Who needed a stapler?

first_imgIn April, Eric Mazur, Harvard’s Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, and Gary King, the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor, sold the startup company they had founded, together with postdoctoral fellow Brian Lukoff, just 20 months earlier. Enabled by the rise of cloud computing, which frees software companies from running expensive server farms, Learning Catalytics consisted almost entirely of intellectual property. When it was sold to education giant Pearson, the company didn’t even own a stapler.The Gazette sat down with Mazur recently to talk about the company’s start as an idea, its founding moment during a nerve-wracking presentation before 1,000, and about Mazur and King’s penchant for holding board meetings while mountain biking.GAZETTE: How did Learning Catalytics get started?MAZUR: I’ve been interested in student-centered teaching and in finding ways to engage students in the classroom. One of the ways I do that is by polling them with classroom clickers, which have buttons a-b-c-d. A big limitation of the technology is that it relies on multiple-choice questions.Back in 2002-2003, we saw that instead of clickers we could use consumer devices, though the early applications of consumer devices — iPods, cellphones, laptops — were to use them like you would with a clicker, with a-b-c-d multiple-choice questions.In 2010, I interviewed a postdoc, Brian Lukoff, for another project. Brian had done his Ph.D. in education technology at Stanford and gave a talk about his thesis. He showed he could code the computer to interpret hand-drawn graphs better than humans could.I thought, “Wow, that means we could actually have students input hand-drawn graphs in the classroom rather than me drawing a graph and asking them if it was correct.” I asked Brian if he was interested in working on consumer device-based polling and he came to work with us in September 2010.Brian showed me a prototype in November, after just three months, and I had to decide whether to use it in a large introductory class, physics 11B, in the spring of ’11. I asked Brian if he was OK running a large class on the prototype. I said, “I’ll take the blame if it doesn’t work, but you’ll have to fix it because we’ll have 100 screaming students if something goes wrong.”I was comfortable and he was comfortable too, which was important because it meant that we could have a development cycle that was incredibly fast.When the semester came in February 2011, almost all students had a device. Some brought Kindles, others brought laptops, others brought iPads, others brought smartphones. We started with just a few modalities of questions. Students could draw a function, enter a number, or enter an equation.As semester wore on, I kept saying to Brian, “Oh, it’d be nice if we could do this. It’d been nice if we could do that.” He was working on it as I taught, sitting in the front row of our classroom, coding.GAZETTE: Has the technology changed your teaching?MAZUR: Totally. I teach a new class with no lectures at all, no examinations at all. Learning Catalytics plays a very big role in that class. Not only as a teaching-by-questioning platform, but also as an assessment platform.In 30 minutes, students answer 10 to 12 questions on their own. Then I press a button and it goes into team mode. Now it shows boxes across the top of their screens with answers from others at the table. Working as a team, they can only settle on one answer, so they have to negotiate.It’s instantly graded when it’s submitted. If they get it wrong, they get a second chance for half credit. If they get it wrong again, they can submit a third time for quarter credit. If it is still wrong, the solution is revealed. So it turns assessment into a learning opportunity.GAZETTE: Is what we’re talking about here, behind the bells and whistles, a way of creating — in a large classroom — the kind of interaction you would normally get only in a small classroom?MAZUR: Yes, only I’d go one step further. I’d say it creates the kind of environment in which we function in the real world. In the real world, you don’t often see people at their desk, cut off from information and from each other. We work by retrieving information, not from our brain, but from books and the Internet and by exchanging information with each other.The standard approach to teaching is very isolating. A big lecture is isolating, and normal exams are completely isolating, too — students are not only isolated from each other, they’re isolated from information. If you ask yourself if you’ve ever encountered a situation like that in your professional career, I’d be really surprised if you said yes.So it does break up large classes, giving the kind of feeling you get in a smaller class, but it also mimics much more closely the environment in which students will have to work. It develops skills that they need for the course, but also soft skills — communication skills, collaboration skills, team-building skills — that are important in anyone’s career, no matter what they do.GAZETTE: How did Gary King get involved with the company?MAZUR: Five years earlier, I founded my first company, SiOnyx. Gary called or emailed that he was starting a company and was interested in talking about how you negotiate a license with Harvard. We talked and then went our separate ways.Gary’s company, Crimson Hexagon, does data analytics on social media and tries to make sense out of the millions of tweets that are posted each day. So he monitors Twitter, which was was something I had begun playing around with. At about the time Brian and I were working on Learning Catalytics, I wrote about my mountain bike rides in Concord.One day out of the blue, Gary wrote to me, “Hey, I see you’re mountain bike riding. We should go mountain bike riding together.”So we did, and I asked Gary how his company was doing and what they were doing and he explained that they’re doing data analytics on tweets. I thought, “Wow, you take free text responses and somehow make sense of them?”That’s another piece of the puzzle, because with that, we could have students type in free response answers and make sense of them. So I started telling him about [Learning Catalytics]. Later, we had our board meetings while mountain biking.GAZETTE: How did Learning Catalytics go from an idea to a company?MAZUR: Alan November, a consultant in education who runs a very large conference in the summer, had visited my class. He asked me to give a keynote to 1,000 people at the Boston Park Plaza. I thought this was a good way, given the interest we’d seen, to launch the software.We incorporated sometime in June 2011, just in time for the conference, and quickly filed a patent in order to have some IP [intellectual property] associated with the company. Gary played an important role there. The three of us brainstormed in my office about things we could patent and filed four provisional patents.We decided we could no longer run the software on Harvard servers, so we moved all the software to Amazon Web space. It was in the cloud. I had never worked with Amazon Web space and I didn’t know what it could handle. I also had no idea about the Wi-Fi in the Park Plaza, so I had no idea whether I could get 1,000 people on [Learning Catalytics].On July 27 at 8 o’clock, I drove out. I was pretty nervous. The talk depended on the success of the software, which I had only tested in my class with a maximum of 90 students. I had also added two new types of questions, one where you had an arrow and another where you had a word cloud. We didn’t even have a chance to test those out in the classroom.The session started, people were streaming in and Brian was sitting on the side. I gave the talk and it worked flawlessly.GAZETTE: Were members of the audience using the software during the demonstration?MAZUR: We got something like 600 of the thousand using the system. I had a map of Boston and they had to indicate with an arrow the direction to the Custom Tower. We saw a map of the ballroom with a fan of arrows because people’s sense of direction was pretty limited. There was a pretty big wow factor.By the end of that talk, we had our first customers. Brian quickly set up an e-commerce system.Then the University of Texas at Austin sent their vice provost to observe my class because they were doing a complete redesign of their gateway courses and he said he wanted the faculty of UT Austin to use it in a number of courses. The next big client was Northeastern University. Then it snowballed.Within a year we had 10,000 users without a penny invested. I think Gary and I each put in $500 to pay the lawyer for the incorporation. We didn’t even own a stapler.GAZETTE: Why did you decide to sell the company?MAZUR: The question was how to reach more customers. How to go from 10,000 to millions? We could take on venture capital and hire a marketing and sales staff, but that would change the whole nature of the enterprise. You cannot stay in the cloud, you have to raise money and so on. At the same time, several companies were interested, one of which was Pearson. That was in November or December of 2012 and it basically took three months negotiating. All of a sudden, overnight, Gary and I went from owners to customers, a very strange feeling.Brian is now working for Pearson and is the vice president for Learning Catalytics. Pearson has a product called “Mastering” — a Web-based homework system — and all those users now have access to Learning Catalytics.GAZETTE: So what comes next?MAZUR: Well, Gary and I form a really good team and we have another idea. Our next board meeting is Saturday.last_img read more

Perfectly Marvelous! Cabaret Revival to Launch National Tour in 2016

first_img Roundabout’s acclaimed production of Cabaret opened on April 24, 2014 with Alan Cumming reprising his Tony-winning role as the Emcee. The show continues on Broadway starring Cumming and Emma Stone at Studio 54. The creative team includes direction by Sam Mendes, co-direction and choreography by Rob Marshall, set and club design by Robert Brill, costume design by William Ivey Long, lighting design by Peggy Eisenhauer and Mike Baldassari and sound design by Brian Ronan. Featuring a score by John Kander and Fred Ebb and a book by Joe Masteroff, Cabaret is set in the infamous Kit Kat Klub, where the Emcee, Sally Bowles and a raucous ensemble take the stage nightly to tantalize the crowd—and to leave their troubles outside. The musical features some of the most memorable songs in theater history, including “Cabaret,” “Willkommen” and “Maybe This Time.” Can’t wait for Cabaret to visit your city? Click below to see highlights from the Broadway production! Cabaret premiered on Broadway in 1966 and won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Roundabout’s production of Cabaret opened on Broadway on March 19, 1998, and won four Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical. The tuner is based on the play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood.center_img View Comments And now presenting the Cabaret Girls and the Kit Kat Boys…across the country! The Roundabout Theatre Company’s Tony-winning production of Cabaret will kick off a national tour in Providence, RI on January 26, 2016. The tour plans to visit over 20 cities in North America. Casting and official dates will be announced shortly.last_img read more

3 Things We Learned from Season 2 of ‘House of Cards’

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Beware of spoilers!It’s possible that I’m a little late to the party here, but I don’t care.Netflix’s hit show House of Cards premiered one month ago—on Valentine’s Day to be exact—and while thousands took the binge-viewing approach I, after several minutes of deep contemplation, decided to watch in installments—kind of like the way I pay my bills.Somehow I was able to avoid all the spoilers swirling around social media and my favorite websites. So if you have yet to finish season 2 or are still considering adding House of Cards to your expanding menu of shows—either on the cable, network TV or the Internet—then use this moment to respectfully excuse yourself from this post and move on to the next great piece of content on our lovely little news site. Perhaps you should read this. Or this. And maybe this. Just don’t go here.Now, on to the show. Here are three things we learned from season 2 of House of Cards.1) The producers are obviously not afraid of to kick characters to the curb, or throw them into an oncoming train.Poor Zoe Barnes. She thought she had Francis Underwood on the hot seat before he flung her like a rag doll into the aforementioned speeding hunk of metal at the outset of the season. Barnes (Kate Mara), an intrepid reporter who had an affair with Underwood while he was the Democratic whip in Congress, decided she’d had enough of his untruths and confronted him in a subway where the soon-to-be Vice President agreed to meet, perhaps with premeditated ideas of murder on his mind. Barnes sealed her faith when she asked the conniving politician if he was responsible for the death of Rep. Peter Russo (which he was). Underwood decided he no longer had any use for Barnes so he threw her onto the tracks while a train barreled into the station. The scene felt like a dream sequence, and it was only a matter of time before Zoe or Underwood would rise from a deep sleep. But that never happened. And Barnes’ death set the stage for another season of malicious Washington D.C. politics.2) Long Island wine sucks, according to a ruthless pol.This one stung.This unfair dig at Long Island’s beloved vineyards came from California’s own Jackie Sharp (played by Molly Parker) who told a fictional congressman from LI that his hometown’s product “tastes like piss compared to what we have in Napa.”That didn’t sit well with Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) who told The Suffolk Times that he takes “exception to anyone criticizing Long Island wines.” But he wasn’t all that peeved. Instead of banning the producers from ever visiting an East End vineyard, Bishop used the opportunity to invite the show’s creators to his district for a taste of the local product.This testy exchange came as Sharp, the new House Democratic whip, was trying to secure votes for entitlement reform.3) Francis Underwood was going to become president no matter what.We watched Underwood probe—carefully and meticulously—his way to the President Garrett Walker’s inner circle in season 1, eventually leading to his selection as Walker’s new VP. At that point it was almost a no-brainer that Underwood would eventually weasel his way into the highest office in the land. But did it have to happen so quick? Underwood sowed Walker’s demise and left a scandalous trail (a money laundering scam involving a billionaire friend of Walker’s and a corrupt Chinese businessman that funneled money into a Democratic super PAC; very complicated) that put Walker at the center of an epic scandal, which eventually led to his remarkably emotionless resignation. Sure, Walker was just a pawn—the kind that Underwood had no problem feeding to the wolves. So Underwood is now president. But now that he’s finally ascended to the throne there’s nowhere to go but down.last_img read more

News: Asia Pacific continues to lead aviation recovery

first_imgDaily passenger jet flight activity has increased across most regions over recent days, On November 10th, Asia Pacific saw total arrivals down just under 36 per cent compared with the equivalent day last year. – Advertisement –last_img

Halifax recruits divisional head

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

Queensland home owned by family killed in axe attack for sale

first_imgThis luxury home is on the market for $2.49 million. Source: Realestate.com.auTHE multi-million dollar Queensland home of a family killed in axe attack has hit the market. The property has stunning views. Source: Realestate.com.auThe van Bredas had relocated back to South Africa for business keeping their Queensland home base intact for their return, according to the Sunshine Coast Daily. The property covers 3.86 hectars. Source: Realestate.com.auIt said the home, which had a circular design, was ideal for use as a luxury guest house. Among its features was a caretaker’s cottage, orchards and a dam. The home was said to be ideal for a guest lodge. Source: Realestate.com.auA Realestate.com.au listing of the van Breda home said the 3.86 hectare property had development approval for the creation of an additional six residential lots.center_img Three members of the van Breda family died and another was seriously injured after the attack. Pictured on a family holiday are parents Martin and Teresa van Breda with their daughter Marli and sons Henri and Rudi. Picture: FacebookThe Sunshine Coast home belonged to Martin and Theresa van Breda, who were killed along with their son Rudi two years ago at their second home in South Africa. Their daughter Marli was also seriously injured in the attack.More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this home1 hour agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor7 hours ago The home decor has African leanings. Source: Realestate.com.auThe van Breda’s son Henri has been committed to stand trial on three counts of murder and one of attempted murder, with a date set for March 27 in a Western Cape court, according to South African media reports. CoreLogic records show the family had bought the seven bedroom, seven bathroom, two car space Buderim home in 2012 for $2.2million. The executor of the van Breda’s will Nicolaas Oosthuizen put the property on the market for $2.49million.last_img read more

UK roundup: Pension Protection Fund, Ford Pension Scheme, Punter Southall

first_imgThe Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has published a consultation on its policy to manage ‘out-of-cycle’ valuations for schemes that have recently fallen under its remit due to the change in definition of money purchase benefits.Earlier in May, the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) announced its amendment to the definition following legal proceedings, resulting in some defined contribution schemes offering some form of guarantee, being reclassified as defined benefit (DB).As a result, those schemes are covered by the PPF and will need to undergo valuations to submit their s179 figures by the end of Q1 2015 to be protected.The consultation, which runs until 9 July 2014, seeks answers regarding whether the PPF should be allowed to require out-of-cycle valuations, and what benefits need to be included in its valuation guidance. In other news, the £8bn (€9.8bn) Ford UK Pension Scheme, which consists of three DB offerings, has selected Punter Southall to provide the trustees with daily estimates of liabilities.Using the consultant’s valuation software, the trustees of the three schemes will be able to monitor regular changes to liability profiles.The Hourly Paid Contributory Pension Fund, the Salaried Contributory Pension Fund and the Senior Staff Pension Fund have 75,000 members in total, with trustees now able to implement a more reactive investment strategy, allowing trustees to monitor funding levels for comparison with investment allocation trigger points.last_img read more

Ronaldo creates greatest value on Twitter

first_img Read Also:Ronaldo gives girlfriend £80k monthly allowance to fund lifestyle Ronaldo was already marked as sport’s top earner on Instagram last July, earning as much as US$975,000 per post, according to analytics firm HopperHQ. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 Cristiano Ronaldo’s posts on Twitter are more valuable than those of any other athlete endorser, according to a report from athlete marketing platform Opendorse, Promoted ContentFantastic-Looking (and Probably Delicious) Bread ArtTop 7 Best Car Manufacturers Of All Time5 Of The World’s Most Unique Theme Parks2020 Tattoo Trends: Here’s What You’ll See This Year6 Ridiculous Health Myths That Are Actually True9 Facts You Should Know Before Getting A Tattoo6 Most Breathtaking Bridges In The WorldTop 10 Enemies Turned Friends In TVEver Thought Of Sleeping Next To Celebs? This Guy Will Show YouImpressive Caricatures Of Marvel Characters By Xi DingInsane 3D Spraying Skills Turn In Incredible Street Art7 Famous And Incredibly Unique Places In Thailand A tweet from the Juventus forward, who has 82.7 million followers on the social media platform, carries a value of US$868,606, putting the 35 year-old comfortably ahead of Spanish midfielder Andreas Iniesta (US$590,825) and Brazilian forward Neymar (US$478,138).Advertisement Loading… last_img read more

Bail set at $1 million for policeman charged with Floyd murder

first_imgFormer police officer Derek Chauvin appeared by videolink in Minneapolis court for the murder of African American George Floyd, whose May 25 death sparked massive protests across the United States. HENNEPIN COUNTY JAIL/AFP/FILE / HANDOUT Dressed in an orange prison suit, Chauvin, 44, answered questions matter-of-factly in the procedural hearing, which did not require him to submit a plea. MINNEAPOLIS – A judge in this city set a $1 million bail for police officer Derek Chauvin Monday as he made his first court appearance charged with the murder of George Floyd, the 46-year-old African-American man whose death sparked nationwide protests. Hennepin County District Court Jeannice Reding set his bail at $1 million with conditions, and $1.25 million without conditions. (AFP) Chauvin, who was filmed on May 25 pressing his knee on handcuffed Floyd’s neck until he expired, appeared by video from Minnesota state prison to face charges of one count of second degree murder, one count of third degree murder, and one count of manslaughter.last_img read more

One F1 track not enough, India needs more small tracks: Alex Yoong

first_imgNew Delhi: Accessibility is key for spreading motorsports in a country and India needs much more than the one Formula 1 level race track the country presently has, according to former F1 driver Alex Yoong.Yoong, who in 2002 became the first Malaysian to race in the F1, will return to India as one of the foreign drivers who have been brought in for the X1 Racing League.“It’s still in its infancy,” Yoong told IANS when asked about what he thinks about motorsports in India. “It is similar to where Malaysia is in someways. India have got some good drivers who have gone abroad like Narain (Karthikeyan), Karun (Chandok) and all these new kids coming along.“Like Malaysia, the infrastructure is not very strong. We’ve only got one or two tracks,” he said.Yoong said that F1 does little to help improve the infrastructure in a country. “It’s too big. It comes in sucks up all the money and doesn’t do anything for the structure. We need to support local teams and local championships like X1 because are what help grow the infrastructure,” he said.The Buddh International Circuit (BIC), which was built for the Indian GP that was held in 2011, is one of two tracks where X1 Racing is slated to be held. Only three editions of the Indian GP — in 2011, 2012 and 2013 — could be held at the BIC and Yoong said that while the track is world class, it is too big and it is smaller tracks that increase accessibility.“It’s a world class track of course. It’s a typical Formula 1 track, very wide, very open. The money was well spent, the track is fantastic,” he said.“We just need more stuff around it to support it. One big track is not going to be very useful. In fact, it is too big, you need five or six smaller tracks. Make it cheaper, more accessible. That is key, one big F1 track is not good for accessibility. It looks nice, great on TV but that’s about it.”Yoong’s familiarity with India goes beyond his visits to the country for the Indian GP editions or the fact that he is familiar with some of the famous drivers in the country. His son Alister participates in the Formula 4 South East Asia Champioship. Chennai’s Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT) has been one of the host venues for the championship in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.“I will definitely ask him for some advice. He has driven in Chennai. As far as fans go, they don’t get more passionate than the Indian fans. They are amazing and they are scary as well. If you don’t perform, they are on your case. I expect to see that for X1 as well,” he said.Yoong said that he did not hesitate for a moment before saying yes to participating in the league, largely because he knew the founders Aditya Patel and Armaan Ebrahim, who are racers themselves.“I said yes straightaway. Aditya and Armaan are good men. I like the idea. I know that the franchise model worked well for Indian cricket. So I was like, sign me up,” he said. IANS Also Read: Motorsport Patel set for Korean challengeAlso Watch: Broad day light robbery in Digboi, Miscreants loot cash Rs 1.60 lakhlast_img read more