Free Online Books

May 6, 2016 - 9:47pm

Free Online Books (FOBs) are exaclty what they sound like. With the price of textbooks having risin at 4X the rate of the Consumer Price Index since 1978 and publishers resorting to tactics such as frequent edition churn and one-time-use digital media, it's no surprise that a lot of online textbooks are popping up on the web. Here are some great ones I have found:

  • The Feynman Lectures on Physics
  • Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces
  • Deep Learning and Neural Networks & Deep Learning
  • Statistics
  • Paul's Online Math Notes
  • Ten Solutions In Education

    April 29, 2016 - 12:39pm

    I have chosen to use the word solutions instead of problems in the title here because everyone agrees there are problems in education—principally effectiveness at catalysing learning, financial cost, and equality of opportunity—but not as much is being said, or rather, accomplished, when it comes to solutions. This phrasing also just comes across less whiney. Before I enumerate these ideas though, I need to provide some background.

    During my very first term of college I read Sal Khan's One World Schoolhouse which introduced me to a lot of specific ways in which education could be improved (i.e. not just high level federal reform initiatives). Since then I have encountered a lot of the same points and sentiments of Khan's across many other books and media, most of which did not even hold education as the subject matter. Between the repeated encounters and face to face exemplifications of these problems that I experience as a student every day, I have feel that I should collect and document all the parallels between these works and my educational experience.

    So, in the coming months I will periodically write a post with one of more of the quotes that lead to this list along with connections between them and my anecdotal experiences. The list here is very condensed as I will be providing more information on what each of these points mean in later posts. Note that these points are made principally with STEM education in mind. Education in the humanities should have distinct goals and structure than those of STEM.

    The list:

    1. Individualize the learning experience:
      • Mastery Learning: Time Constant & Understanding Variable → Time Variable & Understanding Constant
      • Do not group students tightly by age
      • Cater to individual interests, aptitudes, and abilities
      • Vary the degree of compulsion inversely with openness to experience
    2. Teach to the problem, not to the tools
    3. Eliminate redundancy of vaudevillian lectures and messy materials by sharing refined versions between class iterations, professors, and schools while still allowing educators to creatively build off those materials
    4. Interpolate the material and examples with problems in the same document
    5. Learn for fascination and pragmatism, not authoritative compulsion
    6. Don’t foster mimetic competition as there are many dimensions of intelligence
    7. Offer both text & videos as options for learning a concept
      • Videos typically take less mental energy
      • Text is indexable, cheaper to create, linkable, searchable, easier to scrub, easier to update, has a higher density of utility per byte, and can be consumed silently
    8. Mind being hypocritical in the teaching of persuasion and the scientific method
      • Emphasizing importance of learning the skill of persuasion while the extent of the argument for learning material rarely goes beyond signaling to employers
      • Teaching the scientific method without applying it to effectively towards improving pedagogies
    9. Offer unbundled higher education, perhaps secondary as well
      • Course bundles, credential bundles, and service bundles
      • Be able to pay for exams without paying for tuition to cover instruction and dozens of other services
    10. Invert the guide on the side : sage on the stage time ratio and note their distinct purposes:
      • Guide on the Side
        • On the order of an hour at a time
        • Student works through autonomous material alone or in a small group
        • Other students can act as guides
        • Concept explanation and examples placed right above the questions
        • Instant feedback
        • Ask questions as needed
        • Give students choice of subjects and concepts to do first within limits
      • Sage on the Stage
        • Between 10 and 20 minutes, like a TED talk
        • Inspire students to want to learn the material, “sell” it
        • Discuss and exemplify the problems relevant to the tools
      • Add a third mode: Explorative
        • Student can work on whatever they want as long at it's not pure leisure
        • Ask questions about why the world is the way it is, and what we have to do to build the future
        • Student learns to take their own initiative
        • Avoids intellectual claustrophobia for those with a high degree of creativity and curiousity

    Hello World!

    April 27, 2016 - 9:22pm

    Welcome to my site!

    I am a 3rd year student of computer science at UC Santa Barbara who is currently pondering what direction he wants to take his career into.

    I do not intend to write much on technical topics here. Rather I expect to be writing principally about books and education.

    We'll see how this goes... hopefully I don't embarrass myself.