Stanford team aims at Alexa and Siri with a privacy-minded alternative — from nytimes.com by John Markoff

Excerpt:

Now computer scientists at Stanford University are warning about the consequences of a race to control what they believe will be the next key consumer technology market — virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

The group at Stanford, led by Monica Lam, a computer systems designer, last month received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant is for an internet service they hope will serve as a Switzerland of sorts for systems that use human language to control computers, smartphones and internet devices in homes and offices.

The researchers’ biggest concern is that virtual assistants, as they are designed today, could have a far greater impact on consumer information than today’s websites and apps. Putting that information in the hands of one big company or a tiny clique, they say, could erase what is left of online privacy.

 

Amazon sends Alexa developers on quest for ‘holy grail of voice science’ — from venturebeat.com by Khari Johnson

Excerpt:

At Amazon’s re:Mars conference last week, the company rolled out Alexa Conversations in preview. Conversations is a module within the Alexa Skills Kit that stitches together Alexa voice apps into experiences that help you accomplish complex tasks.

Alexa Conversations may be Amazon’s most intriguing and substantial pitch to voice developers in years. Conversations will make creating skills possible with fewer lines of code. It will also do away with the need to understand the many different ways a person can ask to complete an action, as a recurrent neural network will automatically generate dialogue flow.

For users, Alexa Conversations will make it easier to complete tasks that require the incorporation of multiple skills and will cut down on the number of interactions needed to do things like reserve a movie ticket or order food.

 

 

Online directory of college alternatives launches — from educationdive.com by Natalie Schwartz

Excerpt / Dive Brief:

  • Prospective students interested in nondegree credentials can look to a new online directory of more than 200 companies and other organizations providing apprenticeships, boot camps, short-term online courses and other credentials.
  • Called Alternatives to College, the directory was launched as a joint effort between leaders at higher ed investment firm University Ventures and WhatsBestForMe, a platform for applicants to connect with postsecondary education providers.
  • “The last-mile training sector moves quickly,” said Cassidy Leventhal, a vice president at University Ventures, in the announcement, adding that the directory will provide an “online ‘home'” for nondegree options.
 

Has Technology Made State Regional Universities Obsolete? — from campustechnology.com by Richard Rose
While SRUs do some things well, the current model is not sustainable, with students taking on enormous debt and receiving relatively little income benefit in return. Here’s how technology can help change the equation.

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

What if the State Board of Higher Education assembled a team to create one exceptionally fine Official Texas Version of the sophomore Western Civilization course? The team would include brilliant subject-matter experts, the best graphic artists, senior instructional designers, professional film editors and sharp-eyed text editors, who could produce a 48-clock-hour video course of previously unimaginable quality.

When technology is fully embraced because the need for a better and cheaper product finally trumps the political protection of the status quo, the state regional university will be replaced as part of new state university systems in which local institutions will play a very different role. These new local institutions could be called Learning Satellite Centers (LSCs).

Much content will take the form of high-budget, high-quality multimedia productions with delivery available to all popular devices, from desktop computers to cell phones. Access to learning materials, from course movies and podcasts to reading materials, will be through an expanded electronic distribution system that will eliminate the need for paper-based academic libraries.

The goal of the University Center plus Learning Satellite Center model is to transfer agency back into the hands of the students, where it belongs. No longer will a self-appointed privileged group of professional academics with their arcane degrees and funny ceremonial robes be dictating to the rest of society what we all need to learn and how we need to learn it. Technology will be the great leveler and the marketplace will help individual students decide what choices are best.

Of course, a brief sketch like this one will raise many questions that cannot be explored in a single article, but the conversation must begin. The current State Regional University is not sustainable and can only be propped up by politics and sentiment for so long. Too many students are piling up huge debt to earn dubious degrees that don’t lead to marketable skills or significant economic benefits. Technology has made more effective models of higher education attainable and at a lower price. We need to fearlessly explore such models before our charming old regional campuses drift into irrelevance.

 

From DSC:
While the article has a bit of a bite to it (which I suppose readers of this blog would say they might see in my writings/comments as well from time to time), THIS is the kind of innovative, creative thinking that will get us somewhere. I really appreciate Richard’s article and the deep thought he was put into this topic.

In fact, as readers of this blog will know, I have long been a supporter of a TEAM-BASED approach. And listed below are some graphics that prove it — as well as this article I wrote for evolllution.com (where the “lll” stands for lifelong learning) back from 2016.

This page* lists those graphics plus the list of team members that I thought of in December 2008:

  • Subject Matter Experts
  • Instructional Designers
  • Project Managers
  • Recruiters
  • Legal Counsel
  • Researchers / Mind Experts
  • Digital Audio Specialists
  • Digital Video Specialists
  • Streaming Media Experts
  • Mobile Learning Consultants
  • Writers and Editors 
  • Programmers and Database Specialists 
  • Web Design and Production Specialists
  • Interactivity Designers
  • Multimedia Specialists including Multi-Touch Experts/Programmers
  • 3D / 2D Graphic Designers and/or Animators
  • MindMappers / Visual Learning Experts
  • Personalized Learning Consultants
  • Security Experts
  • The students themselves
  • Other

*BTW, I renamed this idea from the Forthcoming Walmart of Education
to the Forthcoming Amazon.com of Higher Education

 

.

While I’m at it…below are a couple of ideas that I documented back in 2009 that Richard might like…

 

.

As of today…I would simplify that last graphic to
include a subscription model to streams of content.

 

Ok…one more graphic from 5/21/09 that describes what I thought would happen if institutions of traditional higher education maintained the status quo through the years. I feel pretty good about how these predictions turned out, but I wish that we would have made even more progress along these lines than we have (since the time I created this graphic).

 

 

 

 
 

Legal Battle Over Captioning Continues — from insidehighered.com by Lindsay McKenzie
A legal dispute over video captions continues after court rejects requests by MIT and Harvard University to dismiss lawsuits accusing them of discriminating against deaf people.

Excerpt:

Two high-profile civil rights lawsuits filed by the National Association of the Deaf against Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are set to continue after requests to dismiss the cases were recently denied for the second time.

The two universities were accused by the NAD in 2015 of failing to make their massive open online courses, guest lectures and other video content accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Some of the videos, many of which were hosted on the universities’ YouTube channels, did have captions — but the NAD complained that these captions were sometimes so bad that the content was still inaccessible.

Spokespeople for both Harvard and MIT declined to comment on the ongoing litigation but stressed that their institutions were committed to improving web accessibility.

 

 

From DSC:
I ran into the posting below on my Twitter feed. I especially want to share it with all of those students out there who are majoring in Education. You will find excellent opportunities to build your Personal Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter.

But this idea/concept/opportunity also applies to current teachers, professors, trainers, special educators, principals, superintendents, school board members, coaches, and many, many others.

You will not only learn a great deal by tapping into those streams of content, but you will be able to share your own expertise, insights, resources, reflections, etc.  Don’t underestimate the networking and learning potential of Twitter. It’s one of the top learning tools in the world.

One last thought before you move onto the graphics below…K-12 educators are doing a super job of networking and sharing resources with each other. I hope that more faculty members who are working within higher education can learn from the examples being set forth by K-12 educators.

 

 

Also see:

 

Also see:

 

 

Is Thomas Frey right? “…by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet.”

From a fairly recent e-newsletter from edsurge.com — though I don’t recall the exact date (emphasis DSC):

New England is home to some of the most famous universities in the world. But the region has also become ground zero for the demographic shifts that promise to disrupt higher education.

This week saw two developments that fit the narrative. On Monday, Southern Vermont College announced that it would shut its doors, becoming the latest small rural private college to do so. Later that same day, the University of Massachusetts said it would start a new online college aimed at a national audience, noting that it expects campus enrollments to erode as the number of traditional college-age students declines in the coming years.

“Make no mistake—this is an existential threat to entire sectors of higher education,” said UMass president Marty Meehan in announcing the online effort.

The approach seems to parallel the U.S. retail sector, where, as a New York Times piece outlines this week, stores like Target and WalMart have thrived by building online strategies aimed at competing with Amazon, while stores like Gap and Payless, which did little to move online, are closing stores. Of course, college is not like any other product or service, and plenty of campuses are touting the richness of the experience that students get by actually coming to a campus. And it’s not clear how many colleges can grow online to a scale that makes their investments pay off.

 

“It’s predicted that over the next several years, four to five major national players with strong regional footholds will be established. We intend to be one of them.”

University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan

 

 

From DSC:
That last quote from UMass President Marty Meehan made me reflect upon the idea of having one or more enormous entities that will provide “higher education” in the future. I wonder if things will turn out to be that we’ll have more lifelong learning providers and platforms in the future — with the idea of a 60-year curriculum being an interesting idea that may come into fruition.

Long have I predicted that such an enormous entity would come to pass. Back in 2008, I named it the Forthcoming Walmart of Education. But then as the years went by, I got bumbed out on some things that Walmart was doing, and re-branded it the Forthcoming Amazon.com of Higher Education. We’ll see how long that updated title lasts — but you get the point. In fact, the point aligns very nicely with what futurist Thomas Frey has been predicting for years as well:

“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)

I realize that education doesn’t always scale well…but I’m thinking that how people learn in the future may be different than how we did things in the past…communities of practice comes to mind…as does new forms of credentialing…as does cloud-based learner profiles…as does the need for highly efficient, cost-effective, and constant opportunities/means to reinvent oneself.

Also see:

 

 

Addendum:

74% of consumers go to Amazon when they’re ready to buy something. That should be keeping retailers up at night. — from cnbc.com

Key points (emphasis DSC)

  • Amazon remains a looming threat for some of the biggest retailers in the country — like Walmart, Target and Macy’s.
  • When consumers are ready to buy a specific product, nearly three-quarters of them, or 74 percent, are going straight to Amazon to do it, according to a new study by Feedvisor.
  • By the end of this year, Amazon is expected to account for 52.4 percent of the e-commerce market in the U.S., up from 48 percent in 2018.

 

“In New England, there will be between 32,000 and 54,000 fewer college-aged students just seven years from now,” Meehan said. “That means colleges and universities will have too much capacity and not enough demand at a time when the economic model in higher education is already straining under its own weight.” (Marty Meehan at WBUR)

 

 

Learning and Student Success: Presenting the Results of the 2019 Key Issues Survey — from er.educause.edu by Malcolm Brown

Excerpts:

Here are some results that caught (Malcolm’s) eye, with a few speculations tossed in:

  • The issue of faculty development reclaimed the top spot.
  • Academic transformation, previously a consistent top-three finisher, took a tumble in 2019 down to 10th.
  • After falling to 16th last year, the issue of competency-based education and new methods of learning assessment jumped up to 6th for 2019.
  • The issues of accessibility and universal design for learning (UDL) and of digital and information literacy held more or less steady.
  • Online and blended learning has rebounded significantly.

 

 

 

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:
Below is a graphic from an article by Jane Hart that’s entitled, “A seamless working and learning environment“- to me, it’s another good example/graphic of a learning ecosystem. This one happens to belong to an organization, but each of us has our own learning ecosystem as well.

 

Another good example/graphic of a learning ecosystem

 

 

EdTechs and Instructional Designers—What’s the Difference? — from er.educause.edu by Pat Reid

Excerpt:

Both edtechs and instructional designers (IDs) work with computer systems and programs, yet their actual duties differ from traditional IT tasks. The resulting confusion over what edtechs and IDs do—and how the two roles differ—is rampant, not least in the sector that needs them most: higher education.

 

Virtual classes shouldn’t be cringeworthy. Here are 5 tips for teaching live online — from edsurge.com by Bonni Stachowiak (Columnist)

Excerpt:

Dear Bonni: I’m wanting to learn about best practices for virtual courses that are “live” (e.g., using a platform like Zoom). It differs both from face-to-face classroom learning and traditional (asynchronous) online courses. I’d love to know about resources addressing this learning format. —Keith Johnson. director of theological development at Cru. My team facilitates and teaches graduate-level theological courses for a non-profit.

Teaching a class by live video conference is quite different than being in person with a room full of students. But there are some approaches we can draw from traditional classrooms that work quite well in a live, online environment.

Here are some recommendations for virtual teaching…

 

 
 

Robots won’t replace instructors, 2 Penn State educators argue. Instead, they’ll help them be ‘more human.’ — from edsurge.com by Tina Nazerian

Excerpt:

Specifically, it will help them prepare for and teach their courses through several phases—ideation, design, assessment, facilitation, reflection and research. The two described a few prototypes they’ve built to show what that might look like.

 

Also see:

The future of education: Online, free, and with AI teachers? — from fool.com by Simon Erickson
Duolingo is using artificial intelligence to teach 300 million people a foreign language for free. Will this be the future of education?

Excerpts:

While it might not get a lot of investor attention, education is actually one of America’s largest markets.

The U.S. has 20 million undergraduates enrolled in colleges and universities right now and another 3 million enrolled in graduate programs. Those undergrads paid an average of $17,237 for tuition, room, and board at public institutions in the 2016-17 school year and $44,551 for private institutions. Graduate education varies widely by area of focus, but the average amount paid for tuition alone was $24,812 last year.

Add all of those up, and America’s students are paying more than half a trillion dollars each year for their education! And that doesn’t even include the interest amassed for student loans, the college-branded merchandise, or all the money spent on beer and coffee.

Keeping the costs down
Several companies are trying to find ways to make college more affordable and accessible.

 

But after we launched, we have so many users that nowadays if the system wants to figure out whether it should teach plurals before adjectives or adjectives before plurals, it just runs a test with about 50,000 people. So for the next 50,000 people that sign up, which takes about six hours for 50,000 new users to come to Duolingo, to half of them it teaches plurals before adjectives. To the other half it teaches adjectives before plurals. And then it measures which ones learn better. And so once and for all it can figure out, ah it turns out for this particular language to teach plurals before adjectives for example.

So every week the system is improving. It’s making itself better at teaching by learning from our learners. So it’s doing that just based on huge amounts of data. And this is why it’s become so successful I think at teaching and why we have so many users.

 

 

From DSC:
I see AI helping learners, instructors, teachers, and trainers. I see AI being a tool to help do some of the heavy lifting, but people still like to learn with other people…with actual human beings. That said, a next generation learning platform could be far more responsive than what today’s traditional institutions of higher education are delivering.

 

 

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