Monday, January 30, 2012

Pre-Post - Robots in Education: My Teacher's A Cyborg!

Teachers as SuperHuman Cyborgs! A Preposterous Science-Fiction Fantasy you say? Pioneering days in the areas of Emerging Tech, Augmentation, A.I. and Research tells us otherwise....

Just wanted to briefly share with you a bit of what I am currently delving into in regards to the research into Emerging Technology and Augmentative Teaching; such as the use of social-teaching robots in the regular classroom and specialized lab settings.

Robots have also been utilized and field-tested recently in social experiment research with children (both early childhood and autism) with surprising if not controversial results. Already robots are being used for training purposes in medical schools and institutes for remote-surgery and tele-medicine (robotic-telepresence).

What does the research and studies say? 

What are the implications on Teaching and Learning?
And more importantly what do the kids think?

Included here is a stack of research and articles related to the use of robots in education across the world and US - Follow the Delicious Link

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Smart Weapons: Pigeons, Teaching Machines and Learning


I read an insightful posting on cognitive illusions and biases called The Over Justification Effect a psychological theory about intrinsic/extrinsic motivation from You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney. It got me thinking about scientific research and data collection on learning and motivation.

Anyway this led me down the path to researching the history, innovation and source of computer instruction and electronic gaming machines. Through the web, I was reintroduced to B.F. Skinner's study of pigeons and his infamous Skinner boxes; which brought about the development of Teaching Machines (circa 1950s) and Programmed Instruction which utilized the method of Linear Sequential Learning or Linear Learning. Machines (computers) at that time were primarily used for calculations not for teaching and/or learning with students- most machines today use software programs that capitalize on linear algebraic formulas or what is called "secret sauce".

On Research, Computers and Learning - There is an classic article on computers in the classroom and its effectiveness on learning from the Atlantic (1997)  called The Computer Delusion by Todd Oppenheimer. I retrieved this article because it mentions Skinner's device and the buy-in from the government...also Ex-Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, prophetically mentions something vaguely-sounding like Anytime, Anyplace Online Learning just imagine the possibility of a NEWT-U.

A recent online article from The Chronicle (2011) which talks about the company, Knewton, that features predictive and analytic software using the hot tech topic of "Adaptive Learning"; ideas and concepts originally developed by B.F. Skinner (see video below) and a interactive video-game UI for low socio-economic and poor performing learners. Given the problems that schools are having today with funding schools, districts and states will be using more of this approach due to cheaper costs and relative ease of data collection.
Critics, however, note one crucial problem: Few good studies have been done on the outcomes of these programs, particularly at the community-college level, which serve the kind of vulnerable students they are supposed to help most.
Still, advocates say an advantage of the software is that it gives these and other students more control in a course. Historically, "students have had to work in the order that the instructor and textbook author think is most relevant," says A. Daniel Johnson, a senior lecturer in biology at Wake Forest University..." The Chronicle, (2011)
The scientific research and debates are still continuing on the effectiveness of machines and automation on teaching and learning.

So the humble pigeon's technosavy and influence on machine teaching and learning is with us to this very day... remarkable and strange indeed.

                                                                                                                  Video - YouTube - please use the CC transcription

Curious Side Note to this Posting:
I rediscovered the etymological trivia root of the word Pigeon-Brain or Bird Brain courtesy of the web and Wikipedia- apparently there was a WWII program led by BF Skinner called Project Orcon using pigeons as guided SMART weapons! who knew? It also the development of early touch screen technology for the pigeon-guided bomb. I think there is a potential e-book in the works called Bird Brains: The Development of Smart Weapons, Teaching Machines and their Influence on Computer-Aided Learning. The curious and humble role that birds have played in Science, Warfare and Education in America is meritorious.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

WorldReady: Chasing Hot Air Balloons, Learning and Jobs -cc - loc

Where are the new Jobs and why the Hype?

I am net-digesting at the moment – just heard about a number of school boards either closing schools and/or consolidating due to lack of finances or not meeting the grade in Texas. Texas is in a growth stage and is doing pretty well on the economic scene – so if they are closing doors this causes concern for the nation as well. Teachers are sadly getting reassigned or released. Jobs and Careers – not to mention student learning and well being potentially going down the rabbit hole….

OK, I have been tweeting and doing some Linkedin posts on Gartner’s IT Hype Cycle… thanks to a tech friend of mine for connecting the dots…he has developed an Ed Tech Hype Cycle. Here is the Linkedin mini-post of mine (revised)…

Following the Herd and missing the Black Swan (Taleb's Theory): Most individuals have heard about Moore's Law but Gartner's Famous IT business HYPE Cycle has implications as well. Could this apply to IT in Education ? Often, new innovative technologies are blindly ignored - pioneering tech products and innovation does not always win out in the marketplace.

The IT Fantasy and the Great Disconnect - I have also read a right-on article about Tech or better yet Social Media and the Brain Drain…..

Question: How can a company with just 3,000 Employees be potentially valued at $100 Billion and rise to the top-tier business in the US? What is it telling us?……There was the recent NY Times article about a tech company and its business in the US and abroad – tons of cash and very few real jobs, the US operations employs around 48, OOO workers.

These two admired companies have few jobs in their respective companies at least employing no more than a small liberal arts school for one and a large state school in the other. Anyway, TNW summed up how I have felt about IT start-ups at the moment even IT ED is getting swept up in it… is the link 

Chasing Hot Air Balloons…

Saturday, January 28, 2012

WorldReady: Education, Learning and The New Frontier Economy (NFE) for the 21c


I have been e-Curating and using delicious (Yahoo) features to create article/research stacks on a number of topics. This topic was spurned on by a couple of books that I have been reading about jobs, computers, automation and manufacturing in the US. I like the features and ease of use of the delicious stacks, this has great potential for both teachers and students doing research.

More on this important topic in some additional e-posts.

Here is the link: WorldReady

TechBLURZ - Finding a Voice among the Noise

Well this blog is my humble attempt to try to stay focused in a fuzzy and blurry post-industrial world - finding a Voice among the Noise.

TechBLURZ features random musings, aggregated data and e-curation on a number of thoughts and issues including TechPolitics, mind dumps, wanderings and digressions.

Much of it is a just a collection, sort of a digital scrapbook of my work and interests.

Here are some additional URL Profile Projects and my Digital ID:




Creative Writing Project