Reflections on “Clay Shirky on Mega-Universities and Scale” [Christian]

Clay Shirky on Mega-Universities and Scale — from philonedtech.com by Clay Shirky
[This was a guest post by Clay Shirky that grew out of a conversation that Clay and Phil had about IPEDS enrollment data. Most of the graphs are provided by Phil.]

Excerpts:

Were half a dozen institutions to dominate the online learning landscape with no end to their expansion, or shift what Americans seek in a college degree, that would indeed be one of the greatest transformations in the history of American higher education. The available data, however, casts doubt on that idea.

Though much of the conversation around mega-universities is speculative, we already know what a mega-university actually looks like, one much larger than any university today. It looks like the University of Phoenix, or rather it looked like Phoenix at the beginning of this decade, when it had 470,000 students, the majority of whom took some or all of their classes online. Phoenix back then was six times the size of the next-largest school, Kaplan, with 78,000 students, and nearly five times the size of any university operating today.

From that high-water mark, Phoenix has lost an average of 40,000 students every year of this decade.

 

From DSC:
First of all, I greatly appreciate both Clay’s and Phil’s thought leadership and their respective contributions to education and learning through the years. I value their perspectives and their work.  Clay and Phil offer up a great article here — one worth your time to read.  

The article made me reflect on what I’ve been building upon and tracking for the last decade — a next generation ***PLATFORM*** that I believe will represent a powerful piece of a global learning ecosystem. I call this vision, “Learning from the Living [Class] Room.” Though the artificial intelligence-backed platform that I’m envisioning doesn’t yet fully exist — this new era and type of learning-based platform ARE coming. The emerging signs, technologies, trends — and “fingerprints”of it, if you will — are beginning to develop all over the place.

Such a platform will:

  • Be aimed at the lifelong learner.
  • Offer up major opportunities to stay relevant and up-to-date with one’s skills.
  • Offer access to the program offerings from many organizations — including the mega-universities, but also, from many other organizations that are not nearly as large as the mega-universities.
  • Be reliant upon human teachers, professors, trainers, subject matter experts, but will be backed up by powerful AI-based technologies/tools. For example, AI-based tools will pulse-check the open job descriptions and the needs of business and present the top ___ areas to go into (how long those areas/jobs last is anyone’s guess, given the exponential pace of technological change).

Below are some quotes that I want to comment on:

Not nothing, but not the kind of environment that will produce an educational Amazon either, especially since the top 30 actually shrank by 0.2% a year.

 

Instead of an “Amazon vs. the rest” dynamic, online education is turning into something much more widely adopted, where the biggest schools are simply the upper end of a continuum, not so different from their competitors, and not worth treating as members of a separate category.

 

Since the founding of William and Mary, the country’s second college, higher education in the U.S. hasn’t been a winner-take-all market, and it isn’t one today. We are not entering a world where the largest university operates at outsized scale, we’re leaving that world; 

 

From DSC:
I don’t see us leaving that world at all…but that’s not my main reflection here. Instead, I’m not focusing on how large the mega-universities will become. When I speak of a forthcoming Walmart of Education or Amazon of Education, what I have in mind is a platform…not one particular organization.

Consider that the vast majority of Amazon’s revenues come from products that other organizations produce. They are a platform, if you will. And in the world of platforms (i.e., software), it IS a winner take all market. 

Bill Gates reflects on this as well in this recent article from The Verge:

“In the software world, particularly for platforms, these are winner-take-all markets.

So it’s all about a forthcoming platform — or platforms. (It could be more than one platform. Consider Apple. Consider Microsoft. Consider Google. Consider Facebook.)

But then the question becomes…would a large amount of universities (and other types of organizations) be willing to offer up their courses on a platform? Well, consider what’s ALREADY happening with FutureLearn:

Finally…one more excerpt from Clay’s article:

Eventually the new ideas lose their power to shock, and end up being widely copied. Institutional transformation starts as heresy and ends as a section in the faculty handbook. 

From DSC:
This is a great point. Reminds me of this tweet from Fred Steube (and I added a piece about Western Telegraph):

 

Some things to reflect upon…for sure.

 
 

From DSC:
First of all, a couple of articles:

This futuristic driverless pod will soon be delivering pizza in Texas — from digitaltrends.com by Trevor Mogg

Excerpt:

Global pizza purveyor Domino’s is planning to use self-driving pods to deliver its cheesy meals to hungry customers. The food company is partnering with California-based tech startup Nuro for a trial service in Houston, Texas later this year.

 

 

Amazon is creating detailed 3D models of suburbia to train its new delivery robots — from theverge.com by James Vincent
‘Eventually, we’ll be delivering around the world.’

 

 

From DSC:
Instead of Amazon having their army of robots/drones, Domino’s having their army of driverless pods, etc…perhaps we should think about how we want this all to unfold in the future — especially with an eye on what the world will be like for future generations.

 

“The company won’t say where or when it plans to expand these tests…”

 

From DSC:
It should NOT be Amazon’s decision (nor Domino’s decision, nor any other company’s decision) to expand any tests here! It should be up to citizens to weigh in on what we want our future to look like before any such endeavors are allowed to move forward another inch.

 

INSIGHT: Ten ways machine learning will transform the practice of law — from news.bloomberglaw.com by Caroline Sweeney
Law firms are increasingly using machine learning and artificial intelligence, which have become standard in document review. Dorsey & Whitney’s Caroline Sweeney says any firm that wants to stay competitive should get on board now and gives examples for use and best practices.

 

 

Are we there yet? Impactful technologies and the power to influence change — from campustechnology.com by Mary Grush and Ellen Wagner

Excerpt:

Learning analytics, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and other new and emerging technologies seem poised to change the business of higher education — yet, we often hear comments like “We’re just not there yet…” or “This is a technology that is just too slow to adoption…” or other observations that make it clear that many people — including those with a high level of expertise in education technology — are thinking that the promise is not yet fulfilled. Here, CT talks with veteran education technology leader Ellen Wagner, to ask for her perspectives on the adoption of impactful technologies — in particular the factors in our leadership and development communities that have the power to influence change.

 

 

8 industrial IoT trends of 2019 that cannot be ignored — from datafloq.com

Excerpt:

From manufacturing to the retail sector, the infinite applications of the industrial internet of things are disrupting business processes, thereby improving operational efficiency and business competitiveness. The trend of employing IoT-powered systems for supply chain management, smart monitoring, remote diagnosis, production integration, inventory management, and predictive maintenance is catching up as companies take bold steps to address a myriad of business problems.

No wonder, the global technology spend on IoT is expected to reach USD 1.2 trillion by 2022. The growth of this segment will be driven by firms deploying IIoT solutions and giant tech organizations who are developing these innovative solutions.

To help you stay ahead of the curve, we have enlisted a few trends that will dominate the industrial IoT sphere.

 

5. 5G Will Drive Real-Time IIoT Applications
5G deployments are digitizing the industrial domain and changing the way enterprises manage their business operations. Industries, namely transportation, manufacturing, healthcare, energy and utilities, agriculture, retail, media, and financial services will benefit from the low latency and high data transfer speed of 5G mobile networks.

 

Going Beyond the Digital Diploma — from campustechnology.com by Sara Friedman

Excerpts:

“We see great opportunities with this platform to create a more streamlined approach to help with students transferring, receiving degrees, honoring requests to verify degrees and to admit new students and evaluate their transcripts,” said ECPI University CIO Jeff Arthur. “The ability to let someone hold all of their accomplishments on their phone and have them to share with anybody in a way that is secure and reliable — without having to chase down entities to verify — is attractive to us.”

College and university CIOs also hope that blockchain technology can help to streamline other administrative functions. For instance, the ability to transfer credits between institutions could be simplified, according to Arthur.

 

The next big leap for blockchain in the higher education space is likely to be the ability to put badges and certificates for technical skills on the chain. 

 

“We want to create a lifelong learning approach where people who want to represent their skills and experience can do so through a blockchain-based app,” said Callahan. 

 

 

 

‘Robots’ Are Not ‘Coming for Your Job’—Management Is — from gizmodo.com by Brian Merchant; with a special thanks going out to Keesa Johnson for her posting this out on LinkedIn

A robot is not ‘coming for’, or ‘stealing’ or ‘killing’ or ‘threatening’ to take away your job. Management is.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

At first glance, this might like a nitpicky semantic complaint, but I assure you it’s not—this phrasing helps, and has historically helped, mask the agency behind the *decision* to automate jobs. And this decision is not made by ‘robots,’ but management. It is a decision most often made with the intention of saving a company or institution money by reducing human labor costs (though it is also made in the interests of bolstering efficiency and improving operations and safety). It is a human decision that ultimately eliminates the job.

 

From DSC:
I’ve often said that if all the C-Suite cares about is maximizing profits — instead of thinking about their fellow humankind and society as a whole —  we’re in big trouble.

If the thinking goes, “Heh — it’s just business!” <– Again, then we’re in big trouble here.

Just because we can, should we? Many people should be reflecting upon this question…and not just members of the C-Suite.

 

 

 

Salesforce launches blockchain channel — from techradar.com Anthony Spadafora
Salesforce brings low-code blockchain to CRM

Excerpt:

At its fourth annual TrailheaDX developer conference, Salesforce announced its new low-code platform called Salesforce Blockchain that enables organizations to share verified, distributed data sets across a trusted network of partners and third parties.

By bringing blockchain to its CRM platform, the company is enabling organizations to create blockchain networks, workflows and apps that have the potential to deliver entirely new customer experiences.

 

Also see:

The D/SRUPTION Blockchain 50 — from disruptionhub.com

Excerpt:

What are the most impactful applications of blockchain in business?

Blockchain is changing how we keep records, manage relationships, and do business. Decentralised, automated systems powered by the blockchain increase the security of operations, as well as breaking down barriers to business by creating trust between diverse parties.

As the concept of blockchain becomes ever more familiar to business leaders, its real world applications are growing in number and impact.

In this exclusive report, D/SRUPTION analyses 50 game changing uses of blockchain technology in business. The range of industries featured include:

Shipping
Charity
Ecommerce
Real Estate
Finance
Government
Energy
Healthcare

Blockchain in Education

 

 

10 things we should all demand from Big Tech right now — from vox.com by Sigal Samuel
We need an algorithmic bill of rights. AI experts helped us write one.

We need an algorithmic bill of rights. AI experts helped us write one.

Excerpts:

  1. Transparency: We have the right to know when an algorithm is making a decision about us, which factors are being considered by the algorithm, and how those factors are being weighted.
  2. Explanation: We have the right to be given explanations about how algorithms affect us in a specific situation, and these explanations should be clear enough that the average person will be able to understand them.
  3. Consent: We have the right to give or refuse consent for any AI application that has a material impact on our lives or uses sensitive data, such as biometric data.
  4. Freedom from bias: We have the right to evidence showing that algorithms have been tested for bias related to race, gender, and other protected characteristics — before they’re rolled out. The algorithms must meet standards of fairness and nondiscrimination and ensure just outcomes. (Inserted comment from DSC: Is this even possible? I hope so, but I have my doubts especially given the enormous lack of diversity within the large tech companies.)
  5. Feedback mechanism: We have the right to exert some degree of control over the way algorithms work.
  6. Portability: We have the right to easily transfer all our data from one provider to another.
  7. Redress: We have the right to seek redress if we believe an algorithmic system has unfairly penalized or harmed us.
  8. Algorithmic literacy: We have the right to free educational resources about algorithmic systems.
  9. Independent oversight: We have the right to expect that an independent oversight body will be appointed to conduct retrospective reviews of algorithmic systems gone wrong. The results of these investigations should be made public.
  10. Federal and global governance: We have the right to robust federal and global governance structures with human rights at their center. Algorithmic systems don’t stop at national borders, and they are increasingly used to decide who gets to cross borders, making international governance crucial.

 

This raises the question: Who should be tasked with enforcing these norms? Government regulators? The tech companies themselves?

 

 

U of I to end on-campus MBA classes — from chicagobusiness.com by Lynne Marek
The Gies College of Business in Urbana-Champaign will direct more resources to its fast-growing online MBA program, among others. “The iMBA is the right format for the times,” according to the dean.

Excerpt:

The university has seen significant growth in its online MBA program since launching it in 2016. Enrollment in that ‘iMBA’ program increased more than tenfold to 1,955 for the most recent school year, up from 114 students in the first year. Meanwhile, the on-campus MBA student population has been declining, as it has at other U.S. universities, slipping to just 98 students in the most recent school year, from 149 in 2016. That’s happening at U.S. universities across the U.S. as more specialized graduate business degrees gain traction.

 

From DSC:
For busy working adults (who are also often parents), the online format is hard to beat in terms of convenience and using one’s time wisely.

 

Has Technology Made State Regional Universities Obsolete? — from campustechnology.com by Richard Rose
While SRUs do some things well, the current model is not sustainable, with students taking on enormous debt and receiving relatively little income benefit in return. Here’s how technology can help change the equation.

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

What if the State Board of Higher Education assembled a team to create one exceptionally fine Official Texas Version of the sophomore Western Civilization course? The team would include brilliant subject-matter experts, the best graphic artists, senior instructional designers, professional film editors and sharp-eyed text editors, who could produce a 48-clock-hour video course of previously unimaginable quality.

When technology is fully embraced because the need for a better and cheaper product finally trumps the political protection of the status quo, the state regional university will be replaced as part of new state university systems in which local institutions will play a very different role. These new local institutions could be called Learning Satellite Centers (LSCs).

Much content will take the form of high-budget, high-quality multimedia productions with delivery available to all popular devices, from desktop computers to cell phones. Access to learning materials, from course movies and podcasts to reading materials, will be through an expanded electronic distribution system that will eliminate the need for paper-based academic libraries.

The goal of the University Center plus Learning Satellite Center model is to transfer agency back into the hands of the students, where it belongs. No longer will a self-appointed privileged group of professional academics with their arcane degrees and funny ceremonial robes be dictating to the rest of society what we all need to learn and how we need to learn it. Technology will be the great leveler and the marketplace will help individual students decide what choices are best.

Of course, a brief sketch like this one will raise many questions that cannot be explored in a single article, but the conversation must begin. The current State Regional University is not sustainable and can only be propped up by politics and sentiment for so long. Too many students are piling up huge debt to earn dubious degrees that don’t lead to marketable skills or significant economic benefits. Technology has made more effective models of higher education attainable and at a lower price. We need to fearlessly explore such models before our charming old regional campuses drift into irrelevance.

 

From DSC:
While the article has a bit of a bite to it (which I suppose readers of this blog would say they might see in my writings/comments as well from time to time), THIS is the kind of innovative, creative thinking that will get us somewhere. I really appreciate Richard’s article and the deep thought he was put into this topic.

In fact, as readers of this blog will know, I have long been a supporter of a TEAM-BASED approach. And listed below are some graphics that prove it — as well as this article I wrote for evolllution.com (where the “lll” stands for lifelong learning) back from 2016.

This page* lists those graphics plus the list of team members that I thought of in December 2008:

  • Subject Matter Experts
  • Instructional Designers
  • Project Managers
  • Recruiters
  • Legal Counsel
  • Researchers / Mind Experts
  • Digital Audio Specialists
  • Digital Video Specialists
  • Streaming Media Experts
  • Mobile Learning Consultants
  • Writers and Editors 
  • Programmers and Database Specialists 
  • Web Design and Production Specialists
  • Interactivity Designers
  • Multimedia Specialists including Multi-Touch Experts/Programmers
  • 3D / 2D Graphic Designers and/or Animators
  • MindMappers / Visual Learning Experts
  • Personalized Learning Consultants
  • Security Experts
  • The students themselves
  • Other

*BTW, I renamed this idea from the Forthcoming Walmart of Education
to the Forthcoming Amazon.com of Higher Education

 

.

While I’m at it…below are a couple of ideas that I documented back in 2009 that Richard might like…

 

.

As of today…I would simplify that last graphic to
include a subscription model to streams of content.

 

Ok…one more graphic from 5/21/09 that describes what I thought would happen if institutions of traditional higher education maintained the status quo through the years. I feel pretty good about how these predictions turned out, but I wish that we would have made even more progress along these lines than we have (since the time I created this graphic).

 

 

 

 

Introduction: Leading the social enterprise—Reinvent with a human focus
2019 Global Human Capital Trends
— from deloitte.com by Volini?, Schwartz? ?, Roy?, Hauptmann, Van Durme, Denny, and Bersin

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Learning in the flow of life. The number-one trend for 2019 is the need for organizations to change the way people learn; 86 percent of respondents cited this as an important or very important issue. It’s not hard to understand why. Evolving work demands and skills requirements are creating an enormous demand for new skills and capabilities, while a tight labor market is making it challenging for organizations to hire people from outside. Within this context, we see three broader trends in how learning is evolving: It is becoming more integrated with work; it is becoming more personal; and it is shifting—slowly—toward lifelong models. Effective reinvention along these lines requires a culture that supports continuous learning, incentives that motivate people to take advantage of learning opportunities, and a focus on helping individuals identify and develop new, needed skills.

 
 

5 new legal professions under the impact of legal tech — from medium.com by Valentin Pivovarov

Excerpt:

Professionals who work in the field of jurisprudence should take into account the coming changes. It is necessary to realize the significance of the transition from an industrial society operating with printed texts to an information society operating with Internet-oriented resources. Legal innovations implementation will allow specialists to change their routines and make their work more effective. It is already important to retrain and look for new opportunities. And it doesn’t matter whether you work in a large law company or your own legal tech startup. The game is changing.

 

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