reflections on the technium

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay

Brown Bag at the Movies – Selected technical topics(2)

For this installment of Brown Bag at the Movies we will be viewing three shorts (abstracts below):

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CEP COMMENT: Outdoctrination! Learning, and the structure of learning, are fascinating topics. Today the opportunities for self-instruction are virtually limitless. There is the Kahn Academy <> for K-12 basics and OpenCourseWare <> <> for advanced topics. Even here in Pullman, Cliff Cole of Digilent is pushing the bounds with digital <> and analog <> electronics self-instruction (think hole in the wall for aspiring electrical engineers). And to contrast how the U.S. educational experience stands up to education around the world, there is the 2 Million Minutes project <>.

Sugata Mitra shows how kids teach themselves

Speaking at LIFT 2007, Sugata Mitra talks about his Hole in the Wall project <>. Young kids in this project figured out how to use a PC on their own — and then taught other kids. He asks, what else can children teach themselves?

Why you should listen to him: In 1999, Sugata Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.

In the following years they replicated the experiment in other parts of India, urban and rural, with similar results, challenging some of the key assumptions of formal education. The “Hole in the Wall” project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who’s now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it “minimally invasive education.”

“Education-as-usual assumes that kids are empty vessels who need to be sat down in a room and filled with curricular content. Dr. Mitra’s experiments prove that wrong.” — Linux Journal

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CEP COMMENT: We are on the verge of the gamepocalypse!

When games invade real life

Games are invading the real world — and the runaway popularity of Farmville and Guitar Hero is just the beginning, says Jesse Schell. At the DICE Summit, he makes a startling prediction: a future where 1-ups and experience points break “out of the box” and into every part of our daily lives. [There is a longer presentation (nearly 2 hours) at <>.]

Speaker: Jesse Schell: Game designer
Why you should listen to him: .From his official bio: “Prior to starting Schell Games in 2004, Jesse Schell was the Creative Director of the Disney Imagineering Virtual Reality Studio, where he worked and played for seven years as designer, programmer and manager on several projects for Disney theme parks and DisneyQuest, as well as on Toontown Online, the first massively multiplayer game for kids.

“Schell is also on the faculty of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University, where he teaches classes in Game Design and serves as advisor on several innovative projects. Formerly the Chairman of the International Game Developers Association, he is also the author of the award winning book The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses.”

Schell Games’ latest endeavor: creating a video game based on the box office hit The Mummy.

“Easily the most comprehensive, practical book I’ve ever seen on game design.” — Will Wright, on The Art of Game Design

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CEP COMMENT: For at home rapid-prototyping (3-D printing) see MakerBot <>

Anthony Atala: Printing a human kidney

Surgeon Anthony Atala demonstrates an early-stage experiment that could someday solve the organ-donor problem: a 3D printer that uses living cells to output a transplantable kidney. Using similar technology, Dr. Atala’s young patient Luke Massella received an engineered bladder 10 years ago; we meet him onstage.

Anthony Atala is the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where his work focuses on growing and regenerating tissues and organs. His team engineered the first lab-grown organ to be implanted into a human — a bladder — and is developing experimental fabrication technology that can “print” human tissue on demand.

In 2007, Atala and a team of Harvard University researchers showed that stem cells can be harvested from the amniotic fluid of pregnant women. This and other breakthroughs in the development of smart bio-materials and tissue fabrication technology promises to revolutionize the practice of medicine.

“Anthony Atala bakes things that will make you feel good inside, but we’re not talking cakes and muffins.” — PBS


Written by Chuck Petras

May 30, 2011 at 09:38

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