Wednesday morning links

  • Walking Randomly has an interesting discovery about the Fibonacci sequence and linear algebra.
  • The Productive Student offers up some advice on how to be a leader and conduct killer team sessions. It’s good stuff not only for students who are doing collaborative work but also for anybody who goes to meetings. Are there people who don’t have to go to meetings?
  • InsideHigherEd reports on an interesting setup to attract Chinese students to study in the US — the 1+2+1 degree, which involves one year in China, two in the US, and then the final year back in China. (Unfortuately, as the article notes, you can’t Google “1+2+1” because all you get is “4”.)
  • Also at IHE and a lot of other places, Rice University is now using an open textbook for its elementary statistics course which is not only free but open for rearrangement and adaptation by any user. A shot across the bow of traditional textbook companies?
  • Study Hacks offers advice to students on cutting out the single biggest source of stress (according to them) — the killer course load. There’s something to be said for having an unbalanced course schedule — I found grad school to be easier in some ways than college because I was only taking math courses — but I do remember the worst semester I ever had as an undergrad had me taking three senior-level math courses… plus German, orchestra, and concert choir, with a 20-hour work week at a donut shop to boot. Balance is important.
  • Reasonable Deviations writes about a hack of the Boston subway system by three MIT students (for what appear to be purely academic purposes). Predictably, the subway authorities have sought legal action against the students. They ought instead to be thanking them, or hiring them outright, for pointing out a security flaw that eventually could have cost the company millions.
  • Java is the most popular programming language in the world, but some are saying that using Java as the language of choice in intro programming courses (as is currently done, for example, in the standard AP Computer Science courses) is hurting students in the long run. To me, this article raises the question of just what computer programming is these days.
  • A new Zogby poll is indicating that online university programs (meaning, it seems, online programs offered by existing brick-and-mortar universities as opposed to online universities) are rapidly gaining mainstream acceptance, despite the perception (possibly justified) that they offer less academic rigor than traditional university programming. Unfortunately you have to drill down into the Chronicle article mentioned at the above link to discover that the Zogby poll was administered online! So much for unbiased sampling. But at any rate, the trend seems to be limited mainly to older adults who are looking for college coursework, which makes sense. I think if you restricted the polling to a traditional college population — for example, high school seniors who are looking at colleges to attend — I don’t think you’d see nearly as much of a trend toward online programming.


Filed under Education, Higher ed, Life in academia, Links, Math, Student culture, Teaching, Technology

7 responses to “Wednesday morning links

  1. virusdoc

    No comments on the links, per se. But I do have a few questions on site design:

    1) do you actually like/use the Snapshots page previews that pop up whenever the mouse hovers–even for a microsecond–over a link on your site? I find them extremely annoying, because they obscure your site content even when the reader has no intention of clicking on a link (for example, if you just brush the arrow across a blog entry, you have a high likelihood of a popup Snapshot). They take a few seconds to autohide. And they are so small (in the default size) as to be unintelligible as an actual page preview.

    2) If you and/or other readers find them as annoying as I do, is there a way for you to turn them off completely on your site? I have disabled them using the options settings for the plugin, but I never asked for the plugin (it is forcefed by your site) and I don’t like the idea of a blog making the reader do work to make it more readable. And finding the options panel to turn it off it’s exactly intuitive.

    Just a suggestion from a loyal, grumpy reader…

  2. virusdoc

    That last sentence should read “*isn’t* exactly intuitive.”


  3. You’re the first person who has ever voiced an opinion, positive or otherwise, about the Snap previews. There is no way for users to turn this off, but there is a way for me to turn it off globally from the admin dashboard. I happen not to mind the previews, and they are actually kind of handy in some cases — for example, for Wikipedia links, the text of the wikipedia article appears in miniature form; for Amazon links, a mini-entry appears with customer rankings and price. For most blogs, the snapshot is a small RSS feed. So I think they’re kind of handy, but I can see how they might irritate. Although if you click out of the preview (as opposed to just waiting for them to close) they typically go away right away.

    Anybody else share doc’s concern here?

  4. virusdoc

    Users can turn them off. When a snapshot pops up, in the upper right hand corner is a small gear icon. Clicking on this opens an options window, and the first option is “turn off.” You can even choose to turn it off for just the current site, or for all sites (which I did). So my annoyance is now a thing of the past, but I would be curious to know if others share(d) my frustrations.

  5. If they do share them, they’re not commenting about them. 🙂 Thanks for pointing out how to turn them off.

  6. I too dislike snap previews. I didn’t know I could turn them off – thanks!

  7. I grimace every time I trigger a Snapshot. Grr.