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Christopher Lee
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Michael Cacciotti, a graphical designer, has made mockups of three alternative looks for courselets.org.  You can click on the image below to see each of his mockups.  Please take a look and share your thoughts here!
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courselets mockups
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The Courselets project has already grown to involve people in several places, so we need a place to discuss ideas (for specific technical issues, we just use our GitHub issue tracker).  So join the discussion!

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This is a nice study showing the benefits of #inquiryBasedLearning.  I wrote about this on +Dana Ernst's post, but someone asked me to reshare so here are my comments on the paper.

* nice to see the bogeyman of "IBL will ruin our students by not keeping up with our frenetic pace" laid to rest with data.  The mere result of "no harm" is important to establish.  All my experience has shown me that students do not benefit from rushing through lots of topics.  But it's vital to see that tested in a systematic, non-anecdotal way.

* I really like the use of subsequent performance as the key comparison.  Ideally this would be an apples-to-apples comparison, that is, comparing students in the SAME subsequent course (to control for possible differences in the composition of courses that the IBL vs. non-IBL students later take).

* this study highlights for me the tremendous difficulties of doing real effectiveness studies in traditional academia.  If you wanted to find an environment that was maximally unconducive to good study design (e.g. randomized trials), traditional academia would be hard to beat, with its rigid requirement structures, unalterable schedules, and forests of nuisance variables (instructor, student self-selection etc., the incomparability of grading from class to class etc.).  These authors have done a good job trying to cut through all that, but the bottom line is we need a better research platform.  Traditional academia is just not a suitable platform for experimental research on educational outcomes.  Ironic, isn't it? 

(That's one of the things I want to try to fix with https://teachpub.org.  I want to make it a fantastic platform for online randomized trials, baked in to the system design.)

* another example: here they're struggling to find statistically significant effects from students taking a single IBL course.  But of course the real question is: what would the performance difference be for students trained entirely (or at least mostly) by IBL, vs. non-IBL, over their whole college career?  There's no a priori reason to think that taking a single IBL course (in a lifetime of non-IBL courses) is going to somehow transform the student permanently (especially when the measurement is going to be later, non-IBL classes).  It might seem hard to get excited by the small performance gains seen here, but that is probably all we should expect out of just a single course (after all, one course is about 3% of a student's college career). 

In this respect, the finding that it seemed to have a big positive effect on lower-performing students is really interesting!
#spnetwork #recommend shortDOI:f2drj4 #inquiryBasedLearning

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Last week I analyzed the extreme difficulties of escaping from the walled-garden restrictions of the current publishing system.  This week I present my solution for how we can actually win, not just in theory but in practice (i.e. not by saying "if everyone would just do X, our problems would be over", but "here's a pathway that can get us from here to there step by step"). 

If you want Open Science to win, please consider this analysis and give me your critiques.  The Walled Garden system is not going away -- none of the tactics people have tried have so far made a dent -- unless we come up with a strategy that neutralizes the Walled Garden's built-in advantages. Here it is.

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Everyone should call or tweet their congressman today to vote in favor of the amendment to block the NSA's blanket collection of all our phone call data etc in violation of the 4th amendment. This is a key vote. See this site. Please reshare, pass it on.

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Today, when scientists and scholars write papers, their work is usually locked up in walled gardens.   A walled garden is an empty container that people are encouraged to fill with their precious content—at which point it stops being theirs, and becomes the property of those who control the container.

For truly free and open communication, we need to escape the walled gardens.   But to escape, we need to understand why it's hard to escape!     +Christopher Lee, inventor of the Selected Papers Network, explains why here:

http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/the-selected-papers-network-part-3/

And he invites you to offer your suggestions. 
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I suspect most readers here would agree that for truly free and open research communication, we need to escape the Walled Garden restrictions of the current system.   The thing is, Walled Gardens are ferociously robust.  To have any real prospect of escape, we need to understand in detail what makes it hard to escape!   In this post, I've tried to dissect the specific challenges we have to solve, which I think anyone who wants to change this system must come to grips with.  After reading this, can you see a reliable pathway out, that isn't blocked by one of the obstacles I point out?  (I'll offer my own solution in a follow-up post, but I am very curious to hear your proposed pathways!).

update: there is also some discussion by others here: https://plus.google.com/117663015413546257905/posts/f3W71zQ5NPG

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#spnetwork #recommend #vinculin arxiv:0810.3966

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