Skype chats are coming to Alexa devices — from engadget.com by Richard Lawlor
Voice controlled internet calls to or from any device with Amazon’s system in it.

Excerpt:

Aside from all of the Alexa-connected hardware, there’s one more big development coming for Amazon’s technology: integration with Skype. Microsoft and Amazon said that voice and video calls via the service will come to Alexa devices (including Microsoft’s Xbox One) with calls that you can start and control just by voice.

 

 

Amazon Hardware Event 2018
From techcrunch.com

 

Echo HomePod? Amazon wants you to build your own — by Brian Heater
One of the bigger surprises at today’s big Amazon event was something the company didn’t announce. After a couple of years of speculation that the company was working on its own version of the Home…

 

 

The long list of new Alexa devices Amazon announced at its hardware event — by Everyone’s favorite trillion-dollar retailer hosted a private event today where they continued to…

 

Amazon introduces APL, a new design language for building Alexa skills for devices with screensAlong with the launch of the all-new Echo Show, the Alexa-powered device with a screen, Amazon also introduced a new design language for developers who want to build voice skills that include multimedia…

Excerpt:

Called Alexa Presentation Language, or APL, developers will be able to build voice-based apps that also include things like images, graphics, slideshows and video, and easily customize them for different device types – including not only the Echo Show, but other Alexa-enabled devices like Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and the small screen of the Alexa alarm clock, the Echo Spot.

 

From DSC:
This is a great move by Amazon — as NLP and our voices become increasingly important in how we “drive” and utilize our computing devices.

 

 

Amazon launches an Echo Wall Clock, because Alexa is gonna be everywhere — by Sarah Perez

 

 

Amazon’s new Echo lineup targets Google, Apple and Sonos — from engadget.com by Nicole Lee
Alexa, dominate the industry.

The business plan from here is clear: Companies pay a premium to be activated when users pose questions related to their products and services. “How do you cook an egg?” could pull up a Food Network tutorial; “How far is Morocco?” could enable the Expedia app.
Also see how Alexa might be a key piece of smart classrooms in the future:
 

Why emerging technology needs to retain a human element — from forbes.com by Samantha Radocchia
Technology opens up new, unforeseen issues. And humans are necessary for solving the problems automated services can’t.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

With technological advancements comes change. Rather than avoiding new technology for as long as possible, and then accepting the inevitable, people need to be actively thinking about how it will change us as individuals and as a society.

Take your phone for instance. The social media, gaming and news apps are built to keep you addicted so companies can collect data on you. They’re designed to be used constantly so you back for more the instant you feel the slightest twinge of boredom.

And yet, other apps—sometimes the same ones I just mentioned—allow you to instantly communicate with people around the world. Loved ones, colleagues, old friends—they’re all within reach now.

Make any technology decisions carefully, because their impact down the road may be tremendous.

This is part of the reason why there’s been a push lately for ethics to be a required part of any computer science or vocational training program. And it makes sense. If people want to create ethical systems, there’s a need to remember that actual humans are behind them. People make bad choices sometimes. They make mistakes. They aren’t perfect.

 

To ignore the human element in tech is to miss the larger point: Technology should be about empowering people to live their best lives, not making them fearful of the future.

 

 

 

 

25 skills LinkedIn says are most likely to get you hired in 2018 — and the online courses to get them — from businessinsider.com by Mara Leighton

Excerpt:

With the introduction of far-reaching and robust technology, the job market has experienced its own exponential growth, adaptation, and semi-metamorphosis. So much so that it can be difficult to guess what skills employer’s are looking for and what makes your résumé — and not another — stand out to recruiters.

Thankfully, LinkedIn created a 2018 “roadmap”— a list of hard and soft skills that companies need the most.

LinkedIn used data from their 500+ million members to identify the skills companies are currently working the hardest to fill. They grouped the skills members add to their profiles into several dozen categories (for example, “Android” and “iOS” into the “Mobile Development” category). Then, the company looked at all of the hiring and recruiting activity that happened on LinkedIn between January 1 and September 1 (billions of data points) and extrapolated the skill categories that belonged to members who were “more likely to start a new role within a company and receive interest from companies.”

LinkedIn then coupled those specific skills with related jobs and their average US salaries — all of which you can find below, alongside courses you can take (for free or for much less than the cost of a degree) to support claims of aptitude and stay ahead of the curve.

The online-learning options we included — LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Coursera, and edX— are among the most popular and inexpensive.

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

State of AI — from stateof.ai

Excerpt:

In this report, we set out to capture a snapshot of the exponential progress in AI with a focus on developments in the past 12 months. Consider this report as a compilation of the most interesting things we’ve seen that seeks to trigger informed conversation about the state of AI and its implication for the future.

We consider the following key dimensions in our report:

  • Research: Technology breakthroughs and their capabilities.
  • Talent: Supply, demand and concentration of talent working in the field.
  • Industry: Large platforms, financings and areas of application for AI-driven innovation today and tomorrow.
  • Politics: Public opinion of AI, economic implications and the emerging geopolitics of AI.

 

definitions of terms involved in AI

definitions of terms involved in AI

 

hard to say how AI is impacting jobs yet -- but here are 2 perspectives

 

 

There’s nothing artificial about how AI is changing the workplace — from forbes.com by Eric Yuan

Excerpt:

As I write this, AI has already begun to make video meetings even better. You no longer have to spend time entering codes or clicking buttons to launch a meeting. Instead, with voice-based AI, video conference users can start, join or end a meeting by simply speaking a command (think about how you interact with Alexa).

Voice-to-text transcription, another artificial intelligence feature offered by Otter Voice Meeting Notes (from AISense, a Zoom partner), Voicefox and others, can take notes during video meetings, leaving you and your team free to concentrate on what’s being said or shown. AI-based voice-to-text transcription can identify each speaker in the meeting and save you time by letting you skim the transcript, search and analyze it for certain meeting segments or words, then jump to those mentions in the script. Over 65% of respondents from the Zoom survey said they think AI will save them at least one hour a week of busy work, with many claiming it will save them one to five hours a week.

 

 

 

AI can now ‘listen’ to machines to tell if they’re breaking down — from by Rebecca Campbell

Excerpt:

Sound is everywhere, even when you can’t hear it.

It is this noiseless sound, though, that says a lot about how machines function.

Helsinki-based Noiseless Acoustics and Amsterdam-based OneWatt are relying on artificial intelligence (AI) to better understand the sound patterns of troubled machines. Through AI they are enabling faster and easier problem detection.

 

Making sound visible even when it can’t be heard. With the aid of non-invasive sensors, machine learning algorithms, and predictive maintenance solutions, failing components can be recognized at an early stage before they become a major issue.

 

 

 

Chinese university uses facial recognition for campus entry — from cr80news.com by Andrew Hudson

Excerpt:

A number of higher education institutions in China have deployed biometric solutions for access and payments in recent months, and adding to the list is Peking University. The university has now installed facial recognition readers at perimeter access gates to control access to its Beijing campus.

As reported by the South China Morning Post, anyone attempting to enter through the southwestern gate of the university will no longer have to provide a student ID card. Starting this month, students will present their faces to a camera as part of a trial run of the system ahead of full-scale deployment.

From DSC:
I’m not sure I like this one at all — and the direction that this is going in. 

 

 

 

Will We Use Big Data to Solve Big Problems? Why Emerging Technology is at a Crossroads — from blog.hubspot.com by Justin Lee

Excerpt:

How can we get smarter about machine learning?
As I said earlier, we’ve reached an important crossroads. Will we use new technologies to improve life for everyone, or to fuel the agendas of powerful people and organizations?

I certainly hope it’s the former. Few of us will run for president or lead a social media empire, but we can all help to move the needle.

Consume information with a critical eye.
Most people won’t stop using Facebook, Google, or social media platforms, so proceed with a healthy dose of skepticism. Remember that the internet can never be objective. Ask questions and come to your own conclusions.

Get your headlines from professional journalists.
Seek credible outlets for news about local, national and world events. I rely on the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. You can pick your own sources, but don’t trust that the “article” your Aunt Marge just posted on Facebook is legit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are some excerpted slides from her presentation…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also see:

  • 20 important takeaways for learning world from Mary Meeker’s brilliant tech trends – from donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.com by Donald Clark
    Excerpt:
    Mary Meeker’s slide deck has a reputation of being the Delphic Oracle of tech. But, at 294 slides it’s a lot to take in. Don’t worry, I’ve been through them all. It has tons on economic stuff that is of marginal interest to education and training but there’s plenty to to get our teeth into. We’re not immune to tech trends, indeed we tend to follow in lock-step, just a bit later than everyone else. Among the data are lots of fascinating insights that point the way forward in terms of what we’re likely to be doing over the next decade. So here’s a really quick, top-end summary for folk in the learning game.

 

“Educational content usage online is ramping fast” with over 1 billion daily educational videos watched. There is evidence that use of the Internet for informal and formal learning is taking off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Big Takeaways From Mary Meeker’s Widely-Read Internet Report — from fortune.com by  Leena Rao

 

 

 

 

Education startup OnlineDegree.com makes the first year of college tuition-free — from forbes.com by Richard Vedder

Excerpt:

If you were told that an educational institution existed that would enable you to earn a year of college credit at zero financial cost and with minimal hassle –from a for-profit private entrepreneurial venture — you would no doubt be suspicious. I receive several pitches a week from individuals trying to promote all sorts of innovations, so I was especially dubious of this proposition – until I talked to Grant Aldrich, the fellow who helped initiate this project, and after reflecting a bit on modern internet-based businesses.

Hundreds of millions daily use at zero cost an immensely popular social media platform, Facebook. It provides much joy to user’s lives. Moreover, Facebook, Inc. has, of this writing, a market capitalization of $539.6 billion and its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is at age 34, one of the richest people in the world. I suspect Grant Aldrich thinks that the Facebook model can be replicated successfully in higher education. Aldrich’s website (https://onlinedegree.com) will provide users with free, high-quality online college-level courses, financed through advertising, sponsorships, etc., much like Facebook and Google do.

The venture is brand new and modest in scope and is just now ready to launch its project.

 

He is bringing market-based capitalism to higher education without the crutch of government-subsidized student loans.

 

Yet Aldrich claims that he is not out to destroy traditional higher education, but rather to revitalize and support it. Students ultimately would go from his online courses into traditional schools, saving at least 25% of the cost through credit transfer, making traditional education significantly more affordable and viable.

 

 


The information below is from Grant Aldrich, Founder of OnlineDegree.com (emphasis via DSC)


Rather than bypassing traditional universities like the MissionU’s or Coursera’s, we have a disruptive solution to innovate within higher ed to combat student debt and bring students back to a collegiate path.

Here’s the quick summary: At OnlineDegree.com, anyone could receive credit, up to their freshman year of college, completely tuition-free. All from home, on their own schedule, no pressure, and no applications.

We offer students free college-level courses and work with accredited universities across the country to award college credit for the courses students take.  With many options to complete their entire freshman year equivalence, there are potential pathways to receive up to 44 units of recommended semester credit at over 1,400 colleges throughout the US…and growing.

By understanding the predicament that working adults have, it’s obvious that the current educational system hasn’t made it simple or easy enough for them to go back to school.  They’re busy, can’t afford it, and have a lot of anxiety taking the first step.  We’re changing that.

Further information is below.



Who Are We?

OnlineDegree.com is a team of startup veterans, leading academics and PhDs (from NYU, West Virginia University, Georgetown, etc). We’ve been working for over 2 years to make higher education more affordable and accessible for everyone. It’s been an incredible adventure to combat entrenched roadblocks and norms. More about us here:

How it Works
Students take as many college-level courses as they’d like on gen ed topics like Psychology, Robotics, Computer Programming, Marketing, History and many more…free. We’ve then worked with participating accredited universities across the country like Southern New Hampshire University, Excelsior College and others, so students can receive college credit for the courses they’ve taken. In addition, there are pathways to receive credit at over 1,400 schools in total throughout the US.

Our courses are:

  • Online and Available 24/7 – No class schedules, no fixed times, and completely self-paced.
  • Easy to Get Started- No applications, No entrance exams, and most importantly, No tuition.
  • Interesting and Top Notch- Our professors are experts in their respective fields with PhDs and advanced degrees. The courses are incredibly interesting.
  • Recommended for over 44 units of semester credit by the NCCRS

Why Is This So Disruptive?
Working adults now have a “bridge” to start their path back to school in 1 minute instead of 1 year in some cases…regardless of their finances or busy schedules. They can test drive different courses and subjects on their own schedule, be better prepared for college-level coursework at a university, and potentially receive college credits toward their degree. Given the common unfortunate student perception that applying directly to a community college or 4-year is intimidating, inflexible and/or costly, we’re more like “wading” into the pool rather than expecting everyone to jump in.

How Have We Made It Free?
We will always be 100% free to students…we’re not going to compromise on that. We’re exploring a marketplace for tutoring, Patreon, Kickstarter, university sponsorships/advertising, private grants, and many other avenues. We are bold enough to look outside of the traditional tuition paradigm to ensure we don’t exclude anyone from participating. There are all kinds of ways to keep the lights on without charging students or sacrificing educational quality.

Why Now?
Despite overwhelming demand to go back to school in the face of eroding manufacturing jobs, robot automation, and a quickly modernizing economy, millions of working adults are still not going back to school at a traditional university. The key is to understand the predicaments of the working adult: accessibility and affordability. Other marketplace offers that circumvent higher education have become increasingly popular. We’re solving this by removing all of the barriers to enable that first critical step in starting back towards a traditional university.

 


Also see:

 


 

 

 

Transforming the Postsecondary Professional Education Experience — from by Mary Grush & Thomas Finholt

Excerpt:

So, among other factors currently influencing change, those are the predominate ones. I’ll sum it up this way: The tried-and-true residential model has worked so far, but a number of factors are forcing transformation: emerging technologies, new expectations about when learning will occur in a student’s lifespan, and the introduction of a whole new population of students that had never been imagined before.

Grush: What are your latest efforts or experiments in new professional education offerings that you see as part of this transformation? When did you make a start and what impacts do you see so far?
Finholt: The biggest transformation for us to date has been our entry into the MOOC space. That movement began with a few small trials, but it’s now rapidly expanding and may include, ultimately, full degree offerings. I would describe our period of experimentation with MOOCs to have started in 2013, gaining especially significant momentum in the past two years. Over the next couple of years, our efforts will expand even more dramatically, if we elect to offer fully online degrees. As a measure of the magnitude of impact of MOOCs so far, one of our MOOC specializations in the Python programming language is among the most popular offerings on Coursera — I believe that it has reached more than a million learners at this point. A significant fraction of those learners have opted to sit for an exam to get a certificate in Python programming.

 

 

One is, as announced at the March 6th Coursera meeting, that we have joined in a partnership with Coursera and the University of Michigan’s Office of Academic Innovation to design and get approved, a brand-new online master’s degree in Applied Data Science. 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Mary and Thomas’ solid article reminds me of a graphic I put together a while back:

 

 

 

 

“The process of obtaining postgraduate credentials is becoming something that one works on over the entire span of one’s career… Working professionals will have an array of punctuated intervals, if you will — periods of time when they work intensively to update their credentials.” (source)

 

 

 

 

VR Lab! — from thejournal.com by Joshua Bolkan

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

When Tampa Preparatory School launched decided to turn a closet into a virtual reality lab, they had no idea how far their students would run with the tools, but that’s exactly what they did, sitting down to build their own educational apps to help visualize concepts in astronomy, chemistry and physics. In addition to the educational apps, built by students on their own initiative, the VR lab is also used for art classes and more.

Chad Lewis, director of technology at Tampa Prep, recently sat down with THE Journal to talk about the school’s experience with VR as an educational tool.

Tell me a little about having students design their own VR apps. Are there any benefits to it that surprised you?

Chad Lewis: Some surprising benefits included branching out beyond computer science into areas like chemistry and physics. This is an example of the amazing things students can do if given the opportunity to pursue their passions. They need time, space and resources as well as support and encouragement. 

 

 

The main thing is that they’re learning coding, 3D modeling, game development, collaboration, design thinking, etc.

 

 

 

 

In the process, one of our computer science students came up to me and said, “Mr. Lewis do you mind if I try to create some virtual reality apps using Unity?” and it really took off from there. The lab was a student-driven initiative.

 

 

 

Design Thinking: A Quick Overview — from interaction-design.org by Rikke Dam and Teo Siang

Excerpt:

To begin, let’s have a quick overview of the fundamental principles behind Design Thinking:

  • Design Thinking starts with empathy, a deep human focus, in order to gain insights which may reveal new and unexplored ways of seeing, and courses of action to follow in bringing about preferred situations for business and society.
  • It involves reframing the perceived problem or challenge at hand, and gaining perspectives, which allow a more holistic look at the path towards these preferred situations.
  • It encourages collaborative, multi-disciplinary teamwork to leverage the skills, personalities and thinking styles of many in order to solve multifaceted problems.
  • It initially employs divergent styles of thinking to explore as many possibilities, deferring judgment and creating an open ideations space to allow for the maximum number of ideas and points of view to surface.
  • It later employs convergent styles of thinking to isolate potential solution streams, combining and refining insights and more mature ideas, which pave a path forward.
  • It engages in early exploration of selected ideas, rapidly modelling potential solutions to encourage learning while doing, and allow for gaining additional insight into the viability of solutions before too much time or money has been spent
  • Tests the prototypes which survive the processes further to remove any potential issues.
  • Iterates through the various stages, revisiting empathetic frames of mind and then redefining the challenge as new knowledge and insight is gained along the way.
  • It starts off chaotic and cloudy steamrolling towards points of clarity until a desirable, feasible and viable solution emerges.

 

 

From DSC:
This post includes information about popular design thinking frameworks. I think it’s a helpful posting for those who have heard about design thinking but want to know more about it.

 

 

What is Design Thinking?
Design thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions we might have, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. As such, design thinking is most useful in tackling problems that are ill-defined or unknown.

Design thinking is extremely useful in tackling ill-defined or unknown problems—it reframes the problem in human-centric ways, allows the creation of many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and lets us adopt a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing. Design thinking also involves on-going experimentation: sketching, prototyping, testing, and trying out concepts and ideas. It involves five phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. The phases allow us to gain a deep understanding of users, critically examine the assumptions about the problem and define a concrete problem statement, generate ideas for tackling the problem, and then create prototypes for the ideas in order to test their effectiveness.

Design thinking is not about graphic design but rather about solving problems through the use of design. It is a critical skill for allprofessionals, not only designers. Understanding how to approach problems and apply design thinking enables everyone to maximize our contributions in the work environment and create incredible, memorable products for users.

 

 

 

 

Microsoft now offers AI courses as a skill for your CV — from theverge.com by James Vincent

Excerpt:

Here’s something every tech company agrees on: the world needs more AI engineers. Microsoft is the latest firm to try to answer this demand, and this week, it launched a new course on its tech accreditation scheme (known as the Microsoft Professional Program) dedicated to artificial intelligence.

The course has 10 modules, each taking between eight and 16 hours to complete online. They cover a range of sub-disciplines, including computer vision, data analysis, speech recognition, and natural language processing. Interestingly, there’s also an ethics course (a topic Microsoft is paying close attention as it pivots to focus on AI) as well as a module on machine learning in Azure, the company’s cloud platform.

 

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