The genius boy

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A boy genius from Mongolia has been schooling MIT on how to improve the elite institution’s free online courses.The Mongolian wunderkind Battushig Myanganbayar earned a perfect score in MIT’s first massive open online course, when he was fifteen. Designers of the course touted him as a poster boy for the power of free courses to spread high-quality education to the farthest reaches of the globe, and the New York Times hailed his story. But leaders of edX, the consortium started by MIT and Harvard University to develop free online courses, also did something else: They offered the star student a job, hoping he could make their MOOCs work better for other high schoolers.’

genius peopleOf course, the genius boy story is inspiring but I bet most people are thinking – well, I am not a genius, how is this relevant to me?

What I like about this story is how this genius boy started to help others within the community. ‘He produced his own lecture videos, in Mongolian, to help his classmates. “I developed my own technique to do mini-lectures by myself,” he explains. He propped his iPhone on a bookshelf and used its camera to film overhead video of his pen on the page as he completed homework problems and explained his work aloud.’

Educating one genius boy fulfils part but not the whole mission of MOOCs. Helping non-genius people with the brains of lecturers and genius people democratises knowledge and realises the potential of MOOCs. There might be only one Einstein out of 1 million people, but at least with Internet powered platform, this Einstein can find more ways to share his beautiful mind.

Two robots, many races

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In the future, after aliens leave us alone, human beings create two robots.

bottom up robotics

The bottom up robot has a distributed intelligence. Each part has its own function and needs to coordinate with other parts in order to move and act. Each part is equally intelligence but not too much. The arms detect direction, the legs detect obstacle. Every part has its own sense and makes its own decision. Somehow this robot walks in a chaotic flexible mode.

giant robot

The top down robot is a giant one.  This giant robot has a centralised brain, every signal goes back to this centre piece which collects, analyses information and makes decision as to how to allocate resources to act and move (sometimes it emulates). The body part is an execution machine.

In the fIeld of business, education, technology, these two robots will carry out their own races (Let us hope these are friendly ones)

This article does not belong to any category and pays its partial gratitude to Kevin Kelly.

19 universities in Shanghai to recognise MOOC credits

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goes to school19 universities in Shanghai announced that they will acknowledge MOOCs (on their own platform) for credits. 

CnMOOCs, a Chinese MOOC platform developed by Shanghai Jiao Tong University will host the credit-bearing courses.

It is a great news for students among the 19 universities. They are able to have a glimpse of lecturer styles in the other 18 universities. It will be hard work for lecturers. Making a MOOC course is time and energy consuming. The production of MOOC courses will only sustain when the system works out the right trigger – the incentives for educators.  It is a good news for universities with good quality teaching resources as students will quickly discover through online free courses. Therefore the good institutions will find it easier and easier to recruit top students in the  future.

Strictly speaking, it is not MOOCs as these courses are aimed for campus students accepted in these 19 universities already. The current platform hosts 10 courses, 6 of which are produced by Jiao Tong University itself. It is still too early to take a bet on its future. Nevertheless, it is a news really worth showing on FlyingChalk blog.

Yelp for MOOCs

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We are lost in front of the numerous courses. This course refers to a lecture course, not a meal course. As our time is limited, we cannot consume all contents available. It is tempting to learn as much as we want but ~~ to be realistic, we still need to work, sleep. Facing the web learning feast, wouldn’t it be great to have a Yelp for lecture courses?

buffetedX has teamed up with CourseTalk to provide a platform for course reviews that includes star ratings and in-depth comments. 

I like this idea of using others’ reviews as part of my decision making criteria. To develop it even further, I would trust a review from someone I know personally or professionally. My prior knowledge of this person’s intellectual capability and subject expertise in that area will be useful for me to develop a pretty accurate picture if his/her review is relevant or helpful to me.

So Facebook/LinkedIn, would you join this MOOC buffet rating game one day? We need the connectivity effect your platforms are offering.

Love letter – I miss you~

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My dear Internet,

Words cannot describe how much I miss you.

For the time we spent together, I had such a fond memory of you. You are honest (you never hide anything from me), you are speedy (streaming is never a problem) and you are open-minded (you always show me diverse views). With you, we happily explored the world together. I had taken it for granted, believing this would last forever and how much I had been wrong.

Since our separation, someone else came to my life. It looks like you and acts like you. But soon I have found there is something inside of you which this copycat is not able to mimic. I left it.

I have never stopped thinking about you. I tried every day to bring you back to my life. Last month, 50% of the times it worked. This month, 90% of the time it didn’t work. I was told the frequent failure of us connecting is to be explained by the election in Taiwan. I do not know for sure which is the real reason. But I did check, this election will take place in November 2014.

forever loveYou always came to my dreams. My biggest fear is not losing you but forgetting how you look like, talk like and smell like. Long distance romance is hard. My heart-breaking moment will not be the time you run away from me, but the time I lose a true memory of you and decide not to seek you any more. I just want to say how much I miss you and love you before you fade out in my life.

The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.

From cinema to Netflix

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netflix this movieQuite a few universities see MOOCs as a way to enhance their own campus student experience. From their point of view, university gets tuition from local students, obtain resources from local government to develop local talents. ‘Why spend my money raising others’ kids? ‘

Think about the film business. Movies used to be made exclusively for cinema goers. Then DVD came out. Those who missed the cinema season could get a DVD to watch at home. Then Netflix further disrupted the system. House of Cards was premiered on the streaming service Netflix.

Campus students, like cinema goes, paid a premium price to enjoy an exclusive experience, entertainment or education. The beauty of the Netflix model is that, for those who missed Batman as they were watching Ironman, can still watch Batman later; for those who went to UCLA can still watch a lecturer taught by Tsinghua University without being in the campus. It does not have to be exclusive.

Like the movie industry which steps out of cinema and expands to a wider range of distribution channels, education industry has the same option.

It takes two to Tango

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A friend of mine who is a university professor was invited by Tencent for a weekend workshop to learn about technology and education.

Tencent is the fifth-largest Internet company in the world after GoogleAmazonEbay and Facebook as of April 2014. Its mobile -based product Wechat combines the features of Facebook + Google Hangout with payment function. Wechat’s user base is said to be above 400 millions. That number is close to the whole population of New Zealand. 

tango petsLast year, Tencent collected proposals from academics in order to research the effects of social network (mostly on education?). Around 10 proposals were selected to kick off this industry-academic collaboration. That is why my friend was invited for the workshop.

Netease, another Internet gateway company in China, is also eyeing education. Its education products include Open163, a platform to translate English video content and Youdao dictionary – a search-based e-dictionary. The report released by Netease [Overview of China’s online education 2013-2014] did a good job discovering online learners’ behaviour, motivation and status.

It takes two to tango, in the field of education technology: educators and technologists. With both group working together, the future online education canvas looks promising.