It seems that every year, teachers and education officials find something new that they have to ban from schools. Back in the day before mobile phones were so easily accessible, teachers did not have to worry about students texting or playing games in…
Category Archives: education
Fake news is a huge problem because while misinformation on the surface might seem like a small thing, it could lead to incorrect perceptions, which in turn could fuel one’s prejudice towards a particular subject, race, religion, and so on. This is why many companies are working to clamp down on it.
In fact it seems that the BBC will be taking things one step further (via Engadget) by educating school kids on how to spot fake news. How they will do this is by sending reporters to various schools and events to educate children on how to spot fake articles, as well as release digital resources, and also teach kids how to think more critically about what they read online, so as to be better at separating fact from fiction.
There will also be a game developed by Aardman that will put students on the floor of a newsroom. According to Director-General of the BBC Tony Hall, “We at the BBC have a real responsibility here. By sharing our journalistic expertise, we want to give young people the skills and awareness they need to be confident about identifying the real news stories, and calling out the fakes.”
It is an interesting approach and we have to wonder if there are plans for other organizations to do the same for school kids in other parts of the world.
With laptops and tablets becoming increasingly common, entering a classroom to find row upon row of students with their laptops or tablets open ready to take notes is becoming a norm. However it seems that despite laptops being potentially more efficient at note-taking, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better.
According to a recent series of experiments conducted at Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles, it was discovered (via The New York Times) that students using laptops to take notes during class were found to have a worse understanding of the lecture that was, versus those that didn’t. This was measured using a standardized test.
Based on their findings in the experiment, researchers hypothesized that the efficiency in note-taking meant that students could keep typing as the lecturer spoke without pause, which meant that the words of the lecturer might not have a chance for substantive processing in their brains.
They found that the notes taken by students using laptops read more like transcripts of the lecture, versus handwritten notes which were more succinct. In another study that explored the idea of using laptops in class conducted by researchers at York University and McMaster University (via The Verge) saw students asked to search for something unrelated on their laptops during class.
Unsurprisingly it was found that these students did not remember much of the lecture, and what was surprising was how it also affected other students that were seated around them as well.
The beauty of our smartphones is that we are essentially carrying a computer in our pockets, which means that we are able to do a ton of things while on the go, such as learning a new language. If you’re interested in picking up a new language, chances are you might have heard of Duolingo.
The good news is that the developers of the app have recently updated it where it will include a Mandarin course. It does seem a bit strange that Mandarin was not offered at the app’s launch, especially when you consider that close to a billion people in the world speak it, making it the most widely spoken language in the world, but we suppose better late than never.
While it might not necessarily be the most comprehensive language course in the world, it will help with those who are looking to pick up on the language. It will guide users through the various characters in the language, the four tones used in the language, as well as providing context by teaching things like greetings, food, health, and sports, just to name a few.
We’ve seen how Duolingo has been slowly adding new languages to its course lineup, such as Japanese and even High Valyrian. The update should be live so head on over to the iTunes App Store or Google Play for the download.
While things like math and science are important subjects to learn at school, in recent years it has been highlighted how coding is becoming just as important. This is because in this day and age where technology is becoming increasingly complex and ingrained in our lives, being able to code does open up a lot of doors in terms of one’s future.
This is why Apple themselves have launched a free coding curriculum for schools in the US, and the good news is that the company has recently announced that they’ll be expanding that curriculum to schools outside of the US as well, or to be more specific, the company will be expanding it to 20 different colleges and universities around the world.
According to Apple’s announcement, “Apple today announced the global expansion of its Everyone Can Code initiative to more than 20 colleges and universities outside of the US. These schools will now offer the App Development with Swift Curriculum, a full-year course designed by Apple engineers and educators to teach coding and app design to students of all levels and backgrounds.”
One of the universities that will be participating in this is RMIT University over in Australia. The university will now start offering Apple’s Swift curriculum through RMIT Online as part of its App Development program, as well as offer scholarships to teachers who want to learn coding. They will also be hosting a free summer school course that will give secondary school students a chance to learn about coding as well.
Computer programming has come a long way from back in the day where it was mostly seen as something that only “nerds” would do. These days the importance of learning how to code is being extolled by various leaders around the world, whether it be politicians, CEOs of companies, and so on.
In fact recently Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was quoted as saying in an interview with Kobini (via 9to5Mac) that he believes that learning to code could be more important than learning English. Cook’s comment was made during his tour of France, where he suggested that learning to code would allow a young French student to be able to reach the entire world. He also stressed that he doesn’t think learning English isn’t important, but rather he believes that learning to code should be made a requirement in schools all over the world.
Apple’s interest in educating the younger generation on coding isn’t new. The company has launched several initiatives in the past to encourage the learning, such as through apps like Swift Playgrounds and collaborations with toymakers like Tynker. Cook is also not the first to suggest that coding should be made a requirement in schools.
Former US President Barack Obama had praised the idea of coding being a required learning subject in schools. We’ve also seen how some high schools in the US have made it a requirement in order to graduate.
When I was in Seoul recently, I met with Mark Jaekwang Shin, the CEO of CUBROID, a startup that is working on a modular robot design based on cubes that can be assembled to form more complex mechanisms. CUBROID is taking an educational approach and its native compatibility with LEGO makes makes it stand out against competitors.
There are a few similar concepts out there, like Cubelets ($299) which is probably the closest one, but there are differences.
First, Cubroid is designed for younger kids aged 5-12. The user interface is extremely simple. Secondly, Cubroid is compatible with LEGO blocks out of the box, while Cubelets has accessories to make that work.
I haven’t used either long enough to draw any conclusions, but what’s important is to know that the two options are out there and that the concept in itself is interesting. Cubroid modular robots work like this: they have nine types of Cubes (or building-blocks).
- 1x Master cube: the brain (computer)
- 4x Sensor cubes: Proximity, Light, Touch, Knob
- 4x Action cubes: DC motor, Serve Motor, Sound, LED Light
- There is a “dumb” cube for structural purpose
These cubes don’t use physical electronic connectors, and all blocks talk to each other via Bluetooth (BT). Blocks are controlled over BT from a computer or mobile via an app. When the Master block is loaded with a program, the robot is able to execute an on-board program without being controlled actively by a computer.
The lack of electrical connectors is great, but has a downside: each cube must be charged individually, so be prepared to have quite a few micro-USB cables around.
The programmability of Cubroid is available mainly via the tablet and PC apps. Designed for kids, it allows simple sensing+reaction as the main programming events. At the moment, more complex forms of programming such as loops and branches are not available with the simple kid-UI, although it’s not off the table says its creator. Visual programming can quickly become complex if you start adding these things.
For developers and hackers, there may be a way to get a more complex software development kit (SDK), although Cubroid is focused on education right now, as it is the main way to reach a high volume. In turn, the volume could drive the cost down and the profits up. The DIY market is definitely of interest, but a small company needs to choose its battles.
I liked the fact that Cubroid cubes are designed elegantly with the native LEGO compatibility. The first user interface I have seen in Korea was simple and seems easy enough for kids to use. However, I would love to see one that can manage at least branching in addition to events. Loops would be great, some day.
First presented in January 2017, Cubroid has received a larger audience at MWC 2017. It has evolved and was being shown at MWCA. There will be a final round of demo at CES 2018, and the product should ship in Feburary 2018. So far, it has smashed its modest Kickstarter goal of $10,000 an went past $40,000 at publishing time. The basic kit starts with a pledge of $149. If you are not familiar with crowdfunding, learn about the basics first.
Virtual reality (VR) technology might seem like a perfect vehicle for gaming, but recently we’re starting to see how some companies are exploring using the technology as a means of educating and training people. Recently Google did an experiment and found that those trained in VR performed better than those who trained by reading and watching videos.
This means that there is clearly a benefit to using VR, although the extent still needs to be fully fleshed out, but in the meantime it seems that other companies are also interested in the technology, such as UPS who has announced that they will be training student delivery drivers in driver safety using VR.
According to Juan Perez, UPS chief information and engineering officer, “Virtual Reality offers a big technological leap in the realm of driver safety training. VR creates a hyper-realistic streetscape that will dazzle even the youngest of our drivers whose previous exposure to the technology was through video games.”
It seems that UPS isn’t shy when it comes into exploring new technologies. Earlier this year the company explored the possibility of using drones to make their parcel deliveries, where a driver with a van will drive around making his/her own deliveries, while a drone can be dispatched from the back making its own deliveries as well.
Have you ever used an app or played a game and thought to yourself, how awesome would it be if you could create a piece of software or video game that thousands or millions of people around the world use and love? That’s the kind of inspiration that Microsoft wants to foster, which is why they have announced that the Xbox Academy is coming back.
Basically this initiative will see Microsoft launch coding workshops that will be held at its flagship stores in New York and Sydney. Attendees will be taught some coding skills that they can use for the Xbox or for the PC, where the idea is that hopefully this will give them the start they need to embark on a new career or the start of a new hobby.
According to Microsoft, “You will be able to save the games you create at the flagship Microsoft Stores onto a complimentary USB flash drive, then continue to work on them in between classes and after the session has concluded. The program will feature three unique courses, each covering a different aspect of the game development process to inspire new ways to build, create, play and transform ideas.”
For those who are interested in attending, the first workshop will be held at the Microsoft flagship store in New York on the 20th of August, and the Sydney workshop will be held on the 25th of September. More details on the workshops and how to register can be found on Microsoft’s website (New York / Sydney).
While topics like maths and science are still essential when it comes to the education of children, we’re starting to see how programming is also becoming something of an essential skill that kids should pick up. It’s not yet a requirement (at least not everywhere), but it is clear that learning to code could be an invaluable skill to have for the future.
This is why we’re seeing many companies launching tools and software aimed to teach kids how to code at a young age, so when Tynker and Parrot announced the Parrot Mambo Code bundle, it really doesn’t come as a surprise. This is a bundle the contains a Parrot Mambo minidrone and also a six-month subscription to Tynker, where kids will be able to pickup coding skills to use with the drones.
The drone will also come with a mini-ball launcher, grabber, 50 plastic balls, while the Tynker subscription will give kids access to eight mobile coding courses, 18 online coding courses, over 350 puzzle levels, tutorials, and a virtual drone flight simulation course, all of which will be priced at $149, which is actually relatively affordable.
According to Tynker co-founder and CTO, Srinivas Mandyam, “We’ve seen an overwhelming interest in drones among kids and parents and are excited to deepen our partnership with Parrot to unveil a comprehensive, out-of-the-box experience that inspires the next generation through game-based learning.”