Skype chats are coming to Alexa devices — from engadget.com by Richard Lawlor
Voice controlled internet calls to or from any device with Amazon’s system in it.

Excerpt:

Aside from all of the Alexa-connected hardware, there’s one more big development coming for Amazon’s technology: integration with Skype. Microsoft and Amazon said that voice and video calls via the service will come to Alexa devices (including Microsoft’s Xbox One) with calls that you can start and control just by voice.

 

 

Amazon Hardware Event 2018
From techcrunch.com

 

Echo HomePod? Amazon wants you to build your own — by Brian Heater
One of the bigger surprises at today’s big Amazon event was something the company didn’t announce. After a couple of years of speculation that the company was working on its own version of the Home…

 

 

The long list of new Alexa devices Amazon announced at its hardware event — by Everyone’s favorite trillion-dollar retailer hosted a private event today where they continued to…

 

Amazon introduces APL, a new design language for building Alexa skills for devices with screensAlong with the launch of the all-new Echo Show, the Alexa-powered device with a screen, Amazon also introduced a new design language for developers who want to build voice skills that include multimedia…

Excerpt:

Called Alexa Presentation Language, or APL, developers will be able to build voice-based apps that also include things like images, graphics, slideshows and video, and easily customize them for different device types – including not only the Echo Show, but other Alexa-enabled devices like Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and the small screen of the Alexa alarm clock, the Echo Spot.

 

From DSC:
This is a great move by Amazon — as NLP and our voices become increasingly important in how we “drive” and utilize our computing devices.

 

 

Amazon launches an Echo Wall Clock, because Alexa is gonna be everywhere — by Sarah Perez

 

 

Amazon’s new Echo lineup targets Google, Apple and Sonos — from engadget.com by Nicole Lee
Alexa, dominate the industry.

The business plan from here is clear: Companies pay a premium to be activated when users pose questions related to their products and services. “How do you cook an egg?” could pull up a Food Network tutorial; “How far is Morocco?” could enable the Expedia app.
Also see how Alexa might be a key piece of smart classrooms in the future:
 

Why emerging technology needs to retain a human element — from forbes.com by Samantha Radocchia
Technology opens up new, unforeseen issues. And humans are necessary for solving the problems automated services can’t.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

With technological advancements comes change. Rather than avoiding new technology for as long as possible, and then accepting the inevitable, people need to be actively thinking about how it will change us as individuals and as a society.

Take your phone for instance. The social media, gaming and news apps are built to keep you addicted so companies can collect data on you. They’re designed to be used constantly so you back for more the instant you feel the slightest twinge of boredom.

And yet, other apps—sometimes the same ones I just mentioned—allow you to instantly communicate with people around the world. Loved ones, colleagues, old friends—they’re all within reach now.

Make any technology decisions carefully, because their impact down the road may be tremendous.

This is part of the reason why there’s been a push lately for ethics to be a required part of any computer science or vocational training program. And it makes sense. If people want to create ethical systems, there’s a need to remember that actual humans are behind them. People make bad choices sometimes. They make mistakes. They aren’t perfect.

 

To ignore the human element in tech is to miss the larger point: Technology should be about empowering people to live their best lives, not making them fearful of the future.

 

 

 

 

Smart Machines & Human Expertise: Challenges for Higher Education — from er.educause.edu by Diana Oblinger

Excerpts:

What does this mean for higher education? One answer is that AI, robotics, and analytics become disciplines in themselves. They are emerging as majors, minors, areas of emphasis, certificate programs, and courses in many colleges and universities. But smart machines will catalyze even bigger changes in higher education. Consider the implications in three areas: data; the new division of labor; and ethics.

 

Colleges and universities are challenged to move beyond the use of technology to deliver education. Higher education leaders must consider how AI, big data, analytics, robotics, and wide-scale collaboration might change the substance of education.

 

Higher education leaders should ask questions such as the following:

  • What place does data have in our courses?
  • Do students have the appropriate mix of mathematics, statistics, and coding to understand how data is manipulated and how algorithms work?
  • Should students be required to become “data literate” (i.e., able to effectively use and critically evaluate data and its sources)?

Higher education leaders should ask questions such as the following:

  • How might problem-solving and discovery change with AI?
  • How do we optimize the division of labor and best allocate tasks between humans and machines?
  • What role do collaborative platforms and collective intelligence have in how we develop and deploy expertise?


Higher education leaders should ask questions such as the following:

  • Even though something is possible, does that mean it is morally responsible?
  • How do we achieve a balance between technological possibilities and policies that enable—or stifle—their use?
  • An algorithm may represent a “trade secret,” but it might also reinforce dangerous assumptions or result in unconscious bias. What kind of transparency should we strive for in the use of algorithms?

 

 

 

Microsoft’s AI-powered Sketch2Code builds websites and apps from drawings — from alphr.com by Bobby Hellard
Microsoft Released on GitHub, Microsoft’s AI-powered developer tool can shave hours off web and app building

Excerpt:

Microsoft has developed an AI-powered web design tool capable of turning sketches of websites into functional HTML code.

Called Sketch2Code, Microsoft AI’s senior product manager Tara Shankar Jana explained that the tool aims to “empower every developer and every organisation to do more with AI”. It was born out of the “intrinsic” problem of sending a picture of a wireframe or app designs from whiteboard or paper to a designer to create HTML prototypes.

 

 

 

 

 

25 skills LinkedIn says are most likely to get you hired in 2018 — and the online courses to get them — from businessinsider.com by Mara Leighton

Excerpt:

With the introduction of far-reaching and robust technology, the job market has experienced its own exponential growth, adaptation, and semi-metamorphosis. So much so that it can be difficult to guess what skills employer’s are looking for and what makes your résumé — and not another — stand out to recruiters.

Thankfully, LinkedIn created a 2018 “roadmap”— a list of hard and soft skills that companies need the most.

LinkedIn used data from their 500+ million members to identify the skills companies are currently working the hardest to fill. They grouped the skills members add to their profiles into several dozen categories (for example, “Android” and “iOS” into the “Mobile Development” category). Then, the company looked at all of the hiring and recruiting activity that happened on LinkedIn between January 1 and September 1 (billions of data points) and extrapolated the skill categories that belonged to members who were “more likely to start a new role within a company and receive interest from companies.”

LinkedIn then coupled those specific skills with related jobs and their average US salaries — all of which you can find below, alongside courses you can take (for free or for much less than the cost of a degree) to support claims of aptitude and stay ahead of the curve.

The online-learning options we included — LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Coursera, and edX— are among the most popular and inexpensive.

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

How blockbuster MOOCs could shape the future of teaching — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpt:

There isn’t a New York Times bestseller list for online courses, but perhaps there should be. After all, so-called MOOCs, or massive open online courses, were meant to open education to as many learners as possible, and in many ways they are more like books (digital ones, packed with videos and interactive quizzes) than courses.

The colleges and companies offering MOOCs can be pretty guarded these days about releasing specific numbers on how many people enroll or pay for a “verified certificate” or microcredential showing they took the course. But both Coursera and EdX, two of the largest providers, do release lists of their most popular courses. And those lists offer a telling snapshot of how MOOCs are evolving and what their impact is on the instructors and institutions offering them.

Here are the top 10 most popular courses for each provider:

 

Coursera Top 10 Most Popular Courses (over past 12 months)

 

edX Top 10 Most Popular Courses (all time)

 

 

So what are these blockbuster MOOCs, then? Experiential textbooks? Gateways to more rigorous college courses? A new kind of entertainment program?

Maybe the answer is: all of the above.

 

 

 

 

 

Below are some excerpted slides from her presentation…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also see:

  • 20 important takeaways for learning world from Mary Meeker’s brilliant tech trends – from donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.com by Donald Clark
    Excerpt:
    Mary Meeker’s slide deck has a reputation of being the Delphic Oracle of tech. But, at 294 slides it’s a lot to take in. Don’t worry, I’ve been through them all. It has tons on economic stuff that is of marginal interest to education and training but there’s plenty to to get our teeth into. We’re not immune to tech trends, indeed we tend to follow in lock-step, just a bit later than everyone else. Among the data are lots of fascinating insights that point the way forward in terms of what we’re likely to be doing over the next decade. So here’s a really quick, top-end summary for folk in the learning game.

 

“Educational content usage online is ramping fast” with over 1 billion daily educational videos watched. There is evidence that use of the Internet for informal and formal learning is taking off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Big Takeaways From Mary Meeker’s Widely-Read Internet Report — from fortune.com by  Leena Rao

 

 

 

 

An AI Bot for the Teacher — with thanks to Karthik Reddy for this resource

Artificial intelligence is the stuff of science fiction – if you are old enough, you will remember those Terminator movies a good few years ago, where mankind was systematically being wiped out by computers.

The truth is that AI, though not quite at Terminator level yet, is already a fact and something that most of us have encountered already. If you have ever used the virtual assistant on your phone or the Ask Google feature, you have used AI.

Some companies are using it as part of their sales and marketing strategies. An interesting example is Lowe’s Home Improvement that, instead of chatbots, uses actual robots into their physical stores. These robots are capable of helping customers locate products that they’re interested in, taking a lot of the guesswork out of the entire shopping experience.

Of course, there are a lot of different potential applications for AI that are very interesting. Imagine an AI teaching assistant, for example. They could help grade papers, fact check and assist with lesson planning, etc., all to make our harassed teachers’ lives a little easier.

Chatbots could be programmed as tutors to help kids better understand core topics if they are struggling with them, ensuring that they don’t hold the rest of the class up. And, for kids who have a real affinity with the subject, help them learn more about what they are interested in.

It could also help enhance long distance training.  Imagine if your students could get instant answers to basic questions through a simple chatbot. Sure, if they were still not getting it, they would come through to you – the chatbot cannot replace a real, live, teacher after all. But it could save you a lot of time and frustration.

Here, of course, we have only skimmed the surface of what artificial intelligence is capable of. Why not look through this infographic to see how different brands have been using this tech, and see what possible applications of it we might expect.

 

Brands that use AI to enhance marketing (infographic) 2018
From 16best.net with thanks to Karthik Reddy for this resource

 

 

 

Transforming the Postsecondary Professional Education Experience — from by Mary Grush & Thomas Finholt

Excerpt:

So, among other factors currently influencing change, those are the predominate ones. I’ll sum it up this way: The tried-and-true residential model has worked so far, but a number of factors are forcing transformation: emerging technologies, new expectations about when learning will occur in a student’s lifespan, and the introduction of a whole new population of students that had never been imagined before.

Grush: What are your latest efforts or experiments in new professional education offerings that you see as part of this transformation? When did you make a start and what impacts do you see so far?
Finholt: The biggest transformation for us to date has been our entry into the MOOC space. That movement began with a few small trials, but it’s now rapidly expanding and may include, ultimately, full degree offerings. I would describe our period of experimentation with MOOCs to have started in 2013, gaining especially significant momentum in the past two years. Over the next couple of years, our efforts will expand even more dramatically, if we elect to offer fully online degrees. As a measure of the magnitude of impact of MOOCs so far, one of our MOOC specializations in the Python programming language is among the most popular offerings on Coursera — I believe that it has reached more than a million learners at this point. A significant fraction of those learners have opted to sit for an exam to get a certificate in Python programming.

 

 

One is, as announced at the March 6th Coursera meeting, that we have joined in a partnership with Coursera and the University of Michigan’s Office of Academic Innovation to design and get approved, a brand-new online master’s degree in Applied Data Science. 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Mary and Thomas’ solid article reminds me of a graphic I put together a while back:

 

 

 

 

“The process of obtaining postgraduate credentials is becoming something that one works on over the entire span of one’s career… Working professionals will have an array of punctuated intervals, if you will — periods of time when they work intensively to update their credentials.” (source)

 

 

 

 

VR Lab! — from thejournal.com by Joshua Bolkan

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

When Tampa Preparatory School launched decided to turn a closet into a virtual reality lab, they had no idea how far their students would run with the tools, but that’s exactly what they did, sitting down to build their own educational apps to help visualize concepts in astronomy, chemistry and physics. In addition to the educational apps, built by students on their own initiative, the VR lab is also used for art classes and more.

Chad Lewis, director of technology at Tampa Prep, recently sat down with THE Journal to talk about the school’s experience with VR as an educational tool.

Tell me a little about having students design their own VR apps. Are there any benefits to it that surprised you?

Chad Lewis: Some surprising benefits included branching out beyond computer science into areas like chemistry and physics. This is an example of the amazing things students can do if given the opportunity to pursue their passions. They need time, space and resources as well as support and encouragement. 

 

 

The main thing is that they’re learning coding, 3D modeling, game development, collaboration, design thinking, etc.

 

 

 

 

In the process, one of our computer science students came up to me and said, “Mr. Lewis do you mind if I try to create some virtual reality apps using Unity?” and it really took off from there. The lab was a student-driven initiative.

 

 

 

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