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Life of an Educator by Justin Tarte: 10 reasons we need social media in education

Ra's insight:

Questions the value of a school that bans social media for students while using digitial and social media to promote the school.

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The 10-Minute Guide To Bloom's Taxonomy - Edudemic

The 10-Minute Guide To Bloom's Taxonomy - Edudemic | emerging learning | Scoop.it
Bloom's Taxonomy is one of the most cited theoretical constructions within education and e-learning.
Ra's insight:

video aimed at educators who wish to develop a structured approach to defining learning objectives.

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Floating down a Tributary: A web interface for live and responsive visual coding

Floating down a Tributary: A web interface for live and responsive visual coding | emerging learning | Scoop.it

All aboard? Prepare yourself for a voyage through parameter space as we embark on project Tributary! Tributary is a web interface for live and responsive visual coding. It includes a code editor and provides some popular javascript libraries for visual programming. The core concept of tributary comes from the inspirational Bret Victor video and the implementation is derived from Gabriel Florit’s water project.

 

Tributary is aimed at being a learning tool and a playground for visual programming. It has already been useful to me as a rapid prototyping tool for data visualization, and I also enjoy using it to come up with unexpected visual effects and optical illusions. I hope that it can also serve as a great learning tool for those who are new to interactive visual programming in javascript as well.

 

Tributary uses d3.js and SVG to provide graphics rendering capabilities. All tributary really does is provide an svg element. When the code in the editor is changed, the svg element is emptied and the code is evaluated. The assumption here is that the code will draw something in the svg element. The editor has been modified so that whenever you click on a number or a color string an interactive slider or color picker will pop up. Moving the slider will modify the number and redraw (by re-executing the code for each number change) automatically, allowing you to quickly see how a certain value affects your visualization.

 

Besides d3.js, tributary code snippets have access to Underscore.js and Backbone.js as well as jQuery. The code editor is powered by CodeMirror, with the color picker powered byColor Picker and the sliders powered by jQuery UI.

 

This project excites me everyday, mostly because it makes coding a much more interactive experience which also makes it much easier to code with other people. Because you get instant visual feedback it’s also possible to code live in front of other people in a way that wasn’t exciting before. As a teaching tool your words come alive as you type out the code and as a rapid prototyping tool you can iterate quickly with a domain expert as they suggest changes or ask interesting questions.

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Reegan Bourgeois's curator insight, July 23, 2013 12:36 PM

I almost want to hop back into programming just so I could make use of this amazing tool. Perhaps somewhere down the line.

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10 Careless Mistakes That Will Totally Ruin Your eLearning

10 Careless Mistakes That Will Totally Ruin Your eLearning | emerging learning | Scoop.it
It’s part of your job as an eLearning course developer to polish up your material before you hit publish. A single error speaks volumes. It tells learners you’re in a hurry to even check the course or think you don’t care enough about details.

Via Mario Zidar
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Ra's curator insight, July 11, 2013 5:15 PM

Quick list for the last checks before publishing.

Sara Brechbiel's curator insight, July 15, 2013 10:56 PM

Creating a checklist to avoid these blunders sounds like a nice plan.

Kathleen Gradel's curator insight, July 21, 2013 12:12 PM

Woohoo...I feel like I am vindicated. What a super short list of essential TDLs for all of us who are creating or curating content for others to use online. Thank you!

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Move Over Three R’s, Here Come the Three C’s | Teach Amazing!

Move Over Three R’s, Here Come the Three C’s | Teach Amazing! | emerging learning | Scoop.it

Via catspyjamasnz
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Cristina Reyes's curator insight, March 17, 2013 9:36 AM

I totally agree  with Brumley that nowadays the Three R’s (reading, writing & arithmetic) simply won’t do. We need to add what he calls the “Three C’s”. CREATE, CURATE and COLLABORATE.

Estoy totalmente de acuerdo que actualmente las 3 rs no son suficientes(escribir, leer y aritmética). Necesitamos agregar lo que Brumley llama las 3 C: crear, curar y colaborar.

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Pinterest: digital identity, Stepford Wives edition | theory.cribchronicles.com

Pinterest: digital identity, Stepford Wives edition | theory.cribchronicles.com | emerging learning | Scoop.it
Pinterest makes us look pretty. but its curation over creation model also risks making us Stepford Wives in our own lives, thanks to how digital identity works.

Via catspyjamasnz
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Peter B. Sloep's curator insight, June 25, 2013 6:19 AM

Our online or digital identity matters. Whaf if the image we portray of it consists of 'scooped' or 'pinned' materials only? Our identity then is a borrowed one, not even reflecting who we are but who we aspire to be. Of course, curation in the pre-online age was about creation too and so it still should be in the digital age (see also my blog about a year of content creation http://tiny.cc/ncc8yw) (@pbsloep)

Clare Treloar's curator insight, June 25, 2013 6:14 PM

Now here is an article English students could sink their teeth into! Shaping of identity and social media are not only topical but our kids needed to get into deeper issues re what their accounts project.

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The SAMR Ladder Through the Lens of 21st Century Skills

The SAMR Ladder Through the Lens of 21st Century Skills | emerging learning | Scoop.it
SAMR is a truly useful tool for helping teachers identify their current comfort zone in order to build expertise in designing efficient and effective student learning experiences. To reach higher l...

Via Beth Dichter
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Beth Dichter's curator insight, July 17, 2013 10:22 PM

If you are considering using the SAMR model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modificaion, Redefinition) you might want to check out this interactive graphic that provides a great visual as well as links to many great resources. Susan Oxnevad notes "The circle at each level targets research, writing and digital citizenship."

Ethel Natalia Revello's curator insight, July 18, 2013 12:53 PM

Really useful to share with teachers. 

Kimberly House's curator insight, July 28, 2013 6:32 AM

Fanstastic interactive graphic to explain the SAMR model. 

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Before Reading or Watching Videos, Students Should Experiment First

Before Reading or Watching Videos, Students Should Experiment First | emerging learning | Scoop.it
A new Stanford study shows that students learn better when first exploring an unfamiliar idea or concept on their own, rather than reading a text or watching a video first.

Via Beth Dichter
Ra's insight:

Implications for fabric tech in relation to systems. Trial and error as the lead in. Provide basic skill set and try to evolve the understanding of the systems and processes required to achieve identified outcomes. 

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Beth Dichter's curator insight, July 18, 2013 9:33 PM

What is the best way to flip a classroom? Perhaps it is not showing videos first, but allowing the student to experiment first and then watch videos or read material. This study shows that students experimented first had substantial improvement in performance.

This study used a specific "new interactive tabletop learning environment, called BrainExplorer, which was developed by Stanford GSE researchers to enhance neuroscience instruction." Based on the use of this environment students did better exploring first. The experiment is described and data is shared in this article and it shows that the group who experimented first had a significant improvement in their final score.

There is an explanation as to why they chose the field of neuroscience as their goal (quoted from post below):

“Part of our goal,” the researchers write, “is to create low-cost, easy-to-scale educational platforms based on open source, free software and off-the-shelf building blocks such as web cameras and infrared pens so that our system can be easily and cheaply deployed in classrooms.”

The article also notes that this 'many educational researchers and cognitive scientists have been asserting for many years: the “exploration first” model is a better way to learn.'

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Remove Any Image Background With Clipping Magic

Remove Any Image Background With Clipping Magic | emerging learning | Scoop.it
Clipping Magic is a free web app for quickly and easily removing image backgrounds.

When using images for PowerPoint presentations, blog posts and other projects, one may require removing their background so that they may blend in with the colors of your presentation slide, blog or canvas.  However, removing a background image isn’t easy and being a PRO at PhotoShop is not possible for everyone.


Via Baiba Svenca
Ra's insight:

Add to the resources folder, just in case. 

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Fernando Rodriguez's curator insight, July 16, 2013 1:18 AM

Great tool!! can save a lot of time and effort. Too bad it does not yet work on Safari!!

Farnsworth ELA's curator insight, July 17, 2013 9:28 PM

This will make presentations more fun :-)

NikMak's curator insight, October 8, 2013 8:39 AM

Καταπληκτικό εργαλείο! Πιο γρήγορα δεν γίνεται! 

 

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A new form of carbon: Grossly warped 'nanographene'

A new form of carbon: Grossly warped 'nanographene' | emerging learning | Scoop.it
Chemists at Boston College and Nagoya University in Japan have synthesized the first example of a new form of carbon, the team reports in the most recent online edition of the journal Nature Chemistry.

 

Graphite, the most stable form of elemental carbon, consists of pure carbon sheets stacked upon one another like reams of paper. Individual sheets, known as graphene, prefer planar geometries as a consequence of the hexagonal honeycomb-like arrangements of trigonal carbon atoms that comprise their two-dimensional networks. Defects in the form of non-hexagonal rings in such networks cause distortions away from planarity.

 

The new material consists of multiple identical pieces of grossly warped graphene, each containing exactly 80 carbon atoms joined together in a network of 26 rings, with 30 hydrogen atoms decorating the rim. Because they measure slightly more than a nanometer across, these individual molecules are referred to generically as "nanocarbons," or more specifically in this case as "grossly warped nanographenes."

 

Until recently, scientists had identified only two forms of pure carbon: diamond and graphite. Then in 1985, chemists were stunned by the discovery that carbon atoms could also join together to form hollow balls, known as fullerenes. Since then, scientists have also learned how to make long, ultra-thin, hollow tubes of carbon atoms, known as carbon nanotubes, and large flat single sheets of carbon atoms, known as graphene. The discovery of fullerenes was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996, and the preparation of graphene was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.

Graphene sheets prefer planar, 2-dimensional geometries as a consequence of the hexagonal, chicken wire-like, arrangements of trigonal carbon atoms comprising their two-dimensional networks. The new form of carbon just reported in Nature Chemistry, however, is wildly distorted from planarity as a consequence of the presence of five 7-membered rings and one 5-membered ring embedded in the hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms.

 

Odd-membered-ring defects such as these not only distort the sheets of atoms away from planarity, they also alter the physical, optical, and electronic properties of the material, according to one of the principle authors, Lawrence T. Scott, the Jim and Louise Vanderslice and Family Professor of Chemistry at Boston College.

 

"Our new grossly warped nanographene is dramatically more soluble than a planar nanographene of comparable size," said Scott, "and the two differ significantly in color, as well. Electrochemical measurements revealed that the planar and the warped nanographenes are equally easily oxidized, but the warped nanographene is more difficult to reduce."

 

Graphene has been highly touted as a revolutionary material for nanoscale electronics. By introducing multiple odd-membered ring defects into the graphene lattice, Scott and his collaborators have experimentally demonstrated that the electronic properties of graphene can be modified in a predictable manner through precisely controlled chemical synthesis.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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What Do You Want Kids to Do with Technology?

What Do You Want Kids to Do with Technology? | emerging learning | Scoop.it

Wrong Answers: make Prezis, start blogs, create Wordles, publish Animotos, design flipcharts, produce videos, post to Edmodo, use whiteboard, develop apps

 

Right Answers: raise awareness, start conversations, find answers (to THEIR questions), join partners, change minds, make a difference, take action, drive change

 

Technology is a TOOL, NOT an outcome


Via Felix Jacomino
Ra's insight:

Direct and to the point! Nice one Felix. 

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Oscar Melendez's curator insight, October 20, 2013 4:39 PM

On incorporating technology in the classroom

Hannah Roukas's curator insight, October 22, 2013 7:55 AM

This post was short but to the point.  Technology should be one of the subjects kids learn in school, it should be used to help kids develop ideas.  Teachers should use technology to keep lessons interesting so kids don't fall asleep or become uninteresting.

Geoff Findley's curator insight, November 29, 2013 1:08 AM

Good to think about...

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7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Sharing Photos Online - Edudemic

7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Sharing Photos Online - Edudemic | emerging learning | Scoop.it
Digital citizenship involves keeping yourself and your friends safe. One of the biggest ways to do that is to know about these questions to ask yourself before sharing photos online.
Ra's insight:

Promoting self reflection around building an online presence.

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Italian sculptors move over: Prototype unveiled for world’s first 3D-printed room

Italian sculptors move over: Prototype unveiled for world’s first 3D-printed room | emerging learning | Scoop.it
Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger unveil prototype for world’s first 3D-printed room as a 1:3 model to be exhibited in Basel and Tokyo.

 

Named Digital Grotesque and due to be unveiled on 22 July, the full-scale ornate room by Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger will have 80 million surfaces rendered in smooth sandstone, with certain parts glazed and gilded. A 1:3 scale prototype of the room was shown at the Swiss Arts Awards 2013 in Basel and at the Materializing Exhibition in Tokyo.

 

Generated using 3D-modelling software, the room will be constructed from grains of sand bonded together to create a new type of sandstone that's capable of achieving the intricate form.

 

Despite the ornate style of the room, Hansmeyer says they are exploring "new potentials of digital design by using a reduced, minimalist approach that nonetheless transcends rationality."

 

"Inspired by the natural process of cell division, we develop an algorithm that iteratively divides and transforms the initial geometry of a simple cube," they continue. "Despite simple rules, a complex world of forms arises at multiple scales: between ornament and structure, between order and chaos, foreign and yet familiar: a digital grotesque."

 

In a TEDTalk last year, Hansmeyer explained how he uses algorithms to replicate nature's morphogenesis process of creation, the splitting of one cell into two cells, which leads him to create forms with millions of facets. "No person could draft them by hand, but they're buildable," he said. "They could revolutionise the way we think of architectural form."

 

Other structures that have already been printed in sandstone include arobotic 3D printer that builds shelters on the beach and a three-metre-highpavilion resembling a giant egg with large holes in its surface, which was created by Enrico Dini and Andrea Morgante in 2009. Recognised as the first-ever printed architectural structure, it was intended as a scale model of a 10-metre structure that was never built.

 

Meanwhile the race to build the world's first 3D-printed house continues, with the top contenders being Universe Architecture's looping two-storey house that resembles a Möbius strip, DUS Architects plan to 3D-print a canal house room-by-room in the centre of Amsterdam and Softkill Design's Protohouse 2.0 with a fibrous structure resembling bone growth.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Generation YES » Youth & Educators Succeeding

Generation YES » Youth & Educators Succeeding | emerging learning | Scoop.it

Generation YES is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) with a mission to empower students and teachers to use technology to improve education in their own school. Our school-friendly online tools and innovative project-based curriculum build a learning community where students work alongside their teachers as technology leaders, collaborators and mentors. 15 years of research experience and proven scientific results show that when schools trust and collaborate with their students to integrate technology, academic success follows.

 

We believe in Participatory Learning - where students and teachers work together to create optimal conditions for learning in every classroom; where students are agents of change, rather than objects of change.


Via Dennis T OConnor
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Dennis T OConnor's curator insight, July 30, 2013 1:33 PM

GenYes has been a great idea that's weathered the test of time. Students help teachers with technology. What better role reversal could there be?  If your school is struggling with tech support, the answer is right here.  Even if your school is cruising along with great tech infrastructure, letting the kids take over is one of the best things you can do to prepare a modern learner. 


Investigate this program! 

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40 Sources for Curated Educational Videos

40 Sources for Curated Educational Videos | emerging learning | Scoop.it
Fortunately, there are some great websites and services that take the guesswork out of finding and sorting educational video content. Here is the most updated list of some of the curated video site...

Via Beth Dichter
Ra's insight:

40 sites for video resources

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Noel Angulo's comment, July 23, 2013 8:07 PM
Excelente recomendación, tomo nota. Gracias!
Coletta P. Kahn's comment, July 26, 2013 12:23 AM
nice colours
Osman Kurt's curator insight, July 26, 2013 3:55 AM

Eğitim herkesin hakkı. Bu linkte internetten ücretsiz eğitim içeriğine ulaşabileceğiniz 40 güzel internet sitesi bulabilirsiniz. 

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A groundbreaking project called Aireal lets you actually feel virtual objects

A groundbreaking project called Aireal lets you feel virtual objects. Aireal is the result of research by University of Illinois PhD student Rajinder Sodhi and Disney Reseach’s Ivan Poupyrev. When set by your television or connected to an iPad, this diminutive machine will puff air rings that allow you to actually feel objects and textures in midair — no special controllers or gloves required.

 

The machine itself is essentially a set of five speakers in a box — subwoofers that track your body through IR, then fire low frequencies through a nozzle to form donut-like vortices.

 

In practice, Aireal can do anything from creating a button for you to touch in midair to crafting whole textures by pulsing its bubbles to mimic water, stone, and sand. … A single Aireal could conceivably support multiple people, and a grid of Aireals could create extremely immersive rooms, creating sensations like a flock of birds flying by.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Marie Rippen's curator insight, July 24, 2013 2:15 PM

Besides entertainment, this could have applications in physical therapy, education, advertising--anything you can think of where communicating the sensation of touch is important. Although, the first thing that popped into my head was Star Trek... holodeck anyone?

 

 
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From observation to breakthrough | @hjarche

From observation to breakthrough | @hjarche | emerging learning | Scoop.it

Via juandoming, catspyjamasnz
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Reading Lovers, Rejoice: The Company That Saved Digg Just Bought Instapaper

Reading Lovers, Rejoice: The Company That Saved Digg Just Bought Instapaper | emerging learning | Scoop.it
The problem with the Internet is that there’s too much to read and too little time. Instapaper, a 5-year-old Web service and app from Tumblr co-founder Marco Arment, is one of the sleekest solutions to this problem.

Via catspyjamasnz
Ra's insight:

Now, just find the time to go back and read all those interesting titbits you marked...

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Why Scoopit Is Becoming An Indispensable Learning Tool

Why Scoopit Is Becoming An Indispensable Learning Tool | emerging learning | Scoop.it
Why Scoopit Is Becoming An Indispensable Learning Tool

Via catspyjamasnz
Ra's insight:

Curating as a group, students identify their own input with their initials. Allows for a synthesis of ideas.

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cutesqualid's curator insight, August 12, 2013 4:44 AM

great work

gwynethjones's curator insight, August 13, 2013 2:05 PM

SO true! This is my FAV new Curation tool....well, add Scoopit to MentorMob & you have a dynamic duo!

Freek Kraak's comment, August 26, 2013 9:23 AM
Lees het op teachtought.com!
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Should I Post this Image? Great Flow Chart Leads to Answer

Should I Post this Image? Great Flow Chart Leads to Answer | emerging learning | Scoop.it
So. A few weeks ago, Chelsea discussed a super polarizing topic on her blog: photo credits. And although I've always been a bit of a hippie that likes

Via Beth Dichter
Ra's insight:

Taking the credit where credit is due challenge to a specific level. Good reminders for how to trace source. Implications for infringment. 

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Beth Dichter's curator insight, July 18, 2013 10:20 AM

Students (and adults) often struggle with providing credit of images. For those students whom like flow charts this graphic may be the tool they are looking for. Beginning with the question "Should I post this image?" you answer questions to determine if it may be posted, or if you might receive "an upleasant email" or a "super nasty email" as a result of a post. The post provides a link to the image on Flickr where you may download it in a number of formats.

Kimberly House's curator insight, July 28, 2013 6:27 AM

Great infographic for students to help with that every present question, 'Should I post this image?' Downloadable in a variety of sizes. 

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Copyright & Schools: What Can Educators (& Students) Do

Copyright & Schools: What Can Educators (& Students) Do | emerging learning | Scoop.it
One-stop-shop with guidance for teachers copying and using books, magazines, newspapers, music, film & TV in classrooms - from the CLA, ERA, NLA, CCLI, PPL, PRS, MPLC, PVS

Via Beth Dichter
Ra's insight:

UK based site. Easy to use and specific instances covered in detail. 

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LundTechIntegration's curator insight, July 21, 2013 11:37 AM

Love this resource.  

Nancy Jones's curator insight, July 21, 2013 5:36 PM

good one stop shopping site to share with colleagues and students.

Kimberly House's curator insight, July 30, 2013 10:29 AM

Helps clear up lots of copyright questions and 'grey' areas.

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27 Presentation Tips For Students And Teachers

27 Presentation Tips For Students And Teachers | emerging learning | Scoop.it
In an effort to help you become the next Steve Jobs of presenting, here are more than two dozen different presentation tips.

Via Baiba Svenca
Ra's insight:

Start students off with this to discuss ways to & reasons for presenting. If they can add to this it will build the engagement for presenting. 

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Alfredo Corell's curator insight, September 22, 2013 2:37 PM

A simple and useful tips-guide (infographic) for your students to present.

BookChook's curator insight, October 9, 2013 11:44 PM

Great tips for kids and adults. 

Jazmin Reyes's curator insight, February 13, 2:45 AM

Everyone is afraid of getting up on stage and giving a speech or what ever they need to do in front of an audience. These kind of tips are helpful in every way possible especially when someone is nervous. Knowing that we need to just breathe is an important thing. These skills can allow us to get better in our presentations.

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Graphene could deliver internet 100 times faster, study shows

Graphene could deliver internet 100 times faster, study shows | emerging learning | Scoop.it

In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers from the Centre for Graphene Science at the Universities of Bath and Exeter have demonstrated for the first time incredibly short optical response rates using graphene, which could pave the way for a revolution in telecommunications.

 

Every day large amounts of information is transmitted and processed through optoelectronic devices such as optical fibres, photodetectors and lasers. Signals are sent by photons at infrared wavelengths and processed using optical switches, which convert signals into a series of light pulses.

Ordinarily optical switches respond at rate of a few picoseconds – around a trillionth of a second. Through this study physicists have observed the response rate of an optical switch using ‘few layer graphene’ to be around one hundred femtoseconds – nearly a hundred times quicker than current materials.

 

Graphene is just one atom thick, but remarkably strong. Scientists have suggested that it would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil to break through a single sheet. Already dubbed a miracle material due to its strength, lightness, flexibility, conductivity and low cost, it could now enter the market to dramatically improve telecommunications.

 

Commenting on the report’s main findings, lead researcher Dr, Enrico Da Como said: “We’ve seen an ultrafast optical response rate, using ‘few-layer graphene’, which has exciting applications for the development of high speed optoelectronic components based on graphene. This fast response is in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, where many applications in telecommunications, security and also medicine are currently developing and affecting our society.”

 

Co-Director of the Centre for Graphene Science at Bath, Professor Simon Bending added: “The more we find out about graphene the more remarkable its properties seem to be. This research shows that it also has unique optical properties which could find important new applications.”

In the long term this research could also lead to the development of quantum cascade lasers based on graphene. Quantum cascade lasers are semiconductor lasers used in pollution monitoring, security and spectroscopy. Few-layer graphene could emerge as a unique platform for this interesting application.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Education 3.0 and the Pedagogy (Andragogy, Heutagogy) of Mobile Learning

Education 3.0 and the Pedagogy (Andragogy, Heutagogy) of Mobile Learning | emerging learning | Scoop.it

"The evolution of the web from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and now to Web 3.0 can be used a metaphor of how education should also be evolving, as a movement based on the evolution from Education 1.0 to Education 3.0."


Via Beth Dichter
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Peter Evans's comment, July 19, 2013 2:28 PM
A useful summary table although I'd emphasise that the different 'versions' of education all have their place - v2.0 does not supercede v1.0
Elke Watson's comment, July 19, 2013 4:49 PM
Thank you. I'm not quite ready myself to do away with teaching professionals or brick and mortal education. I value learning in a group context. I found the second summary table more useful (pedagogy, andragogy, heutagogy)
Veronica Hoyos's curator insight, March 13, 9:22 PM

We could talk of the evolution from Education 2.0 to education 3.0 after carrying an evaluation on the impact of the Web 2.0 in education

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NASA: Hidden Magnetic Portals Around Earth

A favorite theme of science fiction is "the portal"--an extraordinary opening in space or time that connects travelers to distant realms. A good portal is a shortcut, a guide, a door into the unknown. If only they actually existed....

It turns out that they do, sort of, and a NASA-funded researcher at the University of Iowa has figured out how to find them.

"We call them X-points or electron diffusion regions," explains plasma physicist Jack Scudder of the University of Iowa. "They're places where the magnetic field of Earth connects to the magnetic field of the Sun, creating an uninterrupted path leading from our own planet to the sun's atmosphere 93 million miles away."

Observations by NASA's THEMIS spacecraft and Europe's Cluster probes suggest that these magnetic portals open and close dozens of times each day. They're typically located a few tens of thousands of kilometers from Earth where the geomagnetic field meets the onrushing solar wind. Most portals are small and short-lived; others are yawning, vast, and sustained. Tons of energetic particles can flow through the openings, heating Earth's upper atmosphere, sparking geomagnetic storms, and igniting bright polar auroras.

NASA is planning a mission called "MMS," short for Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, due to launch in 2014, to study the phenomenon. Bristling with energetic particle detectors and magnetic sensors, the four spacecraft of MMS will spread out in Earth's magnetosphere and surround the portals to observe how they work.

Just one problem: Finding them. Magnetic portals are invisible, unstable, and elusive. They open and close without warning "and there are no signposts to guide us in," notes Scudder.

Actually, there are signposts, and Scudder has found them.

Portals form via the process of magnetic reconnection. Mingling lines of magnetic force from the sun and Earth criss-cross and join to create the openings. "X-points" are where the criss-cross takes place. The sudden joining of magnetic fields can propel jets of charged particles from the X-point, creating an "electron diffusion region."

To learn how to pinpoint these events, Scudder looked at data from a space probe that orbited Earth more than 10 years ago.

"In the late 1990s, NASA's Polar spacecraft spent years in Earth's magnetosphere," explains Scudder, "and it encountered many X-points during its mission."

Data from NASA's Polar spacecraft, circa 1998, provided crucial clues to finding magnetic X-points. Credit: NASABecause Polar carried sensors similar to those of MMS, Scudder decided to see how an X-point looked to Polar. "Using Polar data, we have found five simple combinations of magnetic field and energetic particle measurements that tell us when we've come across an X-point or an electron diffusion region. A single spacecraft, properly instrumented, can make these measurements."

This means that single member of the MMS constellation using the diagnostics can find a portal and alert other members of the constellation. Mission planners long thought that MMS might have to spend a year or so learning to find portals before it could study them. Scudder's work short cuts the process, allowing MMS to get to work without delay.

It's a shortcut worthy of the best portals of fiction, only this time the portals are real. And with the new "signposts" we know how to find them.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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