Jul. 21st, 2011

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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
SKorean students ditch paper for digital books

GOESAN, South Korea (AP) — Outside the classroom a hot summer day beckons, but fourth-grade teacher Yeon Eun-jung's students are glued to their tablet PCs as they watch an animated boy and a girl squabble about whether water becomes heavier when frozen.

The small scene in this rural town is part of something big: South Korea is taking a $2 billion gamble that its students are ready to ditch paper textbooks in favor of tablet PCs as part of a vast digital scholastic network.

France, Singapore, Japan and others are racing to create classrooms where touch-screens provide instant access to millions of pieces of information. But South Korea — Asia's fourth-largest economy — believes it enjoys an advantage over these countries, with kids who are considered the world's savviest navigators of the digital universe.

A 2009 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-headquartered grouping of wealthy nations, found 15-year-olds in South Korea scored highest in their ability to absorb information from digital devices, beating runners-up New Zealand and Australia by a large margin.

At Sosu Elementary School in Goesan, principal Jo Yong-deuk speaks of a future in which his students interact in virtual reality with Ludwig van Beethoven and Abraham Lincoln. In the classroom, the children scribble answers in their tablet PCs with touchscreen pens as they watch the video clip explaining the scientific properties of frozen water.
"I liked this chapter, but my favorite clip is one where they show how flowers blossom and trees bear fruit in spring," 11-year-old Jeong Ho-seok said with a wide grin.

More than 60 primary, middle and high schools are now using digital textbooks as part of their curriculum, according to the state-run Korea Education and Research Information Service, which provides technical support for the program. Seoul believes it can finish the $2.1 billion program to build a single computer network packed with high-quality digital content by 2015. Replacing textbooks with tablet PCs will account for a quarter of that budget. MORE

Meantime we in the US like the jackasses we are, cut education to the bone and indulge in total fucking idiocy like NCLB and Race to the Top and whatever the hell Obama's got going. For the most powerful in the country in the world, we sure don't give much of a fuck about our future...
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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
Is It Cold in Here?

Last week, Linda Henneberg, a young science communication intern at CERN in Switzerland — best known these days as the home of the Large Hadron Collider — wrote a blog post about her experiences at the laboratory as both a woman and a non-PhD physicist. Haltingly, timidly, even a bit apologetically, she confessed, “I’ve never felt more constantly objectified, hit on, and creeped on than while at CERN.” She was careful to say that she has not encountered blatant sexism of the most egregious sort, although she has endured unwelcome awkward flirting: a wink and a hand on the knee, lame attempts at playing “footsie” with her under the table during meetings, and of course, tacky double entendres.Even then, she cut the guys a lot of slack; it’s just social awkwardness, she rationalized, not a malicious attempt to make her feel uncomfortable — and yet, she does feel uncomfortable. (There may also be cultural factors at play, given the international diversity at CERN.)

What she found equally bothersome is that because she’s a woman in education, not physics research, she simply isn’t taken seriously by her male colleagues at CERN, who apparently treat her with amiable condescension. Henneberg holds an undergraduate degree is in physics and a graduate degree in science communication, yet “[P]eople here, men especially, treat me like some sort of novelty item. Like because I am not a physicist, I have nothing substantive to contribute to CERN, but it’s cute that I try.”

There’s a phrase for what Linda Henneberg is experiencing: it’s called a “chilly climate,” and it describes not just overt sexism or sexual harassment — which most people agree are unacceptable, at least in theory — but the myriad unconscious diminishing behaviors that seem to proliferate in any male-dominated environment, whether it be a classroom, a boardroom, an Internet chat room, World of Warcraft, or an international physics laboratory. The Australian band Tripod immortalized this phenomenon with their satirical tune, “Hot Girl in the Comic Shop” (video at end of post), poking fun at the social awkwardness and ridiculous over-reaction of nerdy comic book guys at the sudden appearance of a girl in their male-dominated realm. MORE

via pharyngula (his comment section can be most problematic and so can he, upon occasion. This time he did good, but don't say I didn't warn ya!)


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