Archive | 4:08 pm

Quizzes Improve Online Learning

14 Apr

Students-Online-Learning-SystemSteven Novella makes a perceptive comment about college education: students don’t like sitting in lecture halls forced to listen to a professor. Students like online learning, but there are some drawbacks to listening to a podcast or watching a video on your smartphone or tablet, at least from the perspective of the educator who has to evaluate students within a certain period of time. According to two psychologists, there’s a simple solution for teachers, to match online education and conventional methods: quizzing (via SGU #404).

By interspersing online lectures with short tests, student mind-wandering decreased by half, note-taking tripled, and overall retention of the material improved, according to Daniel Schacter, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Psychology, and Karl Szpunar, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology. Their findings are described in a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“What we hope this research does is show that we can use very strong, experimentally sound techniques to describe what works in online education and what doesn’t,” said Szpunar. “The question, basically, is how do we optimize students’ time when they’re at home, trying to learn from online lectures? How do we help them most efficiently extract the information they need?

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Luttwak’s Cold Turkey Approach To The Koreas

14 Apr

extortionI find Edward Luttwak’s approach to the Koreas compelling.

A “palace system” drives the entire regime and its policies: To keep the Helots in isolated servitude cut off from the outside world, a stance of relentless bellicosity is kept up by the rulers year after year, decade after decade. Even though there has been no war for two generations, North Korean life is shaped by nonstop war propaganda, war censorship, martial law, and above all, a centrally planned war economy in which resources are allocated not exchanged.

But the inward projection of bellicosity is not enough, because the North Korean economy is so unproductive, especially in earning foreign exchange. To feed the palace system, North Korea must also extract payoffs from the outside world: some from enabling NGOs (food aid from which allows domestic food production to be used for army rations), some from the United States and Japan in exchange for Pyongyang’s nuclear promises (never kept), but most from the fellow Koreans of the South (whose payoffs are won by sheer intimidation). South Korean President Kim Dae-jung won the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for his unprecedented reconciliation summit with Kim Jong Il, a moment when peace and even unification seemed imminent. Only later did the truth leak out: The summit had been purchased for $100 million in cash. Unsurprisingly, it led to nothing.

Unwilling to deter North Korea — which would require a readiness to retaliate for its occasionally bloody attacks and constant provocations, thereby troubling business and roiling the Seoul stock market — South Korea has instead preferred to pay off the regime with periodic injections of fuel and food aid, but most consistently by way of the North-South Kaesong industrial zone, in which some 80,000 North Korean workers are paid relatively good wages by South Korean corporations. The workers themselves receive very little of their salaries, of course, the majority of which gets funneled back to Pyongyang and makes up the North’s largest consistent source of foreign currency. Even under supposedly “hard-line” South Korean presidents, the Kaesong transfer has continued. It was not shut down when the North sunk South Korea’s Cheonan warship, killing 46 sailors; nor when the North opened artillery fire on a South Korean island, killing two soldiers and two civilians; nor when the North tested a nuclear device and launched a long-range ballistic missile. Even as the present crisis has unfolded, it was the paying South that feared an interruption of production at Kaesong, not the North, which reaps the benefits. And when media in South Korea noted with much relief that Kaesong was still open, the North Koreans promptly shut it down.

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How South Koreans and Americans Differ On North Korea

14 Apr

Kang Yong-sukAmerican and South Korean public opinion on the issue of imminent war with North Korea diverges dramatically. David Engel reiterates what several expat pundits, including this one, have argued anecdotally, that South Koreans are not afraid of the North Koreans. According to Mark Quarterman on All In with Chris Hayes, two polls in South Korea and the United States reveal, that 4.5% of South Koreans believe war is imminent, but in the United States 41% of respondents “…say that North Korea is a long-term threat to the U.S and 16% say the isolated regime is not a threat.”

According to the poll, only 46% of the public says the crisis can be successfully resolved with diplomatic or economic means alone, with 51% disagreeing.

“For the first time, Americans are pessimistic that the situation involving North Korea can be resolved using only economic and diplomatic means,” says Holland. “On previous occasions when tensions with North Korea were running high, most Americans thought that diplomacy would be enough, although that number has dropped over the years as those tensions have re-emerged time after time.”

Should the U.S. use troops to defend South Korea if that country is attacked by the north?

The survey indicates that six in ten would support a military response to an attack on South Korea, with a majority of all demographic groups approving that action.

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