Interview with John McGrath of Wordnik

Today we have Wordnik’s director of product development John McGrath with with us. Wordnik is “a place for all the words, and everything known about them,” an online dictionary designed to give you both traditional and contextual definitions of words (i.e. statistics of how rare a word is, images, etc.) John is here with us today to talk more about education and technology.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to work with Wordnik.

I’ve been developing web apps since the mid-nineties and have been a software engineer at the New York Times, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and a handful of startups. In 2006 I launched, a niche and kind of silly social network for word lovers, and to my delight it gained a modest but devoted audience. In 2009 Wordie merged with Wordnik, and I joined Wordnik to run the combined site. It’s been a great match: Wordie was all community, with little reference material. Wordnik is an incredible reference resource, but it originally had few social features. The two fit together very well.

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Quizlet’s Phil Freo on the Importance of Mobile in Education

Today we have Quizlet product manager Phil Freo with us. Quizlet is an online flashcard service that lets anyone “study languages, vocabulary, or almost anything.” Phil is with us today to share his views on Quizlet and educational technology.

1.Tell us about Quizlet and how it got started?

Quizlet is a fun, free, way to study languages, vocabulary, or almost anything. We’re the largest and fastest growing educational flashcards site on the web, providing powerful online study tools and games to millions of students.

It was started in 2005 by high school sophomore Andrew Sutherland when he needed a good way to study a list of 111 French animals for his French class. He shared it with his friends and it has spread to millions of students since then!

2. What differentiates Quizlet from other flashcard services?

We have several different study modes and games to help you learn the material. Quizlet is all about making studying FUN, and allows you to share flashcards with your friends and even compete against them.

Since we have over 3 million flashcard sets online already, you can often find what you need to study without having to enter the terms yourself.
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Author Scott Young on Online Education

Today, we have author Scott Young with us today. Scott has written about the power of holistic learning and new ways to learn more effectively. He is here with us today to talk about his views on education and technology.

1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got involved with education.

I’m a university student, so thinking about learning and how that meshes with a life philosophy is in my environment.

2. What makes the current generation of students different from others in terms of technology?

Technology enables us to access more knowledge, theoretically enhancing our ability to learn and gain expertise. But while it increases knowledge, it also increases noise, so it is also harder and harder to manage attention (as anyone from the internet generation will attest to).

3. Do you think it’s possible to one day have an all-online education?

Online universities already exist, and many universities have distance education programs. As for a largely free online education, I don’t think it’s too far from the future. The tools are already there, they just aren’t consistent or located all in one place.
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CC Superheroes

The Creative Commons Superheroes are here! The folks at creative commons have recently launched a campaign to promote the creative commons initiative. Check out their message (you can find their full release here):

Imagine a world where knowledge flows freely and can be built upon without limits. Imagine a world where culture, art and media are available to everyone, scientific content is shared by corporations and research institutions, and shared intelligence augments human rights efforts across borders.

CC Superhero T-shirt, yours for a donation of $75 or more!

A legion of Creative Commons (CC) Superheroes is already at work, using our amazing tools to save people from failed sharing all over the planet. GlaxoSmithKline, a major pharmaceutical company, recently released its entire malarial data set using CC tools, speeding the urgent search for new medicines to tackle the devastating disease. Online communities at Flickr, SoundCloud, and Vimeo are making creative works available for anyone in the world to use freely and legally through license adoption. Publisher Pratham Books has begun to CC license more and more of the textbooks it provides to 14 million children in India, lifting them from a future of poverty and miseducation. When the earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, Google and Wired used CC tools to keep information widely available to relief workers, journalists, and governments worldwide.

Our challenge ahead is to join forces with this legion of CC Superheroes to fight the forces that don’t want an open web, or do not understand that sharing is a good thing. This fall, we’re recruiting a team of CC Superheroes to lead the world in the fight for creativity and innovation. We need to raise $550,000 by the end of the year to power up and support the work we’re doing. As a superhero, your role will be to donate, spread the word, and fundraise on our behalf. As an existing supporter of CC, you already believe that a sharing world is a good world. You have fueled our work and kept us going strong, and we thank you for that. It will take nothing short of a superhero’s strength to get us to where we need to go.

At Udemy, we believe that anyone has the potential to teach; we simply provide them the tools and the community to revolutionize the educational space like never before. With this end we support an open internet- a creative space where innovation and thoughts and flow from teacher to student. Please support creative commons:

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Author Jeff Utecht on How the Web Affects Students Today

Distinguished educator and consultant Jeff Utecht is with us today. Jeff is the Elementary Technology and Learning Coordinator at the International School Bangkok, and has written Reach, a book about building learning communities. Jeff has also spoken at TedxKrungthep. He is with us today to share his views on education and technology.

1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got involved with education.

I knew I was going to be an educator in high school. I had enough credits to graduate and instead of taking early dismissal or late start, I signed up for a program called Elementary Experience where my high school allowed me to go to an elementary school within the district and volunteer my time. I headed back to my old elementary school and was able to volunteer in my 4th grade teacher’s classroom Mrs. Hubble.

It was the best experience ever, she treated me as a regular teacher and even evaluated me using the same evaluation tool as the school district used. I loved it and from that moment on I knew I wanted to be a teacher.
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Elearning! Magazine Editor Janet Clarey on Why Technology Can’t Change Education

Today we have Janet Clarey with us. Janet is a top educational consultant and an editor in Elearning! Magazine. She also maintains a blog, Spinning the Social Web. Janet is with us today to share her views on education and technology.

1. What inspired you to start your blog?
Oddly enough it was an email from a former colleague, Tom Werner, at Brandon Hall Research. Tom and his wife had started a great wine blog and he said, “we should do this.” This came at a time when Brandon Hall Research was looking for a way to have a greater presence on the Web. So, I wrote my first blog post in February 2007 and was hooked. I find inspiration now from others’ content and comments. My blog is a great platform for personal learning too. At times, I find that it’s more valuable than my university classes. Actually, most of the time.
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Edublogger Kirsten Winkler on Technology in Education

We are very happy to have Kirsten Winkler with us today. Kirsten is a noted edublogger and edupreneur, having started her own blog, EDUKWEST, and Winkler Media. Kirsten is with us today to talk about her views on education and technology.

1) What inspired you to start edublogging?
The thing that got me started with blogging is the fact that I have the entrepreneurs curse. I ran a couple of small businesses during my law studies in Berlin in various sectors. I had a cocktail delivery service, a catering service, an online shop etc plus I worked for a couple of companies from retail over customer care to education. This curse means that I see opportunities everywhere and that I know when something is not working right. Hence as I started teaching on the first platforms the curse came over me again and I needed to find an outlet for that. First I wanted to blog about online education in general, give tips to colleagues and tell about my experiences which then led to the form of as you know it today. The more I got in contact with the founders of the different services and the more we talked about the mission we are following the blog turned into the “TechCrunch of Online Education” as Kevin Chen of italki once referred to it. With the upcoming changes on we will try to head even more into this direction.
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