Google unveils job training initiative with $1 billion pledge  — from nytimes.com by Daisuke Wakabayashi

Excerpt:

SAN FRANCISCO — Google unveiled an initiative on Thursday to help train Americans for jobs in technology and committed to donating $1 billion over the next five years to nonprofits in education and professional training.

The new program, Grow With Google, will create an online destination for job seekers to get training and professional certificates and for businesses to improve their web services. The company’s goal, executives said, is to allow anyone with an internet connection to become proficient with technology and prepare for a job in areas like information technology support and app development.

Google detailed its job training program as Silicon Valley faces increasing criticism over what some say is an unchecked influence over business and society. Google is also among a number of companies facing scrutiny over the role their internet services played in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, unveiled the initiative during a speech on Thursday in the company’s Pittsburgh office, far from the search giant’s Silicon Valley headquarters. He noted the city’s transformation from an industrial manufacturing center for steel to a hub of robotics and artificial intelligence engineering.

“We understand there’s uncertainty and even concern about the pace of technological change, but we know that technology will be an engine of America’s growth for years to come,” Mr. Pichai said. “The nature of work is fundamentally changing, and that is shifting the link between education, training and opportunity.”

 

 

 

Reading for delegates to the World Conference on Online Learning (taking place from 10/16/17 through 10/19/17 in Toronto, Canada)

Readings include:

 

 

 

Also see:

  • Emerging Tech Boosts Online Education Growth Over Next 4 Years — from edtechmagazine.com by Meghan Bogardus Cortez
    A study finds that mobile devices, virtual reality and blending learning programs will spark innovation.
    Excerpt:
    With millions of students enrolling in at least one online course, it should be no surprise that a recent Technavio study found that the online education market is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20 percent until 2021. As enrollment and investment in online education increases, the report claims that the industry owes a lot of this growth to mobile devices and increased desire for blended learning opportunities.

 

 

 

For a long, successful career, LinkedIn says nothing beats a liberal arts major — from qz.com by Dan Kopf and Amy Wang

Excerpt:

“There is a real concern that these labor-market-oriented degrees that focus on specific technical skills are not as durable,” says Guy Berger, a LinkedIn economist and one of the researchers who worked on the report. Berger believes that “cross-functional skills” like management and analytical know-how are more adaptable across a range of work environments. As technology changes the nature of work across nearly every industry, it’s important to have a wide range of such talents, rather than a narrow subset applied only to a particular sector that may not look the same in the near future (or, indeed, exist at all).

 

 

 

Excerpt:

The Top 200 Tools for Learning 2017 (11th Annual Survey) has been compiled by Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies from the votes of 2,174 learning professionals worldwide, together with 3 sub-lists

  • Top 100 Tools for Personal & Professional Learning (PPL)
  • Top 100 Tools for Workplace Learning (WPL)
  • Top 100 Tools for Education (EDU)

 

Excerpt from the Analysis page (emphasis DSC):

Here is a brief analysis of what’s on the list and what it tells us about the current state of personal learning, workplace learning and education.

Some facts

Some observations on what the Top Tools list tells us personal and professional learning
As in previous years, individuals continue to using a wide variety of:

  • networks, services and platforms for professional networking, communication and collaboration
  • web resources and courses for self-improvement and self-development
  • tools for personal productivity

All of which shows that many individuals have become highly independent, continuous modern professional learners – making their own decisions about what they need to learn and how to do it.

 

 

 

 

How VR saves lives in the OR — from forbes.com by Charlie Fink

Excerpt:

We see seven themes emerging from new VR and AR apps for health: (1) training (2) education (3) visualization (4) psychology (5) Telehealth and telesurgery (6) screen consolidation and (7) physical training, health, and fitness. This article will focus exclusively on the applications of Virtual Reality – fully replacing the world with a realistic digital simulation of patient-specific anatomy and pathology.

 

 

 

Where does personalized learning end and special education begin? — from edsurge.com by Stefanina Baker

Excerpt:

It’s the start of a new school year and the air is full of promise. I’ve set up my room, made my copies and attended all of my meetings. As students flood into the school, I’m charged with positive energy and hope.

But as I peruse my class list and the academic data that accompanies it, anxiety sets in. I’ve committed to personalizing learning, but how can I do that for every student in my inclusion classroom when the range of abilities among them is so vast?

This is my third year teaching at William Penn High School in the Colonial School District in New Castle, Delaware. Dually certified in special education and English Language Arts, I teach an ELA inclusion class to 11th and 12th graders, which means I serve students with and without Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) in the same setting. Additionally, I manage a caseload of 18 students with IEPs, and enter goals and progress for over 60 other students.

A core element of my job has always been to consider how I can tailor instruction to meet the needs of each student—that’s the crux of special education. IEPs are legal documents designed to include specific goals, objectives and strategies for how to modify instruction to meet each student’s needs. Personalized learning doesn’t seem that far off—but meeting the needs of every student in an inclusion class when some have IEPs and some do not can get hairy.

It also raises some questions around where special education practices and personalized learning intersect.

 

Does personalized learning mean every student gets an IEP? Does it mean that students who had an IEP no longer need one because now every learner is receiving tailored instruction? Can I use the same measuring tools to gauge growth for all students? Should it be different than how I was teaching before?

 

I’d like to see special education take a front seat in conversations about personalized learning.

 

 

 

 

It’s Time for Student Agency to Take Center Stage — from gettingsmart.com by Marie Bjerede and Michael Gielniak

Excerpt:

Jason took ownership of his class project, exhibiting agency. Students who take ownership go beyond mere responsibility and conscientiously completing assignments. These students are focused on their learning, rather than their grade. They are genuinely interested in their work and are as likely as not to get up and work on a project on a Saturday morning, even though they don’t have to (and without considerations of extra credit.)

They complete their homework on time and may well go above and beyond, and they have interesting thoughts to add to classroom dialog. For many teachers, they are a joy to teach, but they are also the ones who may ask the hard questions and they may be quick to point out what they see as hypocrisy in the authority figures.

“Responsible” students, on the other hand, are compliant. Most teachers think they are a joy to teach. They complete their homework without fail, and pay attention and participate in class. These are the kids typically considered “good” students. They usually win most of the academic awards because they are thought of as the “best and brightest.”

Responsible students are concerned about their grades, and can be identified when they ask questions like::

  • “Will that be on the test?”
  • “How many words do I have to write?”
  • “What does it take to get an A?”

Students who take ownership, on the other hand ask questions like:

  • “There are several different viewpoints on this subject so why is that, and what does it mean?
  • “Is what you are teaching, or what is in my textbook, consistent with my research?”
  • “Why is this important?”

Compliance or agency? We need to decide.

 

 

The past decades have been the age of the responsible, compliant student. Students who used to be able to get into college and then immediately secure a good job. But the world and the workforce have changed.

 

 

 

 

 

Ginni Rometty on the End of Programming — from bloomberg.com by Megan Murphy
The IBM chief dares to imagine what Watson will be when it grows up, and reaffirms her pledge to hire 25,000 people over the next four years.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Do you feel we’re going to get to a point where AI will displace more jobs than it creates and we’re not doing enough to push forward with the jobs of the future?

I do believe that when it comes to complete job replacement, it will be a very small percentage. When it comes to changing a job and what you do, it will be 100 percent. “Whoa, different skills. Everybody is going to have to have a different skill because it’s going to be a threat in all our jobs.” Let me just park that thought. I want to come back to something I think that’s far more important and is related. The issue of skills is front and center in this country and many countries in the world right now without AI. We already have a world that’s bifurcating between haves and have-nots, and a lot of that is based on education and skills. This country has 5 million to 6 million jobs open. That’s about skill. This is not being caused by AI. We’ve got to revamp education for this era of man and machine. And that means you cannot insist that every person needs to be a university or a Ph.D. graduate to be productive in society. You cannot. It’s not true by the way. We’ve proven that.

You started a six-year high school program. This is a program where they take people through four years of high school, two years of a college equivalent, and then hopefully give them preference in getting into the workforce, again to work with IBM.

In the U.S., in 2015, half of our young people didn’t have an associate’s degree or a college degree. That’s the problem today: the number of people that need to be retrained. I’m far more optimistic that public-private partnerships can solve this dilemma. There will be a hundred pathways to technology becoming viral, driven by governors and states. I always remember when President Obama came to the first one, he goes, “Where are all the computers?” We’re like, “That’s not what we teach these kids.” We’re teaching them a skill about math and problem-solving that’s going to transcend any technology they deal with. The first part is a very simple formula: a curriculum of math, science. The second, give the kids a mentor and then you give them a chance at a job. We will be up to 50,000 kids, and 300 other companies have volunteered. I have a whole bunch of these kids over in Silicon Alley where we have our Watson headquarters.

 

 

I do believe that when it comes to complete job replacement, it will be a very small percentage. When it comes to changing a job and what you do, it will be 100 percent.

 

 

 

The new Autonomous SmartDesk 3 has a built-in touchscreen and AI software — from imore.com by Tory Foulk 

Excerpt:

Can your desk encourage you to stand, remind you to drink water and order you a pizza? No? Well SmartDesk 3 can.

Autonomous announced the launch of the newest iteration of its SmartDesk in a press release today, and is claiming it’s “the world’s most powerful AI-powered standing desk.”

The embedded tablet has a 7″ display and is powered by Autonomous’ own OS platform, and has both Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities so it can interact with the apps on your phone. It features many of its own shortcuts, too – you can make coffee, order food, check the weather, play Spotify playlists, and even request a ride from Uber. Because the tablet syncs with Google Calendar, it will remind you of any meetings you might have throughout the day. And in addition to all of that, SmartDesk 3 monitors how long you sit or stand and reminds you to either stretch your legs or take a break to relax when it feels you need it. After using the AI for a week or so, it will learn your habits – say, when you usually start getting hungry – and begin to anticipate your needs.

 

Autonomous' SmartDesk 3 in white

 

 

 

 

 

Unity Technologies unveils AI toolkit for training machine learning ‘agents’ — from therobotreport.com by Alex Beall

Excerpt:

Unity Technologies released the open beta version of its Unity Machine Learning Agents, an artificial intelligence toolkit developers and researchers can use to virtually train agents —whether video game characters, autonomous vehicles or robots.

“Machine learning is a disruptive technology that is important to all types of developers and researchers to make their games or systems smarter, but complexities and technical barriers make it out of reach for most,” vice president of AI and machine learning Danny Lange said in a press release. “This is an exciting new chapter in AI’s history as we are making an end-to-end machine learning environment widely accessible, and providing the critical tools needed to make more intelligent, beautiful games and applications. Complete with Unity’s physics engine and a 3D photorealistic rendering environment, our AI toolkit also offers a game-changing AI research platform to a rapidly growing community of AI enthusiasts exploring the frontiers of Deep Learning.”

 

 

 

 

How Chatbot Tech Takes Customer Service to the Next Level — from nojitter.com by Yaniv Reznik
A chatbot’s combination of personalized service and quick, efficient answers perfectly fits the needs of today’s digital consumers.

Excerpts:

Rather, today’s connected consumers want a seamless online experience that immediately allows them to self-serve when they have a quick question or choose a hybrid approach when they need that personal touch from a live representative.

Chatbots empower consumers to take charge of their own brand experience and efficiently get the answers they need. Consumers demand accuracy and convenience, and chatbots provide the perfect balance of speed, personalization, and human touch necessary for improved customer experiences.

The key to implementing chatbots that go beyond scripted responses is Natural Language Processing (NLP). Chatbots equipped with this advanced technology can understand situational context and can therefore get to the root of customer questions without putting customers on hold or redirecting them.

 

 

 

 



 

Addendum on 9/25/17:

One year later, Microsoft AI and Research grows to 8k people in massive bet on artificial intelligence — from geekwire.com by Todd Bishop

Excerpt:

One way to measure Microsoft’s AI bet: In its first year of operation, the AI and Research group has grown by 60 percent — from 5,000 people originally to nearly 8,000 people today — through hiring and acquisitions, and by bringing aboard additional teams from other parts of the company.

The creation of Microsoft AI and Research also underscores the intense competition in artificial intelligence. Microsoft is gearing up to compete against the likes of Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Apple, and countless AI startups and research groups, all of them looking to lead the tech industry in this new era of artificial intelligence.

 



 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
The vast majority of the lessons being offered within K-12 and the lectures (if we’re going to continue to offer them) within higher education should be recorded.

Why do I say this?

Well…first of all…let me speak as a parent of 3 kids, one of whom requires a team of specialists to help her learn. When she misses school because she’s out sick, it’s a major effort to get her caught up. As a parent, it would be soooooo great to log into a system and obtain an updated digital playlist of the lessons that she’s missed. She and I could click on the links to the recordings in order to see how the teacher wants our daughter to learn concepts A, B, and C. We could pause, rewind, fast forward, and replay the recording over and over again until our daughter gets it (and I as a parent get it too!).

I realize that I’m not saying anything especially new here, but we need to do a far better job of providing our overworked teachers with more time, funding, and/or other types of resources — such as instructional designers, videographers and/or One-Button Studios, other multimedia specialists, etc. — to develop these recordings. Perhaps each teacher — or team — could be paid to record and contribute their lessons to a pool of content that could be used over and over again. Also, the use of RSS feeds and content aggregators such as Feedly could come in handy here as well. Parents/learners could subscribe to streams of content.

Such a system would be a huge help to the teachers as well. They could refer students to these digital playlists as appropriate — having updated the missing students’ playlists based on what the teacher has covered that day (and who was out sick, at another school-sponsored event, etc.). They wouldn’t have to re-explain something as many times if they had recordings to reference.

—–

Also, within the realm of higher education, having recordings/transcripts of lectures and presentations would be especially helpful to learners who take more time to process what’s being said. And while that might include ESL learners here in the U.S., such recordings could benefit the majority of learners. From my days in college, I can remember trying to write down much of what the professor was saying, but not having a chance to really process much of the information until later, when I looked over my notes. Finally, learners who wanted to review some concepts before a mid-term or final would greatly appreciate these recordings.

Again, I realize this isn’t anything new. But it makes me scratch my head and wonder why we haven’t made more progress in this area, especially at the K-12 level…? It’s 2017. We can do better.

 



Some relevant tools here include:



 

 

 

Global Human Capital Report 2017 — from the World Economic Forum

Excerpt from the Conclusion section (emphasis DSC):

Technological change and its impact on labour markets calls for a renewed focus on how the world’s human capital is invested in and leveraged for social well-being and economic prosperity for all. Many of today’s education systems are already disconnected from the skills needed to function in today’s labour markets and the exponential rate of technological and economic change is further increasing the gap between education and labour markets. Furthermore, the premise of current education systems is on developing cognitive skills, yet behavioural and non-cognitive skills that nurture an individual’s capacity to collaborate, innovate, self-direct and problem-solve are increasingly important. Current education systems are also time-compressed in a way that may not be suited to current or future labour markets. They force narrow career and expertise decisions in early youth. The divide between formal education and the labour market needs to be overcome, as learning, R&D, knowledge-sharing, retraining and innovation take place simultaneously throughout the work life cycle, regardless of the job, level or industry.

 

Insert from DSC…again I ask:

Is is time to back up a major step and practice design thinking on the entire continuum of lifelong learning?”

 

Education delivery and financing mechanisms have gone through little change over the last decades. In many countries, many youth and children may find their paths constrained depending on the type of education they are able to afford, while others may not have access to even basic literacy and learning. On the other hand, many developed world education systems have made enormous increases in spending—with little explicit return. Early childhood education and teacher quality remain neglected areas in many developed and developing countries, despite their proven impact on learning outcomes. Both areas also suffer from lack of objective, global data.

Generational shifts also necessitate an urgent focus by governments on human capital investments, one that transcends political cycles. Ageing economies will face a historical first, as more and more of their populations cross into the 65 and over age group and their workforces shrink further, necessitating a better integration of youth, female workers, migrants and older workers. Many emerging economies face change of a different kind as a very large cohort of the next generation—one that is more connected and globalized than ever before—enters the workforce with very different aspirations, expectations and worldviews than their predecessors.

The expansion of the digital economy is accelerating the presence of a new kind of productive entity, somewhere between human capital and physical capital—robots and intelligent algorithms. As a result, some experts expect a potential reduction in the use of human labour as part of economic value creation while others expect a restructuring of the work done by people across economies but stable or growing overall levels of employment.19 Yet others have cautioned of the risks to economic productivity of technological reticence at the cost of realizing the raw potential of new technological advancements unfettered.20 While in the immediate term the link between work and livelihoods remains a basic feature of our societies, the uncertainty around the shifts underway poses fundamental questions about the long-term future structure of economies, societies and work. However, for broad-based transition and successful adaptation towards any one of these or other long-term futures, strategic and deep investments in human capital will be even more—not less—important than before.

 

 

 

 
© 2017 | Daniel Christian