PLAYBACK: Hacking Education, MIT Students to the (STEM) Rescue, Teaching Media Literacy and More


4.29.12 | This week’s Playback looks at issues of digital access and how education is being re-thought and re-taught in the United States and around the world.

Hacking Edu: The University of Washington’s Master of Communication in Digital Media program has spent the month of April involved in the not-so-small task of rethinking higher education.

Hacking Edu: From Tower to Town Square included a series of events aimed at engaging the community in the question of how to move “from an industrialized, hierarchical model to one more steeped in collaborative leadership.” Speakers included Cheezburger Inc. CEO Ben Huh, who addressed the shortcomings of formal education, the need for increased public support, and the role of entrepreneurs.

MCDM Director Hanson Hosein told that that “the fundamental challenge facing higher education today is one of access” through affordable options. On the upside, “technology helps resolve this.”

“I think we’ll see an increase in ‘blended solutions’ for traditional higher ed institutions that want to tackle cost issues: in-person classes are for subject matter that require face-to-face interaction, and you can refer students to online resources for more settled subject matter (such as mathematics),” Hosein said.

You can view Huh’s talk with GeekWire’s John Cook about the future of higher education.

MIT Students Teaching STEM to K-12 Students: Students need better educational opportunities, more exposure to STEM subjects, and more interaction to people who work in STEM fields. Enter MIT students.

Under the new MIT+K12 initiative developed in collaboration with Khan Academy, MIT students are encouraged to produce short videos teaching basic concepts in science and engineering to younger students in grades K-12. The videos will be accessible through and a YouTube channel. Some of the videos also will be available through Khan Academy—its founder, Salman Khan, is a graduate of MIT and is this year’s commencement speaker.

“We wanted to help inspire young people to change the world through engineering and science, and realized that the 10,000 superstar students we have at MIT are uniquely positioned to do that,” Ian A. Waitz, dean of the School of Engineering and the Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said in a statement. “Our students have responded with all the energy and enthusiasm we knew they would. We worked with them to design the program, and the results are fantastic.”

Teachers can login to the site and create assignments, and MIT students can then choose from the list of open assignments. Current requests include:
- Trig Modeling: Take a video of someone on a Ferris wheel and use a sinusoidal function to model the height as a function of time.
- Manufacturing and Robotics: Describe the advantages of using robotics in the automation of manufacturing processes (e.g. increased production, improved quality, safety).
- Monty Hall Problem: Introduce the Monty Hall problem. The game show host presents you with three doors, behind one is a car and behind the other two are goats. You get to choose 1 of the 3 [...] Explain how the probability of winning the game is 66% if you switch. (You could explain using Bayes’ Theorem, a probability tree, extensions to 100 doors, simulations with cards, the historical context of Marilyn vos Savant’s “Ask Marilyn” column).

If the last one leaves you scratching your head, Wikipedia explains it in depth. Watch a highlight reel of student videos below.

Want to Shrink the Digital Divide? Support Arts Education: To reduce the digital divide—in terms of both access to tools and quality of usage—young people need media literacy and arts education, argues Amy Puffenberger, project manager for the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good at the University of Michigan School of Education. 

“The important point here is that media literacy education is not necessarily so needed because we need to find the next Steven Spielberg, although that is a great benefit,” writes Puffenberger at the National Alliance for Media Arts & Culture, “the point is that we want students, especially youth from underrepresented groups who spend the most amount of time with media on a daily basis, to understand that they too have a voice. They have a voice not only in the media, but more importantly in our society. In a media-saturated environment such as ours where information is as an important currency as any, I cannot imagine a more important lesson for our youth than this.”

Read more entries from NAMAC’s idea exchange.

A Collaborative Guide to Best Digital Learning Practices: HASTAC’s Cathy Davidson has posted “The Ethics and Responsibilities of the 21st Century Classroom: A Collaborative Guide to Best Digital Learning Practices for K-12 Teachers and Administrators.” The guide was produced in Bangkok, Thailand, at the March 28-31 teacher’s meeting of EARCOS, the East Asia Regional Council of Schools.

Davidson writes that the document was developed using a public Google doc at a workshop, which she structured “on the model of an ‘innovation challenge’ of the kind that web developers use to bring together communities to complete a project.”

Teachers and administrators are invited to add their ideas and concerns.

Room for Everyone: Though the title is “Language and Technology vs. STEM,” this Huffington Post column by Mirla Gonzalez, a MA student at the University of Kansas, argues for better integration of language arts and technology, which seems to be a way of incorporating STEM skills into language arts.

Gonzalez points to a Spanish and Technology course and the Spanish Summer Institute at Marist College. Students not only develop speaking and writing skills in Spanish, they learn about and interact with the Spanish-speaking world online and learn skills essential for working in a global economy. 

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated to ensure topic relevance and generally will be posted quickly.

Commenting is not available in this section entry.