2018 TECH TRENDS REPORT — from the Future Today Institute
Emerging technology trends that will influence business, government, education, media and society in the coming year.


The Future Today Institute’s 11th annual Tech Trends Report identifies 235 tantalizing advancements in emerging technologies—artificial intelligence, biotech, autonomous robots, green energy and space travel—that will begin to enter the mainstream and fundamentally disrupt business, geopolitics and everyday life around the world. Our annual report has garnered more than six million cumulative views, and this edition is our largest to date.

Helping organizations see change early and calculate the impact of new trends is why we publish our annual Emerging Tech Trends Report, which focuses on mid- to late-stage emerging technologies that are on a growth trajectory.

In this edition of the FTI Tech Trends Report, we’ve included several new features and sections:

  • a list and map of the world’s smartest cities
  • a calendar of events that will shape technology this year
  • detailed near-future scenarios for several of the technologies
  • a new framework to help organizations decide when to take action on trends
  • an interactive table of contents, which will allow you to more easily navigate the report from the bookmarks bar in your PDF reader



01 How does this trend impact our industry and all of its parts?
02 How might global events — politics, climate change, economic shifts – impact this trend, and as a result, our organization?
03 What are the second, third, fourth, and fifth-order implications of this trend as it evolves, both in our organization and our industry?
04 What are the consequences if our organization fails to take action on this trend?
05 Does this trend signal emerging disruption to our traditional business practices and cherished beliefs?
06 Does this trend indicate a future disruption to the established roles and responsibilities within our organization? If so, how do we reverse-engineer that disruption and deal with it in the present day?
07 How are the organizations in adjacent spaces addressing this trend? What can we learn from their failures and best practices?
08 How will the wants, needs and expectations of our consumers/ constituents change as a result of this trend?
09 Where does this trend create potential new partners or collaborators for us?
10 How does this trend inspire us to think about the future of our organization?




A Microlearning Framework — from jvsp.io and Pablo Navarro
This infographic is based on the experience of different clients from different industries in different training programs.


From DSC:
I thought this was a solid infographic and should prove to be useful for Instructional Designers, Faculty Members, and/or for Corporate Trainers as well. 

I might also consider adding a “Gotcha!” piece first — even before the welcome piece — in order to get the learner’s attention and to immediately answer the WHY question. WHY is this topic important and relevant to me? When topics are relevant to people, they care and engage a whole lot more with the content that’s about to be presented to them. Ideally, such a piece would stir some curiosity as well.





Embracing Digital Tools of the Millennial Trade. — from virtuallyinspired.org


Thus, millennials are well-acquainted with – if not highly dependent on – the digital tools they use in their personal and professional lives. Tools that empower them to connect and collaborate in a way that is immediate and efficient, interactive and self-directed. Which is why they expect technology-enhanced education to replicate this user experience in the virtual classroom. And when their expectations fall short or go unmet altogether, millennials are more likely to go in search of other alternatives.



From DSC:
There are several solid tools mentioned in this article, and I always appreciate the high-level of innovation arising from Susan Aldridge, Marci Powell, and the folks at virtuallyinspired.org.

After reading the article, the key considerations that come to my mind involve the topics of usability and advocating for the students’ perspective. That is, we need to approach things from the student’s/learner’s standpoint — from a usability and user experience standpoint. For example, a seamless/single sign-on for each of these tools would be a requirement for implementing them. Otherwise, learners would have to be constantly logging into a variety of systems and services. Not only is that process time consuming, but a learner would need to keep track of additional passwords — and who doesn’t have enough of those to keep track of these days (I realize there are tools for that, but even those tools require additional time to investigate, setup, and maintain).

So plug-ins for the various CMSs/LMSs are needed that allow for a nice plug-and-play situation here.



From DSC:
Why aren’t we further along with lecture recording within K-12 classrooms?

That is, I as a parent — or much better yet, our kids themselves who are still in K-12 — should be able to go online and access whatever talks/lectures/presentations were given on a particular day. When our daughter is sick and misses several days, wouldn’t it be great for her to be able to go out and see what she missed? Even if we had the time and/or the energy to do so (which we don’t), my wife and I can’t present this content to her very well. We would likely explain things differently — and perhaps incorrectly — thus, potentially muddying the waters and causing more confusion for our daughter.

There should be entry level recording studios — such as the One Button Studio from Penn State University — in each K-12 school for teachers to record their presentations. At the end of each day, the teacher could put a checkbox next to what he/she was able to cover that day. (No rushing intended here — as education is enough of a run-away train often times!) That material would then be made visible/available on that day as links on an online-based calendar. Administrators should pay teachers extra money in the summer times to record these presentations.

Also, students could use these studios to practice their presentation and communication skills. The process is quick and easy:





I’d like to see an option — ideally via a brief voice-driven Q&A at the start of each session — that would ask the person where they wanted to put the recording when it was done: To a thumb drive, to a previously assigned storage area out on the cloud/Internet, or to both destinations?

Providing automatically generated close captioning would be a great feature here as well, especially for English as a Second Language (ESL) students.




From DSC:
After seeing the article entitled, “Scientists Are Turning Alexa into an Automated Lab Helper,” I began to wonder…might Alexa be a tool to periodically schedule & provide practice tests & distributed practice on content? In the future, will there be “learning bots” that a learner can employ to do such self-testing and/or distributed practice?



From page 45 of the PDF available here:


Might Alexa be a tool to periodically schedule/provide practice tests & distributed practice on content?





Michelle Weise: ‘We Need to Design the Learning Ecosystem of the Future’ — from edsurge.com  by Michelle Weise


These days, education reformers, evangelists and foundations pay a lot of lip service to the notion of lifelong learning, but we do little to invest in the systems, architecture and infrastructure needed to facilitate seamless movements in and out of learning and work.

Talk of lifelong learning doesn’t translate into action. In fact, resources and funding are often geared toward the traditional 17- to 22-year-old college-going population and less often to working adults, our growing new-traditional student population.

We’ll need a different investment thesis: For most adults, taking time off work to attend classes at a local, brick-and-mortar community college or a four-year institution will not be the answer. The opportunity costs will be too high. Our current system of traditional higher education is ill-suited to facilitate flexible, seamless cost-effective learning pathways for these students to keep up with the emergent demands of the workforce.

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma.We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”


We have to do better. Let’s begin seeding the foundational elements of a learning ecosystem of the future—flexible enough for adults to move consistently in and out of learning and work. Enough talk about lifelong learning: Let’s build the foundations of that learning ecosystem of the future.



From DSC:
I couldn’t agree more with Michelle that we need a new learning ecosystem of the future. In fact, I have been calling such an effort “Learning from the Living [Class] Room — and it outlines a next generation learning platform that aims to deliver everything Michelle talks about in her solid article out at edsurge.com.

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV


Along these lines…I just saw that Amazon is building out more cashierless stores (and Walmart is also at work on introducing more cashierless stores.) Now, let’s say that you are currently a cashier. 2-5 years from now (depending upon where you’re currently working and which stores are in your community), what are you going to do? The opportunities for such a position will be fewer and fewer. Who can help you do what Michelle mentioned here:

Working learners will also need help articulating their learning goals and envisioning a future for themselves. People don’t know how to translate their skills from one industry to another. How does a student begin to understand that 30% of what they already know could be channeled into a totally different and potentially promising pathway they never even knew was within reach?

And that cashier may have had a tough time with K-12 education and/or with higher education. As Michelle writes:

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma. We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”

And like the cashier in this example…we are quickly approaching an era where, I believe, many of us will need to reinvent ourselves in order to:

  • stay marketable
  • keep bread and butter on the table
  • continue to have a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives

Higher ed, if it wants to remain relevant, must pick up the pace of experimentation and increase the willingness to innovate, and to develop new business models — to develop new “learning channels” so to speak. Such channels need to be:

  • Up-to-date
  • Serving relevant data and information– especially regarding the job market and which jobs appear to be safe for the next 5-10 years
  • Inexpensive/affordable
  • Highly convenient




From DSC:
Here’s a quote that has been excerpted from the announcement below…and it’s the type of service that will be offered in our future learning ecosystems — our next generation learning platforms:


Career Insight™ enables prospective students to identify programs of study which can help them land the careers they want: Career Insight™ describes labor market opportunities associated with programs of study to prospective students. The recommendation engine also matches prospective students to programs based on specific career interests.


But in addition to our future learning platforms pointing new/prospective students to physical campuses, the recommendation engines will also provide immediate access to digital playlists for the prospective students/learners to pursue from their living rooms (or as they are out and about…i.e., mobile access).


The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV



Artificial intelligence working with enormous databases to build/update recommendation engines…yup, I could see that. Lifelong learning. Helping people know what to reinvent themselves to.




Career Insight™ Lets Prospective Students Connect Academic Program Choices to Career Goals — from burning-glass.com; also from Hadley Dreibelbis from Finn Partners
New Burning Glass Technologies Product Brings Job Data into Enrollment Decisions

BOSTON—Burning Glass Technologies announces the launch of Career Insight™, the first tool to show prospective students exactly how course enrollment will advance their careers.

Embedded in institutional sites and powered by Burning Glass’ unparalleled job market data, Career Insight’s personalized recommendation engine matches prospective students with programs based on their interests and goals. Career Insight will enable students to make smarter decisions, as well as improve conversion and retention rates for postsecondary institutions.

“A recent Gallup survey found that 58% of students say career outcomes are the most important reason to continue their education,” Burning Glass CEO Matthew Sigelman said. “That’s particularly true for the working learners who are now the norm on college campuses. Career Insight™ is a major step in making sure that colleges and universities can speak their language from the very first.”

Beginning an educational program with a firm, realistic career goal can help students persist in their studies. Currently only 29% of students in two-year colleges and 59% of those in four-year institutions complete their degrees within six years.

Career Insight™ enables prospective students to identify programs of study which can help them land the careers they want:

  • Career Insight™ describes labor market opportunities associated with programs of study to prospective students. The recommendation engine also matches prospective students to programs based on specific career interests.
  • The application provides insights to enrollment, advising, and marketing teams into what motivates prospective students, analysis that will guide the institution in improving program offerings and boosting conversion.
  • Enrollment advisors can also walk students through different career and program scenarios in real time.

Career Insight™ is driven by the Burning Glass database of a billion job postings and career histories, collected from more than 40,000 online sources daily. The database, powered by a proprietary analytic taxonomy, provides insight into what employers need much faster and in more detail than any other sources.

Career Insight™ is powered by the same rich dataset Burning Glass delivers to hundreds of leading corporate and education customers – from Microsoft and Accenture to Harvard University and Coursera.

More information is available at http://burning-glass.com/career-insight.




Faculty Learning Communities: Making the Connection, Virtually — from by Angela Atwell, Cristina Cottom, Lisa Martino, and Sara Ombres

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Research has shown that interactions with peers promotes faculty engagement (McKenna, Johnson, Yoder, Guerra, & Pimmel, 2016). Faculty learning communities (FLC) have become very popular in recent years. FLCs focus on improving teaching and learning practice through collaboration and community building (Cox, 2001). Usually, FLCs are face-to-face meetings hosted at a physical location at a specific date and time. We understand the benefit of this type of experience. However, we recognize online instructors will likely find it difficult to participate in a traditional FLC. So, we set out to integrate FLC principles to provide our faculty, living and working all over the globe, a similar experience.

Recently, our Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence took the plunge and offered a Virtual Faculty Learning Community (V-FLC) for instructors at our Worldwide Campus. The first experience was open only to adjunct instructors teaching online. The experience was asynchronous, lasted eight weeks, and focused on best practices for online teaching and learning. Within our Learning Management System, faculty led and participated in discussions around the topics that were of interest to them. Most topics focused on teaching practices and ways to enhance the online experience. However, other topics bridged the gap between teaching online and general best teaching practices. 




You can now build Amazon Music playlists using voice commands on Alexa devices — from theverge.com by Natt Garun


Amazon today announced that Amazon Music listeners can now build playlists using voice commands via Alexa. For example, if they’re streaming music from an app or listening to the radio on an Alexa-enabled device, they can use voice commands to add the current song to a playlist, or start a new playlist from scratch.


From DSC:
I wonder how long it will be before we will be able to create and share learning-based playlists for accessing digitally-based resources…? Perhaps AI will be used to offer a set of playlists on any given topic…?

With the exponential pace of change that we’re starting to experience — plus the 1/2 lives of information shrinking — such features could come in handy.






What can we learn from the past decade of edtech? — from innovatemyschool.com [UK]


We posed this question to a selection of edtech leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds. These people come from a variety of organisations, countries and areas of expertise, taking in fields such as SEN, interactive displays, cybersecurity, computing and small, colourful Danish bricks.

“What can we learn from the past decade of edtech?” Here are their responses…




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