Zvi Galil of Georgia Tech

29th July 2020

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

The Most Important Movement in Higher Education Today

We feel that former Dean of Computing Zvi Galil of Georgia Tech, along with Georgia Tech’s innovative faculty, have produced the most significant leap forward in higher education of recent decades with their Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) degree. The program’s creation is described in Zvi’s own words here. (The article’s embedded video is also worthwhile.) Zvi begins: “We took the words emblazoned on the seal of Georgia Tech—’Progress and Service’—as our mission. To start with, we committed the program to a unique admissions policy—GRE is not required, and instead, OMSCS students have to obtain grade B or higher in two courses from a specified list in their first year to be officially admitted [for admission requirements see here]. While the selectivity of the on-campus Master in Computer Science program (MSCS) is slightly higher than 10%, 70.7% of the more than 26,000 OMSCS applicants were admitted. Added to the novel admissions policy, I insisted on keeping OMSCS tuition affordable—less than $7,000 for the full degree, payable by course, rather than $40,000 for a public on-campus program, or $70,000 or more in a private university.” 

The results have been outstanding. If you are a university administrator dreaming of providing social justice for your students, you couldn’t do better than to emulate Zvi Galil and Georgia Tech’s example.

Book of the Week

The Meaning of Travel: Philosophers Abroad, by Emily Thomas. Thomas’s book helps explain why travel is so useful and important, and such a valuable tool for creativity. (Although it doesn’t quite get to why travel can, for some, be such an addiction.) Although the book can be a bit uneven, Thomas gets into unusual, often-overlooked aspects of travel. For example, the European “Grand Tours” that served as a sort of finishing school for the wealthy were apparently just as often an exercise in debauchery. We particularly appreciated the descriptions of how travel has changed over the years—mountains and empty spaces, for example, weren’t always seen as beautiful. Thomas’s description of the meaning of sublime is alone worth the price of the book, and echo Barb’s experiences at the South Pole Station in Antarctica. If you’re pining for travel, this book will help serve as a temporary touchstone to assuage your longing.

Barb’s Travel Adventures

Despite COVID, Barb has found a relatively safe way to fuel her travel addiction, at least in the USA, by traveling with her Hero hubby in their pickup, pulling a little self-contained travel trailer. You can see the scenery, mask at hand, as Barb just passed through the Willamette Valley in Oregon. She’s now visiting with old friends in Lake Chelan, Washington, where there are surprisingly good rosé  wines. Her stay with old friends also gave Barb a good internet connection for the Course Hero conference she just presented new materials at. (This included debut materials on the value of the hidden procedural system; and the presentation many of you had been waiting for on online learning.)  Incidentally, trailering into place, she’ll be social-distance-speaking in-person for the Logan-Magnolia Community School District in Logan, Iowa on August 10th.

MOOC of the Month: Mountains 101 from the University of Alberta

Lead Mentor of our companion MOOC Mindshift, Scott Mathews, observes: 

“My new favorite Coursera course is “Mountains 101” from the University of Alberta, Edmonton. It’s a 12-week course that I completed in one week…like a book that you just can’t put down, it’s that good. Who knew that learning scientific information about mountains and their environs could be so fascinating to a non-scientist? The course is exceptionally well-produced, with useful supplementary material for each week, including some practical “How-to” videos from professional mountain guides (and no peer-reviewed assignments.) The forums are lively, and they are actively mentored by one of the instructors.” 

(Yes, we’ve touted this course before, but it’s worth touting again!)

The Youngster Learning How to Learn Challenge

LHTLer Apoorv Mathur writes: “My eight-year-old son and I recently completed your course Learning How to Learn on Coursera. We watched the videos on TV and completed the quizzes on a cell phone. It was really cool for both of us to be learning together in COVID times. We really appreciated how you explained the concepts and the partnership with Dr Sejnowski.  My son created a series of two minute videos referring to the techniques you taught. We also got the certificate recently too (which can only be issued on my name since my son isn’t 18).”

If you want to see the brilliant, uplifting enthusiasm of the coming generation, look no further than Apoorv Mathur’s talented son. He’ll reaffirm your own natural excitement about learning!

GPT-3—Taking Language Generators to a Higher Level

For those of you who are interested in language analysis, GPT-3 is the latest thing. It is a deep learning network with 195 billion parameters. As this MIT Technology Review article notes, the number of parameters is the bottom line when it comes to language analysis. All of this will eventually be quite important in performing widespread peer evaluations via AI—an intriguing company along those lines is Intergrader.  

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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