NGDLE is really just “enigma” misspelled — from by Bryan Ollendyke
An example of a next generation digital learning environment (NGDLE) is in development at Penn State; according to the lead developer, however, it should instead be considered a “distributed learning ecosystem.”


Why stop at media? What if we could tell the LMS we have an assignment (so we need a grade book entry) while simultaneously invoking a studio instruction space to be created for students to learn? What if we could simply say the things we wanted it to do and bring the technology to us, instead of us having to go to it?





College of Law Announces the Launch of the Nation’s First Live Online J.D. Program — from


The American Bar Association has granted the Syracuse University College of Law a variance to offer a fully interactive online juris doctor program. The online J.D. program will be the first in the nation to combine real-time and self-paced online classes, on-campus residential classes, and experiential learning opportunities.

The online J.D. was subject to intense scrutiny and review by legal education experts before the College was granted the variance. Students in the online program will be taught by College of Law faculty, will be held to the same high admission and academic standards as students in the College’s residential program, and will take all courses required by its residential J.D. program.


Also see:



“The JD degree is usually required to practice law in the United States. It is considered the first degree in law. The JD degree is offered by American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law schools, by law schools that are not ABA-approved, and by many Canadian law schools.”



From DSC:
The American Bar Association is finally starting to grant more variances that involve online-based education (or in their terms, “distance education”). I’m sure that they have been facing increasingly intense pressure from a variety of law schools over the last decade or more. It’s good to see the ABA grant these types of variances, as it won’t be long now before online-based learning is as much a part of the offerings from a variety of law schools as it is for institutions offering traditional undergraduate and graduate degrees.




With great tech success, comes even greater responsibility — from by Ron Miller


As we watch major tech platforms evolve over time, it’s clear that companies like Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon (among others) have created businesses that are having a huge impact on humanity — sometimes positive and other times not so much.

That suggests that these platforms have to understand how people are using them and when they are trying to manipulate them or use them for nefarious purposes — or the companies themselves are. We can apply that same responsibility filter to individual technologies like artificial intelligence and indeed any advanced technologies and the impact they could possibly have on society over time.

We can be sure that Twitter’s creators never imagined a world where bots would be launched to influence an election when they created the company more than a decade ago. Over time though, it becomes crystal clear that Twitter, and indeed all large platforms, can be used for a variety of motivations, and the platforms have to react when they think there are certain parties who are using their networks to manipulate parts of the populace.



But it’s up to the companies who are developing the tech to recognize the responsibility that comes with great economic success or simply the impact of whatever they are creating could have on society.





Why the Public Overlooks and Undervalues Tech’s Power — from by Joanna Piacenza
Some experts say the tech industry is rapidly nearing a day of reckoning


  • 5% picked tech when asked which industry had the most power and influence, well behind the U.S. government, Wall Street and Hollywood.
  • Respondents were much more likely to say sexual harassment was a major issue in Hollywood (49%) and government (35%) than in Silicon Valley (17%).

It is difficult for Americans to escape the technology industry’s influence in everyday life. Facebook Inc. reports that more than 184 million people in the United States log on to the social network daily, or roughly 56 percent of the population. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of all Americans and 94 percent of Americans ages 18-24 use YouTube. Inc.’s market value is now nearly three times that of Walmart Inc.

But when asked which geographic center holds the most power and influence in America, respondents in a recent Morning Consult survey ranked the tech industry in Silicon Valley far behind politics and government in Washington, finance on Wall Street and the entertainment industry in Hollywood.





On Change and Relevance for Higher Education — from by Mary Grush and Phil Long
A Q&A with Phil Long


Mary Grush: You’ve been connected to scores of technology leaders and have watched trends in higher education for more than 30 years. What is the central, or most important concern you are hearing from institutional leadership now?

Phil Long: Higher ed institutions are facing some serious challenges to stay relevant in a world that is diversifying and changing rapidly. They want to make sure that the experiences they have designed for students will carry the next generation forward to be productive citizens and workers. But institutions’ abilities to keep up in our changing environment have begun to lag to a sufficient degree, such that alternatives to the traditional university are being considered, both by the institutions themselves and by their constituents and colleagues throughout the education sector.

Grush: What are a few of the more specific areas in which institutions may find it difficult to navigate?

Long: Just from a very high level view, I’d include on that list: big data and the increasing sophistication of algorithms, with the associated benefits and risks; artificial intelligence with all its implications for good… and for peril; and perhaps most importantly, new applications and practices that support how we recognize learning.



“The pace of change never seems to slow down. And the issues and implications of the technologies we use are actually getting broader and more profound every day.” — Phil Long




Why Professors Doubt Education Research — from by Jeff Young


You found that professors really care about their teaching, and yet they are skeptical of education research. It sounds like a lot of people ended up teaching the way that they had been taught, or the way that they felt good as a student in classes they had had.

That’s right. People sometimes ignore the research precisely because they care about teaching. Different faculty arrive at the point where they’re teaching college students from wildly different experiences of their own. Some have wanted since they were small children to be professors at a university, and some fell into it later in a career.

For faculty who think that research is a good way to learn how to teach, they will devour the literature on learning sciences. They’ll reach out to experts across a number of disciplines and within their own discipline to try and learn what the best way to teach is

For faculty who believe that teaching is an art, that it is just something that you develop with experience and time, that you can’t learn from a book, you need to learn by doing more or learn from your students, no amount of exposure to learning science research is going to disrupt their sense that this is something they learn by doing, or that they need to follow their gut on.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to change someone’s mind to either adopt or consider more of this evidence-based research?

People can always change their perspective. If you’re trying to communicate the value of a technology or an approach, or even of learning science or education research as a field, you have to start with the person you’re speaking to. They may come to that conversation with a sense of, “I know that people get PhDs in education. People get PhDs in curriculum design, and I’ve never even taken a class where we’ve talked about curriculum design. I would like to know what they know.”

Then there are people who will say, “I’ve been teaching since I was a graduate student. My students are very happy with the teaching. I feel pretty good about my teaching. I understand that you have a PhD in curriculum design, but I don’t really need that.”

You need to approach those two different faculty members differently, understanding that there are some people who are interested in hearing about evidence-based practices, and just pointing them towards the resources is great.

Excerpt from the question:
What about your own teaching? I’m curious. Are you someone that tries different techniques that are based on research?

There is so much literature, and there are so many right ways, and there are so many recommendations that incorporating all of them into your practice at the same time is literally impossible. Many of them are contradictory. You have to choose a suite that you’re adhering to, because you can’t do the others if you’re doing these. Trying to embody best practices while teaching is really complex. It’s a skillset that you develop. You develop with time, and instruction, and you can master, but you’re always going to have to continue to perfect it.



Also see:

Personalized Faculty Development: Engaging Networks, Empowering Individuals — from by Jill Leafstedt


During the meeting, I chose to spend my time focused solely on sessions in the Faculty Development and Engagement track. My goal: return to my home campus energized and ready to tackle the age-old problem of how to move faculty from being content experts into dynamic educators.

Luckily for me, I was not the only one looking for this inspiration. The faculty development sessions were packed with people trying to answer questions such as, “Why don’t faculty want help?” or “Why don’t faculty attend my workshops?” On the whole, the sessions reaffirmed my belief that faculty development does not happen in a workshop, nor does it happen through training. Improving teaching is a long, messy, reflective process that must be approached from multiple angles with many entry points.

Sound challenging? It is, but there is reason to be hopeful; our colleagues are working hard to find and share answers. Two themes came through loud and clear from the sessions I attended. First, meet faculty where they are. Don’t expect them to come to you ready to learn; go to them and start where they are. Second, build networks for ongoing learning.


From DSC:
Both of the above articles present a HUGE issue in terms of improving the level of teaching and learning. Both articles seem to be saying that anyone interested in really improving the teaching and learning that’s going on needs to meet with each individual faculty member in order to meet them where they are at. When you have hundreds of faculty members plus an over-flowing job plate that’s asking you to wear numerous hats, that’s a very tall order indeed.





The Space Satellite Revolution Could Turn Earth into a Surveillance Nightmare — from by Becky Ferreira
Laser communication between satellites is revolutionizing our ability to track climate change, manage resources, and respond to natural disasters. But there are downsides to putting Earth under a giant microscope.


And while universal broadband has the potential to open up business and education opportunities to hundreds of thousands of people, it’s the real-time satellite feeds of earth that may have both the most immediate and widespread financial upsides — and the most frightening surveillance implications — for the average person here on earth.

Among the industries most likely to benefit from laser communications between these satellites are agriculture and forestry.

Satellite data can also be used to engage the public in humanitarian efforts. In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, DigitalGlobe launched online crowdsourcing campaigns to map damage and help NGOs respond on the ground. And they’ve been identifying vulnerable communities in South Sudan as the nation suffers through unrest and famine.

In an age of intensifying natural disasters, combining these tactics with live satellite video feeds could mean the difference between life and death for thousands of people.

Should a company, for example, be able to use real-time video feeds to track your physical location, perhaps in order to better target advertising? Should they be able to use facial recognition and sentiment analysis algorithms to assess your reactions to those ads in real time?

While these commercially available images aren’t yet sharp enough to pick up intimate details like faces or phone screens, it’s foreseeable that regulations will be eased to accommodate even sharper images. That trend will continue to prompt privacy concerns, especially if a switch to laser-based satellite communication enables near real-time coverage at high resolutions.

A kaleidoscopic swirl of possible futures confronts us, filled with scenarios where law enforcement officials could rewind satellite footage to identify people at a crime scene, or on a more familial level, parents could remotely watch their kids — or keep tabs on each other — from space. In that world, it’s not hard to imagine privacy becoming even more of a commodity, with wealthy enclaves lobbying to be erased from visual satellite feeds, in a geospatial version of “gated communities.”



From DSC:
The pros and cons of technologies…hmmm…this article nicely captures the pluses and minuses that societies around the globe need to be aware of, struggle with, and discuss with each other. Some exciting things here, but some disturbing things here as well.




In Move Towards More Online Degrees, Coursera Introduces Its First Bachelor’s — from by Sydney Johnson


These days, though, many MOOC platforms are courting the traditional higher-ed market they once rebuked, often by hosting fully-online masters degrees for colleges and universities. And today, one of the largest MOOC providers, Coursera, announced it’s going one step further in that direction, with its first fully online bachelor’s degree.

“We are realizing that the vast reach of MOOCs makes them a powerful gateway to degrees,” Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said in a statement.

The new degree will be a bachelor of science in computer science from the University of London. The entire program will cost between £9,600 and £17,000 (approximately $13,300 to $23,500), depending on a student’s geographic location. According to a spokesperson for Coursera, the program’s “cost is adjusted based on whether a student is in a developed or developing economy.”



From DSC:
At least a couple of questions come to mind here:

  • What might the future hold if the U.S. Department of Education / the Federal Government begins funding these types of alternatives to traditional higher education?
  • Will Coursera be successful here and begin adding more degrees? If so, a major game-changer could be on our doorsteps.




From DSC:
Why aren’t we further along with lecture recording within K-12 classrooms?

That is, I as a parent — or much better yet, our kids themselves who are still in K-12 — should be able to go online and access whatever talks/lectures/presentations were given on a particular day. When our daughter is sick and misses several days, wouldn’t it be great for her to be able to go out and see what she missed? Even if we had the time and/or the energy to do so (which we don’t), my wife and I can’t present this content to her very well. We would likely explain things differently — and perhaps incorrectly — thus, potentially muddying the waters and causing more confusion for our daughter.

There should be entry level recording studios — such as the One Button Studio from Penn State University — in each K-12 school for teachers to record their presentations. At the end of each day, the teacher could put a checkbox next to what he/she was able to cover that day. (No rushing intended here — as education is enough of a run-away train often times!) That material would then be made visible/available on that day as links on an online-based calendar. Administrators should pay teachers extra money in the summer times to record these presentations.

Also, students could use these studios to practice their presentation and communication skills. The process is quick and easy:





I’d like to see an option — ideally via a brief voice-driven Q&A at the start of each session — that would ask the person where they wanted to put the recording when it was done: To a thumb drive, to a previously assigned storage area out on the cloud/Internet, or to both destinations?

Providing automatically generated close captioning would be a great feature here as well, especially for English as a Second Language (ESL) students.





Michelle Weise: ‘We Need to Design the Learning Ecosystem of the Future’ — from  by Michelle Weise


These days, education reformers, evangelists and foundations pay a lot of lip service to the notion of lifelong learning, but we do little to invest in the systems, architecture and infrastructure needed to facilitate seamless movements in and out of learning and work.

Talk of lifelong learning doesn’t translate into action. In fact, resources and funding are often geared toward the traditional 17- to 22-year-old college-going population and less often to working adults, our growing new-traditional student population.

We’ll need a different investment thesis: For most adults, taking time off work to attend classes at a local, brick-and-mortar community college or a four-year institution will not be the answer. The opportunity costs will be too high. Our current system of traditional higher education is ill-suited to facilitate flexible, seamless cost-effective learning pathways for these students to keep up with the emergent demands of the workforce.

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma.We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”


We have to do better. Let’s begin seeding the foundational elements of a learning ecosystem of the future—flexible enough for adults to move consistently in and out of learning and work. Enough talk about lifelong learning: Let’s build the foundations of that learning ecosystem of the future.



From DSC:
I couldn’t agree more with Michelle that we need a new learning ecosystem of the future. In fact, I have been calling such an effort “Learning from the Living [Class] Room — and it outlines a next generation learning platform that aims to deliver everything Michelle talks about in her solid article out at

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


Along these lines…I just saw that Amazon is building out more cashierless stores (and Walmart is also at work on introducing more cashierless stores.) Now, let’s say that you are currently a cashier. 2-5 years from now (depending upon where you’re currently working and which stores are in your community), what are you going to do? The opportunities for such a position will be fewer and fewer. Who can help you do what Michelle mentioned here:

Working learners will also need help articulating their learning goals and envisioning a future for themselves. People don’t know how to translate their skills from one industry to another. How does a student begin to understand that 30% of what they already know could be channeled into a totally different and potentially promising pathway they never even knew was within reach?

And that cashier may have had a tough time with K-12 education and/or with higher education. As Michelle writes:

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma. We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”

And like the cashier in this example…we are quickly approaching an era where, I believe, many of us will need to reinvent ourselves in order to:

  • stay marketable
  • keep bread and butter on the table
  • continue to have a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives

Higher ed, if it wants to remain relevant, must pick up the pace of experimentation and increase the willingness to innovate, and to develop new business models — to develop new “learning channels” so to speak. Such channels need to be:

  • Up-to-date
  • Serving relevant data and information– especially regarding the job market and which jobs appear to be safe for the next 5-10 years
  • Inexpensive/affordable
  • Highly convenient




Tech companies should stop pretending AI won’t destroy jobs — from / MIT Technology Review by Kai-Fu Lee
No matter what anyone tells you, we’re not ready for the massive societal upheavals on the way.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The rise of China as an AI superpower isn’t a big deal just for China. The competition between the US and China has sparked intense advances in AI that will be impossible to stop anywhere. The change will be massive, and not all of it good. Inequality will widen. As my Uber driver in Cambridge has already intuited, AI will displace a large number of jobs, which will cause social discontent. Consider the progress of Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo software, which beat the best human players of the board game Go in early 2016. It was subsequently bested by AlphaGo Zero, introduced in 2017, which learned by playing games against itself and within 40 days was superior to all the earlier versions. Now imagine those improvements transferring to areas like customer service, telemarketing, assembly lines, reception desks, truck driving, and other routine blue-collar and white-­collar work. It will soon be obvious that half of our job tasks can be done better at almost no cost by AI and robots. This will be the fastest transition humankind has experienced, and we’re not ready for it.

And finally, there are those who deny that AI has any downside at all—which is the position taken by many of the largest AI companies. It’s unfortunate that AI experts aren’t trying to solve the problem. What’s worse, and unbelievably selfish, is that they actually refuse to acknowledge the problem exists in the first place.

These changes are coming, and we need to tell the truth and the whole truth. We need to find the jobs that AI can’t do and train people to do them. We need to reinvent education. These will be the best of times and the worst of times. If we act rationally and quickly, we can bask in what’s best rather than wallow in what’s worst.


From DSC:
If a business has a choice between hiring a human being or having the job done by a piece of software and/or by a robot, which do you think they’ll go with? My guess? It’s all about the money — whichever/whomever will be less expensive will get the job.

However, that way of thinking may cause enormous social unrest if the software and robots leave human beings in the (job search) dust. Do we, as a society, win with this way of thinking? To me, it’s capitalism gone astray. We aren’t caring enough for our fellow members of the human race, people who have to put bread and butter on their tables. People who have to support their families. People who want to make solid contributions to society and/or to pursue their vocation/callings — to have/find purpose in their lives.


Others think we’ll be saved by a universal basic income. “Take the extra money made by AI and distribute it to the people who lost their jobs,” they say. “This additional income will help people find their new path, and replace other types of social welfare.” But UBI doesn’t address people’s loss of dignity or meet their need to feel useful. It’s just a convenient way for a beneficiary of the AI revolution to sit back and do nothing.



To Fight Fatal Infections, Hospitals May Turn to Algorithms — from by John McQuaid
Machine learning could speed up diagnoses and improve accuracy


The CDI algorithm—based on a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning—is at the leading edge of a technological wave starting to hit the U.S. health care industry. After years of experimentation, machine learning’s predictive powers are well-established, and it is poised to move from labs to broad real-world applications, said Zeeshan Syed, who directs Stanford University’s Clinical Inference and Algorithms Program.

“The implications of machine learning are profound,” Syed said. “Yet it also promises to be an unpredictable, disruptive force—likely to alter the way medical decisions are made and put some people out of work.



Lawyer-Bots Are Shaking Up Jobs — from by Erin Winick


Meticulous research, deep study of case law, and intricate argument-building—lawyers have used similar methods to ply their trade for hundreds of years. But they’d better watch out, because artificial intelligence is moving in on the field.

As of 2016, there were over 1,300,000 licensed lawyers and 200,000 paralegals in the U.S. Consultancy group McKinsey estimates that 22 percent of a lawyer’s job and 35 percent of a law clerk’s job can be automated, which means that while humanity won’t be completely overtaken, major businesses and career adjustments aren’t far off (see “Is Technology About to Decimate White-Collar Work?”). In some cases, they’re already here.


“If I was the parent of a law student, I would be concerned a bit,” says Todd Solomon, a partner at the law firm McDermott Will & Emery, based in Chicago. “There are fewer opportunities for young lawyers to get trained, and that’s the case outside of AI already. But if you add AI onto that, there are ways that is advancement, and there are ways it is hurting us as well.”


So far, AI-powered document discovery tools have had the biggest impact on the field. By training on millions of existing documents, case files, and legal briefs, a machine-learning algorithm can learn to flag the appropriate sources a lawyer needs to craft a case, often more successfully than humans. For example, JPMorgan announced earlier this year that it is using software called Contract Intelligence, or COIN, which can in seconds perform document review tasks that took legal aides 360,000 hours.

People fresh out of law school won’t be spared the impact of automation either. Document-based grunt work is typically a key training ground for first-year associate lawyers, and AI-based products are already stepping in. CaseMine, a legal technology company based in India, builds on document discovery software with what it calls its “virtual associate,” CaseIQ. The system takes an uploaded brief and suggests changes to make it more authoritative, while providing additional documents that can strengthen a lawyer’s arguments.



Lessons From Artificial Intelligence Pioneers — from by Christy Pettey

CIOs are struggling to accelerate deployment of artificial intelligence (AI). A recent Gartner survey of global CIOs found that only 4% of respondents had deployed AI. However, the survey also found that one-fifth of the CIOs are already piloting or planning to pilot AI in the short term.

Such ambition puts these leaders in a challenging position. AI efforts are already stressing staff, skills, and the readiness of in-house and third-party AI products and services. Without effective strategic plans for AI, organizations risk wasting money, falling short in performance and falling behind their business rivals.

Pursue small-scale plans likely to deliver small-scale payoffs that will offer lessons for larger implementations

“AI is just starting to become useful to organizations but many will find that AI faces the usual obstacles to progress of any unproven and unfamiliar technology,” says Whit Andrews, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “However, early AI projects offer valuable lessons and perspectives for enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders embarking on pilots and more formal AI efforts.”

So what lessons can we learn from these early AI pioneers?



Why Artificial Intelligence Researchers Should Be More Paranoid — from by Tom Simonite


What to do about that? The report’s main recommendation is that people and companies developing AI technology discuss safety and security more actively and openly—including with policymakers. It also asks AI researchers to adopt a more paranoid mindset and consider how enemies or attackers might repurpose their technologies before releasing them.



How to Prepare College Graduates for an AI World — from by
Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun says schools need to change their focus, quickly


WSJ: What about adults who are already in the workforce?

DR. AOUN: Society has to provide ways, and higher education has to provide ways, for people to re-educate themselves, reskill themselves or upskill themselves.

That is the part that I see that higher education has not embraced. That’s where there is an enormous opportunity. We look at lifelong learning in higher education as an ancillary operation, as a second-class operation in many cases. We dabble with it, we try to make money out of it, but we don’t embrace it as part of our core mission.



Inside Amazon’s Artificial Intelligence Flywheel — from by Steven Levy
How deep learning came to power Alexa, Amazon Web Services, and nearly every other division of the company.


Amazon loves to use the word flywheel to describe how various parts of its massive business work as a single perpetual motion machine. It now has a powerful AI flywheel, where machine-learning innovations in one part of the company fuel the efforts of other teams, who in turn can build products or offer services to affect other groups, or even the company at large. Offering its machine-learning platforms to outsiders as a paid service makes the effort itself profitable—and in certain cases scoops up yet more data to level up the technology even more.





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