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A boy teenager with a teacher collect robot arduino and program it on the computer. The boards and microcontrollers are on the table. STEM education. Programming. Mathematics. The science. Technologie

New Electronics Book Honors Citizen Scientist Forrest Mims III

Jonathan Bartlett’s dedication reflects Mims’ immense influence on electronics enthusiasts—including himself, as a boy

Forrest M. Mims III (pictured) has been an icon for many decades to two hobbyist movements: hobbyist electronics and citizen science. Anyone who used to visit Radio Shack in its heyday has probably seen and/or benefited from more than one of Mims’ books. Mims’ most prominent claim to fame was his series of Engineer’s Mini-Notebooks, small volumes that diagrammed circuits and their components and designs. Most hobbyists had a large collection of these notebooks and eventually they were collected into the book Getting Started in Electronics. Mims has also been one of the most prominent “citizen scientists.” A citizen scientist engages in science without the backing of a degree or institution, for the love of discovery. Mims is famous for…

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Online exam

What’s To Be Done About Cheating with Chegg in the COVID era?

College-level solutions to specific problems can be texted, for a fee, to students writing exams

Academic dishonesty is a fancy term for cheating. With profit-motivated websites like Chegg.com, cheating is now easier than ever. When taking an exam, take a photo of a problem that stumps you and send it to Chegg. In literally minutes, you’ll be sent the answer over your cell phone. How do they do it? Often they employ smart nerds from poor countries who, by local standards, are paid big bucks for their efforts.Chegg, which charges $14.95 per month for its service, does not see itself as a site for cheaters but as a resource to help with homework. It advertises: With over 21 million homework solutions, you can also search our library to find similar homework problems & solutions. Browsing…

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Female student holding pencil and examination paper

Don’t Blame AI for the British A-Level Test Scandal

When 39 percent of the final grades assigned during COVID-19 were lower than teacher predictions, it was headline news. But what happened?

Many years ago, when I was a young assistant professor of economics, I had to endure a minor hazing ritual—serving for one year on the admissions committee for the PhD program. As a newbie, I was particularly impressed by a glowing letter of recommendation that began, “This is the best student I have had in 30 years.” The applicant’s test scores were not off-the-charts but the letter was number 1. A dean who chaired the admissions committee year after year advised me to calm down because this professor wrote a recommendation that celebrated “the best student I have had in 30 years” every year. The committee had a chuckle at my expense. I’ve now been teaching for nearly 50 years…

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Rear view of Asian woman working and online meeting via video conference with colleague

How to Teach and Hold Meetings in “Mixed Mode” in the COVID Era

Teachers and facilitators face a challenge when some students are online in quarantine and some are in front of them in person
In the current COVID-19 environment, the economy may be opening up but some people are still sick or in quarantine. This means that more and more meetings are run in a mixed mode — a combination of in-person and online participants. Read More ›
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Augmented reality application for retail business concept. Hand holding smart phone with A/R application on screen to finding interested product in the store.

The Amazing Things We Can Do with Virtual and Augmented Reality

The “father of virtual reality,” Thomas Furness, talks to Robert J. Marks about his vision for the future

In a recent podcast, “Robert J. Marks and Thomas Furness on VR and AR,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks continued his discussion with the “grandfather of virtual reality,” Thomas Furness. They focused on the cutting edge of virtual reality today. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-094-Thomas-Furness.mp3 Transcript. Partial transcript: Robert J. Marks: So, Dr. Furness, we have been talking about a number of fascinating things, but there’s still some things that I’d like to talk to you about. Another one is ARToolworks. Now, AR stands for augmented reality. Thomas Furness: Now, the difference really is between the VRs generally, where you are completely immersed in a computer-generated environment. That’s all you see is the computer generation of images. AR, on the other hand,…

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economist table with report

What, Exactly, Do Economists Do?

Economist make the world a better place

Thanks to economists, during the economic crisis that began in 2007, the President, Congress, and Federal Reserve did not repeat the errors of the 1930s.

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Mother and child doing homeschooling, e-learning at home because of the corona virus pandemic covid-19 quarantine

Five Ways COVID-19 Is Changing Education for Good

Parents, students, and teachers worldwide have been finding ways to use the internet in creative ways they would never have considered before

Recently, a Harvard prof chose to launch an attack on homeschoolers, portraying them as driven by narrow religious concerns. Given how many parents COVID-19 has forced to homeschool, the attack was, at best, poorly timed. But it usefully focused attention on the ways education needs to change in an online world.
 

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Blackboard inscribed with scientific formulas and calculations in physics and mathematics.

Bartlett’s Calculus Paper Reviewed in Mathematics Magazine

The paper offers fixes for long-standing flaws in the teaching of elementary calculus

Jonathan Bartlett tells us, “The review was mixed, but most importantly the reviewer didn’t disagree with the results, only their potential usefulness."

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Young little Asian boy wearing shoes on stair with wear medical face mask to protect from infection of viruses, pandemic, outbreak and epidemic of disease in empty shopping mall during quarantine.

DingTalk: Where the “Teacher” Really Is Always Watching You

The COVID-19 quarantine has spiked both virtual workplaces and classrooms in China, highlighting anger at the surveillance

Every human being, whether office worker or high school student, bucks against digital harnesses.

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An abstract computer generated fractal design. A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales.

Are Divergent Series Really an “Invention of the Devil”?

The real villain in the piece is horrendously non-specific concepts of infinity. But that can be fixed

It turns out that hyperreal numbers (i.e., infinities that obey algebraic rules) resolve many of the paradoxes that previously plagued conceptions of divergent series. It is now possible to assign specific values to divergent series.

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Machines Can’t Teach Us How To Learn

A recent study used computer simulations to test the “small mistakes” rule in human learning

Machine learning is not at all like human learning. For example, machine learning frequently requires millions of examples. Humans learn from a few examples.

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Improve Your Job Chances by Scaling the Cloud

WBC Fellow Releases introductory book on Building Scalable PHP web applications using the cloud

One new issue that the cloud creates is that programmers are more often required to be “full stack” developers,” Jonathan Bartlett explains. “Unfortunately, most programmers coming out of college have little to no system administration experience. That’s why this book is based on the ‘full stack’ concept, showing how system administration and programming relate to each other.”

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Shakespeare's Globe Theatre by the river Thames in Londob, UK

Can AI Prove That Shakespeare Had Ghostwriters?

An author’s unique style is like a fingerprint. AI can fill it in

Turning AI loose on some of these vexing problems should give literary scholars more to write about rather than less. The AI verdict may not always be right but it is bound to be food for thought.

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Machine Learning, Part 3: Don’t Snoop on Your Data

You risk using a feature for prediction that is common to the dataset, but not to the problem you are studying

As long as we can establish that our theories, hypotheses, and/or models are independent of the data, then we can trust that their predictive power will generalize beyond the data we have observed.

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child girl playing with counter toy at nursery

Babies Have a Number Sense Before They Can Count

The study showed that counting with babies makes a difference, even though their understanding is not very exact

The question was not whether the infants understood the exact numbers (they didn’t) but whether they understood that the researchers were, in fact, counting things.

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Machine Learning, Part 2: Supervised Learning

Machine learning isn’t hard to understand; it’s just different. Let’s start with the most common type

The neat thing about machine learning is that the algorithm can extract general principles from the dataset that can then be applied to new problems. It is like the story that Newton observed an apple fall and then derived from it the general law of gravity that applies to the entire universe.

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Yes, You Can Manipulate Infinity—in Math

The hyperreals are bigger (and smaller) than your average number — and better!

Hyperreal numbers are a new type of number that was developed to simplify and rethink the way that we deal with very large and very small numbers.

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Students sitting a test in an exam hall in college

The Challenge of Teaching Machines to Generalize

Teaching students simply to pass tests provides a good illustration of the problems

We want the machine learning algorithms to learn general principles from the data, and not merely little tricks and trivia that that score high but ignore problems.

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Architectural curves

Don’t Leave Home Without These Three Curves

Three mathematical curves explain a lot of what happens—and doesn’t happen—in everyday life

One of the problems with modern secondary mathematics education is that it teaches lots of details about how to solve problems but provides very little insight into how to understand problems. You may have learned to solve a quadratic equation but you may not have learned what life situations generate a quadratic equation.

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Canadian Province to Ban Cell Phones from Classrooms

Education experts are cautiously hopeful about reducing distraction and cyberbullying
France and a number of jurisdictions in Britain, as well as some American ones, have already instituted such bans and several studies have identified subsequent improvements in schoolwork. Read More ›