Creativity Pool
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John Montgomery
Academic Papers Database Printer Friendly Version
I propose that the national government expend public funds to sponsor scientific research by creating a comprehensive Academic Papers Database. Many journals and data warehouses exist to contain academic papers, but a central data repository would have numerous advantages.
1) Undergraduate students who produce papers for college could have their papers permanantly inducted into the database when submitted for grading in electronic form. Thereafter, University Professors all over the country could execute a text comparison search against papaers already in the database to detect plagarism.
2) Graduate researchers and specialists could search a single Internet source for their research rather than many.
3) The data warehouse would serve as a repository of human knowledge that could be easily archived in permanant (optical) form as a time capsule of the 21st century.
4) We could better share work with other nations and between scientists with a central resource.
5) The government may need to restrict access to certain types of information in order to protect from terrorist attacks. A central warehouse for information can be made secure, but uncontrolled stockpiles of information on nuclear physics, bio-terrorism, explosive chemistry, et cetera could be exploited by the wrong people.
6) Centralized data containment can become a source of public revenue by charging for access time to the database. Naturally, the price would be kept low due to the efficiency of centralized management. Rather than belong to 10 scholarly journals that impose high fees, a researcher can use the comprehensive Academic Papers Archive for one low price.
7) Library science can grow to its fullest potential only when all of the information in human civilization is availible for review by a single administrative organization. The science of classification to facilitate searches requires the broadest possible flexibility to permit interdisciplinary sciences to emerge and grow.
8) Outdated information that is no longer current or valid can be rejected when all the data for a given subject is under central review. Modern research proceeds as fast as individuals can get information about the subject and how it changes ; if the turn around time for experimental ideas improves, science will discover new knoweldge faster.
9) The paper volume of scientific information doubles every decade. To slow this explosion of scholarly effort, we must ensure that people can know what is currently open for investigation all over the world in all fields. That way duplicated effort will be done to verify or disprove results, but never "overdone" by more researchers than are necessary to complete a given task.
10) Textbooks about the subjects of knoweldge can be written once the database gets formed ; a comprehensive database could lead to text books that are the most comprehensive, balanced, and fair treatments of the subjects that can be made.
Reward: I'ld like to be able to surf the Academic Papers Archive to read the latest research in all fields of interest! 

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Suburban Business Units Printer Friendly Version
Suggesting that each suburb in a city should be run as a strategic business unit, with the individual tax collection or a large percentage of it going towards meeting local development needs like education system and unemployment within the same suburb, consequently the more the employement the more the spending budget would increase for the suburb, giving a incentive to the corporator running the suburb to ensure higher employment.
The corporate tax collection from the suburb with a small % retained the rest going to the central pool.
This system could be a prevalent one but from where I come from....we could do with such administration.
Reward: Tell me ways to make it workable 

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John Montgomery
Revolutionizing Education Printer Friendly Version
The University system here in the United States follows traditions that should perhaps be updated as we move into a globally competitive marketplace in the 21st century.
Colleges have experimented with Internet classes and distance learning courses that are aired over television channels. I propose that colleges establish a set of professional quality video taped lecture presentations for standard courses.
The video tapes could be kept in a special section of the university library, duplicated and sold along with textbooks, or even made availible publically through video rental stores such as Blockbuster.
If distance learning is successful, a video-taped lecture should be equally successful or more so. The students may watch their lectures on a television and arrange to speak to a professor in the role of tutor during the professor's office hours during the semester. Thus, a single professor could be on hand to answer questions for hundreds of students without the need to provide lectures. The highest quality lectures could then be mass duplicated so that the lecture experience is superb.
I spotted an article in the 1977 volume of the Journal of Mathematical Sciences in my college library that reported a scientific study comparing traditional education in calculus 1 to self-education by means of textbooks without lectures or other resources. Surprisingly, the outcome of the study showed that the students who studied themselves, from textbooks, without ever setting foot in a classroom, not only scored higher on final exams but learned the material in 2/3 the time. If this can be done for Calculus 1, this can surely be done for other subjects.
Let us support the University system by charging for comprehensive, written, final exams that will give full credit a course whether or not someone has stepped in a classroom. The costs can be adjusted to finance the University operating costs and research efforts. France uses this system - French Universities don't charge for tuition, just for the exams, and their education system is excellent. One who has experience in industry can thus gain from his experience without retraining in fundamentals when he tries to get a degree.
Another aspect of French education is the fact that courses all over the country of France teach a set course curriculum with no electives or course variation in different universities. The French spend a lot of effort to make the curriculum for someone such as a electrical engineer, for example, be everything which it needs to be for an engineer to walk out of school and go to work with all the skills he needs. French engineers work 35 hours a week and match or exceed the productivity of American engineers who work 50-60 hours a week ; people who work in international companies are aware that the productivity of the American worker is characteristically lower than that of foreign workers. I love America and say this only to bring attention to the fact that America has much room for growth in the productivity of the individual - I hope my observation encourages skeptical people to investigate this matter themselves to see the truth of it ; shame falls on people who would brush aside my remarks out of pride in American labor and never try to verify or disprove that I am telling the truth.
In summary, we should video tape high quality college lectures for every course where this can be done ; investigate the use of textbooks alone as learning resources for particular courses suited to this kind of approach ; charge for final exams rather than tuition ; and follow France in standardizing college courses nationally to the highest level of quality appropriate for entering the job market, eliminating electives not "essential" to the training effort.
Reward: I would feel rewarded if widespread discussion of these ideas could result in a commitment to test these plans. 

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