Israeli tech co. uses virtual & augmented reality tech to help Christians engage with the Bible — with thanks to Heidi McDow for the resource
Compedia Partners with U.S. Clients to Utilize Company’s Biblical Knowledge and Technological Expertise

TEL AVIV, Israel, Aug. 7, 2019 – Compedia, an Israel-based business-to-business tech company, is using virtual reality technology to service Christian clients with products that help users engage with the Bible in a meaningful way.

Compedia partnered with The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., which attracted more than 1 million visitors during its first year of operation, to help bring the museum’s exhibits to life. With the help of Compedia’s innovation, visitors to the museum can immerse themselves in 34 different biblical sites through augmented reality tours, allowing them to soar across the Sea of Galilee, climb the stairs of the Temple Mount, explore the Holy Sepulchre and so much more. In addition to creating on-site attractions for The Museum of the Bible, Compedia also created a Bible curriculum for high-school students that includes interactive maps, 3-D guides, quizzes, trivia and more.

“Many people are dubious of augmented and virtual reality, but we see how they can be used for God’s glory,” said Illutowich. “When clients recognize how attentive users are to the Bible message when it’s presented through augmented and virtual reality, they see the power of it, too.”

In addition to their passion for furthering Bible education, Compedia is committed to developing products that help educators engage students of all types. The company is currently in partnership with a number of educational institutions and schools around the U.S. to utilize its interactive technology both in the classroom and in the online learning space. Other client collaborations include Siemens, Sony and Intel, to name a few.

About Compedia
Compedia uses cutting-edge technology to help students succeed by making education more fun, engaging, and meaningful. With over 30 years of experience in developing advanced learning solutions for millions of people in 50 countries and 35 languages, Compedia offers expertise in visual computing, augmented reality, virtual reality and advanced systems, as well as instructional design and UX.

 


 

 

 


 

 

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.

 
 

From DSC:
In reviewing some of the learning spaces I ran across out at inventionlandinstitute.com/innovation-labs

 

An example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

Another example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

Another example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

Another example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

Another example of a wonderful learning space at Inventionland Institute

 

…I wondered…why can’t more learning spaces look like this!?!

 

 
 

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.

 
 

Belief in Learning Styles Myth May Be Detrimental — from apa.org
Many people believe learning styles predict academic and career success, study finds

Excerpts:

WASHINGTON — Many people, including educators, believe learning styles are set at birth and predict both academic and career success even though there is no scientific evidence to support this common myth, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Previous surveys in the United States and other industrialized countries across the world have shown that 80% to 95% of people believe in learning styles. It’s difficult to say how that myth became so widespread, Nancekivell said.

 

Also see:

  • Maybe They’re Born With It, or Maybe It’s Experience: Toward a Deeper Understanding of the Learning Style Myth — from apa.org by Shaylene E. Nancekivell, Priti Shah, and Susan A. Gelman
    .
  • Learning Styles are NOT an Effective Guide for Learning Design — from debunker.club
    Excerpt:
    The strength of evidence against the use of learning styles is very strong. To put it simply, using learning styles to design or deploy learning is not likely to lead to improved learning effectiveness. While it may be true that learners have different learning preferences, those preference are not likely to be a good guide for learning. The bottom line is that when we design learning, there are far better heuristics to use than learning styles.
    .
  • Learning styles: Worth our time? — from Cathy Moore
    .
  • Learning Styles Debunked: There is No Evidence Supporting Auditory and Visual Learning, Psychologists Say — from psychologicalscience.org
    .
  • Learning Styles FAQ — by Daniel Willingham
    Excerpt:
    How can you not believe that that people learn differently? Isn’t it obvious?
    People do learn differently, but I think it is very important to say exactly how they learn differently, and focus our attention on those differences that really matter. If learning styles were obviously right it would be easy to observe evidence for them in experiments. Yet there is no supporting evidence. There are differences among kids that both seem obvious to us and for which evidence is easily obtained in experiments, e.g., that people differ in their interests, that students vary in how much they think of schoolwork as part of their identity (“I’m the kind of kid who works hard in school”) and that kids differ in what they already know at the start of a lesson. All three of these have sizable, easily observed effects on learning. I think that often when people believe that they observe obvious evidence for learning styles, they are mistaking it for ability.

 

From DSC:
While I’ve heard and read through the years that there isn’t support for learning styles — and I’ve come to adopt that perspective as well due to what I’ve read, such as the items listed above — I do think that each of us has our learning preferences (as the debunker club mentioned as well). That is, how we prefer to learn about a new subject:

  • Some people like to read the manual.
  • Others never pick up the manual…they prefer to use the trial and error / hands-on method.
  • Some people prefer to listen to audio books.
  • Others prefer to watch videos.
  • Others like to read about a new topic.
  • Others like to study in a very quiet place — while others prefer some background noise.
  • Some people love to learn in a 100% online-based mode…some people hate it, and that delivery method doesn’t work as well for them.

Along these lines…in my mind, offering learning in multiple media and in multiple ways maximizes the enjoyment of learning by a group of people. And now that we’re all into lifelong learning, the enjoyment of learning has notched waaay up in importance in my book. The more we enjoy learning, the more we enjoy life (and vice versa).

In fact, I’m getting closer to the point of putting enjoyment of learning over grades in terms of importance. Grades are a way to compare people/school systems/colleges/universities/etcetera…they are the currency of our current systems…and they are used to “incentivize” students. But such systems and methods often produce game players, not learners.

 

 

Cambridge library installation gives readers control of their sensory space — from cambridge.wickedlocal.com by Hannah Schoenbaum

Excerpts:

A luminous igloo-shaped structure in the front room of the Cambridge Public Library beckoned curious library visitors during the snowy first weekend of March, inviting them to explore a space engineered for everyone, yet uniquely their own.

Called “Alterspace” and developed by Harvard’s metaLAB and Library Innovation Lab, this experiment in adaptive architecture granted the individual control over the sensory elements in his or her space. A user enters the LED-illuminated dome to find headphones, chairs and an iPad on a library cart, which displays six modes: Relax, Read, Meditate, Focus, Create and W3!Rd.

From the cool blues and greens of Relax mode to a rainbow overload of excitement in the W3!Rd mode, Alterspace is engineered to transform its lights, sounds and colors into the ideal environment for a particular action.

 

 

From DSC:
This brings me back to the question/reflection…in the future, will students using VR headsets be able to study by a brook? An ocean? In a very quiet library (i.e., the headset would come with solid noise cancellation capabilities build into it)?  This type of room/capability would really be helpful for our daughter…who is easily distracted and doesn’t like noise.

 

 

Using arts education to help other lessons stick — from nytimes.com by Perri Klass
The arts can be a source of joy in a child’s day, and also come in handy for memorizing times tables.

Excerpts:

Arts education in schools has introduced many children to great painters and great music, and helped them through their first dance steps or tentative musical endeavors. It can serve as a bright spot in the schoolchild’s day or week, a class that brings in beauty, color and joy, and which is not about testing.

These subjects are often under threat either from budget cuts or from the inexorable demands of academic testing and “accountability,” but insights from neuroscience suggest that arts education can play additional important roles in how children learn.

Arts education encompasses many disciplines: “I’m talking about everything from music, drama, dance, design, visual arts,” Dr. Sowden said. And the goal goes beyond the specific subjects, he said: “You’re looking for opportunities in the arts education context to encourage children to ask questions, to use their imaginations, but also to approach their work in a systematic, disciplined way.”

 

 

For a next gen learning platform: A Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities / educationally-related “apps” [Christian]

From DSC:
In a next generation learning system, it would be sharp/beneficial to have a Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities that you could turn on and off (at will) — as one component of your learning ecosystem that could feature a setup located in your living room or office.

For example, put a Netflix-like interface to the apps out at eduappcenter.com (i.e., using a rolling interface at first, then going to a static page/listing of apps…again…similar to Netflix).

 

A Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities / educationally-related apps

 

 

 

From DSC:
For anyone out there who thinks that teaching and learning is easy and who agrees with the uninformed saying that goes “Those who can’t do…teach”…might I recommend a few potential to-do’s for you to try out…?

  1. Try teaching 30-35 students yourself for at least 4-6 weeks about a topic that you just found out that you’ll be teaching and one that you don’t know much about. (And see if you enjoy the process that some teachers sometimes have to go through…putting down the tracks right in front of the trains that are rapidly moving down the tracks right behind them.) Also, you must have at least one student in your class who requires an Individualized Education Program (IEP) as well as 4-5 students who constantly cause trouble and who don’t want to be in school at all.
    .
  2. Identify each student’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning preferences — and their Zone of Proximal Development — then customize the learning that each of your 30-35 learners receives (with the goal of keeping each student moving forward at their most appropriate pace, while staying encouraged and yet appropriately challenged).
    .
  3. Attend Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings and work with other IEP team members to significantly contribute to the appropriate student’s (or students’) teaching and learning environment(s). For a real challenge, at least one of those students will be someone who is struggling, but is very much hanging in there — someone who is “right in the middle of the pack,” so to speak. (My guess is that if you did this, you would never think of teaching, nor teachers, nor other specialists in quite the same way again. My guess is that you would develop a whole new appreciation for how complex teaching and learning really is.)

Regarding that last item about at least one of your students requiring an IEP, here are some questions that might come up:

  • What specialized services are needed this year?
  • What do the teachers need to know about this student’s cognitive processing/executive functioning?
  • How has the student been doing with the specialized services and teaching and learning strategies that have been attempted since the last IEP meeting? 
  • If their scores are going down, how are you going to address that issue (especially given limited resources)?
  • How is the student’s motivation level doing? Is attending school still a positive experience? Or are things starting to become negative and/or downright painful for the student? Are they starting to get bummed out about having to come to school?
  • How are they relating with and collaborating with other students? If poorly, how are you going to address that issue? How are you going to handle group-related projects (especially after reading all of those articles that assert which skills the workplace values these days)?
  • What do you do with grades and assessments? Do you treat the student differently and give them higher grades to keep them encouraged? But if you do that, will your school system back you up on that or will someone come down hard on you for doing that? Or, perhaps you will find yourself struggling internally — trying to figure out what grades are really for and wondering if they are helpful in the first place. In fact, you might find yourself wondering if grades aren’t really just a mechanism for ranking and comparing individuals, schools, and even entire school systems (which, as we know, impacts property values)? 
  • What do grades really produce — game players or (lifelong) learners? It won’t surprise you to know that I would argue that the former is what gets “produced.”  Grades don’t really produce as many learners as they do game-players (i.e., students who know the minimum amount of work that they need to do and still get that all important A).

So, as you can hopefully see here, learning is messy. It’s rarely black and white…there’s a lot of gray out there and a lot of things to consider. It’s not a one-size fits all. And teaching others well is certainly NOT easy to do! 

RELEVANT IDEAS:

While I’m thinking about related ideas here…wouldn’t it be great if EVERY. SINGLE. STUDENT. could have their own IEP and their own TEAM of specialists — people who care about their learning?

What if each student could have their own cloud-based learner profile — a portion of which would be a series of VoiceThreads per student, per period of time (or per mastering a particular topic or area)?  Such VoiceThreads could include multimedia-based comments, insights, and recommendations for how the student is doing and how they best learn. Through the years, those teams of people — people who care about that student’s learning — could help that student identify their:

  • strengths
  • weaknesses
  • passions/interests
  • their optimal learning strategies and preferences
  • potential careers

The students could periodically review such feedback.

 

 

For every single student, we could build a history of feedback, helpful suggestions, 
and recommendations via audio, video, text, graphics, etc.

 

 

From DSC:
Not too long ago, I really enjoyed watching a program on PBS regarding America’s 100 most-loved books, entitled, “The Great American Read.”

 

Watch “The Grand Finale”

 

While that’s not the show I’m talking about, it got me to thinking of one similar to it — something educational, yet entertaining. But also, something more.

The program that came to my mind would be a program that’s focused on significant topics and issues within American society — offered up in a debate/presentation style format. 

For example, you could have different individuals, groups, or organizations discuss the pros and cons of an issue or topic. The show would provide contact information for helpful resources, groups, organizations, legislators, etc.  These contacts would be for learning more about a subject or getting involved with finding a solution for that problem.

For example, how about this for a potential topic: Grades or no grades?
  • What are the pros and cons of using an A-F grading system?
  • What are the benefits and issues/drawbacks with using grades? 
  • How are we truly using grades Do we use them to rank and compare individuals, schools, school systems, communities? Do we use them to “weed people out” of a program?
  • With our current systems, what “product” do we get? Do we produce game-players or people who enjoy learning? (Apologies for some of my bias showing up here! But my son has become a major game-player and, likely, so did I at his age.)
  • How do grades jibe with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)? On one hand…how do you keep someone moving forward, staying positive, and trying to keep learning/school enjoyable yet on the other hand, how do you have those grades mean something to those who obtain data to rank school systems, communities, colleges, programs, etc.?
  • How do grades impact one’s desire to learn throughout one’s lifetime?

Such debates could be watched by students and then they could have their own debates on subjects that they propose.

Or the show could have journalists debate college or high school teams. The format could sometimes involve professors and deans debating against researchers. Or practitioners/teachers debating against researchers/cognitive psychologists. 

Such a show could be entertaining, yet highly applicable and educational. We would probably all learn something. And perhaps have our eyes opened up to a new perspective on an issue.

Or better yet, we might actually resolve some more issues and then move on to address other ones!

 

 

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