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?

 

 

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.

 
 

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.”

 

Instructure’s Age of Adolescence: A Conversation With CEO Dan Goldsmith — from edsurge.com by Tony Wan

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

…we sat down with Goldsmith in Long Beach, California, at InstructureCon, the company’s annual user conference, to learn more about what lays ahead for the company as it enters, in his words, the “adolescent phase.”

How big is the company now?
We’re over 1,200. A little less than half the company is focused on R&D, which is a pretty high percentage for a technology company like ours.

What’s connecting the dots between the education and corporate sides is actually the market itself. Educational institutions are recognizing that the largest growing population is the professional worker, and there’s a lot of opportunity for online programs. When institutions are extending those programs to build corporate relationships, it’s very common they use Canvas to do that. Then Bridge comes in to provide the employee development piece.

I asked [Instructure’s co-founder and former CEO] Josh Coates this five years ago, and now I’ll ask you. What three words would you use to describe Instructure today?
Mission-minded. Curious. Optimistic.
(Coates’ answers: Impactful. Open. Innovative.)

 

From DSC:
To those of you graduate students out there: Never underestimate the impact/influence that you can have!

Were it not for his volunteering as an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University, Coates might still be on vacation. In 2008, he was approached by two graduate students in his venture startup class with a fledgling idea that would become Instructure. Skeptical at first, Coates saw potential after they shared transcripts from interviews with 17 university administrators, detailing pain points and the need for a better product.

In 2014: 450 employees
In 2019: Over 1200 employees and now the #1 LMS within U.S. higher ed

 

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.

 
 

The World’s First Full in VR Semester Course Taught by Survios CTO — from medium.com by Rahel Demant

Excerpt:

VR First is excited to announce its strategic partnership with Axon Park?—?the world’s first educational campus in VR. To kick things off, they are running a full semester course taught in VR. Launching this fall, the course will teach expert-level Unreal Engine VR development, taught remotely by Survios CTO and Co-Founder Alex Silkin with support from the Unreal Engine team.

To enable Axon Park’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through immersive education, VR First has signed a strategic partnership with Axon Park, an organization which maintains the largest network of VR lab enabled universities and science parks internationally. Together, Axon Park and VR First are announcing a needs-based scholarship program that will provide students with low cost or free access to VR hardware and resources through their partner network of 850 universities. With their expertise in VR/AR workforce education and regional tech cluster facilities, VR First is the international distribution partner for Axon Park training solutions to universities, businesses and governments.

 

 

Also see:

Axon Park -- in fall 2019, delivering the world’s first full in VR semester course

 

 
 
 

Four research-based strategies every teacher should be using — from cultofpedagogy.com  by Jennifer Gonzalez

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

[Per Jennifer] Cognitive scientist Pooja Agarwal and K-12 teacher Patrice Bain have collaborated on a new book, Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning. In the book, they go into detail about what it looks like when we actually apply four research-based “Power Tools” in the classroom: retrieval practice, spaced practice, interleaving, and feedback-driven metacognition—which is one we haven’t covered at all on this podcast. Today I’m going to talk with Pooja and Patrice about these strategies, the research behind why they work, and some ways you can start using them right away in your instruction.

 

Instead of assigning homework to give students practice with course material, give mini-quizzes at the start of each class that ask 3-5 questions about the prior day’s learning. These should either receive no grades or be given a very low point value, because the goal of these is to reinforce the learning, not measure or grade student work. 

In her social studies classroom, Bain used to assign homework most nights, and found that not only was she spending up to two hours a night grading it, it also was doing nothing to help students retain information.

 

 

 

Survey: Students Choosing Online Programs Closer to Home — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

 

Mentioned in that article:

 

Also see:

“It’s encouraging to see that a majority of students who are studying fully online are reporting great value and satisfaction with their online programs which are largely tied to ambitious career goals,” said Todd Zipper, president and CEO of Learning House, in a prepared statement. “With an increasing population of savvier consumers with high expectations, institutions need to do better at offering more quality, diverse programs that are sensitive to cost in order to keep up with the growing demands of online college students.”

 

From DSC:
If, in the year 2019, most students say online learning is as good or better than face-to-face, what will they say come 2025?  2035? 

Many people will still prefer to have F2F-based learning experiences no matter what year it is. That said, as the innovation continues to occur mainly in the digital/online/virtual realms, F2F will likely find it harder and harder to compete. My advice to current faculty members? Get experience teaching online — and do so as soon as you possibly can.

 

 

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