How five U.S. innovations helped improve schools in Finland even as American’s ignore the same reforms [impactlab.net]
Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish educator and scholar, is one of the world’s leading experts on school reform and educational practices. He is the author of the best-selling “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland?”and a former director general of Finland’s Center for International Mobility and Cooperation. Sahlberg is now a visiting professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has written a number of important posts for this blog, including “What if Finland’s great teachers taught in U.S. schools,” and “What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform.”
In this post Sahlberg writes about what constitutes real education innovation, a topic that was the subject of a recent eport by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, about which I wrote and questioned here. Sahlberg notes how U.S. innovation has helped many successful education systems around the world even as Americans ignore those very same reforms. This is important reading.
Germany’s impressive streak of renewable energy milestones continues, with renewable energy generation surging to a record portion — nearly 75 percent — of the country’s overall electricity demand by midday last Sunday. With wind and solar in particular filling such a huge portion of the country’s power demand, electricity prices actually dipped into the negative for much of the afternoon, according to Renewables International.
In the first quarter of 2014, renewable energy sources met a record 27 percent of the country’s electricity demand, thanks to additional installations and favorable weather. “Renewable generators produced 40.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, up from 35.7 billion kilowatt-hours in the same period last year,” Bloomberg reported. Much of the country’s renewable energy growth has occurred in the past decade and, as a point of comparison, Germany’s 27 percent is double the approximately 13 percent of U.S. electricity supply powered by renewables as of November 2013.
HELSINKI, Finland — If there’s something you’d like to know about Helsinki, someone in the city administration most likely has the answer. For more than a century, this city has funded its own statistics bureaus to keep data on the population, businesses, building permits, and most other things you can think of. Today, that information is stored and freely available on the internet by an appropriately named agency, City of Helsinki Urban Facts.
There’s a potential problem, though. Helsinki may be Finland’s capital and largest city, with 620,000 people. But it’s only one of more than a dozen municipalities in a metropolitan area of almost 1.5 million. So in terms of urban data, if you’re only looking at Helsinki, you’re missing out on more than half of the picture.
Helsinki and three of its neighboring cities are now banding together to solve that problem. Through an entity called Helsinki Region Infoshare, they are bringing together their data so that a fuller picture of the metro area can come into view.
That’s not all. At the same time these datasets are going regional, they’re also going “open.” Helsinki Region Infoshare publishes all of its data in formats that make it easy for software developers, researchers, journalists and others to analyze, combine or turn into web-based or mobile applications that citizens may find useful.
I Know Where You Were Last Summer: London’s public bike data is telling everyone where you’ve been [vartree.blogspot.co.uk]
This article is about a publicly available dataset of bicycle journey data that contains enough information to track the movements of individual cyclists across London, for a six month period just over a year ago.
I’ll also explore how this dataset could be linked with other datasets to identify the actual people who made each of these journeys, and the privacy concerns this kind of linking raises.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that there is a publicly available Transport For London dataset that contains records of bike journeys for London’s bicycle hire scheme. What may surprise you is that this record includes unique customer identifiers, as well as the location and date/time for the start and end of each journey. The public dataset currently covers a period of six months between 2012 and 2013.
What are the consequences of this? It means that someone who has access to the data can extract and analyse the journeys made by individual cyclists within London during that time, and with a little effort, it’s possible to find the actual people who have made the journeys.
Robert Skidelsky revisits the Luddites’ claim that automation depresses real wages. [project-syndicate.org]
The Luddites’ rampage was at its height in 1811-12. An alarmed government sent in more troops to garrison the disturbed areas than were then available to Wellington in the Peninsular War against Napoleon. More than a hundred Luddites were hanged or transported to Australia. These measures restored peace. The machines won: the Luddites are a footnote in the history of the Industrial Revolution.
Historians tell us that the Luddites were victims of a temporary conjuncture of rising prices and falling wages that threatened them with starvation in a society with minimal welfare provision. The Luddites, however, blamed their misfortune on the machines themselves.
This week, new research number crunching millions of bits of data on breast cancer has allowed scientists to reclassify the disease into 10 different subtypes. They say this is a huge break though which will lead to new treatments and improve outcomes for women with the disease. The lead author of the Cancer Research UK study Carlos Caldas explains its impact.
The maths of politics. Stand up Mathematician Matt Parker and professor of theoretical physics Andrea Rapisarda look at the role mathematics plays in elections and the way politicians behave. Andrea argues political decisions would be improved if politicians were selected at random rather than elected, but Matt sees the mathematical flaw in electoral systems, which he likens to rolling a dice – one where the voters hardly ever get the outcome they wish for.
Its 40 years since British scientist Godfrey Hounsfield invented the CT scan. This multilayered use of x ray imagery has revolutionised the diagnosis of internal health problems and is used worldwide. We speak to Liz Beckmann, one of Godfrey Hounsfield’s former colleagues and the co author of a new book on his life and work, out this week; ‘Godfrey Hounsfield: Intuitive Genius of CT’