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Written by Knewton

August 24, 2010 at 7:53 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Video games and failure-based learning

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I used to teach afterschool in City of New York/Parks & Recreation’s Computer Resource Center program. Kids in the program spent a lot of time playing educational games like Logical Journey Of The Zoombinis and The Incredible Machine.

The kids would literally fight with each other to get to be the first to play these games, with an intensity that surprised me. I mean, the games are fun and everything, but they were nonviolent, with less-than state of the art graphics and no recognizable characters from TV or movies. The educational content was rarely disguised as “fun,” and yet, kids who snoozed through math class were riveted by the exact same content when it was presented in the context of Treasure Mathstorm. Read the rest of this entry »

The Halls and the Oateses

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Try your hand at this question:

Two family reunions are happening at the same hotel, the Oates reunion and the Hall reunion. All 100 guests at the hotel attend at least one of the reunions. If 40 people attend the Oates reunion and 62 people attend the Hall reunion, how many people attend both reunions?

(A)  2
(B)  5
(C)  10
(D)  16
(E)  22

Answer after the jump.

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Written by Knewton

November 6, 2009 at 4:01 PM

Business-like approach to GMAT math

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Nathan Burke is a Math Content Developer at Knewton, specializing in GMAT prep.

The GMAT quantitative section is different from most math tests. You don’t usually see Data Sufficiency questions outside the GMAT, for one thing. They’re tricky, and mastering them requires a high level of familiarity. The good news is that the answer choices are the same for every question, and precise calculations are often unnecessary.

Then there are the word problems. All that text takes a long time to read. With 37 questions to do within a scant 75-minute period, you have an average of about two minutes to answer each question. It can be nerve-racking to spend almost half of this precious time just parsing out questions that are essentially prose versions of a company’s balance sheet.

photo by stuartpilbrow

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Written by Knewton

November 4, 2009 at 11:58 PM

Non-Native English Speakers and the GMAT

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Ethan Hein is an editor and social media guru at Knewton.

As a non-native speaker of English, you may find the verbal section of the GMAT especially daunting. You’re not alone. English is a particularly difficult language to learn as an adult. It’s a blend of several different older languages that still coexist uneasily in the grammar and vocabulary. The roots of English in German rub uneasily against its roots in Latin in ways that resist intuition. A lot of “wrong” usage by non-native speakers is more logical than correct usage. Knowing some of the back story can hopefully make you feel less frustrated as you try to absorb it all.

England wasn’t even the first home of English. In ancient times the people there spoke indigenous languages that are the precursors to Irish and Welsh. When Germanic tribes invaded, they pushed the indigenous British tongues to the corners of what are now the British Isles. Old English was a blend of German and Scandinavian languages. A few Latin words also entered via the Germanic tribes’ long interaction with the Roman Empire.

When the Norman French invaded and conquered England in the 11th century, they brought their Latin-based language with them. While common people continued to speak their German-based language, the ruling class used the Latin-based vocabulary and grammar of French. Eventually the two blended to form a single language, but divisions remain. German-based English words have a “lower,” more casual connotation, while French-based words sound more formal. Compare the Germanic “sweat” to the Latinate “perspiration,” or Germanic “friendly” with the Latinate “cordial.”

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Written by Knewton

November 2, 2009 at 2:20 PM

Be brave, go ahead and divide by zero

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Ethan Hein is a content editor and social media guru at Knewton.

When you learned division in school, the teacher probably brushed off the issue of dividing by zero in one sentence: you can’t do it, moving on. You might feel like you got shortchanged by that explanation. Why not? What happens when you divide by zero?

You can’t ask the computer. Computers fail when you ask them questions with no unambiguous answer. Dividing by zero is just such a question. Folklore suggests that asking the computer to divide by zero makes it spectacularly explode or something. In reality, it returns an error message or the reply Not A Number, or it gives a wrong answer, or the program terminates, or sometimes the machine falls into an infinite loop.

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Written by Knewton

October 30, 2009 at 3:06 PM

Knewton’s expanding Twitter presence

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In addition to Knewton’s main Twitter account, you can now connect with team members individually. Click an image to follow that person’s Twitter.

Lead Verbal Developer for Graduate Programs Alex Sarlin:

Associate Product Manager Sara Petry:

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Written by Knewton

October 27, 2009 at 10:23 PM