Alexa Skill Blueprints Publishing Now Available in Australia and New Zealand – Create and Publish a Skill, No Coding Required— from developer.amazon.com by James Ang

Excerpt:

We are excited to announce that now anyone can create and publish an Alexa skill on the Australian Alexa Skills Store using Alexa Skill Blueprints. Skill Blueprints enable you to create and share customised Alexa skills simply by filling in the blanks to one of the dozens of easy-to-use templates, with no coding required. Now you can publish skills created using Alexa Skill Blueprints to the Alexa Skills Store in Australia for customers to discover and use. We have also built new Skill Blueprints specifically for content creators, bloggers, and organisations so they can reach anyone with an Alexa-enabled device.

Create Fun Learning Tools
Whether you are a parent helping your child study or want to teach something you’re passionate about, Blueprints are easy tools to create new ways to learn. Use the QuizFlashcardsFacts, and Listening Quiz Blueprints to help teach new concepts, retain information, and prepare for the next exam. Add your content into the Skill Blueprint template without the need for any coding and make learning fun for everyone.

 

 

China has started a grand experiment in AI education. It could reshape how the world learns. — from technologyreview.com by Karen Hao
In recent years, the country has rushed to pursue “intelligent education.” Now its billion-dollar ed-tech companies are planning to export their vision overseas.

Excerpt:

Zhou Yi was terrible at math. He risked never getting into college. Then a company called Squirrel AI came to his middle school in Hangzhou, China, promising personalized tutoring. He had tried tutoring services before, but this one was different: instead of a human teacher, an AI algorithm would curate his lessons. The 13-year-old decided to give it a try. By the end of the semester, his test scores had risen from 50% to 62.5%. Two years later, he scored an 85% on his final middle school exam.

“I used to think math was terrifying,” he says. “But through tutoring, I realized it really isn’t that hard. It helped me take the first step down a different path.”

 

The strategy has fueled mind-boggling growth. In the five years since it was founded, the company has opened 2,000 learning centers in 200 cities and registered over a million students—equal to New York City’s entire public school system. It plans to expand to 2,000 more centers domestically within a year. To date, the company has also raised over $180 million in funding. At the end of last year, it gained unicorn status, surpassing $1 billion in valuation.

 

Cost, price and competition in online learning — from insidehighered.com by Doug Lederman
Colleges generally still price their online programs similarly to their on-ground counterparts. A panel of experts explores whether that is starting to change.

Excerpt:

BALTIMORE — Does online education cost colleges less to produce? And if so, should online courses therefore be priced lower for students?

 

 

Stanford profs: U.S. income inequality is only getting worse. Now what? — from fastcompany.com by
An economist and a business adviser discuss what might happen if the gap between rich and poor continues to grow.

Excerpt:

The U.S. economy hit a historic high in 2018, and today unemployment is at its lowest rate in five decades. Yet wage growth for the vast majority of Americans has stalled, and more people are struggling to afford housing, healthcare, education, and other basics.

 

From DSC:
If this trend continues, it will present more heat in higher education’s kitchen. It will further the need for an online-based, lifelong learning, next generation learning platform.

 

To End Student Debt, Tie Tuition to Post-Graduation Salaries — from wired.com by Austen Allred
Opinion: If colleges only get paid when their graduates do, they’re incentivized to provide a service that actually gets students hired.

Excerpt:

But unlike student loans, if regulated responsibly, ISAs power a risk-averse path to higher education. Responsible ISAs—which typically require zero upfront cost, repayment only if and when the graduate lands a job earning a sizable income, and an ethical repayment cap, such as $30,000 total—eliminate cost as a barrier to entry. But it’s the way that ISAs align the incentives of school and student that makes the model paradigm-changing.

The financial tool serves a diversity of students. People who can’t afford the cost of a traditional on-campus degree, or who don’t have access to federal- or state-based aid programs, can pursue a postsecondary education at no upfront cost. Additionally, those who are transitioning back into the workforce or changing careers can retrain in in-demand fields.

There’s no one-size-fits-all path to higher education. But Income Share Agreements prove that shouldering enormous risk doesn’t have to be a prerequisite for students. ISAs imagine a future in which graduates aren’t burdened by growing debt, and where opportunity is as evenly distributed as talent.

 

From DSC:
Can you hear and feel the culture clash that’s embedded here? I can.

On one side of the coin, there exists many faculty members, deans, provosts, and college/university presidents as well as other members of administration who maintain a more liberal arts perspective — that college is meant for learning and preparing students for many jobs…not just their first jobs. 

On the other side of the coin are students who are paying ever increasing amounts of money to obtain their degrees. They want good jobs, and aren’t necessarily at school for the noble cause of learning. Many of these folks have different perspectives about what higher education is for…what it’s purpose is meant to be.

As the price of higher ed has increased, the former ways of viewing what a college education is supposed to be about — i.e., learning and a broad-based liberal arts type of education — are being increasingly shoved out the door. This is now by necessity I might add.

Along these lines, I can hear one of my former colleagues — an academic dean from years ago –adamantly insisting that higher education is not a business and that our students are not customers.

Since that time, it’s become very clear to me that higher education is most definitely a business. Not focusing on the multi-million dollar TV contracts or what many football coaches get paid…or not focusing on the revenue that research universities make on patents…let’s just focus on charging someone the price of a nice home for a 4-year degree. That alone makes it a business in my mind. The rising price of education has created customers.

(By the way, this development occurred on the watch of many of those same faculty members, provosts, presidents and other members of administration, etc. that claim a more noble goal of higher education.)

Students today can’t afford to attend school the way boomers did. As the article states:

When I went to college, nobody talked about student debt. Nobody talked about trade-offs. Everybody lived by one credo: Go to the best school you can, study the thing that you love, and it will work out on the other side. Frankly, for Boomers, that’s what happened. If you got a degree, you could expect to land a decent job with a decent salary. Even if you did accrue debt during college, payments were often manageable and short-lived.

That is certainly not the case anymore, as the article points out:

Bottom line:

Change has to occur. It can’t keep going on like this. We are at the precipice of massive change. It has to change or we are in massive trouble as a nation. The ramifications of this kind of student debt last for decades!

This is why a next generation, online-based learning platform will be the answer for many people. Surely such a delivery method and learning experience will not work for everyone — as the face-to-face (F2f) experience is still excellent and preferred by many people. But the F2F experience is arguably becoming the Maserati….and increasingly out of reach…and it’s burying people in debt for decades to come.

 

 

DSC: Holy smokes!!! How might this be applied to education/learning/training in the 21st century!?!

DC: Holy smokes!!! How might this be applied to education/learning/training in the 21st century!?!

 

“What if neither distance nor language mattered? What if technology could help you be anywhere you need to be and speak any language? Using AI technology and holographic experiences this is possible, and it is revolutionary.”

 

 

Also see:

Microsoft has a wild hologram that translates HoloLens keynotes into Japanese — from theverge.com by
Azure and HoloLens combine for a hint at the future

Excerpt:

Microsoft has created a hologram that will transform someone into a digital speaker of another language. The software giant unveiled the technology during a keynote at the Microsoft Inspire partner conference [on 7/17/19] in Las Vegas. Microsoft recently scanned Julia White, a company executive for Azure, at a Mixed Reality capture studio to transform her into an exact hologram replica.

The digital version appeared onstage to translate the keynote into Japanese. Microsoft has used its Azure AI technologies and neural text-to-speech to make this possible. It works by taking recordings of White’s voice, in order to create a personalized voice signature, to make it sound like she’s speaking Japanese.

 

 

 

5 Years Since Starbucks Offered to Help Baristas Attend College, How Many Have Graduated? — from edsurge.com by Rebecca Koenig

Excerpts:

…nearly 3,000 Starbucks employees who have earned bachelor’s degrees online through the company-university partnership program.

 

The arrangement was possible logistically because Humberstone took her courses in business and environmental sustainability entirely online. And it was feasible financially because Starbucks and Arizona State University covered most of her tuition bill.

 

The future of work in America — from mckinsey.com by Jacques Bughin,  James Manyika. and Jonathan Woetzel | July 2019

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Local economies across the country have been on diverging trajectories for years, and ***they are entering the automation age from different starting points.*** Our view incorporates the current state of local labor markets as well as the jobs that could be lost and gained in the decade ahead.

 

 

The US labor market looks markedly different today than it did two decades ago. It has been reshaped by dramatic events like the Great Recession but also by a quieter ongoing evolution in the mix and location of jobs. In the decade ahead, the next wave of technology may accelerate the pace of change. Millions of jobs could be phased out even as new ones are created. More broadly, the day-to-day nature of work could change for nearly everyone as intelligent machines become fixtures in the American workplace.

The labor market could become even more polarized. Workers with a high school degree or less are four times as likely as those with a bachelor’s degree to be displaced by automation. Reflecting more limited access to education, Hispanic workers are most at risk of displacement, followed by African Americans. Jobs held by nearly 15 million workers ages 18–34 may be automated, so young people will need new career paths to gain an initial foothold in the working world. Roughly 11.5 million workers over age 50 could also be displaced and face the challenge of making late-career moves. The hollowing out of middle wage work could continue.

The future of work is not just about how many jobs could be lost and gained. Technology is altering the day-to-day mix of activities associated with more and more jobs over time. The occupational mix of the economy is changing, and the demand for skills is changing along with it. Employers will need to manage large-scale workforce transformations that could involve redefining business processes and workforce needs, retraining and moving some people into new roles, and creating programs for continuous learning. This could be an opportunity to upgrade jobs and make them more rewarding. The choices that employers make will ripple through the communities in which they operate.

 

The need for a next gen learning platform is quickly approaching us!
Either that, or colleges and universities better get FAR more
responsive/nimble, and focus FAR more on lifelong learning.
This is not a joke.

This is not just text on a web page.
This is a future that’s barreling
at us at amazingly fast speeds.
A new chapter is coming at us quickly.

 

 

Pearson moves away from print textbooks — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Excerpt:

All of Pearson’s 1,500 higher education textbooks in the U.S. will now be “digital first.” The company announced its big shift away from print today, calling the new approach a “product as a service model and a generational business shift to be much more like apps, professional software or the gaming industry.”

The digital format will allow Pearson to update textbooks on an ongoing basis, taking into account new developments in the field of study, new technologies, data analytics and efficacy research, the company said in a news announcement. The switch to digital will also lower the cost for students: The average e-book price will be $40, or $79 for a “full suite of digital learning tools.”

 
 

Understanding and Overcoming Obstacles to Blockchain in Higher Education — from evolllution.com by Melissa Layne
Blockchain carries significant potential for good in higher education. But as with every other industry, the obstacles and challenges—from comprehension to compliance—pose significant roadblocks.

Higher Education and the Blockchain Ecosystem: An Overview — from evolllution.com by Melissa Layne
Implementing blockchain technologies could provide significant benefits to every department within a postsecondary institution.

Higher Education and the Blockchain Ecosystem: Using Blockchain in Admissions — from evolllution.com by Melissa Layne
With constant pressure on admissions departments to serve a diverse group of incoming learners with accuracy and speed, it’s essential to provide technological tools designed to improve and simplify the enrollment process.

 

Bigscreen TV launches with 50+ channels of video content — from vrscout.com by Allison Hollender

Excerpts:

Bigscreen, an immersive social platform that allows you to access your computer in VR, aims to continue revolutionizing the TV viewing experience with Bigscreen TV — a VR streaming experience that opens up access to over 50 major television providers.


“With Bigscreen, users can watch a Netflix show or a Twitch stream in an IMAX-like virtual movie theater,” Bigscreen reports. This means users from around the world can gather together to watch big championship games or their favorite shows with their friends as though they are together on the same couch.

 

How might immersive techs like those found in BigScreen TV impact teaching and learning related experiences?

 

From DSC:
Interesting…how might technologies and vendors like Bigscreen TV impact learning-related experiences? Hmmm….time will tell.

 

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:

 

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