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Posts Tagged ‘youtube


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The gist of this episode might read: Neural networks, anyone?

Neural networks are commonplace, but we might not be aware of them. They are used when Facebook suggests tags for photos, a diagnostic lab analyses cell samples for cancer, or a bank decides whether or not to offer a loan.

So knowing what neural networks are and how they work are important. However, this episode provided only a small taste of both with this schematic.

My marked up version of the PBS/CrashCourse graphic on a basic neural network schematic.

Marked up version of the PBS/CrashCourse graphic on a neural network schematic.

If the input layer is a query we might have and the output layer is an answer, the black box is where rules and algorithms break down and process the input.

What happens in the black box is still a mystery. We might not care how exactly a social media system knows what tags to suggest for a photo, but we probably want to know why a financial system denies us a loan.

Perhaps the next episode might shed more light on the black box.

Here is segment that one might call News We Need Right Now. It is about an autistic, near non-verbal boy who went “Wow!” at the end of a classical music concert.


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When I started teaching, all I hoped from my students were “Oh!” or “A-ha!” as expressions of realisations. As an educator of 30 years, perhaps I should aspire to “Wow!”

You know what? I would rather that my learners go “Hmm…”

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I reminded myself of two change principles after watching the videos below.


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The first principle is: Don’t preach, teach instead. The second is: Don’t sell a story, tell the story.

In both cases, you let your audience decide to learn and change. Tell the story well and without preaching, and you are more likely to get learners and changers.

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This video pit students against teachers in a mathematics test. But what was the point?

Neither party did well, so was the message about the state of mathematics learning was in the US? The PISA findings already told us that.

Was the point that test-worthy mathematics was not relevant to both schooling teens and working adults? If you collect enough anecdotes it becomes data. If you analyse that data, you might come to the same conclusion.

Was Buzzfeeed reaching for low-hanging fruit (we hate mathematics but we want to feel good about it) so it made a video to ingratiate itself and its audience? It’s Buzzfeed — that is their modus operandi.

The subtle point is that nuance is difficult and undesired. It is hard to show that mathematical thinking (not just going through the motions of using formulae) is what is important.

An academic test is just that — it results in a score to sort and possibly remediate before subjecting the student to another test. But passing a test does not guarantee that the student has mastered mathematical thinking. Passing a test shows that the student is good at taking tests.

Trying to showcase such nuance does not make for good viewing. Reality TV and video producers focus on the heightened or controversial for entertainment. Educators on the other hand need to look at the everyday and mundane to make mathematics relevant. Sadly, such videos do not have as many hits as Buzzfeed ones.

This is the original.


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It is impressive, but out-of-date and left out countries like Singapore.

This is the remake based on that original.


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The redux was not just copy and paste. A considerable amount of effort (of a different sort) went into making it.

What I shared on Saturday by citing the work of others also took effort. Other than connecting the two separate pieces, it required the ability to curate. This meant reading, evaluating, archiving, and republishing.

Here are two initial rules for anyone teaching kids about generating and sharing content. One, anything of significance is rarely unique. Two, we stand on the shoulders of giants — acknowledge them or risk getting flicked off.

Coding, however it is defined and implemented, will be taught at primary and secondary schools.

Whatever is taught, I hope that students will not learn the WHAT and HOW without knowing WHY of coding. If they need ideas or inspiration, they might watch this YouTube video.


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This group of dancers aged 11 to 13 code not just for an app or STEM. They code for artistic expression. They code to pursue a passion. They code to move people.

By some coincidence, I watched this video of Itzhak Perlman who was offering master classes online.


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Perlman said he would ask his students: Is there a difference between being intense and being passionate?

Our coding curriculum might be rigorous or even intense. But will it also be passionate? By this I ask if it will give learners ownership and nurture empathy.

Intensity is something we can subject students to. Introducing another possibly siloed subject into their lives will make learning intense even if we try to sell it as fun or forward-looking. We should not dance around this issue.

Passion is something we help students discover and develop. Nurturing passion starts with helping students identify with needs, both theirs and others. This opens the path to empathy. Students then take the responsibility to problem seek and problem solve.

If we rely on intensity, we will have to keep pushing students to learn. If we start with passion, students will push themselves to their own ends.


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This needs to be said: No one should assume that movies depict teachers and teaching accurately.

No one should learn from movie depictions of the same, except to critique said depictions. All that said, there are two truths about such representations:

  1. Movies often do not show how teachers decompress. This is mirrors life and is boring or ugly, so viewers seeking entertainment might reject it.
  2. The best teachers listen first, listen again, and listen some more, before offering anything of substance.

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