Blog Archives

spotted elsewhere: SlideRule

Being a big Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and Coursera fan already for quite some time, I stumbled upon another internet platform that promises to bring video education to you just today: SlideRule. It searches several online course providers and “helps you discover the world’s best online courses in every subject”. In extension, there also is iversity, which is not yet searched by SlideRule. Have fun studying!

spotted elsewhere: academic networking on LinkedIn

Although I myself do not have an account at LinkedIn yet, I’d like to share the following blog post entry on How to become an academic networking pro on LinkedIn. In light of this post, LinkedIn really seems to have some potential to letting people get in touch with other researchers.

spotted elsewhere: best practices for scientific computing

Nowadays, a lot of time of everyday research is spent in front of computers. Especially in data analysis, of course, computers are an elementary part of science. Nevertheless, most researchers still seem to have not gotten a real training in computer science, but tend to just develop their own manners for getting the job done.

Greg Wilson, together with the other members of the software training group Software Carpentry, devotes his time to promoting best practices of the computer science community into other fields of the scientific community. I highly recommend his newly published paper Best Practices for Scientific Computing, in which he lists a number of recommendations for an improved workflow in scientific computing. Also, make sure to check the Software Carpentry homepage, which provides a number of short video tutorials for a bunch of topics that are fundamental to any data analysis.

spotted elsewhere: The Setup

In case you sometimes wonder what might be the best tool for a job, just take a look at usesthis.com, and see what other people use to get stuff done. For example, the well known R programmer and developer of ggplot, Hadley Wickham, shares a list of his favorite tools.

spotted elsewhere: animated education videos

When it comes to education, I believe in two simple things:

  • the more entertaining and exciting we make education, the more people will focus while learning, and the better they will concentrate
  • the more senses we manage to involve, the better people will remember what they have learned

One simple way of dealing with both issues is through animated videos. Such animations can be a quite entertaining way to transmit knowledge, while simultaneously addressing both auditory and visual senses.

For a prime example of such animated videos, take a look at the RSA Animate video on Changing Education Paradigms, which is only one of a series of many animated videos of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Even complex economic topics can be presented quite entertaining this way. Simply take a look at the animated video on How the Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio:

spotted elsewhere: how science goes wrong

A friend of mine recently pointed out to me an article from The Economist that lists some of the deficiencies of the current scientific system. As stated in the article, a large fraction of the results published in scientific journals could not be verified through reproduction:

Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 “landmark” studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers.

As explanation, the article identifies a combination of two factors. First, it blames the current “publish or perish” system, where solely publications matter, and “verification does little to advance a researcher’s career”. And second, it points out the bias of scientific journals to publish positive results:

“Negative results” now account for only 14% of published papers, […]

Given these circumstances,

Careerism also encourages exaggeration and the cherry-picking of results.

spotted elsewhere: websites that make you cleverer

These days, I stumbled upon a page on Inktank.fi that contains an extensive list of websites with educational content. Of course, I didn’t have the time to check out all of them yet. However, as some of my favorite websites are on the list, I assume that the others could be worth a glance, too. To give you a short teaser, some websites on the list are:

khanacademy.org
Watch thousands of micro-lectures on topics
ranging from history and medicine to chemistry and computer science.
coursera.org
Educational site that works with universities to get
their courses on the Internet, free for you to use.
ted.com
Collection of TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design)
talks in which knowledgeable speakers address a variety
of topics in short videos (< 18 minutes)
codecademy.com
Website packed with introductory courses for
various programming languages and web
technologies.

spotted elsewhere: social media and open science

A presentation of Titus Brown about using social media and open science to sharpen your academic profile.

Excellent way to enhance your academic career; network to find, discuss, and explore alternative career options; and build a life you find to be worth living

Some of the sites that he calls attention to: