February 2011 Archives

Guilty Thumbs


It makes you feel guilty but you still do it anyway. That statement can be made about a variety of human behavior but a new survey of students at the University of New Hampshire found it applies to texting in class.

The survey of 1,000 students at the university revealed high rates of texting during class, and plenty of guilt about composing the surreptitious messages. According to the survey, 80 percent of the students said they normally send at least one text message in each of their classes. University of New Hampshire business students conducted the survey for a marketing-research course.

Chuck Martin, an adjunct professor in the business school is quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education as saying the researchers expected to find that most students would, like them, want to be allowed to text during class.

But views among surveyed students were actually mixed, with 40 percent of students in favor of allowing texts, 37 percent opposed, and the rest neutral.

The survey showed women were more likely to send text messages than men. It also found, not surprisingly, texting in class distracted students from class material.

Are tablet devices really worth the hype?

Or the (hundreds of) thousands of dollars spent on purchasing tablet devices for entire cohorts of students? Many administrators of colleges, school boards of public schools and even kindergartens appear to believe so.

Many schools, programs, college departments across the United States are investing heavily in tablet devices such as the iPad. The Boston University's School of Management is providing iPads to all its M.B.A students after a successful trial of the device last fall, according to an article in U.S. News. Satisfied with the results of its student iPad initiative program that began last summer, California's Monterey College of Law has even expanded its program to include faculty members who are teaching core subjects, according to an article in Campus Technology. The president and dean of Monterey, Mitchell Winick, hopes that the iPad would enhance educational effectiveness and make faculty jobs easier.

Remember to Charge Your Eyeglasses


Bifocal eyeglasses may go the way of the 8-track tape player. New electronic spectacles about to be released have tiny batteries and microchips that enable people who wear bifocals to turn on the reading power when it is needed and turn it off when it's not.

The new electronic eyewear is called emPower and will be on the market this spring in Virginia and North Carolina. The glasses are made by PixelOptics in Virginia and are estimated to cost $1,000 to $1,200 for the frames, lenses, coatings and charger. That compares to an average of $300 to $500 for a pair for regular bifocals.

An article in the New York Times outlines how the electronic eyeglasses work. The glasses have "an unusual insert in the bottom part of the lenses; liquid crystals, cousins to the familiar ones in television displays. The crystals change how the lenses refract of bend light, just as varying levels of thickness do in traditional glasses," the Times reports.

The article explains, "To call up reading power in the new glasses, users touch the side of the frame. Batteries in the frame send along a current that changes the orientation of molecules in the crystals. Touch the side of the frame again, and the reading power disappears. Turn it off to hit a golf ball; turn it on to read the scorecard."

The electronic glasses require people to charge them. A PixelOptics executive said the charge should last two to three days.

Last year, some 20.6 million pairs of progressive lenses, and about 16.2 million pairs of bifocals, were sold in the United States, according to the New York Times.

Dr. Larry Wan, a managing partner at Family EyeCare Center in Campbell, Calif., tested the glasses with 10 of his patients, all in their 50s. He said they were a hit, for example, with people who had been bothered by blur as they walked down flights of stairs while wearing their glasses. "With these," he said, "you can turn the reading power off, so they are safer and you don't have that distortion," he told the New York Times.

Using Online Games for learning: Game for change

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According to the 2011 Horizon Report, one of the top 6 tech trends for higher ed is game-based learning.

(If you want to know more about the top 6 trends, read an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education )

Game-based learning is expected to see greater use within the next two to three years, the report says. And game-playing may help to develop decision-making and problem-solving abilities, as well as leadership skills. The report points to multiplayer role-playing games as offering particular promise for higher education.

Do you want to see some examples of games for learning?

Go visit Games for Change (http://www.gamesforchange.org/)

In this web-site, you can find various interesting games for learning. Many games are designed for students under K-12. But there are some games that are for 18 or older people such as 'Climate Challenge'

So why don't you consider and try to incorporate online games into your traditional or online courses? It can be another great tool to help students to learn better.

Sharing research data for greater impact

Introduction to open data tools that helps researchers share and build on existing research, increase their chances of getting cited and help preserve their work for future generations.

For more information about 20 by 20: An OIT Pecha Kucha Event, see http://www.oit.umn.edu/programs/20-by-20 That web page provides an overview of the event and links to the Google Site.

More Answers to Your Questions


If you have questions it seems some Internet start-up companies hope you'll turn to them for answers. Online sites like WikkiAnswers and Yahoo Answers have dominated the market and each attracted close to 50 million unique visitors in the United States in December, according to the analytics firm comScore.

Internet entrepreneurs say there's a need for new services to fill in the information gaps and provide users with access to experts. One of the founders of Stack Exchange, Joel Spolsky, recently spoke to the New York Times about his 2-year old company, its $6 million in capitol investment, and the site's 700,000 users.

"You can read the Wikipedia page about Egypt, but it might not answer an actual question someone has about what's going on there right now," Spolsky told the New York Times. "But an expert, a historian or someone with specific knowledge would be able to."

Stack Exchange is a network of web sites focused on questions in specific categories like programming, cooking and photography. It's expanded to 41 separate topic-specific sites. A site that's getting a lot of attention, Quora, lets people find and follow the activity of their friends. The site describes itself as "A continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it."

According to the New York Times, Facebook is hoping to cash in on the answer trend. The company has been introducing a feature on its site that allows users to pose and answer questions.

The Times spoke to an analyst at Forrester Research who said, "Targeting a consumer seeking a very specific type of answer could be very valuable to advertisers." One would suspect getting answers to questions is also very valuable to the average college student too.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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