The Blockchain Revolution and Higher Education — from er.educause.edu by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott
The blockchain provides a rich, secure, and transparent platform on which to create a global network for higher learning. This Internet of value can help to reinvent higher education in a way the Internet of information alone could not.

Excerpt:

What will be the most important technology to change higher education? In our view, it’s not big data, the social web, MOOCs, virtual reality, or even artificial intelligence. We see these as components of something new, all enabled and transformed by an emerging technology called the blockchain.

OK, it’s not the most sonorous word ever, sounding more like a college football strategy than a transformative technology. Yet, sonorous or not, the blockchain represents nothing less than the second generation of the Internet, and it holds the potential to disrupt money, business, government, and yes, higher education.

The opportunities for innovators in higher education fall into four categories:

  • Identity and Student Records: How we identify students; protect their privacy; measure, record, and credential their accomplishments; and keep these records secure
  • New Pedagogy: How we customize teaching to each student and create new models of learning
  • Costs (Student Debt): How we value and fund education and reward students for the quality of their work
  • The Meta-University: How we design entirely new models of higher education so that former MIT President Chuck Vest’s dream can become a reality1

The blockchain may help us change the relationships among colleges and universities and, in turn, their relationship to society.

Let us explain.

 

What if there was an Internet of value — a global, distributed, highly secure platform, ledger, or database where we could store and exchange things of value and where we could trust each other without powerful intermediaries? That is the blockchain.

 

 

From DSC:
The quote…

In 2006, MIT President Emeritus Vest offered a tantalizing vision of what he called the meta-university. In the open-access movement, he saw “a transcendent, accessible, empowering, dynamic, communally constructed framework of open materials and platforms on which much of higher education worldwide can be constructed or enhanced.”

…made me wonder if this is where a vision that I’m tracking called Learning from the Living [Class] Room is heading. Also, along these lines, futurist Thomas Frey believes

“I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank, tells Business Insider. (source)

Blockchain could be a key piece of this vision.

 

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

 

Blockchain: Letting students own their credentials — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser
Very soon this nascent technology could securely enable registrars to help students verify credentials without the hassle of ordering copies of transcripts.

Excerpt:

While truth may seem evasive on many fronts, a joint academic and industry effort is underway to codify it for credentialing. At the core of the effort is blockchain, a trust technology developed for bitcoin and used in solving other forms of validation between individuals and organizations. Still in its nascent stage, the technology could, within just a year or two, provide the core services that would enable schools to stop acting as if they own proof of learning and help students verify their credentials as needed — without waiting on a records office to do it for them.

 

From DSC:
This article reminded me of two of the slides from my NGLS 2017 presentation back from February:

 

 

 

Also see:

 

 
 

A smorgasboard of ideas to put on your organization’s radar! [Christian]

From DSC:
At the Next Generation Learning Spaces Conference, held recently in San Diego, CA, I moderated a panel discussion re: AR, VR, and MR.  I started off our panel discussion with some introductory ideas and remarks — meant to make sure that numerous ideas were on the radars at attendees’ organizations. Then Vinay and Carrie did a super job of addressing several topics and questions (Mary was unable to make it that day, as she got stuck in the UK due to transportation-related issues).

That said, I didn’t get a chance to finish the second part of the presentation which I’ve listed below in both 4:3 and 16:9 formats.  So I made a recording of these ideas, and I’m relaying it to you in the hopes that it can help you and your organization.

 


Presentations/recordings:


 

Audio/video recording (187 MB MP4 file)

 

 


Again, I hope you find this information helpful.

Thanks,
Daniel

 

 

 

From DSC:
At the recent
Next Generation Learning Spaces Conference, in my introductory piece for our panel discussion, I relayed several ideas/areas that should be on our institutions’ radars. That is, at least someone at each of our institutions of higher education should be aware of these things and be pulse-checking them as time goes by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of these ideas/areas involved the use of blockchain technologies:

 

 

If #blockchain technologies are successful within the financial/banking world, then it’s highly likely that other use cases will be developed as well (i.e., the trust in blockchain-enabled applications will be there already).

Along those lines, if that occurs, then colleges and universities are likely to become only 1 of the feeds into someone’s cloud-based, lifelong learning profile. I’ve listed several more sources of credentials below:

 

 

Given the trend towards more competency-based education (CBE) and the increased experimentation with badges, blockchain could increasingly move onto the scene.

In fact, I could see a day when an individual learner will be able to establish who can and can’t access their learner profile, and who can and can’t feed information and updates into it.

Artificial intelligence and big data also come to mind here…and I put Microsoft on my radar a while back in this regard; as Microsoft (via LinkedIn and Lynda.com) could easily create online-based marketplaces matching employers with employees/freelancers.

 

 

 


Along these lines, see:


 

  • The Mainstreaming of Alternative Credentials in Postsecondary Education — from by Deborah Keyek-Franssen
    Excerpt:

    • The Context of Alternative Credentials
      The past few years have seen a proliferation of new learning credentials ranging from badges and bootcamp certifications to micro-degrees and MOOC certificates. Although alternative credentials have been part of the fabric of postsecondary education and professional development for decades—think prior learning assessments like Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams, or industry certifications—postsecondary institutions are increasingly unbundling their degrees and validating smaller chunks of skills and learning to provide workplace value to traditional and non-traditional students alike.
      Many are experimenting with alternative credentials to counter the typical binary nature of a degree. Certifications of learning or skills are conferred after the completion of a course or a few short courses in a related field. Students do not have to wait until all requirements for a degree are met before receiving a certificate of learning, but instead can receive one after a much shorter period of study. “Stackable” credentials are combined to be the equivalent of an undergraduate or graduate certificate (a micro-degree), or even a degree.
    • The National Discussion of Alternative Credentials
      Discussions of alternative credentials are often responses to a persistent and growing critique of traditional higher educational institutions’ ability to meet workforce needs, especially because the cost to students for a four-year degree has grown dramatically over the past several decades. The increasing attention paid to alternative credentials brings to the fore questions such as what constitutes a postsecondary education, what role universities in particular should play vis-à-vis workforce development, and how we can assess learning and mastery.

 

 


Addendums added on 3/4/17, that show that this topic isn’t just for higher education, but could involve K-12 as well:


 

 

 

 

 

HarvardX rolls out new adaptive learning feature in online course — from edscoop.com by Corinne Lestch
Students in MOOC adaptive learning experiment scored nearly 20 percent better than students using more traditional learning approaches.

Excerpt:

Online courses at Harvard University are adapting on the fly to students’ needs.

Officials at the Cambridge, Massachusetts, institution announced a new adaptive learning technology that was recently rolled out in a HarvardX online course. The feature offers tailored course material that directly correlates with student performance while the student is taking the class, as well as tailored assessment algorithms.

HarvardX is an independent university initiative that was launched in parallel with edX, the online learning platform that was created by Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both HarvardX and edX run massive open online courses. The new feature has never before been used in a HarvardX course, and has only been deployed in a small number of edX courses, according to officials.

 

 

From DSC:
Given the growth of AI, this is certainly radar worthy — something that’s definitely worth pulse-checking to see where opportunities exist to leverage these types of technologies.  What we now know of as adaptive learning will likely take an enormous step forward in the next decade.

IBM’s assertion rings in my mind:

 

 

I’m cautiously hopeful that these types of technologies can extend beyond K-12 and help us deal with the current need to be lifelong learners, and the need to constantly reinvent ourselves — while providing us with more choice, more control over our learning. I’m hopeful that learners will be able to pursue their passions, and enlist the help of other learners and/or the (human) subject matter experts as needed.

I don’t see these types of technologies replacing any teachers, professors, or trainers. That said, these types of technologies should be able to help do some of the heavy teaching and learning lifting in order to help someone learn about a new topic.

Again, this is one piece of the Learning from the Living [Class] Room that we see developing.

 

 

 

 

Networks for Lifelong Learning: A Tale of Two Students — from novemberlearning.com by Alan November

Excerpts:

Where to begin in leading this shift? There are many possible first steps. This article focuses on two broad areas of digital design that can provide the foundation for an empowered culture of learning:

  • Multimedia content
  • Online communities of social interaction with classmates and professors

I have experienced this transformative shift of expanding the boundaries of learning with my own college-age children. My daughter, Jessica, graduated from university in 2010 and my son, Dan, will graduate in 2017. They both will earn equivalent grades at two different but highly competitive universities. How they studied, how they were supported in their learning, and how they interacted with classmates and professors represent two different worlds. Both of my children are convinced that Dan, the younger sibling, will be much better prepared for the world of work because of this transformation.

Here are five guidelines for leaders who are planning to maximize the investment in network technologies to improve teaching and learning:

  • Provide all students with immediate access to subject content in all formats (full text, video, audio)
  • Support a community of learners who can continuously help one another
  • Provide educators with insights into how students are thinking in online communities
  • Encourage educators to teach students to “learn how to learn”
  • Allow students to continue to tap their campus networks as a lifelong resource

 

 

 

Excerpt from Amazon fumbles earnings amidst high expectations (emphasis DSC):

Aside from AWS, Amazon Alexa-enabled devices were the top-selling products across all categories on Amazon.com throughout the holiday season and the company is reporting that Echo family sales are up over 9x compared to last season. Amazon aims to brand Alexa as a platform, something that has helped the product to gain capabilities faster than its competition. Developers and corporates released 4,000 new skills for the voice assistant in just the last quarter.

 

 

 

 

 

Alexa got 4,000 new skills in just the last quarter!

From DSC:
What are the teaching & learning ramifications of this?

By the way, I’m not saying for professors, teachers, & trainers to run for the hills (i.e., that they’ll be replaced by AI-based tools). But rather, I would like to suggest that we not only put this type of thing on our radars, but we should begin to actively experiment with such technologies to see if they might be able to help us do some heavy lifting for students learning about new topics.

 

Equipping people to stay ahead of technological change — from economist.com by
It is easy to say that people need to keep learning throughout their careers. The practicalities are daunting.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

WHEN education fails to keep pace with technology, the result is inequality. Without the skills to stay useful as innovations arrive, workers suffer—and if enough of them fall behind, society starts to fall apart. That fundamental insight seized reformers in the Industrial Revolution, heralding state-funded universal schooling. Later, automation in factories and offices called forth a surge in college graduates. The combination of education and innovation, spread over decades, led to a remarkable flowering of prosperity.

Today robotics and artificial intelligence call for another education revolution. This time, however, working lives are so lengthy and so fast-changing that simply cramming more schooling in at the start is not enough. People must also be able to acquire new skills throughout their careers.

Unfortunately, as our special report in this issue sets out, the lifelong learning that exists today mainly benefits high achievers—and is therefore more likely to exacerbate inequality than diminish it. If 21st-century economies are not to create a massive underclass, policymakers urgently need to work out how to help all their citizens learn while they earn. So far, their ambition has fallen pitifully short.

At the same time on-the-job training is shrinking. In America and Britain it has fallen by roughly half in the past two decades. Self-employment is spreading, leaving more people to take responsibility for their own skills. Taking time out later in life to pursue a formal qualification is an option, but it costs money and most colleges are geared towards youngsters.

 

The classic model of education—a burst at the start and top-ups through company training—is breaking down. One reason is the need for new, and constantly updated, skills.

 

 

 

Lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative — from economist.com
Technological change demands stronger and more continuous connections between education and employment, says Andrew Palmer. The faint outlines of such a system are now emerging

Excerpt:

A college degree at the start of a working career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills, especially as career spans are lengthening. Vocational training is good at giving people job-specific skills, but those, too, will need to be updated over and over again during a career lasting decades. “Germany is often lauded for its apprenticeships, but the economy has failed to adapt to the knowledge economy,” says Andreas Schleicher, head of the education directorate of the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries. “Vocational training has a role, but training someone early to do one thing all their lives is not the answer to lifelong learning.”

To remain competitive, and to give low- and high-skilled workers alike the best chance of success, economies need to offer training and career-focused education throughout people’s working lives. This special report will chart some of the efforts being made to connect education and employment in new ways, both by smoothing entry into the labour force and by enabling people to learn new skills throughout their careers. Many of these initiatives are still embryonic, but they offer a glimpse into the future and a guide to the problems raised by lifelong reskilling.

 

 

Individuals, too, increasingly seem to accept the need for continuous rebooting.

 

 

 

From DSC:
First, some items regarding the enormous emphasis being put towards the use of robotics and automation:

  • $18.867 billion paid to acquire 50 robotics companies in 2016 — from robohub.org by Frank Tobe
    Excerpt:
    2016 was a banner year for acquisitions of companies involved in robotics and automation: 50 sold; 11 for amounts over $500 million; five were over a billion. 30 of the 50 companies disclosed transaction amounts which totaled up to a colossal $18.867 billion!
    .
  • 2017: The year people are forced to learn new skills… or join the Lost Generation — from enterpriseirregulars.com by Phil Fersht
    Excerpt (emphasis DSC):
    Let’s cut to the chase – there have never been times as uncertain as these in the world of business. There is no written rule-book to follow when it comes to career survival. The “Future of Work” is about making ourselves employable in a workforce where the priority of business leaders is to invest in automation and digital technology, more than training and developing their own workforces. As our soon-to-be-released State of Operations and Outsourcing 2017 study, conducted in conjunction with KPMG across 454 major enterprise buyers globally, shows a dramatic shift in priorities from senior managers (SVPs and above), where 43% are earmarking significant investment in robotic automation of processes, compared with only 28% placing a similar emphasis on training and change management. In fact, the same number of senior managers are as focused on cognitive computing as their own people… yes, folks, this is the singularity of enterprise operations, where cognitive computing now equals employees’ brains when it comes to investment!

    My deep-seated fear for today’s workforce is that we’re in danger of becoming this “Lost Generation” of workers if we persist in relying on what we already know, versus avoiding learning new skills that business leaders now need. We have to become students again, put our egos aside, and broaden our capabilities to avoid the quicksand of legacy executives no longer worth employing.

 

 

 

Below are some other resources along these lines:

 

From DSC:
Given that these trends continue (i.e., to outsource work to software and to robots), what will the ramifications be for:

  • Society at large? Will enough people have enough income to purchase the products/services made by the robots and the software?
  • Will there be major civil unrest / instability? Will crime rates shoot through the roof as peoples’ desperation and frustration escalate?
  • How we should change our curricula within K-12?
  • How should we change our curricular within higher education?
  • How should corporate training & development departments/groups respond to these trends?
  • Is there some new criteria that we need to use (or increase the usage of) in selecting C-level executives?

People don’t want to hear about it. But if the only thing that the C-level suites out there care about is maximizing profits and minimizing costs — REGARDLESS of what happens to humankind — then we are likely going to be creating a very dangerous future. Capitalism will have gone awry. (By the way, the C-level suite is probably making their decisions based upon how their performance is judged by Wall Street and by shareholders. So I can’t really put all the blame on them. Perhaps the enemy is ourselves…?) 

Bottom line: We need to be careful which technologies we implement — and how they are implemented. We need to create a dream in our futures, not a nightmare. We need people at the helms who care about their fellow humankind, and who use the power of these technologies responsibly.

 

 
© 2016 Learning Ecosystems