serial twitter account deleter. ringleader, apparently.
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How to Manage Your Chemotherapy’s Side Effects

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A pamphlet courtesy of The Gabriel and Marguerite Coxswain Memorial Cancer Center

Managing the side effects of chemotherapy may sound intimidating, but remember, chemotherapy is simply poisoning the cancer and your body at the same time with toxic fluids. Managing its side effects is equally simple.

Chemotherapy obliterates fast-growing cells, like cancer cells and hair follicles. In about a week, you’ll notice your hair shedding more than your aunt’s 16-year-old St. Bernard, Dr. Zhivago. For this, you can:

  • Cash-out your 401k to afford a wig that looks like your own hair.
  • Wear hats, beanies, and headscarves in ways that are hopefully not culturally appropriative.
  • Grow a chia pet in the shape of your head and subsequently transfer the grown chia to your scalp. Repeat weekly.
  • (If you are a man, disregard) Shave your head. You’ll actually look better than before.

Because this treatment eradicates billions of white blood cells, your immune system will be less effective than an in-utero fetus’s. For that, you will take the following:

  • An antibiotic
  • An antiviral
  • A giant plastic bubble with filtered ventilation — this human-sized plastic spherical barrier will ensure no germs reach your fragile biome, which, much like a soap bubble, will perforate upon the slightest impact.

Chemo also shreds the delicate lining of your intestines. So, you will need all of the following:

  • An anti-nausea pill
  • An antacid
  • A stool softener
  • Four more stool softeners
  • A laxative
  • A Japanese heated-seat toilet with rainbow light and bidet features — trust us on this one.

After chemo, you may feel some muscle aches and soreness, since a significant portion of your body has been ruthlessly slaughtered. For that, take:

  • One Children’s Tylenol, as needed, no more than twice a day.

Just like regular therapy, after chemotherapy, you’ll spend a lot of time crying while lying down. This is due to the emotional and physical fatigue of carefully and calculatingly massacring your insides. We recommend:

  • Yoga
  • Breathing exercises
  • Yelling at a loved one, “You decide!” about dinner, TV show choice, and when you should go to the bathroom.
  • If all else fails, try meth. What’s the worst that could happen? You already have cancer.

At home, you will receive a hormone injection to stimulate the growth of new white blood cells. Why? So that, for your next round of chemo, we will have more cells to hunt down one by one like in a microscopic version of The Hunger Games.

Since your body doesn’t typically re-grow white blood cells rapidly, this injection often causes “bone pain.” You know the phrase, “I could feel it in my bones.” Now you will know it literally. To counteract the bone pain, take:

  • One Children’s Tylenol, as needed, no more than twice a day.
  • If you’re still writhing in agony after a Tylenol, try leaving your physical body and entering the astral plane, as depicted in the 2016 Marvel movie, Dr. Strange (Check with your insurance to see if a Disney+ subscription is covered).

Please download the full Chemotherapy Side Effects PDF for information regarding the less common side effects of chemotherapy (“I can’t feel my fingers” isn’t only for stoners anymore!) and managing the side effects caused by the medications used to manage your side effects. NOTE: Check that your hard drive has space for all 7,312 pages.

Thank you for choosing The Gabriel and Marguerite Coxswain Memorial Cancer Center, and remember our motto, “There is a cure for cancer. It just sucks.”

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2 days ago
Omg so much this, especially the Tylenol bit.
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How Photos of Your Kids Are Powering Surveillance Technology

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One day in 2005, a mother in Evanston, Ill., joined Flickr. She uploaded some pictures of her children, Chloe and Jasper. Then she more or less forgot her account existed.

Years later, their faces are in a database that’s used to test and train some of the most sophisticated artificial intelligence systems in the world.

A selection of images from the MegaFace database.

The pictures of Chloe and Jasper Papa as kids are typically goofy fare: grinning with their parents; sticking their tongues out; costumed for Halloween. Their mother, Dominique Allman Papa, uploaded them to Flickr after joining the photo-sharing site in 2005.

None of them could have foreseen that 14 years later, those images would reside in an unprecedentedly huge facial-recognition database called MegaFace. Containing the likenesses of nearly 700,000 individuals, it has been downloaded by dozens of companies to train a new generation of face-identification algorithms, used to track protesters, surveil terrorists, spot problem gamblers and spy on the public at large. The average age of the people in the database, its creators have said, is 16.

“It’s gross and uncomfortable,” said Mx. Papa, who is now 19 and attending college in Oregon. “I wish they would have asked me first if I wanted to be part of it. I think artificial intelligence is cool and I want it to be smarter, but generally you ask people to participate in research. I learned that in high school biology.”

Chloe Papa Amanda Lucier for The New York Times

By law, most Americans in the database don’t need to be asked for their permission — but the Papas should have been.

As residents of Illinois, they are protected by one of the strictest state privacy laws on the books: the Biometric Information Privacy Act, a 2008 measure that imposes financial penalties for using an Illinoisan’s fingerprints or face scans without consent. Those who used the database — companies including Google, Amazon, Mitsubishi Electric, Tencent and SenseTime — appear to have been unaware of the law, and as a result may have huge financial liability, according to several lawyers and law professors familiar with the legislation.

How did the Papas and hundreds of thousands of other people end up in the database? It’s a roundabout story.

In the infancy of facial-recognition technology, researchers developed their algorithms with subjects’ clear consent: In the 1990s, universities had volunteers come to studios to be photographed from many angles. Later, researchers turned to more aggressive and surreptitious methods to gather faces at a grander scale, tapping into surveillance cameras in coffee shops, college campuses and public spaces, and scraping photos posted online.

According to Adam Harvey, an artist who tracks the data sets, there are probably more than 200 in existence, containing tens of millions of photos of approximately one million people. (Some of the sets are derived from others, so the figures include some duplicates.) But these caches had flaws. Surveillance images are often low quality, for example, and gathering pictures from the internet tends to yield too many celebrities.

In June 2014, seeking to advance the cause of computer vision, Yahoo unveiled what it called “the largest public multimedia collection that has ever been released,” featuring 100 million photos and videos. Yahoo got the images — all of which had Creative Commons or commercial use licenses — from Flickr, a subsidiary.

The database creators said their motivation was to even the playing field in machine learning. Researchers need enormous amounts of data to train their algorithms, and workers at just a few information-rich companies — like Facebook and Google — had a big advantage over everyone else.

“We wanted to empower the research community by giving them a robust database,” said David Ayman Shamma, who was a director of research at Yahoo until 2016 and helped create the Flickr project. Users weren’t notified that their photos and videos were included, but Mr. Shamma and his team built in what they thought was a safeguard.

They didn’t distribute users’ photos directly, but rather links to the photos; that way, if a user deleted the images or made them private, they would no longer be accessible through the database.

But this safeguard was flawed. The New York Times found a security vulnerability that allows a Flickr user’s photos to be accessed even after they’ve been made private. (Scott Kinzie, a spokesman for SmugMug, which acquired Flickr from Yahoo in 2018, said the flaw “potentially impacts a very small number of our members today, and we are actively working to deploy an update as quickly as possible.” Ben MacAskill, the company’s chief operating officer, added that the Yahoo collection was created “years before our engagement with Flickr.”)

Additionally, some researchers who accessed the database simply downloaded versions of the images and then redistributed them, including a team from the University of Washington. In 2015, two of the school’s computer science professors — Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman and Steve Seitz — and their graduate students used the Flickr data to create MegaFace.

Containing more than four million photos of some 672,000 people, it held deep promise for testing and perfecting face-recognition algorithms.

Importantly to the University of Washington researchers, MegaFace included children like Chloe and Jasper Papa. Face-recognition systems tend to perform poorly on young people, but Flickr offered a chance to improve that with a bonanza of children’s faces, for the simple reason that people love posting photos of their kids online.

In one academic paper, Ms. Kemelmacher-Shlizerman and a graduate student named Aaron Nech estimated the average age of MegaFace subjects at 16.1 years; 41 percent of the faces appeared to be female, and 59 percent appeared male.

In 2015 and 2016, the University of Washington ran the “MegaFace Challenge,” inviting groups working on face-recognition technology to use the data set to test how well their algorithms were working.

The school asked people downloading the data to agree to use it only for “noncommercial research and educational purposes.” More than 100 organizations participated, including Google, Tencent, SenseTime and NtechLab. In all, according to a 2016 university news release, “more than 300 research groups” have worked with the database. It has been publicly cited by researchers from Amazon and, according to Mr. Harvey, Mitsubishi Electric and Philips.

Some of these companies have been criticized for the way clients have deployed their algorithms: SenseTime’s technology has been used to monitor the Uighur population in China, while NtechLab’s has been used to out pornography actors and identify strangers on the subway in Russia.

SenseTime’s chief marketing officer, June Jin, said that company researchers used the MegaFace database only for academic purposes. “Researchers have to use the same data set to ensure their results are comparable like-for-like,” Ms. Jin wrote in an email. “As MegaFace is the most widely recognized database of its kind, it has become the de facto facial-recognition training and test set for the global academic and research community.”

NtechLab spokesman Nikolay Grunin said the company deleted MegaFace after taking part in the challenge, and added that “the main build of our algorithm has never been trained on these images.” Google declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for the University of Washington declined to make MegaFace’s lead researchers available for interviews, saying they “have moved on to other projects and don’t have the time to comment on this.” Efforts to contact them individually were unsuccessful.

MegaFace’s creation was financed in part by Samsung, Google’s Faculty Research Award, and by the National Science Foundation/Intel.

In recent years, Ms. Kemelmacher-Shlizerman has sold a face-swapping image company to Facebook and advanced deep-fake technology by converting audio clips of Barack Obama into a realistic, synthetic video of him giving a speech. She is now working on a “moonshot project” at Google.

MegaFace remains publicly available for download. When The New York Times recently requested access, it was granted within a minute.

MegaFace doesn’t contain people’s names, but its data is not anonymized. A spokesman for the University of Washington said researchers wanted to honor the images’ Creative Commons licenses. As a result, each photo includes a numerical identifier that links back to the original Flickr photographer’s account. In this way, The Times was able to trace many photos in the database to the people who took them.

“What the hell? That is bonkers,” said Nick Alt, an entrepreneur in Los Angeles, when told his pictures were in the database, including photos he took of children at a public event in Playa Vista, Calif., a decade ago.

Mr. Alt’s photos, with a selection of images from MegaFace.

“The reason I went to Flickr originally was that you could set the license to be noncommercial. Absolutely would I not have let my photos be used for machine-learning projects. I feel like such a schmuck for posting that picture. But I did it 13 years ago, before privacy was a thing.”

Another subject, who asked to be identified as J., is now a 15-year-old high school sophomore in Las Vegas. Photos of him as a toddler are in the MegaFace database, thanks to his uncle’s posting them to a Flickr album after a family reunion a decade ago. J. was incredulous that it wasn’t illegal to put him in the database without his permission, and he is worried about the repercussions.

Since middle school, he has been part of an Air Force Association program called CyberPatriot, which tries to steer young people with programming skills toward careers in intelligence and the military. “I’m very protective of my digital footprint because of it,” he said. “I try not to post photos of myself online. What if I decide to work for the N.S.A.?”

For J., Mr. Alt and most other Americans in the photos, there is little recourse. Privacy law is generally so permissive in the United States that companies are free to use millions of people’s faces without their knowledge to power the spread of face-recognition technology. But there is an exception.

In 2008, Illinois passed a prescient law protecting the “biometric identifiers and biometric information” of its residents. Two other states, Texas and Washington, went on to pass their own biometric privacy laws, but they aren’t as robust as the one in Illinois, which strictly forbids private entities to collect, capture, purchase or otherwise obtain a person’s biometrics — including a scan of their “face geometry” — without that person’s consent.

“Photos themselves are not covered by the Biometric Information Privacy Act, but the scan of the photos should be. The mere use of biometric data is a violation of the statute,” said Faye Jones, a law professor at the University of Illinois. “Using that in an algorithmic contest when you haven’t notified people is a violation of the law.”

Illinois residents like the Papas whose faceprints are used without their permission have the right to sue, said Ms. Jones, and are entitled to $1,000 per use, or $5,000 if the use was “reckless.” The Times attempted to measure how many people from Illinois are in the MegaFace database; one approach, using self-reported location information, suggested 6,000 individuals, and another, using geotagging metadata, indicated as many as 13,000.

Their biometrics have likely been processed by dozens of companies. According to multiple legal experts in Illinois, the combined liability could add up to more than a billion dollars, and could form the basis of a class action.

“We have plenty of ambitious class-action lawyers here in Illinois,” said Jeffrey Widman, the managing partner at Fox Rothschild in Chicago. “The law’s been on the books in Illinois since 2008 but was basically ignored for a decade. I guarantee you that in 2014 or 2015, this potential liability wasn’t on anyone’s radar. But the technology has now caught up with the law.”

It’s remarkable that the Illinois law even exists. According to Matthew Kugler, a law professor at Northwestern University who has researched the Illinois act, it was inspired by the 2007 bankruptcy of a company called Pay by Touch, which had the fingerprints of many Americans, including Illinoisans, on file; there were worries that it could sell them during its liquidation.

No one from the technology industry weighed in on the bill, according to legislative and lobbying records.

“When the law was passed, no one who is now concerned about it was thinking about the issue,” Mr. Kugler said. Silicon Valley is aware of the law now. Bloomberg News reported in April 2018 that lobbyists for Google and Facebook were trying to weaken its provisions.

More than 200 class-action lawsuits alleging misuse of residents’ biometrics have been filed in Illinois since 2015, including a $35 billion case against Facebook for using face recognition to tag people in photos. That lawsuit gained momentum in August, when the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected the company’s arguments that the people did not suffer “concrete harm.”

In recent years, technology companies have been treading more lightly in states with biometric legislation. When Google released a feature in 2018 that matched selfies to famous works of art, people in Illinois and Texas couldn’t use it. And Google’s Nest security cameras don’t offer an otherwise standard feature for recognizing familiar faces in Illinois.

“It’s creepy that you found me. I always lived with the philosophy that what I put out there was public, but I couldn’t have imagined this,” said Wendy Piersall, a publisher and City Council member in Woodstock, Ill., whose photos, along with those of her three children, were in the MegaFace database.

“We can’t use the fun art app; why are you using our kids’ faces to test your software?” she added. “My photos there are geotagged to Illinois. It’s not hard to figure out where these pictures were taken. I’m not a sue-happy person, but I would cheer someone else on to go after this.”

Dominique and George Papa with their son Jasper at their home in Evanston, Ill., earlier this month. Taylor Glascock for The New York Times

Some of the Illinois lawsuits have been settled or dismissed, but most are active, and Mr. Kugler, the Northwestern law professor, noted that basic legal questions remained unanswered. It’s unclear what the legal liability would be for a company that takes photos uploaded in Illinois but processes the facial data in another state, or even another country.

“Defendants are going to be creative in searching for arguments, because no one wants to be stuck holding this expensive hot potato,” he said.

A spokesman for Amazon Web Services said its use of the data set was “compliant with B.I.P.A.,” while declining to explain how. Mario Fante, a spokesman for Philips, wrote in an email that the company “was never aware of any Illinois residents included in the above-mentioned data set.”

Victor Balta, a spokesman for the University of Washington, said, “All uses of photos in the researchers’ database are lawful. The U.W. is a public research university, not a private entity, and the Illinois law targets private entities.”

Some of the Illinoisans we found in MegaFace and contacted were indifferent about the use of their faces.

“I do know that when you upload information online, it can be used in unexpected ways, so I guess I’m not surprised,” said Chris Scheufele, a web developer in Springfield. “When you upload information to the internet and make it available for public consumption, you should expect it to be scraped.”

What about the subjects of his photos? Mr. Scheufele laughed. “I haven’t talked to my wife about it,” he said.

Privacy nihilism” is an increasingly familiar term for giving up on trying to control data about oneself in the digital era. What happened to Chloe Papa could, depending on your perspective, argue for extreme vigilance or total resignation: Who could have possibly predicted that a snapshot of a toddler in 2005 would contribute, a decade and a half later, to the development of bleeding-edge surveillance technology?

“We have become accustomed to trading convenience for privacy, so that has dulled our senses as to what is happening with all the data gathered about us,” said Ms. Jones, the law professor. “But people are starting to wake up.”

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7 days ago
The other side of Creative Commons licensing of photos. This (ab)use of CC photos is probably legal. Still. Yikes.
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How self-driving shuttles could enable car-free living in the suburbs

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How self-driving shuttles could enable car-free living in the suburbs

Enlarge (credit: Timothy B. Lee / Ars Technica)

RESTON, VIRGINIA—A Boston based startup called Optimus Ride has launched a new self-driving vehicle service in the Washington DC suburb of Reston, Virginia. On Monday, I traveled to the site, a 45-minute drive from my home in the nation's capital, to see it first-hand.

Since August, the company has been ferrying passengers between a Fannie May office building at the site and an overflow parking lot a few minutes' walk away. But Optimus Ride has much larger ambitions for the site.

The 36-acre property is directly adjacent to a new stop ("Reston Town Center") on the DC Metro system's Silver Line. The site's owner, Brookfield Properties, is planning a massive mixed-use development here it has dubbed Halley Rise. There will be new homes, office space, and retail stores—including a Wegmans grocery store.

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7 days ago
they're called busses. stop "inventing" public transportation systems. they're already a thing. the innovation would be funding them properly through taxes…
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Drone Fishing

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Today's consumers who order their drones off the internet don't know the joy of going out in nature and returning with a drone that you caught yourself, whose angry owners you fought off with your own two hands.
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21 days ago
this is basically what protestors did with nets to try to snag cruise missiles during early testing in the 80s. it didn't work, IIRC…
19 days ago
And subs during ww2.
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1 public comment
21 days ago
Today's consumers who order their drones off the internet don't know the joy of going out in nature and returning with a drone that you caught yourself, whose angry owners you fought off with your own two hands.

Beyond Piaget and Vygotsky: Why Teachers’ Cognitive Science Education is Insufficient

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I have a challenge for you readers. Name two psychologists/cognitive scientists whose research has impacted education in the past twenty years.

Were you able to?

Perhaps that was too easy. New challenge! Name two psychologists/cognitive scientists who have published impactful work in the past twenty years AND were also featured at a workshop or PD session that you attended.


I (Zach) would be surprised if you were able to answer either of those questions quickly, or even at all. It seems like most teachers can name-drop Piaget, or Vygotsky and his zone of proximal development, but little else more recent. Include them with Pavolv and his dog and Skinner and his operant conditioning and I’d say that we’re starting to get near to the extent of what we teachers are expected to know in terms of educational psychology. I can speak from experience that it wasn’t until fairly recently that I started to learn any cognitive science that went beyond the Psychology 101 textbook.

I want to question in this post why teachers seem to know so little about basic learning science. Given concerns about the apparent gap between education research and teacher practice (Vanderlinde & van Braak, 2010) and the pervasiveness of so many myths in education (Macdonald et al., 2017), I think it is time we went beyond memorizing cursory knowledge about influential – but outdated – figures like Piaget and Vygotsky and into a new era of teacher education that prioritizes the rigorous learning of cognitive science, with a particular focus on current developments.

What should teachers know?

This post is certainly not an anti-Piagetian, anti-Vygotskian rant. In fact, if you look back over most of the posts Stephanie and I have written on this blog, you’ll probably find a mostly sympathetic view towards their body of work. It’s just that, well, their ideas are now pretty old; Piaget’s The Origins of Intelligence went to press in 1952 and Vygotsky’s Thought and Language in 1962; and they seem to be the two educationalists that are given the most airtime at staff meetings and PD sessions. Much of their seminal work has since been challenged, modified, or abandoned altogether and replaced with new explanations. And indeed, as Willingham (2018) mentions, most psychology textbooks feature lengthy descriptions explaining ways that many of the 20th century contributions to cognitive science are now inadequate.

Take Piaget’s stage theory, for example. We now have enough empirical data that contradicts Piaget’s observations that humans develop in a succession of discontinuous stages. Nowadays, most cognitive scientists view development as a gradual, continuous process (Martinez, 2010). As one of my textbooks explains:

Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development stages was a monumental achievement and a tremendous contribution to twentieth-century psychology. Nevertheless, all theoretical advances are subject to testing, critique, and, indeed, attack from other quarters. Competition among ideas helps to ensure that the theories psychologists construct are of high quality. It is not surprising, therefore, that the ideas of Jean Piaget were spared no criticism. And when put to the test, some of the central proposals of Piagetian theory did not hold up to scrutiny (Martinez, 2010, p. 204).

It’s not as if information like this is not out there for teachers to find; It’s become common knowledge in some circles, just not in ours! The American Psychological Association, for example, explicitly recommends against using stage theory to inform instructional decisions in one of their Top 20 principles of PreK-12 teaching and learning:

Students’ cognitive development and learning are not limited by general stages of development […] Student reasoning is not limited or determined by an underlying cognitive stage of development linked to an age or a grade level. Instead, newer research on cognitive development has supplanted these stage theory accounts” (2015, p. 9).

If teachers had long ago moved towards designing instruction that embraced the current best practice – assessing and building upon children’s’ background knowledge and presenting topics in intellectually honest ways, regardless of age or “stage” (American Psychological Association, 2015) –  we wouldn’t hear so often the phrase “well, that’s not developmentally appropriate for this grade” and there’d be no need to write this post. However, it’s been my experience that, even in 2019, Piaget and his stage theory are still cited and referred to, both implicitly and explicitly, by administrators, PD “gurus”, and teachers alike as an indisputable truth about how children learn and develop.

Vygotsky, like Piaget, is another of the small number of theorists that are well-known amongst teachers, and his zone of proximal development (ZPD) seems to me to be one of the least understood, yet most often cited concepts in education (probably only second to teachers mistaking negative reinforcement for positive punishment). That we still refer to the ZPD is not necessarily a bad thing per se, it’s just that it’s problematic in that:

  1. It’s a developmental theory, not a short-term instructional strategy (Smagorinsky, 2018), and as I’ve just explained, our current understanding of cognitive development has changed.
  2. When teachers and trainers say ZPD they’re probably referring either to the “Goldilocks principle” (Katz, 1985) or scaffolding (Chaiklin, 2003; Smagorinsky, 2018), in which the latter is not a hypothetical developmental model, but an empirically tested instructional strategy (Rosenshine, 2012).
  3. Newer empirical work on said scaffolding, as well as newer research in cognitive science that has implications for instruction should be much more prominent in teacher knowledge, training, and professional conversations than work that was done decades ago.

Here’s what Chaiklin (2003) has to say on the matter of the ZPD:

Now that more of Vygotsky’s texts are readily available, there is no excuse to continue to use limited or distorted interpretations of the concept. It seems more appropriate to use the term zone of proximal development to refer to the phenomenon that Vygotsky was writing about, and find other terms (e.g., assisted instruction, scaffolding) to refer to practices like teaching a specific subject- matter concept, skill, and so forth. This is not to deny the meaningfulness of other investigations (e.g., joint problem solving, dynamic assessment of intellectual capabilities), only to indicate that there is no additional scientific value to refer to this as zone of proximal development, unless one concurrently has a developmental theory to which these assessments can be related. It is precisely on this point that one can see, by way of contrast, how most work that refers to zone of proximal development does not have such a developmental theory, even implicitly.

A way forward…

As I mentioned in a recent podcast, it’s important to me that we start taking professional learning in education more seriously. One way forward is to build teachers’ research literacy (Evans, Waring, & Christodoulou, 2017). Schools should put peer-reviewed articles at the center of teacher workshops and staff meetings, as well as offer training in research skills to their teachers and administrators. Schools should pay for access to a research database, and train and expect teachers to use it. Schools should also put someone in charge of leading research-informed discussions in their schools, including teacher book clubs and evidence-based professional learning communities.

A related step to ameliorating how we do teacher education is to actually teach teachers the basic science of learning. Willingham (2018) suggests that teacher preparation programs focus on translating relevant scientific principles into classroom applications, as perhaps not everything that is of importance to cognitive scientists is necessary for teachers to know. This is why I’ve decided to put together a workshop, to be presented at Learning2 Asia in Nanjing, China, on principles and classroom applications of cognitive science. Participants will conduct a series of experiments on themselves to test various principles that have been found in the past twenty years of cognitive science, all relating to creativity and design. These include concepts such as the basics of working memory (i.e Harrison et al., 2013), cognitive load (Sweller, 2019), multitasking (Adler & Benbunan-Fich, 2012), and expertise (Ericsson, 2015).

Copy of Copy of Why Schools Should Be A Bit More Like Summer Camp (3)

Let’s move beyond the contents of Psychology 101. Let’s move beyond the low, low expectations that we have for preservice teachers that leads to the memorization of only a handful of 20th century theorists and their associated theories in time for the Praxis II exam. Let’s develop a profession that is engaged and fluent in the discoveries that learning scientists are making right now. 

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have the means I’d love to see you over in Nanjing for Learning2 Asia 2019. Let’s talk learning!



Adler, R. F., & Benbunan-Fich, R. (2012). Juggling on a high wire: Multitasking effects on performance. International Journal of Human Computer Studies, 70(2), 156–168.

American Psychological Association. (2015). Top 20 principles from psychology for Pre K – 12 teaching and learning: Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education. American Psychological Association, 1–38.

Chaiklin, S. (2003). The zone of proximal development in Vygotsky’s analysis of learning and instruction, 1–21.

Ericsson, A. K. (2015). The Differential Influence of Experience, Practice, and Deliberate Practice on the Development of Superior Individual Performance of Experts. Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance.

Evans, C., Waring, M., & Christodoulou, A. (2017). Building teachers’ research literacy: integrating practice and research. Research Papers in Education, 32(4), 403–423.

Harrison, T. L., Shipstead, Z., Hicks, K. L., Hambrick, D. Z., Redick, T. S., & Engle, R. W. (2013). Working Memory Training May Increase Working Memory Capacity but Not Fluid Intelligence. Psychological Science, 24(12), 2409–2419.

Katz, Lilian G (01/01/1985). “A Framework for Research on Teacher Education Programs”. Journal of Teacher Education , 36 (6), p. 9.

Macdonald, K., Germine, L., Anderson, A., Christodoulou, J., & McGrath, L. M. (2017). Dispelling the myth: Training in education or neuroscience decreases but does not eliminate beliefs in neuromyths. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(AUG), 1–16.

Martinez, M. E. (2010). Learning and cognition: The Design of the Mind. Upper Saddle River, NJ [u.a.]: Merrill.

Rosenshine, B. (2012). Principles of Instruction: Research-based strategies that all teachers should know. American Educator, 12–20.

Siegler, R. S. (2000). The rebirth of children’s learning. Child Development, 71(1), 26–35.

Smagorinsky, P. (2018). Is Instructional Scaffolding Actually Vygotskian, and Why Should It Matter to Literacy Teachers? Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 62(3), 253–257.

Sweller, J. (2019). Cognitive load theory and educational technology. Educational Technology Research and Development, (0123456789).

Vanderlinde, R., & van Braak, J. (2010). The gap between educational research and practice: Views of teachers, school leaders, intermediaries and researchers. British Educational Research Journal36(2), 299–316.

Willingham, D. T. (2018). Unlocking the science of how kids think. Education Next, (Summer), 42–49.


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28 days ago
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All is petty, inconstant, and perishable

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So said Marcus Aurelius. Today’s short article is about what happens after you die. We’re all aware of the importance of making a will, particularly if you have dependants. But that’s primarily for your analogue, offline life. What about your digital life?

In a recent TechCrunch article, Jon Evans writes:

I really wish I hadn’t had cause to write this piece, but it recently came to my attention, in an especially unfortunate way, that death in the modern era can have a complex and difficult technical aftermath. You should make a will, of course. Of course you should make a will. But many wills only dictate the disposal of your assets. What will happen to the other digital aspects of your life, when you’re gone?

Jon Evans

The article points to a template for a Digital Estate Planning Document which you can use to list all of the places that you’re active. Interestingly, the suggestion is to have a ‘digital executor’, which makes sense as the more technical you are the more likely that other members of your family might not be able to follow your instructions.

Interestingly, the Wikipedia article on digital wills has some very specific advice of which the above-mentioned document is only a part:

  1. Appoint someone as online executor
  2. State in a formal document how profiles and accounts are handled
  3. Understand privacy policies
  4. Provide online executor list of websites and logins
  5. State in the will that the online executor must have a copy of the death certificate

I hadn’t really thought about this, but the chances of identity theft after someone has died are as great, if not greater, as when they were alive:

An article by Magder in the newspaper The Gazette provides a reminder that identity theft can potentially continue to be a problem even after death if their information is released to the wrong people. This is why online networks and digital executors require proof of a death certificate from a family member of the deceased person in order to acquire access to accounts. There are instances when access may still be denied, because of the prevalence of false death certificates.


Zooming out a bit, and thinking about this from my own perspective, it’s a good idea to insist on good security practices for your nearest and dearest. Ensure they know how to use password managers and use two-factor authentication on their accounts. If they do this for themselves, they’ll understand how to do it with your accounts when you’re gone.

One thing it’s made think about is the length of time for which I renew domain names. I tend to just renew mine (I have quite a few) on a yearly basis. But what if the worst happened? Those payment details would be declined, and my sites would be offline in a year or less.

All of this makes me think that the important thing here is to keep things as simple as possible. As I’ve discussed in another article, the way people remember us after we’re gone is kind of important.

Most of us could, I think, divide our online life into three buckets:

  • Really important to my legacy
  • Kind of important
  • Not important

So if, for example, I died tomorrow, the domain renewal for Thought Shrapnel lapsed next year, and a scammer took it over, that would be terrible. It’s part of the reason why I still renew domains I don’t own. So this would go in the ‘really important to my legacy’ bucket.

On the other hand, my experiments with various tools and platforms I’m less bothered about. They would probably go in the ‘not important’ bucket.

Then there’s that awkward middle space. Things like the site for my doctoral thesis when the ‘official’ copy is in the Durham University e-Theses repository.

Ultimately, it’s a conversation to have with those close to you. For me, it’s on my mind after the death of a good friend and so something I should get to before life goes back to some version of normality. After all, figuring out someone else’s digital life admin is the last thing people want when they’re already dealing with grief.

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32 days ago
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