Microsoft and Intel unite to bring blockchain to businesses with Coco Framework – from digitaltrends.com by Lulu Chang

Excerpt:

You still may not know what bitcoin is, but soon, you could be working with the technology that powers the cryptocurrency. Intel and Microsoft are working together to bring blockchain into the workplace, and it’s all contingent on a new framework they’re calling Coco. Heralded as a first-of-its-kind innovation, the goal is to jumpstart widespread adoption, particularly among businesses, of blockchain technology. After all, blockchain allows for secure and speedy transactions, which are key to many modern businesses.

As Microsoft noted in a news release, the Coco Framework is meant to reduce the complexity currently associated with blockchain protocol technology. As such, the company notes, the framework could pave the way for “more complex, real-world blockchain scenarios across industries — like financial services, supply chain and logistics, healthcare and retail — further proving blockchain’s potential to digitally transform business.”

 

Blockchain technology may seem a bit foreign to most, but Microsoft and Intel are hoping to bring it to businesses around the world.

 

 

 

The Platform Chronicles: 10 Questions with Phil Komarny, Chief Digital Officer at the Institute for Transformational Learning at UTx — from medium.com by Bruce Richardson
On the first blockchain app on Salesforce and the pursuit of lifelong learning

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Welcome to the The Platform Chronicles, a new publication designed to introduce readers to some of the most innovative partners that have developed applications on the Salesforce platform. This issue focuses on Phil Komarny and UTx’s plans to dramatically change Higher Ed.

Question #1
Phil, Can you tell us more about the University of Texas’ Institute for Transformational Learning and its relationship with Salesforce?

At the Institute for Transformational Learning we are charged with developing technologies that will power the delivery of educational experiences for our 215,000 students. Though this work we have created a platform that leverages a persistent profile of each of our learners. The platform, Totelic, also has the potential to integrate with each of our 14 campuses student information and learning management systems.

Thinking deeply about the learner’s lifelong journey, we also created a data model that places the learner at the center of the experience. Using Salesforce as our CRM we are afforded a 360-degree view of each learner. The data that resides in many siloed data stores on every campus today has now been wrapped around each learner to create a digital reflection of their abilities and goals.

 

A quick insert of a graphic from DSC:

 

 

Instead of replacing the ERP systems, we enhance them with our integrations so that each of our campuses has an innovation engine at their disposal. Creating new experiences for learners like modular certificates that stack toward a larger credential over time is now a reality for our campus partners.

(Editor’s note: Totelic was created by the UTX Institute for Transformational Learning, and is a “Learner Relationship Management” (LRM) system?—?that is basically a learning environment-agnostic dashboard that monitors a learner’s progress through any connected learning experience, e.g., a 3-credit course taught in Blackboard or a Salesforce Trailhead module. It normalizes the data stream and feeds a few algorithms that provide motivational guidance and track pace, progress and overall performance. It also has an integrated service model that leverages Salesforce communities to provide connection for everything from mentoring to events.)


Blockchains are being used for many things today. From crypto currency to tracking shipping containers and diamonds, the immutability, security and validity of this distributed data store create a new way to think through our current business process, policies and laws of any enterprise.

At a recent event at MIT, The Business of Blockchain, I was stunned to see each vertical represented with one omission?—?education.

After reading Phillip Schmidt’s Medium post about work they were doing at the MIT Media Lab that would effectively store any fellow’s digital credential to a blockchain, I envisioned how that approach might work for our platform.

While on a hike, I was pondering the application and the ChainScript was born. This application would be able to provide every learner in our system a way to own, manage and share a record of their academic accomplishments by storing their information on a blockchain.

To validate this approach we have created our proof of concept as private blockchain to allow us to focus on the different applications of the technology before we take the solutions to a different fabric.

 

 

Microsoft is working on its own commercial blockchain framework, expected to arrive in 2018 — from geekwire.com by Tom Krazit

Excerpt:

Starting next year, Microsoft plans to release an open-source framework that will allow businesses to implement blockchain technologies as part of their business processes.

The project, known as the Coco Framework, aims to help companies use blockchain ledger technologies to facilitate transactions between customers, suppliers, or anyone with whom they do business. Coco Framework will work with any ledger protocol and can run on any cloud provider’s services or on on-premises servers, Microsoft representatives said. The company plans to release more details on its approach later on Thursday.

Blockchain is the underlying technology behind the Bitcoin digital currency, but it has lots of other potential uses that have technologists and venture capitalists excited. It allows users to keep a record of transactions (or really anything that transpires between different entities) in a secure, decentralized “ledger.” Think of it like a database that isn’t tied to a server or public cloud, but rather a cascade of data points that work together to continuously update and verify a record of activity.

 

 

 

The Truth About Blockchain — from hbr.org by Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani

Excerpt:

The parallels between blockchain and TCP/IP are clear. Just as e-mail enabled bilateral messaging, bitcoin enables bilateral financial transactions. The development and maintenance of blockchain is open, distributed, and shared—just like TCP/IP’s. A team of volunteers around the world maintains the core software. And just like e-mail, bitcoin first caught on with an enthusiastic but relatively small community.

TCP/IP unlocked new economic value by dramatically lowering the cost of connections. Similarly, blockchain could dramatically reduce the cost of transactions. It has the potential to become the system of record for all transactions. If that happens, the economy will once again undergo a radical shift, as new, blockchain-based sources of influence and control emerge.*

* From DSC:
   “What if…?” comes to mind here…

 

In a blockchain system, the ledger is replicated in a large number of identical databases, each hosted and maintained by an interested party. When changes are entered in one copy, all the other copies are simultaneously updated. So as transactions occur, records of the value and assets exchanged are permanently entered in all ledgers. There is no need for third-party intermediaries to verify or transfer ownership. If a stock transaction took place on a blockchain-based system, it would be settled within seconds, securely and verifiably. (The infamous hacks that have hit bitcoin exchanges exposed weaknesses not in the blockchain itself but in separate systems linked to parties using the blockchain.)

 

 

 

Microsoft Is Working to Make Blockchain Faster and More Popular — from finance.yahoo.com and Reuters

Excerpt:

Microsoft is working on technology that it believes can make blockchain-based systems faster and more private, as it looks to speed up use of the distributed database software by enterprises.

The company said on Thursday that it had developed a system called Coco Framework, which connects to different blockchain networks to solve some of the issues that have slowed down their adoption, including speed and privacy concerns.

Coco, whose names stands for Confidential Consortium, will be ready and made open source by 2018, Microsoft said.

It is currently compatible with Ethereum, one of the most popular types of blockchains and can make it roughly 100 times faster, Microsoft said.

 

 

 

 



Addendum on 8/17/17:

 

 

 

 

Learn the skills and resources you need to master virtual reality — from vudream.com by Mark Metry

Excerpt:

[From] Tee Jia Hen, CEO of VRcollab
In my opinion, there are 4 specializations of VR content professional.

  1. VR native app development
  2. Cinematic VR creation
  3. Photogrammetry
  4. VR web development

 

 


Also see:

Getting Started with WebVR – from virtualrealitypop.com by Michael Hazani

Excerpt:

This is not a tutorial or a comprehensive, thorough technical guide?—?many of those already exist?—?but rather a way to think about WebVR and acquaint yourself with what it is, exactly, and how best to approach it from scratch. If you’ve been doing WebVR or 3D programming for a while, this article is most certainly not for you. If you’ve been curious about that stuff and want to know how to join the party— read on!

 


 

 

 

The Benefits of an Innovative Culture at Smaller Colleges — from evolllution.com with Shane Garrison | Vice President of Enrollment, Campbellsville University
Smaller institutions are under more pressure than ever to innovate or collapse—weathering the storm is simply no longer an option for most institutions. This requires leaders and staff across the institution to have a creative mindset, and be willing to experiment and evolve.

Excerpt:

There is the reality that if you don’t diversify, if you fail to be creative, if you fail to try new things, you’re on the verge of folding. In Kentucky, two faith-based colleges folded within a span of about three years, and I think that created an urgency to avoid that fate. We have to be willing to try, create and experiment to survive, and that means doing things that we’ve never done before.

Evo: How can an innovative and experiment-focused culture help smaller institutions overcome some of those obstacles?

SG: I think you have to be willing to experiment for short periods of time with strategies that do not fit inside the traditional bubble. For example, for us, our online presence has been fairly strong for about 12 years. However, we had to experiment with placing a good number of full four-year bachelor’s degree programs online, something our university had never done. We had associate programs, we had graduate programs but we had to add bachelor programs online. We did it for three or four years in the experimental phase and noticed these were actually strong and it was building a beautiful pathway between our associate two-year programs and the four-year programs and continuing into graduate programs.

We are experimenting now with an international recruiting partnership and giving it two to three years to see what happens. It has been very successful thus far. This model has created a culture where we can experiment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davy Crockett to give tours of Alamo in new augmented reality app — from mysanantonio.com by Samantha Ehlinger

Excerpt:

Using a smart phone, users will be able to see and interact with computer-generated people and scenes from the past — overlayed on top of the very real and present-day Alamo. The app will also show the Alamo as it was at different points in history, and tell the story of the historic battle through different perspectives of the people (like Crockett) who were there. The app includes extra features users can buy, much like Pokémon Go.

“We’re making this into a virtual time machine so that if I’m standing on this spot and I look at, oh well there’s Davy Crockett, then I can go back a century and I can see the mission being built,” Alamo Reality CEO Michael McGar said. The app will allow users to see the Alamo not only as it was in 1836, but as it was before and after, McGar said.

 

 

 

“We’re developing a technology that’s going to be able to span across generations to tell a story”

— Lane Traylor

 

 

Augmented Reality Technology: A student creates the closest thing yet to a magic ring — from forbes.com by Kevin Murnane

Excerpt:

Nat Martin set himself the problem of designing a control mechanism that can be used unobtrusively to meld AR displays with the user’s real-world environment. His solution was a controller in the shape of a ring that can be worn on the user’s finger. He calls it Scroll. It uses the ARKit software platform and contains an Arduino circuit board, a capacitive sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, and a Softpot potentiometer. Scroll works with any AR device that supports the Unity game engine such as Google Cardboard or Microsoft’s Hololens.

 

Also see:

Scroll from Nat on Vimeo.

 

 


Addendum on 8/15/17:

New iOS 11 ARKit Demo Shows Off Drawing With Fingers In Augmented Reality [Video] — from redmondpie.com by Oliver Haslam |

Excerpt:

When Apple releases iOS 11 to the public next month, it will also release ARKit for the first time. The framework, designed to make bringing augmented reality to iOS a reality was first debuted during the opening keynote of WWDC 2017 when Apple announced iOS 11, and ever since then we have been seeing new concepts and demos be released by developers.

Those developers have given us a glimpse of what we can expect when apps taking advantage of ARKit start to ship alongside iOS 11, and the latest of those is a demonstration in which someone’s finger is used to draw on a notepad.

 


 

 

 

Instructional Design Firm Launches Digital Marketplace; Enables Innovative Universities to Offer Unbundled Alternative Credentials — from prnewswire.com
iDesign Course Market will help colleges deliver course content, accept payment, and issue digital credentials and certificates online

Excerpt:

DALLASAug. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Instructional design firm, iDesign, [on 8/10/17] announced Course Market, a digital marketplace that universities can use to offer standalone courses and digital credentials in high demand fields. Course Market integrates LMS technology from Instructure and Credly’s pioneering credential platform to deliver engaging learner experiences with real value in the job market. Institutions that utilize Course Market can seamlessly enroll students in continuing education programs, accept payment, deliver content, and issue digital badges or certificates, which can be instantly uploaded and shared through social networks like LinkedIn or Facebook.

“Alternative credentials are unquestionably gaining traction among working adults looking for accelerated pathways to new schools and executive education. We view Course Market as a great tool for universities that want to expand access to learners who may otherwise be unable to take advantage of traditional degree programs,” said William Valenta, Assistant Dean of MBA and Executive Programs at University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business.  “By applying Course Market’s technology and infrastructure to our existing educational offerings, the Katz school successfully enhanced access, affordability, and career relevance.”

 

 

Codify Academy Taps IBM Cloud with Watson to Design Cognitive Chatbot — from finance.yahoo.com
Chatbot “Bobbot” has driven thousands of potential leads, 10 percent increase in converting visitors to students

Excerpt:

ARMONK, N.Y., Aug. 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that Codify Academy, a San Francisco-based developer education startup, tapped into IBM Cloud’s cognitive services to create an interactive cognitive chatbot, Bobbot, that is improving student experiences and increasing enrollment.

Using the IBM Watson Conversation Service, Bobbot fields questions from prospective and current students in natural language via the company’s website. Since implementing the chatbot, Codify Academy has engaged thousands of potential leads through live conversation between the bot and site visitors, leading to a 10 percent increase in converting these visitors into students.

 

 

Bobbot can answer more than 200 common questions about enrollment, course and program details, tuition, and prerequisites, in turn enabling Codify Academy staff to focus on deeper, more meaningful exchanges.

 

 

 


Also see:

Chatbots — The Beginners Guide
 — from chatbotsmagazine.com

Excerpt:

If you search for chatbots on Google, you’ll probably come across hundreds of pages starting from what is a chatbot to how to build one. This is because we’re in 2017, the year of the chatbots revolution.

I’ve been introduced to many people who are new to this space, and who are very interested and motivated in entering it, rather they’re software developers, entrepreneurs, or just tech hobbyists. Entering this space for the first time, has become overwhelming in just a few months, particularly after Facebook announced the release of the messenger API at F8 developer conference. Due to this matter, I’ve decided to simplify the basic steps of entering this fascinating world.

 


 

 

 

 

Digital Ivy: Harvard Business School’s Next Online Program — from edsurge.com by Betsy Corcoran

Excerpts:

A triad of Harvard institutions—its business School, the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and the department of statistics—are teaming up with Maryland-based digital education company, 2U, to offer an online executive education certificate in business analytics.

Orchestrating a cross-disciplinary program is no small feat, particularly at Harvard. “This was really hard [for Harvard] to pull off,” Paucek says. “It’s an intense, cross-disciplinary new offering from a school founded in 1636. The field is new, the offering of a complex blended certificate is new, and it’s being done with HBS, SEAS and the faculty, all blessed by the central administration. And it’s powered by an outside company that’s only 10 years old.”

 

The bottom line: HBS, Harvard SEAS and FAS faculty all want to put their imprint on the topic that is mesmerizing nearly every type of organization.

 

 

Also see:

Excerpt:

Andrew Ng a soft-spoken AI researcher whose online postings talk loudly.

A March blog post in which the Stanford professor announced he was leaving Chinese search engine Baidu temporarily wiped more than a billion dollars off the company’s value. A June tweet about a new Ng website, Deeplearning.ai, triggered a wave of industry and media speculation about his next project.

Today that speculation is over. Deeplearning.ai is home to a series of online courses Ng says will help spread the benefits of recent advances in machine learning far beyond big tech companies such as Google and Baidu. The courses offers coders without an AI background training in how to use deep learning, the technique behind the current frenzy of investment in AI.

 


From DSC:
For those of you who shun online learning and think such programs will dilute your face-to-face based brands — whether individual colleges, universities, faculty members, provosts, deans, IT-based personnel, administrators, members of the board of trustees, and/or other leaders and strategists within higher education — you might want to intentionally consider what kind of future you have without a strong, solid online presence. Because if one of the top — arguably thee top — universities in the United States is moving forward forcefully with online learning, what’s your story/excuse?

And if one of the top thinkers in artificial intelligence backs online learning, again…what’s your story/excuse?

If Amazon.com dominates and Sears (and related retail stores who were powerhouses just years ago) are now closing…you are likely heading for major trouble as the world continues down the digital/virtual tracks — and you aren’t sending any (or very few) cars down those tracks. You won’t have any credibility in the future — at least not in the digital/virtual/online-based realms. Oh, and by the way, you might want to set some more funding aside for the mental and physical health of your admissions/enrollment teams in such situations…as their jobs are going to be increasingly stressful and difficult in order to meet their target numbers.


 

Also see:

 


 

 

 

155 chatbots in this brand new landscape. Where does your bot fit? — from venturebeat.com by Carylyne Chan

Excerpt:

Since we started building bots at KeyReply more than two years ago, the industry has seen massive interest and change. This makes it hard for companies and customers to figure out what’s really happening — so we hope to throw some light on this industry by creating a landscape of chatbot-related businesses. There’s no way to put everyone into this landscape, so we have selected examples that give readers an overview of the industry, such as notable or dominant providers and tools widely used to develop bots.

To put everything into a coherent structure, we arranged companies along the axes according to the functions of their bots and how they built them.

On the horizontal axis, the “marketing” function refers to a bot’s ability to drive exposure, reach, and interaction with the brand or product for potential and current customers. The “support” function refers to a bot’s ability to assist current customers with problems and to resolve those problems for them.

On the vertical axis, “managed” refers to companies outsourcing the development of bots to external vendors, whereas “self-serve” refers to them building their bots in-house or with an off-the-shelf tool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campus Technology Announces 2017 Impact Award Honorees — from campustechnology.com

Excerpt:

“When you consider the use of technology in education, one of the most important factors is impact — how it benefits students, improves teaching, streamlines costs, contributes to the community, furthers the institutional mission, etc.,” said Rhea Kelly, executive editor of Campus Technology. “These 10 projects are making a difference in higher education in variety of inspiring ways, and we are so pleased to recognize them with this year’s Impact Awards.”

 

From DSC:
I was a Member of the Review Board for this year’s Impact Awards program. As such, I want to extend my sincere congratulations to these recipients! I also want to extend congratulations to the many other people/organizations who — though they didn’t win an award this year — are doing some great work out there as well!

 

 

 
© 2017 | Daniel Christian