more accessible to users on their smart phones.  It allows for students to quickly check for information from their classes while on the go without having to access a computer.

Textbooks can be the bane of any college students existence.  With soaring prices at the bookstore, students are always looking for ways to save on their textbooks.  The web is full of used textbook websites that sell books for cheaper prices.  Some of these websites can potentially save a student hundreds of dollars per semester.  Another helpful topic for students is the popularity of renting textbooks for the semester.  There are many upsides to renting a textbook, especially for textbooks that will never be used again after that semester.  The downsides are that the student doesn’t own it, which means if it gets destroyed or damaged; the student is liable for the book.

Written by chadwickiusb

September 6, 2011 at 4:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

This is a test

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This is a test of my new blog.

Written by chadwickiusb

August 31, 2011 at 1:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized