Tag Archives: computer

MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) at UW – Madison

Classrooms have been changing over the past 20 years as new technologies become available, but they may come with consequences that affect students and faculty alike.

The University of Wisconsin is following the lead of top-tier schools like Berkeley, MIT and Stanford in offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) that any person with a computer and an Internet connection can access for free.

“Right now, we are treating the pilots like an experiment,” said Dr. John Hawks, a professor in social sciences who will be teaching a MOOC in January. “After the first round of courses is done, we will meet and decide whether they have met desired outcomes.”

Some of these desired outcomes include the number of students who follow through the class to completion, how the University is able to support it, and how professors feel about teaching them. Continue reading

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Computer Use in Lectures at UW – Madison

In the past few years, computers have become a necessity in college. A 2012 study by the Division of Information Technology found that 97% of student respondents use a laptop computer.

Some faculty members believe that this can become a distraction, especially when used to take notes in lecture.

“I want people to look at me when I give lectures,” said physics professor Sam Hokin. “In physics there’s really no reason to have a laptop open, like 50% of what I teach is equations.”

Hokin calls himself a ‘chalk-and-talk’ professor. He does not use PowerPoint presentations in his lectures, but provides his students with lecture notes so that they can become involved in the class.

“I’m a pretty unusual physics professor in that I have more rules. I want students to ask questions and answer questions.” Continue reading

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Competition between digital & analog worlds?

In Paul Virilio’s paper on the speed of information, he attempts to make sense of the transition from an analog world to a digital one. Although I think that many of the points he makes are valid, I would argue that digital reality is not at odds with what he considers to be the “real” world.

Firstly, I must define what digital reality and tangible reality are. The digital world is just that: it requires the existence of computers and technology to keep it running. The internet itself is merely the result of connections between computers. The digital world does not, however, ignore temporal boundaries. The digital world does not tell users what the future is (at least beyond a few days of weather predictions), but it does catalog some of what the past has taught us. In this way, the internet is like a book. The digital world is accessible to any person around the world with a working computer and an internet connection. It does not permeate everything everywhere, but where it does exist, it shortens the time and space between users.

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Anonymous Threatens Zynga With Release of Games

Anonymous is a collective of unknown, unnamed people associated through the internet, and in this case the term refers to an organization of hackers who claim they safeguard the public good. Zynga is a video gaming company famous for its Facebook-based game Farmville.

Anonymous released a statement on AnonNews.org detailing a wonderfully dramatic kind of blackmail that could save almost 800 jobs. I’m not a fan of small groups claiming to represent the greater majority, but this is suggestive of an epic battle along the lines of Clark Kent versus Lex Luthor. Anonymous has apparently hacked into Zynga’s servers and extracted games that normally cost money, threatening to release them to the public for free unless the company “will cease immediately the plan.”

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The Greatest Blog Post Ever Sold

… but not really.

Courtesy of FireCritic.com

This blog doesn’t get nearly enough views for me to put advertisements up, but if I did, I would be getting paid just because you’re reading this. This is part of the reason Facebook makes money- not a lot, granted, but Facebook is currently worth a few billion dollars.  For every page on which an ad is shown, the proprietor of a website will make a few cents. Given the number of ads on each page, and the number of viewers, this can add up fairly quickly.

So why don’t we use ads to pay for more? In a sense, we already do. Twitter shows ‘promoted’ feeds that pay for more views even though you might not subscribe to the sender. I once heard a great quote that went something like “If you do not pay for a product or service, you are the product being sold.” Essentially, this is true. Free services like most e-mail servers, website hosting (including, dear friends, my blog), social networking and other such web-based platforms are all fueled by advertisement revenue.

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Competing Application Platforms

Technology is moving exceptionally quickly, or so it has seemed lately. With the advent of the iPhone and Android smartphones, software once only available for use on computers is now accessible through mobile devices. Even gaming consoles like Microsoft’s xBox 360 can now access applications downloaded from the Web, like Netflix and Facebook. It seems like most things that people use every day are now able to do this. There are refrigerators with touch screens and access to Twitter, and cars that can play music from web-based radio applications like Pandora. What will be next? Continue reading

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Web-based marketplaces streamline purchases

Technology is ever-changing, and at times can be difficult to predict. Recently, however, websites like the Amazon Marketplace and etsy.com have made it easy for small business owners, aspiring artists and artisan crafters to sell their products over the internet. This enables them to reach a vast audience of consumers, to tailor their advertisements based on the search keywords that bring people to their sites, as well as creating interest based on affiliation with other web-based stores. Sites like these also make it easier for consumers to find exactly what they are looking for, and compare prices. Reviews and average ratings can say a lot about a particular product, or even a seller in general. Continue reading

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QR Codes – Could you be opening virus links?

Lately, QR codes have been everywhere. You can find them on business cards, print advertisements, even t-shirts. A QR code is a square matrix of black square dots that is used to store information like text, web URLs and even phone numbers. Most commonly, though, they are used to direct people to a website in order to make purchases, gain information or, in some cases, get someone to open a webpage equipped with viruses. These viruses can compromise your security and allow hackers access to passwords and personal information like credit card numbers. How can you avoid this problem? Download a QR scanner that will allow you to preview the URL first, to make sure you trust the website it will direct you to.

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