The Monday Morning Digest (or MMD, for short) is a collection of some of the news and opinion that caught our collective eyes over the past week. Sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious, always considered, we present these links for your entertainment and edification and everything between.
▸ Can Physics Be Taught Like Soccer? (Hechinger Report)
Zhongzhou Chen, a post-doc at MIT, has set to work to test whether “deliberate practice” — the kind of meaningful drill that allows soccer footwork to become second-nature to a player — can help physics students “get to the fun, creative part of physics sooner” as well as keep weaker students in the game and on an upward trajectory. This article pairs nicely with an opinion piece from Hechinger (Novelist teaches freshman writing…) which reminds us that “Learning to write, like learning to dance, takes time and practice. We acquire grace slowly, and strive not to stumble.” Writing ability is hugely important, more so that ability in physics, but developing intuition in both, besides helping us “get to the fun” parts, should be accessible to all students and applicable to a wide-range of real-world situations.
▸ A Boon to Boot Camps? U.S. Extends Aid to Campus Deals With Nontraditional Programs (Chronicle of Higher Education; h/t EdSurge)
The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday a pilot program that would open federal aid opportunities to students in nontraditional programs like MOOCs, coding bootcamps, and online courses like ours. The organizations would partner with accredited colleges and universities, with oversight by “third-party ‘quality assurance entities'”. Naturally, we are keeping a close eye on this program!
▸ Visualizing Your Searches with Trailblazer (ProfHacker – Chronicle of Higher Education)
This Beta tool maps your Web search, including dead ends and side adventures, which allows you to retrace your steps and reconstruct your search at will. Sometimes, sequence provides important context for answering the question why was I looking at this page; this tool tells a more nuanced story than a simple browser history will. Importantly — because, yes, Trailblazer will track your complete browsing history — this tool can be turned on and off at will.
▸ New Grant Will Create Prizes for Faculty Using Digital Courseware (Wired Campus – Chronicle of Higher Education)
We’ll have to wait until December for the details, but here is the gist: there will be $10,000 prizes to ten faculty teams “that advance and adopt sophisticated online courses” as well as three $100,000 prizes “to institutions that showcase sustained innovation ‘on a broader scale; in the use of the courses”. Is it time for us to dust off our Open Course Resource Center for open courseware adopters?
▸ OER World Map (Hochschulbibliothekszentrum des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen et al.)
We got the word last week that the OER World Map has been bumped to “version 0.3”. The map is a quick, friendly, visual way to find out who is doing what and where in the world of OER. Got a story about re-using Saylor Academy OER? Tell us. Got a story about using OER in general? Tell the folks of the OER World Map!
▸ Why you shouldn’t be surprised that prisoners crushed Harvard’s debate team (Washington Post)
The story behind this article was semi-viral a few weeks ago, because it fits the classic “underdog” pattern. This piece posits that the winning team benefited, in part, from limitations imposed by lack of access to the Internet and the need to wait for clearance and receipt of their research materials. It’s an interesting point that poses some problems for inhabitants of the information society. (Incidentally, our courses were designed to help learners in part by “curating the Web”.) The article makes another important point, one we ardently agree with: intelligence, diligence, creativity, and problem-solving skills are not exclusive to Ivy Leaguers (or universal among them). It’s an obvious point that becomes somewhat less obvious when expanded to include not only non-Ivy Leaguers, but people from all walks of life, including incarcerated people — most of whom will one day be formerly-incarcerated people, out in the world, making their living. Attending Harvard, certainly, provides outstanding opportunities to (mostly) deserving students, but Harvard will never, ever, ever be able to accept more than a small fraction of students who could make hay with those opportunities. A final aside: we at Saylor Academy, as a matter of fact, don’t “admit” anyone; you get to learn at Saylor Academy if you decide you want to be here; if you want to be here, you belong here. We’re proud to have fantastic students and to be a part of the open education movement!
See a great article? Let us know!