New ways of presenting education in the twenty-first century.

  • Socos: Hacking Education November 19, 2017
    While Over Coffee® is on hiatus through the Christmas holidays, we’re rebroadcasting some of our most popular episodes of 2017. Thank you for listening–and be sure to be with us for our coverage of CES 2018!
    Socos co-founder Dr. Vivienne Ming

    Vivienne Ming at SRK Headshot Day in San Francisco
    (Photograph courtesy of Scott R. Kline, and used with permission.)

    Can learning outcomes be predicted, just by the way students talk among themselves?  And, can both learning and life outcomes be changed by some minor daily “tweaks”?

    Yes to both questions, says neuroscientist and entrepreneur Dr. Vivienne Ming–who is also a mom.

    Vivienne and her wife Norma are the co-founders of Socos, a Bay Area educational technology startup.  And through Socos, they’re guiding parents in ways that enhance a child’s development–and make the learning process an exploration both will enjoy.

    How does this work?  Well,  Socos provides a research-based app called MuseBot, which asks parents a daily question.  Based on the parent’s answer, according to Socos’ website, MuseBot will design a daily activity for the parent and child to do together.  The process is based on a philosophy stated on Socos’ website: the goal of fostering “metalearners”actively involved in their own educational process, as opposed to simply absorbing another’s teachings in a passive manner.

    But small children aren’t the only ones benefiting from the metalearning goals.  Socos is also developing projects colleges and online universities, to maximize learning.  And while MuseBot is a commercial product, Vivienne also makes it available to low-income families, through her nonprofit organization.

    Vivienne talked about her background, discussed her experiences co-founding Socos with Norma (who is an educational expert) and shared a story of how she used the process with her own young daughter.

    On this edition of Over Coffee®, you’ll hear:
    • Vivienne’s journey towards her current career as a scientist, entrepreneur and educational pioneer;
    • How an undergraduate machine-learning project ultimately inspired her to use AI to improve the educational field;
    • The steps Vivienne and Norma took towards their current work in making a difference in students’ lives and futures;
    • How the Muse software evolved from their experience and research;
    • The philosophy behind MuseBot and the ways it’s revolutionizing education;
    • How parents can apply MuseBot to maximize a child’s learning outcomes;
    • How low-income organizations can use MuseBot–at no charge.
    • A MuseBot intervention Vivienne put to work to awaken her five-year-old daughter’s interest in science;
    • How Socos is developing MuseBot for older children and young adults;
    • What adults can do, today, to maximize their potential–and one of the biggest predictors of future success.



  • Charting a Course to the Future August 12, 2017

    Rourke Pattullo on autonomousvehicles workshop panel

    Autonomous vehicles will soon become an everyday reality.

    And Michigan Applied Robotics Group co-founder Rourke Pattullo is–quite literally–involved in the mechanics of getting them there.

    Rourke is an undergraduate in Electrical Engineering and Electronics at the University of Michigan–one of the nation’s top schools, in the field of robotics.  He’s also the vice-president of UM:: Autonomy, the university’s autonomous boat team.

    Every year, UM: Autonomy constructs an autonomous boat, and competes in the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation Roboboat competition.

    autonomous vehciles Panel3, Sensors 17

    At Sensors 2017’s June “Automotive and Autonomous Vehicles Sensors Workshop”, in San Jose, Rourke explained that the technology involved in autonomous boats is also highly effective for self-driving cars.

    Presently, the University of Michigan has on-campus autonomous shuttles, and a 32-acre research facility, “Mcity”, dedicated to the testing of self-driving cars.

    And they’re taking the development of “smart” vehicles much further.

    University of Michigan is currently planning a four-story, 140,000-square-foot robotics facility on its north campus.  According to their website, the new building is slated for completion in 2019.  The Ford Motor company, which has given the College of Engineering a $15 million gift, plans to establish an on-campus research laboratory on the fourth floor of the new facility.  And in a July post on their website, UM announced plans for “M-Air”, a new outdoor drone complex to be completed by the end of the year.

    Rourke talked about his background, shared the story of the Michigan Applied Robotics Group and talked about some of the considerations involved, in developing autonomous vehicles.

    On this edition of Over Coffee®, you’ll hear:
    • How Rourke’s background led to his interest in autonomous vehicles;
    • The test conditions self-driving cars face, in “Mcity”;
    • Some of the technologies that may enable future self-driving cars;
    • How the Michigan Applied Robotics Group came into being;
    • How UM Autonomy used their problem-solving skills to implement a critical technology for autonomous boats;
    • The first areas in which UM students learn, while constructing autonomous vehicles;
    • Some of the obstacles researchers have found, to making self-driving vehicles a daily reality;
    • The two reactions Rourke hears from the general public, about the idea of autonomous vehicles;
    • Myths, versus the realities, of autonomous vehicles;
    • Rourke’s favorite funny experience, which illustrates one of the “human-nature” obstacles to implementing self-driving cars;
    • Some of the considerations involved in implementing autonomous vehicles in urban areas;
    • Rourke’s projections of the role of autonomous vehicles in two different areas, ten years in the future;
    • How engineers are designing self-driving cars to deal with weather challenges;
    • AND–how some overseas technologies may affect the “smart” vehicles of the future.



  • Virtually Revolutionizing Science Studies May 27, 2017
    Aaron Knox of Labster

    (Photograph courtesy of Elisabeth Eriksrud Glomseth, and used with permission.)

    For many of us, “biology class” and “fun” never used to be synonymous.

    Enter Labster: an award-winning virtual-reality science lab.

    Labster combines scientific expertise with computer-gaming scenarios.  And the result?  Students enjoying science class and seeing, first-hand, how scientific principles apply to the “real world”.  They’re also learning at an exciting rate, where they “tuned out” before.   This virtual-reality lab is currently part of the curriculum in more thatn 150 colleges and universities, worldwide.  Their clients include Harvard, MIT and the University of Hong Kong.

    Aaron Knox is Labster’s Vice President of Customer Development.  He talked about the creation of Labster’s award-winning virtual lab simulations, some of the current applications, and the directions in which the team wants to take their revolutionary program in the future.

    On this version of Over Coffee®, you’ll hear:
    • How Labster first came into being;
    • What students experience when working with the virtual-reality science lab;
    • A surprising study on student outcomes;
    • A new educational tool currently in development for the virtual labs;
    • Some of the new upcoming digital experiences presently in the works;
    • Aaron’s own experiences, after he and his family moved from the U.S. to Denmark;
    • Plans for future virtual-reality labs and simulations;
    • Some of the ways schools can obtain the digital-lab program;
    • How the company is expanding in the United States;
    • Dates for the team’s planned future appearances at conventions in the U.S.

    Labster will be at the 2017 Blackboard World conference, in New Orleans, this summer, from July 25th through 27th.




Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterBuffer this pageShare on RedditShare on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon