Why higher ed should do more with blockchain tech — from by Dian Schaffhauser
Oral Roberts University recently held a conference to persuade higher education institutions that it’s time to get on board the blockchain train. Its recommendations: Learn about the technology’s potential, test it out and collaborate.

Excerpt:

As CIO Michael Mathews, the event’s organizer, explained, blockchain will be as important to transforming education as the internet was. He said he believes those colleges and universities that jump on the secure public ledger concept early enough and begin testing it out will be the ones who could see the biggest benefits.

Mathews believes blockchain will have the “biggest payback” within an organization’s processes where trust is essential as part of a “value chain”: student application processing, transcript evaluations, articulation agreements. Blockchain “templates” that run in the cloud could replace “entire cumbersome processes”…

 

 

From DSC:
It could easily be that blockchain-based technologies and processes feed into cloud/web-based learner profiles in the future. That’s one aspect of the next generation learning platform that I’m pulse checking — I call it Learning from the Living [Class] Room.

 

Blockchain could be involved with cloud/web-based learner profiles in the future

Blockchain -- something to keep on our radars in higher education

 

Also, from a while back…

Oracle to Launch Blockchain Products This Month — from investopedia.com by Shobhit Seth

Excerpt:

Tech corporations are seeing big opportunities in the blockchain space, and are now in a closely contested race to seize them sooner rather than later.

Oracle Corp. has announced that it will unveil its blockchain software later this month, reports Bloomberg. Oracle will launch its platform-as-a-service blockchain product later this month, which will be followed by launch of the decentralized ledger-based applications next month.

The Redwood City, California-based software giant is already having clients on board for its blockchain offerings. Santiago-based Banco de Chile is one of the early clients that Oracle is working with to record inter-bank transactions on a hyperledger. The world’s second-largest software company is also working with the government of Nigeria, which is aiming to document customs and import duties on a blockchain. Oracle is also hopeful of offering solutions to a large number of pharmaceutical companies to efficiently track and locate batches of drugs to help them reduce the number of recalls. Thomas Kurian, president of product development, said that Oracle’s products will be compatible with other platforms.

 

 

 

 

 

Education startup OnlineDegree.com makes the first year of college tuition-free — from forbes.com by Richard Vedder

Excerpt:

If you were told that an educational institution existed that would enable you to earn a year of college credit at zero financial cost and with minimal hassle –from a for-profit private entrepreneurial venture — you would no doubt be suspicious. I receive several pitches a week from individuals trying to promote all sorts of innovations, so I was especially dubious of this proposition – until I talked to Grant Aldrich, the fellow who helped initiate this project, and after reflecting a bit on modern internet-based businesses.

Hundreds of millions daily use at zero cost an immensely popular social media platform, Facebook. It provides much joy to user’s lives. Moreover, Facebook, Inc. has, of this writing, a market capitalization of $539.6 billion and its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is at age 34, one of the richest people in the world. I suspect Grant Aldrich thinks that the Facebook model can be replicated successfully in higher education. Aldrich’s website (https://onlinedegree.com) will provide users with free, high-quality online college-level courses, financed through advertising, sponsorships, etc., much like Facebook and Google do.

The venture is brand new and modest in scope and is just now ready to launch its project.

 

He is bringing market-based capitalism to higher education without the crutch of government-subsidized student loans.

 

Yet Aldrich claims that he is not out to destroy traditional higher education, but rather to revitalize and support it. Students ultimately would go from his online courses into traditional schools, saving at least 25% of the cost through credit transfer, making traditional education significantly more affordable and viable.

 

 


The information below is from Grant Aldrich, Founder of OnlineDegree.com (emphasis via DSC)


Rather than bypassing traditional universities like the MissionU’s or Coursera’s, we have a disruptive solution to innovate within higher ed to combat student debt and bring students back to a collegiate path.

Here’s the quick summary: At OnlineDegree.com, anyone could receive credit, up to their freshman year of college, completely tuition-free. All from home, on their own schedule, no pressure, and no applications.

We offer students free college-level courses and work with accredited universities across the country to award college credit for the courses students take.  With many options to complete their entire freshman year equivalence, there are potential pathways to receive up to 44 units of recommended semester credit at over 1,400 colleges throughout the US…and growing.

By understanding the predicament that working adults have, it’s obvious that the current educational system hasn’t made it simple or easy enough for them to go back to school.  They’re busy, can’t afford it, and have a lot of anxiety taking the first step.  We’re changing that.

Further information is below.



Who Are We?

OnlineDegree.com is a team of startup veterans, leading academics and PhDs (from NYU, West Virginia University, Georgetown, etc). We’ve been working for over 2 years to make higher education more affordable and accessible for everyone. It’s been an incredible adventure to combat entrenched roadblocks and norms. More about us here:

How it Works
Students take as many college-level courses as they’d like on gen ed topics like Psychology, Robotics, Computer Programming, Marketing, History and many more…free. We’ve then worked with participating accredited universities across the country like Southern New Hampshire University, Excelsior College and others, so students can receive college credit for the courses they’ve taken. In addition, there are pathways to receive credit at over 1,400 schools in total throughout the US.

Our courses are:

  • Online and Available 24/7 – No class schedules, no fixed times, and completely self-paced.
  • Easy to Get Started- No applications, No entrance exams, and most importantly, No tuition.
  • Interesting and Top Notch- Our professors are experts in their respective fields with PhDs and advanced degrees. The courses are incredibly interesting.
  • Recommended for over 44 units of semester credit by the NCCRS

Why Is This So Disruptive?
Working adults now have a “bridge” to start their path back to school in 1 minute instead of 1 year in some cases…regardless of their finances or busy schedules. They can test drive different courses and subjects on their own schedule, be better prepared for college-level coursework at a university, and potentially receive college credits toward their degree. Given the common unfortunate student perception that applying directly to a community college or 4-year is intimidating, inflexible and/or costly, we’re more like “wading” into the pool rather than expecting everyone to jump in.

How Have We Made It Free?
We will always be 100% free to students…we’re not going to compromise on that. We’re exploring a marketplace for tutoring, Patreon, Kickstarter, university sponsorships/advertising, private grants, and many other avenues. We are bold enough to look outside of the traditional tuition paradigm to ensure we don’t exclude anyone from participating. There are all kinds of ways to keep the lights on without charging students or sacrificing educational quality.

Why Now?
Despite overwhelming demand to go back to school in the face of eroding manufacturing jobs, robot automation, and a quickly modernizing economy, millions of working adults are still not going back to school at a traditional university. The key is to understand the predicaments of the working adult: accessibility and affordability. Other marketplace offers that circumvent higher education have become increasingly popular. We’re solving this by removing all of the barriers to enable that first critical step in starting back towards a traditional university.

 


Also see:

 


 

 

 

ABA set to approve more online credits for law students — from law.com by Karen Sloan
Supporters say allowing J.D. students to take up to one-third of their credits online, including some during their first year, is validation that distance education can work in law schools.

 

7 things lawyers should know about Artificial Intelligence — from abovethelaw.com by Amy Larson
AI is here to make practicing law easier, so keep these things in mind if you’re thinking of implementing it in your practice. 

Excerpt:

6. Adopting AI means embracing change.
If you intend to implement AI technologies into your legal organization, you must be ready for change. Not only will your processes and workflows need to change to incorporate AI into the business, but you’ll also likely be working with a whole new set of people. Whether they are part of your firm or outside consultants, expect to collaborate with data analysts, process engineers, pricing specialists, and other data-driven professionals.

 

 

 


Addendum on 5/18/18:


 

  • Technology & Innovation: Trends Transforming The Legal Industry — from livelaw.in by Richa Kachhwaha
    Excerpt:
    Globally, the legal industry is experiencing an era of transformation. The changes are unmistakable and diverse. Paperwork and data management- long practiced by lawyers- is being replaced by software solutions; trans-national boundaries are legally shrinking; economic forces are re-defining law practices; innovative in-house law departments are driving significant value creation; consumer trends have begun to dominate the legal landscape; …

 

 

 

Students are being prepared for jobs that no longer exist. Here’s how that could change. — from nbcnews.com by Sarah Gonser, The Hechinger Report
As automation disrupts the labor market and good middle-class jobs disappear, schools are struggling to equip students with future-proof skills.

Excerpts:

In many ways, the future of Lowell, once the largest textile manufacturing hub in the United States, is tied to the success of students like Ben Lara. Like many cities across America, Lowell is struggling to find its economic footing as millions of blue-collar jobs in manufacturing, construction and transportation disappear, subject to offshoring and automation.

The jobs that once kept the city prosperous are being replaced by skilled jobs in service sectors such as health care, finance and information technology — positions that require more education than just a high-school diploma, thus squeezing out many of those blue-collar, traditionally middle-class workers.

 

As emerging technologies rapidly and thoroughly transform the workplace, some experts predict that by 2030 400 million to 800 million people worldwide could be displaced and need to find new jobs. The ability to adapt and quickly acquire new skills will become a necessity for survival.

 

 

“We’re preparing kids for these jobs of tomorrow, but we really don’t even know what they are,” said Amy McLeod, the school’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment. “It’s almost like we’re doing this with blinders on. … We’re doing all we can to give them the finite skills, the computer languages, the programming, but technology is expanding so rapidly, we almost can’t keep up.”

 

 

 

For students like Amber, who would rather do just about anything but go to school, the Pathways program serves another function: It makes learning engaging, maybe even fun, and possibly keeps her in school and on track to graduate.

“I think we’re turning kids off to learning in this country by putting them in rows and giving them multiple-choice tests — the compliance model,” McLeod said. “But my hope is that in the pathways courses, we’re teaching them to love learning. And they’re learning about options in the field — there’s plenty of options for kids to try here.”

 

 

 

Blockchain: Is it Good for Education? — from virtuallyinspired.org

Excerpt:

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a public ledger type database made up of records called blocks that are linked together like a chain.  It is a shared unchallengeable ledger for recording the history of transactions. Here, the ledger records the history of academic accomplishments. An education ledger (blockchain) could store academic information such as degrees, diplomas, tests etc. It could be kind of digital transcript.

A Few Potential Applications of Blockchain

  • Learning Credentials Repository – A blockchain database of credentials and achievements can be a secure online repository. Digitized records/blocks replace paper copies for sharing proof of learning and can be easily accessible and tracked. Blockchain can make it easy to access all of your academic accomplishments in a digitized and ultra-secure way. Each record is a block. Your records would be chained together and new credentials will be added as you go throughout your lifetime of learning.
  • Lifelong Learning Building Blocks – Informal learning activities could be captured, validated and stored in addition to formal learning accomplishments. This can be as simple as noting a watched video or completed online lesson. We’re already seeing some universities using blockchain with badges, credits, and qualifications.
  • Authenticating Credentials – Institutions, recruiting firms or employers can easily access and verify credentials. No more gathering of papers or trying to digitize to share. Blocks are digital “learning” records and come in multilingual format eliminating the painstaking task of translation.

What’s more, with diploma mills and fake credentials causing havoc for institutions and employers, blockchain solves the issue by providing protection from fraud. It has two-step authentication and spreads blocks across numerous computer nodes. It would take hitting over 51% of computers to falsify a block.

Sony and IBM have partnered and filed patents to develop a blockchain educational platform that can house student data, their performance reports and other information related to their academic records. Some universities have created their own platforms.

 

 

Also see:

Blockchain in Education — from by Alexander Grech and Anthony F. Camilleri

Context
Blockchain technology is forecast to disrupt any field of activity that is founded on timestamped record-keeping of titles of ownership. Within education, activities likely to be disrupted by blockchain technology include the award of qualifications, licensing and accreditation, management of student records, intellectual property management and payments.

Key Advantages of Blockchain Technology
From a social perspective, blockchain technology offers significant possibilities beyond those currently available. In particular, moving records to the blockchain can allow for:

  • Self-sovereignty, i.e. for users to identify themselves while at the same time maintaining control over the storage and management of their personal data;
  • Trust, i.e. for a technical infrastructure that gives people enough confidence in its operations to carry through with transactions such as payments or the issue of certificates;
  • Transparency & Provenance, i.e. for users to conduct transactions in knowledge that each party has the capacity to enter into that transaction;
  • Immutability, i.e. for records to be written and stored permanently, without thepossibility of modification;
  • Disintermediation, i.e. the removal of the need for a central controlling authority to manage transactions or keep records;
  • Collaboration, i.e. the ability of parties to transact directly with each other without the need for mediating third parties.

 

 

Sony wants to digitize education records using the blockchain

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Regarding the article below…why did it take Udacity needing to team up with Infosys to offer this type of program and curriculum? Where are the programs in institutions of traditional higher education on this?  Are similar programs being developed? If so, how quickly will they come to market? I sure hope that such program development is in progress..and perhaps it is. But the article below goes to show us that alternatives to traditional higher education seem to be more responsive to the new, exponential pace of change that we now find ourselves in.

We have to pick up the pace! To do this, we need to identify any obstacles to our institutions adapting to this new pace of change — and then address them immediately. I see our current methods of accreditation as one of the areas that we need to address. We’ve got to get solid programs to market much faster!

And for those folks in higher ed who say change isn’t happening rapidly — that it’s all a bunch of hype — you likely still have a job. But you need to go talk with some people who don’t, or who’ve had their jobs recently impacted big time. Here are some suggestions of folks to talk with:

  • Taxi drivers who were impacted by Lyft and by Uber these last 5-10 years; they may still have their jobs, if they’re lucky. But they’ve been impacted big time…and are likely driving for Lyft and/or Uber as well as their former employers; they’re likely to have less bargaining power than they used to as the supply of drivers has skyrocketed. (By the way, the very existence of such organizations couldn’t have happened without the smartphone and mobile-related technologies/telecommunications.)
  • Current managers and former employees at hotels/motels about the impacts on their industry by AirBnB over a similar time frame
  • Hiring managers at law firms who’ve cut back on hiring entry-level lawyers…work that’s increasingly being done by software (example)
  • Employees who worked at brick and mortar retailers who have been crushed by Amazon.com’s online-based presence (in not that long of time, by the way). For example, below is what our local Sears store looks like these days…go find an employee who used to work at Sears or a Sears automotive-related store:

 

This is what our local Sears store looks like today

This picture is for those who say there is no disruption.
You call
this hype?!

 

The above example list — that’s admittedly woefully incomplete — doesn’t include the folks displaced by technology over the last several decades, such as:

  • Former bank tellers who lost their jobs to ATMs
  • Checkout clerks at the grocery stores who lost their jobs to self-service stations
  • Check-in agents at the airports who lost their jobs to self-service stations
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Institutions of traditional higher education
need to pick up the pace — big time!

 


Infosys and Udacity team up to train 500 engineers in autonomous technologies — from by Leah Brown
Infosys’ COO Ravi Kumar explains how these individuals can apply what they learn to other industries.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Infosys, a global technology consulting firm, recently partnered with online learning platform Udacity to create a connected service that provides training for autonomous vehicles, and other services for B2B providers of autonomous vehicles.

TechRepublic’s Dan Patterson met with Infosys’ COO Ravi Kumar to discuss how autonomous technology can help create new industries.

Autonomous technology is going to be an emerging technology of the future, Kumar said. So Infosys and Udacity came together and developed a plan to train 500 engineers on autonomous technologies, and teach them how to apply it to other industries.

 

Per Wikipedia:
Udacity is a for-profit educational organization founded by Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens, and Mike Sokolsky offering massive open online courses (MOOCs). According to Thrun, the origin of the name Udacity comes from the company’s desire to be “audacious for you, the student.” While it originally focused on offering university-style courses, it now focuses more on vocational courses for professionals.

 


 

But times are changing. Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are facilitating the automation of a growing number of “doing” tasks. Today’s AI-enabled, information-rich tools are increasingly able to handle jobs that in the past have been exclusively done by people—think tax returns, language translations, accounting, even some kinds of surgery. These shifts will produce massive disruptions to employment and hold enormous implications for you as a business leader. (mckinsey.com)

 


 

 

From DSC:
According to the article below, bootcamps appear to be filling several (perceived and/or real) gaps. Quoting from the article:

Why are students enrolling in coding bootcamps? One reason may be the adaptability of these accelerated computer science programs, where students are taught web and mobile development skills that align with industry demands. Programs are offered in-person or online, providing students with flexible learning options. The payoff is decent too: At a typical coding bootcamp, Course Report estimates average tuition is $11,400 for about 14 weeks of instruction, from which the majority students complete on-time and find relevant jobs.

Cost.

Time.

Responsiveness to industry demands.

Greater flexibility.

These are some of the things for traditional institutions of higher education to grapple with, and I would argue the sooner, the better — before this trend finds its legs and gains even more traction/momentum.

For example, in your own mind/thinking…how long do you think it will take bootcamps to begin offering programs that help learners develop content for augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) — as compared to programs coming out of institutions of traditional higher education?

Whatever your answers are in regards to the reasons for that time difference are likely the exact sort of things institutions need to be working on. For me, at least one of the answers has to do with our current accreditation systems. Other reasons come to my mind as well, but I don’t have time to go there right now.

 


Study: 1 Coding Bootcamp Graduate for Every 3.5 University Grads — from campustechnology.com by Sri Ravipati

Excerpt:

The five-year coding bootcamp industry estimated at $266 million is rapidly expanding, according to a new market study from Course Report.

The study counted 94 full-time coding bootcamps across the United States and Canada (with programs in 74 U.S. cities). Compared to 2012, there will be 10 times as many graduates this year — or roughly one coding bootcamp graduate for every 3.5 graduates from a traditional university or college. Course Report estimates that 22,814 developers will graduate from coding bootcamps this year — an increase from 15,048 graduates last year.

 

 

 

 

In an AI-powered world, what are potential jobs of the future? — from readwrite.com

Excerpt:

With virtual assistants answering our emails and robots replacing humans on manufacturing assembly lines, mass unemployment due to widespread automation seems imminent. But it is easy to forget amid our growing unease that these systems are not “all-knowing” and fully competent.

As many of us have observed in our interactions with artificial intelligence, these systems perform repetitive, narrowly defined tasks very well but are quickly stymied when asked to go off script — often to great comical effect. As technological advances eliminate historic roles, previously unimaginable jobs will arise in the new economic reality. We combine these two ideas to map out potential new jobs that may arise in the highly automated economy of 2030.

 

 

Despite many claims to the contrary, designing a fully autonomous system is incredibly complex and remains far out of reach. For now, training a human is still much cheaper than developing robot replacement.

 

 


From DSC:


Moving forward, perhaps one of the key values/deliverables that higher education will bring to the table will be helping people decide which of the jobs out there are “safe for now and/or into the next decade” and which jobs students should steer clear of (as such positions are already disappearing or will soon be disappearing — to be replaced by robotics, algorithms, AI, and such).*

Along these lines, Tom Vander Ark’s recent posting (below) is akin to what I’m talking about:

Staying Ahead of the Robots: What Grads Should Know and Be Able To Do

Check out this excerpt from Tom’s article:

A recent Pew report on the future of jobs concluded:

Machines are eating humans’ job talents. And it’s not just about jobs that are repetitive and low-skill. Automation, robotics, algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) in recent times have shown they can do equal or sometimes even better work than humans who are dermatologistsinsurance claims adjusterslawyersseismic testers in oil fieldssports journalists and financial reporterscrew members on guided-missile destroyershiring managerspsychological testersretail salespeople, and border patrol agents. Moreover, there is growing anxiety that technology developments on the near horizon will crush the jobs of the millions who drive cars and trucks, analyze medical tests and dataperform middle management choresdispense medicinetrade stocks and evaluate marketsfight on battlefieldsperform government functions, and even replace those who program software – that is, the creators of algorithms.

Now if only we could get our accrediting methods/agencies up to speed (i.e., to become far more responsive), this could be a very valuable service to provide for prospective students in the future.

 


 

 


 

*Addendum added on 8/24/17 — a relevant quote from Cathy Engelbert, Deloitte’s CEO, on 8/22/17

We ultimately need to help today’s workers—drivers, factory workers, and beyond—discover where demand for skills will be in five to 10 years and help them gain the necessary expertise and experience to do them well. Historically, wholesale job retraining has been challenging to scale, but the inexorable nature of this transition demands that we try to help them be productive in an even more digitized world economy. We already have a skills gap; we need to figure out how to digitize and skill those workers to match them with the demand for available jobs. There is a collective dialogue that should be engaged now so we can create meaningful, fulfilling, and productive opportunities for all.

 


 

 

Career Pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Careers calls for states to help students, their families, and employers unpack the meaning of postsecondary credentials and assess their value in the labor market.

Excerpt:

If students are investing more to go to college, they need to have answers to basic questions about the value of postsecondary education. They need better information to make decisions that have lifelong economic consequences.

Getting a college education is one of the biggest investments people will make in their lives, but the growing complexity of today’s economy makes it difficult for higher education to deliver efficiency and consistent quality. Today’s economy is more intricate than those of decades past.

 

From this press release:

It’s Time to Fix Higher Education’s Tower of Babel, Says Georgetown University Report
The lack of transparency around college and careers leads to costly, uninformed decisions

(Washington, D.C., July 11, 2017) — A new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown Center), Career Pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Careers, calls for states to help students, their families, and employers unpack the meaning of postsecondary credentials and assess their value in the labor market.

Back when a high school-educated worker could find a good job with decent wages, the question was simply whether or not to go to college. That is no longer the case in today’s economy, which requires at least some college to enter the middle class. The study finds that:

  • The number of postsecondary programs of study more than quintupled between 1985 and 2010 — from 410 to 2,260;
  • The number of colleges and universities more than doubled from 1,850 to 4,720 between 1950 and 2014; and
  • The number of occupations grew from 270 in 1950 to 840 in 2010.

The variety of postsecondary credentials, providers, and online delivery mechanisms has also multiplied rapidly in recent years, underscoring the need for common, measurable outcomes.

College graduates are also showing buyer’s remorse. While they are generally happy with their decision to attend college, more than half would choose a different major, go to a different college, or pursue a different postsecondary credential if they had a chance.

The Georgetown study points out that the lack of information drives the higher education market toward mediocrity. The report argues that postsecondary education and training needs to be more closely aligned to careers to better equip learners and workers with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy and close the skills gap.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for students to make the right decisions. Since 1980, tuition and fees at public four year colleges and universities have grown 19 times faster than family incomes. Students and families want — and need — to know the value they are getting for their investment.

 

 



Also see:

  • Trumping toward college transparency — from linkedin.com by Anthony Carnevale
    The perfect storm is gathering around the need to increase transparency around college and careers. And in accordance with how public policy generally comes about, it might just happen. 


 

 

 

From DSC:
With the ever increasing usage of artificial intelligence, algorithms, robotics, and automation, people are going to need to reinvent themselves quickly, cost-effectively, and conveniently. As such, we had better begin working immediately on a next generation learning platform — before the other tidal waves start hitting the beach. “What do you mean by saying ‘other tidal waves’ — what tidal waves are you talking about anyway?” one might ask.

Well….here’s one for you:


 

 

New Report Predicts Over 100,000 Legal Jobs Will Be Lost To Automation — from futurism.com by Jelor Gallego
An extensive new analysis by Deloitte estimates that over 100,000 jobs will be lost to technological automation within the next two decades. Increasing technological advances have helped replace menial roles in the office and do repetitive tasks

 


From DSC:
I realize that not all of this is doom and gloom. There will be jobs lost and there will be jobs gained. A point also made by MIT futurists Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson in a recent podcast entitled, “
Want to stay relevant? Then listen up(in which they explain the momentous technological changes coming next–and what you can do to harness them).

But the point is that massive reinvention is going to be necessary. Traditional institutions of higher education — as well as the current methods of accreditation — are woefully inadequate to address the new, exponential pace of change.

 

 

 


 

Here’s my take on what it’s going to take to deliver constantly up-to-date streams of relevant content at an incredibly affordable price.

 


 

 

 

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