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.

 

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.”

 

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:

 

Microsoft’s new AI wants to help you crush your next presentation — from pcmag.com by Jake Leary
PowerPoint is receiving a slew of updates, including one that aims to help you improve your public speaking.

Excerpt:

Microsoft [on 6/18/19] announced several PowerPoint upgrades, the most notable of which is an artificial intelligence tool that aims to help you overcome pre-presentation jitters.

The Presenter Coach AI listens to you practice and offers real-time feedback on your pace, word choice, and more. It will, for instance, warn you if you’re using filler words like “umm” and “ahh,” profanities, non-inclusive language, or reading directly from your slides. At the end of your rehearsal, it provides a report with tips for future attempts. Presenter Coach arrives later this summer.

 

Is your college future-ready? — from jisc.ac.uk by Robin Ghurbhurun

Excerpt:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming science fact rather than science fiction. Alexa is everywhere from the house to the car, Siri is in the palm of your hand and students and the wider community can now get instant responses to their queries. We as educators have a duty to make sense of the information out there, working alongside AI to facilitate students’ curiosities.

Instead of banning mobile phones on campus, let’s manage our learning environments differently

We need to plan strategically to avoid a future where only the wealthy have access to human teachers, whilst others are taught with AI. We want all students to benefit from both. We should have teacher-approved content from VLEs and AI assistants supporting learning and discussion, everywhere from the classroom to the workplace. Let’s learn from the domestic market; witness the increasing rise of co-bot workers coming to an office near you.

 

 

Blockchain: The move from freedom to the rigid, dominant system in learning — from oeb.global by Inge de Waard
In this post Inge de Waard gives an overview of current Blockchain options from industry and looks at its impact on universities as well as philosophises on its future.

Excerpt:

I mentioned a couple of Blockchain certification options already, but an even more advanced blockchain in learning example has entered on my radar too. It is a Russian implementation called Disciplina. This platform combines education (including vocational training), recruiting (comparable with what LinkedIn is doing with its economic graph) and careers for professionals. All of this is combined into a blockchain solution that keeps track of all the learners’ journey. The platform includes not only online courses as we know it but also coaching. After each training, you get a certificate.

TeachMePlease, which is a partner of Disciplina, enables teachers and students to find each other for specific professional training as well as curriculum-related children’s schooling. Admittedly, these initiatives are still being rolled out in terms of courses, but it clearly shows where the next learning will be located: in an umbrella above all the universities and professional academies. At present, the university courses are being embedded into course offerings by corporations that roll out a layer post-university, or post-vocational schooling.

Europe embraces blockchain, as can be seen with their EU Blockchain observatory and forum. And in a more national action, Malta is storing their certifications in a blockchain nationwide as well. We cannot deny that blockchain is getting picked up by both companies and governments. Universities have been piloting several blockchain certification options, and they also harbour some of the leading voices in the debate on blockchain certification.

 

Also see:

AI in education -- April 2019 by Inge de Waard

Future proof learning -- the Skills 3.0 project

 

Also see:

  • 7 blockchain mistakes and how to avoid them — from computerworld.com by Lucas Mearian
    The blockchain industry is still something of a wild west, with many cloud service offerings and a large universe of platforms that can vary greatly in their capabilities. So enterprises should beware jumping to conclusions about the technology.
 

The definition of a flipped classroom, according to the Flipped Classroom Global Initiative:

Flipped Learning is a framework that enables educators to reach every student. The Flipped approach inverts the traditional classroom model by introducing course concepts before class, allowing educators to use class time to guide each student through active, practical, innovative applications of the course principles.

Some resources regarding the flipped classroom:

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Watch Salvador Dalí Return to Life Through AI — from interestingengineering.com by
The Dalí Museum has created a deepfake of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí that brings him back to life.

Excerpt:

The Dalí Museum has created a deepfake of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí that brings him back to life. This life-size deepfake is set up to have interactive discussions with visitors.

The deepfake can produce 45 minutes of content and 190,512 possible combinations of phrases and decisions taken by the fake but realistic Dalí. The exhibition was created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners using 6,000 frames of Dalí taken from historic footage and 1,000 hours of machine learning.

 

From DSC:
While on one hand, incredible work! Fantastic job! On the other hand, if this type of deepfake can be done, how can any video be trusted from here on out? What technology/app will be able to confirm that a video is actually that person, actually saying those words?

Will we get to a point that says, this is so and so, and I approved this video. Or will we have an electronic signature? Will a blockchain-based tech be used? I don’t know…there always seems to be pros and cons to any given technology. It’s how we use it. It can be a dream, or it can be a nightmare.

 

 

Three ways to use video feedback to enhance student engagement — from scholarlyteacher.com by Christopher Penna

Excerpt:

An innovative approach for providing feedback on student work in a variety of disciplines is the use of screen capture videos (Mathisen). These videos allow for the recording of what is on the instructor’s screen (for example, a student paper) accompanied by audio narration describing strengths and weaknesses of the work being discussed as well as any edits that the instructor is making on the page. Once created, the video is available to the student for repeated viewing. Research indicates these videos provide more concrete and effective guidance for students and a higher level of student engagement than traditional written comments and rubrics (Jones, Georghiades, & Gunson, 2012; Thompson & Lee, 2012).

 

 

 

 

The finalized 2019 Horizon Report Higher Education Edition (from library.educause.edu) was just released on 4/23/19.

Excerpt:

Key Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption in Higher Education:

Short-TermDriving technology adoption in higher education for the next one to two years

  • Redesigning Learning Spaces
  • Blended Learning Designs

Mid-TermDriving technology adoption in higher education for the next three to five years

  • Advancing Cultures of Innovation
  • Growing Focus on Measuring Learning

Long-TermDriving technology adoption in higher education for five or more years

  • Rethinking How Institutions Work
  • Modularized and Disaggregated Degrees

 

 

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.

 

 

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)

 

 

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