A new immersive classroom uses AI and VR to teach Mandarin Chinese — from technologyreview.com by Karen Hao
Students will learn the language by ordering food or haggling with street vendors on a virtual Beijing street.

Excerpt:

Often the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in an environment where people speak it. The constant exposure, along with the pressure to communicate, helps you swiftly pick up and practice new vocabulary. But not everyone gets the opportunity to live or study abroad.

In a new collaboration with IBM Research, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), a university based in Troy, New York, now offers its students studying Chinese another option: a 360-degree virtual environment that teleports them to the busy streets of Beijing or a crowded Chinese restaurant. Students get to haggle with street vendors or order food, and the environment is equipped with different AI capabilities to respond to them in real time.

 

 

Pearson moves away from print textbooks — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Excerpt:

All of Pearson’s 1,500 higher education textbooks in the U.S. will now be “digital first.” The company announced its big shift away from print today, calling the new approach a “product as a service model and a generational business shift to be much more like apps, professional software or the gaming industry.”

The digital format will allow Pearson to update textbooks on an ongoing basis, taking into account new developments in the field of study, new technologies, data analytics and efficacy research, the company said in a news announcement. The switch to digital will also lower the cost for students: The average e-book price will be $40, or $79 for a “full suite of digital learning tools.”

 

 

Understanding and Overcoming Obstacles to Blockchain in Higher Education — from evolllution.com by Melissa Layne
Blockchain carries significant potential for good in higher education. But as with every other industry, the obstacles and challenges—from comprehension to compliance—pose significant roadblocks.

Higher Education and the Blockchain Ecosystem: An Overview — from evolllution.com by Melissa Layne
Implementing blockchain technologies could provide significant benefits to every department within a postsecondary institution.

Higher Education and the Blockchain Ecosystem: Using Blockchain in Admissions — from evolllution.com by Melissa Layne
With constant pressure on admissions departments to serve a diverse group of incoming learners with accuracy and speed, it’s essential to provide technological tools designed to improve and simplify the enrollment process.

 

Instructure’s Age of Adolescence: A Conversation With CEO Dan Goldsmith — from edsurge.com by Tony Wan

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

…we sat down with Goldsmith in Long Beach, California, at InstructureCon, the company’s annual user conference, to learn more about what lays ahead for the company as it enters, in his words, the “adolescent phase.”

How big is the company now?
We’re over 1,200. A little less than half the company is focused on R&D, which is a pretty high percentage for a technology company like ours.

What’s connecting the dots between the education and corporate sides is actually the market itself. Educational institutions are recognizing that the largest growing population is the professional worker, and there’s a lot of opportunity for online programs. When institutions are extending those programs to build corporate relationships, it’s very common they use Canvas to do that. Then Bridge comes in to provide the employee development piece.

I asked [Instructure’s co-founder and former CEO] Josh Coates this five years ago, and now I’ll ask you. What three words would you use to describe Instructure today?
Mission-minded. Curious. Optimistic.
(Coates’ answers: Impactful. Open. Innovative.)

 

From DSC:
To those of you graduate students out there: Never underestimate the impact/influence that you can have!

Were it not for his volunteering as an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University, Coates might still be on vacation. In 2008, he was approached by two graduate students in his venture startup class with a fledgling idea that would become Instructure. Skeptical at first, Coates saw potential after they shared transcripts from interviews with 17 university administrators, detailing pain points and the need for a better product.

In 2014: 450 employees
In 2019: Over 1200 employees and now the #1 LMS within U.S. higher ed

 

Knowing How to Study Can Mean the Difference Between Success and Failure for First-Generation Students. Here’s How Instructors Can Help. — from chronicle.com by Beth McMurtrie

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Some of the mistakes first-gen students make are common to undergraduates: They focus on re-reading and memorizing to absorb what they’re learning, rather than summarizing material in their own words, or quizzing themselves, which are more effective techniques. But many also carry the burden of imposter syndrome – feeling like they don’t belong in college – or simply don’t know how college works. That, says Horowitz, discourages them from seeking out their professors during office hours or heading to the tutoring center for help. As a result they may spin their wheels even more furiously as they fall behind.

Horowitz, who now works at Bard High School Early College Newark as a faculty member in chemistry, reached out to me after I wrote about the importance of helping undergraduates develop the metacognitive skills necessary to become effective learners. It turns out, she’s written a book about some of those strategies, tailored to the needs of first-generation students.

Horowitz designed the book to appeal to a mass audience of STEM faculty. “The most effective person to tell students how to study for a particular course is the instructor,” she says. “They can easily put little pointers in their classroom about how students should be studying. I believe that could be revolutionary for first-generation college students.”

Horowitz suggests putting study tips into the syllabus and then reviewing them in class. 

Explain how to use problem sets effectively.

In reading-oriented classes, she recommends that, after reading each chapter, students write a single paragraph that synthesizes and summarizes the material. And on tests she often lists the amount of time students should spend on each problem.

Reach out, she says. It will pay off for both of you.

“For most of them it’s a big sense of relief that they’re having a conversation with you,” she says. “Most have been suffering in silence for a long time.”

 

Penn State World Campus Taps Google Cloud to Build Virtual Advising Assistant — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Excerpt:

At the start of the spring 2020 semester this January, Penn State World Campus will have a new artificial intelligence tool for answering the most common requests from its undergraduate students. A virtual assistant will help academic advisers at the online institution screen student e-mails for certain keywords and phrases, and then automatically pull relevant information for the advisers to send to students. For instance, the AI will be trained to assist advisers when students inquire how to change their major, change their Penn State campus, re-enroll in the university or defer their semester enrollment date, according to a news announcement.

 

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.

 
 

4 models to reinvent higher education for the 21st century — from edtechmagazine.com by Eli Zimmerman
To appeal to Gen Z students and employers, universities will adopt new ways to deliver academic materials, focusing on customizable courses and experiences outside of the classroom.

Excerpts:

  1. Platform facilitator:
    From online content to food orders, Generation Z has become accustomed to customizable consumption, and education may follow. Some universities may begin to offer a Netflix-style distribution of course materials, while others will be “content providers for those platforms, licensing courses, experiences, certificates and other services,” according to the report. Many university administrators are already considering the idea of building AI-enabled programs to distribute academic videos, according to a 2018 survey by Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite and University Business.
  2. Experiential curator
  3. Learning certifier
  4. Workforce integrator

 

Also see:

 

Research Posters Are a Staple of Academic Conferences. Could a New Design Speed Discovery? — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpts:

Scholars around the world share their latest research findings with a decidedly low-tech ritual: printing a 48-inch by 36-inch poster densely packed with charts, graphs and blocks of text describing their research hypothesis, methods and findings. Then they stand with the poster in an exhibit hall for an hour, surrounded by rows of other researchers presenting similar posters, while hundreds of colleagues from around the world walk by trying to skim the displays.

Not only does the exercise deflate the morale of the scholars sharing posters, the ritual is incredibly inefficient at communicating science, Morrison argues.

Morrison says he has a solution: A better design for those posters, plus a dash of tech.

 

 

To make up for all the nuance and detail lost in this approach, the template includes a QR code that viewers can scan to get to the full research paper.

 

From DSC:
Wouldn’t this be great if more journal articles would do the same thing?  That is, give us the key findings, conclusions (with some backbone to them), and recommendations right away! Abstracts don’t go far enough, and often scholars/specialists are talking amongst themselves…not to the world. They could have a far greater reach/impact with this kind of approach.

(The QR code doesn’t make as much sense if one is already reading the full journal article…but the other items make a great deal of sense!)

 

 

 

 Also see:

Microsoft is building a virtual assistant for work. Google is building one for everything else — from qz.com by Dave Gershgorn

Excerpts:

In the early days of virtual personal assistants, the goal was to create a multipurpose digital buddy—always there, ready to take on any task. Now, tech companies are realizing that doing it all is too much, and instead doubling down on what they know best.

Since the company has a deep understanding of how organizations work, Microsoft is focusing on managing your workday with voice, rearranging meetings and turning the dials on the behemoth of bureaucracy in concert with your phone.

 

Voice is the next major platform, and being first to it is an opportunity to make the category as popular as Apple made touchscreens. To dominate even one aspect of voice technology is to tap into the next iteration of how humans use computers.

 

 

From DSC:
What affordances might these developments provide for our future learning spaces?

Will faculty members’ voices be recognized to:

  • Sign onto the LMS?
  • Dim the lights?
  • Turn on the projector(s) and/or display(s)?
  • Other?

Will students be able to send the contents of their mobile devices to particular displays via their voices?

Will voice be mixed in with augmented reality (i.e., the students and their devices can “see” which device to send their content to)?

Hmmm…time will tell.

 

 

7 ideas to pump up your drawing curriculum — from theartofeducation.edu by Debi West

Excerpt:

Here are 7 creative ideas that have come out of AOEU’s Studio: Drawing Course.

1. Play “Drawing Jeopardy.”

Drawing Jeopardy Board

 

 

Is your college future-ready? — from jisc.ac.uk by Robin Ghurbhurun

Excerpt:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming science fact rather than science fiction. Alexa is everywhere from the house to the car, Siri is in the palm of your hand and students and the wider community can now get instant responses to their queries. We as educators have a duty to make sense of the information out there, working alongside AI to facilitate students’ curiosities.

Instead of banning mobile phones on campus, let’s manage our learning environments differently

We need to plan strategically to avoid a future where only the wealthy have access to human teachers, whilst others are taught with AI. We want all students to benefit from both. We should have teacher-approved content from VLEs and AI assistants supporting learning and discussion, everywhere from the classroom to the workplace. Let’s learn from the domestic market; witness the increasing rise of co-bot workers coming to an office near you.

 

 

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.

 

 

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