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Study: Dumb Robots Cause Students To Learn More Quickly

Interesting study reported by Techcrunch

In the study, simple humanoid robots teach English by drawing shapes and translating their meaning. The experimental study found that 19 children, between the ages of 4 and 8, learned best when the Nao toy robot didn’t always make the correct translation, and could learn from students’ corrections.


Richard Feynman - No Ordinary Genius (full version)

Full documentary on this amazing person.

Google’s Nifty Guide To Web Technology

An very nice HTML5 book that reads like an iBook.  The book is filled with pictures and small animations that add that little extra that makes the difference. And yes, the most important thing - the topics are short.

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

I was looking for this story for a while. Finally I found it, so would like to share it with you. It’s about understanding what people want to get done with products—the job-to-be-done. Often we get lost in the features and functions of the product that we forget about the job that the product is designed to get done. The same principle can be used for designing websites and intranets.

“With few exceptions, every job people need or want to do has a social, a functional, and an emotional dimension. If marketers understand each of these dimensions, then they can design a product that’s precisely targeted to the job. In other words, the job, not the customer, is the fundamental unit of analysis for a marketer who hopes to develop products that customers will buy.”

Web 3.0 - the video

Web 3.0 from Kate Ray on Vimeo.

Nature by numbers

Wondeful story on the Greenpeace Nestle PR war

Africa’s Gift to Silicon Valley: How to Track a Crisis

A nice story from the NY times on a Kenyan product called Ushahidi. This is an informant mapping tool and works like this: anybody on the ground can call a cell number and and point out a location, it could be of a rape or a terrorist hideout, and all of this information is aggregated and represented on a map. If there are many pointers to a particular location, troops can be called in to look. Brilliant stuff.

“When the Haitian earthquake struck, Ushahidi went again into action. An emergency texting number was advertised via radio. Ushahidi received thousands of messages reporting trapped victims. They were translated by a diffuse army of Haitian-Americans in the United States and plotted on a ‘crisis map.’ From a situation room at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, outside Boston, Ushahidi volunteers instant-messaged with the United States Coast Guard in Haiti, telling them where to search. When the Chilean earthquake struck, Ushahidi deployed again.”

Lessig Calls Google Book Settlement A “Path To Insanity”

Interesting post on Lawrence Lessig’s views on the Google book deal.

“By breaking up books into different licensable parts, Lessig fears that we are going to encounter the same problem with books that we do today with film. He gives the example of documentary films which are sometimes nearly impossible to restore or preserve in digital form because the rights to every song and clip of archive footage need to be cleared again. This is an artifact of the types of licensing contracts that became the norm for film, where each constituent part of a work carries its own copyrights into perpetuity, making it more difficult down the road to update into digital form or pass along as a piece of shared culture. Up until now, books for the most part are treated as one single work.”

iPhone + Book = Phonebook

Now this is interesting. The video does look very impressive.

HBR: The Simplest Way to Reboot Your Brain

The Harvard Business Review has an article by Robert Stickgold where he writes about the benefits of sleep:

“A report in the June 2009 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that a nap with REM (or “dream”) sleep improves people’s ability to integrate unassociated information for creative problem solving, and study after study has shown that sleep boosts memory. If you memorize a list of words and then take a nap, you’ll remember more words than you would without sleeping first. Even micronaps of six minutes—not including the time it takes to fall asleep, which is about five minutes if you’re really tired—make a difference.”

Zombie home page chronicles

Now this is serious fun. I’ve seen this happen so many times. From Tales from Redesignland.

Read the entire episode.

Looking for old elearningpost entries? Now we have tags!

Finally I’ve succumbed to including tags in elearningpost.

In 2006 I had posted about my problems with categories. The main reason was that my posts were so varied that I found myself constantly creating categories. So I decided to remove them altogether.

A few years on, I’m finding myself constantly using search to find old entries. I’ve tried to use tags in elearningpost before but found it too cumbersome to tag old entries. (I’m using Expression Engine as my CMS). 

But a few days ago I decided to give it a shot and used EE’s Tag module. After going through the pain of migrating my entire website to a newer version of mySQL I must announce that everything is working fine. I found an innovative way to tag old entries and is based on some unique features of EE and the Tag module. Expression Engine has this quirky feature that allows you to search for entries and assign categories to them. Next, the Tag module has this quirky feature that allows you to harvest tags based on the categories assigned to them. So I put these two together and managed to tag 25% of my entries, which is a lot already.

It’s wonderful to get to see old entries in e-learning, knowledge sharing, innovation, usability and so many more surface to the top. Here are some that caught my eye. Tags are available on the right column, so go ahead and explore.

How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity

Ed Catmull describes the challenges Pixar faces in coming up with creative ideas. He focuses on the challenges between a great team and great ideas:

"If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up; if you give a mediocre idea to a great team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something that works."

Here's another about convening a group when in need.

"When a director and producer feel in need of assistance, they convene the group (and anyone else they think would be valuable) and show the current version of the work in progress. This is followed by a lively two-hour give-and-take discussion, which is all about making the movie better. There’s no ego. Nobody pulls any punches to be polite. This works because all the participants have come to trust and respect one another. They know it’s far better to learn about problems from colleagues when there’s still time to fix them than from the audience after it’s too late. The problem-solving powers of this group are immense and inspirational to watch."

Here's another about having daily reviews.

"This practice of working together as peers is core to our culture, and it’s not limited to our directors and producers. One example is our daily reviews, or "dailies," a process for giving and getting constant feedback in a positive way that’s based on practices John observed at Disney and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Lucasfilm’s special-effects company... There are several benefits. First, once people get over the embarrassment of showing work still in progress, they become more creative. Second, the director or creative leads guiding the review process can communicate important points to the entire crew at the same time. Third, people learn from and inspire each other; a highly creative piece of animation will spark others to raise their game. Finally, there are no surprises at the end: When you’re done, you’re done. People’s overwhelming desire to make sure their work is "good" before they show it to others increases the possibility that their finished version won’t be what the director wants. The dailies process avoids such wasted efforts."

Emirates: Keep Discovering

Inspirational Quote
The new Emirates commericals have a very inspirational punchline:

"When was the last time you did something for the first time?"

To commercials can be found here, under Keep Discovering, but you will have to maze through an annoying Flash interface first.

Cool Design: Tofte Project

Cool Design: Tofte Project
Very nice use of Flash to embody a story:
"This immersive tour will allow you to discover the principles of sustainable architecture through exploration of the cabin's design and construction, as well as take an in-depth look at its natural surroundings."

Slate: Akira Again Its animation

Slate: Akira Again Its animation looks outdated, and its story is a mess. So, what makes Akira a classic anime?

Salon: Why can’t Johnny respect

Salon: Why can't Johnny respect copyrights?
In Britain, elementary-school classrooms prepare to preach reverence for intellectual property -- and to denounce the evils of file-sharing.

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