Friday, June 29, 2012

Khan Academy and Math Education

Two professors just released a parody video critiquing Khan Academy.  Its pretty boring and too nitpicky, so you can instead read the article about it in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Their basic critique is that Khan Academy focuses too much on procedural thinking and not enough on actual thinking.  This is an issue, but traditional education suffers from a similar flaw. Often, schools just teach for whatever test it is that students must take, and ignore actual understanding of the material. To properly explore a topic, one would have to hire an very good teacher to teach a small group of students who are all at a similar level. This would be very expensive. A more realistic plan would be for students to use quality interactive software to learn the material and be able to discuss it with their peers, and when needed, be able to consult with an expert or advanced student. This balanced option could probably produce the best result for many students at the lowest cost.

The other complaint in the parody is the quality of Khan's videos. It's true that Khan's videos are pretty simple, but he himself recognizes this. He stresses the main power of the site is the amount of data they have and their ability to add new features. For example, they added an intelligent quiz tool, and they will be adding additional interactivity in the future. This will improve the site, but there is also room for other players to contribute to online education. For example, if a site would make it easy for many people to create interactive educational content...

See also:
Math Education
The Future of Education 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Google vs. Microsoft Part II

Can Docs beat Office? In this article on SeekingAlpha I explore some ways that they may be able to:

Free Wordpress Cloud Hosting from RedHat

The open-source software company RedHat has been running  their cloud service OpenShift for a while now, but it wasn't too useful for non-developers. However, yesterday they announced Instant Applications, which lets anyone instantly create a Wordpress, Drupal or Ruby on Rails website. This can be very useful for people who want free Wordpress hosting, (especially since DreamHost ended their free hosting) and it will be able to handle any amount of traffic.  They will eventually start charging for it, though I assume there will still be a free tier.

Steps to create free Wordpress blog:

  1. Sign up for OpenShift.

  2. Go to create application and select Wordpress.

  3. Pick your general public name and app name and then click "create application".

  4. After the app is created, you will be able to log in to it with:
    Username: Admin 
    Password: OpenShiftAdmin

    Make sure to immediately change your password from the Wordpress control panel! (Users>Your Profile>New Password)

To setup the Wordpress blog with your own domain, see these instructions on the OpenShift blog.