NPR reports on two separate stories from the Guardian (original links below)
In an original story by NPR titled: “Report: U.S. Creates Fake Online Identities To Counter ‘Enemy Propaganda'”, they relate that the U.S. Military hired a California company to create software that allows one person to control up to 10 different and sophisticated fake online personas.
The Guardian reported today that United States Central Command (Centcom) doesn’t plan to use the program domestically. Instead, the paper reports quoting Bill Speaks, Centcom spokesman, the military wants to use it in the Middle East and Asia to “counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US.”
The Guardian adds:
The project has been likened by web experts to China’s attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.
The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”.
In a separate piece at the Guardian, Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, called the whole scheme “appallingly stupid.” He adds:
“The net result of that will be the diminution, not the enhancement, of American credibility.
“But the effort is amusing as well, for there is absolutely no need to spend millions of dollars to create fake identities online.”
So What’s the Point?
As social media increasingly becomes a way of instant/immediate communication and source of news, the US (military) is working to stay ahead of the game. Creating fake identities can help build a mass of social weight to bear against any online opposition and work to sway opinion and dissension by its perceived popularity or population. It can also serve to drown out and bury by it’s weight of numbers oppositional voices or create an illusion of support through those same false identities. (more to come)
Original article source links
by Tanya Elias
Athabasca University, Canada
originally appeared in The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning
February – 2011
The report extends a previous analysis of universal instructional design principles in distance education by applying them to the design of mobile learning. Eight principles with particular relevance for distance education are selected, and their recommendations are discussed in relation to the design of educational materials for a range of mobile devices. The problems and opportunities of mobile learning are discussed as is the need for educators to focus on content design issues rather than on searching for the next new technology.
The standard creativity test which is used in the assessment of creativity is the Torrance Test of Creativity, which was developed by psychologist Ellis Paul Torrance (October 8, 1915 – July 12, 2003) an American psychologist from Milledgeville, Georgia in 1966.
Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) test has had 50 years of research behind it to be considered useful and statistically valid.
The Torrance tests these areas:
- Fluency: The total number of responses
- Originality: The statistical rarity of the responses
- Elaboration: The amount of detail in the responses
- Abstractness in Titles
- Resistance to Closure
As mentioned in The Creativity Crisis, this is the test that continues to show a decline in creativity among all age groups.
The Flynn Effect
Definition of the Flynn Effect: The substantial and long-sustained increase in both fluid and crystallized intelligence test scores measured in many parts of the world from roughly 1930 to the present day.
It’s important to note that the Flynn Effect–which HAD found a generational RISE in IQ with each new generation since 1930 (and has only just recently stopped).
Contrast that to the Torrance Tests of Creativity which has showed continual DECLINE for the more than a decade.
“It’s good to invest in creative education because these are some of the skills that should be left [after automation],” says Stian Westlake, head of policy and research at Nesta, the UK innovation charity.
SAMPLE TORRANCE TESTS OF CREATIVITY
Back in 1958, Ted Schwarzrock was an 8-year-old third grader when he became one of the “Torrance kids,” a group of nearly 400 Minneapolis children who completed a series of creativity tasks newly designed by professor E. Paul Torrance. Schwarzrock still vividly remembers the moment when a psychologist handed him a fire truck and asked, “How could you improve this toy to make it better and more fun to play with?” He recalls the psychologist being excited by his answers. In fact, the psychologist’s session notes indicate Schwarzrock rattled off 25 improvements, such as adding a removable ladder and springs to the wheels. That wasn’t the only time he impressed the scholars, who judged Schwarzrock to have “unusual visual perspective” and “an ability to synthesize diverse elements into meaningful products.”
Definition of CREATIVITY
The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful, and that’s what’s reflected in the tests. There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).
In the 50 years since Schwarzrock and the others took their tests, scholars—first led by Torrance, now his colleague, Garnet Millar—have been tracking the children, recording every patent earned, every business founded, every research paper published, and every grant awarded. They tallied the books, dances, radio shows, art exhibitions, software programs, advertising campaigns, hardware innovations, music compositions, public policies (written or implemented), leadership positions, invited lectures, and buildings designed.
Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”
Read the rest of this article at: http://www.newsweek.com/creativity-crisis-74665
Using Mobile Phones to Improve Educational Outcomes
Despite improvements in educational indicators, such as enrolment, significant challenges remain with regard to the delivery of quality education in developing countries, particularly in rural and remote regions. In the attempt to find viable solutions to these challenges, much hope has been placed in new information and communication technologies (ICTs), mobile phones being one example. This article reviews the evidence of the role of mobile phone-facilitated mLearning in contributing to improved educational outcomes in the developing countries of Asia by exploring the results of six mLearning pilot projects that took place in the Philippines, Mongolia, Thailand, India, and Bangladesh. In particular, this article examines the extent to which the use of mobile phones helped to improve educational outcomes in two specific ways: 1) in improving access to education, and 2) in promoting new learning. Analysis of the projects indicates that while there is important evidence of mobile phones facilitating increased access, much less evidence exists as to how mobiles promote new learning.