From DSC:
Though slightly older, this article has some solid advice that I think we in higher education need to heed as well.


 

The Importance of Continuing Education for Digital Leaders — from strategy-business.com by Chris Curran — with thanks to tweets by Cathryn Marsh and G Athanasakopoulos

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Whether you’re a newly minted MBA or an experienced leader, you’re always honing your skills and navigating change. And technology is one discipline in which you really can’t afford to stagnate. With digital transformation so central to strategy for most companies, all executives — especially CEOs — must embrace a learning mind-set. Gone are the days you can delegate the job of keeping up with technology to the IT staff.

Chief information officers (CIOs), of course, should regularly brief the management team and the board on new developments, demoing exciting new technology, bringing in external speakers and vendors, and using other tactics that promote tech learning and engagement. But keeping up on technology trends is also the responsibility of every executive. And while that can be daunting given the vast tech landscape and seemingly limitless avenues for learning, it’s also incredibly exciting.

 

 

Indeed, the art of continuous learning itself may be the most sought-after skill for tomorrow’s workforce as well as the key to solving tomorrow’s problems. 

 

 


From DSC:
Tapping into streams of content (via RSS feeds and/or with tools like Google Alerts) is key here. Developing your personal learning networks and your communities of practice are key here. The article also mentions MOOCs and online learning. which I would also add to the list of helpful tools/avenues to pursue.


 

 

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:

 

 

 

 

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!



 

 

 

 

From DSC:
The recent pieces below made me once again reflect on the massive changes that are quickly approaching — and in some cases are already here — for a variety of nations throughout the world.

They caused me to reflect on:

  • What the potential ramifications for higher education might be regarding these changes that are just starting to take place in the workplace due to artificial intelligence (i.e., the increasing use of algorithms, machine learning, and deep learning, etc.), automation, & robotics?
  • The need for people to reinvent themselves quickly throughout their careers (if we can still call them careers)
  • How should we, as a nation, prepare for these massive changes so that there isn’t civil unrest due to soaring inequality and unemployment?

As found in the April 9th, 2017 edition of our local newspaper here:

When even our local newspaper is picking up on this trend, you know it is real and has some significance to it.

 

Then, as I was listening to the radio a day or two after seeing the above article, I heard of another related piece on NPR.  NPR is having a journalist travel across the country, trying to identify “robot-safe” jobs.  Here’s the feature on this from MarketPlace.org

 

 

What changes do institutions of traditional higher education
immediately need to begin planning for? Initiating?

What changes should be planned for and begin to be initiated
in the way(s) that we accredit new programs?

 

 

Keywords/ideas that come to my mind:

  • Change — to society, to people, to higher ed, to the workplace
  • Pace of technological change — no longer linear, but exponential
  • Career development
  • Staying relevant — as institutions, as individuals in the workplace
  • Reinventing ourselves over time — and having to do so quickly
  • Adapting, being nimble, willing to innovate — as institutions, as individuals
  • Game-changing environment
  • Lifelong learning — higher ed needs to put more emphasis on microlearning, heutagogy, and delivering constant/up-to-date streams of content and learning experiences. This could happen via the addition/use of smaller learning hubs, some even makeshift learning hubs that are taking place at locations that these institutions don’t even own…like your local Starbucks.
  • If we don’t get this right, there could be major civil unrest as inequality and unemployment soar
  • Traditional institutions of higher education have not been nearly as responsive to change as they have needed to be; this opens the door to alternatives. There’s a limited (and closing) window of time left to become more nimble and responsive before these alternatives majorly disrupt the current world of higher education.

 

 

 



Addendum from the corporate world (emphasis DSC):



 

From The Impact 2017 Conference:

The Role of HR in the Future of Work – A Town Hall

  • Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Nicola Vogel, Global Senior HR Director, Danfoss
  • Frank Møllerop, Chief Executive Officer, Questback
  • David Mallon, Head of Research, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Massive changes spurred by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, mobile platforms, sensors and social collaboration have revolutionized the way we live, work and communicate – and the pace is only accelerating. Robots and cognitive technologies are making steady advances, particularly in jobs and tasks that follow set, standardized rules and logic. This reinforces a critical challenge for business and HR leaders—namely, the need to design, source, and manage the future of work.

In this Town Hall, we will discuss the role HR can play in leading the digital transformation that is shaping the future of work in organizations worldwide. We will explore the changes we see taking place in three areas:

  • Digital workforce: How can organizations drive new management practices, a culture of innovation and sharing, and a set of talent practices that facilitate a new network-based organization?
  • Digital workplace: How can organizations design a working environment that enables productivity; uses modern communication tools (such as Slack, Workplace by Facebook, Microsoft Teams, and many others); and promotes engagement, wellness, and a sense of purpose?
  • Digital HR: How can organizations change the HR function itself to operate in a digital way, use digital tools and apps to deliver solutions, and continuously experiment and innovate?
 

The Blockchain Revolution and Higher Education — from er.educause.edu by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott
The blockchain provides a rich, secure, and transparent platform on which to create a global network for higher learning. This Internet of value can help to reinvent higher education in a way the Internet of information alone could not.

Excerpt:

What will be the most important technology to change higher education? In our view, it’s not big data, the social web, MOOCs, virtual reality, or even artificial intelligence. We see these as components of something new, all enabled and transformed by an emerging technology called the blockchain.

OK, it’s not the most sonorous word ever, sounding more like a college football strategy than a transformative technology. Yet, sonorous or not, the blockchain represents nothing less than the second generation of the Internet, and it holds the potential to disrupt money, business, government, and yes, higher education.

The opportunities for innovators in higher education fall into four categories:

  • Identity and Student Records: How we identify students; protect their privacy; measure, record, and credential their accomplishments; and keep these records secure
  • New Pedagogy: How we customize teaching to each student and create new models of learning
  • Costs (Student Debt): How we value and fund education and reward students for the quality of their work
  • The Meta-University: How we design entirely new models of higher education so that former MIT President Chuck Vest’s dream can become a reality1

The blockchain may help us change the relationships among colleges and universities and, in turn, their relationship to society.

Let us explain.

 

What if there was an Internet of value — a global, distributed, highly secure platform, ledger, or database where we could store and exchange things of value and where we could trust each other without powerful intermediaries? That is the blockchain.

 

 

From DSC:
The quote…

In 2006, MIT President Emeritus Vest offered a tantalizing vision of what he called the meta-university. In the open-access movement, he saw “a transcendent, accessible, empowering, dynamic, communally constructed framework of open materials and platforms on which much of higher education worldwide can be constructed or enhanced.”

…made me wonder if this is where a vision that I’m tracking called Learning from the Living [Class] Room is heading. Also, along these lines, futurist Thomas Frey believes

“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)

Blockchain could be a key piece of this vision.

 

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

 

From DSC:
At the recent
Next Generation Learning Spaces Conference, in my introductory piece for our panel discussion, I relayed several ideas/areas that should be on our institutions’ radars. That is, at least someone at each of our institutions of higher education should be aware of these things and be pulse-checking them as time goes by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of these ideas/areas involved the use of blockchain technologies:

 

 

If #blockchain technologies are successful within the financial/banking world, then it’s highly likely that other use cases will be developed as well (i.e., the trust in blockchain-enabled applications will be there already).

Along those lines, if that occurs, then colleges and universities are likely to become only 1 of the feeds into someone’s cloud-based, lifelong learning profile. I’ve listed several more sources of credentials below:

 

 

Given the trend towards more competency-based education (CBE) and the increased experimentation with badges, blockchain could increasingly move onto the scene.

In fact, I could see a day when an individual learner will be able to establish who can and can’t access their learner profile, and who can and can’t feed information and updates into it.

Artificial intelligence and big data also come to mind here…and I put Microsoft on my radar a while back in this regard; as Microsoft (via LinkedIn and Lynda.com) could easily create online-based marketplaces matching employers with employees/freelancers.

 

 

 


Along these lines, see:


 

  • The Mainstreaming of Alternative Credentials in Postsecondary Education — from by Deborah Keyek-Franssen
    Excerpt:

    • The Context of Alternative Credentials
      The past few years have seen a proliferation of new learning credentials ranging from badges and bootcamp certifications to micro-degrees and MOOC certificates. Although alternative credentials have been part of the fabric of postsecondary education and professional development for decades—think prior learning assessments like Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams, or industry certifications—postsecondary institutions are increasingly unbundling their degrees and validating smaller chunks of skills and learning to provide workplace value to traditional and non-traditional students alike.
      Many are experimenting with alternative credentials to counter the typical binary nature of a degree. Certifications of learning or skills are conferred after the completion of a course or a few short courses in a related field. Students do not have to wait until all requirements for a degree are met before receiving a certificate of learning, but instead can receive one after a much shorter period of study. “Stackable” credentials are combined to be the equivalent of an undergraduate or graduate certificate (a micro-degree), or even a degree.
    • The National Discussion of Alternative Credentials
      Discussions of alternative credentials are often responses to a persistent and growing critique of traditional higher educational institutions’ ability to meet workforce needs, especially because the cost to students for a four-year degree has grown dramatically over the past several decades. The increasing attention paid to alternative credentials brings to the fore questions such as what constitutes a postsecondary education, what role universities in particular should play vis-à-vis workforce development, and how we can assess learning and mastery.

 

 


Addendums added on 3/4/17, that show that this topic isn’t just for higher education, but could involve K-12 as well:


 

 

 

 

 

Equipping people to stay ahead of technological change — from economist.com by
It is easy to say that people need to keep learning throughout their careers. The practicalities are daunting.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

WHEN education fails to keep pace with technology, the result is inequality. Without the skills to stay useful as innovations arrive, workers suffer—and if enough of them fall behind, society starts to fall apart. That fundamental insight seized reformers in the Industrial Revolution, heralding state-funded universal schooling. Later, automation in factories and offices called forth a surge in college graduates. The combination of education and innovation, spread over decades, led to a remarkable flowering of prosperity.

Today robotics and artificial intelligence call for another education revolution. This time, however, working lives are so lengthy and so fast-changing that simply cramming more schooling in at the start is not enough. People must also be able to acquire new skills throughout their careers.

Unfortunately, as our special report in this issue sets out, the lifelong learning that exists today mainly benefits high achievers—and is therefore more likely to exacerbate inequality than diminish it. If 21st-century economies are not to create a massive underclass, policymakers urgently need to work out how to help all their citizens learn while they earn. So far, their ambition has fallen pitifully short.

At the same time on-the-job training is shrinking. In America and Britain it has fallen by roughly half in the past two decades. Self-employment is spreading, leaving more people to take responsibility for their own skills. Taking time out later in life to pursue a formal qualification is an option, but it costs money and most colleges are geared towards youngsters.

 

The classic model of education—a burst at the start and top-ups through company training—is breaking down. One reason is the need for new, and constantly updated, skills.

 

 

 

Lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative — from economist.com
Technological change demands stronger and more continuous connections between education and employment, says Andrew Palmer. The faint outlines of such a system are now emerging

Excerpt:

A college degree at the start of a working career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills, especially as career spans are lengthening. Vocational training is good at giving people job-specific skills, but those, too, will need to be updated over and over again during a career lasting decades. “Germany is often lauded for its apprenticeships, but the economy has failed to adapt to the knowledge economy,” says Andreas Schleicher, head of the education directorate of the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries. “Vocational training has a role, but training someone early to do one thing all their lives is not the answer to lifelong learning.”

To remain competitive, and to give low- and high-skilled workers alike the best chance of success, economies need to offer training and career-focused education throughout people’s working lives. This special report will chart some of the efforts being made to connect education and employment in new ways, both by smoothing entry into the labour force and by enabling people to learn new skills throughout their careers. Many of these initiatives are still embryonic, but they offer a glimpse into the future and a guide to the problems raised by lifelong reskilling.

 

 

Individuals, too, increasingly seem to accept the need for continuous rebooting.

 

 

 

From DSC:
When I turned on the TV the other day, our local news station was playing a piece re: the closing of several stores in Michigan, some within our area. Some of the national retail stores/chains mentioned were:

  • Macy’s
    • Macy’s closing 100 stores, including 4 in Michigan
      Excerpt:
      Four Macy’s stores in Michigan are permanently closing in a series of company cuts expected to cost 6,200 jobs. Macy’s announced 68 of the 100 stores it plans to shutter Wednesday, according to CNBC. On the list is the Macy’s at Lakeview Square Mall in Battle Creek. CNBC reports the store opened in 1983 and employs 51 associates. Also on the chopping block is the Macy’s in Lansing, Westland and the Eastland Center in Harper Woods. All four Michigan stores are slated to close by the end of 2017.
    • Sears and Kmart closing 150 stores — from money.cnn.com by Paul La Monica
      Sears is shutting down 150 more stores, yet another sign of how tough it is for former kings of the retail industry to compete in a world now dominated by Amazon.
      .
  • Sears
    • Internet is the new anchor: Woodland Mall Sears closing
      Big box and anchor stores a vanishing species in West Michigan
      Excerpt:
      Despite the best economy in a decade and a nearly 4 percent increase in consumer spending this holiday, the kind of retailers that used to be the draws for shopping malls and plazas are feeling the continuing impact of the internet. The most notable recent victim of the trend is the Sears that has served as an anchor store at Woodland Mall for decades. “We hear rumors every week about what’s going on, but we don’t want to hear that — we’re working there, we don’t want to hear that kind of thing. We didn’t think that was going to happen to us. We were doing pretty good,” said 52-year-old Marty Kruizenga, who worked at the Sears Automotive at Woodland Mall. He was told Wednesday morning his store was closing.
      .
  • The Limited
    • The Limited just shut all of its stores — from money.cnn.com by Jackie Wattles
      Excerpt (emphasis DSC):
      American malls just got emptier.
      The Limited, a once-popular women’s clothing brand that offers casual attire and workwear, no longer has any storefronts. On Saturday [1/7/17], a message on the store’s website read, “We’re sad to say that all The Limited stores nationwide have officially closed their doors. But this isn’t goodbye.” The website will still be up and running and will continue to ship nationwide, the company said.

      The Limited is among a long list of brick-and-mortar retailers that once thrived in malls and strip shopping centers — but are now suffering at the hands of digital commerce giants like Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) and fast fashion stores such as H&M and Forever 21.
      .
  • And another chain that I don’t recall…

Here’s a snapshot I took of the television screen at the end of their piece:

 

The warnings were there but people didn’t want to address them:

 

Amazon is taking an increasing share of the US apparel market, according to Morgan Stanley. 

 

 

Also regarding Amazon, see this interesting prediction from Jack Uldrich:

 

 

Below is a quote from a Forbes.com article entitled “Here’s What’s Wrong With Department Stores

Are Department Stores Dead?  Not yet. But they could kill themselves, under the weight of “we’ve always done it this way”. Tweaks in omni-channel strategy aren’t going to be enough to address the fundamental issues at department stores. Not with the way these trends are heading.

 

 

Along the lines of the above items, many of us can remember the Blockbuster stores closing in our areas not that long ago — having been blown out of the water by Netflix.

 

 

Although there are several lines of thought that could be pursued here (one of which might be to discuss the loss of jobs, especially to our students, as many of them work within retail)… some of the key questions that come to my mind are:

  • Could this closing of many brick and mortar-based facilities happen within higher education?
    .
  • With the advent of artificial intelligence and cognitive computing, will the innovations that take place on the Internet blow away what’s happening in the face-to-face (F2F) classrooms? As Thomas Frey asserts, by 2030, will the largest company on the internet be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet?
    (NOTE: “Frey doesn’t go so far as to argue education bots will replace traditional schooling outright. He sees them more as a supplement, perhaps as a kind of tutor.”)

    .
  • Or, because people enjoy learning together in a F2F environment, will F2F classrooms augment what they are doing with what’s available online/digitally?
    .
  • Will the discussion not revolve around online vs F2F, but rather will the topic at hand be more focused on how innovative/responsive one’s institution is?

 


Also relevant/see:

Attention University Presidents: A Press Release From the Near Future — from futurist Jack Uldrich
(Emphasis added below by DSC)

(Editor’s Note: Change is difficult. This is especially true in organizations that have heretofore been immune to the broader forces of disruption–such as institutions of higher learning. To shake presidents, administrators, and faculty out of their stupor I have drafted the following fictional press release. I encourage all university and college presidents and their boards to read it and then discuss how they can–and must–adapt in order to remain competitive in the future.)

PRESS RELEASE (Fictional Scenario: For Internal Discussion Only)

(Note: All links in the press release highlight real advances in the field of higher education).

State College to Close at End of 2021-2022 Academic Year
Washington, DC – December 16, 2021 — State College, one of the country’s leading public universities, has decided to cease academic operations at the end of the 2021-22 school year.

rest of fictional press release here –>

 


 

Last comment from DSC:
I don’t post this to be a fear monger. Rather,  I post it to have those of us working with higher education take some time to reflect on this situation — because we need to be far more responsive to change than we are being. Given the increasingly rapid pace of change occurring in our world today, people will have to continue to reinvent themselves. But the difference in the near future will be in the number of times people have to reinvent themselves and how quickly they need to do it. They won’t be able to take 2-4 years off to do it.

Let’s not get blown out of the water by some alternative. Let’s respond while we still have the chance. Let’s be in touch with the changing landscapes and needs out there.

 


 

Addendums:

Colleges need to adapt to meet the changing demographics and needs of students, rather than expect them to conform to a tradition-loving system.

“Unless we become more nimble in our approach and more scalable in our solutions, we will miss out on an opportunity to embrace and serve the majority of students who will need higher education and postsecondary learning,” says the report. Later it underscores that “higher education has never mattered so much to those who seek it. It drives social mobility, energizes our economy, and underpins our democracy.”

 

 

WHEN education fails to keep pace with technology, the result is inequality. Without the skills to stay useful as innovations arrive, workers suffer—and if enough of them fall behind, society starts to fall apart. That fundamental insight seized reformers in the Industrial Revolution, heralding state-funded universal schooling. Later, automation in factories and offices called forth a surge in college graduates. The combination of education and innovation, spread over decades, led to a remarkable flowering of prosperity.

Today robotics and artificial intelligence call for another education revolution. This time, however, working lives are so lengthy and so fast-changing that simply cramming more schooling in at the start is not enough. People must also be able to acquire new skills throughout their careers.

 

 

 
Amazon is going to kill more American jobs than China did — from marketwatch.com
Millions of retail jobs are threatened as Amazon’s share of online purchases keeps climbing

 

 

 

FACT SHEET: ED Launches Initiative for Low-Income Students to Access New Generation Of Higher Education Providers — from ed.gov

Excerpt:

[On 8/16/16], the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is inviting eight selected partnerships between institutions of higher education and non-traditional providers to participate in the EQUIP (Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships) experiment.

These partnerships will allow students—particularly low-income students—to access federal student aid for the first time to enroll in programs offered by non-traditional training providers, in partnership with colleges and universities, including coding bootcamps, online courses, and employer organizations. The goals of the experiment are to: (1) test new ways of allowing Americans from all backgrounds to access innovative learning and training opportunities that lead to good jobs, but that fall outside the current financial aid system; and (2) strengthen approaches for outcomes-based quality assurance processes that focus on student learning and other outcomes. The experiment aims to promote and measure college access, affordability, and student outcomes.

 

 

Obama Administration to Fund Nontraditional Training for Students — from wsj.com
Education Department will give up to $17 million in loans and grants for training at eight entities that aren’t traditional colleges

Excerpt:

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration will inject millions of dollars into a group of nontraditional education providers to address a vexing problem: Many Americans are leaving college with debt but without skills the economy needs.

The administration is turning to the private sector for help. In a novel experiment, the Education Department announced Tuesday up to $17 million in loans and grants for students to undergo training at eight entities that aren’t traditional colleges. Most are for-profit companies. They include coding academies such as New York startup Flatiron School and Portland, Ore.-based Epicodus, as well as websites such as Study.com and StraighterLine that provide online courses at reduced costs.

The one that stands out from the group is corporate giant General Electric Co., which won’t receive funds directly but will provide training at one of its jet-engine plants under the program.

The program, called Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships, or Equip, is designed to enable low-income Americans to learn skills in areas where colleges often fall short, such as learning how to write computer code, or using new software to operate high-tech manufacturing equipment to make jet engines.

 

 

 

Can’t Afford Coding Camp? The Feds May Have a Loan for You — from wired.com by Issie Lapowsky

Excerpt:

A new Department of Education program focused on skills training aims to address that second part. Announced last year, the so-called Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships program will offer federal student aid to students enrolled at non-traditional institutions like coding bootcamps and skills-training programs.

[On 8/16/16], the Department of Education revealed the eight organizations and educational institutions with programs that will be covered as part of the EQUIP pilot program. For now, the programs are located on both coasts and in Texas. They include bootcamps like The Flatiron School, as well as newly launched training programs from companies like General Electric. The Department of Education chose the programs from dozens of applications, and each organization will partner with an established, accredited college or university. Meanwhile, third-party quality assurance partners have signed up to monitor students’ results.

 

 

 

Campus Technology 2016: Revolution is in the air — from edtechmagazine.com by Amy Burroughs
Georgia Tech educator and author forecasts that technology may be the answer to higher education’s ‘triple threat.’

Excerpts:

In his keynote address at Campus Technology 2016, educator and author Richard DeMillo predicted that technology will be the key to resolving the toughest challenges facing higher education. In his speech, “A Revolution in Higher Education: Tales from Unlikely Allies,” DeMillo said that this revolution may be quiet, but it is happening, as more educators and leaders embrace innovation.

One problem, he said, is that the model of education that has dominated until now — small classrooms built around lecture-based pedagogy — is too expensive to be sustainable. Technology, however, now makes it possible to deliver education that is equally effective, yet less costly and less exclusionary (think MOOCs, online learning and emerging capabilities such as artificial intelligence). All this prompts a revolutionary rethinking of time-tested assumptions, he said.

 

What persists, he said, is his belief that higher education, for all its greatness, is not immune from the influence of politics, business, sociology and the economy.

 

 
© 2016 Learning Ecosystems