2018 TECH TRENDS REPORT — from the Future Today Institute
Emerging technology trends that will influence business, government, education, media and society in the coming year.


The Future Today Institute’s 11th annual Tech Trends Report identifies 235 tantalizing advancements in emerging technologies—artificial intelligence, biotech, autonomous robots, green energy and space travel—that will begin to enter the mainstream and fundamentally disrupt business, geopolitics and everyday life around the world. Our annual report has garnered more than six million cumulative views, and this edition is our largest to date.

Helping organizations see change early and calculate the impact of new trends is why we publish our annual Emerging Tech Trends Report, which focuses on mid- to late-stage emerging technologies that are on a growth trajectory.

In this edition of the FTI Tech Trends Report, we’ve included several new features and sections:

  • a list and map of the world’s smartest cities
  • a calendar of events that will shape technology this year
  • detailed near-future scenarios for several of the technologies
  • a new framework to help organizations decide when to take action on trends
  • an interactive table of contents, which will allow you to more easily navigate the report from the bookmarks bar in your PDF reader



01 How does this trend impact our industry and all of its parts?
02 How might global events — politics, climate change, economic shifts – impact this trend, and as a result, our organization?
03 What are the second, third, fourth, and fifth-order implications of this trend as it evolves, both in our organization and our industry?
04 What are the consequences if our organization fails to take action on this trend?
05 Does this trend signal emerging disruption to our traditional business practices and cherished beliefs?
06 Does this trend indicate a future disruption to the established roles and responsibilities within our organization? If so, how do we reverse-engineer that disruption and deal with it in the present day?
07 How are the organizations in adjacent spaces addressing this trend? What can we learn from their failures and best practices?
08 How will the wants, needs and expectations of our consumers/ constituents change as a result of this trend?
09 Where does this trend create potential new partners or collaborators for us?
10 How does this trend inspire us to think about the future of our organization?




On Change and Relevance for Higher Education — from campustechnology.com 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




Virtual reality technology enters a Chinese courtroom — from supchina.com by Jiayun Feng


The introduction of VR technology is part of a “courtroom evidence visualization system” developed by the local court. The system also includes a newly developed computer program that allows lawyers to present evidence with higher quality and efficiency, which will replace a traditional PowerPoint slideshow.

It is reported that the system will soon be implemented in courtrooms across the city of Beijing.




Watch Waymo’s Virtual-Reality View of the World — from spectrum.ieee.org by Philip Ross

From DSC:
This is mind blowing. Now I see why Nvidia’s products/services are so valuable.



Along these same lines, also see this clip and/or this article entitled, This is why AR and Autonomous Driving are the Future of Cars:




The Legal Hazards of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Apps — from spectrum.ieee.org by Tam Harbert
Liability and intellectual property issues are just two areas developers need to know about


As virtual- and augmented-reality technologies mature, legal questions are emerging that could trip up VR and AR developers. One of the first lawyers to explore these questions is Robyn Chatwood, of the international law firm Dentons. “VR and AR are areas where the law is just not keeping up with [technology] developments,” she says. IEEE Spectrum contributing editor Tam Harbert talked with Chatwood about the legal challenges.




This VR Tool Could Make Kids A Lot Less Scared Of Medical Procedures — from fastcompany.com by Daniel Terdiman
The new app creates a personalized, explorable 3D model of a kid’s own body that makes it much easier for them to understand what’s going on inside.


A new virtual reality app that’s designed to help kids suffering from conditions like Crohn’s disease understand their maladies immerses those children in a cartoon-like virtual reality tour through their body.

Called HealthVoyager, the tool, a collaboration between Boston Children’s Hospital and the health-tech company Klick Health, is being launched today at an event featuring former First Lady Michelle Obama.

A lot of kids are confused by doctors’ intricate explanations of complex procedures like a colonoscopy, and they, and their families, can feel much more engaged, and satisfied, if they really understand what’s going on. But that’s been hard to do in a way that really works and doesn’t get bogged down with a lot of meaningless jargon.



Augmented Reality in Education — from invisible.toys


Star Chart -- AR and astronomy



The state of virtual reality — from furthermore.equinox.com by Rachael Schultz
How the latest advancements are optimizing performance, recovery, and injury prevention


Virtual reality is increasingly used to enhance everything from museum exhibits to fitness classes. Elite athletes are using VR goggles to refine their skills, sports rehabilitation clinics are incorporating it into recovery regimes, and others are using it to improve focus and memory.

Here, some of the most exciting things happening with virtual reality, as well as what’s to come.



Augmented Reality takes 3-D printing to next level — from rtoz.org


Cornell researchers are taking 3-D printing and 3-D modeling to a new level by using augmented reality (AR) to allow designers to design in physical space while a robotic arm rapidly prints the work. To use the Robotic Modeling Assistant (RoMA), a designer wears an AR headset with hand controllers. As soon as a design feature is completed, the robotic arm prints the new feature.




From DSC:
How might the types of technologies being developed and used by Kazendi’s Holomeeting be used for building/enhancing learning spaces?





AR and Blockchain: A Match Made in The AR Cloud — from medium.com by Ori Inbar


In my introduction to the AR Cloud I argued that in order to reach mass adoption, AR experiences need to persist in the real world across space, time, and devices.

To achieve that, we will need a persistent realtime spatial map of the world that enables sharing and collaboration of AR Experiences among many users.

And according to AR industry insiders, it’s poised to become:

“the most important software infrastructure in computing”

aka: The AR Cloud.





From DSC:
After seeing the article entitled, “Scientists Are Turning Alexa into an Automated Lab Helper,” I began to wonder…might Alexa be a tool to periodically schedule & provide practice tests & distributed practice on content? In the future, will there be “learning bots” that a learner can employ to do such self-testing and/or distributed practice?



From page 45 of the PDF available here:


Might Alexa be a tool to periodically schedule/provide practice tests & distributed practice on content?




Scientists Are Turning Alexa into an Automated Lab Helper — from technologyreview.com by Jamie Condliffe
Amazon’s voice-activated assistant follows a rich tradition of researchers using consumer tech in unintended ways to further their work.


Alexa, what’s the next step in my titration?

Probably not the first question you ask your smart assistant in the morning, but potentially the kind of query that scientists may soon be leveling at Amazon’s AI helper. Chemical & Engineering News reports that software developer James Rhodes—whose wife, DeLacy Rhodes, is a microbiologist—has created a skill for Alexa called Helix that lends a helping hand around the laboratory.

It makes sense. While most people might ask Alexa to check the news headlines, play music, or set a timer because our hands are a mess from cooking, scientists could look up melting points, pose simple calculations, or ask for an experimental procedure to be read aloud while their hands are gloved and in use.

For now, Helix is still a proof-of-concept. But you can sign up to try an early working version, and Rhodes has plans to extend its abilities…


Also see:





Mapping the Trends on Our Doorstep: The Pace of Change Has Changed — from an article that I did out at — and with — evoLLLution.com [where LLL stands for lifelong learning]; my thanks to Mr. Amrit Ahluwalia, Managing Editor out at evolllution.com and to his staff as well!
The higher education industry has changed significantly over the past decade, and given the pace and significance of change hitting other industries as a result of technological advances, it’s fair to say the postsecondary space is ripe for further transformation.


From DSC:
From the perspective of those of us working within higher education, we see massive changes occurring in the corporate world, and we see innovations and changes also occurring in the world of K-12. Higher education should also be adapting, changing, questioning, and reflecting upon how we can best prepare our students for a rapidly changing workplace.

Below is another interesting item that I believe gives credence to the idea that we are now on an exponential pace of change. Companies are coming and going on the S&P Index…at an ever faster pace.

The 33-year average tenure of companies on the S&P 500 in 1964 narrowed to 24 years by 2016 and is forecast to shrink to just 12 years by 2027 (Chart 1).


Here is the video:

This is the transcript with the original graphs in it.

This is a nice PDF file from evoLLLution.com with the transcript, with some different graphics and some other





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.


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


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


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:





The next era of human|machine partnerships
From delltechnologies.com by the Institute for the Future and Dell Technologies


From DSC:
Though this outlook report paints a rosier picture than I think we will actually encounter, there are several interesting perspectives in this report. We need to be peering out into the future to see which trends and scenarios are most likely to occur…then plan accordingly. With that in mind, I’ve captured a few of the thoughts below.


At its inception, very few people anticipated the pace at which the internet would spread across the world, or the impact it would have in remaking business and culture. And yet, as journalist Oliver Burkeman wrote in 2009, “Without most of us quite noticing when it happened, the web went from being a strange new curiosity to a background condition of everyday life.”1


In Dell’s Digital Transformation Index study, with 4,000 senior decision makers across the world, 45% say they are concerned about becoming obsolete in just 3-5 years, nearly half don’t know what their industry will look like in just three years’ time, and 73% believe they need to be more ‘digital’ to succeed in the future.

With this in mind, we set out with 20 experts to explore how various social and technological drivers will influence the next decade and, specifically, how emerging technologies will recast our society and the way we conduct business by the year 2030. As a result, this outlook report concludes that, over the next decade, emerging technologies will underpin the formation of new human-machine partnerships that make the most of their respective complementary strengths. These partnerships will enhance daily activities around the coordination of resources and in-the-moment learning, which will reset expectations for work and require corporate structures to adapt to the expanding capabilities of human-machine teams.

For the purpose of this study, IFTF explored the impact that Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), and Cloud Computing, will have on society by 2030. These technologies, enabled by significant advances in software, will underpin the formation of new human-machine partnerships.

On-demand access to AR learning resources will reset expectations and practices around workplace training and retraining, and real-time decision-making will be bolstered by easy access to information flows. VR-enabled simulation will immerse people in alternative scenarios, increasing empathy for others and preparation for future situations. It will empower the internet of experience by blending physical and virtual worlds.


Already, the number of digital platforms that are being used to orchestrate either physical or human resources has surpassed 1,800.9 They are not only connecting people in need of a ride with drivers, or vacationers with a place to stay, but job searchers with work, and vulnerable populations with critical services. The popularity of the services they offer is introducing society to the capabilities of coordinating technologies and resetting expectations about the ownership of fixed assets.


Human-machine partnerships won’t spell the end of human jobs, but work will be vastly different.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that today’s learners will have 8 to 10 jobs by the time they are 38. Many of them will join the workforce of freelancers. Already 50 million strong, freelancers are projected to make up 50% of the workforce in the United States by 2020.12 Most freelancers will not be able to rely on traditional HR departments, onboarding processes, and many of the other affordances of institutional work.


By 2030, in-the-moment learning will become the modus operandi, and the ability to gain new knowledge will be valued higher than the knowledge people already have.



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




From DSC:
From an early age, we need to help our students learn how to learn. What tips, advice, and/or questions can we help our students get into the habit of asking themselves? Along these lines, the article below,”How Metacognition Boosts Learning,” provides some excellent questions. 

Speaking of questions…I’ll add some more, but of a different sort:

  • How can all educators do a better job of helping their students learn how to learn?
  • How can Instructional Designers and Instructional Technologists help out here? Librarians? Provosts? Deans? Department Chairs? Teachers? Trainers (in the corporate L&D space)?
  • How might technologies come into play here in terms of building more effective web-based learner profiles that can be fed into various platforms and/or into teachers’ game plans?

I appreciate Bill Knapp and his perspectives very much (see here and here; Bill is GRCC’s Executive Director of Distance Learning & Instructional Technologies). The last we got together, we wondered out loud:

  • Why don’t teachers, professors, school systems, administrations within in K-20 address this need/topic more directly…? (i.e., how can we best help our students learn how to learn?)
  • Should we provide a list of potentially helpful techniques, questions, tools, courses, modules, streams of content, or other resources on how to learn?
  • Should we be weaving these sorts of things into our pedagogies?
  • Are there tools — such as smartphone related apps — that can be of great service here? For example, are there apps for sending out reminders and/or motivational messages?

As Bill asserted, we need to help our students build self-efficacy and a mindset of how to learn. Then learners can pivot into new areas with much more confidence. I agree. In an era that continues to emphasize freelancing and entrepreneurship — plus dealing with a rapidly-changing workforce — people now need to be able to learn quickly and effectively. They need to have the self confidence to be able to pivot. So how can we best prepare our students for their futures?

Also, on a relevant but slightly different note (and I suppose is of the flavor of a Universal Design for Learning approach)…I think that “tests” given to special needs children — for example that might have to do with executive functioning, and/or identifying issues, and/or providing feedback as to how a particular learner might best absorb information — would be helpful for ALL students to take. If I realize that the way my brain learns best is to have aural and visual materials presented on any given topic, that is very useful information for me to realize — and the sooner the better!


How Metacognition Boosts Learning — from edutopia.org by Youki Terada
Students often lack the metacognitive skills they need to succeed, but they can develop these skills by addressing some simple questions.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Strategies that target students’ metacognition—the ability to think about thinking—can close a gap that some students experience between how prepared they feel for a test and how prepared they actually are. In a new study, students in an introductory college statistics class who took a short online survey before each exam asking them to think about how they would prepare for it earned higher grades in the course than their peers—a third of a letter grade higher, on average. This low-cost intervention helped students gain insight into their study strategies, boosting their metacognitive skills and giving them tools to be more independent learners.

More recently, a team of psychologists and neuroscientists published a comprehensive analysis of 10 learning techniques commonly used by students. They discovered that one of the most popular techniques—rereading material and highlighting key points—is also one of the least effective because it leads students to develop a false sense of mastery. They review a passage and move on without realizing that they haven’t thoroughly understood and absorbed the material.

Metacognition helps students recognize the gap between being familiar with a topic and understanding it deeply. But weaker students often don’t have this metacognitive recognition—which leads to disappointment and can discourage them from trying harder the next time.

To promote students’ metacognition, middle and high school teachers can implement the following strategies. Elementary teachers can model or modify these strategies with their students to provide more scaffolding.

During class, students should ask themselves:

  • What are the main ideas of today’s lesson?
  • Was anything confusing or difficult?
  • If something isn’t making sense, what question should I ask the teacher?
  • Am I taking proper notes?
  • What can I do if I get stuck on a problem?

Before a test, students should ask themselves:

  • What will be on the test?
  • What areas do I struggle with or feel confused about?
  • How much time should I set aside to prepare for an upcoming test?
  • Do I have the necessary materials (books, school supplies, a computer and online access, etc.) and a quiet place to study, with no distractions?
  • What strategies will I use to study? Is it enough to simply read and review the material, or will I take practice tests, study with a friend, or write note cards?
  • What grade would I get if I were to take the test right now?

After a test, students should ask themselves:

  • What questions did I get wrong, and why did I get them wrong?
  • Were there any surprises during the test?
  • Was I well-prepared for the test?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • Am I receiving useful, specific feedback from my teacher to help me progress?


From DSC:
Below are a few resources more about metacognition and learning how to learn:




  • Students should be taught how to study. — from Daniel Willingham
    Rereading is a terribly ineffective strategy. The best strategy–by far–is to self-test–which is the 9th most popular strategy out of 11 in this study. Self-testing leads to better memory even compared to concept mapping (Karpicke & Blunt, 2011).




  • The Lesson You Never Got Taught in School: How to Learn! — from bigthink.com
    Have you ever wondered whether it is best to do your studying in large chunks or divide your studying over a period of time? Research has found that the optimal level of distribution of sessions for learning is 10-20% of the length of time that something needs to be remembered. So if you want to remember something for a year you should study at least every month, if you want to remember something for five years you should space your learning every six to twelve months. If you want to remember something for a week you should space your learning 12-24 hours apart. It does seem however that the distributed-practice effect may work best when processing information deeply – so for best results you might want to try a distributed practice and self-testing combo.There is however a major catch – do you ever find that the amount of studying you do massively increases before an exam? Most students fall in to the “procrastination scallop” – we are all guilty at one point of cramming all the knowledge in right before an exam, but the evidence is pretty conclusive that this is the worst way to study, certainly when it comes to remembering for the long term. What is unclear is whether cramming is so popular because students don’t understand the benefits of distributed practice or whether testing practices are to blame – probably a combination of both. One thing is for sure, if you take it upon yourself to space your learning over time you are pretty much guaranteed to see improvements.



Addendum on 1/22/18:

Using Metacognition to Promote Learning
IDEA Paper #63 | December 2016
By Barbara J. Millis


Some Definitions of Metacognition
Metacognition, simplistically defined, can be described as “cognition about cognition” or “thinking about thinking” (Flavell, Miller & Miller, 2002, p. 175; Shamir, Metvarech, & Gida, 2009, p. 47; Veeman, Van Hout-Wolters, & Afflerbach, 2006, p. 5). However, because metacognition is multifaceted and multi-layered (Dunlosky & Metcalf, 2009, p. 1; Flavell, 1976; Hall, Danielewicz, & Ware , 2013, p. 149; Lovett, 2013, p. 20), more complex definitions are called for. Basically, metacognition must be viewed as an ongoing process that involves reflection and action. Metacognitive thinkers change both their understandings and their strategies. The clearest definitions of metacognition emphasize its nature as a process or cycle.

Several authors (Nilson, 2013, p. 9; Schraw, 2001; & Zimmerman, 1998; 2000; 2002) narrow this process down to three ongoing stages. The first stage, pre-planning, emphasizes the need for reflection on both one’s own thinking and the task at hand, including reflection on past strategies that might have succeeded or failed. Following this self-reflection, during planning, metacognitive thinkers develop and implement—put into action—a plan. In the third and final stage—post-planning adjustments/revisions—subsequent analysis following implementation leads to modifications, revised decisions, and new future plans. In an excellent summary, Wirth states that “metacognition requires students both to understand how they are learning and to develop the ability to make plans, to monitor progress and to make adjustments” (as cited in Jaschik, 2011, p. 2).


Conclusion: As we have seen, metacognition is a complex but valuable skill that can nurture students’ learning and their self-awareness of the learning process. It is best conceived as a three-step process that can occur through deliberately designed activities. Such activities can take place before, during, and after face-to-face lessons or through online learning. They can also be built around both multiple choice and essay examinations. Immersing students in these metacognitive activities—assuming there are opportunities for practice and feedback—can result in students who are reflective learners.





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