Computers Are Taking Design Cues From Human Brains

New technologies are testing the limits of computer semiconductors. To deal with that, researchers have gone looking for ideas from nature.

We expect a lot from our computers these days. They should talk to us, recognize everything from faces to flowers, and maybe soon do the driving. All this artificial intelligence requires an enormous amount of computing power, stretching the limits of even the most modern machines.

Now, some of the world’s largest tech companies are taking a cue from biology as they respond to these growing demands. They are rethinking the very nature of computers and are building machines that look more like the human brain, where a central brain stem oversees the nervous system and offloads particular tasks — like hearing and seeing — to the surrounding cortex.

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Posted in Brain, Computers | Tagged ,

Crowd synthesis: extracting categories and clusters from complex data

Analysts synthesize complex, qualitative data to uncover themes and concepts, but the process is time-consuming, cognitively taxing, and automated techniques show mixed success. Crowdsourcing could help this process through on-demand harnessing of flexible and powerful human cognition, but incurs other challenges including limited attention and expertise. Further, text data can be complex, high-dimensional, and ill-structured. We address two major challenges unsolved in prior crowd clustering work: scaffolding expertise for novice crowd workers, and creating consistent and accurate categories when each worker only sees a small portion of the data. To address these challenges we present an empirical study of a two-stage approach to enable crowds to create an accurate and useful overview of a dataset: A) we draw on cognitive theory to assess how re-representing data can shorten and focus the data on salient dimensions; and B) introduce an iterative clustering approach that provides workers a global overview of data. We demonstrate a classification-plus-context approach elicits the most accurate categories at the most useful level of abstraction.

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Posted in Complex data, crowd, Data | Tagged , ,

Knowledge sharing in virtual communities – a review of the empirical research

This study reviews the recent empirical studies on knowledge sharing in Virtual Communities (VCs). The paper begins with an analysis of the VC conceptualisation and the focal phenomenon of knowledge sharing. Secondly, the factors that seem to facilitate knowledge-sharing activities in VCs are identified and categorised as individual motivations, personal characteristics, technical attributes and community-level social capital. Overall, the results demonstrate a strong emphasis on why individuals engage in such activities, but less attention is given to what is being shared and how the processes of sharing are manifested in practice. The paper concludes with some suggestions for further research.

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Posted in Knowledge sharing, Virtual community | Tagged ,

Understanding knowledge sharing in virtual communities

The biggest challenge in fostering a virtual community is the supply of knowledge, namely the willingness to share knowledge with other members. This paper integrates the Social Cognitive Theory and the Social Capital Theory to construct a model for investigating the motivations behind people’s knowledge sharing in virtual communities. The study holds that the facets of social capital — social interaction ties, trust, norm of reciprocity, identification, shared vision and shared language — will influence individuals’ knowledge sharing in virtual communities. We also argue that outcome expectations — community-related outcome expectations and personal outcome expectations — can engender knowledge sharing in virtual communities. Data collected from 310 members of one professional virtual community provide support for the proposed model. The results help in identifying the motivation underlying individuals’ knowledge sharing behavior in professional virtual communities. The implications for theory and practice and future research directions are discussed.

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Posted in Knowledge sharing, Virtual community | Tagged ,

Intelligence in the Twitter Age

Intelligence may have a bright future. Advances in imagery and signals processing technology mean that intelligence agencies can deliver remarkably accurate and timely intelligence to civilian officials and military commanders. However much leaders gripe about intelligence, few are likely to disregard such fine-grained information about threats and opportunities, especially when national security is on the line. Others contend that intelligence is central to the kind of wars that the United States is likely to fight in the foreseeable future. Counterterrorism, for example, depends on intelligence agencies to provide detailed descriptions of terrorist organizations, warning of impending attacks, and precise targeting information for offensive actions.

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Posted in Intelligence, Twitter | Tagged ,

Students learn better from books than screens

Today’s students see themselves as digital natives, the first generation to grow up surrounded by technology like smartphones, tablets and e-readers.

Teachers, parents and policymakers certainly acknowledge the growing influence of technology and have responded in kind. We’ve seen more investment in classroom technologies, with students now equipped with school-issued iPads and access to e-textbooks. In 2009, California passed a law requiring that all college textbooks be available in electronic form by 2020; in 2011, Florida lawmakers passed legislation requiring public schools to convert their textbooks to digital versions.

Given this trend, teachers, students, parents and policymakers might assume that students’ familiarity and preference for technology translates into better learning outcomes. But we’ve found that’s not necessarily true.

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Posted in ICT, Learning, Students | Tagged , ,

Digital media may be changing how you think

New study finds users focus on concrete details rather than the big picture.

Tablet and laptop users beware. Using digital platforms such as tablets and laptops for reading may make you more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly, according to a new study. The findings serve as another wake-up call to how digital media may be affecting our likelihood of using abstract thought.

The research tested the basic question: would processing the same information on a digital versus non-digital platform affect “construal levels”– the fundamental level of concreteness versus abstractness that people use in perceiving and interpreting behaviors, events and other informational stimuli.

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Read also: The rise of social reading

Posted in Digital media, Reading, Social reading | Tagged , ,

100 Education Hashtags for Teachers and EdLeaders

So you’ve decided to start developing your Personal Learning Network (PLN). You’ve created a Twitter account and started following all the key voices in education. Now how do you start getting involved on a deeper level? Hashtags.

When used properly, education hashtags can help you take part in important conversations and make valuable connections whether you’re a teacher, principal or superintendent. Some hashtags are genuinely helpful when you are trying to search for important things like #GOPDebate or #NationalCatDay, while some of them are #completelymadeupandridiculous, either on accident or on purpose.

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Posted in Education, Teachers, Twitter | Tagged , ,

Myths and Facts About Flipped Learning

The combination of rapidly-accumulating research on the effectiveness of active learning combined with improvements in technology has created an ideal environment for almost any instructor to move their courses from a traditional to a flipped model. Many articles on flipped learning contain misconceptions that can lead potential practitioners into error or away from using flipped learning entirely, to the detriment of their students and themselves. This article looks at some of the myths about flipped learning and provides contradictory facts about this pedagogical approach.

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Posted in Flipped classroom, Flipped learning | Tagged ,

Openness and Praxis: Exploring the Use of Open Educational Practices in Higher Education

Open educational practices (OEP) is a broad descriptor of practices that include the creation, use, and reuse of open educational resources (OER) as well as open pedagogies and open sharing of teaching practices. As compared with OER, there has been little empirical research on individual educators’ use of OEP for teaching in higher education. This research study addresses that gap, exploring the digital and pedagogical strategies of a diverse group of university educators, focusing on whether, why, and how they use OEP for teaching. The study was conducted at one Irish university; semi-structured interviews were carried out with educators across multiple disciplines. Only a minority of educators used OEP. Using constructivist grounded theory, a model of the concept “Using OEP for teaching” was constructed showing four dimensions shared by open educators: balancing privacy and openness, developing digital literacies, valuing social learning, and challenging traditional teaching role expectations. The use of OEP by educators is complex, personal, and contextual; it is also continually negotiated. These findings suggest that research-informed policies and collaborative and critical approaches to openness are required to support staff, students, and learning in an increasingly complex higher education environment.

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Posted in Higher education, Open education, Open Educational Practice | Tagged , ,