Updated: 1/1/2006; 9:03:32 AM.
Bruce Landon's Weblog for Students
My Home Page Psych100 Psych200 Psych360 Psych330 EduTools News Landonline

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Digital Content Security Act. [Slashdot] -- his is a big headache in the making for the many and for the benefit of a very few video promoters/publishers who collectively are providing less and less value added to newly generation videos as the need for the old technology and distribution mechanisms vanish in the sunset.-- BL

11:00:02 PM    comment

Students to Bear Big Burden Under the Final Budget Bill. Under the final budget bill, college students would pay higher interest rates on loans. By ROBERT PEAR and MICHAEL JANOFSKY. [NYT > Education] -- governments are walking away from their educational responsibility to equal opportunity and helping the rich get richer instead of letting the cream rise to the social benefit of the whole society. A College Education can be a ticket out of the underclass for generations to come but it takes more that short term political vision to see the benefits of education over short term supporting of the banking interests. -- BL

10:47:33 PM    comment

UNESCO Virtual Conference on Open Educational Resources (OERs).

The complete background notes and session summaries for all three sessions of the UNESCO Virtual Conference on OERs are now available at the UNESCO forum web site. Taken together the notes and the summaries give an overview of major provider sites and of issues involved in the use of OERs. ________JH


" Open initiatives in higher education have crystallized around three major areas of activity: the creation of open source software and development tools, the creation and provision of open course content, and the development of standards and licensing tools. The outputs of all three may be grouped together under the term Open Educational Resources (OER). This term has been adopted by UNESCO to refer to the open provision of educational resources, enabled by information and communication technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes."

"Open course content, whether full course materials or course elements, constitutes an important resource to higher education institutions, teaching staff and learners. However, if there is little or no awareness of availability, open course content cannot be exploited, and even with awareness of availability, there are challenges and barriers to its effective use.

With support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the UNESCO IIEP initiative aims to increase awareness, and support capacity building and informed decision making on the part of current and potential users and providers of openly available course content. There will be two international discussion forums – one in 2005 and one in 2006 – with ongoing interaction during the period between the two forums in a Community of Interest.

The forum will take place over a six-week period in four sessions: one week to introduce the topic, two weeks each to consider provision and providers and use and users, and a final week to determine which issues the participants would like to explore further in the continuing Community of Interest."

[EduResources Weblog--Higher Education Resources Online]
10:35:38 PM    comment

Evaluating the Development of Online Course Materials - George P. Schell, eLearn Magazine. If online courses are to become a permanent feature of higher education—not merely a fad of the dot-com era—college faculty must believe that developing online materials has academic value. In addition, such online education requires certain resources to [Online Learning Update]
10:21:23 PM    comment

Students can get lectures by podcast - Charla Bear, Inside Bay Area. Starting this school year, some California college students have been able to carry around course lectures and materials stored in their portable MP3 players. It is a move that is raising concerns about possible empty lecture halls and an impersonal educa [Online Learning Update]
10:15:45 PM    comment

Innovation Happens Elsewhere. [Slashdot]
10:13:41 PM    comment

The University of British Columbia is podcasting (site|RSS feed), with episodes featuring public lectures from UBC’s Talk of the Town series. (Link via Penmachine.com.)

Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, has launched a blog (here’s the RSS feed). (Link via Constantin Basturea.)

[Syndication for Higher Ed]
1:19:52 PM    comment

Seagate buys Maxtor for $1.9B. [Slashdot]
10:26:47 AM    comment

Benefits of flu vaccine substantially overestimated, says study.

Studies of influenza vaccine effectiveness in elderly people substantially overestimate vaccine benefits, according to new research from the US published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology (IJE), edited at the University of Bristol.

[Science Blog -]
10:25:13 AM    comment

Driving skills deteriorate as conversation gets more difficult.

There is little doubt that the cognitive demands of conversation can affect our awareness of the world around us. Everyone has a story of a near-miss collision with some clueless airhead driving who was jabbering away on the cell phone. A co-worker once tearfully told me of the time she was in an argument with her boyfriend while parked in his car at the side of the road. Furious, he got out of the car and slammed the door. He never noticed the passing car that hit him and instantly killed him. Was this a freak accident, or does conversation — and not just cell phone conversation — impair our ability to drive and assess the traffic around us?

Although there is a growing consensus that talking on cell phones — even hands-free phones — is a distraction that impairs driving ability (we’ve reported on one study by David Strayer and William Johnson confirming this notion), many researchers have suggested that in-person conversation may not have the same effect, because passengers can see the traffic patterns and slow the conversation when a difficult driving situation arises. A group led by Leo Gugerty designed two experiments to try to determine if car passengers adapted their conversation for tough driving situations.

Gugerty’s team used a simple driving simulator for their task (you can see it here — it’s more sophisticated than what Strayer and Johnson used, but still not exactly a realistic reproduction of real driving). In their first experiment, the team used the same task as Strayer and Johnson: the “passenger” gives the driver a word, then the driver must repeat a new word that begins with the last letter of the original word. But instead of simply navigating a path, drivers had to perform several tasks designed to replicate real driving, like remembering the locations of other vehicles, avoiding crashes, detecting hazards, or remembering when vehicles were in the car’s blind spot. In a second version of the task, designed to approximate talking on a hands-free phone, the conversants were placed in adjacent cubicles where they could not see the driving similator. Drivers were also tested with no conversation. To motivate them to try their best, driver-passenger teams were told that the best two teams would receive a $25 reward.

Gugerty et. al did not find a significant difference between driving performance with on-board passengers and remote conversants — in both cases, driving was significantly worse than with no conversation. What’s more, passengers did not slow the conversation during hazardous driving situations — in fact, the in-car conversation was faster than the remote conversation.

But perhaps the research participants simply felt that the verbal task was more important than the driving task, and so neglected the driving task. In a second experiment, the research team decided to try giving separate rewards for driving and conversing: each team could earn up to $3.75 for good driving, and up to $3 for good performance on the verbal task. They also made the verbal task more difficult for drivers: the passengers simply read words off a computer screen, and only the drivers had to generate new words. Since passengers never had to think of new words, the drivers would have to respond more frequently. As before, researchers found no difference between in-person and remote conversations: passengers did not slow their conversations to help the driver, even in difficult driving situations.

But with this second, more difficult verbal task, drivers performed even worse: here’s a graph comparing the first experiment (easy verbal task) with the second (hard verbal task):

The decrement of the harder verbal task was largest for crash avoidance, cars recalled, and reaction time — hardly insignificant aspects of driving ability.

The authors are careful to point out that their task is by no means an accurate model of real driving, or real conversation. Participants tended to get into a rhythm in the verbal tasks, and this rhythm seemed to guide the pace of talking much more than the driving situation. Perhaps real conversation, especially with real passengers, is more adaptive to driving situations.

On the other hand, as my co-worker’s tragic example demonstrates, sometimes conversations can seem more important than the driving situation. It’s not difficult to imagine other such conversations: what if a lawyer is negotiating a multi-million-dollar contract on a cell phone? Would she give precedence to that conversation, or the more mundane task of merging onto the interstate? Gugerty et al.’s research is a strong reminder that the substantive demands of conversation are a significant drain on cognitive resources. There are some situations where we may not be able to trust ourselves not to talk, even when our own lives are at stake.

Gugerty, L., Rakauskas, M., & Brooks, J. (2004). Effects of remote and in-person verbal interactions on verbalization rates and attention to dynamic spatial scenes. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 36(6), 1029-43.

[Cognitive Daily]
10:18:04 AM    comment

© Copyright 2006 Bruce Landon.
December 2005
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Nov   Jan

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website.

Subscribe to "Bruce Landon's Weblog for Students" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.