Idea Lab

The idea lab is the area that we use to show case the top 10 ideas that are "making us think".  The idea may be provocative, controversial, or very far outside of the box.  The idea may be about education, tangentially related to education, or maybe not even about education at all. We may agree with the idea, we may disagree with the idea, we may not have an opinion on the idea ... but it is making us think.  

This list is fluid, ideas will come and go.  

1. Stanford Intro to AI course /  Explore more >>
In the Fall of 2011, Stanford University in partnership offered its Introductory Artificial Intelligence class on-line and free of charge, world wide.  Over 168,000 people signed up for the course, 38,000 people turned in the first assignment, and 30,000 people completed the course.  

2. Conrad Wolfram TED talk / Explore more >>
A must view video for all: teachers, administrators, parents, students, community members.

"From rockets to stock markets, many of humanity's most thrilling creations are powered by math. So why do kids lose interest in it? Conrad Wolfram says the part of math we teach -- calculation by hand -- isn't just tedious, it's mostly irrelevant to real mathematics and the real world. He presents his radical idea: teaching kids math through computer programming."

3.  Khan Academy /  Explore more >>
A free world class education for anyone anywhere. From their website: "The Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We're a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.

All of the site's resources are available to anyone. It doesn't matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy's materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge." 

4. Raspberry Pi / Explore more >> 
The Raspberry Pi is a $25 computer that is powerful enough to run Quake 3, a pretty intense 3D video game. It's primarily intended for the education market. The whole idea was conceived as a way to get kids to learn how to manipulate and program computers earlier on.  

5. Saturday Academy / Explore more >>
"Saturday Academy engages motivated young people in hands-on, in-depth learning and problem solving by connecting them with community experts as instructors and mentors.

Our vision is that all interested, pre-college students in our region will have the opportunity to interact with community experts and experience professional environments in ways that assist them in developing intellectually and preparing for rewarding careers.

Saturday Academy's innovative programs are open to all students in grades 2 through 12. We value all learning, and offer experiences in many disciplines. We emphasize, math, science, engineering, technology, and healthcare because these disciplines are integral to the future our children will live and work in.

Saturday Academy was founded in 1983. Since then, Saturday Academy has provided instruction to more than 145,000 students throughout Oregon and SW Washington."

6. Code School / Explore more >>
Code School is all about learning by doing. Our educational courses combine video, coding in the browser, and gamification principles to make learning more fun and therefore more effective. A typical course contains 5 levels, each with a 10-15 minute video, followed by series of code challenges a student must solve to make it to the next level. Once finished each course provides rewards for completion.

Watch the Intro video that is in the upper left of the home page.

7. Western Governors University / Explore more>>
Western University stepped was founded by 19 governors concerned about providing affordable education.  The University is doing several things that make it unique from other Universities and it is doing some things that we are watching at the Lab:
  • Leveraged curriculum.  "Western Governors has stripped the higher education machine down to its parts. The school doesn't develop its own curriculum, so the material Shackleford studies to become a high school biology teacher comes from outside providers. Those kinds of innovations help keep tuition low, at around $6,000."
  • Hybrid model.  "But the truly unusual thing about this computer-driven system is that it provides a lot of one-on-one attention. Throughout her time at Western Governors, Shackleford will have her own personal student mentor — a combination guidance counselor, career coach and best buddy."
  • Credit for Proficiency. "For each degree, we define what we expect a graduate to know and be able to do," says university President Bob Mendenhall. "We develop the assessments to measure that. When they've demonstrated they've mastered all the competencies, they graduate."

8. Google Testing Center / Explore more >>
From here you can take one or more of the proof-of-proficiency tests offered by Google. Upon becoming individually qualified, you’ll receive a certificate. You’ll also be more effective at making the best use of Google products within your organization and helping others do the same. In-depth online courses are offered free from Google to help you prepare for each test.

9.  Python Programming / Explore more >>
HTML version of Python Programming book for beginners - free!

10. Survivor Algebra / Explore more >>
"I even remember walking to those classes thinking, "Well, here I go...  in to jam a bunch more material down their throats and most of them won't even be paying attention to me."  This is not a good feeling.  I wanted to enjoy going to all of my classes and I wanted all (well, I'd settle for 95%) of my students to want to come to my classes too!"  A teacher embarks on a new way to teach algebra, modeled after the TV show Survivor.

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