Tag Archives: science

US-Iran History of Research and Collaboration

March 3rd, 2017

iranusaflag

Iran is included on list of the travel ban on entry for nationals from seven majority-Muslim nations in President Donald Trump’s recent Executive Order. One thing many may not know is the collaborative relationship in research and researcher mobility that exists between the US and Iran. The US and Iran have been benefiting from this collaborative relationship which has been the strongest of all the 6 countries according to the Elsevier’s. However, with Iran selected as one of the countries targeted by the travel ban this relationship is expected to be damaged effecting universities around the world.

Data from Elsevier’s SciVal and Scopus databases show how strong the research ties are between the US and Iran. The following is the Elsevier data as reported in The Times Higher Education:

  • US academic relationships with Iran are by far the strongest of the seven nations targeted by the order. In fact, the US and Iran have had a long history of maintaining close academic relations and collaborating in research endeavors as far back as the 1960’s.
  • Between 2011 and 2015, US researchers co-authored 8,821 papers with Iranian scientists. (Note: This makes Iran the US’s 36th closest collaborator in research, close behind the Republic of Ireland.)
  • US-Iran co-authored papers had a field-weighted citation impact (widely regarded as an indicator of the quality of research) of 1.84. This compares with a citation impact of 1.46 for US-only authored papers and 0.84 for Iran-only authored papers. The world average is about 1.0.
  • Medicine, engineering and physics and astronomy are the main fields in which US and Iranian researchers collaborate.
  • 1,500 Iranian researchers active in publications have moved to the US long term since 1996.
  • The average field-weighted citation impact of these Iranian researchers who moved to the US is 1.93, well above the average for researchers who remain in Iran (0.88) and marginally above the average for researchers who do not leave the US (1.92).
  • Another 2,900 Iranian researchers were classed as “transitory” and spending most of their time in the US in that period, with an even higher average field-weighted citation impact of 2.21.
  • According to the Institute of International Education, Iran was the 11th largest country of origin for international students enrolling at US universities and colleges in 2015-16. Iranian student enrolment increased by 8.2 per cent to 12,269, “the highest US enrollment by Iranians in 29 years”, the IIE said in its 2016 Open Doors

If the US limits entry to Iranian national, the number of internationally co-authored papers will decline and in turn effect the quality of its research.

Links:

List of Iranian-Americans in Silicon Valley and Beyond: https://www.forbes.com/sites/elizabethmacbride/2015/12/20/100-influential-iranian-americans-in-silicon-valley-and-beyond/#7f97aeb37c2f

List of Prominent Iranian-Americans:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Iranian_Americans

https://ir.usembassy.gov/education-culture/prominent-iranian-americans/

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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What I Learned From Oliver Sacks (1933–2015)

September 3rd, 2015

Oliver-Sacks
Author and neurologist, Oliver Sacks. (Photo by Adam Scourfield/ABC News)

I was deeply saddened to learn that Oliver Sacks (b. 1933–2015) had succumbed to the cancer that he announced this past February. He was 82-years young.

The sheer number of obituaries penned over the past few days remembering this gifted author and neurologist for his immense contribution to the field made me recall how differently I learned to understand the situations of people suffering with neurological challenges.

th-17

I was a Los Angeles County Beach lifeguard from 1965–2000 and had many interesting experiences during that long period. I once suggested an apartment to a lifeguard colleague, who was looking for a place in Santa Monica. It was an upstairs unit of a four-plex that I had once lived in on Third Street, where a friend of mine, a law student, lived in the unit below. Unfortunately, the trouble began from the moment my lifeguard friend moved in. He’d scream out expletives at two, three or four o’clock in the morning, until finally my downstairs law student friend confronted him with a baseball bat, thinking these outbursts were willful. Unfortunately, most people back in the early 1970s didn’t know about Oliver Sacks’ writings on Tourette’s as a neurological syndrome. My lifeguard friend moved out shortly thereafter.

Much later, there was a sweet guy who attended the music salons in my former home in Venice. He always sat upstairs and would occasionally issue a loud salvo of profane words from his perch. After awhile, the class came to think nothing of it. It wasn’t until later that I realized that he had Tourettes as well—this was back in the early 1990s.

Oliver Sacks actually informed a good deal of what many of us know today about Tourette’s syndrome. Whereas people exhibiting symptoms are often regarded as pariahs, Sacks opened our eyes to the fact that such unbridled impulses of the afflicted can often be channeled into prized assets, in the form of preternatural bursts of creativity or heightened reflexes.

I appreciated Sacks’s love of music, which he expressed so movingly in his book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. Like him, I am a musicophile or a mélomane, as it’s called in French. He loved the music of Mozart and was himself a superb pianist. Sacks wrote about other musicophiles as well as those on the other end of the spectrum, people with amusia, for whom the music of Mozart sounded cacophonous. He even went so far as to subject himself to a CAT scan, for the purpose of studying his own brain activity while listening to both classical music (he loved) and heavy metal (he hated). He was also intrigued by people–including accomplished musicians, classical players who, despite their grasp of music, could derive no emotion or pleasure from music.

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Sacks showed us how music can reach the most severe dementia patients, and that music is hard-wired into the brain. And, like fellow author and researcher Daniel Levitin (This is Your Brain on Music) Sacks believed that music preceded speech in ancient man and helped create the brain development that made speech possible. In 2006, in a speech at Columbia University, Sacks stated “I think we are a an essentially, profoundly musical species”. Sacks’s studies on Alzheimer’s patients showed us the power that music can have. In the documentary film, Alive Inside, elderly patients frozen in a sort of catatonic state were suddenly awakened by the sound of musical memories.

Read more about Oliver Sacks in Michiko Kakutani’s eloquent New York Times tribute to him

toms

Tom Schnabel, M.A.

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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20 lessons to learn from Finland

January 10, 2013

Finland

Finland’s education reforms which were implemented 40 years ago have helped place its school system at the top in all the global rankings for education systems. Despite the differences between Finland and the U.S., it continues to surpass other countries with similar size and demography.

Here is a list of 20 facts about Finland’s education system gleaned from a piece posted in December 2011 by the Business International which we’ve summarized below:

The Students:
1. Children in Finland start school at age 7.

2. Exams and homework don’t occur and if so, rarely, until they are in their teens.

3. The first six years of education is void of any evaluation/measurement assessments.

4. At age 16, children take a mandatory standardized test

5. All children, despite their learning abilities, are taught together in the same classroom. That is, children are not separated by their aptitude. In fact, once the students have completed their schooling, it’s been shown that the difference between the weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the world.

6. Finland spends approximately 30% less per student than the U.S.

7. 93% of Finns graduate from high school which is about 17.5% more than the U.S.

8. 66% of Finnish students go to college which is the highest rate in Europe.

9. 43% of Finnish high school students attend vocational schools.

10. The size of science classes are kept at the maximum of 16 students so that everyone has the opportunity to participate in practical laboratory experiments.

11. Elementary school students in Finland enjoy 75 minutes of recess each school day while their American counterparts receive an average of 27 minutes.

The Teachers
12. Teachers in the Finnish school system spend 4 hours a day in the classroom and are required to take 2 hours a week for “professional development.”
13. Finland has the same amount of teachers as NYC but fewer students, somewhere in the range of 600,000 students compared to 1.1 million in NYC.

14. In Finland the school system is 100% funded by the government.

15. In order to teach in Finland, teachers must have a master’s degree which is fully subsidized.

16. Teachers are selected from the top 10% of university graduates.

17. In 2008, the average starting salary for a Finnish teacher was $29,000 compared with $36,000 in the U.S. But high school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102% of what other university graduates earn compared to the
U.S. where this figure is 62%.

18. Finland does not have merit pay for its teachers.

19. Teachers in Finland are recognized as having the same status as lawyers and doctors.

20. The national curriculum is only broad guidelines and allows the teachers flexibility to design teaching plans.

What lessons can we learn from Finland?

Related article: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html?c=y&page=2

Alan
Alan A. Saidi
Sr. VP & COO, ACEI, Inc.
www.acei1.com

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20 International Education Hubs: A Global Movement

December 13, 2012

Education Vector Word Cloud

It used to be that if, for example, a student from Malaysia, Singapore, or Indonesia wanted to earn a degree from a university in the United States or the United Kingdom he/she had to attend the university in the county where it was based. But that’s no longer the case. More and more countries are seizing on higher education as way of making it more international, affordable and accessible. Aspiring students seeking a degree from Yale University or MIT or University of Glasgow will no longer need to fly out to the U.S. or U.K., instead they can attend one of the global education hubs that are fast becoming a preferred international destination for students.

What is an “education hub?” According to Global Higher Education, an education hub is a “designated region intended to attract foreign investment, retain local students, build a regional reputation by providing access to high-quality education and training for both international and domestic student, and create a knowledge-based economy…include different combinations of domestic/international institutions, branch campuses, and forming partnerships, within the designated region.”

Competition amongst countries set on establishing global education hubs is fierce and Asia seems to be leading the movement. Some countries pushing forward with plans to be an education hub see it as a cost-effective way for students in the region to receive quality education while some higher education authorities question whether some hubs will be successful or may simply be a fad likely to fizzle and fade. It’s too early to tell. Several of the education hubs already in operation are in countries with proven experience in education-related projects but there are also some little-known aspiring hubs forming which are interesting to watch. There are probably some new hubs being launched as we speak.

Below is a list of 20 education hubs we’re aware of that include the already established, those which are concepts in the making and some up-and-coming ones (#s 15-20):

1. Abu Dhabi http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
2. Dubai Knowledge Village/Dubai International Academic City http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
3. Dubai International Financial Cityhttp://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
4. Dubai Healthy Care City http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
5. Dubai Silicon Oasishttp://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
6. Bahrain http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
7. Kuala Lumpur Education Cityhttp://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
8. Iskandar (Malaysia) http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
9. Singapore’s Global Schoolhouse http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
10. Incehon Free Economic Zone (South Korea) http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
11. Education City (Qatar) http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
12. Republic of Panama – City of Knowledge http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
13. Jeju Global Education City (South Korea) http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/
14. Songdo Global University Campus in the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) (South Korea) http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
15. Doha (Qatar) http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/
16. Manama, Bahrain http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/
17. Fort Clayton, Panama http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/
18. Colombo, Sri Lanka http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/

19. Bangalore, India http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/
20. Bhutan’s Education City http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/

It’s too early to gage the effectiveness and success of these education hubs, but it goes without saying that Western countries, once the destination point of international higher education, are keeping an eye on this global phenomenon and most probably taking notes and learning new strategies. This new approach to bringing the best of the West to the East certainly takes the international mobility of students and the globalization of credentials to another level.

Website to check out for more information on each of the above countries:
http://www.globalhighered.org/edhubs.php
http://www.nafsa.org/_/File/_/ie_julaug12_asia.pdf
http://www.thebhutanese.bt/bhutan-education-city-board-in-place-a-step-closer-to-fruition/
http://monitor.icef.com/2012/08/little-known-aspiring-education-hubs/

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI
www.acei1.com

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Democratizing Higher Education: The Rapidly Changing Face of Online Learning

November 08, 2012

MSc ULOE Wordle

Imagine a world in which the best possible quality in higher education is available to all students, even those in the most remote parts of the planet, and you enter the world of MOOCs. There certainly has been a very intense buzz lately about the efficacy and future potential of MOOCs as the new wave in higher education reform. For those that don’t already know the moniker, MOCCs are “massive open online courses” offered by and in conjunction with some of the highest ranking, most elite universities in the U.S. The rapid rise of these online courses does not diminish the importance of institutions of higher learning, but it surely has begun to shake things up.

Up until now we characterized online learning as “non-traditional” however, there is a paradigm shift happening, as the undemocratic costs of higher learning have reached the breaking point. MOOCs offer a rapidly growing alternative. The trend is overwhelmingly gaining popularity as a way to level the playing field in a world where elite universities have the monopoly on the highest quality education at equally exorbitant prices.

And this is where it gets interesting. Many of the most respected and esteemed universities in the U.S. such as Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, U.C. Berkley and numerous others are involved in collaborative programs with developers to create new web-based interactive learning studies taught by award-winning professors and professionals at top levels in their respective fields. In addition, all of these courses are offered for free or a nominal fraction of the price. Suddenly, the highest quality of education becomes available to students around the globe. With the ability to source free online resources and open-sourced textbooks the price falls even further.

Want credits and a college degree?

Now that we understand the high points of MOOCs we can move onto the controversy surrounding online learning, which has been founded on the fact that although these courses teach an exceptionally high skill set, they do not push students any closer to an academic credential as they receive no official credits for course completion. But, things are changing. The next wave of learning-to- credits is being explored by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Richard DeMillo who is trying to put together a massive, open online seminar in conjunction with other universities, which will actually offer acceptable credits.

An interesting article on MOOCs appeared in September of this year on the website The Chronicle of Higher Education. In it the author Kevin Carey predicted that,”… Some accredited colleges—don’t forget, there are thousands of them—will start accepting MOOC certificates as transfer credit. They’ll see it as a tool for marketing and building enrollment. This is already starting to happen. The nonprofit Saylor Foundation recently struck a deal whereby students completing its free online courses can, for a small fee, take exams to earn credit at Excelsior College, a regionally accredited nonprofit online institution.”

It is interesting to note that Mr. Carey serves as the director of the education-policy program at the New America Foundation, a non-profit public policy institute, which describes itself as,“…New America emphasizes work that is responsive to the changing conditions and problems of our 21st Century information-age economy — an era shaped by transforming innovation and wealth creation, but also by shortened job tenures, longer life spans, mobile capital, financial imbalances and rising inequality.”

Providers such as edX, Coursera, Udacity, Class2Go, Khan Academy and Udemy are exploring how to translate students completed courses into campus credits, by using their earned MOOC credits as a substitute for Advanced Placement. There is also the idea that eventually these online courses will work their way into acceptable credits at universities, which will go towards a final degree. Not unlike the programs in place for transfer credits.

Who makes the money?

And let us not forget that people like profits! But what is fascinating here is that some of the burgeoning startup MOOC providers see eventual profits through creating a database of students who have taken online courses and helping them to get jobs by selling these lists of qualified students to recruiters in their specific geographical areas. Take an MIT course from your home computer in Mumbai and come away with the technical expertise needed to get a job right around the corner!

Connecting directly to these new provider platforms is the very idea that quality education is the most important way to enrich entire communities and to ensure that everyone prospers. This is really nothing new, though it seems to have been pushed to the back of the file drawer. An interesting paper appeared back in March of 2010 published by The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government/ University At Albany –State University of New York, titled A New Paradigm for Economic Development: How Higher Education Institutions Are Working to Revitalize Their Regional and State Economies, by David F. Shaffer and David J. Wright. In it they make the very clear point that,”…The twenty-first century paradigm, in contrast, is shifting toward putting knowledge first. For states, increasingly, that means connecting their higher education systems more closely to their economic development strategies.” For the entire paper see: http://www.rockinst.org/pdf/education/2010-03-18-A_New_Paradigm.pdf

What about quality?

While there is no substitute for the valuable teacher-student interaction, many online courses have begun to make use of social platforms, which allow students to have real time chats, discussion boards, and the ability to set up meetings and join groups in their own communities. This might be one way to alleviate the isolation of online learning.

Many of these institutions have “virtual office hours” and specific online forums that enable students to ask and answer thought provoking questions. Compare this to the normal stadium seating-400 student- classrooms, where not everyone is able to ask a question and not everyone is able to follow at the same pace. The structure of these new online courses offered in multiple languages, allow accessibility to information, which is ever available and can always be replayed until it is understood. In addition, many of these courses use teaching assistants to monitor the various discussion boards as well.

Enter Digital Badges.

And finally a system is being developed in which electronic images or Badges would be earned for completed courses of study, which could follow students throughout their lifetimes, be displayed on various digital forums and used for college applications and later as résumés. These would actually serve as portals of information that students can use providing opportunities based on achievements and competency accrued in “earning their badges.” With companies such as Disney-Pixar, Intel and NASA, Carnegie Mellon and the Smithsonian– to name a few, currently working to develop digital badges, there is a good chance that securely acknowledging and crediting learning achievement is just around the corner.

The badges are going to be loaded with metadata which will include; why the badge was awarded, the skill or achievement it carries and which school or institution awarded it, the teacher who verified the badge, and even the score the student received on the final exam. The badges will carry the power to legitimize learning, which is taking place online, all the time, all over the world. It reinforces the fact that collaborative learning in the classroom and especially online, can be a life long pursuit, and there is no turning back the clock.

For more discussions about the changing nature of higher education check out: http://edfuture.net/blog1/course-topics/

Jeannie Winston Nogai
Owner / Winston Nogai Design
www.jeanniewinston.com / E: jeanniewn@gmail.com

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