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

 

Amazon pledges $700 million to teach its workers to code — from wired.com by Louise Matsakis

Excerpt:

Amazon announced Thursday that it will spend up to $700 million over the next six years retraining 100,000 of its US employees, mostly in technical skills like software engineering and IT support. Amazon is already one of the largest employers in the country, with almost 300,000 workers (and many more contractors) and it’s particularly hungry for more new talent. The company currently has more than 20,000 vacant US roles, over half of which are at its headquarters in Seattle. Meanwhile, the US economy is booming, and there are now more open jobs than there are unemployed people who can fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Against that backdrop, Amazon’s jobs skills efforts provide some reassurance that—in theory at least—you could be retrained into a new role when the robots arrive.

 

From the announcement:

Based on a review of its workforce and analysis of U.S. hiring, Amazon’s fastest growing highly skilled jobs over the last five years include data mapping specialist, data scientist, solutions architect and business analyst, as well as logistics coordinator, process improvement manager and transportation specialist within our customer fulfillment network.

 

Also see:

  • Amazon to Invest $700M to Retrain 100,000 Workers for New Jobs — from pcmag.com by Michael Kan Icon
    ‘There is a greater need for technical skills in the workplace than ever before. Amazon is no exception,’ the company said. The goal is to ‘upskill’ one third of Amazon’s total work force by 2025 through free retraining programs.
 

Penn State World Campus Taps Google Cloud to Build Virtual Advising Assistant — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Excerpt:

At the start of the spring 2020 semester this January, Penn State World Campus will have a new artificial intelligence tool for answering the most common requests from its undergraduate students. A virtual assistant will help academic advisers at the online institution screen student e-mails for certain keywords and phrases, and then automatically pull relevant information for the advisers to send to students. For instance, the AI will be trained to assist advisers when students inquire how to change their major, change their Penn State campus, re-enroll in the university or defer their semester enrollment date, according to a news announcement.

 

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:

 

From DSC:
First of all, a couple of articles:

This futuristic driverless pod will soon be delivering pizza in Texas — from digitaltrends.com by Trevor Mogg

Excerpt:

Global pizza purveyor Domino’s is planning to use self-driving pods to deliver its cheesy meals to hungry customers. The food company is partnering with California-based tech startup Nuro for a trial service in Houston, Texas later this year.

 

 

Amazon is creating detailed 3D models of suburbia to train its new delivery robots — from theverge.com by James Vincent
‘Eventually, we’ll be delivering around the world.’

 

 

From DSC:
Instead of Amazon having their army of robots/drones, Domino’s having their army of driverless pods, etc…perhaps we should think about how we want this all to unfold in the future — especially with an eye on what the world will be like for future generations.

 

“The company won’t say where or when it plans to expand these tests…”

 

From DSC:
It should NOT be Amazon’s decision (nor Domino’s decision, nor any other company’s decision) to expand any tests here! It should be up to citizens to weigh in on what we want our future to look like before any such endeavors are allowed to move forward another inch.

 

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

 

 

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.

 

From DSC:
I just ran across this recently…what do you think of it?!

 

 

From DSC:
For me, this is extremely disturbing. And if I were a betting man, I’d wager that numerous nations/governments around the world — most certainly that includes the U.S. — have been developing new weapons of warfare for years that are based on artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, etc.

The question is, now what do we do?

Some very hard questions that numerous engineers and programmers need to be asking themselves these days…

By the way, the background audio on the clip above should either be non-existent or far more ominous — this stuff is NOT a joke.

Also see this recent posting. >>

 

Addendum on 6/26/19:

 

Experts in machine learning and military technology say it would be technologically straightforward to build robots that make decisions about whom to target and kill without a “human in the loop” — that is, with no person involved at any point between identifying a target and killing them. And as facial recognition and decision-making algorithms become more powerful, it will only get easier.

 

 

Russian hackers behind ‘world’s most murderous malware’ probing U.S. power grid — from digitaltrends.com Georgina Torbet

 

U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid — from nytimes.com by David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Also see:

Microsoft is building a virtual assistant for work. Google is building one for everything else — from qz.com by Dave Gershgorn

Excerpts:

In the early days of virtual personal assistants, the goal was to create a multipurpose digital buddy—always there, ready to take on any task. Now, tech companies are realizing that doing it all is too much, and instead doubling down on what they know best.

Since the company has a deep understanding of how organizations work, Microsoft is focusing on managing your workday with voice, rearranging meetings and turning the dials on the behemoth of bureaucracy in concert with your phone.

 

Voice is the next major platform, and being first to it is an opportunity to make the category as popular as Apple made touchscreens. To dominate even one aspect of voice technology is to tap into the next iteration of how humans use computers.

 

 

From DSC:
What affordances might these developments provide for our future learning spaces?

Will faculty members’ voices be recognized to:

  • Sign onto the LMS?
  • Dim the lights?
  • Turn on the projector(s) and/or display(s)?
  • Other?

Will students be able to send the contents of their mobile devices to particular displays via their voices?

Will voice be mixed in with augmented reality (i.e., the students and their devices can “see” which device to send their content to)?

Hmmm…time will tell.

 

 

5G and the tactile internet: what really is it? — from techradar.com by Catherine Ellis
With 5G, we can go beyond audio and video, communicating through touch

Excerpt:

However, the speed and capacity of 5G also opens up a wealth of new opportunities with other connected devices, including real-time interaction in ways that have never been possible before.

One of the most exciting of these is tactile, or haptic communication – transmitting a physical sense of touch remotely.

 

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