From DSC:
DC: Will Amazon get into delivering education/degrees? Is is working on a next generation learning platform that could highly disrupt the world of higher education? Hmmm…time will tell.

But Amazon has a way of getting into entirely new industries. From its roots as an online bookseller, it has branched off into numerous other arenas. It has the infrastructure, talent, and the deep pockets to bring about the next generation learning platform that I’ve been tracking for years. It is only one of a handful of companies that could pull this type of endeavor off.

And now, we see articles like these:


Amazon Snags a Higher Ed Superstar — from insidehighered.com by Doug Lederman
Candace Thille, a pioneer in the science of learning, takes a leave from Stanford to help the ambitious retailer better train its workers, with implications that could extend far beyond the company.

Excerpt:

A major force in the higher education technology and learning space has quietly begun working with a major corporate force in — well, in almost everything else.

Candace Thille, a pioneer in learning science and open educational delivery, has taken a leave of absence from Stanford University for a position at Amazon, the massive (and getting bigger by the day) retailer.

Thille’s title, as confirmed by an Amazon spokeswoman: director of learning science and engineering. In that capacity, the spokeswoman said, Thille will work “with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon.”

No further details were forthcoming, and Thille herself said she was “taking time away” from Stanford to work on a project she was “not really at liberty to discuss.”

 

Amazon is quietly becoming its own university — from qz.com by Amy Wang

Excerpt:

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon empire—which recently dabbled in home security, opened artificial intelligence-powered grocery stores, and started planning a second headquarters (and manufactured a vicious national competition out of it)—has not been idle in 2018.

The e-commerce/retail/food/books/cloud-computing/etc company made another move this week that, while nowhere near as flashy as the above efforts, tells of curious things to come. Amazon has hired Candace Thille, a leader in learning science, cognitive science, and open education at Stanford University, to be “director of learning science and engineering.” A spokesperson told Inside Higher Ed that Thille will work “with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon”; Thille herself said she is “not really at liberty to discuss” her new project.

What could Amazon want with a higher education expert? The company already has footholds in the learning market, running several educational resource platforms. But Thille is famous specifically for her data-driven work, conducted at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University, on nontraditional ways of learning, teaching, and training—all of which are perfect, perhaps even necessary, for the education of employees.

 


From DSC:
It could just be that Amazon is simply building its own corporate university and will stay focused on developing its own employees and its own corporate learning platform/offerings — and/or perhaps license their new platform to other corporations.

But from my perspective, Amazon continues to work on pieces of a powerful puzzle, one that could eventually involve providing learning experiences to lifelong learners:

  • Personal assistants
  • Voice recognition / Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • The development of “skills” at an incredible pace
  • Personalized recommendation engines
  • Cloud computing and more

If Alexa were to get integrated into a AI-based platform for personalized learning — one that features up-to-date recommendation engines that can identify and personalize/point out the relevant critical needs in the workplace for learners — better look out higher ed! Better look out if such a platform could interactively deliver (and assess) the bulk of the content that essentially does the heavy initial lifting of someone learning about a particular topic.

Amazon will be able to deliver a cloud-based platform, with cloud-based learner profiles and blockchain-based technologies, at a greatly reduced cost. Think about it. No physical footprints to build and maintain, no lawns to mow, no heating bills to pay, no coaches making $X million a year, etc.  AI-driven recommendations for digital playlists. Links to the most in demand jobs — accompanied by job descriptions, required skills & qualifications, and courses/modules to take in order to master those jobs.

Such a solution would still need professors, instructional designers, multimedia specialists, copyright experts, etc., but they’ll be able to deliver up-to-date content at greatly reduced costs. That’s my bet. And that’s why I now call this potential development The New Amazon.com of Higher Education.

[Microsoft — with their purchase of Linked In (who had previously
purchased Lynda.com) — is
another such potential contender.]

 

 

 

EdX Quietly Developing ‘MicroBachelors’ Program — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpt:

EdX, the nonprofit online-education group founded by MIT and Harvard, is quietly developing a “MicroBachelors” degree that is designed to break the undergraduate credential into Lego-like components.

In December, edX won a $700,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation to support the MicroBachelors effort with the organization’s university partners. Officials from edX declined to talk about the project, saying only that it is in the early stages. But at a higher-education innovation summit last month hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, listed the project as part of the group’s long-term vision that began with its MicroMasters program. And the organization has filed a trademark for the term “MicroBachelors” as well.

 

“Education in five to ten years will become modular, will become omnichannel, and will become lifelong,” Agarwal said at the meeting, later explaining that omnichannel meant offering courses either online or in person.

 

How would a MicroBachelors be different than, say, a two-year associate’s degree, which is arguably already half a bachelor’s degree? Sarma said that the idea behind both MicroMasters and MicroBachelors is that they are “about putting stuff that can be done online, online.” In other words, the big idea is offering a low-cost, low-risk way for students to start an undergraduate education even if they can’t get to a campus.

 

 

 

Also relevant/see:

 

 

 

From DSC:
While I haven’t gone through all of these videos/modules/practice problems, I find the idea of using music to teach math very intriguing. So I wanted to pass this information along in case it helps some students (and teachers) out there!

You might find some (or all) of this a bit corny, but some kids out there might find this style much more interesting and engaging. It might better help get and maintain their attentions. It might help them better remember some of these concepts.

I’m posting these resources/links on my blog here because of such students. If such an approach helps them connect with the material, I say, “Good deal!”  Such an approach might suit their preferences quite well.

In fact, perhaps teachers could have their students design and produce these sorts of videos themselves! Talk about active learning/project based learning! Such a cross-disciplinary, team-based approach would involve students with interests and developing skills involving:

  • Digital video editing
  • Digital audio editing
  • Music
  • Drama/acting
  • Script writing
  • Instructional design

 


 

Per Matt Wolf, Managing Director at Tylerbarnettpr.com:

Singing math tutor, Huzefa Kapedia, has launched a new musically-based SAT Math Video Course that is sure to bring a smile to faces.

From crooning about the quadratic formula to rapping about slope intercept form, Huzefa introduces the only math SAT course to teach difficult concepts through the power of song.

Additionally, he provides 700 practice problems (all frequency-based), each with its own video explanation.

And…it actually works. Huzefa is not only helping kids score big on their SATs; he is also making the whole math studying thing pretty darn enjoyable.

 


Problem Solved: Scalar Learning Proves Any Person Can Be a Math Person
Online and In-Person Tutoring Platform Introduces Modern Mathematics for Today’s Student

Scalar Learning introduces an innovative online and in-person tutoring platform that enables individuals of all ages and backgrounds with the skills and confidence needed to master mathematics. Founded by software engineer and former patent attorney Huzefa Kapadia, Scalar Learning offers a variety of online courses, private tutoring sessions with specialized educators, and entertaining (and effective) math music videos geared at breathing new life into the outdated tutoring model.

“With Scalar Learning, I wanted to reinvent the tutoring concept for the modern world,” said Kapadia. “Everything I have designed and built is a product of my experience tutoring over 2,500 hours and teaching classrooms of both sixth and second grade math students. By blending vibrant and engaging video tutorials, high quality music videos to convey difficult formulas and concepts, and highly personalized and energetic one-on-one environments, we are able to engage our students on multiple levels. Too many people label themselves as ‘not a math person;’ my goal is to prove to them and the world that there is no such thing. Any person can become a math whiz with the right encouragement and training.”

Scalar Learning offers students a multi-tiered approach to mathematics, designed to engage at every level:

  • Online video courses, in subjects ranging from multiplication mastery to SAT prep, impart vital math concepts in an easy-to-digest and entertaining format.
  • One-on-one tutoring sessions with passionate educators can be arranged in-person, via Skype, or as a combination of the two, offering a welcomed flexibility to the traditional tutoring model.
  • A library of fun and highly entertaining free math music videos help reinforce important mathematical concepts through song, making it easier for students to remember complex formulas and explanations.

“Mathematics has always been my passion, which is why after years as an attorney, I made the career shift to education,” says Kapadia. “Having worked as a teacher and tutor at both private and public schools, I soon noticed how many students had a mental block when it came to math. They would admit defeat far too early simply because they were intimidated. Scalar Learning was born as a means to dismantle that premature defeat. Our system is proof that there is no such thing as being ‘bad at math.’ With the proper tools, practice, and guidance, any person can not only ‘get it,’ but they can also enjoy it.”

For more information, please visit http://scalarlearning.com.

 


 

 


 

 

Education must transform to make people ready for AI — from ft.com by Jo Owen
Schools will need to teach know-how, not know-what

Excerpts:

A recent study by Oxford university estimates that nearly half of all jobs in the US are at risk from automation and computers in the next 20 years. While advancing technologies have been endangering jobs since the start of the Industrial Revolution, this time it is not just manual posts: artificial intelligence — the so-called fourth industrial revolution — promises to change the shape of professional work as well.

For instance, lawtech is already proving adept at sorting and analysing legal documents far faster and more cheaply than junior lawyers can. Similarly, routine tasks in accounting are succumbing to AI at the expense of more junior staff.

 

The next generation will need a new set of skills to survive, let alone thrive, in an AI world. Literacy, numeracy, science and languages are all important, but they share one thing in common: computers are going to be far better than humans at processing these forms of explicit knowledge. The risk is that the education system will be churning out humans who are no more than second-rate computers, so if the focus of education continues to be on transferring explicit knowledge across the generations, we will be in trouble.

The AI challenge is not just about educating more AI and computer experts, although that is important. It is also about building skills that AI cannot emulate. These are essential human skills such as teamwork, leadership, listening, staying positive, dealing with people and managing crises and conflict.

 

Evaluation and league tables are a barrier to success — you get what you measure in education as much as you do in business.

 

From DSC:
“Teamwork, leadership, listening, staying positive, dealing with people and managing crises and conflict.” Do our standardized tests measure these types of things? No, I agree with you. They don’t. They measure “know-what skills.”

 

“We are doubling down on the idea that if we get children to know things and regurgitate them in a certain way in an exam, then we are setting them up for success in life.”

Tom Ravenscroft

 

 

 

 


Also see:


 

Capitalism that Works for Everyone — from gettingsmart.com by Tom Vander Ark

Excerpts:

Inequality Gets Worse From Here
Our new report on the future of work and learning illustrated how the combination of artificial intelligence, big data and enabling technologies like robotics are changing the employment landscape fast.

Our new paper on the future of work and learning suggests a couple solutions…

 

High-Tech, High Touch: Digital Learning Report and Workbook, 2017 Edition — from Intentional Futures, with thanks to Maria Andersen on Linkedin for her posting therein which was entitled, “Spectrums to Measure Digital Learning
Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Our work uncovered five high-tech strategies employed by institutions that have successfully implemented digital learning at scale across a range of modalities. The strategies that underscore the high-tech, high-touch connection are customizing through technology, leveraging adaptive courseware, adopting cost-efficient resources, centralizing course development and making data-driven decisions.

Although many of the institutions we studied are employing more than one of these strategies, in this report we have grouped the institutional use cases according to the strategy that has been most critical to achieving digital learning at scale. As institutional leaders make their way through this document, they should watch for strategies that target challenges similar to those they hope to solve. Reading the corresponding case studies will unpack how institutions employed these strategies effectively.

Digital learning in higher education is becoming more ubiquitous as institutions realize its ability to support student success and empower faculty. Growing diversity in student demographics has brought related changes in student needs, prompting institutions to look to technology to better serve their students. Digital courseware gives institutions the ability to build personalized, accessible and engaging content. It enables educators to provide relevant content and interventions for individual students, improve instructional techniques based on data and distribute knowledge to a wider audience (MIT Office of Digital Learning, 2017).

PARTICIPATION IN DIGITAL LEARNING IS GROWING
Nationally, the number of students engaged in digital learning is growing rapidly. One driver of this growth is rising demand for distance learning, which often relies on digital learning environments. Distance learning programs saw enrollment increases of approximately 4% between 2015 and 2016, with nearly 30% of higher education students taking at least one digital distance learning course (Allen, 2017). Much of this growth is occurring at the undergraduate level (Allen, 2017). The number of students who take distance learning courses exclusively is growing as well. Between 2012 and 2015, both public and private nonprofit institutions saw an increase in students taking only distance courses, although private, for-profit institutions have seen a decrease (Allen, 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to improve memory retention in online training — from growthengineering.co.uk by Christopher Pappas

Excerpt:

4. Incorporate A “Moment Of Need” Online Training Repository
That brings us to the next tip, which is to incorporate a “just in time” online training library. This features microlearning online training resources that are easy to digest and remember. Employees can access support tools based on their needs, goals, and skill gaps. Best of all, they can expand their knowledge whenever it’s most convenient, whether that’s on the sales floor, before a client meeting, or during the morning commute. “Moment of need” online training repositories aid in memory retention by breaking the online training content into consumable pieces, instead of barraging your employees with large quantities of information.

 

From DSC:
This idea of an online training repository is tied in with a more recent development of “chatbots.” As artificial intelligence continues to pick up steam, these chatbots could offer internal employees as well as external customers automated responses to questions. People could ask the questions either by typing in their questions and/or by using their voices to ask their questions. So keep your eyes on chatbots — as they will likely bring a whole new method of obtaining information and professional development to us in the near future!

 



 

Also from Christopher Pappas (@cpappas) see:

 

 



 

 

From DSC:
The vast majority of the lessons being offered within K-12 and the lectures (if we’re going to continue to offer them) within higher education should be recorded.

Why do I say this?

Well…first of all…let me speak as a parent of 3 kids, one of whom requires a team of specialists to help her learn. When she misses school because she’s out sick, it’s a major effort to get her caught up. As a parent, it would be soooooo great to log into a system and obtain an updated digital playlist of the lessons that she’s missed. She and I could click on the links to the recordings in order to see how the teacher wants our daughter to learn concepts A, B, and C. We could pause, rewind, fast forward, and replay the recording over and over again until our daughter gets it (and I as a parent get it too!).

I realize that I’m not saying anything especially new here, but we need to do a far better job of providing our overworked teachers with more time, funding, and/or other types of resources — such as instructional designers, videographers and/or One-Button Studios, other multimedia specialists, etc. — to develop these recordings. Perhaps each teacher — or team — could be paid to record and contribute their lessons to a pool of content that could be used over and over again. Also, the use of RSS feeds and content aggregators such as Feedly could come in handy here as well. Parents/learners could subscribe to streams of content.

Such a system would be a huge help to the teachers as well. They could refer students to these digital playlists as appropriate — having updated the missing students’ playlists based on what the teacher has covered that day (and who was out sick, at another school-sponsored event, etc.). They wouldn’t have to re-explain something as many times if they had recordings to reference.

—–

Also, within the realm of higher education, having recordings/transcripts of lectures and presentations would be especially helpful to learners who take more time to process what’s being said. And while that might include ESL learners here in the U.S., such recordings could benefit the majority of learners. From my days in college, I can remember trying to write down much of what the professor was saying, but not having a chance to really process much of the information until later, when I looked over my notes. Finally, learners who wanted to review some concepts before a mid-term or final would greatly appreciate these recordings.

Again, I realize this isn’t anything new. But it makes me scratch my head and wonder why we haven’t made more progress in this area, especially at the K-12 level…? It’s 2017. We can do better.

 



Some relevant tools here include:



 

 

 

Under the Hood: Learning Design Behind Georgia Tech’s Degrees at Scale — from evolllution.com by Shabana Figueroa and Yakut Gazi

Excerpt:

Rolling out the MM program in May and the degree program in August meant design coordination and creation of eight new online courses in less than a year. We needed a new approach that employed strategies for efficiency and effectiveness.

The Learning Design Team
GTPE’s learning design team partners with faculty members to develop their online courses from start to end, providing the heavy lifting for course production. A director of learning design oversees both the instructional design and production aspects of the course production across the entire program. This cross-functional team approach eliminates the silos created by independent instructional design and studio production teams, which in turn, minimizes hand-off points, decreases friction among teams, allows for long-term thinking that leads to smarter course design and development decisions, provides fluidity of talent and roles within the team, and fuels productivity.

…the paradigm shift to a learner-focused, team-based approach to course production and delivery, and collaboration of campus partners and groups…

 

 

From DSC:
Note the use of a team-based approach here. I think that the team-based approach will be the most beneficial to the world at large. Those teams will be able to deliver a high-quality learning experience, with high production values and carefully planned/crafted instructional designs. 

 



Also see:

Learning How to Learn: Anatomy of a good MOOC — from linkedin.com by Bill Ferster

Excerpts:

Barbara Oakley’s MOOC, Learning How to Learn [2] is the exception to this trend. It is well-produced, informative, and fully embraces the new medium. With over 2 million registered students and completion rates of over 20% [3], (the average MOOC completion rate is 5%), Learning How to Learn is clearly resonating with its audience.

The question is why is it so popular? Intrigued, I enrolled the short MOOC to understand why it was so popular, and what lessons it might have for other MOOC authors to make their offerings more effective their “filmed plays.”

Oakley has clearly bucked the overall MOOC trend and has made good use of the inexpensive technologies with well-lit scenes that are clearly edited and make use of the green screen overlay technologies found in her Adobe Premiere video editor. She used a large teleprompter to ensure a fluid delivery of her message and high-quality audio.

Learning to Learn is effective because Oakley put a significant amount of effort making it effective. Good content, coupled with high production values, and sound pedagogy take time to produce and clearly pays off in the final product.

 



 

 

Making a MOOC — from harvardmagazine.com by Jonathan Shaw

Excerpts:

Now, as one of a small number of Harvard faculty members each year whose course is selected to become a MOOC (a massive, online, open course), he is about to go global. Just 20 new courses are chosen by a faculty review committee annually, all of them ultimately offered to learners in at least one free version—part of Harvard’s commitment to improve access to education globally through HarvardX (HX), the University’s online course initiative. Hernán’s course is based on Epidemiology (EPI) 289: “Models for Causal Inference,” the core offering he’s taught for 14 years at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health (HSPH). Harvard Magazine accompanied Hernán during the making of his MOOC to find out what it takes to produce one, and how that compares to creating a traditional course.

Faculty members typically spend 96 to 142 hours helping produce and run an eight-week MOOC, according to HarvardX estimates. …But when complete, it will free him from much of the time and expense of traveling to teach this fundamental introductory material.

It takes a team of skilled professionals—HX employs a staff of about 45, including managers, videographers, graphic designers, digital editors, and even a copyright attorney and an accessibility coordinator (who helps make the materials usable for sight- and hearing-impaired learners)—to make each MOOC, at a cost that ranges widely, depending on the nature of the course and the sites of location shoots. This one cost about $100,000 to make.

Among the University’s goals in supporting the production of courses like Hernán’s is maximizing their “reach” as part of “Harvard’s contribution to a rising tide of education globally,” says HX faculty director Robert Lue.

A video lecture therefore becomes a short unit in which to make one point, “not five. Because if I try to make five points, I need 50 minutes.” The hooks—the real-world applications—mean that “I start each lesson by telling students why this is important, why they should keep watching….You are in a competition for attention…

 

“For example, it seems obvious, but there’s only one Miguel Hernán. And he can either teach a class of 70” once a year, “or develop this course that reaches many more around the world and across different disciplines.”

 

 

 

 

 

Artificial intelligence will transform universities. Here’s how. — from weforum.org by Mark Dodgson & David Gann

Excerpt:

The most innovative AI breakthroughs, and the companies that promote them – such as DeepMind, Magic Pony, Aysadi, Wolfram Alpha and Improbable – have their origins in universities. Now AI will transform universities.

We believe AI is a new scientific infrastructure for research and learning that universities will need to embrace and lead, otherwise they will become increasingly irrelevant and eventually redundant.

Through their own brilliant discoveries, universities have sown the seeds of their own disruption. How they respond to this AI revolution will profoundly reshape science, innovation, education – and society itself.

As AI gets more powerful, it will not only combine knowledge and data as instructed, but will search for combinations autonomously. It can also assist collaboration between universities and external parties, such as between medical research and clinical practice in the health sector.

The implications of AI for university research extend beyond science and technology.

When it comes to AI in teaching and learning, many of the more routine academic tasks (and least rewarding for lecturers), such as grading assignments, can be automated. Chatbots, intelligent agents using natural language, are being developed by universities such as the Technical University of Berlin; these will answer questions from students to help plan their course of studies.

Virtual assistants can tutor and guide more personalized learning. As part of its Open Learning Initiative (OLI), Carnegie Mellon University has been working on AI-based cognitive tutors for a number of years. It found that its OLI statistics course, run with minimal instructor contact, resulted in comparable learning outcomes for students with fewer hours of study. In one course at the Georgia Institute of Technology, students could not tell the difference between feedback from a human being and a bot.

 

 

Also see:

Digital audio assistants in teaching and learning — from blog.blackboard.com by Szymon Machajewski

Excerpts:

I built an Amazon Alexa skill called Introduction to Computing Flashcards. In using the skill, or Amazon Alexa app, students are able to listen to Alexa and then answer questions. Alexa helps students prepare for an exam by speaking definitions and then waiting for their identification. In addition to quizzing the student, Alexa is also keeping track of the correct answers. If a student answers five questions correctly, Alexa shares a game code, which is worth class experience points in the course gamification My Game app.

Certainly, exam preparation apps are one way to use digital assistants in education. As development and publishing of Amazon Alexa skills becomes easier, faculty will be able to produce such skills just as easily as they now create PowerPoints. Given the basic code available through Amazon tutorials, it takes 20 minutes to create a new exam preparation app. Basic voice experience Amazon Alexa skills can take as much as five minutes to complete.

Universities can publish their campus news through the Alexa Flash Briefing. This type of a skill can publish news, success stories, and other events associated with the campus.

If you are a faculty member, how can you develop your first Amazon Alexa skill? You can use any of the tutorials already available. You can also participate in an Amazon Alexa classroom training provided by Alexa Dev Days. It is possible that schools or maker spaces near you offer in-person developer sessions. You can use meetup.com to track these opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

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