Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
What's the story with these ads on Slashdot? Check out our new blog post to find out. ×

Comment Re:"Only" (Score 4, Insightful) 87

"Only $6000"
Maybe this is because I'm not an Apple/Google/Intel employee, but if I got $6k handed to me, I'd be psyched.

You need to take stock of your life if $6k is considered a financial windfall. This is basically a single paycheck to many of the professionals being affected by these illegal practices. They have likely missed out on tens of thousands of dollars in wages and are being given a big F-U by the government as well as the companies that conspired against them.

Comment Re:Before you go off the deep end.. (Score 5, Insightful) 87

how many Billions these corps have saved, reinvested, and reaped as untold wealth, while only having their feet held to the fire for about 100m each in this case. They are sure to invent some fascinating practices to hold wages down further in the coming years.

This is all there is to learn from this case; that the government willfully endorses this type of behavior. They hand out some minuscule fines every once in a while to placate citizens who cannot comprehend math, but ultimately let companies blatantly conspire to reduce wages.

This settlement is less than a tenth of the dollar amount necessary to actually punish these companies more than they benefited. And if you are a regular who doesn't punish someone more than they benefited, you are explicitly endorsing their behavior.

Comment Re:Probably will just make our jobs harder (Score 1) 109

but if you don't have enough people, it isn't logical that you let people just not work.

Considering the fact that overworked people are less effective than those with a better work/life balance, it is very logical to still encourage vacation time when your staff is busy. Sure there are some rare times when a very important release keeps people working 60 hour weeks for a month or two, but if the company constantly thinks it is always in crunch time their workers will suffer. And that will impact the company just as it impacts the employees.

There are plenty of very successful people who fool themselves into thinking their 80 hour work weeks are more productive than a 50 hour one, but no research backs this up. It is just one example of why you can't assume every opinion of a successful person is golden. Long work hours are a symptom of bad project management, nothing more.

Comment Re:Risk Tolerance not that High (Score 1) 95

There are lots of people who claim that the current education methods are 'archaic' and 'old fashioned' but I never heard any one of them claim why that is so.

That is surprising since claims regarding the failings of our schools are so prevalent in media and society as a whole. Our students hardly even compete with other developed countries on almost any metric anyone has thought up yet. Special needs children rarely get enough resources, and gifted children rarely have an educational experience that rises to their level. Your average adult can barely calculate tip, or locate foreign countries on a map. The symptoms of the problem are seemingly infinite.

I would agree that no one can accurately claim exactly what is causing these symptoms. If that was so we could fix it tomorrow. We are in a stage where we need to continue trying new things. We actually are doing a decent job of finding new techniques that work. Foreign countries like Finland that turned around their school systems in the past few decades found most of their inspiration from innovative programs in the US. But they had enough centralized control and motivation to try new things on a large scale. Skepticism and resistance from the US education industry are what is holding us back (IMHO), not those actually trying to fix these problems.

Comment Re:The cost of external cognition (Score 2) 137

And by "us", you mean "really quite rich people". Don't imagine the proletariat will be able to afford many "extra neurons".

Yeah, I can't think of any examples of technologies that were once only affordable by rich people, but are not ubiquitous. Its not like everyone owns a car, computer, mobile phone, dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, or any other number of items originally affordable by only the rich ...

Comment Re:Risk Tolerance not that High (Score 1) 95

Well since we already have an educational model that works (or at least used to) to some degree and we are looking at ways to improve it the medical equivalent would be having a condition which medical science can already manage to a varying degree of success and then replacing that with a new treatment

I would equate changing our school systems with replacing the use of leeches to treat medical conditions. You know, a method used for a very long time that we now realize is very archaic. It just seems the educational industry is about 100 years behind the medical industry in finding ways of improving on methods used near the beginning of the industrial revolution.

Comment Re:Risk Tolerance not that High (Score 1) 95

If these results are as common as you state, do you have sources to back them up? And I don't mean a source complaining about a few instances; it would need to be something similar to a survey paper looking at a large representative sample size of approaches. Considering the amount of funding the unions would provide to someone trying to prove that, if there is such evidence it should be very easy to find.

And I do mean evidence against innovative techniques coming from private industry. Abominations like the NCLB act are appalling and anyone would have no problem finding a dozen studies pointing out its many flaws.

Comment Re:Society better get used to it (Score 2) 137

Ah, so retinal implants will pretty much guarantee that I won't even be able to tell if someone is actually paying attention or listening, even if they are staring right back at me in an apparent attempt to look engaged in physical conversation with another human being.

If you are having a conversation with someone where all they have to do is nod and smile every once in a while to make you think they are listening, they are not the problem. Perhaps this technology will help stop people from wasting others' time with meaningless conversation. Small talk may cease to exist.

Comment Re:Risk Tolerance not that High (Score 1) 95

Try telling that to the students who have had an appalling low standard of education because of the 90-99% failure rate of all the new things they had tried on them.

I have not read any studies which claim a significant number of these new techniques are creating an appallingly lower standard of education than the students would have gotten otherwise. In contrast the most damning criticism is usually that they techniques had no effect. In my opinion, this isn't because the new techniques are that good. It is because it is really hard to do worse than the status quo.

Nobody would accept a 90-99% failure rate for medical innovations which get as far as being tried on patients!

Depends on the possible side effects and depends on the most likely outcome using conventional medicine. If I have a 100% of dying, a 2% chance of success is starting to look pretty good. And if the worse thing that could happen is a little diarrhea, a 10% chance of completely curing a disease also sounds really good.

there is really no way to determine whether a new technique is effective other than to try it on students. So while education is more risk tolerant than medicine it is nowhere near as risk tolerant as VC industry funding.

Many new educational techniques can be tried out in a very agile manner. Even conventional education tries new ideas constantly, just usually with a less scale-able and less ambitious approach. Initial trials of a single lecture or single lesson plan, measured with a single test, can provide initial indications of success at scale.

Just as you don't test a new CRM app with a large scale deployment at a Fortune 100 company, you don't have to test a new educational technique by changing an entire State's teaching standards over night. All of this can be, and already is, tested on a much smaller scale.

Comment Re:Don't buy in. (Score 1) 95

There's an interesting statistic that shows computer science professors are the least likely to use learning software like Blackboard. Why? It's not because they don't understand the technology. It's because they've already integrated web pages, email and other technology into their teaching, and are justifiably skeptical about the push-button "solutions" like Blackboard.

This explanation for why they don't use push-button solutions like Blackboard is what gives me hope for finding new education innovations. Because they are still integrating technology, they are just doing it on a more personal and customize-able level. Current innovations mostly go for low hanging fruit, which usually involve simplistic and push-button solutions. But as adoption grows and skepticism subsides, innovations will become far more specific. That takes more funding and a higher chance of failure, so the industry just isn't that mature yet.

Or at least that is my hope.

Comment Re:Don't buy in. (Score 1) 95

I might agree that most of the problem isn't buzzwords, but it's also not lack of understanding. It's skepticism. These "new teaching methods" are unproven, and lots of them are starting to show the cracks in their shiny. Just yesterday we had a story about Udacity not living up to expectations.

I agree that skepticism is the root of the problem, but education can also help with that. For one, most people feel that if 90% of educational innovations provide no benefit, that is a failure of the industry. But in my opinion, if even 1% of these innovations are effective and scale-able, it will be revolutionary. As long as the other 99% at least don't hurt education.

The education industry could learn a lot from the angel / VC funding industry. You only need 1-10% successes to make the 90-99% failures worth it as long as the success are sufficiently scale-able. There are 50 million new students (in the US alone) each decade who can take advantage of even the smallest innovation that comes from companies trying to change things.

Instead most educators, and skeptics in other industries, focus on the 90+% of attempts that fail. Citing some story about Udacity failing would be similar to citing the failure of Friendster when claiming no social media company could ever be successful. Stopping people from thinking this way is one way education can solve this rampant skepticism of educational innovation.

Comment Re: The cost of external cognition (Score 2) 137

More creative? I'd think it would lead to more groupthink.
Creativity is when someone goes off the beaten path and does something new a different.

I'm of the belief that there are no truly original ideas, just new combinations of old ideas. The more old ideas you know the more creative you can be. This is just an opinion though.

I also think group think is more of a problem among the uneducated. I doubt making knowledge more available will increase group think, although I agree it will certainly not get rid of it either.

Comment Re:The cost of external cognition (Score 4, Interesting) 137

they are quite literally incapable of normal conversation without involving the smartphone because it has become a part of their thought processes.

At some point Ray Kurzweil's vision of a connected brain will be a reality, and we will literally be able to use external computation in our regular thought patterns. Information retrieval is only the beginning; soon* these devices will help us be more creative by loaning us extra neurons when we need them.

* By soon I mean probably within a few decades

Comment Re:Don't buy in. (Score 1) 95

I don't buy the idea that imprecise buzzwords are the root of this problem. It seems an overall lack of understanding of new teaching methods is the problem.

The first half of the article talks about how people don't know what these buzzwords mean. But the second half doesn't even mention buzzwords again. It talks about a societal gap between current educators and education innovators. This is a problem I can agree is slowing adoption.

Comment Society better get used to it (Score 2) 137

Within 20 years we will probably have contact lenses or even retinal implants that allow us to interact with technology at any time and without anyone noticing. Learning to deal with people looking at their cell phones during conversation is a good way to help transition society to a time when you can't assume 100% of someone's attention just because they are standing next to you.

Now the loud cell phone behavior is just being a jerk though.

"Bond reflected that good Americans were fine people and that most of them seemed to come from Texas." - Ian Fleming, "Casino Royale"