Microsoft and Intel unite to bring blockchain to businesses with Coco Framework – from digitaltrends.com by Lulu Chang

Excerpt:

You still may not know what bitcoin is, but soon, you could be working with the technology that powers the cryptocurrency. Intel and Microsoft are working together to bring blockchain into the workplace, and it’s all contingent on a new framework they’re calling Coco. Heralded as a first-of-its-kind innovation, the goal is to jumpstart widespread adoption, particularly among businesses, of blockchain technology. After all, blockchain allows for secure and speedy transactions, which are key to many modern businesses.

As Microsoft noted in a news release, the Coco Framework is meant to reduce the complexity currently associated with blockchain protocol technology. As such, the company notes, the framework could pave the way for “more complex, real-world blockchain scenarios across industries — like financial services, supply chain and logistics, healthcare and retail — further proving blockchain’s potential to digitally transform business.”

 

Blockchain technology may seem a bit foreign to most, but Microsoft and Intel are hoping to bring it to businesses around the world.

 

 

 

The Platform Chronicles: 10 Questions with Phil Komarny, Chief Digital Officer at the Institute for Transformational Learning at UTx — from medium.com by Bruce Richardson
On the first blockchain app on Salesforce and the pursuit of lifelong learning

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Welcome to the The Platform Chronicles, a new publication designed to introduce readers to some of the most innovative partners that have developed applications on the Salesforce platform. This issue focuses on Phil Komarny and UTx’s plans to dramatically change Higher Ed.

Question #1
Phil, Can you tell us more about the University of Texas’ Institute for Transformational Learning and its relationship with Salesforce?

At the Institute for Transformational Learning we are charged with developing technologies that will power the delivery of educational experiences for our 215,000 students. Though this work we have created a platform that leverages a persistent profile of each of our learners. The platform, Totelic, also has the potential to integrate with each of our 14 campuses student information and learning management systems.

Thinking deeply about the learner’s lifelong journey, we also created a data model that places the learner at the center of the experience. Using Salesforce as our CRM we are afforded a 360-degree view of each learner. The data that resides in many siloed data stores on every campus today has now been wrapped around each learner to create a digital reflection of their abilities and goals.

 

A quick insert of a graphic from DSC:

 

 

Instead of replacing the ERP systems, we enhance them with our integrations so that each of our campuses has an innovation engine at their disposal. Creating new experiences for learners like modular certificates that stack toward a larger credential over time is now a reality for our campus partners.

(Editor’s note: Totelic was created by the UTX Institute for Transformational Learning, and is a “Learner Relationship Management” (LRM) system?—?that is basically a learning environment-agnostic dashboard that monitors a learner’s progress through any connected learning experience, e.g., a 3-credit course taught in Blackboard or a Salesforce Trailhead module. It normalizes the data stream and feeds a few algorithms that provide motivational guidance and track pace, progress and overall performance. It also has an integrated service model that leverages Salesforce communities to provide connection for everything from mentoring to events.)


Blockchains are being used for many things today. From crypto currency to tracking shipping containers and diamonds, the immutability, security and validity of this distributed data store create a new way to think through our current business process, policies and laws of any enterprise.

At a recent event at MIT, The Business of Blockchain, I was stunned to see each vertical represented with one omission?—?education.

After reading Phillip Schmidt’s Medium post about work they were doing at the MIT Media Lab that would effectively store any fellow’s digital credential to a blockchain, I envisioned how that approach might work for our platform.

While on a hike, I was pondering the application and the ChainScript was born. This application would be able to provide every learner in our system a way to own, manage and share a record of their academic accomplishments by storing their information on a blockchain.

To validate this approach we have created our proof of concept as private blockchain to allow us to focus on the different applications of the technology before we take the solutions to a different fabric.

 

 

Microsoft is working on its own commercial blockchain framework, expected to arrive in 2018 — from geekwire.com by Tom Krazit

Excerpt:

Starting next year, Microsoft plans to release an open-source framework that will allow businesses to implement blockchain technologies as part of their business processes.

The project, known as the Coco Framework, aims to help companies use blockchain ledger technologies to facilitate transactions between customers, suppliers, or anyone with whom they do business. Coco Framework will work with any ledger protocol and can run on any cloud provider’s services or on on-premises servers, Microsoft representatives said. The company plans to release more details on its approach later on Thursday.

Blockchain is the underlying technology behind the Bitcoin digital currency, but it has lots of other potential uses that have technologists and venture capitalists excited. It allows users to keep a record of transactions (or really anything that transpires between different entities) in a secure, decentralized “ledger.” Think of it like a database that isn’t tied to a server or public cloud, but rather a cascade of data points that work together to continuously update and verify a record of activity.

 

 

 

The Truth About Blockchain — from hbr.org by Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani

Excerpt:

The parallels between blockchain and TCP/IP are clear. Just as e-mail enabled bilateral messaging, bitcoin enables bilateral financial transactions. The development and maintenance of blockchain is open, distributed, and shared—just like TCP/IP’s. A team of volunteers around the world maintains the core software. And just like e-mail, bitcoin first caught on with an enthusiastic but relatively small community.

TCP/IP unlocked new economic value by dramatically lowering the cost of connections. Similarly, blockchain could dramatically reduce the cost of transactions. It has the potential to become the system of record for all transactions. If that happens, the economy will once again undergo a radical shift, as new, blockchain-based sources of influence and control emerge.*

* From DSC:
   “What if…?” comes to mind here…

 

In a blockchain system, the ledger is replicated in a large number of identical databases, each hosted and maintained by an interested party. When changes are entered in one copy, all the other copies are simultaneously updated. So as transactions occur, records of the value and assets exchanged are permanently entered in all ledgers. There is no need for third-party intermediaries to verify or transfer ownership. If a stock transaction took place on a blockchain-based system, it would be settled within seconds, securely and verifiably. (The infamous hacks that have hit bitcoin exchanges exposed weaknesses not in the blockchain itself but in separate systems linked to parties using the blockchain.)

 

 

 

Microsoft Is Working to Make Blockchain Faster and More Popular — from finance.yahoo.com and Reuters

Excerpt:

Microsoft is working on technology that it believes can make blockchain-based systems faster and more private, as it looks to speed up use of the distributed database software by enterprises.

The company said on Thursday that it had developed a system called Coco Framework, which connects to different blockchain networks to solve some of the issues that have slowed down their adoption, including speed and privacy concerns.

Coco, whose names stands for Confidential Consortium, will be ready and made open source by 2018, Microsoft said.

It is currently compatible with Ethereum, one of the most popular types of blockchains and can make it roughly 100 times faster, Microsoft said.

 

 

 

 



Addendum on 8/17/17:

 

 

 

 

Davy Crockett to give tours of Alamo in new augmented reality app — from mysanantonio.com by Samantha Ehlinger

Excerpt:

Using a smart phone, users will be able to see and interact with computer-generated people and scenes from the past — overlayed on top of the very real and present-day Alamo. The app will also show the Alamo as it was at different points in history, and tell the story of the historic battle through different perspectives of the people (like Crockett) who were there. The app includes extra features users can buy, much like Pokémon Go.

“We’re making this into a virtual time machine so that if I’m standing on this spot and I look at, oh well there’s Davy Crockett, then I can go back a century and I can see the mission being built,” Alamo Reality CEO Michael McGar said. The app will allow users to see the Alamo not only as it was in 1836, but as it was before and after, McGar said.

 

 

 

“We’re developing a technology that’s going to be able to span across generations to tell a story”

— Lane Traylor

 

 

Codify Academy Taps IBM Cloud with Watson to Design Cognitive Chatbot — from finance.yahoo.com
Chatbot “Bobbot” has driven thousands of potential leads, 10 percent increase in converting visitors to students

Excerpt:

ARMONK, N.Y., Aug. 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that Codify Academy, a San Francisco-based developer education startup, tapped into IBM Cloud’s cognitive services to create an interactive cognitive chatbot, Bobbot, that is improving student experiences and increasing enrollment.

Using the IBM Watson Conversation Service, Bobbot fields questions from prospective and current students in natural language via the company’s website. Since implementing the chatbot, Codify Academy has engaged thousands of potential leads through live conversation between the bot and site visitors, leading to a 10 percent increase in converting these visitors into students.

 

 

Bobbot can answer more than 200 common questions about enrollment, course and program details, tuition, and prerequisites, in turn enabling Codify Academy staff to focus on deeper, more meaningful exchanges.

 

 

 


Also see:

Chatbots — The Beginners Guide
 — from chatbotsmagazine.com

Excerpt:

If you search for chatbots on Google, you’ll probably come across hundreds of pages starting from what is a chatbot to how to build one. This is because we’re in 2017, the year of the chatbots revolution.

I’ve been introduced to many people who are new to this space, and who are very interested and motivated in entering it, rather they’re software developers, entrepreneurs, or just tech hobbyists. Entering this space for the first time, has become overwhelming in just a few months, particularly after Facebook announced the release of the messenger API at F8 developer conference. Due to this matter, I’ve decided to simplify the basic steps of entering this fascinating world.

 


 

 

 

 

VR Is the Fastest-Growing Skill for Online Freelancers — from bloomberg.com by Isabel Gottlieb
Workers who specialize in artificial intelligence also saw big jumps in demand for their expertise.

Excerpt:

Overall, tech-related skills accounted for nearly two-thirds of Upwork’s list of the 20 fastest-growing skills.

 


 

 


Also see:


How to Prepare Preschoolers for an Automated Economy — from nytimes.com by Claire Miller and Jess Bidgood

Excerpt

MEDFORD, Mass. — Amory Kahan, 7, wanted to know when it would be snack time. Harvey Borisy, 5, complained about a scrape on his elbow. And Declan Lewis, 8, was wondering why the two-wheeled wooden robot he was programming to do the Hokey Pokey wasn’t working. He sighed, “Forward, backward, and it stops.”

Declan tried it again, and this time the robot shook back and forth on the gray rug. “It did it!” he cried. Amanda Sullivan, a camp coordinator and a postdoctoral researcher in early childhood technology, smiled. “They’ve been debugging their Hokey Pokeys,” she said.

The children, at a summer camp last month run by the Developmental Technologies Research Group at Tufts University, were learning typical kid skills: building with blocks, taking turns, persevering through frustration. They were also, researchers say, learning the skills necessary to succeed in an automated economy.

Technological advances have rendered an increasing number of jobs obsolete in the last decade, and researchers say parts of most jobs will eventually be automated. What the labor market will look like when today’s young children are old enough to work is perhaps harder to predict than at any time in recent history. Jobs are likely to be very different, but we don’t know which will still exist, which will be done by machines and which new ones will be created.

 

 

 

Penn State World Campus implements 360-degree videos in online courses — from news.psu.edu by Mike Dawson
Videos give students virtual-reality experiences; leaders hopeful for quick expansion

Excerpt:

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State World Campus is using 360-degree videos and virtual reality for the first time with the goal of improving the educational experience for online learners.

The technology has been implemented in the curriculum of a graduate-level special education course in Penn State’s summer semester. Students can use a VR headset to watch 360-degree videos on a device such as a smartphone.

The course, Special Education 801, focuses on how teachers can respond to challenging behaviors, and the 360-degree videos place students in a classroom where they see an instructor explaining strategies for arranging the classroom in ways best-suited for the learning activity. The videos were produced using a 360-degree video camera and uploaded into the course in just a few a days.

 

 

 

Report: AI will be in nearly all new software by 2020 — from thejournal.com by Joshua Bolkan

Excerpt:

Artificial intelligence will be in nearly all new software products by 2020 and a top five investment priority for more than 30 percent of chief information officers, according to a new report from Gartner.

The company lists three keys to successfully exploiting AI technologies over the next few years:

  • Many vendors are “AI washing” their products, or applying the term artificial intelligence to tools that don’t really merit it. Vendors should use the term wisely and be clear about what differentiates their AI products and what problems they solve;
  • Forego more complicated or cutting-edge AI techniques in favor of simpler, proven approaches; and
  • Organizations do not have the skills to evaluate, build or deploy AI and are looking for embedded or packaged AI rather than custom building their own.

 

 

 

 

How SLAM technology is redrawing augmented reality’s battle lines — from venturebeat.com by Mojtaba Tabatabaie

 

 

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In early June, Apple introduced its first attempt to enter AR/VR space with ARKit. What makes ARKit stand out for Apple is a technology called SLAM (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping). Every tech giant — especially Apple, Google, and Facebook — is investing heavily in SLAM technology and whichever takes best advantage of SLAM tech will likely end up on top.

SLAM is a technology used in computer vision technologies which gets the visual data from the physical world in shape of points to make an understanding for the machine. SLAM makes it possible for machines to “have an eye and understand” what’s around them through visual input. What the machine sees with SLAM technology from a simple scene looks like the photo above, for example.

Using these points machines can have an understanding of their surroundings. Using this data also helps AR developers like myself to create much more interactive and realistic experiences. This understanding can be used in different scenarios like robotics, self-driving cars, AI and of course augmented reality.

The simplest form of understanding from this technology is recognizing walls and barriers and also floors. Right now most AR SLAM technologies like ARKit only use floor recognition and position tracking to place AR objects around you, so they don’t actually know what’s going on in your environment to correctly react to it. More advanced SLAM technologies like Google Tango, can create a mesh of our environment so not only the machine can tell you where the floor is, but it can also identify walls and objects in your environment allowing everything around you to be an element to interact with.

 

 

The company with the most complete SLAM database will likely be the winner. This database will allow these giants to have an eye on the world metaphorically, so, for example Facebook can tag and know the location of your photo by just analyzing the image or Google can place ads and virtual billboards around you by analyzing the camera feed from your smart glasses. Your self-driving car can navigate itself with nothing more than visual data.

 

 

 

 

2017 Ed Tech Trends: The Halfway Point — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly
Four higher ed IT leaders weigh in on the current state of education technology and what’s ahead.

This article includes some perspectives shared from the following 4 IT leaders:

  • Susan Aldridge, Senior Vice President for Online Learning, Drexel University (PA); President, Drexel University Online
  • Daniel Christian, Adjunct Faculty Member, Calvin College
  • Marci Powell, CEO/President, Marci Powell & Associates; Chair Emerita and Past President, United States Distance Learning Association
  • Phil Ventimiglia, Chief Innovation Officer, Georgia State University

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

Campus Technology 2017: Virtual Reality Is More Than a New Medium — from edtechmagazine.com by Amy Burroughs
Experts weigh in on the future of VR in higher education.

Excerpts:

“It’s actually getting pretty exciting,” Georgieva said, noting that legacy companies and startups alike have projects in the works that will soon be on the market. Look for standalone, wireless VR headsets later this year from Facebook and Google.

“I think it’s going to be a universal device,” he said. “Eventually, we’ll end up with some kind of glasses where we can just dial in the level of immersion that we want.”

— Per Emery Craig, at Campus Technology 2017 Conference


“Doing VR for the sake of VR makes no sense whatsoever,” Craig said. “Ask when does it make sense to do this in VR? Does a sense of presence help this, or is it better suited to traditional media?”

 

 

Virtual Reality: The User Experience of Story — from blogs.adobe.com

Excerpt:

Solving the content problems in VR requires new skills that are only just starting to be developed and understood, skills that are quite different from traditional storytelling. VR is a nascent medium. One part story, one part experience. And while many of the concepts from film and theater can be used, storytelling through VR is not like making a movie or a play.

In VR, the user has to be guided through an experience of a story, which means many of the challenges in telling a VR story are closer to UX design than anything from film or theater.

Take the issue of frameless scenes. In a VR experience, there are no borders, and no guarantees where a user will look. Scenes must be designed to attract user attention, in order to guide them through the experience of a story.

Sound design, staging cues, lighting effects, and movement can all be used to draw a user’s attention.

However, it’s a fine balance between attraction to distraction.

“In VR, it’s easy to overwhelm the user. If you see a flashing light and in the background, you hear a sharp siren, and then something moves, you’ve given the user too many things to understand,” says Di Dang, User Experience Lead at POP, Seattle. “Be intentional and deliberate about how you grab audience attention.”

 

VR is a storytelling superpower. No other medium has the quite the same potential to create empathy and drive human connection. Because viewers are for all intents and purposes living the experience, they walk away with that history coded into their memory banks—easily accessible for future responses.

 

 

 

Google’s latest VR experiment is teaching people how to make coffee — from techradar.com by Parker Wilhelm
All in a quest to see how effective learning in virtual reality is

Excerpt:

Teaching with a simulation is no new concept, but Google’s Daydream Labs wants to see exactly how useful virtual reality can be for teaching people practical skills.

In a recent experiment, Google ran a simulation of an interactive espresso machine in VR. From there, it had a group of people try their virtual hand at brewing a cup of java before being tasked to make the real thing.

 

 



 

Addendum on 7/26/17:

 



 

 

 

4 ways augmented reality could change corporate training forever –from by Jay Samit

Excerpt:

In the coming years, machine learning and augmented reality will likely take both educational approaches to the next level by empowering workers to have the latest, most accurate information available in context, when and where they need it most.

Here are four ways that digital reality can revolutionize corporate training…

 

…augmented reality (AR) is poised not only to address issues faced by our aging workforce, but to fundamentality increase productivity by changing how all employees are trained in the future.

 

 

 

 
© 2017 | Daniel Christian