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)

 

 

Huge study finds professors’ attitudes affect students’ grades — and it’s doubly true for minority students. — from arstechnica.com by Scott Johnson

Excerpt:

Instead, the researchers think the data suggests that—in any number of small ways—instructors who think their students’ intelligence is fixed don’t keep their students as motivated, and perhaps don’t focus as much on teaching techniques that can encourage growth. And while this affects all students, it seems to have an extra impact on underrepresented minority students.

The good news, the researchers say, is that instructors can be persuaded to adopt more of a growth mindset in their teaching through a little education of their own. That small attitude adjustment could make them a more effective teacher, to the significant benefit of a large number of students.

 

Along these lines, also see:

 


 

 

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

 

 

 

6 key trends to 21st century teaching — from edsurge.com

Excerpt:

It’s popular these days to complain that college teaching hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. And sure, it’s possible to find some professors on any campus holding yellowed lecture notes, or clinging to dusty chalk. But the reality is that the internet and digital technologies have already brought profound changes to instructional styles and tools in higher education.

So what are the new teaching approaches catching on at today’s campuses? And what are the broader cultural changes around college teaching?

We set out to answer those questions over the past year, with a series of articles and interviews exploring what teaching in the 21st century looks like. Some show the nuances of the challenges of teaching with technology by telling stories of innovative professors, including how a water agency official who teaches an online community college course got started in creating open educational resources when her class was incorporated into a zero-cost textbook degree program. Others dive into research on the culture of teaching, like a talk with an anthropologist studying how professors react to (and sometimes resist) research on teaching practices.

 

 

 

Amazon has 10,000 employees dedicated to Alexa — here are some of the areas they’re working on — from businessinsider.com by Avery Hartmans

Summary (emphasis DSC):

  • Amazon’s vice president of Alexa, Steve Rabuchin, has confirmed that yes, there really are 10,000 Amazon employees working on Alexa and the Echo.
  • Those employees are focused on things like machine learning and making Alexa more knowledgeable.
  • Some employees are working on giving Alexa a personality, too.

 

 

From DSC:
How might this trend impact learning spaces? For example, I am interested in using voice to intuitively “drive” smart classroom control systems:

  • “Alexa, turn on the projector”
  • “Alexa, dim the lights by 50%”
  • “Alexa, open Canvas and launch my Constitutional Law I class”

 

 

 

Executive Function Deficits Determine Student Achievement — from thejournal.com by Sara Friedman
A new report finds the achievement gap tends to widen with students having academic difficulties in math and science starting in kindergarten.

Excerpt:

Difficulties in math and science learning in the early grades can have lasting consequences for students who have impairments in executive functions, according to a new report from Penn State researchers published in the Early Childhood Quarterly journal. The research looks back at executive functions related to working memory, cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control to determine when problems begin in early STEM education.

The study analyzes data from 11,010 students who participated in the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics Early Childhood Education Study, which measures childhood development, school readiness and early childhood experiences. The report data comes from students who started kindergarten in the 2010-2011 school year through the spring of third grade.

 

From DSC:
One of our daughters has issues involving executive functioning…we’re told that she has to work twice as hard as the other students to process the information coming at her. Thus, mini breaks are really helpful for her. For example, if she can walk something to the office, that’s really beneficial for her.

 

 

 

Presentation Translator for PowerPoint — from Microsoft (emphasis below from DSC:)

Presentation Translator breaks down the language barrier by allowing users to offer live, subtitled presentations straight from PowerPoint. As you speak, the add-in powered by the Microsoft Translator live feature, allows you to display subtitles directly on your PowerPoint presentation in any one of more than 60 supported text languages. This feature can also be used for audiences who are deaf or hard of hearing.

 

Additionally, up to 100 audience members in the room can follow along with the presentation in their own language, including the speaker’s language, on their phone, tablet or computer.

 

From DSC:
Up to 100 audience members in the room can follow along with the presentation in their own language! Wow!

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?! If this could also address learners and/or employees outside the room as well, this could be an incredibly powerful piece of a next generation, global learning platform! 

Automatic translation with subtitles — per the learner’s or employee’s primary language setting as established in their cloud-based learner profile. Though this posting is not about blockchain, the idea of a cloud-based learner profile reminds me of the following graphic I created in January 2017.

A couple of relevant quotes here:

A number of players and factors are changing the field. Georgia Institute of Technology calls it “at-scale” learning; others call it the “mega-university” — whatever you call it, this is the advent of the very large, 100,000-plus-student-scale online provider. Coursera, edX, Udacity and FutureLearn (U.K.) are among the largest providers. But individual universities such as Southern New Hampshire, Arizona State and Georgia Tech are approaching the “at-scale” mark as well. One could say that’s evidence of success in online learning. And without question it is.

But, with highly reputable programs at this scale and tuition rates at half or below the going rate for regional and state universities, the impact is rippling through higher ed. Georgia Tech’s top 10-ranked computer science master’s with a total expense of less than $10,000 has drawn more than 10,000 qualified majors. That has an impact on the enrollment at scores of online computer science master’s programs offered elsewhere. The overall online enrollment is up, but it is disproportionately centered in affordable scaled programs, draining students from the more expensive, smaller programs at individual universities. The dominoes fall as more and more high-quality at-scale programs proliferate.

— Ray Schroeder

 

 

Education goes omnichannel. In today’s connected world, consumers expect to have anything they want available at their fingertips, and education is no different. Workers expect to be able to learn on-demand, getting the skills and knowledge they need in that moment, to be able to apply it as soon as possible. Moving fluidly between working and learning, without having to take time off to go to – or back to – school will become non-negotiable.

Anant Agarwal

 

From DSC:
Is there major change/disruption ahead? Could be…for many, it can’t come soon enough.

 

 

Ten HR trends in the age of artificial intelligence — from fortune.com by Jeanne Meister
The future of HR is both digital and human as HR leaders focus on optimizing the combination of human and automated work. This is driving a new HR priority: requiring leaders and teams to develop fluency in artificial intelligence while they re-imagine HR to be more personal, human, and intuitive.

Excerpt from 21 More Jobs Of the Future (emphasis DSC):

Voice UX Designer: This role will leverage voice as a platform to deliver an “optimal” dialect and sound that is pleasing to each of the seven billion humans on the planet. The Voice UX Designer will do this by creating a set of AI tools and algorithms to help individuals find their “perfect voice” assistant.

Head of Business Behavior: The head of business behavior will analyze employee behavioral data such as performance data along with data gathered through personal, environmental and spatial sensors to create strategies to improve employee experience, cross company collaboration, productivity and employee well-being.

The question for HR leaders is: What are new job roles in HR that are on the horizon as A.I. becomes integrated into the workplace?

Chief Ethical and Humane Use Officer: This job role is already being filled by Salesforce announcing its first Chief Ethical and Humane Officer this month. This new role will focus on developing strategies to use technology in an ethical and humane way. As practical uses of AI have exploded in recent years, we look for more companies to establish new jobs focusing on ethical uses of AI to ensure AI’s trustworthiness, while also helping to diffuse fears about it.

A.I. Trainer: This role allows the existing knowledge you have about a job to be ready for A.I. to use.  Creating knowledge for an A.I. supported workplace requires individuals to tag or “annotate” discrete knowledge nuggets so the correct data is served up in a conversational interface. This role is increasingly important as the role of a recruiter is augmented by AI.

 

 

Also see:

  • Experts Weigh in on Merits of AI in Education — from by Dian Schaffhauser
    Excerpt:
    Will artificial intelligence make most people better off over the next decade, or will it redefine what free will means or what a human being is? A new report by the Pew Research Center has weighed in on the topic by conferring with some 979 experts, who have, in summary, predicted that networked AI “will amplify human effectiveness but also threaten human autonomy, agency and capabilities.”

    These same experts also weighed in on the expected changes in formal and informal education systems. Many mentioned seeing “more options for affordable adaptive and individualized learning solutions,” such as the use of AI assistants to enhance learning activities and their effectiveness.

 

 

MOOCs are dead, welcome MOOC-based degrees — from iblnews.org

 

Coursera, edX, Udacity grew their businesses by over 20% in 2018 — from iblnews.org

 

Also see:

Reinventing the College Degree: A Future with Modular Credentials — from iblnews.org

Excerpt:

Rapidly changing technology is impacting the workforce and the economy, highlighting the need to be continually learning and refreshing skills in order to stay relevant. Additionally, the jobs of the future will require a set of skills from a variety of subject areas. “We have to rethink our education system,” writes Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX, on a column in Quartz.

A summary of Mr. Agarwal’s ideas:

  • Lego-like modular education…
  • MOOCs at scale, with personalized pacing and open admissions…
  • Modular credentials…

 

 

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