It’s Time to Start Thinking Again

So there have been a number of requests (ok, maybe 5) to bring back Deep Plane Thoughts and while I am on planes as much as ever, for some reason the time I spend on planes is now consumed with, you know, real work and not random pontification – as fun as that can be.  I personally blame Gogo internet for this but alas I nearly go into convulsions when I somehow get on a flight without WiFi, so I’m not sure who really is at fault here.

In any case here’s what this is going to turn into.  Every week(ish), I’ll send out what I think is interesting, cool, remarkable, and/or disconcerting of all the stuff I read while pretending to pay attention in meetings.  We’ll call this iteration of my ramblings “The Weekly.”  Without further yammering….

The Weekly – 6/11

Solar Power

Love this.  Solar power is now cheaper than diesel to generate power in India.  First time ever. 

Amazon and TV

Rumors abound about whether Amazon could ‘pull a Kindle’ with TV shows.  In the same way they took ebooks from niche to fairly mainstream, lots of conjecture about them doing the same to TV shows.  Obvious problems comparing books and TV with production costs, rights clearances, etc, but interesting nonetheless.

Higher Ed Interests Me:

Fun Fact: There is over $1Trillion accumulated in Student Loans – more than all credit card debt.  Ouch.

 

The always fun Mark Cuban comparing higher ed to the housing bubble (altho this argument that government money is driving up the cost of college is also refuted other places on the ‘webs) http://blogmaverick.com/2012/05/13/the-coming-meltdown-in-college-education-why-the-economy-wont-get-better-any-time-soon/  

 

NPR’s To The Point – a college recently reduced tuition by 10% by stopping the practice of marking up the sticker price and giving lots of grants.  Biggest cost driver (UW has risen 65% over the past four years, far exceeding inflation save Zimbabwe’s)  is labor, making up 2/3 of the costs.  Explanation: harder and more expensive to hire college educated people as staff and faculty.  Does anyone else see an spiraling loop here? 🙂

 

An absolutely must read study on “for-profit” education systems.  Two years old and I’m told UoPhoenix has made changes to address, but interesting nonetheless.

 

Finally, I got to serve as a judge at LaunchEDU’s startup competition yesterday and loved a new startup that is using Kinect to advance the state-of-the-art in telepresence teaching.  As the conversation around the value of higher ed continues to increase, methods like this (along with the many other Khan Academy-esque approaches) seem to have real merit.  Check their product out at: www.gathereducation.com.  Another great company I saw was http://learnstreet.com which has one of the best online schools for teaching basic coding skills to non-tech peeps.

ChromeBooks – Seriously.  Enough.

My favorite review: http://reviews.cnet.com/laptops/samsung-chromebook-series-5/4505-3121_7-35308790.html.  Ill summarize:

Let’s overprice a celeron(!) machine with 16GB of SSD, throw a browser with a bunch of kludgey hooks to the silicon so it can do things like ‘play media’ and tell you that being connected to the cloud to do everything is awesome.  Except it’s not.  Even.  Close. 

Go away, little turd.  Away.  For giggles, you can see my original review for the Chromebook here – which ranked #1 on Google for the first three days of the Chromebook’s original release for the terms “chromebook review”.  Hee hee.

 

More next week – lots of hotels, planes, and lonely dinners with only my tablet to catch up on reading.

Stefan

 

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