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.

 
 

Meet Anthony Johnson: Teacher of the Year. Rebel ‘Mayor.’ High School Dropout. — from edsurge.com by Kristin Leong

Excerpt:

Anthony’s classroom is as much an invitation to his students to take ownership of their learning as it is a rebellion against the education system that failed him when he was a student. In his book, “High School Dropout to Teacher of the Year,” Anthony’s complicated relationship to education comes through as the fuel behind his work. In explaining his motivations behind reinventing classroom learning, he says that his focus as a teacher is to provide students with learning experiences that are “radically different” from the ones he remembers.

 

From the description of his book:

What makes Anthony Johnson a gem is not the fact that he is an African American male, but that he cultivates and fosters a learning environment unlike any other seen in this country.

 

 

 

Recommended tech tools to make retrieval practice quick and easy — from retrievalpractice.org by Pooja Agarwal

Excerpt:

Here’s a roundup of tech tools that harness retrieval practice and provide features in line with the science of learning. Each tech tool has free options, can be used during and outside of class, and includes instant feedback.

 

Resources from Bluescape Brings Creatives Together to Ideate and Collaborate in New Ways at Cannes Lions 2019

  • Design with Greater Ease Using Bluescape on Wacom video <– From DSC: Very sharp!
  • Bluescape for Creatives – War Rooms video
  • Bluescape for Creatives – Review and Approve video
  • Bluescape for Creatives – Presentations and Storytelling video
  • Bluescape for Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe XD page
  • Bluescape Speeds up UX/UI Design Cycle with XD Plugin video
 

10 important Google Drive tips for teachers and educators — from educatorstechnology.com

Excerpt:

As the creator and owner of a folder, you have different sharing settings at your hand. You can share your folders with specific people via email and allow them to either view the folder or view and edit it. Drive also enables you to prevent collaborators  from changing access and adding new people by simply checking the box next to ‘prevent editors from changing access and adding new people’. Here is how to access sharing options of your folders…

 
 

The definition of a flipped classroom, according to the Flipped Classroom Global Initiative:

Flipped Learning is a framework that enables educators to reach every student. The Flipped approach inverts the traditional classroom model by introducing course concepts before class, allowing educators to use class time to guide each student through active, practical, innovative applications of the course principles.

Some resources regarding the flipped classroom:

 

 

9 amazing uses for VR and AR in college classrooms — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser
Immersive technologies can help students understand theoretical concepts more easily, prepare them for careers through simulated experiences and keep them engaged in learning.

Excerpt:

Immersive reality is bumping us into the deep end, virtually speaking. Colleges and universities large and small are launching new labs and centers dedicated to research on the topics of augmented reality, virtual reality and 360-degree imaging. The first academic conference held completely in virtual reality recently returned for its second year, hosted on Twitch by Lethbridge College in Alberta and Centennial College in Toronto. Majors in VR and AR have begun popping up in higher education across the United States, including programs at the Savannah School of Design (GA), Shenandoah University (VA) and Drexel University Westphal (PA). Educause experts have most recently positioned the timing for broad adoption of these technologies in education at the two-year to three-year horizon. And Gartner has predicted that by the year 2021, 60 percent of higher education institutions in the United States will “intentionally” be using VR to create simulations and put students into immersive environments.

If you haven’t already acquired your own headset or applied for a grant from your institution to test out AR or VR for instruction, it’s time. We’ve done a scan of some of the most interesting projects currently taking place in American classrooms to help you imagine the virtual possibilities.

 


 

 

From DSC:
I’m wondering to what extent artificial intelligence will be used to write code in the future…and/or to review/tweak/correct code…? Along these lines, see: “Introducing AI-Assisted Development to Elevate Low-Code Platforms to the Next Level.”

Excerpt:

Mendix was founded on the belief that software development could only be significantly improved if we introduced a paradigm shift. And that’s what we did. We fundamentally changed how software is created. With the current generation of the Mendix Platform, business applications can be created 10 times faster in close collaboration or even owned by the business, with IT being in control. Today we announce the next innovation, the introduction of AI-assisted development, which gives everyone the equivalent of a world-class coach looking over their shoulder.

 

 
 

 

Watch Salvador Dalí Return to Life Through AI — from interestingengineering.com by
The Dalí Museum has created a deepfake of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí that brings him back to life.

Excerpt:

The Dalí Museum has created a deepfake of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí that brings him back to life. This life-size deepfake is set up to have interactive discussions with visitors.

The deepfake can produce 45 minutes of content and 190,512 possible combinations of phrases and decisions taken by the fake but realistic Dalí. The exhibition was created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners using 6,000 frames of Dalí taken from historic footage and 1,000 hours of machine learning.

 

From DSC:
While on one hand, incredible work! Fantastic job! On the other hand, if this type of deepfake can be done, how can any video be trusted from here on out? What technology/app will be able to confirm that a video is actually that person, actually saying those words?

Will we get to a point that says, this is so and so, and I approved this video. Or will we have an electronic signature? Will a blockchain-based tech be used? I don’t know…there always seems to be pros and cons to any given technology. It’s how we use it. It can be a dream, or it can be a nightmare.

 

 

From DSC:
Re: the Learning from the Living [Class] Room vision of a next gen learning platform

 

Learning from the Living Class Room

 

…wouldn’t it be cool if you could use your voice to ask your smart/connected “TV” type of device:

“Show me the test questions for Torts I from WMU-Cooley Law School. Cooley could then charge $0.99 for these questions.”

Then, the system knows how you did on answering those questions. The ones you got right, you don’t get asked to review as often as the ones you got wrong. As you get a question right more often, the less you are asked to answer it.

You sign up for such streams of content — and the system assesses you periodically. This helps a person keep certain topics/information fresh in their memory. This type of learning method would be incredibly helpful for students trying to pass the Bar or other types of large/summative tests — especially when a student has to be able to recall information that they learned over the last 3-5 years.

Come to think of it…this method could help all of us in learning new disciplines/topics throughout our lifetimes. Sign up for the streams of content that you want to learn more about…and drop the (no-longer relevant) subscriptions as needed..

 

We need to tap into streams of content in our next gen learning platform

 

From DSC:
Pastors, what do you think of these ideas?

  • Summarize your key points and put them up on slides at the end of your sermons (and/or at discussion groups after service)
  • Summarize your key points and post them to the churches’ websites — including links to resources that you referenced in your sermons (books, devotions, other)
  • Have an app that folks in your congregation could complete during the sermon (like “fill in the blanks” / missing words or phrases). Or, if you’d prefer that your congregation not have their smartphones out, perhaps you could provide “quizzes” mid-week to assist in information recall (i.e., spaced repetition). That is, people would need to try to fill in the missing phrases and/or words mid-week. Answers would be immediately available if someone asked for them.

Along these lines…should there be more classes in seminary on learning theories and on pedagogy? Hmmm….an interesting thought.

 

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