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Confuse Students to Help Them Learn

Confusing sometimes helps cats, so why not students? I’m afraid your cat badly needs to be confused. Confusion is a powerful force in education. It can send students reeling toward boredom and complacency. But being confused can also prompt students to work through impasses and arrive at a more nuanced understanding of the world. “Common wisdom holds that confusion should be avoided during learning and rapidly resolved if and when…

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In Ferguson, Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery gives account of his arrest

Comedian Robin Williams and actress Lauren Bacall died. That news made me sad. Reporters from the Washington Post and the Huffington Post were arrested last night by police who refused to provide their badge numbers. The reporters were covering the ongoing tension between police and crowds protesting the death of an unarmed teenager, who police say resisted arrest, but who witnesses say was shot in the back with his hands…

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5 myths about Facebook’s Messenger app

Real journalism takes a look at that Huffington Post blog warning you that Facebook Messenger will summon intubation associates who will extract up to a pint of six different bodily fluids. And I, for one, welcome our Facebook overlords. One blog from the Huffington Post published in December has gone viral, making the rounds on the social network recently because it claims the app gives Facebook “direct control over your…

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What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos

A readable Wired article about why proofreading is difficult. My father, a technical editor for the U.S. Government, says he was so attuned to seeing typos that his brain would show them to him in a larger type size. Typos suck. They are saboteurs, undermining your intent, causing your resume to land in the “pass” pile, or providing sustenance for an army of pedantic critics. Frustratingly, they are usually words you know how to…

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Liking Everything He Saw on Facebook for 24 Hours Turned Him Into a Marketing Machine

I like everything. Or at least I did, for 48 hours. Literally everything Facebook sent my way, I liked—even if I hated it. I decided to embark on a campaign of conscious liking, to see how it would affect what Facebook showed me. I know this sounds like a stunt (and it was) but it was also genuinely just an open-ended experiment. I wasn’t sure how long I’d keep it…

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Ground-nesting Yellowjacket Wasps

While my 16yo son was mowing the lawn with our push-reel mower, our neighbor on one side slowed down his rider-mower to a crawl, grinned at my son, and said, “That’s some ancient technology you have there, boy.” I bought the reel mower thinking it would provide me with some exercise, and it’s quiet enough that I can listen to an audiobook while doing the lawn. As it turns out,…

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How Humans Respond to Robots

The play that coined the word “robot,” Karel Capek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), included violent robots, compassionate robots, and herd robots (who are content to be workers until incited by the violent robot leaders). This article explores a wide range of human responses to robots. Our expectations of robots and our response to their designs varies internationally; the Uncanny Valley curve has a different arc depending where you are. Certainly,…