Stanford team aims at Alexa and Siri with a privacy-minded alternative — from nytimes.com by John Markoff

Excerpt:

Now computer scientists at Stanford University are warning about the consequences of a race to control what they believe will be the next key consumer technology market — virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

The group at Stanford, led by Monica Lam, a computer systems designer, last month received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant is for an internet service they hope will serve as a Switzerland of sorts for systems that use human language to control computers, smartphones and internet devices in homes and offices.

The researchers’ biggest concern is that virtual assistants, as they are designed today, could have a far greater impact on consumer information than today’s websites and apps. Putting that information in the hands of one big company or a tiny clique, they say, could erase what is left of online privacy.

 

Amazon sends Alexa developers on quest for ‘holy grail of voice science’ — from venturebeat.com by Khari Johnson

Excerpt:

At Amazon’s re:Mars conference last week, the company rolled out Alexa Conversations in preview. Conversations is a module within the Alexa Skills Kit that stitches together Alexa voice apps into experiences that help you accomplish complex tasks.

Alexa Conversations may be Amazon’s most intriguing and substantial pitch to voice developers in years. Conversations will make creating skills possible with fewer lines of code. It will also do away with the need to understand the many different ways a person can ask to complete an action, as a recurrent neural network will automatically generate dialogue flow.

For users, Alexa Conversations will make it easier to complete tasks that require the incorporation of multiple skills and will cut down on the number of interactions needed to do things like reserve a movie ticket or order food.

 

 

To attract talent, corporations turn to MOOCs — from edsurge.com by by Wade Tyler Millward

Excerpt:

When executives at tech giants Salesforce and Microsoft decided in fall 2017 to turn to an online education platform to help train potential users of products for their vendors, they turned to Pierre Dubuc and his team in fall 2017.

Two years later, Dubuc’s company, OpenClassrooms, has closed deals with both of them. Salesforce has worked with OpenClassrooms to create and offer a developer-training course to help people learn how to use the Salesforce platform. In a similar vein, Microsoft will use the OpenClassrooms platform for a six-month course in artificial intelligence. If students complete the AI program, they are guaranteed a job within six months or get their money back. They also earn masters-level diploma accredited in Europe.

 

 

Has Technology Made State Regional Universities Obsolete? — from campustechnology.com by Richard Rose
While SRUs do some things well, the current model is not sustainable, with students taking on enormous debt and receiving relatively little income benefit in return. Here’s how technology can help change the equation.

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

What if the State Board of Higher Education assembled a team to create one exceptionally fine Official Texas Version of the sophomore Western Civilization course? The team would include brilliant subject-matter experts, the best graphic artists, senior instructional designers, professional film editors and sharp-eyed text editors, who could produce a 48-clock-hour video course of previously unimaginable quality.

When technology is fully embraced because the need for a better and cheaper product finally trumps the political protection of the status quo, the state regional university will be replaced as part of new state university systems in which local institutions will play a very different role. These new local institutions could be called Learning Satellite Centers (LSCs).

Much content will take the form of high-budget, high-quality multimedia productions with delivery available to all popular devices, from desktop computers to cell phones. Access to learning materials, from course movies and podcasts to reading materials, will be through an expanded electronic distribution system that will eliminate the need for paper-based academic libraries.

The goal of the University Center plus Learning Satellite Center model is to transfer agency back into the hands of the students, where it belongs. No longer will a self-appointed privileged group of professional academics with their arcane degrees and funny ceremonial robes be dictating to the rest of society what we all need to learn and how we need to learn it. Technology will be the great leveler and the marketplace will help individual students decide what choices are best.

Of course, a brief sketch like this one will raise many questions that cannot be explored in a single article, but the conversation must begin. The current State Regional University is not sustainable and can only be propped up by politics and sentiment for so long. Too many students are piling up huge debt to earn dubious degrees that don’t lead to marketable skills or significant economic benefits. Technology has made more effective models of higher education attainable and at a lower price. We need to fearlessly explore such models before our charming old regional campuses drift into irrelevance.

 

From DSC:
While the article has a bit of a bite to it (which I suppose readers of this blog would say they might see in my writings/comments as well from time to time), THIS is the kind of innovative, creative thinking that will get us somewhere. I really appreciate Richard’s article and the deep thought he was put into this topic.

In fact, as readers of this blog will know, I have long been a supporter of a TEAM-BASED approach. And listed below are some graphics that prove it — as well as this article I wrote for evolllution.com (where the “lll” stands for lifelong learning) back from 2016.

This page* lists those graphics plus the list of team members that I thought of in December 2008:

  • Subject Matter Experts
  • Instructional Designers
  • Project Managers
  • Recruiters
  • Legal Counsel
  • Researchers / Mind Experts
  • Digital Audio Specialists
  • Digital Video Specialists
  • Streaming Media Experts
  • Mobile Learning Consultants
  • Writers and Editors 
  • Programmers and Database Specialists 
  • Web Design and Production Specialists
  • Interactivity Designers
  • Multimedia Specialists including Multi-Touch Experts/Programmers
  • 3D / 2D Graphic Designers and/or Animators
  • MindMappers / Visual Learning Experts
  • Personalized Learning Consultants
  • Security Experts
  • The students themselves
  • Other

*BTW, I renamed this idea from the Forthcoming Walmart of Education
to the Forthcoming Amazon.com of Higher Education

 

.

While I’m at it…below are a couple of ideas that I documented back in 2009 that Richard might like…

 

.

As of today…I would simplify that last graphic to
include a subscription model to streams of content.

 

Ok…one more graphic from 5/21/09 that describes what I thought would happen if institutions of traditional higher education maintained the status quo through the years. I feel pretty good about how these predictions turned out, but I wish that we would have made even more progress along these lines than we have (since the time I created this graphic).

 

 

 

 

With flip of a giant ceremonial switch, CMU starts effort to energize ‘learning engineering’ — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpt:

Pittsburgh, PA—For a moment this week, the provost of Carnegie Mellon University looked a bit like a game show host as he grabbed the lever of an oversized switch and called on an audience to join him in a countdown—“5, 4, 3, 2, 1.” Then, he toggled the cardboard lever and declared open a new website, one that gave away software that took more than $100 million in grant funding to develop.

It was an unusually theatrical moment for a gathering to announce the release of software tools to help professors improve their teaching. But the organizers were playfully acknowledging the size of their project’s ambition—which they hope will spark a more data-driven and experimental approach to teaching at colleges around the country. And the flair was fitting, since success will end up being based not so much on how well the software works, but on how well its creators can attract momentum to their cause—and change the culture of the academic profession to make teaching an area professors are excited to make discoveries around.

Plenty of others have tried in the past to bring the principles of engineering to college teaching, though with limited success. In fact, the effort at Carnegie Mellon is named for Herbert Simon, a longtime professor at Carnegie Mellon who won a Nobel Prize in economics and devoted his energy and academic capital to trying to spread his ideas about turning teaching from a solo sport to a team effort. But it didn’t catch on widely in his lifetime.

 

From DSC:

…and devoted his energy and academic capital to trying to spread his ideas about turning teaching from a solo sport to a team effort. But it didn’t catch on widely in his lifetime.

Why do you supposed getting faculty members to use a team-based approach is so difficult? We really need to look at that, especially if institutions of higher education are going to keep increasing how much it costs to take courses at their schools — and all the while placing the emphasis on research…not teaching.

Like using an indexing fund in investing — vs. a hand-picked set of stocks — a team-based approach will be more effective the majority of the time. How can it not? There are simply too many skillsets/interests needed, especially as teaching and learning continues to move more online.

 

“Learning by doing appears to have a 6x better [outcome] than learning by watching or reading,” Koedinger said. He and his colleagues published an academic paper with the finding called Learning is Not a Spectator Sport.

 

Also see:

 

Minerva’s Innovative Platform Makes Quality Higher Ed Personal and Affordable — from linkedin.com by Tom Vander Ark

Excerpt:

The first external partner, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), loved the course design and platform but told Nelson they couldn’t afford to teach 15 students at a time. The Minerva team realized that to be applicable at major universities, active learning needed to be scalable.

Starting this summer, a new version of Forum will be available for classes of up to 400 at a time. For students, it will still feel like a small seminar. They’ll see the professor, themselves, and a dozen other students. Forum will manage the movement of students from screen to screen. “Everybody thinks they are in the main room,” said Nelson.

Forum enables real-time polling and helps professors create and manage breakout groups.

Big Implications
With Forum, “For the first time you can deliver better than Ivy League education at absurdly low cost,” said Nelson.

Online courses and MOOCs just repackaged the same format and just offered it with less interaction. As new Forum partners will demonstrate, “It’s possible to deliver a year of undergraduate education that is vastly superior for under $5,000 per student,” added Nelson.

He’s excited to offer a turnkey university solution that, for partners like Oxford Teachers Academy, will allow new degree pathways for paraprofessionals that can work, learn, and earn a degree and certification.

 

Perhaps another piece of the puzzle is falling into place…

 

Another piece of the puzzle is coming into place...for the Learning from the Living Class Room vision

 

 

Legal Battle Over Captioning Continues — from insidehighered.com by Lindsay McKenzie
A legal dispute over video captions continues after court rejects requests by MIT and Harvard University to dismiss lawsuits accusing them of discriminating against deaf people.

Excerpt:

Two high-profile civil rights lawsuits filed by the National Association of the Deaf against Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are set to continue after requests to dismiss the cases were recently denied for the second time.

The two universities were accused by the NAD in 2015 of failing to make their massive open online courses, guest lectures and other video content accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Some of the videos, many of which were hosted on the universities’ YouTube channels, did have captions — but the NAD complained that these captions were sometimes so bad that the content was still inaccessible.

Spokespeople for both Harvard and MIT declined to comment on the ongoing litigation but stressed that their institutions were committed to improving web accessibility.

 

 

From DSC:
I ran into the posting below on my Twitter feed. I especially want to share it with all of those students out there who are majoring in Education. You will find excellent opportunities to build your Personal Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter.

But this idea/concept/opportunity also applies to current teachers, professors, trainers, special educators, principals, superintendents, school board members, coaches, and many, many others.

You will not only learn a great deal by tapping into those streams of content, but you will be able to share your own expertise, insights, resources, reflections, etc.  Don’t underestimate the networking and learning potential of Twitter. It’s one of the top learning tools in the world.

One last thought before you move onto the graphics below…K-12 educators are doing a super job of networking and sharing resources with each other. I hope that more faculty members who are working within higher education can learn from the examples being set forth by K-12 educators.

 

 

Also see:

 

Also see:

 

 

From DSC:
First of all, an article:

The four definitive use cases for AR and VR in retail — from forbes.com by Nikki Baird

AR in retail

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

AR is the go-to engagement method of choice when it comes to product and category exploration. A label on a product on a shelf can only do so much to convey product and brand information, vs. AR, which can easily tap into a wealth of digital information online and bring it to life as an overlay on a product or on the label itself.

 

From DSC:
Applying this concept to the academic world…what might this mean for a student in a chemistry class who has a mobile device and/or a pair of smart goggles on and is working with an Erlenmeyer flask? A burette? A Bunsen burner?

Along these lines...what if all of those confused students — like *I* was struggling through chem lab — could see how an experiment was *supposed to be done!?*

That is, if there’s only 30 minutes of lab time left, the professor or TA could “flip a switch” to turn on the AR cloud within the laboratory space to allow those struggling students to see how to do their experiment.

I can’t tell you how many times I was just trying to get through the lab — not knowing what I was doing, and getting zero help from any professor or TA. I hardly learned a thing that stuck with me…except the names of a few devices and the abbreviations of a few chemicals. For the most part, it was a waste of money. How many students experience this as well and feel like I did?

Will the terms “blended learning” and/or “hybrid learning” take on whole new dimensions with the onset of AR, MR, and VR-related learning experiences?

#IntelligentTutoring #IntelligentSystems #LearningExperiences
#AR #VR #MR #XR #ARCloud #AssistiveTechnologies
#Chemistry #BlendedLearning #HybridLearning #DigitalLearning

 

Also see:

 

“It is conceivable that we’re going to be moving into a world without screens, a world where [glasses are] your screen. You don’t need any more form factor than [that].”

(AT&T CEO)

 

 

HBS Online: Why Harvard Business School’s digital rebrand is big news for online learning — from businessbecause.com by Seb Murray
Name change from HBX to Harvard Business School Online symbolizes a maturing market. We speak to Patrick Mullane, executive director of HBS Online, to find out more

Excerpt:

At first glance, it may have seemed like an inconsequential name change: Harvard Business School’s digital learning platform HBX would be called HBS Online.

But commentators have billed the recent rebrand as having the potential for a big impact on online education. For one, the makeover could help to further legitimize the market.

Online learning was initially considered second-rate to campus study, due to concerns about teaching quality and interactivity online. Nitin Nohria, the dean of HBS, saying in 2010 that the school would never go online in his lifetime, appeared to confirm the scepticism.

But he has since admitted he ‘misjudged the potential of online education’ and is…

 

From DSC:
This is very old hat…but those who haven’t taught online should not judge online teaching and learning. If I gave you the writeups from my students from a class that I have taught in both a face-to-face format as well as in an online format — where I ask them what they learned during the class — I swear that you could not tell which documents represented those courses taught online vs. those taught face-to-face. I guarantee it. So as the saying goes…don’t judge it if you haven’t tried it.

Oh…and by the way, many of the innovations in teaching and learning are happening in the digital/virtual realm. Not all, but many. And we haven’t seen anything yet. 

 

 

LinkedIn 2019 Talent Trends: Soft Skills, Transparency and Trust — from linkedin.com by Josh Bersin

Excerpts:

This week LinkedIn released its 2019 Global Talent Trends research, a study that summarizes job and hiring data across millions of people, and the results are quite interesting. (5,165 talent and managers responded, a big sample.)

In an era when automation, AI, and technology has become more pervasive, important (and frightening) than ever, the big issue companies face is about people: how we find and develop soft skills, how we create fairness and transparency, and how we make the workplace more flexible, humane, and honest.

The most interesting part of this research is a simple fact: in today’s world of software engineering and ever-more technology, it’s soft skills that employers want. 91% of companies cited this as an issue and 80% of companies are struggling to find better soft skills in the market.

What is a “soft skill?” The term goes back twenty years when we had “hard skills” (engineering and science) so we threw everything else into the category of “soft.” In reality soft skills are all the human skills we have in teamwork, leadership, collaboration, communication, creativity, and person to person service. It’s easy to “teach” hard skills, but soft skills must be “learned.”

 

 

Also see:

Employers Want ‘Uniquely Human Skills’ — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

According to 502 hiring managers and 150 HR decision-makers, the top skills they’re hunting for among new hires are:

  • The ability to listen (74 percent);
  • Attention to detail and attentiveness (70 percent);
  • Effective communication (69 percent);
  • Critical thinking (67 percent);
  • Strong interpersonal abilities (65 percent); and
  • Being able to keep learning (65 percent).
 

Amazon has 10,000 employees dedicated to Alexa — here are some of the areas they’re working on — from businessinsider.com by Avery Hartmans

Summary (emphasis DSC):

  • Amazon’s vice president of Alexa, Steve Rabuchin, has confirmed that yes, there really are 10,000 Amazon employees working on Alexa and the Echo.
  • Those employees are focused on things like machine learning and making Alexa more knowledgeable.
  • Some employees are working on giving Alexa a personality, too.

 

 

From DSC:
How might this trend impact learning spaces? For example, I am interested in using voice to intuitively “drive” smart classroom control systems:

  • “Alexa, turn on the projector”
  • “Alexa, dim the lights by 50%”
  • “Alexa, open Canvas and launch my Constitutional Law I class”

 

 

 

From DSC:
Below is a graphic from an article by Jane Hart that’s entitled, “A seamless working and learning environment“- to me, it’s another good example/graphic of a learning ecosystem. This one happens to belong to an organization, but each of us has our own learning ecosystem as well.

 

Another good example/graphic of a learning ecosystem

 

 

EdTechs and Instructional Designers—What’s the Difference? — from er.educause.edu by Pat Reid

Excerpt:

Both edtechs and instructional designers (IDs) work with computer systems and programs, yet their actual duties differ from traditional IT tasks. The resulting confusion over what edtechs and IDs do—and how the two roles differ—is rampant, not least in the sector that needs them most: higher education.

 

LinkedIn Learning Opens Its Platform (Slightly) [Young]

LinkedIn Learning Opens Its Platform (Slightly) — from edsurge by Jeff Young

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

A few years ago, in a move toward professional learning, LinkedIn bought Lynda.com for $1.5 billion, adding the well-known library of video-based courses to its professional social network. Today LinkedIn officials announced that they plan to open up their platform to let in educational videos from other providers as well—but with a catch or two.

The plan, announced Friday, is to let companies or colleges who already subscribe to LinkedIn Learning add content from a select group of other providers. The company or college will still have to subscribe to those other services separately, so it’s essentially an integration—but it does mark a change in approach.

For LinkedIn, the goal is to become the front door for employees as they look for micro-courses for professional development.

 

LinkedIn also announced another service for its LinkedIn Learning platform called Q&A, which will give subscribers the ability to pose a question they have about the video lessons they’re taking. The question will first be sent to bots, but if that doesn’t yield an answer the query will be sent on to other learners, and in some cases the instructor who created the videos.

 

 

Also see:

LinkedIn becomes a serious open learning experience platform — from clomedia.com by Josh Bersin
LinkedIn is becoming a dominant learning solution with some pretty interesting competitive advantages, according to one learning analyst.

Excerpt:

LinkedIn has become quite a juggernaut in the corporate learning market. Last time I checked the company had more than 17 million users, 14,000 corporate customers, more than 3,000 courses and was growing at high double-digit rates. And all this in only about two years.

And the company just threw down the gauntlet; it’s now announcing it has completely opened up its learning platform to external content partners. This is the company’s formal announcement that LinkedIn Learning is not just an amazing array of content, it is a corporate learning platform. The company wants to become a single place for all organizational learning content.

 

LinkedIn now offers skills-based learning recommendations to any user through its machine learning algorithms. 

 

 



Is there demand for staying relevant? For learning new skills? For reinventing oneself?

Well…let’s see.

 

 

 

 

 

 



From DSC:
So…look out higher ed and traditional forms of accreditation — your window of opportunity may be starting to close. Alternatives to traditional higher ed continue to appear on the scene and gain momentum. LinkedIn — and/or similar organizations in the future — along with blockchain and big data backed efforts may gain traction in the future and start taking away some major market share. If employers get solid performance from their employees who have gone this route…higher ed better look out. 

Microsoft/LinkedIn/Lynda.com are nicely positioned to be a major player who can offer society a next generation learning platform at an incredible price — offering up-to-date, microlearning along with new forms of credentialing. It’s what I’ve been calling the Amazon.com of higher ed (previously the Walmart of Education) for ~10 years. It will take place in a strategy/platform similar to this one.

 



Also, this is what a guerilla on the back looks like:

 

This is what a guerilla on the back looks like!

 



Also see:

  • Meet the 83-Year-Old App Developer Who Says Edtech Should Better Support Seniors — from edsurge.com by Sydney Johnson
    Excerpt (emphasis DSC):
    Now at age 83, Wakamiya beams with excitement when she recounts her journey, which has been featured in news outlets and even at Apple’s developer conference last year. But through learning how to code, she believes that experience offers an even more important lesson to today’s education and technology companies: don’t forget about senior citizens.Today’s education technology products overwhelmingly target young people. And while there’s a growing industry around serving adult learners in higher education, companies largely neglect to consider the needs of the elderly.

 

 

From DSC:
I have often reflected on differentiation or what some call personalized learning and/or customized learning. How does a busy teacher, instructor, professor, or trainer achieve this, realistically?

It’s very difficult and time-consuming to do for sure. But it also requires a team of specialists to achieve such a holy grail of learning — as one person can’t know it all. That is, one educator doesn’t have the necessary time, skills, or knowledge to address so many different learning needs and levels!

  • Think of different cognitive capabilities — from students that have special learning needs and challenges to gifted students
  • Or learners that have different physical capabilities or restrictions
  • Or learners that have different backgrounds and/or levels of prior knowledge
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Educators  and trainers have so many things on their plates that it’s very difficult to come up with _X_ lesson plans/agendas/personalized approaches, etc.  On the other side of the table, how do students from a vast array of backgrounds and cognitive skill levels get the main points of a chapter or piece of text? How can they self-select the level of difficulty and/or start at a “basics” level and work one’s way up to harder/more detailed levels if they can cognitively handle that level of detail/complexity? Conversely, how do I as a learner get the boiled down version of a piece of text?

Well… just as with the flipped classroom approach, I’d like to suggest that we flip things a bit and enlist teams of specialists at the publishers to fulfill this need. Move things to the content creation end — not so much at the delivery end of things. Publishers’ teams could play a significant, hugely helpful role in providing customized learning to learners.

Some of the ways that this could happen:

Use an HTML like language when writing a textbook, such as:

<MainPoint> The text for the main point here. </MainPoint>

<SubPoint1>The text for the subpoint 1 here.</SubPoint1>

<DetailsSubPoint1>More detailed information for subpoint 1 here.</DetailsSubPoint1>

<SubPoint2>The text for the subpoint 2 here.</SubPoint2>

<DetailsSubPoint2>More detailed information for subpoint 2 here.</DetailsSubPoint2>

<SubPoint3>The text for the subpoint 3 here.</SubPoint3>

<DetailsSubPoint3>More detailed information for subpoint 3 here.</DetailsSubPoint1>

<SummaryOfMainPoints>A list of the main points that a learner should walk away with.</SummaryOfMainPoints>

<BasicsOfMainPoints>Here is a listing of the main points, but put in alternative words and more basic ways of expressing those main points. </BasicsOfMainPoints>

<Conclusion> The text for the concluding comments here.</Conclusion>

 

<BasicsOfMainPoints> could be called <AlternativeExplanations>
Bottom line: This tag would be to put things forth using very straightforward terms.

Another tag would be to address how this topic/chapter is relevant:
<RealWorldApplication>This short paragraph should illustrate real world examples

of this particular topic. Why does this topic matter? How is it relevant?</RealWorldApplication>

 

On the students’ end, they could use an app that works with such tags to allow a learner to quickly see/review the different layers. That is:

  • Show me just the main points
  • Then add on the sub points
  • Then fill in the details
    OR
  • Just give me the basics via an alternative ways of expressing these things. I won’t remember all the details. Put things using easy-to-understand wording/ideas.

 

It’s like the layers of a Microsoft HoloLens app of the human anatomy:

 

Or it’s like different layers of a chapter of a “textbook” — so a learner could quickly collapse/expand the text as needed:

 

This approach could be helpful at all kinds of learning levels. For example, it could be very helpful for law school students to obtain outlines for cases or for chapters of information. Similarly, it could be helpful for dental or medical school students to get the main points as well as detailed information.

Also, as Artificial Intelligence (AI) grows, the system could check a learner’s cloud-based learner profile to see their reading level or prior knowledge, any IEP’s on file, their learning preferences (audio, video, animations, etc.), etc. to further provide a personalized/customized learning experience. 

To recap:

  • “Textbooks” continue to be created by teams of specialists, but add specialists with knowledge of students with special needs as well as for gifted students. For example, a team could have experts within the field of Special Education to help create one of the overlays/or filters/lenses — i.e., to reword things. If the text was talking about how to hit a backhand or a forehand, the alternative text layer could be summed up to say that tennis is a sport…and that a sport is something people play. On the other end of the spectrum, the text could dive deeply into the various grips a person could use to hit a forehand or backhand.
  • This puts the power of offering differentiation at the point of content creation/development (differentiation could also be provided for at the delivery end, but again, time and expertise are likely not going to be there)
  • Publishers create “overlays” or various layers that can be turned on or off by the learners
  • Can see whole chapters or can see main ideas, topic sentences, and/or details. Like HTML tags for web pages.
  • Can instantly collapse chapters to main ideas/outlines.

 

 

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