Active Learning: Surmounting the Challenges in a Large Class

Whether online or face to face, large classes are challenging!  As always, Maryellen Weimer shares some great suggestions in this article from Faculty Focus.



After completing the assigned reading, students take a short online quiz that must be completed before class. Their answers help guide that day’s lesson.

Source: Active Learning: Surmounting the Challenges in a Large Class

The Inside Story of How Oculus Cracked the Impossible Design of VR

“After nearly four years of work, Oculus is about to share its long-gestating dream with the world.”

There are so many fantastic implications to Oculus and making VR that is user friendly and not too unwieldy.  Medicine, education, elder-care – you name it.  There aren’t too many verticals that won’t be touched.

Still this is a big bulky though….will people buy them for use at home or is this something we will go out to try?   This is a game changer.

Source: The Inside Story of How Oculus Cracked the Impossible Design of VR | WIRED

Microsoft’s Radical Bet On A New Type Of Design Thinking | Co.Design | business + design

By studying underserved communities, the tech giant hopes to improve the user experience for everyone.

There is nothing more important than the user experience if we want adoption of any new technology or process.  It will be interesting to see if Microsoft can take a lead with this initiative.

Source: Microsoft’s Radical Bet On A New Type Of Design Thinking | Co.Design | business + design

Google’s Self-driving Car


Six years in the making, Google’s self-driving vehicle is an impressive feat but still needs some improvement before it is ready for the public. Recently, the company held a test drive event for press to witness exactly what this vehicle can do.

The prototype’s appearance may be lackluster, but this helps put the focus on the product’s talents. Compared to the sleek and aerodynamic structure of luxury vehicles today, this little, two-seater resembles more of a Roomba (it sounds like one too). It makes it difficult to see how this a visionary example of the future, but let’s go over the details to see what exactly this guy can do.  

With the use of camera, radars and laser sensors, the vehicle can effortlessly avoid colliding with other vehicles and people. During the trial event, passengers entered into the car and found no steering wheel or pedals. Instead, they pressed the “Go” button, and from there the car did the rest of the work. Though the car maxed out at 15 mph, it went through a series of tests avoiding obstacles.

First, a Google worker stepped in front of the vehicle, and it slowed down and allowed him to pass before continuing on. Next, another vehicle rode up alongside the Google car, and it proceeded to slow down to make sure they did not collide. A bicycler did something similar and again, the car slowed. Though all the reactions were the same, the car can analyze exactly what is around it.

The project’s chief engineer commented, “We look at the world around us, and we detect objects in the scene, we categorize them as different types.”

Perhaps, many were looking for something more eye-catching or something to make them gasp, but this technology is still impressive and ahead of all the competition. Other automakers’ focus has not been on the car as a whole but only on safety features such as automatic braking.

Four years from now, Google hopes to have perfected the self-driving vehicle and to be selling it to the masses.

Though there have been no definite plans, most believe Google will sell their software instead of manufacturing their own cars. Unfortunately, we have some time to wait but when it’s ready, it will be just another ground-breaking innovation from Google.

Info courtesy of Wired.

6 New Tech Breakthroughs You Need To See!

There have been some very interesting technological breakthroughs over the past two weeks in everything from neuroscience to transportation. These new discoveries will change the way we interact with each other and the world around us. Here are 6 new technology breakthroughs that you need to know about.

1) Transportation

The first self-driving bus hit the roads in China. The bus prototype, developed by Yutong, went on a 20 mile ride on an intercity road in Zhengzhou. The self-driving bus is equipped with two cameras, four laser radars, one set of millimeter wave radar and an integrated navigation system.

2) Communication

Skype is releasing their real-time translation feature that will allow you to hold a conversation in any of the following languages without actually needing to know a word: English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish. The application will support another 50 languages through normal chat.

3) Neuroscience

Researchers at the University of Washington, experimenting with brain-to-brain connection, have found a way to transmit brain signals from one person to another. Via brain waves and the internet, participants were able to guess the correct answers to a given set of questions with impressive accuracy.

4) Material

An Italian engineering group has built a 12-meter tall 3D printer that can print houses cheaply using additive techniques. Automating building houses using this type of process could dramatically affect the way we provide shelter to those all around the world.  

5) Robotics

MIT researchers have developed a robotic hand that is capable of picking up an egg without breaking it. The robot uses soft 3D-printed fingers that are skilled at picking up even the most difficult objects, such as a coin or fragile egg.

6) Algorithms

The Japanese company, Hitachi, has begun testing a crime prediction algorithm to attempt to identify potential threats or crimes before they occur. The system gathers data from media, such as weather reports or social media, to find patterns using machine learning.

Are there any new technologies that you are particularly interested in? I would love to hear your thoughts. Send me a message or connect with me on Twitter!

7 Days In Tech

This past week has proved to be another exciting week in terms of technological breakthroughs. As technology continues to advance, numerous industries benefit, paving the way for a more safe, healthy and productive planet. Here are 8 more new discoveries in the world of technology from the past week.

1) Computing

A new quantum computer that “computes without running” sets a record for counterfactual computation efficiency.

2) Communication

China will complete a 2000 km – long quantum communications network by 2016 that could be impossible to hack.

3) Medical

A device that can keep a heart beating outside the human body will lead to more successful heart transplants.

4) Space

A company that developed a magnetic hover-board is working with NASA to develop “tractor beams” for small satellites.

5) Robotics

Thanks to a robotic exoskeleton a 39-year-old man who had been paralyzed for 4 years can now control his leg muscles.

6) Space

The world’s largest digital camera (3.2 gigapixels) for photographing the night sky will soon start construction.

7) Material

A polymer made with proteins derived from squid teeth can repair itself as strong as before using only water.

8) Robotics

A robot that has been trained to spot and assassinate coral-killing starfish will soon start trials in the Great Barrier Reef.

7 Days in Tech


Technology is progressing at an amazing rate. Each week there are amazing breakthroughs that many times people do not even hear about. This past week has proved to be just the case. Here are 8 awesome technology discoveries from this mid-August that should get you excited about what the future holds.

1. Google Smartwatch

Google’s smartwatches have made it very easy to translate a conversation in two languages in real time. This will make it very convenient for people to talk with locals while traveling in different countries and much more.

2. Hyperloop Transportation

Hyperloop Transportation, led by Elon Musk, is partnering with a Fortune 500 engineering design firm to make the idea a reality. This technology will make it possible for people to travel vast distances in unparalleled time.

3. Battery Advancement

MIT and Samsung have teamed up to tackle the ever present problem of battery life. They have replaced electrolytes with a solid state structure that may improve battery capacity by 20%. It sure would be nice to not constantly be tied down to the wall outlet to keep your phone charged!

4. Spaceplane

DARPA is developing a spaceplane that travels at Mach 10 and can launch satellites into space daily. This plane is reusable and unmanned making it an incredible efficient and effective tool for space travel.

5. D-Wave Computing

D-Wave released the second version of its quantum computer, with this version having over 1000 qubits. This is a major breakthrough that will allow complex computational problems to be solved– more than was previously ever possible.

6. The Artificial Leaf

The artificial leaf, a device that creates hydrogen fuel from solar energy, has now become 22% more efficient at energy conversion. This technology could some day change the way that humans power the world.

7. IBM Computing

IBM has built the digital equivalent of a rodent brain that spans 48 million artificial nerve cells. These chips will have the ability to run “deep learning” algorithms, and will likely drive the future of the internet’s AI services.

8. Google Maps – Energy

Using Maps data and aerial photographs, Google can now estimate how much sunlight your roof gets. This could be a driving force behind solar technology and allow us to know exactly where we should place solar panels to make our homes as energy efficient as possible.


Educational Materials: Should They Be Free For All Everyone?

Last week, a letter signed by over 100 educators, scientists, lawyers, and students was sent to the White House. They were asking for educational materials and professional development to be free for the public to use and funded by the government. Writing for The Hechinger Report, Nichole Dobo reveals the letter’s contents.

“We, the undersigned organizations from the education, library, technology, public interest and legal communities are writing in response to the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s call for ideas to strengthen the U.S. Open Government National Action Plan. To ensure that the value of educational materials created with federal funds is maximized, we call upon the President to issue a strong Administration policy to ensure that they are made available to the public as Open Educational Resources to freely use, share, and build upon.”

Making educational tools readily available to the public will not only help improve the infrastructure of our school systems, but will give companies the opportunity to implement recent technology so their businesses can grow.

OER are Open Educational Resources free for everyone to use. Dobo tells us to think of these as the Wikipedia of educational resources, stating, “It is a free, online encyclopedia that can be repurposed and rewritten by anyone, anywhere, without fear of violating copyright laws.”

Today, more and more companies are adopting tools that will help educate employees and improve their business strategies. For example, a nonprofit organization called CK-12 has recently devoted multiple resources to help develop free digital materials for science, technology, engineering, and math – collectively known as STEM. CK-12 hopes to bring these resources to not only younger students, but for those willing to learn and educate themselves throughout the workplace.

Dobo’s report says that the CEO of the Learning Accelerator, Scot Ellis, believes that competition for resources that can be made available for the public to use will have an overall positive impact and value.