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Journal: Continuation on education 13

Journal by jd

Ok, I need to expand a bit on my excessively long post on education some time back.

The first thing I am going to clarify is streaming. This is not merely distinction by speed, which is the normal (and therefore wrong) approach. You have to distinguish by the nature of the flows. In practice, this means distinguishing by creativity (since creative people learn differently than uncreative people).

It is also not sufficient to divide by fast/medium/slow. The idea is that differences in mind create turbulence (a very useful thing to have in contexts other than the classroom). For speed, this is easy - normal +/- 0.25 standard deviations for the central band (ie: everyone essentially average), plus two additional bands on either side, making five in total.

Classes should hold around 10 students, so you have lots of different classes for average, fewer for the band's either side, and perhaps only one for the outer bands. This solves a lot of timetabling issues, as classes in the same band are going to be interchangeable as far as subject matter is concerned. (This means you can weave in and out of the creative streams as needed.)

Creativity can be ranked, but not quantified. I'd simply create three pools of students, with the most creative in one pool and the least in a second. It's about the best you can do. The size of the pools? Well, you can't obtain zero gradient, and variations in thinking style can be very useful in the classroom. 50% in the middle group, 25% in each of the outliers.

So you've 15 different streams in total. Assume creativity and speed are normally distributed and that the outermost speed streams contain one class of 10 each. Start with speed for simplicity I'll forgo the calculations and guess that the upper/lower middle bands would then have nine classes of 10 each and that the central band will hold 180 classes of 10.

That means you've 2000 students, of whom the assumption is 1000 are averagely creative, 500 are exceptional and 500 are, well, not really. Ok, because creativity and speed are independent variables, we have to have more classes in the outermost band - in fact, we'd need four of them, which means we have to go to 8000 students.

These students get placed in one of 808 possible classes per subject per year. Yes, 808 distinct classes. Assuming 6 teaching hours per day x 5 days, making 30 available hours, which means you can have no fewer than 27 simultaneous classes per year. That's 513 classrooms in total, fully occupied in every timeslot, and we're looking at just one subject. Assuming 8 subjects per year on average, that goes up to 4104. Rooms need maintenance and you also need spares in case of problems. So, triple it, giving 12312 rooms required. We're now looking at serious real estate, but there are larger schools than that today. This isn't impossible.

The 8000 students is per year, as noted earlier. And since years won't align, you're going to need to go from first year of pre/playschool to final year of an undergraduate degree. That's a whole lotta years. 19 of them, including industrial placement. 152,000 students in total. About a quarter of the total student population in the Greater Manchester area.

The design would be a nightmare with a layout from hell to minimize conflict due to intellectual peers not always being age peers, and neither necessarily being perceptual peers, and yet the layout also has to minimize the distance walked. Due to the lack of wormholes and non-simply-connected topologies, this isn't trivial. A person at one extreme corner of the two dimensional spectrum in one subject might be at the other extreme corner in another. From each class, there will be 15 vectors to the next one.

But you can't minimize per journey. Because there will be multiple interchangeable classes, each of which will produce 15 further vectors, you have to minimize per day, per student. Certain changes impact other vectors, certain vector values will be impossible, and so on. Multivariable systems with permutation constraints. That is hellish optimization, but it is possible.

It might actually be necessary to make the university a full research/teaching university of the sort found a lot in England. There is no possible way such a school could finance itself off fees, but research/development, publishing and other long-term income might help. Ideally, the productivity would pay for the school. The bigger multinationals post profits in excess of 2 billion a year, which is how much this school would cost.

Pumping all the profits into a school in the hope that the 10 uber creative geniuses you produce each year, every year, can produce enough new products and enough new patents to guarantee the system can be sustained... It would be a huge gamble, it would probably fail, but what a wild ride it would be!

User Journal

Journal: yo

Journal by Hatta

--
Censorship is obscene.
Patriotism is bigotry.
Slashdot is unusable without noscript.

User Journal

Journal: Metallic sun 1

Journal by freality

I'm posting this for follow-up commentary from @APODNereid, since the thread is now closed.

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2967801&cid=40758811

You ask what would keep the surface metallic. Thinking about this more, I found a couple of facts:

The Sun's surface has an energy flux density ~30x that of a hot metal rod at 3,000 C (around the glow point for tungsten in a lightbulb) in the experiment described here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefan%E2%80%93Boltzmann_law#Temperature_of_the_Sun

Which is hot indeed, and would surely evaporate the tungsten here on Earth.

However, the Sun also has 28 times greater surface gravity than that on the surface of the Earth (28x the surface gravity, so linearly greater pressure for the same area too):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun (see sidebar for surface gravity)

The core of the Earth is thought to be about as hot as the surface of the Sun, and yet still a solid metal ball:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_core

What explains the core not evaporating into a gas or plasma? The pressure is very high.

A 1% depth crust on the SUn (similar to the Earth's proportion) would be roughly the diameter of the Earth, so the amount of material involved is at least equally astronomical :) For a start, this tells me that the pressures on the surface of the Sun could create a solid despite the temperature. Of course, the vaporization point for Hydrogen and Iron/Nickel are very far apart, but I don't know how far at these pressures (is that even the right way to phrase it?) without some more reading.

(also, whether or not it's metallic per se is beyond me; the more interesting point vis-a-vis the original article is whether the surface is solid.)

Thoughts?

Books

Journal: History books can be fun (but usually aren't and this is a Bad Thing) 2

Journal by jd

Most people have read "1066 and all that: a memorable history of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 good things, 5 bad kings and 2 genuine dates" (one of the longest book titles I have ever encountered) and some may have encountered "The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody", but these are the exceptions and not the rule. What interesting - but accurateish - takes on history have other Slashdotters encountered?

User Journal

Journal: Justice 1

Journal by Hatta

Rioters in England cause millions of dollars worth of damage in 2011. 3000 arrested.

Bankers in England cause billions of dollars worth of damage in 2008. Zero arrested.

This is what passes for justice these days.

Windows

Journal: Vista/Windows 8 Hype Log. 1

Journal by twitter

All the usual hype is flowing about Vista 8. This mostly means that Vista 7 was a failure, but I decided to log it for laughs. Vista 7 did not sell as well as Vista did and Vista 8 won't sell any better than Vista 7. Vista failure has really killed Microsoft. The upgrade inevitability myth is six feet underground, traditional desktops are becoming a thing of the past and everyone looks to Google, Apple even IBM for cool and reliable computing. Despite that, Microsoft brings out the same old lines and strategies.

2009

  • 05/29 - Steve Ballmer tries to freeze the market by announcing an early release date, only to have Micrsoft quietly rebuff him. In reality, OEM outrage at Microsoft's limitations and power grab pushes Vista 8 release out of 2012.
  • 06/02 - A fawning article from business insider. We get all the usual BS, "riskiest OS ever," "biggest step forward in more than 20 years, when it pushed Windows as the replacement for DOS", "underneath that layer is the old Windows that users are accustomed to. It will run old Windows apps", Linux and Apple are too jarring, expensive and suck, and so on and so forth.
Windows

Journal: Windows in Decline, as More than 1 in 3 PCs Ship Without 7

Journal by twitter

As the Linux Foundation wins new friends and influences people, sharp reporters at PCWorld notice that Windows sales as a fraction of PCs shipped are in a steep and accelerating decline. Woody Leonhard of Infoworld does the math on Microsoft's numbers,

Between launch and June 30, 2010 -- a period of 251 days -- Microsoft sold 0.78 Windows 7 licenses for each PC sold. Between July 1, 2010, and April 22, 2011 -- a period of 275 days -- Microsoft sold 0.67 Windows 7 licenses for each PC sold: 175 million Windows 7 licenses, and 260 million new PCs. To turn the numbers the other way around, in the past nine months, more than one-third of all new PCs sold didn't have Windows 7. ... it's entirely possible that 40 percent of all new PCs in the past nine months shipped without Windows 7. Maybe more.

So, the Windows 7 PC sales "refresh" is over. Business adoption rates are still under 10%. Kanthryn Noyles of Computer World interprets that as a Win for gnu/linux

I think it's fair to assume that a good number of them are running Linux instead. Preloaded options, after all, are increasingly common, and the reasons to switch are more compelling with each passing Patch Tuesday.

Android/Linux, is another reason for the decline. Why sit around mom's basement with a big, noisy PC when you can drop the net in your pocket? PCs are less important and Windows is downright archaic.

Microsoft's bottom line sags with its cash cow. There was good evidence in 2010 and January of this year that Windows 7 was not driving sales. Roughly Drafted now looks at Microsoft's quarterly report and shows that Windows profits are down since 2008 back when they were trying to sell Vista which many people dumped in less than six months.

Advertising

Journal: What is Florian Mueller telling Slashdot? 7

Journal by twitter
A list of things that Microsoft lobbyist and software patent advocate, Florian Mueller has been telling Slashdot.

Florian Mueller has thrust himself into the news a lot over the last couple of years, mostly to the detriment of Microsoft competitors, and has been particularly successful at getting Slashdot to copy his message. Roy Schestowitz, of Techrights, noticed him early because Boycott Novell was on Florian's journalist mass mailing list. So was Groklaw. Both rejected Florian's message and both are now smeared by him. Techrights has this index and PJ has this about bad behavior in 2005, this, this and more. Florian waged a Twitter/Social Media FUD campaign against both "Groklie" and Techrights in retaliation. Even Slashdot submitters have called Florian a "gadfly" and noticed he's behind anti-Google FUD. All of Florian's media manipulation has earned him special mention by actual lawyers who advise those threatened by lawsuits to ignore him and people like him.

The best way to understand what Florian has been doing is to make a list of it. Here then, is a list of what he's been telling Slashdot readers over the last year or so, with context and links to refutations as time allows.

Android/Google Spin.

Red Hat FUD

IBM FUD

Novell's Patent Hoard.

Reframes Microsoft's attempt to tax Motorola's use of GNU/Linux and Android.

This issue should not be separated from general anti-Google FUD but Florian does this.

That's 16 articles in less than a year and each represents dozens of Microsoft press echos. All of it says something bad about Google, Red Hat, IBM and other free software users. When he's not busy smearing Microsoft competitors, he's telling us that they Love Microsoft and are working with them towards some noble goal.

People speculate that Muelller is fed inside information as part of Microsoft's coordinated campaigns against free software and Microsoft competitors. PJ of Groklaw thinks that Microsoft hoped that a community of deluded coders would form around Florian, but only Novell employees and Mono boosters pal around, while the larger free software community ignores him. His recent praise of the SCO Gang and smears of PJ places him among the most disgusting of Microsoft company.

Education

Journal: HOWTO: Run an educational system 1

Journal by jd

The topic on Woz inspired me to post something about the ideas I've been percolating for some time. These are based on personal teaching experience, teaching experience by siblings and father at University level and by my grandfather at secondary school, 6th form college and military acadamy. (There's been a lot of academics in the family.)

Anyways, I'll break this down into sections. Section 1 deals with the issues of class size and difference in ability. It is simply not possible to teach to any kind of meaningful standard a group of kids of wildly differing ability. Each subject should be streamed, such that people of similar ability are grouped together -- with one and only one exception: you cannot neglect the social aspect of education. Some people function well together, some people dysfunction well together. You really want to maintain the former of those two groups as much as possible, even if that means having a person moved up or down one stream.

Further, not everyone who learns at the same pace learns in the same way. Streams should be segmented according to student perspective, at least to some degree, to maximize the student's ability to fully process what they are learning. A different perspective will almost certainly result in a different stream. Obviously, you want students to be in the perspective that leads them to be in the fastest stream they can be in.

There should be sufficient divisions such that any given stream progresses with the least turbulence possible. Laminar flow is good. There should also be no fewer than one instructor per ten students at a secondary school level. You probably want more instructors in primary education, less at college/university, with 1:10 being the average across all three.

Section 2: What to teach. I argue that the absolute fundamental skills deal in how to learn, how to research, how to find data, how to question, how to evaluate, how to apply reasoning tools such as deduction, inference, lateral thinking, etc, in constructive and useful ways. Without these skills, education is just a bunch of disconnected facts and figures. These skills do not have to be taught directly from day 1, but they do have to be a part of how things are taught and must become second-nature before secondary education starts.

Since neurologists now believe that what is learned alters the wiring of the brain, the flexibility of the brain and the adult size of the brain, it makes sense that the material taught should seek to optimize things a bit. Languages seem to boost mental capacity and the brain's capacity to be fault-tolerant. It would seem to follow that teaching multiple languages of different language families would be a Good Thing in terms of architecturing a good brain. Memorization/rote-learning seems to boost other parts of the brain. It's not clear what balance should be struck, or what other brain-enhancing skills there might be, but some start is better than no start at all.

Section 3: How to test. If it's essential to have exams (which I doubt), the exam should be longer than could be completed by anyone - however good - within the allowed time, with a gradual increase in the difficulty of the questions. Multiple guess choice should be banned. The mean and median score should be 50% and follow a normal distribution. Giving the same test to an expert system given the same level of instruction as the students should result in a failing grade, which I'd put at anything under 20% on this scale. (You are not testing their ability to be a computer. Not in this system.)

Each test should produce two scores - the raw score (showing current ability) and the score after adjusting for the anticipated score based on previous test results (which show the ability to learn and therefore what should have been learned this time - you want the third-order differential and therefore the first three tests cannot be examined this way). The adjusted score should be on the range of -1 (learned nothing new, consider moving across to a different perspective in the same stream) to 0 (learned at expected rate) to +1 (learning too fast for the stream, consider moving up). Students should not be moved downstream on a test result, only ever on a neutral evaluation of some kind.

Section 4: Fundamentals within any given craft, study or profession should be taught as deeply and thoroughly as possible. Those change the least and will apply even as the details they are intertwined with move in and out of fashion. "Concrete" skills should be taught broadly enough that there is never a serious risk of unemployability, but also deeply enough that the skills have serious market value.

Section 5: Absolutely NO homework. It's either going to be rushed, plagarized or paid-for. It's never going to be done well and it serves no useful purpose. Year-long projects are far more sensible as they achieve the repetitious use of a skill that homework tries to do but in a way that is immediately practical and immediately necessary.

Lab work should likewise not demonstrate trivial stuff, but through repetition and variation lead to the memorization of the theory and its association with practical problems of the appropriate class.

Section 6: James Oliver's advice on diet should be followed within reason - and the "within reason" bit has more to do with what food scientists and cookery scientists discover than with any complaints.

Section 7: Go bankrupt. This is where this whole scheme falls over -- to do what I'm proposing seriously would require multiplying the costs of maintaining and running a school by 25-30 with no additional income. If it had a few billion in starting capital and bought stocks in businesses likely to be boosted by a high-intensity K-PhD educational program, it is just possible you could reduce the bleeding to manageable proportions. What you can never do in this system is turn a profit, although all who are taught will make very substantial profits from such a system.

User Journal

Journal: Mod points...

Journal by Dan East

I think this is the most mod points burnt on one of my posts so far. Looks like 20 or so mod points were used on one post.

Re:Make it static., posted to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort, has been moderated Interesting (+1).

It is currently scored Normal (2).

Re:Make it static., posted to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort, has been moderated Insightful (+1).

It is currently scored Interesting (3).

Re:Make it static., posted to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort, has been moderated Insightful (+1).

It is currently scored Insightful (4).

Re:Make it static., posted to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort, has been moderated Insightful (+1).

It is currently scored Insightful (5).

Re:Make it static., posted to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort, has been moderated Troll (-1).

It is currently scored Insightful (4).

Re:Make it static., posted to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort, has been moderated Overrated (-1).

It is currently scored Insightful (3).

Re:Make it static., posted to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort, has been moderated Insightful (+1).

It is currently scored Insightful (4).

Re:Make it static., posted to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort, has been moderated Interesting (+1).

It is currently scored Insightful (5).

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It is currently scored Insightful (4).

A user had given a moderation of Insightful (+1) to your comment, Re:Make it static., attached to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort. That moderation has now been undone, probably due to the user posting in the discussion after moderating in it. Your comment is currently scored Insightful (3).

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It is currently scored Insightful (2).

A user had given a moderation of Overrated (-1) to your comment, Re:Make it static., attached to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort. That moderation has now been undone, probably due to the user posting in the discussion after moderating in it. Your comment is currently scored Insightful (3).

Re:Make it static., posted to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort, has been moderated Interesting (+1).

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Re:Make it static., posted to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort, has been moderated Insightful (+1).

It is currently scored Insightful (5).

Re:Make it static., posted to WikiLeaks Starts Mass Mirroring Effort, has been moderated Troll (-1).

It is currently scored Insightful (4).

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It is currently scored Insightful (5).

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User Journal

Journal: Marketing online... where to even START!?

Journal by inflex

So here I am, a product in hand and somehow I have to get it into the market mind share, far beyond just 'friends in and family'. About the only thing I've ever had a lot of success with is infesting forums - the trouble with that is it's so much work and you really can't seem to break past the 1:1 ratio of effort vs sales. Things like AdWords, Facebook Fanpages, Facebook advertising don't seem to provide high returns either. Beyond the top couple of major social networking methods there appears to be hundreds of smaller avenues but they all seem to be even worse on effort-vs-return.

My suspicion is that it's a lot like winning the Lotto... you see the occasional big winner (like the White-board Resignation the other day) but for the most part everyone just ends up spending a lot of time, money and effort barely getting decent returns.

I think I need a cofffee now.

User Journal

Journal: I don't know which is scarier

Journal by jd

That I am old enough to remember where my current .sig came from, or that nobody else is.....! For those who are suffering from a memory lapse, here is the sig: "The world is in darkness. To erase data is to suppress truth; to halt computing is to shackle the mind."

Ok, ok, you're too lazy to google it, so here's the link: Son of Hexadecimal Kid

Windows

Journal: ZDNet Author Dumps Vista for GNU/Linux 1

Journal by twitter
J.A. Watson of ZDNet belatedly joins the Vista Sucks Chorus. He makes up for his tardiness with zeal and by moving to GNU/Linux.

I simply can't believe how awful Windows is, and (unfortunately) how gullible I am. [my laptop] came loaded with Vista Business, and a "fallback" DVD for XP Professional. I tried running Vista on it. I really tried, I really wanted it to work, and I said exactly that in my blog here. But it didn't. Every time I tried it, things started out looking promising, and after a month or two it would go belly-up. Three or four times I reloaded Vista from scratch and tried again, hoping that the latest Microsoft Updates would fix it. Eventually I gave up, reloaded one last time with XP Professional, and ran that with no problem for two years.

A month or so ago, through my own carelessness, I wiped the disk on this laptop. I had to reload everything from scratch, so (like a fool) I thought well, Vista SP2 is out, everyone says that it is "all fixed up now and works great, and reliably", so I'll try that again. I loaded Vista from scratch, added all the updates to SP2 and beyond, and I've been running it that way since. Until today. ... Windows is unreliable garbage, it always has been, it always will be, and if you use it you should be willing to accept that risk. I am no longer willing to accept that risk, even part-time as a secondary operating system on this laptop. Windows is gone, it has puked all over its disk for the last time here, and I will not reload it. I am in the process of transferring the data to one of the Linux partitions - yes, Linux is quite happy to read the partition that Windows says is hopelessly corrupted.

Please, PLEASE, unless you want to hear a very long string of words that I learned during my military service, do NOT tell me that the "solution" to this problem is to give Microsoft even more money and "upgrade" to Windows 7. ... if Vista is not stable, or reliable, then Microsoft should withdraw it and either offer a free "upgrade" to Windows 7 or offer a refund of the purchase cost. ... I absolutely don't believe the Windows 7 is any better, any more stable or any more reliable than Vista. They come from Microsoft, they are utter garbage...

This is a sign of things to come for Windows. Windows 7 was predictably just as bad as Vista was. People no longer are falling for Microsoft's promises of "this version fixes everything."

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