From DSC:
There are now more than 12,000+ skills on Amazon’s new platform — Alexa.  I continue to wonder…what will this new platform mean/deliver to societies throughout the globe?


 

From this Alexa Skills Kit page:

What Is an Alexa Skill?
Alexa is Amazon’s voice service and the brain behind millions of devices including Amazon Echo. Alexa provides capabilities, or skills, that enable customers to create a more personalized experience. There are now more than 12,000 skills from companies like Starbucks, Uber, and Capital One as well as innovative designers and developers.

What Is the Alexa Skills Kit?
With the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), designers, developers, and brands can build engaging skills and reach millions of customers. ASK is a collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation, and code samples that makes it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa. With ASK, you can leverage Amazon’s knowledge and pioneering work in the field of voice design.

You can build and host most skills for free using Amazon Web Services (AWS).

 

 

 


 

 

Robot students? College classrooms try letting far-away students attend via remote-control stand-in — from edsurge.com by Sydney Johnson

Excerpt:

Someone looking in on Bill McCaw’s educational leadership class at the University of Montana might see students talking in small groups, or peers helping each other on assignments. It’s an age-old classroom scene, except for one space-age detail: More than half of the students are robots.

Ok, to be more precise, nine of the fourteen students in the course are joining the class remotely by using a robot stand-in. The hope is that the approach will let students, who are working professionals, join from hundreds of miles away and feel more a part of the group than would be possible with standard videoconference links.

“The space in Montana is huge. That’s why this is really important for us,” says McCaw.

 

 

From DSC:
I appreciate the level of experimentation that’s going on here — it’s stretching the existing paradigms and asking how we might bring in remote learners into our face-to-face based classrooms. This is one approach.

Another approach uses tool like the ones below — which make having students be in the same physical learning space less important:

 

 

 

 

Veeery interesting. Alexa now adds visuals / a screen! With the addition of 100 skills a day, where might this new platform lead?

Amazon introduces Echo Show

The description reads:

  • Echo Show brings you everything you love about Alexa, and now she can show you things. Watch video flash briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, and more. All hands-free—just ask.
  • Introducing a new way to be together. Make hands-free video calls to friends and family who have an Echo Show or the Alexa App, and make voice calls to anyone who has an Echo or Echo Dot.
  • See lyrics on-screen with Amazon Music. Just ask to play a song, artist or genre, and stream over Wi-Fi. Also, stream music on Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more.
  • Powerful, room-filling speakers with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and extended bass response
  • Ask Alexa to show you the front door or monitor the baby’s room with compatible cameras from Ring and Arlo. Turn on lights, control thermostats and more with WeMo, Philips Hue, ecobee, and other compatible smart home devices.
  • With eight microphones, beam-forming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo Show hears you from any direction—even while music is playing
  • Always getting smarter and adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Uber, Jeopardy!, Allrecipes, CNN, and more

 

 

 

 

 

 



From DSC:

Now we’re seeing a major competition between the heavy-hitters to own one’s living room, kitchen, and more. Voice controlled artificial intelligence. But now, add the ability to show videos, text, graphics, and more. Play music. Control the lights and the thermostat. Communicate with others via hands-free video calls.

Hmmm….very interesting times indeed.

 

 

Developers and corporates released 4,000 new skills for the voice assistant in just the last quarter. (source)

 

…with the company adding about 100 skills per day. (source)

 

 

 

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

 

 



 

Addendum on 5/10/17:

 



 

 

The 2017 Dean’s List: EdTech’s 50 Must-Read Higher Ed Blogs [Meghan Bogardus Cortez at edtechmagazine.com]

 

The 2017 Dean’s List: EdTech’s 50 Must-Read Higher Ed Blogs — from edtechmagazine.com by Meghan Bogardus Cortez
These administrative all-stars, IT gurus, teachers and community experts understand how the latest technology is changing the nature of education.

Excerpt:

With summer break almost here, we’ve got an idea for how you can use some of your spare time. Take a look at the Dean’s List, our compilation of the must-read blogs that seek to make sense of higher education in today’s digital world.

Follow these education trailblazers for not-to-be-missed analyses of the trends, challenges and opportunities that technology can provide.

If you’d like to check out the Must-Read IT blogs from previous years, view our lists from 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.

 

 



From DSC:
I would like to thank Tara Buck, Meghan Bogardus Cortez, D. Frank Smith, Meg Conlan, and Jimmy Daly and the rest of the staff at EdTech Magazine for their support of this Learning Ecosystems blog through the years — I really appreciate it. 

Thanks all for your encouragement through the years!



 

 

 

 
 

Linkedin reaches a half billion users — from businessinsider.com by Kevin Gallagher

Excerpt:

LinkedIn announced that it now has over 500 million registered users in 200 countries, an increase from the 467 million reported in the company’s last earnings release as standalone company in October.

Microsoft’s $26 billion acquisition of the professional social network was completed in December, and similar announcements highlighting tighter integration between Microsoft and LinkedIn could be imminent. The member milestone is important, but somewhat lackluster as it implies relatively flat member growth since Q3 2016.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
For you students out there, you need to have a presence/account out on LinkedIn.com. Why? Because:

  • It’s got 500 million users
  • You can join groups and build communities of practice
  • It’s owned by Microsoft — and with the increasing usage of artificial intelligence, algorithms, and software-based screening, look for Microsoft to offer more services in this regard. New forms of badging, credentialing, and blockchain-based applications could arise in the future…and having your account on LinkedIn might help in this regard.
  • You need to be online and to be able to be discovered
  • It provides you with yet another stream of content for you to learn from

 

 

 

 

Google Home’s assistant can now recognize different voices — from cnbc.com

Excerpt:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google’s voice-activated assistant can now recognize who’s talking to it on Google’s Home speaker.

An update released Thursday enables Home’s built-in assistant to learn the different voices of up to six people, although they can’t all be talking to the internet-connected speaker at the same time.

Distinguishing voices will allow Home to be more personal in some of its responses, depending on who triggers the assistant with the phrase, “OK Google” or “Hey Google.”

For instance, once Home is trained to recognize a user named Joe, the assistant will automatically be able to tell him what traffic is like on his commute, list events on his daily calendar or even play his favorite songs. Then another user named Jane could get similar information from Home, but customized for her.

 

 

 

From DSC:
In terms of learning, having to be in the same physical place as others continues to not be a requirement nearly as much as it used to be. But I’m not just talking about online learning here. I’m talking about a new type of learning environment that involves both hardware and software to facilitate collaboration (and it was designed that way from day 1). These new types of setups can provide us with new opportunities and affordances that we should begin experimenting with immediately.

Check out the following products — all of which allow a person to contribute to a discussion or conversation from anywhere they can get Internet access:

When you go to those sites, you will see words and phrase such as:

  • Visual collaboration software
  • Virtual workspace
  • Develop
  • Share
  • Inspire
  • Design
  • Global teams
  • A visual collaboration solution that links locations, teams, content, and devices in an immersive, shared workspace
  • Teamwork
  • Create and brainstorm with others
  • Digital workplace platform
  • Eliminate the distance between in-office and remote employees
  • Jumpstart spontaneous brainstorms and working sessions

So using these types of software and hardware setups, I can contribute regardless of where I’m located. Remote learning — from anywhere in the world — being combined with our face-to-face based classrooms.

Also, the push for Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) continues across higher education. Such hands-on, project-learning based, student-centered approaches fit extremely well with the collaboration setups mentioned above.

Then, there’s the insight from Simon Dudley in this article:

“…video conferencing is increasingly an application within in a larger workflow…”

Lastly, if colleges and universities don’t have the funds to maintain their physical plants, look for higher education to move increasingly online — and these types of solutions could play a significant role in that environment. Plus, for working adults who need to reinvent themselves, this is an extremely efficient means of picking up some new skills and competencies.

So the growth of these types of setups — where the software and hardware work together to support worldwide collaboration — will likely create a powerful, new, emerging piece of our learning ecosystems.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Remote learning — from anywhere in the world — being combined with our face-to-face based classrooms.

 



 

 
 

From DSC:
First of all, let me say again that I’m not suggesting that we replace professors with artificial intelligence, algorithms, and such.

However, given a variety of trends, we need to greatly lower the price of obtaining a degree and these types of technologies will help us do just that — while at the same time significantly increasing the productivity of each professor and/or team of specialists offering an online-based course (something institutions of higher education are currently attempting to do…big time). Not only will these types of technologies find their place in the higher education landscape, I predict that they will usher in a “New Amazon.com of Higher Education” — a new organization that will cause major disruption for traditional institutions of higher education. AI-powered MOOCs will find their place on the higher ed landscape; just how big they become remains to be seen, but this area of the landscape should be on our radars from here on out.

This type of development again points the need for team-based
approaches; s
uch approaches will likely dominate the future.

 

 


 

California State University East Bay partners with Cognii to offer artificial intelligence powered online learning — from prnewswire.com
Cognii’s Virtual Learning Assistant technology will provide intelligent tutoring and assessments to students in a chatbot-style conversation

Excerpt:

HAYWARD, Calif., April 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Cal State East Bay, a top-tier public university, and Cognii Inc., a leading provider of artificial intelligence-based educational technologies, today announced a partnership. Cognii will work with Cal State East Bay to develop a new learning and assessment experience, powered by Cognii’s Virtual Learning Assistant technology.

Winner of the 2016 EdTech Innovation of the Year Award from Mass Technology Leadership Council for its unique use of conversational AI and Natural Language Processing technologies in education, Cognii VLA provides automatic grading to students’ open-response answers along with qualitative feedback that guides them towards conceptual mastery. Compared to the multiple choice tests, open-response questions are considered pedagogically superior for measuring students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills, essential for 21st century jobs.

Students at Cal State East Bay will use the Cognii-powered interactive tutorials starting in summer as part of the online transfer orientation course. The interactive questions and tutorials will be developed collaboratively by Cognii team and the eLearning specialists from the university’s office of the Online Campus. Students will interact with the questions in a chatbot-style natural language conversation during the formative assessment stage. As students practice the tutorials, Cognii will generate rich learning analytics and proficiency measurements for the course leaders.

 

 

 

 
© 2016 Learning Ecosystems