VR and AR: Transforming Learning and Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences — from er.educause.edu b

What if a text or work of art is no longer read, but instead, experienced? What new questions are raised when it’s possible to visit an author’s home or stroll through the streets of an ancient city? How will our interpretations of literature, art, history and archaeology change when we are no longer passive recipients but co-constructors and actors in immersive experiences? How will this challenge us to think outside our current learning paradigms? These and other questions arise when we examine the impact of immersive technologies on the humanities and the social sciences.

 

Some examples mentioned there include:

 

 

 

Microsoft joins the VR battle with Windows Mixed Reality [on 10/17/17] — from theverge.com by Tom Warren

Excerpt:

Microsoft is launching its own answer to virtual reality today, taking on HTC and Oculus in the process. Windows Mixed Reality will be available in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, and headsets are now available to buy. Here’s everything you need to know about Windows Mixed Reality.

Microsoft is offering movement tracking (six degrees of freedom) without the need for traditional external sensors placed throughout a room. Windows Mixed Reality headsets have cameras and sensors to track the motion controllers.

Walmart looks to see if virtual shopping is better than the real thing — from washingtonpost.com by Abha Bhattarai

Excerpts:

…Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is setting its sights on virtual reality.  Imagine this, says Katie Finnegan, who heads Walmart’s tech incubator: You need a tent for your next camping trip. If all goes to plan, you could one day virtually swoop in to your campsite and see any given tent in action. “You could unzip it, lay down, look left and right and say, ‘Oh, this is supposed to be a two-person tent? It’s kind of tight,’ ” she said. And then you could move on to the next tent — without leaving your couch.

Here are the five ideas the Bentonville, Ark.-based company says could be making their way online:

  1. 3-D holograms at Bonobos.com, the male clothing site Walmart acquired this year for $310 million, that would make it possible for shoppers to try on virtual clothing for fit and style.
  2. At ModCloth, the women’s clothing site Walmart took over in March, customers may one day be able to take 3-D photos of themselves using their smartphones, and use those images to get an idea of how something might look on.
  3. An “interactive virtual store” for designer Rebecca Minkoff, whose items are sold at Walmart.com, would allow customers to sit in on fashion shows and shop directly from the runway.
  4. Tired of shopping online alone? If Walmart gets its way, you may soon be interacting with other shoppers and experts as you pick out items for your virtual cart.
  5. Electric outlets, stove tops and door handles can all be child safety hazards — and soon, an online tool could peek inside your home and tell you where the biggest risks are lurking.

 

 

 

Explore the surface of Mars from the comfort of your living room — from haptical.com
Google’s new project allows viewers to explore the discoveries of NASA’s Curiosity rover.

Excerpt:

NASA and Google have teamed up to build a new virtual experience that lets space enthusiasts explore the red planet without having to leave their homes. Dubbed as “Access Mars”, the new project virtually transports users, wherever they are, to Earth’s neighboring planet in the solar system.

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese School Opens Full-Function VR Classrooms — from vrfocus.com by Rebecca Hills-Duty
HTC Vive have created a system which allows 50 VR units to work together with no cross-interference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artificial Intelligence in Education: Where It’s At, Where It’s Headed — from gettingsmart.com by Cameron Paterson

Excerpt:

Artificial intelligence is predicted to fundamentally alter the nature of society by 2040. Investment in AI start-ups was estimated at $6-$9 billion in 2016, up from US$415 million four years earlier. While futurist Ray Kurzweil argues that AI will help us to address the grand challenges facing humanity, Elon Musk warns us that artificial intelligence will be our “biggest existential threat.” Others argue that artificial intelligence is the future of growth. Everything depends on how we manage the transition to this AI-era.

In 2016 the Obama administration released a national strategic plan for artificial intelligence and, while we do not all suddenly now need a plan for artificial intelligence, we do need to stay up to date on how AI is being implemented. Much of AI’s potential is yet to be realized, but AI is already running our lives, from Siri to Netflix recommendations to automated air traffic control. We all need to become more aware of how we are algorithmically shaped by our tools.

This Australian discussion paper on the implications of AI, automation and 21st-century skills, shows how AI will not just affect blue-collar truck drivers and cleaners, it will also affect white-collar lawyers and doctors. Automated pharmacy systems with robots dispensing medication exist, Domino’s pizza delivery by drone has already occurred, and a fully automated farm is opening in Japan.

 

Education reformers need to plan for our AI-driven future and its implications for education, both in schools and beyond. The never-ending debate about the sorts of skills needed in the future and the role of schools in teaching and assessing them is becoming a whole lot more urgent and intense.

 

 

 

AI Experts Want to End ‘Black Box’ Algorithms in Government — from wired.com by Tom Simonite

Excerpt:

The right to due process was inscribed into the US constitution with a pen. A new report from leading researchers in artificial intelligence cautions it is now being undermined by computer code.

Public agencies responsible for areas such as criminal justice, health, and welfare increasingly use scoring systems and software to steer or make decisions on life-changing events like granting bail, sentencing, enforcement, and prioritizing services. The report from AI Now, a research institute at NYU that studies the social implications of artificial intelligence, says too many of those systems are opaque to the citizens they hold power over.

The AI Now report calls for agencies to refrain from what it calls “black box” systems opaque to outside scrutiny. Kate Crawford, a researcher at Microsoft and cofounder of AI Now, says citizens should be able to know how systems making decisions about them operate and have been tested or validated. Such systems are expected to get more complex as technologies such as machine learning used by tech companies become more widely available.

“We should have equivalent due-process protections for algorithmic decisions as for human decisions,” Crawford says. She says it can be possible to disclose information about systems and their performance without disclosing their code, which is sometimes protected intellectual property.

 

 

UAE appoints first-ever Minister for Artificial Intelligence — from tribune.com.pk

 

“We announce the appointment of a minister for artificial intelligence. The next global wave is artificial intelligence and we want the UAE to be more prepared for it.”

 

 

Tech Giants Are Paying Huge Salaries for Scarce A.I. Talent — from nytimes.com by Cade Metz
Nearly all big tech companies have an artificial intelligence project, and they are willing to pay experts millions of dollars to help get it done.

Excerpt:

Tech’s biggest companies are placing huge bets on artificial intelligence, banking on things ranging from face-scanning smartphones and conversational coffee-table gadgets to computerized health care and autonomous vehicles. As they chase this future, they are doling out salaries that are startling even in an industry that has never been shy about lavishing a fortune on its top talent.

Typical A.I. specialists, including both Ph.D.s fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock, according to nine people who work for major tech companies or have entertained job offers from them. All of them requested anonymity because they did not want to damage their professional prospects.

With so few A.I. specialists available, big tech companies are also hiring the best and brightest of academia. In the process, they are limiting the number of professors who can teach the technology.

 

 

 

Where will AI play? By Mike Quindazzi.

 

 

 

 

Google unveils job training initiative with $1 billion pledge  — from nytimes.com by Daisuke Wakabayashi

Excerpt:

SAN FRANCISCO — Google unveiled an initiative on Thursday to help train Americans for jobs in technology and committed to donating $1 billion over the next five years to nonprofits in education and professional training.

The new program, Grow With Google, will create an online destination for job seekers to get training and professional certificates and for businesses to improve their web services. The company’s goal, executives said, is to allow anyone with an internet connection to become proficient with technology and prepare for a job in areas like information technology support and app development.

Google detailed its job training program as Silicon Valley faces increasing criticism over what some say is an unchecked influence over business and society. Google is also among a number of companies facing scrutiny over the role their internet services played in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, unveiled the initiative during a speech on Thursday in the company’s Pittsburgh office, far from the search giant’s Silicon Valley headquarters. He noted the city’s transformation from an industrial manufacturing center for steel to a hub of robotics and artificial intelligence engineering.

“We understand there’s uncertainty and even concern about the pace of technological change, but we know that technology will be an engine of America’s growth for years to come,” Mr. Pichai said. “The nature of work is fundamentally changing, and that is shifting the link between education, training and opportunity.”

 

 

 

10 really hard decisions coming our way — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Things are about to get interesting. You’ve likely heard that Google’s DeepMind recently beat the world’s best Go player. But in far more practical and pervasive ways, artificial intelligence (AI) is creeping into every aspect of life–every screen you view, every search, every purchase, and every customer service contact.

What’s happening? It’s the confluence of several technologies–Moore’s law made storage, computing, and access devices almost free.

This Venn diagram illustrates how deep learning is a subset of AI and how, when combined with big data, can inform enabling technologies in many sectors. For examples, to AI and big data add:

  • Robotics, and you have industry 4.0.
  • Cameras and sensor package, and you have self-driving cars.
  • Sensors and bioinformatic maps, and you have precision medicine.

While there is lots of good news here–diseases will be eradicated and clean energy will be produced–we have a problem: this stuff is moving faster than civic infrastructure can handle. Innovation is outpacing public policy on all fronts. The following are 10 examples of issues coming at us fast that we (in the US in particular) are not ready to deal with.

  1. Unemployment.
  2. Income inequality.
  3. Privacy
  4. Algorithmic bias.
  5. Access.
  6. Machine ethics. 
  7. Weaponization. 
  8. Humanity. 
  9. Genome editing.
  10. Bad AI.

 


From DSC:
Readers of this blog will know that I’m big on pulse-checking the pace of technological change — because it has enormous ramifications for societies throughout the globe, as well as for individuals, workforces, corporations, jobs, education, training, higher education and more. Readers of this blog will again hear me say that the pace of change has changed. We’re now on an exponential pace/trajectory (vs. a slow, steady, linear path).

“Innovation is outpacing public policy on all fronts.”

How true this is. Our society doesn’t know how to deal with this new pace of change. How shall we tackle this thorny issue?

 


 

 

 

 

5 predictions on the future of the Internet of Things — from us.norton.com

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

1. By 2020, it is estimated that there will be up to 21 billion connected devices
Over 3.9 billion connected devices were in use worldwide in 2016. According to Gartner, Internet of Things (IoT) devices look like they’re here to stay. In 2015, there were approximately 4.9 million things connected to the internet. That number went from millions to billions in one year.

2. Hackers will continue to use IoT devices to facilitate DDoS attacks

3. More cities will become “smart”


4. Artificial intelligence will really become a “thing”


5. Routers will become more secure and “smarter”

 

 

 

Online Guide Helps Students Learn How to Create Immersive Media — from thejournal.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

Now the two organizations have produced a free online guide that covers tools and resources to help students undertake 360-degree production. Among the topics: how to identify the “big ideas” worth exploring and personalize them; how to do 360-degree recording and handle pre-production, production and post-production; and how to share the film “with the world” and assess its impact. There’s also an educator resource on integrating video production into the curriculum.

 

free online guide for creating 360-degree recordings

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

Freelancers predicted to become the U.S. workforce majority within a decade, with nearly 50% of millennial workers already freelancing, annual “Freelancing in America” study finds — from globenewswire.com, by Upwork and Freelancers Union
Freelance workforce growth is accelerating and has outpaced overall U.S. workforce growth by 3x since 2014
Work is changing rapidly, FIA finds, due to the impacts of automation, and freelancers are better equipped for the future due to more frequent reskilling

Excerpt:

NEW YORK and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Oct. 17, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Upwork and Freelancers Union today released the results of “Freelancing in America: 2017” (FIA), the most comprehensive measure of the U.S. independent workforce. The fourth annual study estimates that 57.3 million Americans are freelancing (36 percent of the U.S. workforce) and contribute approximately $1.4 trillion annually to the economy, an increase of almost 30% since last year. Full study results are available here.

 

Click this image to access a variety of sizes of this image

 

Most notable findings reveal:

  • Freelancers are better prepared for the future – As work changes, 54 percent of the U.S. workforce said they’re not very confident that work they do will exist in 20 years. Reskilling is therefore critical. 55 percent of freelancers participated in skill-related education in the last six months versus only 30 percent of non-freelancers.
  • The majority of the U.S. workforce will soon freelance – At its current growth rate, we will reach this milestone by 2027.
  • People are increasingly freelancing by choice – Asked whether they started freelancing more by choice or necessity, 63 percent of freelancers said by choice — up 10 points (from 53 percent) since 2014.
  • Stability is being redefined – Freelancers increasingly think that having a diversified portfolio of clients is more secure than one employer (63 percent agree, up 10 points since 2016) and have an average of 4.5 clients per month.
  • While finances are a challenge for all, freelancers experience a unique concern — income predictability. The study found that, with the ebbs and flows of freelancing, full-time freelancers dip into savings more often (63 percent at least once per month versus 20 percent of full-time non-freelancers).

 

 



Also see the study at:



 

 

From DSC:
Seriously folks, what does this mean for our curriculum?

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Some of the largest waves of change that are hitting the beaches of numerous societies throughout the globe are coming from technological changes such as:

  • Artificial intelligence (which includes things like machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, personal assistants, bots, algorithms, and the like)
  • Big data and analytics
  • Robotics
  • The digital transformation of businesses
  • New forms of human computer interaction such as virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality
  • Mobile computing
  • Cloud computing
  • The Internet of Things
  • Wearables
  • …and more

But in all of these developments, what is common amongst them is that the pace of change has changed. It’s much faster now. In fact, we are no longer on a linear path of slow, steady, incremental changes. We are now on an exponential trajectory – or pace – of change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This new pace of change is starting to have profound implications for societies, individuals, institutions of higher education, and workforces throughout the globe. Some of these ramifications include:

  • Profound modifications to the existing workforce; in some cases, staff reductions
  • New fields, new positions
  • New skillsets that require highly-educated individuals as well as a massive amount of additional training for existing employees
  • New methods of learning and the requirement for lifelong, constant learning from here on out
  • The need to become more responsive and nimble
  • The need to pulse-check a variety of landscapes to ascertain the best potential strategies to pursue (in light of the potential upcoming scenarios)

Yet the changes aren’t just arising from technological changes. For institutions of higher education, there have been other areas of change that bring with them significant impact, such as:

  • Decreases in state funding
  • The increasing costs of healthcare and benefits for faculty, staff, and administrators
  • Headwinds from demographic-related declines (depending upon one’s geographic location)
  • Aging facilities and infrastructures
  • …and more.

Navigating these rough waters is not easy. But the key questions now are:

  • Is your institution poised to ride the waves of change or is it about to get crushed by these same waves?

 

  • Is someone at your organization looking out for these oncoming waves?
    That is, is someone pulse-checking a variety of landscapes to ascertain the trends that are developing, trends that could significantly impact your institution and/or your students?

 

  • What are some of the ways that your organization could respond to these waves of change to positively impact the following parties?
    • Your organization
      What new programs could be offered at your institution? How is the level of responsiveness at your institution to these changes?
    • Your students
      Many jobs that your students will have in their futures haven’t even been invented yet. How can you best develop them to be ready for the new, exponential pace of change? How are you helping your graduates who (increasingly) need to come back to your institution and reinvent themselves – quickly, conveniently, and cost-effectively?
    • Your employees
      Given all of this change, the professional growth of your own faculty members, staff, and members of your administration is extremely important. How are you looking after their growth?

 

  • Would you use the word “innovative” to describe the culture of your organization? That is, is your institution willing to experiment and take some calculated risks? To take no action or risks in the current environment is likely the biggest risk of all.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
In Part I, I looked at the new, exponential pace of change that colleges, community colleges and universities now need to deal with – observing the enormous changes that are starting to occur throughout numerous societies around the globe. If we were to plot out the rate of change, we would see that we are no longer on a slow, steady, incremental type of linear pathway; but, instead, we would observe that we are now on an exponential trajectory (as the below graphic from sparks & honey very nicely illustrates).

 

 

How should colleges and universities deal with this new, exponential pace of change?

1) I suggest that you ensure that someone in your institution is lifting their gaze and peering out into the horizons, to see what’s coming down the pike. That person – or more ideally, persons – should also be looking around them, noticing what’s going on within the current landscapes of higher education. Regardless of how your institution tackles this task, given that we are currently moving at an incredibly fast pace, this trend analysis is very important. The results from this analysis should immediately be integrated into your strategic plan. Don’t wait 3-5 years to integrate these new findings into your plan. The new, exponential pace of change is going to reward those organizations who are nimble and responsive.

2) I recommend that you look at what programs you are offering and consider if you should be developing additional programs such as those that deal with:

  • Artificial Intelligence (Natural Language Processing, deep learning, machine learning, bots)
  • New forms of Human Computer Interaction such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality
  • User Experience Design, User Interface Design, and/or Interaction Design
  • Big data, data science, working with data
  • The Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications, sensors, beacons, etc.
  • Blockchain-based technologies/systems
  • The digital transformation of business
  • Freelancing / owning your own business / entrepreneurship (see this article for the massive changes happening now!)
  • …and more

3) If you are not already doing so, I recommend that you immediately move to offer a robust lineup of online-based programs. Why do I say this? Because:

  • Without them, your institution may pay a heavy price due to its diminishing credibility. Your enrollments could decline if learners (and their families) don’t think they will get solid jobs coming out of your institution. If the public perceives you as a dinosaur/out of touch with what the workplace requires, your enrollment/admissions groups may find meeting their quotas will get a lot harder as the years go on. You need to be sending some cars down the online/digital/virtual learning tracks. (Don’t get me wrong. We still need the liberal arts. However, even those institutions who offer liberal arts lineups will still need to have a healthy offering of online-based programs.)
  • Online-based learning methods can expand the reach of your faculty members while offering chances for individuals throughout the globe to learn from you, and you from them
  • Online-based learning programs can increase your enrollments, create new revenue streams, and develop/reach new markets
  • Online-based learning programs have been proven to offer the same learning gains – and sometimes better learning results than – what’s being achieved in face-to-face based classrooms
  • The majority of pedagogically-related innovations are occurring within the online/digital/virtual realm, and you will want to have built the prior experience, expertise, and foundations in order to leverage and benefit from them
  • Faculty take their learning/experiences from offering online-based courses back into their face-to-face courses
  • Due to the increasing price of obtaining a degree, students often need to work to help get them (at least part of the way) through school; thus, flexibility is becoming increasingly important and necessary for students
  • An increasing number of individuals within the K-12 world as well as the corporate world are learning via online-based means. This is true within higher education as well, as, according to a recent report from Digital Learning Compass states that “the number of higher education students taking at least one distance education course in 2015 now tops six million, about 30% of all enrollments.”
  • Families are looking very closely at their return on investments being made within the world of higher education. They want to see that their learners are being prepared for the ever-changing future that they will encounter. If people in the workforce often learn online, then current students should be getting practice in that area of their learning ecosystems as well.
  • As the (mostly) online-based Amazon.com is thriving and retail institutions such as Sears continue to close, people are in the process of forming more generalized expectations that could easily cross over into the realm of higher education. By the way, here’s how our local Sears building is looking these days…or what’s left of it.

 

 

 

4) I recommend that you move towards offering more opportunities for lifelong learning, as learners need to constantly add to their skillsets and knowledge base in order to remain marketable in today’s workforce. This is where adults greatly appreciate – and need – the greater flexibility offered by online-based means of learning. I’m not just talking about graduate programs or continuing studies types of programs here. Rather, I’m hoping that we can move towards providing streams of up-to-date content that learners can subscribe to at any time (and can drop their subscription to at any time). As a relevant side note here, keep your eyes on blockchain-based technologies here.

5) Consider the role of consortia and pooling resources. How might that fit into your strategic plan?

6) Consider why bootcamps continue to come onto the landscape.  What are traditional institutions of higher education missing here?

7) And lastly, if one doesn’t already exist, form a small, nimble, innovative group within your organization — what I call a TrimTab Group — to help identify what will and won’t work for your institution.

 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
I know Quentin Schultze from our years working together at Calvin College, in Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA). I have come to greatly appreciate Quin as a person of faith, as an innovative/entrepreneurial professor, as a mentor to his former students, and as an excellent communicator. 

Quin has written a very concise, wisdom-packed book that I would like to recommend to those people who are seeking to be better communicators, leaders, and servants. But I would especially like to recommend this book to the leadership at Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, Nvidia, the major companies developing robots, and other high-tech companies. Why do I list these organizations? Because given the exponential pace of technological change, these organizations — and their leaders — have an enormous responsibility to make sure that the technologies that they are developing result in positive changes for societies throughout the globe. They need wisdom, especially as they are working on emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), personal assistants and bots, algorithms, robotics, the Internet of Things, big data, blockchain and more. These technologies continue to exert an increasingly powerful influence on numerous societies throughout the globe today. And we haven’t seen anything yet! Just because we can develop and implement something, doesn’t mean that we should. Again, we need wisdom here.

But as Quin states, it’s not just about knowledge, the mind and our thoughts. It’s about our hearts as well. That is, we need leaders who care about others, who can listen well to others, who can serve others well while avoiding gimmicks, embracing diversity, building trust, fostering compromise and developing/exhibiting many of the other qualities that Quin writes about in his book. Our societies desperately need leaders who care about others and who seek to serve others well.

I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Quin’s book. There are few people who can communicate as much in as few words as Quin can. In fact, I wish that more writing on the web and more articles/research coming out of academia would be as concisely and powerfully written as Quin’s book, Communicate Like a True Leader: 30 Days of Life-Changing Wisdom.

 

 

To lead is to accept responsibility and act responsibly.
Quentin Schultze

 

 

 

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

© 2017 | Daniel Christian