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Five Star OER: Scientists explain their major new discovery about Walking Tetrapods

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Posted on 7th January 2010 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge, Findability, Golden Age of Learning, Open Content, Paleontology and SEO

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NatureNews reported yesterday that the clock for four-legged creatures has been turned back 18 million years. Anyone connected to the internet can learn this new information from the scientists who made the discovery. The video above is narrated by one of these paleontologists and the report from NatureNews sketches the facts.

As OER (open educational resources) these materials are the footprints of the future. Previous educational resources, especially printed ones like textbooks, are now obsolete on the dating of walking tetrapods. They will continue to place walking tetrapods 18 million years later than they should be on their timelines — for months or years until they can be updated and reprinted.

scientistThe NatureNews report and video are Five Star OER because they can be used as a direct interface to students from big science in almost real time. In his narration of the video, Dr. Ahlberg says: “I have been working personally in this field since the mid-1980s. I have had over 20 publications in Nature. And this is the most important paper that I have ever worked on.”

Watch the video and I think you will agree that the learning experience is worth making sure paleontology students see it. I was only #352 to watch it on YouTube. What can educators do to make sure Walking with Tetrapods gets into the learning mainstream? There is a lot we can do by optimizing the video for learning networks and linking to it robustly. Educators can fundamentally upgrade global learning by concentration on Five Star OER, and letting go of analog resources with less learning star power.

Visualizing science with the tools we now have

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Posted on 26th March 2009 by Judy Breck in Biology, Emerging Online Knowledge, Golden Age of Learning and Schools We Have Now

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This video is narrated by Drew Berry, who created it. The video is part of SeedMagazine’s new feature on science education called The Interpreters. Just watching the video is enough said about the opportunities to put learning into classrooms and student hands by using the visualization tools and the internet.

A curious case and science voodoo

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Posted on 24th February 2009 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge, Findability, Learn nodes, Networks and Open Content

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My Point of View article just published by Educational Technology magazine explains the key to SeedMagazine’s lede article on That Voodoo that Scientists Do.

After describing a considerable flap that has been going on among neuroscientists about peer review sparked by the early release of a Perspectives article and the phrase “voodoo correlations” bouncing around online, Seed Magazine quotes Perspectives founding editor Ed Diener: “There are some very important questions that this raises for science. Most important, how can we guarantee quality in what is sent around?

“The internet is full of wonderful information — but it is also full of disinformation and errors. How can readers know whether what they are reading is solid information?”

My article addresses exactly that question, and begins to answer it with some new network analysis from the BarabasiLab. The Curious Case of the Polio Virus Learn Node is the tale of a quality node that found its way to prominence through nature’s network laws.

Download The Curious Case of the Polio Virus Learn Node

Science Commons video fundamentally important


Posted on 17th December 2008 by Judy Breck in Connective Expression, Emerging Online Knowledge, Findability, Networks, Open Content and Uncategorized

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Science Commons is a project of the Creative Commons. Along with posting this video, project text overview, Making the Web Work for Science, explains:

Science Commons designs strategies and tools for faster, more efficient web-enabled scientific research. We identify unnecessary barriers to research, craft policy guidelines and legal agreements to lower those barriers, and develop technology to make research, data and materials easier to find and use.

Our goal is to speed the translation of data into discovery — unlocking the value of research so more people can benefit from the work scientists are doing.

Advertising or learning resource?


Posted on 3rd December 2008 by Judy Breck in Connective Expression

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Who cares that these “Science” pages on promote Macs when what can be learned here is accurate, authoritative, and compelling? The image above is from an article called “Breakthrough: Unmasking Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Disease.” Featuring the work of Professor James Brewer of the University of California at San Diego, the text explains how he uses Mac technology in brain analysis. Included is a QuickTime movie of a 256-slice brain MRI.

Instead of being put off by the advertising implications of these pages, why not look at them as apprentice pages. This spot on the Web is a marvelous small tutorial from the real world of medicine on how to obtain and manipulate images of the living brain.

Borehole data on paleoclimatology – boring, no


Posted on 30th September 2008 by Judy Breck in Learn nodes and Paleontology

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The map here is from NOAA Paleoclimatology, which is the study of past climate, for times prior to instrumental weather measurements. Obvious sections of the topic are tree-rings and caves (with the layers of dripping preserved in rock. Less obvious are ways paleoclimatologists learn from paleofire, plant macros, insects and pollen. The borehole section includes the interactive map, which is an internet tool for digging into what is known about what is known about past climate.

Health special section demos knowledge online


Posted on 30th September 2008 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge and Open Content

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To find information about diseases, diagnoses, and treatments the internet as good — and sometimes better — than trying to get this knowledge from doctors. For sure, one would not expect to find this kind of information nearly as efficiently, rapidly, or thoroughly in a brick and mortar library, even a medical one.

In a special Science Times: Decoding Your Health section today, the New York Times includes a page titled Health on the Web in which it introduces with this summary: “A Google search for “cancer” returns 299 million results; narrow that to, say, “prostate cancer” and you still get 12.7 million. It’s a vast, bewildering world out there, but here’s a look at six of the most interesting and potentially useful online health resources.” The six websites the Times editors have selected are then reviewed.

The Science Times forcefully argues and demonstrates that anyone can learn a lot about health online. This marvelous fact is true about most anything we want to learn. For example, a Google search for “science” returns 911,000,000 results; search for “atmospheric sciences” and you still get 4.8 million . The new learning methodology of the 21st century is emerging as searching for and interacting with the online knowledge that is now superior to what is found in a brick and mortar library. For atmospheric sciences, here are six examples:

University of Washington Weather and Climate Data
BUGS Atmospheric General Circulation Model
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: Climate
NOAA: Paleoclimatology
Weather Wiz Kids: Weather Safety
Environmental Protection Agency: Climate Change Kids Site

Science online and open begins to replace crazy old model


Posted on 21st August 2008 by Judy Breck in Connective Expression, Emerging Online Knowledge, Networks and Open Content

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A Boston Globe article today by Carolyn Y. Johnson is headlined Out in the open: Some scientists sharing results. This is the unbundling of publishing down a path that ignores peer review. Once again, network laws that energize emergence are impelling this remarkably revolutionary trend. Like textbook print publishers, the peer review priests can do little but watch as their old model — now perceived as crazy (see below) — becomes obsolete.

[The young MIT biological engineer Barry] Canton is part of a peaceful insurgency in science that is beginning to pry open an endeavor that still communicates its cutting-edge discoveries in much the same way it has since Ben Franklin was experimenting with lightning. Papers are published in research journals after being reviewed by specialists to ensure that the methods and conclusions are sound, a process that can take many months.

“We’re a generation who expects all information is a Google search away,” Canton said. “Not only is it a Google search away, but it’s also released immediately. As soon as it happens, the video is up on YouTube and on all the blogs. The old model feels kind of crazy when you’re used to this instant information.”

Openness has always been an integral part of science, with scientists presenting findings in journals or at conferences. But the open-science movement, with many of its leaders in the Boston area, encourages scientists to share techniques and even their work long before they are ready to present results, when they are devising research questions, running experiments, and analyzing data. In such open forums, the wisdom of the crowd could offer the ultimate form of peer review. And scientific information, they say, should be available without the hefty subscription fees charged by most journals.

It is an attempt to bring the kind of revolutionary and disruptive change to the laboratory that the Internet has already wrought on the music and print media industries. The idea is that opening up science could speed discoveries, increase collaboration, and transform the field in unforeseen ways.

Via Joho the Blog

Kids do not know SEO

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Posted on 31st January 2008 by Judy Breck in Golden Age of Learning

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Yesterday I made a presentation to a group of about 30 gifted teenagers (15-19 year-olds) about opportunities blogging and the burgeoning search engine optimization (SEO) field offered them now and in the future. I explained how they could make money writing blog posts, and that doing so in high school and college was a very effective way to hone their writing talent and build a skill they could use in many ways throughout their lives.

To introduce the SEO discussion, I quoted an email I received this week from a colleague in the open education efforts: “I have been connecting with friends in Silicon Valley that have knowledge of SEO gurus. Given the enormous economic impact of an optimized site, hot SEO people are among the highest compensated folks in the web-industry these days.” The kids were amazed. Only a couple of them had heard of search engine optimization.

I had begun the talk by telling the group that the book in the picture I was projecting on the screen we were looking at was my textbook from 1958, the year I graduated from college. I explained that I have kept the book because in terms of what has happened in biology in the past 50 years, the book is now quite quaint: it does not mention DNA.

For the young people in my audience, SEO is apparently in the same state of obscurity as DNA was when I was their age. In 1958, Crick and Watson had discovered the double helix and the genetic coding method it held for replicating life. Biologists have worked through the half century since to understand the new science of genetics and to implement its powers. In 1958 the huge implications we now know of DNA were barely hinted.

Can it be that the network structures over which search is being optimized as the 21st century method of commerce and communication are discoveries as important as DNA was? I think they are. The challenge for educators is to understand the new network science and to implement its powers for learning.

Using SEO for education means optimizing open education resources (OER) so the search engines can find them when students look for what they want to learn. Just because kids are early adopters of computers, we cannot assume they should have to figure out SEO for learning resources. They don’t yet know what that is, best I can tell.

Caring for our smallest pets


Posted on 6th May 2007 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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Tufts University offers Opencourseware for a variety of scientific and other subjects. One of the courses, which you can click to is Rodent and Small Mammal Medicine. The webpage that a click will lead you to has valuable information on the diseases and treatment of the smallest animals we humans keep as pets. It also has this quotation from from David L. Graham, D.V.M. PhD.:

“Now, ponder, please that thought of the Bard’s ‘what’s in a name?’ Like, for example, ‘Pocket Pets’? In my humble opinion all veterinarians should abjure use of the term ‘pocket pets.’it is (at least to me and few colleagues) offensive and denigrating to the inherent uniqueness and dignity of those creatures that happen to be of such small size that they can fit into a pocket. The term suggests that such pets can be maintained in a more casual and less careful, less caring, and less thoughtful manner than is required for maintenance of other, more traditional companion animal species. Such creatures are of no lesser biological and moral consequence than are larger, more traditional pets. I’m sure that the cute alliteration of the term is a major reason for its acceptance, but I urge that some other rubric(s) be coined under which to group these relatively diminutive companion animals. Please, they are sugar gliders, gerbils, hedgehogs, mice (‘wee sleekit beasties’ – R. Burns), small pets, little small animals (to differentiate them from dogs and cats which are merely ’small animals’), minipets …but please…not ‘pocket pets.’”

Animal Sciences

The Mind of Leonardo


Posted on 30th April 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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Leonardo Da Vinci tools
Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy has a new major exhibit on Leonardo Da Vinci. Titled The Mind of Leonardo, the exhibit has a digital version here with six sections each containing images and videos. Biography via Scout Report

A Science Museum of Minnesota Community


Posted on 30th March 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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Science Buzz Minnesota Museum
This site won a prize this week in the distinguished “Best of Web” competition at Museum and the Web 2006. The lively and informative website is a project of the Science Museum of Minnesota and its website’s contributors. It is genuinely the work of a community that succeeds in interfacing a dynamic network of ideas. Look here at the latest science news and a visionary facet of the future of science learning. Via EyeLevel. General Science

Space imagery animators


Posted on 18th March 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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animate space weather
The awesome art collection at the Goddard Space Flight Center here lists the artwork of the Center’s current and past animation artists. See their interpretations of weather, Earth images, and much more. For digital natives fifteen-years-old and younger the arts are becoming one of the most compelling of all careers (in forms previous generations could not have imagined). Arts

Iceberg science very cool


Posted on 19th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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iceberg webcam setup
On this blog, I harp on how we limit students by marching them through often dull study standards very old school stuff. What would be more interesting and enlightening? How about here, tracking iceberg cams in the Antarctic through a Ross Sea iceshelf project by Stanford, Chicago and Wisconsin Universities? Learning science by watching science in action is very 21st century and undeniably cool in this instance. Earth Sciences