From DSC:
After reading the item below, I wondered:

Should technical communicators, trainers, and help desk personnel get trained on how to design and develop “workbots?”


 

Forget chatbots — you should create a workbot instead — from venturebeat.com by Oren Ariel; with thanks to Thomas Frey for his tweet on this

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

But what about employee-to-company interaction through bots? Chatbots designed for the work environment, or workbots, could become the next step function in work productivity.

Workbots could be the cure for what’s often called “app fatigue.”

They work within the corporate messenger environment (such as Jabber, Skype for Business, Slack, and others) and respond to commands and questions in natural language, whether typed or dictated. They have access to all the corporate information needed to get the job done and can perform complex tasks across multiple systems. The workbot knows what tasks are executed in which back-end system, so the user doesn’t have to know. Because bots rely on natural language processing (NLP) — the ability of humans to interact with computers using free-form language — workbots can help an employee get to the starting point quickly and without any training, in the same way a search engine would, and then help guide the user through the task in a step-by-step fashion.

Chat is no longer just about communication, it’s about bringing the user information.

 

 

 

AIG teams with IBM to use blockchain for ‘smart’ insurance policy — from reuters.com by Suzanne Barlyn

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Insurer American International Group Inc has partnered with International Business Machines Corp to develop a “smart” insurance policy that uses blockchain to manage complex international coverage, the companies said on Wednesday.

AIG and IBM completed a pilot of a so-called “smart contract” multi-national policy for Standard Chartered Bank PLC which the companies said is the first of its kind using blockchain’s digital ledger technology.

IBM has been partnering with leading companies in various industries, including Danish transport company Maersk, to create blockchain-based products that can streamline complex international dealings across sectors.

 

Blockchain technology, which powers the digital currency bitcoin, enables data sharing across a network of individual computers. It has gained worldwide popularity due to its usefulness in recording and keeping track of assets or transactions across all industries.

 

 

From DSC:
Why post this item? Because IBM and others are experimenting with and investing millions into blockchain-based technologies; and because the manner in which credentials are stored and recognized will most likely be significantly impacted by blockchain-based technologies. Earlier this year at the Next Generation Learning Spaces Conference in San Diego, I mentioned that this topic of blockchain-based technologies is something that should be on our radars within higher education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From DSC — in regards to the below item involving Intel:

In the future, will we be able to bring remote students into our face-to-face-based classrooms using technologies similar to what Intel is working on? If so, that would offer some serious opportunities for learners worldwide. More choice, more control.

 



How Intel is using VR to try to change sports viewing now and into the future — from fastcompany.com by Daniel Terdiman

The tech giant has grand ambitions, and thinks that fully immersive live sports is the key to giving fans what they want–someday.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

There are hundreds of millions, if not billions, of passionate sports fans around the world. And yet, according to Intel, no more than 1% of those people will ever get to see their favorite team in person.

That massive experience gap is at the center of Intel’s ambitious live-sports virtual reality efforts, a series of initiatives that over the next couple of years should solidify the company’s “as if you’re there” philosophy about sports, said Jeff Hopper, the business strategy lead at Intel Sports Group.

In the short term, those efforts will focus on single-user, individual experiences. But over time, Intel plans on making it possible for fans to be right in the middle of their favorite team’s action, create personalized 3D highlights, and share them with friends.

Fans watching the games—via Intel’s True VR app on Samsung’s Gear VR headset—will be able to choose from multiple camera angles around a stadium, each of which will give them a wide, immersive view of the action.

 



 

 

 

 



 

 

The Higher Education Technology Paradox — from edtechmagazine.com by Hank Lucas
The academic rewards system will continue to stymie technology adoption unless higher ed administrators promote organizational change.

Excerpts:

The number one paradox in higher education is that technology is both transforming and disrupting universities around the world. Institutions that adapt to the technology and become content producers will survive and flourish; those confined to being content consumers will struggle to stay in business.

What does it take for a university to develop the kind of materials described above? Obviously, it requires money, but more than money it needs a motivated and committed faculty. The reward system in most institutions and the inherent conservatism of faculty members create a huge barrier to adopting new technologies for education. (Many faculty members are in denial that the technology can improve student learning and that it will be widely implemented.)

How does the reward system impact technology adoption?

  • Assistant professors at research universities are rewarded for publishing scholarly articles and books, which they must do to be granted tenure. They cannot risk the time needed to master the new technologies.
  • Tenured faculty can largely do what they want, and by the time they have received tenure have fallen into a rhythm of research and teaching; once tenured they are expected to undertake more service to the institution. Where does the time come from to adopt a new approach to the classroom?
  • Non-tenure track instructors are employed because they are good, or at least adequate, teachers. Adopting new technology in the classroom is risky and could result in lower student evaluations, which in turn could affect their employment status.

 


From DSC:
This is one of the reasons why I believe that a new organization will arise in the future that uses a solid, team-based approach from day 1. They will have teams of experts from a variety of fields/disciplines — and they will have the types of incentive systems that one would expect to see in startup companies. They will value innovation and will see to it that ideas can be grown and supported.

Anybody come to mind? How about Amazon.com? 

Also, faculty members — like all of us — have a limited amount of time and energy. The current workplace has loaded up faculty members’ job plates — they don’t have much time to experiment with new technologies. Also — again, like all of us — they have a variety of skills and interests. Many times, those skills and interest don’t involve working with technology. 

Look for more team-based approaches to dominate the future of higher education.


 

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Also see:

 

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 
 

Robot students? College classrooms try letting far-away students attend via remote-control stand-in — from edsurge.com by Sydney Johnson

Excerpt:

Someone looking in on Bill McCaw’s educational leadership class at the University of Montana might see students talking in small groups, or peers helping each other on assignments. It’s an age-old classroom scene, except for one space-age detail: More than half of the students are robots.

Ok, to be more precise, nine of the fourteen students in the course are joining the class remotely by using a robot stand-in. The hope is that the approach will let students, who are working professionals, join from hundreds of miles away and feel more a part of the group than would be possible with standard videoconference links.

“The space in Montana is huge. That’s why this is really important for us,” says McCaw.

 

 

From DSC:
I appreciate the level of experimentation that’s going on here — it’s stretching the existing paradigms and asking how we might bring in remote learners into our face-to-face based classrooms. This is one approach.

Another approach uses tool like the ones below — which make having students be in the same physical learning space less important:

 

 

 

 

Veeery interesting. Alexa now adds visuals / a screen! With the addition of 100 skills a day, where might this new platform lead?

Amazon introduces Echo Show

The description reads:

  • Echo Show brings you everything you love about Alexa, and now she can show you things. Watch video flash briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, and more. All hands-free—just ask.
  • Introducing a new way to be together. Make hands-free video calls to friends and family who have an Echo Show or the Alexa App, and make voice calls to anyone who has an Echo or Echo Dot.
  • See lyrics on-screen with Amazon Music. Just ask to play a song, artist or genre, and stream over Wi-Fi. Also, stream music on Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more.
  • Powerful, room-filling speakers with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and extended bass response
  • Ask Alexa to show you the front door or monitor the baby’s room with compatible cameras from Ring and Arlo. Turn on lights, control thermostats and more with WeMo, Philips Hue, ecobee, and other compatible smart home devices.
  • With eight microphones, beam-forming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo Show hears you from any direction—even while music is playing
  • Always getting smarter and adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Uber, Jeopardy!, Allrecipes, CNN, and more

 

 

 

 

 

 



From DSC:

Now we’re seeing a major competition between the heavy-hitters to own one’s living room, kitchen, and more. Voice controlled artificial intelligence. But now, add the ability to show videos, text, graphics, and more. Play music. Control the lights and the thermostat. Communicate with others via hands-free video calls.

Hmmm….very interesting times indeed.

 

 

Developers and corporates released 4,000 new skills for the voice assistant in just the last quarter. (source)

 

…with the company adding about 100 skills per day. (source)

 

 

 

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

 

 



 

Addendum on 5/10/17:

 



 

 

The 2017 Dean’s List: EdTech’s 50 Must-Read Higher Ed Blogs [Meghan Bogardus Cortez at edtechmagazine.com]

 

The 2017 Dean’s List: EdTech’s 50 Must-Read Higher Ed Blogs — from edtechmagazine.com by Meghan Bogardus Cortez
These administrative all-stars, IT gurus, teachers and community experts understand how the latest technology is changing the nature of education.

Excerpt:

With summer break almost here, we’ve got an idea for how you can use some of your spare time. Take a look at the Dean’s List, our compilation of the must-read blogs that seek to make sense of higher education in today’s digital world.

Follow these education trailblazers for not-to-be-missed analyses of the trends, challenges and opportunities that technology can provide.

If you’d like to check out the Must-Read IT blogs from previous years, view our lists from 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.

 

 



From DSC:
I would like to thank Tara Buck, Meghan Bogardus Cortez, D. Frank Smith, Meg Conlan, and Jimmy Daly and the rest of the staff at EdTech Magazine for their support of this Learning Ecosystems blog through the years — I really appreciate it. 

Thanks all for your encouragement through the years!



 

 

 

 

From DSC and Adobe — for faculty members and teachers out there:

Do your students an enormous favor by assigning them a digital communications project. Such a project could include images, infographics, illustrations, animations, videos, websites, blogs (with RSS feeds), podcasts, videocasts, mobile apps and more. Such outlets offer powerful means of communicating and demonstrating knowledge of a particular topic.

As Adobe mentions, when you teach your students how to create these types of media projects, you prepare them to be flexible and effective digital communicators.  I would also add that these new forms and tools can be highly engaging, while at the same time, they can foster students’ creativity. Building new media literacy skills will pay off big time for your students. It will land them jobs. It will help them communicate to a global audience. Students can build upon these skills to powerfully communicate numerous kinds of messages in the future. They can be their own radio station. They can be their own TV station.

For more information, see this page out at Adobe.com.

 

 

From DSC:
This is where we may need more team-based approaches…because one person may not be able to create and grade/assess such assignments.

 

 
© 2016 Learning Ecosystems