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.

 

4 models to reinvent higher education for the 21st century — from edtechmagazine.com by Eli Zimmerman
To appeal to Gen Z students and employers, universities will adopt new ways to deliver academic materials, focusing on customizable courses and experiences outside of the classroom.

Excerpts:

  1. Platform facilitator:
    From online content to food orders, Generation Z has become accustomed to customizable consumption, and education may follow. Some universities may begin to offer a Netflix-style distribution of course materials, while others will be “content providers for those platforms, licensing courses, experiences, certificates and other services,” according to the report. Many university administrators are already considering the idea of building AI-enabled programs to distribute academic videos, according to a 2018 survey by Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite and University Business.
  2. Experiential curator
  3. Learning certifier
  4. Workforce integrator

 

Also see:

 

This is likely the No. 1 thing affecting your job performance — from fastcompany.com by Art Markman
Hint: It all starts with figuring out what you don’t know.

Excerpts:

Learning on the job is probably the single most important factor driving your performance at work. You won’t know everything you need to about your job when you’re hired, no matter how good your education is or how much experience you had in previous positions. The road to learning starts with a willingness to admit what you don’t know and an interest in learning new things.

The ability to know what you know and what you don’t know is called metacognition—that is, the process of thinking about your thinking. Your cognitive brain has a sophisticated ability to assess what you do and don’t know. You use several sources of information to make this judgment.

One important social aspect of the Dunning-Kruger effect is that it often leads to tension between younger employees and the firms they work for. People who don’t really understand what skills are required for success in a particular domain may overestimate their own abilities and minimize their perception of the gap between themselves and more senior members of a firm. As a result, they won’t understand why they aren’t being promoted faster and will quickly get frustrated in the early stages of their career. The more you appreciate everything involved in expert performance, the more patient you can be with your own development.

 

After you get the hang of a new position, be strategic about what you learn. You probably need a wider range of expertise than you think. Solving hard problems at work requires drawing not just on expertise from within the domain of your work, but also on knowledge about other areas that may not have seemed relevant at first.

 

 

From LinkedIn.com today:

 


Also see:


 

From DSC:
I don’t like this at all. If this foot gets in the door, vendor after vendor will launch their own hordes of drones. In the future, where will we go if we want some piece and quiet? Will the air be filled with swarms of noisy drones? Will we be able to clearly see the sun? An exaggeration..? Maybe…maybe not.

But, now what? What recourse do citizens have? Readers of this blog know that I’m generally pro-technology. But the folks — especially the youth — working within the FAANG companies (and the like) need to do a far better job asking, “Just because we can do something, should we do it?”

As I’ve said before, we’ve turned over the keys to the $137,000 Maserati to drivers who are just getting out of driving school. Then we wonder….”How did we get to this place?” 

 

If you owned this $137,000+ car, would you turn the keys of it over to your 16-25 year old?!

 

As another example, just because we can…

just because we can does not mean we should

 

…doesn’t mean we should.

 

just because we can does not mean we should

 

A Chinese subway is experimenting with facial recognition to pay for fares — from theverge.com by Shannon Liao

Excerpt:

Scanning your face on a screen to get into the subway might not be that far off in the future. In China’s tech capital, Shenzhen, a local subway operator is testing facial recognition subway access, powered by a 5G network, as spotted by the South China Morning Post.

The trial is limited to a single station thus far, and it’s not immediately clear how this will work for twins or lookalikes. People entering the station can scan their faces on the screen where they would normally have tapped their phones or subway cards. Their fare then gets automatically deducted from their linked accounts. They will need to have registered their facial data beforehand and linked a payment method to their subway account.

 

 

From DSC:
I don’t want this type of thing here in the United States. But…now what do I do? What about you? What can we do? What paths are open to us to stop this?

I would argue that the new, developing, technological “Wild Wests” in many societies throughout the globe could be dangerous to our futures. Why? Because the pace of change has changed. And these new Wild Wests now have emerging, powerful, ever-more invasive (i.e., privacy-stealing) technologies to deal with — the likes of which the world has never seen or encountered before. With this new, rapid pace of change, societies aren’t able to keep up.

And who is going to use the data? Governments? Large tech companies? Other?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m generally pro-technology. But this new pace of change could wreak havoc on us. We need time to weigh in on these emerging techs.

 

Addendum on 3/20/19:

  • Chinese Facial Recognition Database Exposes 2.5 Million People — from futurumresearch.com by Shelly Kramer
    Excerpt:
    An artificial intelligence company operating a facial recognition system in China recently left its database exposed online, leaving the personal information of some 2.5 million Chinese citizens vulnerable. Considering how much the Chinese government relies on facial recognition technology, this is a big deal—for both the Chinese government and Chinese citizens.

 

 

4 key tech strategies for the survival of the small liberal arts college — from campustechnology.com by Kellie B. Campbell
In a recent study on the use of technology to reduce academic costs in liberal arts colleges, four distinct themes emerged: the strategic role of IT; the importance of data; the potential of alternative education delivery modes; and opportunities for institutional partnerships. Here’s how IT leaders at these small colleges understand the future of their institutions.

Excerpt:

In this study, the flexibility of the semi-constructed interview format resulted in a fascinating level of honesty and bluntness from participants. In particular, participants’ language changed when they were asked to take off their professional hat and consider a new point of view — it was a chance to be vulnerable and honest. What was probably most interesting was that almost everyone signaled that the status quo is not sustainable. Something in the higher education model has to change for institutions to stay open, yet many lack a strategy for effecting change. Even if they do have a strategy in place on the business side, many are hesitant to dive into analysis and change on the academic side of the institution.

Institutions simply cannot continue to nibble at the edges of change. Significant change is needed in order to sustain the financial model of higher education. The ideas for doing so are out there, though the work must be guided by the institutional mission and consider new models for delivering education. CIOs and their departments can play an important role in that work — providing infrastructure, data, access, services and ideas — but institutional leadership at large needs to understand IT’s strategic role and position the organization to make that impact.

When participants were able to think about the “what if” question — what if the institution were forced to drastically cut academic costs — several had detailed, “out there” ideas that might not be traditionally welcomed into higher education cultures. Yet a number of participants were not being asked by their institutions to think about such ideas. The question is, if everyone agrees that the status quo is not sustainable, why aren’t they thinking about it?

 

 

The world is changing. Here’s how companies must adapt. — from weforum.org by Joe Kaeser, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens AG

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Although we have only seen the beginning, one thing is already clear: the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the greatest transformation human civilization has ever known. As far-reaching as the previous industrial revolutions were, they never set free such enormous transformative power.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming practically every human activity...its scope, speed and reach are unprecedented.

Enormous power (Insert from DSC: What I was trying to get at here) entails enormous risk. Yes, the stakes are high. 

 

“And make no mistake about it: we are now writing the code that will shape our collective future.” CEO of Siemens AG

 

 

Contrary to Milton Friedman’s maxim, the business of business should not just be business. Shareholder value alone should not be the yardstick. Instead, we should make stakeholder value, or better yet, social value, the benchmark for a company’s performance.

Today, stakeholders…rightfully expect companies to assume greater social responsibility, for example, by protecting the climate, fighting for social justice, aiding refugees, and training and educating workers. The business of business should be to create value for society.

This seamless integration of the virtual and the physical worlds in so-called cyber-physical systems – that is the giant leap we see today. It eclipses everything that has happened in industry so far. As in previous industrial revolutions but on a much larger scale, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will eliminate millions of jobs and create millions of new jobs.

 

“…because the Fourth Industrial Revolution runs on knowledge, we need a concurrent revolution in training and education.

If the workforce doesn’t keep up with advances in knowledge throughout their lives, how will the millions of new jobs be filled?” 

Joe Kaeser, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens AG

 

 


From DSC:
At least three critically important things jump out at me here:

  1. We are quickly approaching a time when people will need to be able to reinvent themselves quickly and cost-effectively, especially those with families and who are working in their (still existing) jobs. (Or have we already entered this period of time…?)
  2. There is a need to help people identify which jobs are safe to reinvent themselves to — at least for the next 5-10 years.
  3. Citizens across the globe — and their relevant legislatures, governments, and law schools — need to help close the gap between emerging technologies and whether those technologies should even be rolled out, and if so, how and with which features.

 


 

What freedoms and rights should individuals have in the digital age?

Joe Kaeser, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens AG

 

 

Facial recognition has to be regulated to protect the public, says AI report — from technologyreview.com by Will Knight
The research institute AI Now has identified facial recognition as a key challenge for society and policymakers—but is it too late?

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Artificial intelligence has made major strides in the past few years, but those rapid advances are now raising some big ethical conundrums.

Chief among them is the way machine learning can identify people’s faces in photos and video footage with great accuracy. This might let you unlock your phone with a smile, but it also means that governments and big corporations have been given a powerful new surveillance tool.

A new report from the AI Now Institute (large PDF), an influential research institute based in New York, has just identified facial recognition as a key challenge for society and policymakers.

 

Also see:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
At the core of the cascading scandals around AI in 2018 are questions of accountability: who is responsible when AI systems harm us? How do we understand these harms, and how do we remedy them? Where are the points of intervention, and what additional research and regulation is needed to ensure those interventions are effective? Currently there are few answers to these questions, and the frameworks presently governing AI are not capable of ensuring accountability. As the pervasiveness, complexity, and scale of these systems grow, the lack of meaningful accountability and oversight – including basic safeguards of responsibility, liability, and due process – is an increasingly urgent concern.

Building on our 2016 and 2017 reports, the AI Now 2018 Report contends with this central
problem and addresses the following key issues:

  1. The growing accountability gap in AI, which favors those who create and deploy these
    technologies at the expense of those most affected
  2. The use of AI to maximize and amplify surveillance, especially in conjunction with facial
    and affect recognition, increasing the potential for centralized control and oppression
  3. Increasing government use of automated decision systems that directly impact individuals and communities without established accountability structures
  4. Unregulated and unmonitored forms of AI experimentation on human populations
  5. The limits of technological solutions to problems of fairness, bias, and discrimination

Within each topic, we identify emerging challenges and new research, and provide recommendations regarding AI development, deployment, and regulation. We offer practical pathways informed by research so that policymakers, the public, and technologists can better understand and mitigate risks. Given that the AI Now Institute’s location and regional expertise is concentrated in the U.S., this report will focus primarily on the U.S. context, which is also where several of the world’s largest AI companies are based.

 

 

From DSC:
As I said in this posting, we need to be aware of the emerging technologies around us. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. People need to be aware of — and involved with — which emerging technologies get rolled out (or not) and/or which features are beneficial to roll out (or not).

One of the things that’s beginning to alarm me these days is how the United States has turned over the keys to the Maserati — i.e., think an expensive, powerful thing — to youth who lack the life experiences to know how to handle such power and, often, the proper respect for such power. Many of these youthful members of our society don’t own the responsibility for the positive and negative influences and impacts that such powerful technologies can have (and the more senior execs have not taken enough responsibility either)!

If you owned the car below, would you turn the keys of this ~$137,000+ car over to your 16-25 year old? Yet that’s what America has been doing for years. And, in some areas, we’re now paying the price.

 

If you owned this $137,000+ car, would you turn the keys of it over to your 16-25 year old?!

 

The corporate world continues to discard the hard-earned experience that age brings…as they shove older people out of the workforce. (I hesitate to use the word wisdom…but in some cases, that’s also relevant/involved here.) Then we, as a society, sit back and wonder how did we get to this place?

Even technologists and programmers in their 20’s and 30’s are beginning to step back and ask…WHY did we develop this application or that feature? Was it — is it — good for society? Is it beneficial? Or should it be tabled or revised into something else?

Below is but one example — though I don’t mean to pick on Microsoft, as they likely have more older workers than the Facebooks, Googles, or Amazons of the world. I fully realize that all of these companies have some older employees. But the youth-oriented culture in American today has almost become an obsession — and not just in the tech world. Turn on the TV, check out the new releases on Netflix, go see a movie in a theater, listen to the radio, cast but a glance at the magazines in the check out lines, etc. and you’ll instantly know
what I mean.

In the workplace, there appears to be a bias against older employees as being less innovative or tech-savvy — such a perspective is often completely incorrect. Go check out LinkedIn for items re: age discrimination…it’s a very real thing. But many of us over the age of 30 know this to be true if we’ve lost a job in the last decade or two and have tried to get a job that involves technology.

 

Microsoft argues facial-recognition tech could violate your rights — from finance.yahoo.com by Rob Pegoraro

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union provided a good reason for us to think carefully about the evolution of facial-recognition technology. In a study, the group used Amazon’s (AMZN) Rekognition service to compare portraits of members of Congress to 25,000 arrest mugshots. The result: 28 members were mistakenly matched with 28 suspects.

The ACLU isn’t the only group raising the alarm about the technology. Earlier this month, Microsoft (MSFT) president Brad Smith posted an unusual plea on the company’s blog asking that the development of facial-recognition systems not be left up to tech companies.

Saying that the tech “raises issues that go to the heart of fundamental human rights protections like privacy and freedom of expression,” Smith called for “a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology, informed first by a bipartisan and expert commission.”

But we may not get new laws anytime soon.

 

just because we can does not mean we should

 

Just because we can…

 

just because we can does not mean we should

 

 

Google Glass wasn’t a failure. It raised crucial concerns. — from wired.com by Rose Eveleth

Excerpts:

So when Google ultimately retired Glass, it was in reaction to an important act of line drawing. It was an admission of defeat not by design, but by culture.

These kinds of skirmishes on the front lines of surveillance might seem inconsequential — but they can not only change the behavior of tech giants like Google, they can also change how we’re protected under the law. Each time we invite another device into our lives, we open up a legal conversation over how that device’s capabilities change our right to privacy. To understand why, we have to get wonky for a bit, but it’s worth it, I promise.

 

But where many people see Google Glass as a cautionary tale about tech adoption failure, I see a wild success. Not for Google of course, but for the rest of us. Google Glass is a story about human beings setting boundaries and pushing back against surveillance…

 

IN THE UNITED States, the laws that dictate when you can and cannot record someone have a several layers. But most of these laws were written when smartphones and digital home assistants weren’t even a glimmer in Google’s eye. As a result, they are mostly concerned with issues of government surveillance, not individuals surveilling each other or companies surveilling their customers. Which means that as cameras and microphones creep further into our everyday lives, there are more and more legal gray zones.

 

From DSC:
We need to be aware of the emerging technologies around us. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. People need to be aware of — and involved with — which emerging technologies get rolled out (or not) and/or which features are beneficial to roll out (or not).

One of the things that’s beginning to alarm me these days is how the United States has turned over the keys to the Maserati — i.e., think an expensive, powerful thing — to youth who lack the life experiences to know how to handle such power and, often, the proper respect for such power. Many of these youthful members of our society don’t own the responsibility for the positive and negative influences and impacts that such powerful technologies can have.

If you owned the car below, would you turn the keys of this ~$137,000+ car over to your 16-25 year old? Yet that’s what America has been doing for years. And, in some areas, we’re now paying the price.

 

If you owned this $137,000+ car, would you turn the keys of it over to your 16-25 year old?!

 

The corporate world continues to discard the hard-earned experience that age brings…as they shove older people out of the workforce. (I hesitate to use the word wisdom…but in some cases, that’s also relevant/involved here.) Then we, as a society, sit back and wonder how did we get to this place?

Even technologists and programmers in their 20’s and 30’s are beginning to step back and ask…WHY did we develop this application or that feature? Was it — is it — good for society? Is it beneficial? Or should it be tabled or revised into something else?

Below is but one example — though I don’t mean to pick on Microsoft, as they likely have more older workers than the Facebooks, Googles, or Amazons of the world. I fully realize that all of these companies have some older employees. But the youth-oriented culture in American today has almost become an obsession — and not just in the tech world. Turn on the TV, check out the new releases on Netflix, go see a movie in a theater, listen to the radio, cast but a glance at the magazines in the check out lines, etc. and you’ll instantly know what I mean.

In the workplace, there appears to be a bias against older employees as being less innovative or tech-savvy — such a perspective is often completely incorrect. Go check out LinkedIn for items re: age discrimination…it’s a very real thing. But many of us over the age of 30 know this to be true if we’ve lost a job in the last decade or two and have tried to get a job that involves technology.

Microsoft argues facial-recognition tech could violate your rights — from finance.yahoo.com by Rob Pegoraro

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union provided a good reason for us to think carefully about the evolution of facial-recognition technology. In a study, the group used Amazon’s (AMZN) Rekognition service to compare portraits of members of Congress to 25,000 arrest mugshots. The result: 28 members were mistakenly matched with 28 suspects.

The ACLU isn’t the only group raising the alarm about the technology. Earlier this month, Microsoft (MSFT) president Brad Smith posted an unusual plea on the company’s blog asking that the development of facial-recognition systems not be left up to tech companies.

Saying that the tech “raises issues that go to the heart of fundamental human rights protections like privacy and freedom of expression,” Smith called for “a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology, informed first by a bipartisan and expert commission.”

But we may not get new laws anytime soon.

 

just because we can does not mean we should

 

Just because we can…

 

just because we can does not mean we should

 

Addendum on 12/27/18: — also related/see:

‘We’ve hit an inflection point’: Big Tech failed big-time in 2018 — from finance.yahoo.com by JP Mangalindan

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

2018 will be remembered as the year the public’s big soft-hearted love affair with Big Tech came to a screeching halt.

For years, lawmakers and the public let massive companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon run largely unchecked. Billions of people handed them their data — photos, locations, and other status-rich updates — with little scrutiny or question. Then came revelations around several high-profile data breaches from Facebook: a back-to-back series of rude awakenings that taught casual web-surfing, smartphone-toting citizens that uploading their data into the digital ether could have consequences. Google reignited the conversation around sexual harassment, spurring thousands of employees to walk out, while Facebook reminded some corners of the U.S. that racial bias, even in supposedly egalitarian Silicon Valley, remained alive and well. And Amazon courted well over 200 U.S. cities in its gaudy and protracted search for a second headquarters.

“I think 2018 was the year that people really called tech companies on the carpet about the way that they’ve been behaving conducting their business,” explained Susan Etlinger, an analyst at the San Francisco-based Altimeter Group. “We’ve hit an inflection point where people no longer feel comfortable with the ways businesses are conducting themselves. At the same time, we’re also at a point, historically, where there’s just so much more willingness to call out businesses and institutions on bigotry, racism, sexism and other kinds of bias.”

 

The public’s love affair with Facebook hit its first major rough patch in 2016 when Russian trolls attempted to meddle with the 2016 U.S. presidential election using the social media platform. But it was the Cambridge Analytica controversy that may go down in internet history as the start of a series of back-to-back, bruising controversies for the social network, which for years, served as the Silicon Valley poster child of the nouveau American Dream. 

 

 

Top Trends in Active and Collaborative Learning — from thesextantgroup.com by Joe Hammett

Excerpts:

My daughter is a maker. She spends hours tinkering with sewing machines and slime recipes, building salamander habitats and the like. She hangs out with her school friends inside apps that teach math and problem solving through multi-player games. All the while, they are learning to communicate and collaborate in ways that are completely foreign to their grandparent’s generation. She is 10 years old and represents a shift in human cognitive processing brought about by the mastery of technology from a very young age. Her generation and those that come after have never known a time without technology. Personal devices have changed the shared human experience and there is no turning back.

The spaces in which this new human chooses to occupy must cater to their style of existence. They see every display as interactive and are growing up knowing that the entirety of human knowledge is available to them by simply asking Alexa. The 3D printer is a familiar concept and space travel for pleasure will be the norm when they have children of their own.

Current trends in active and collaborative learning are evolving alongside these young minds and when appropriately implemented, enable experiential learning and creative encounters that are changing the very nature of the learning process. Attention to the spaces that will support the educators is also paramount to this success. Lesson plans and teaching style must flip with the classroom. The learning space is just a room without the educator and their content.

 


8. Flexible and Reconfigurable
With floor space at a premium, classrooms need to be able to adapt to a multitude of uses and pedagogies. Flexible furniture will allow the individual instructor freedom to set up the space as needed for their intended activities without impacting the next person to use the room. Construction material choices are key to achieving an easily reconfigurable space. Raised floors and individually controllable lighting fixtures allow a room to go from lecture to group work with ease. Whiteboard paints and rail mounting systems make walls reconfigurable too!.

Active Learning, Flipped Classroom, SCALE-UP, TEAL Classroom, whatever label you choose to place before it, the classroom, learning spaces of all sorts, are changing. The occupants of these spaces demand that they are able to effectively, and comfortably, share ideas and collaborate on projects with their counterparts both in person and in the ether. A global shift is happening in the way humans share ideas. Disruptive technology, on a level not seen since the assembly line, is driving a change in the way humans interact with other humans. The future is collaborative.

 

 

 

Reflections on “Inside Amazon’s artificial intelligence flywheel” [Levy]

Inside Amazon’s artificial intelligence flywheel — from wired.com by Steven Levy
How deep learning came to power Alexa, Amazon Web Services, and nearly every other division of the company.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Amazon loves to use the word flywheel to describe how various parts of its massive business work as a single perpetual motion machine. It now has a powerful AI flywheel, where machine-learning innovations in one part of the company fuel the efforts of other teams, who in turn can build products or offer services to affect other groups, or even the company at large. Offering its machine-learning platforms to outsiders as a paid service makes the effort itself profitable—and in certain cases scoops up yet more data to level up the technology even more.

It took a lot of six-pagers to transform Amazon from a deep-learning wannabe into a formidable power. The results of this transformation can be seen throughout the company—including in a recommendations system that now runs on a totally new machine-learning infrastructure. Amazon is smarter in suggesting what you should read next, what items you should add to your shopping list, and what movie you might want to watch tonight. And this year Thirumalai started a new job, heading Amazon search, where he intends to use deep learning in every aspect of the service.

“If you asked me seven or eight years ago how big a force Amazon was in AI, I would have said, ‘They aren’t,’” says Pedro Domingos, a top computer science professor at the University of Washington. “But they have really come on aggressively. Now they are becoming a force.”

Maybe the force.

 

 

From DSC:
When will we begin to see more mainstream recommendation engines for learning-based materials? With the demand for people to reinvent themselves, such a next generation learning platform can’t come soon enough!

  • Turning over control to learners to create/enhance their own web-based learner profiles; and allowing people to say who can access their learning profiles.
  • AI-based recommendation engines to help people identify curated, effective digital playlists for what they want to learn about.
  • Voice-driven interfaces.
  • Matching employees to employers.
  • Matching one’s learning preferences (not styles) with the content being presented as one piece of a personalized learning experience.
  • From cradle to grave. Lifelong learning.
  • Multimedia-based, interactive content.
  • Asynchronously and synchronously connecting with others learning about the same content.
  • Online-based tutoring/assistance; remote assistance.
  • Reinvent. Staying relevant. Surviving.
  • Competency-based learning.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re about to embark on a period in American history where career reinvention will be critical, perhaps more so than it’s ever been before. In the next decade, as many as 50 million American workers—a third of the total—will need to change careers, according to McKinsey Global Institute. Automation, in the form of AI (artificial intelligence) and RPA (robotic process automation), is the primary driver. McKinsey observes: “There are few precedents in which societies have successfully retrained such large numbers of people.”

Bill Triant and Ryan Craig

 

 

 

Also relevant/see:

Online education’s expansion continues in higher ed with a focus on tech skills — from educationdive.com by James Paterson

Dive Brief:

  • Online learning continues to expand in higher ed with the addition of several online master’s degrees and a new for-profit college that offers a hybrid of vocational training and liberal arts curriculum online.
  • Inside Higher Ed reported the nonprofit learning provider edX is offering nine master’s degrees through five U.S. universities — the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University, Arizona State University and the University of California, San Diego. The programs include cybersecurity, data science, analytics, computer science and marketing, and they cost from around $10,000 to $22,000. Most offer stackable certificates, helping students who change their educational trajectory.
  • Former Harvard University Dean of Social Science Stephen Kosslyn, meanwhile, will open Foundry College in January. The for-profit, two-year program targets adult learners who want to upskill, and it includes training in soft skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. Students will pay about $1,000 per course, though the college is waiving tuition for its first cohort.

 

 

 

This is how the Future Today Institute researches, models & maps the future & develops strategies

 

This is how the Future Today Institute researches, models & maps the future & develops strategies

 

Also see what the Institute for the Future does in this regard

Foresight Tools
IFTF has pioneered tools and methods for building foresight ever since its founding days. Co-founder Olaf Helmer was the inventor of the Delphi Method, and early projects developed cross-impact analysis and scenario tools. Today, IFTF is methodologically agnostic, with a brimming toolkit that includes the following favorites…

 

 

From DSC:
How might higher education use this foresight workflow? How might we better develop a future-oriented mindset?

From my perspective, I think that we need to be pulse-checking a variety of landscapes, looking for those early signals. We need to be thinking about what should be on our radars. Then we need to develop some potential scenarios and strategies to deal with those potential scenarios if they occur. Graphically speaking, here’s an excerpted slide from my introductory piece for a NGLS 2017 panel that we did.

 

 

 

This resource regarding their foresight workflow was mentioned in  a recent e-newsletter from the FTI where they mentioned this important item as well:

  • Climate change: a megatrend that impacts us all
    Excerpt:
    Earlier this week, the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change issued a dire report [PDF]. To say the report is concerning would be a dramatic understatement. Models built by the scientists show that at our current rate, the atmosphere will warm as much as 1.5 degrees Celsius, leading to a dystopian future of food shortages, wildfires, extreme winters, a mass die-off of coral reefs and more –– as soon as 2040. That’s just 20 years away from now.

 

But China also decided to ban the import of foreign plastic waste –– which includes trash from around the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. alone could wind up with an extra 37 million metric tons of plastic waste, and we don’t have a plan for what to do with it all.

 

Immediate Futures Scenarios: Year 2019

  • Optimistic: Climate change is depoliticized. Leaders in the U.S., Brazil and elsewhere decide to be the heroes, and invest resources into developing solutions to our climate problem. We understand that fixing our futures isn’t only about foregoing plastic straws, but about systemic change. Not all solutions require regulation. Businesses and everyday people are incentivized to shift behavior. Smart people spend the next two decades collaborating on plausible solutions.
  • Pragmatic: Climate change continues to be debated, while extreme weather events cause damage to our power grid, wreak havoc on travel, cause school cancellations, and devastate our farms. The U.S. fails to work on realistic scenarios and strategies to combat the growing problem of climate change. More countries elect far-right leaders, who shun global environmental accords and agreements. By 2029, it’s clear that we’ve waited too long, and that we’re running out of time to adapt.
  • Catastrophic: A chorus of voices calling climate change a hoax grows ever louder in some of the world’s largest economies, whose leaders choose immediate political gain over longer-term consequences. China builds an environmental coalition of 100 countries within the decade, developing both green infrastructure while accumulating debt service. Beijing sets global standards emissions––and it locks the U.S out of trading with coalition members. Trash piles up in the U.S., which didn’t plan ahead for waste management. By 2040, our population centers have moved inland and further north, our farms are decimated, our lives are miserable.

Watchlist: United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; European Geosciences Union; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); NASA; Department of Energy; Department of Homeland Security; House Armed Services Sub-committee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities; Environmental Justice Foundation; Columbia University’s Earth Institute; University of North Carolina at Wilmington; Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; National Center for Atmospheric Research.

 

To higher ed: When the race track is going 180mph, you can’t walk or jog onto the track. [Christian]

From DSC:
When the race track is going 180mph, you can’t walk or jog onto the track.  What do I mean by that? 

Consider this quote from an article that Jeanne Meister wrote out at Forbes entitled, “The Future of Work: Three New HR Roles in the Age of Artificial Intelligence:”*

This emphasis on learning new skills in the age of AI is reinforced by the most recent report on the future of work from McKinsey which suggests that as many as 375 million workers around the world may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills because approximately 60% of jobs will have least one-third of their work activities able to be automated.

Go scan the job openings and you will likely see many that have to do with technology, and increasingly, with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, big data, cloud-based services, robotics, automation, bots, algorithm development, blockchain, and more. 

 

From Robert Half’s 2019 Technology Salary Guide 

 

 

How many of us have those kinds of skills? Did we get that training in the community colleges, colleges, and universities that we went to? Highly unlikely — even if you graduated from one of those institutions only 5-10 years ago. And many of those institutions are often moving at the pace of a nice leisurely walk, with some moving at a jog, even fewer are sprinting. But all of them are now being asked to enter a race track that’s moving at 180mph. Higher ed — and society at large — are not used to moving at this pace. 

This is why I think that higher education and its regional accrediting organizations are going to either need to up their game hugely — and go through a paradigm shift in the required thinking/programming/curricula/level of responsiveness — or watch while alternatives to institutions of traditional higher education increasingly attract their learners away from them.

This is also, why I think we’ll see an online-based, next generation learning platform take place. It will be much more nimble — able to offer up-to-the minute, in-demand skills and competencies. 

 

 

The below graphic is from:
Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages

 

 

 


 

* Three New HR Roles To Create Compelling Employee Experiences
These new HR roles include:

  1. IBM: Vice President, Data, AI & Offering Strategy, HR
  2. Kraft Heinz Senior Vice President Global HR, Performance and IT
  3. SunTrust Senior Vice President Employee Wellbeing & Benefits

What do these three roles have in common? All have been created in the last three years and acknowledge the growing importance of a company’s commitment to create a compelling employee experience by using data, research, and predictive analytics to better serve the needs of employees. In each case, the employee assuming the new role also brought a new set of skills and capabilities into HR. And importantly, the new roles created in HR address a common vision: create a compelling employee experience that mirrors a company’s customer experience.

 


 

An excerpt from McKinsey Global Institute | Notes from the Frontier | Modeling the Impact of AI on the World Economy 

Workers.
A widening gap may also unfold at the level of individual workers. Demand for jobs could shift away from repetitive tasks toward those that are socially and cognitively driven and others that involve activities that are hard to automate and require more digital skills.12 Job profiles characterized by repetitive tasks and activities that require low digital skills may experience the largest decline as a share of total employment, from some 40 percent to near 30 percent by 2030. The largest gain in share may be in nonrepetitive activities and those that require high digital skills, rising from some 40 percent to more than 50 percent. These shifts in employment would have an impact on wages. We simulate that around 13 percent of the total wage bill could shift to categories requiring nonrepetitive and high digital skills, where incomes could rise, while workers in the repetitive and low digital skills categories may potentially experience stagnation or even a cut in their wages. The share of the total wage bill of the latter group could decline from 33 to 20 percent.13 Direct consequences of this widening gap in employment and wages would be an intensifying war for people, particularly those skilled in developing and utilizing AI tools, and structural excess supply for a still relatively high portion of people lacking the digital and cognitive skills necessary to work with machines.

 


 

 

Why demand originality from students in online discussion forums? — from facultyfocus.com by Ronald Jones

Excerpt:

Tell me in your own words
Why demand originality? In relating to a traditional classroom discussion, do students respond to the professor’s question by opening up the textbook or searching for the answer on the Internet and then reading off the answer? Some might try, but by asking questions the professor is looking to see if the students grasp the discussed concept, not if they know how and where to find the answer.

Online students have the advantage of reflection time, along with having the textbook and Internet search engine open when responding to discussion questions. With a few simple clicks, virtually any question can be answered by searching the Internet. Once again, why demand originality? Classroom learning takes place when students are required to think; that’s a few steps beyond clicking copy and paste. As instructors, we should encourage our students to be resourceful and to learn the skills of locating and incorporating scholarly literature into their work. But we also must instill the learning value of synthesizing sources in such a manner that produces evidence of gained knowledge.

 

From DSC:
I like the idea of asking students to put it into their own words. Not just to get by the issue of copying/pasting or trying to stem plagiarism, but because it’s more along the line of journaling about our learning. We need to actually engage with some content in order to put that content into our own words. Not outsourcing our learning to others. Journaling can help us clarify what we’re understanding and where we still have questions and/or concerns.

 

 

Encouraging participation of all in the course: Moving from intact classes to individuals students — from scholarlyteacher.com by Todd Zakrajsek, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Excerpts:

During every class session, read the room by watching individuals. Are students taking notes, nodding along as others speak, or even advancing the discussion by building on the comments of classmates? Are verbal responses merely defining terminology, or do they make connections between the text and real-world examples? Analyze the extent to which certain examples or content areas are received by individual students. Take note when student responses are merely noise to fill the void when you are not talking. Overall, look for individual characteristics that emerge within your course as a community of learning is being established.

Keep in mind that it is often less threatening to one’s ego to claim a lack of preparation for class than it is to admit that one is finding it difficult to understand the material. For those who need a bit of motivation to come prepared, a quiz at the beginning of class will help students to come to class ready to discuss the material for that day.


As all students are pressed for time these days, a quiz might be the added motivation that most students need. These quizzes do not need to be extremely challenging, but they should be challenging enough to ensure the required preparation is done. That is, one should not be able to get responses correct simply by guessing. For students who do not understand the material, quizzes will not prepare them to engage in class discussions or to answer your questions during a discussion lecture. For those students, failed quizzes might add additional pressure and cause less engagement with the material. Struggling students who are not prepared for class need assistance to understand the material. Carefully structured small group projects and discussions might be the best way to get their voices into the class. Ask increasingly difficult questions as part of the discussion, and when you know you have struggling students reserve some of the easier questions for those students.

 

 

Gen Zers look to teachers first, YouTube second for instruction — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

Students in Generation Z would rather learn from YouTube videos than from nearly any other form of instruction. YouTube was designated as the preferred mode of learning by 59 percent of Gen Zers in a survey on the topic, compared to in-person group activities with classmates (mentioned by 57 percent), learning applications or games (47 percent) and printed books (also 47 percent). A majority (55 percent) believe that YouTube has “contributed to their education.” In fact, nearly half of survey participants (47 percent) reported spending three or more hours every day on YouTube.

The only method of instruction that beat out YouTube? Teachers. Almost four in five Gen Zers (78 percent) reported that their instructors “are very important to learning and development.” That’s nearly 20 percentage points higher than the YouTube option.

While Millennials also value teachers above all else for learning (chosen by 80 percent), that’s followed by printed books (60 percent), YouTube (55 percent), group activities (47 percent) and apps or games (41 percent).

 

 

Also, see the work from Pooja K. Agarwal | @PoojaAgarwal
Assistant Professor, Cognitive Scientist, & Former K-12 Teacher. Follow  and subscribe for teaching strategies at .

An example posting:

Retrieve, Space, Elaborate, and Transfer with Connection Notebooks — from retrievalpractice.org

Excerpts:

How can we encourage students to retrieve, elaborate, and connect with course content? Here’s a strategy called Connection Notebooks by James M. Lang, Professor at Assumption College. Connection Notebooks include retrieval practice, spacing, elaboration, and transfer – all in five minutes or less!

Ask students to dedicate a specific notebook as their Connection Notebook at the beginning of the semester (or provide one for them) and have them to bring it to class every day. Approximately once a week, ask students to take out their Connection Notebook and write a one-paragraph response to a “connection prompt” at the end of class. For example:

  • How does what you learned today connect to something you’ve learned in another class?
  • Have you ever encountered something you learned today in a TV show, movie, song, or book?
  • Have you ever experienced something you learned today in your life outside of school?


Connection Notebooks are effective for a few reasons:

 

 

Also, see the work from Learning Scientists | @AceThatTest | learningscientists.org

An example posting:

 

In this digest, we put together 5 blog posts by teachers that focus on implementing spaced practice in one specific subject at a time. For more of an overview of spaced practice, see this guest post by Jonathan Firth (@JW_Firth).

 

sapced practice in practice
 

 

15 more companies that no longer require a degree — apply now — from glassdoor.com

Excerpt:

With college tuition soaring nationwide, many Americans don’t have the time or money to earn a college degree. However, that doesn’t mean your job prospects are diminished. Increasingly, there are many companies offering well-paying jobs to those with non-traditional education or a high-school diploma.

Google and Ernest & Young are just two of the champion companies who realize that book smarts don’t necessarily equal strong work ethic, grit and talent. Whether you have your GED and are looking for a new opportunity or charting your own path beyond the traditional four-year college route, here are 15 companies that have said they do not require a college diploma for some of their top jobs.

 

From DSC:
Several years ago when gas prices were sky high, I couldn’t help but think that some industries — though they were able to grab some significant profits in the short term — were actually shooting themselves in the foot for the longer term. Sure enough, as time went by, people started looking for less expensive alternatives. For example, they started buying more hybrid vehicles, more electric cars, and the sales of smaller cars and lighter trucks increased. The average fuel economy of vehicles went up (example). The goal was to reduce or outright eliminate the number of trips to the gas station that people were required to make.  

These days…I wonder if the same kind of thing is happening — or about to happen — with traditional institutions of higher education*? Are we shooting ourselves in the foot?

Traditional institutions of higher education better find ways to adapt, and to change their game (so to speak), before the alternatives to those organizations gain some major steam. There is danger in the status quo. Count on it. The saying, “Adapt or die” has now come to apply to higher ed as well.

Faculty, staff, and administrators within higher ed are beginning to experience what the corporate world has been experiencing for decades.

Faculty can’t just teach what they want to teach. They can’t just develop courses that they are interested in. The demand for courses that aren’t attractive career-wise will likely continue to decrease. Sure, it can be argued that many of those same courses — especially from the liberal arts colleges — are still valuable…and I would agree with some of those arguments. But the burden of proof continues to be shifted to the shoulders of those proposing such curricula.

Also, the costs of obtaining a degree needs to come down or:

  • The gorillas of debt on peoples’ backs will become a negative word of mouth that will be hard to compete against or adequately address as time goes by
  • The angst towards higher ed will continue to build
  • People will bolt for those promising alternatives to traditional higher ed where the graduates (badge earners, or whatever they’re going to be called) of those programs are hired and shown to be effective employees
  • I hope that this isn’t the case and that it’s not too late to change…but history will likely show that higher ed shot itself in the foot. The warning signs were all over the place.

 

 

The current trends are paving the way for a next generation learning platform that will serve someone from cradle to grave.

 

 

* I realize that many in higher ed would immediately dispute that their organizations are out to grab short term profits, that they don’t operate like a business, that they don’t operate under the same motivations as the corporate world, etc.  And I can see some of these folks’ points, no doubt. I may even agree with some of the folks who represent organizations who freely share information with other organizations and have motivations other than making tons of money.  But for those folks who staunchly hold to the belief that higher ed isn’t a business at all — well, for me, that’s taking things way too far. I do not agree with that perspective at all. One has to have their eyes (and minds) closed to cling to that perspective anymore. Just don’t ask those folks to tell you how much their presidents make (along with other higher-level members of their administrations), the salaries of the top football coaches, or how many millions of dollars many universities’ receive for their television contracts and/or their ticket sales, or how much revenue research universities bring in from patents and so on and so forth.

 

 



Addendum on 8/24, per University Ventures e-newsletter

2. Facebook Goes Back to College (emphasis DSC)
TechCrunch report on how digital giants are buying into Last-Mile Training by partnering with Pathstream to deliver necessary digital skills to community college students.
Most good first jobs specifically require one or more technologies like Facebook or Unity — technologies that colleges and universities aren’t teaching. If Pathstream is able to realize its vision of integrating industry-relevant software training into degree programs in a big way, colleges and universities have a shot at maintaining their stranglehold as the sole pathway to successful careers. If Pathstream’s impact is more limited, watch for millions of students to sidestep traditional colleges, and enroll in emerging faster and cheaper alternative pathways to good first jobs — alternative pathways that will almost certainly integrate the kind of last-mile training being pioneered by Pathstream.

 

America’s colleges and universities could learn a thing or two from Leo, because they continue to resist teaching students the practical things they’ll need to know as soon as they graduate; for instance, to get jobs that will allow them to make student loan payments. Digital skills head this list, specifically experience with the high-powered software they’ll be required to use every day in entry-level positions.

But talk to a college president or provost about the importance of Marketo, HubSpot, Pardot, Tableau, Adobe and Autodesk for their graduates, and they’re at a loss for how to integrate last-mile training into their degree programs in order prepare students to work on these essential software platforms.

Enter a new company, Pathstream, which just announced a partnership with tech leader Unity and previously partnered with Facebook. Pathstream supports the delivery of career-critical software skill training in VR/AR and digital marketing at colleges and universities.

 



 

Addendum on 8/24, per University Ventures e-newsletter
3. Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College
Inside Higher Education Q&A on upcoming book A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College.
Last-mile training is the inevitable by-product of two crises, one generally understood, the other less so. The crisis everyone understands is affordability and unsustainable levels of student loan debt. The other crisis is employability. Nearly half of all college graduates are underemployed in their first job. And we know that underemployment is pernicious and lasting. According to the recent report from Strada’s Institute for the Future of Work, two-thirds of underemployed graduates remain underemployed five years later, and half remain underemployed a decade later. So today’s students no longer buy that tired college line that “we prepare you for your fifth job, not your first job.” They know that if they don’t get a good first job, they’re probably not going to get a good fifth job. As a result, today’s students are laser-focused on getting a good first job in a growing sector of the economy.

 

 

 

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

© 2019 | Daniel Christian