The 2017 Dean’s List: EdTech’s 50 Must-Read Higher Ed Blogs [Meghan Bogardus Cortez at edtechmagazine.com]

 

The 2017 Dean’s List: EdTech’s 50 Must-Read Higher Ed Blogs — from edtechmagazine.com by Meghan Bogardus Cortez
These administrative all-stars, IT gurus, teachers and community experts understand how the latest technology is changing the nature of education.

Excerpt:

With summer break almost here, we’ve got an idea for how you can use some of your spare time. Take a look at the Dean’s List, our compilation of the must-read blogs that seek to make sense of higher education in today’s digital world.

Follow these education trailblazers for not-to-be-missed analyses of the trends, challenges and opportunities that technology can provide.

If you’d like to check out the Must-Read IT blogs from previous years, view our lists from 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.

 

 



From DSC:
I would like to thank Tara Buck, Meghan Bogardus Cortez, D. Frank Smith, Meg Conlan, and Jimmy Daly and the rest of the staff at EdTech Magazine for their support of this Learning Ecosystems blog through the years — I really appreciate it. 

Thanks all for your encouragement through the years!



 

 

 

 

From DSC:
This type of technology could be good, or it could be bad…or, like many technologies, it could be both — depends upon how it’s used. The resources below mention some positive applications, but also some troubling applications.


 

Lyrebird claims it can recreate any voice using just one minute of sample audio — from theverge.com by James Vincent
The results aren’t 100 percent convincing, but it’s a sign of things to come

Excerpt:

Artificial intelligence is making human speech as malleable and replicable as pixels. Today, a Canadian AI startup named Lyrebird unveiled its first product: a set of algorithms the company claims can clone anyone’s voice by listening to just a single minute of sample audio.

 

 

 

 

 

Also see:

 

Imitating people’s speech patterns precisely could bring trouble — from economist.com by
You took the words right out of my mouth

Excerpt:

UTTER 160 or so French or English phrases into a phone app developed by CandyVoice, a new Parisian company, and the app’s software will reassemble tiny slices of those sounds to enunciate, in a plausible simulacrum of your own dulcet tones, whatever typed words it is subsequently fed. In effect, the app has cloned your voice. The result still sounds a little synthetic but CandyVoice’s boss, Jean-Luc Crébouw, reckons advances in the firm’s algorithms will render it increasingly natural. Similar software for English and four widely spoken Indian languages, developed under the name of Festvox, by Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute, is also available. And Baidu, a Chinese internet giant, says it has software that needs only 50 sentences to simulate a person’s voice.

Until recently, voice cloning—or voice banking, as it was then known—was a bespoke industry which served those at risk of losing the power of speech to cancer or surgery.

More troubling, any voice—including that of a stranger—can be cloned if decent recordings are available on YouTube or elsewhere. Researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, led by Nitesh Saxena, were able to use Festvox to clone voices based on only five minutes of speech retrieved online. When tested against voice-biometrics software like that used by many banks to block unauthorised access to accounts, more than 80% of the fake voices tricked the computer.

 

 

Per Candyvoice.com:

Expert in digital voice processing, CandyVoice offers software to facilitate and improve vocal communication between people and communicating objects. With applications in:

Health
Customize your devices of augmentative and alternative vocal communication by integrating in them your users’ personal vocal model

Robots & Communicating objects
Improve communication with robots through voice conversion, customized TTS, and noise filtering

Video games
Enhance the gaming experience by integrating vocal conversion of character’s voice in real time, and the TTS customizing

 

 

Also related:

 

 

From DSC:
Given this type of technology, what’s to keep someone from cloning a voice, putting together whatever you wanted that person to say, and then making it appear that Alexa recorded that other person’s voice?

 

 

 

 

 

You can be sitting ‘courtside’ at NBA games with virtual reality — from mercurynews.com by Bill Oram

Excerpt:

“The result is a really strong sense of presence,” said David Cole, who helped found NextVR as a 3D company in 2009. “A vivid sense.”

 

 

“In some ways, we could still be at a point in time where a lot of people don’t yet know that they want this in VR,” said David Cramer, NextVR’s chief operating officer. “The thing that we’ve seen is that when people do see it, it just blows away their expectations.”

 

 

From DSC:
Hmm…the above piece from The Mercury News on #VR speaks of presence.  A vivid sense of presence.

If they can do this with an NBA game, why cant’ we do this with remote learners & bring them into face-to-face classrooms? How might VR be used in online learning and distance education? Could be an interesting new revenue stream for colleges and universities…and help serve more people who want to learn but might not be able to move to certain locations and/or not be able to attend face-to-face classrooms. Applications could exist within the corporate training/L&D world as well.

 

Also related/see:

 

 

Per X Media Lab:

The authoritative CB Insights lists imminent Future Tech Trends: customized babies; personalized foods; robotic companions; 3D printed housing; solar roads; ephemeral retail; enhanced workers; lab-engineered luxury; botroots movements; microbe-made chemicals; neuro-prosthetics; instant expertise; AI ghosts. You can download the whole outstanding report here (125 pgs).

 

From DSC:
Though I’m generally pro-technology, there are several items in here which support the need for all members of society to be informed and have some input into if and how these technologies should be used. Prime example: Customized babies.  The report discusses the genetic modification of babies: “In the future, we will choose the traits for our babies.” Veeeeery slippery ground here.

 

Below are some example screenshots:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also see:

CBInsights — Innovation Summit

  • The New User Interface: The Challenge and Opportunities that Chatbots, Voice Interfaces and Smart Devices Present
  • Fusing the physical, digital and biological: AI’s transformation of healthcare
  • How predictive algorithms and AI will rule financial services
  • Autonomous Everything: How Connected Vehicles Will Change Mobility and Which Companies Will Own this Future
  • The Next Industrial Age: The New Revenue Sources that the Industrial Internet of Things Unlocks
  • The AI-100: 100 Artificial Intelligence Startups That You Better Know
  • Autonomous Everything: How Connected Vehicles Will Change Mobility and Which Companies Will Own this Future

 

 

 

From DSC:
When I saw the article below, I couldn’t help but wonder…what are the teaching & learning-related ramifications when new “skills” are constantly being added to devices like Amazon’s Alexa?

What does it mean for:

  • Students / learners
  • Faculty members
  • Teachers
  • Trainers
  • Instructional Designers
  • Interaction Designers
  • User Experience Designers
  • Curriculum Developers
  • …and others?

Will the capabilities found in Alexa simply come bundled as a part of the “connected/smart TV’s” of the future? Hmm….

 

 

NASA unveils a skill for Amazon’s Alexa that lets you ask questions about Mars — from geekwire.com by Kevin Lisota

Excerpt:

Amazon’s Alexa has gained many skills over the past year, such as being able to read tweets or deliver election results and fantasy football scores. Starting on Wednesday, you’ll be able to ask Alexa about Mars.

The new skill for the voice-controlled speaker comes courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It’s the first Alexa app from the space agency.

Tom Soderstrom, the chief technology officer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was on hand at the AWS re:invent conference in Las Vegas tonight to make the announcement.

 

 

nasa-alexa-11-29-16

 

 


Also see:


 

What Is Alexa? What Is the Amazon Echo, and Should You Get One? — from thewirecutter.com by Grant Clauser

 

side-by-side2

 

 

Amazon launches new artificial intelligence services for developers: Image recognition, text-to-speech, Alexa NLP — from geekwire.com by Taylor Soper

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Amazon today announced three new artificial intelligence-related toolkits for developers building apps on Amazon Web Services

At the company’s AWS re:invent conference in Las Vegas, Amazon showed how developers can use three new services — Amazon Lex, Amazon Polly, Amazon Rekognition — to build artificial intelligence features into apps for platforms like Slack, Facebook Messenger, ZenDesk, and others.

The idea is to let developers utilize the machine learning algorithms and technology that Amazon has already created for its own processes and services like Alexa. Instead of developing their own AI software, AWS customers can simply use an API call or the AWS Management Console to incorporate AI features into their own apps.

 

 

Amazon announces three new AI services, including a text-to-voice service, Amazon Polly  — from by D.B. Hebbard

 

 

AWS Announces Three New Amazon AI Services
Amazon Lex, the technology that powers Amazon Alexa, enables any developer to build rich, conversational user experiences for web, mobile, and connected device apps; preview starts today

Amazon Polly transforms text into lifelike speech, enabling apps to talk with 47 lifelike voices in 24 languages

Amazon Rekognition makes it easy to add image analysis to applications, using powerful deep learning-based image and face recognition

Capital One, Motorola Solutions, SmugMug, American Heart Association, NASA, HubSpot, Redfin, Ohio Health, DuoLingo, Royal National Institute of Blind People, LingApps, GoAnimate, and Coursera are among the many customers using these Amazon AI Services

Excerpt:

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nov. 30, 2016– Today at AWS re:Invent, Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ: AMZN), announced three Artificial Intelligence (AI) services that make it easy for any developer to build apps that can understand natural language, turn text into lifelike speech, have conversations using voice or text, analyze images, and recognize faces, objects, and scenes. Amazon Lex, Amazon Polly, and Amazon Rekognition are based on the same proven, highly scalable Amazon technology built by the thousands of deep learning and machine learning experts across the company. Amazon AI services all provide high-quality, high-accuracy AI capabilities that are scalable and cost-effective. Amazon AI services are fully managed services so there are no deep learning algorithms to build, no machine learning models to train, and no up-front commitments or infrastructure investments required. This frees developers to focus on defining and building an entirely new generation of apps that can see, hear, speak, understand, and interact with the world around them.

To learn more about Amazon Lex, Amazon Polly, or Amazon Rekognition, visit:
https://aws.amazon.com/amazon-ai

 

 

 

 

 

Coppell ISD becomes first district to use IBM, Apple format — from bizjournals.com by Shawn Shinneman

Excerpt:

Teachers at Coppell Independent School District have become the first to use a new IBM and Apple technology platform built to aid personalized learning.

IBM Watson Element for Educators pairs IBM analytics and data tools such as cognitive computing with Apple design. It integrates student grades, interests, participation, and trends to help educators determine how a student learns best, the company says.

It also recommends learning content personalized to each student. The platform might suggest a reading assignment on astronomy for a young student who has shown an interest in space.

 

From DSC:
Technologies involved with systems like IBM’s Watson will likely bring some serious impact to the worlds of education and training & development. Such systems — and the affordances that they should be able to offer us — should not be underestimated.  The potential for powerful, customized, personalized learning could easily become a reality in K-20 as well as in the corporate training space. This is an area to keep an eye on for sure, especially with the growing influence of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence.

These kinds of technology should prove helpful in suggesting modules and courses (i.e., digital learning playlists), but I think the more powerful systems will be able to drill down far more minutely than that. I think these types of systems will be able to assist with all kinds of math problems and equations as well as analyze writing examples, correct language mispronunciations, and more (perhaps this is already here…apologies if so). In other words, the systems will “learn” where students can go wrong doing a certain kind of math equation…and then suggest steps to correct things when the system spots a mistake (or provide hints at how to correct mistakes).

This road takes us down to places where we have:

  • Web-based learner profiles — including learner’s preferences, passions, interests, skills
  • Microlearning/badging/credentialing — likely using blockchain
  • Learning agents/bots to “contact” for assistance
  • Guidance for lifelong learning
  • More choice, more control

 

ibmwatson-oct2016

 

 

Also see:

  • First IBM Watson Education App for iPad Delivers Personalized Learning for K-12 Teachers and Students — from prnewswire.com
    Educators at Coppell Independent School District in Texas first to use new iPad app to tailor learning experiences to student’s interests and aptitudes
    Excerpts:
    With increasing demands on educators, teachers need tools that will enable them to better identify the individual needs of all students while designing learning experiences that engage and hold the students’ interest as they master the content. This is especially critical given that approximately one third of American students require remedial education when they enter college today, and current college attainment rates are not keeping pace with the country’s projected workforce needs1.  A view of academic and day-to-day updates in real time can help teachers provide personalized support when students need it.

    IBM Watson Element provides teachers with a holistic view of each student through a fun, easy-to-use and intuitive mobile experience that is a natural extension of their work. Teachers can get to know their students beyond their academic performance, including information about personal interests and important milestones students choose to share.  For example, teachers can input notes when a student’s highly anticipated soccer match is scheduled, when another has just been named president for the school’s World Affairs club, and when another has recently excelled following a science project that sparked a renewed interest in chemistry.The unique “spotlight” feature in Watson Element provides advanced analytics that enables deeper levels of communication between teachers about their students’ accomplishments and progress. For example, if a student is excelling academically, teachers can spotlight that student, praising their accomplishments across the school district. Or, if a student received a top award in the district art show, a teacher can spotlight the student so their other teachers know about it.
 

Duolingo introduces chatbots to hone your conversational skills — from cnet.com by Michelle Starr
The free language-learning app is now letting you practise your conversational skills on real live bots.

Excerpt:

Free app Duolingo is a great way to learn the basics of a new language, with small daily lessons that gradually increase your skills, with rewards for progressing. Now the service has added a new feature that’s a little different from the back-and-forth translation — text-based chatbots.

These are aimed at helping you improve your conversational skills and skills you might use in real life, such as ordering food, visiting a tourist attraction, shopping for clothing or catching a cab. A variety of scenarios will see you learning how to follow a set of directions, or talk with a doctor. According to the Duolingo chatbot Web page, these bots are programmed to react to thousands of different responses.

 

Also see:

duolingobots-oct2016

 

duolingobots2-oct2016

Also see:

 

Also see:

 

 

 

Questions from DSC:

  • Which jobs/positions are being impacted by new forms of Human Computer Interaction (HCI)?
  • What new jobs/positions will be created by these new forms of HCI?
  • Will it be necessary for instructional technologists, instructional designers, teachers, professors, trainers, coaches, learning space designers, and others to pulse check this landscape?  Will that be enough? 
  • Or will such individuals need to dive much deeper than that in order to build the necessary skillsets, understandings, and knowledgebases to meet the new/changing expectations for their job positions?
  • How many will say, “No thanks, that’s not for me” — causing organizations to create new positions that do dive deeply in this area?
  • Will colleges and universities build and offer more courses involving HCI?
  • Will Career Services Departments get up to speed in order to help students carve out careers involving new forms of HCI?
  • How will languages and language translation be impacted by voice recognition software?
  • Will new devices be introduced to our classrooms in the future?
  • In the corporate space, how will training departments handle these new needs and opportunities?  How will learning & development groups be impacted? How will they respond in order to help the workforce get/be prepared to take advantage of these sorts of technologies? What does it mean for these staffs personally? Do they need to invest in learning more about these advancements?

As an example of what I’m trying to get at here, who all might be involved with an effort like Echo Dot?  What types of positions created it? Who all could benefit from it?  What other platforms could these technologies be integrated into?  Besides the home, where else might we find these types of devices?



WhatIsEchoDot-June2016

Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses the same far-field voice recognition as Amazon Echo. Dot has a small built-in speaker—it can also connect to your speakers over Bluetooth or with the included audio cable. Dot connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather, and more—instantly.

Echo Dot can hear you from across the room, even while music is playing. When you want to use Echo Dot, just say the wake word “Alexa” and Dot responds instantly. If you have more than one Echo or Echo Dot, you can set a different wake word for each—you can pick “Amazon”, “Alexa” or “Echo” as the wake word.

 

 

Or how might students learn about the myriad of technologies involved with IBM’s Watson?  What courses are out there today that address this type of thing?  Are more courses in the works that will address this type of thing? In which areas (Computer Science, User Experience Design, Interaction Design, other)?

 

WhatIsIBMWatson-June2016

 

 

Lots of questions…but few answers at this point. Still, given the increasing pace of technological change, it’s important that we think about this type of thing and become more responsive, nimble, and adaptive in our organizations and in our careers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon now lets you test drive Echo’s Alexa in your browser — from by Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Excerpt:

If you’ve ever wanted to try out the Amazon Echo before shelling out for one, you can now do just that right from your browser. Amazon has launched a dedicated website where you can try out an Echo simulation and put Alexa’s myriad of skills to the test.

 

Echosimio-Amazon-EchoMay2016

 

 

From DSC:
The use of the voice and gesture to communicate to some type of computing device or software program represent growing types of Human Computer Interaction (HCI).  With the growth of artificial intelligence (AI), personal assistants, and bots, we should expect to see more voice recognition services/capabilities baked into an increasing amount of products and solutions in the future.

Given these trends, personnel working within K-12 and higher ed need to start building their knowledgebases now so that we can begin offering more courses in the near future to help students build their skillsets.  Current user experience designers, interface designers, programmers, graphic designers, and others will also need to augment their skillsets.

 

 

 

Google-io-2016

 

9 most important things from the Google I/O keynote — from androidcentral.com by Jen Karner

Excerpt:
Here’s a breakdown of the nine big things Google brought to I/O 2016.

  1. Now on Steroids — Google Assistant
  2. Google Home — Amazon Who?
  3. Allo — A smarter messenger
  4. Duo — Standalone video chat
  5. Everything Android N
  6. Android Wear 2.0
  7. The future — Android Instant Apps
  8. New Android Studio
  9. New Firebase tools

 

CEO Sundar Pichai comes in at the 14:40 mark:

 

 

I/O: Building the next evolution of Google — from googleblog.blogspot.com

Excerpts:

Which is why we’re pleased to introduce…the Google assistant. The assistant is conversational—an ongoing two-way dialogue between you and Google that understands your world and helps you get things done. It makes it easy to buy movie tickets while on the go, to find that perfect restaurant for your family to grab a quick bite before the movie starts, and then help you navigate to the theater. It’s a Google for you, by you.

Google Home is a voice-activated product that brings the Google assistant to any room in your house. It lets you enjoy entertainment, manage everyday tasks, and get answers from Google—all using conversational speech. With a simple voice command, you can ask Google Home to play a song, set a timer for the oven, check your flight, or turn on your lights. It’s designed to fit your home with customizable bases in different colors and materials. Google Home will be released later this year.

 

 

 

Google takes a new approach to native apps with Instant Apps for Android — from techcrunch.com by Frederic Lardinois, Sarah Perez

Excerpt:

Mobile apps often provide a better user experience than browser-based web apps, but you first have to find them, download them, and then try not to forget you installed them. Now, Google wants us to rethink what mobile apps are and how we interact with them.

Instant Apps, a new Android feature Google announced at its I/O developer conference today but plans to roll out very slowly, wants to bridge this gap between mobile apps and web apps by allowing you to use native apps almost instantly — even when you haven’t previously installed them — simply by tapping on a URL.

 

 

Google isn’t launching a standalone VR headset…yet — from uploadvr.com

Excerpt:

To the disappointment of many, Google Vice President of Virtual Reality Clay Bavor did not announce the much-rumoured (and now discredited) standalone VR HMD at today’s Google I/O keynote.

Instead, the company announced a new platform for VR on the upcoming Android N to live on called Daydream. Much like Google’s pre-existing philosophy of creating specs and then pushing the job of building hardware to other manufacturers, the group is providing the boundaries for the initial public push of VR on Android, and letting third-parties build the phones for it.

.

 

 

Google’s Android VR Platform is Called ‘Daydream’ and Comes with a Controller — from vrguru.com by Constantin Sumanariu

Excerpt:

Speaking at the opening keynote for this week’s Google I/O developer conference, the company’s head of VR Clay Bavor announced that the latest version of Android, the unnamed Android N, would be getting a VR mode. Google calls the initiative to get the Android ecosystem ready for VR ‘Daydream’, and it sounds like a massive extension of the groundwork laid by Google Cardboard.

 

 

Conversational AI device: Google Home — from postscapes.com

Excerpt:

Google finally has its answer to Amazon’s voice-activated personal assistant device, Echo. It’s called Google Home, and it was announced today at the I/O developer conference.

 

 

Movies, TV Shows and More Comes to Daydream VR Platform — from vrguru.com by Constantin Sumanariu

 

 

 

 

Allo is Google’s new, insanely smart messaging app that learns over time — from androidcentral.com by Jared DiPane

Excerpt:

Google has announced a new smart messaging app, Allo. The app is based on your phone number, and it will continue to learn from you over time, making it smarter each day. In addition to this, you can add more emotion to your messages, in ways that you couldn’t before. You will be able to “whisper” or “shout” your message, and the font size will change depending on which you select. This is accomplished by pressing the send button and dragging up or down to change the level of emotion.

 

 

 

Google follows Facebook into chatbots — from marketwatch.com by Jennifer Booton
Google’s new home assistant and messenger service will be powered by AI

Excerpt:

Like Facebook’s bots, the Google assistant is designed to be conversational. It will play on the company’s investment in natural language processing, talking to users in a dialogue format that feels like normal conversation, and helping users buy movie tickets, make dinner reservations and get directions. The announcement comes one month after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Messenger with chatbots, which serves basically the same function.

 

 

Also see:

 

 
© 2016 Learning Ecosystems