Is Thomas Frey right? “…by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet.”

From a fairly recent e-newsletter from edsurge.com — though I don’t recall the exact date (emphasis DSC):

New England is home to some of the most famous universities in the world. But the region has also become ground zero for the demographic shifts that promise to disrupt higher education.

This week saw two developments that fit the narrative. On Monday, Southern Vermont College announced that it would shut its doors, becoming the latest small rural private college to do so. Later that same day, the University of Massachusetts said it would start a new online college aimed at a national audience, noting that it expects campus enrollments to erode as the number of traditional college-age students declines in the coming years.

“Make no mistake—this is an existential threat to entire sectors of higher education,” said UMass president Marty Meehan in announcing the online effort.

The approach seems to parallel the U.S. retail sector, where, as a New York Times piece outlines this week, stores like Target and WalMart have thrived by building online strategies aimed at competing with Amazon, while stores like Gap and Payless, which did little to move online, are closing stores. Of course, college is not like any other product or service, and plenty of campuses are touting the richness of the experience that students get by actually coming to a campus. And it’s not clear how many colleges can grow online to a scale that makes their investments pay off.

 

“It’s predicted that over the next several years, four to five major national players with strong regional footholds will be established. We intend to be one of them.”

University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan

 

 

From DSC:
That last quote from UMass President Marty Meehan made me reflect upon the idea of having one or more enormous entities that will provide “higher education” in the future. I wonder if things will turn out to be that we’ll have more lifelong learning providers and platforms in the future — with the idea of a 60-year curriculum being an interesting idea that may come into fruition.

Long have I predicted that such an enormous entity would come to pass. Back in 2008, I named it the Forthcoming Walmart of Education. But then as the years went by, I got bumbed out on some things that Walmart was doing, and re-branded it the Forthcoming Amazon.com of Higher Education. We’ll see how long that updated title lasts — but you get the point. In fact, the point aligns very nicely with what futurist Thomas Frey has been predicting for years as well:

“I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank, tells Business Insider. (source)

I realize that education doesn’t always scale well…but I’m thinking that how people learn in the future may be different than how we did things in the past…communities of practice comes to mind…as does new forms of credentialing…as does cloud-based learner profiles…as does the need for highly efficient, cost-effective, and constant opportunities/means to reinvent oneself.

Also see:

 

 

Addendum:

74% of consumers go to Amazon when they’re ready to buy something. That should be keeping retailers up at night. — from cnbc.com

Key points (emphasis DSC)

  • Amazon remains a looming threat for some of the biggest retailers in the country — like Walmart, Target and Macy’s.
  • When consumers are ready to buy a specific product, nearly three-quarters of them, or 74 percent, are going straight to Amazon to do it, according to a new study by Feedvisor.
  • By the end of this year, Amazon is expected to account for 52.4 percent of the e-commerce market in the U.S., up from 48 percent in 2018.

 

“In New England, there will be between 32,000 and 54,000 fewer college-aged students just seven years from now,” Meehan said. “That means colleges and universities will have too much capacity and not enough demand at a time when the economic model in higher education is already straining under its own weight.” (Marty Meehan at WBUR)

 

 

4 key tech strategies for the survival of the small liberal arts college — from campustechnology.com by Kellie B. Campbell
In a recent study on the use of technology to reduce academic costs in liberal arts colleges, four distinct themes emerged: the strategic role of IT; the importance of data; the potential of alternative education delivery modes; and opportunities for institutional partnerships. Here’s how IT leaders at these small colleges understand the future of their institutions.

Excerpt:

In this study, the flexibility of the semi-constructed interview format resulted in a fascinating level of honesty and bluntness from participants. In particular, participants’ language changed when they were asked to take off their professional hat and consider a new point of view — it was a chance to be vulnerable and honest. What was probably most interesting was that almost everyone signaled that the status quo is not sustainable. Something in the higher education model has to change for institutions to stay open, yet many lack a strategy for effecting change. Even if they do have a strategy in place on the business side, many are hesitant to dive into analysis and change on the academic side of the institution.

Institutions simply cannot continue to nibble at the edges of change. Significant change is needed in order to sustain the financial model of higher education. The ideas for doing so are out there, though the work must be guided by the institutional mission and consider new models for delivering education. CIOs and their departments can play an important role in that work — providing infrastructure, data, access, services and ideas — but institutional leadership at large needs to understand IT’s strategic role and position the organization to make that impact.

When participants were able to think about the “what if” question — what if the institution were forced to drastically cut academic costs — several had detailed, “out there” ideas that might not be traditionally welcomed into higher education cultures. Yet a number of participants were not being asked by their institutions to think about such ideas. The question is, if everyone agrees that the status quo is not sustainable, why aren’t they thinking about it?

 

 

Five key trends for professional and continuing education leaders in the next five years — from evolllution.com by Ray Schroeder

Excerpts:

Higher education is on the cusp of major changes. Enrollments are on the decline—both online and on campus—and the trend is expected to accelerate.[1] Graduates are laboring under substantial college loan debts totaling more than $1.5 trillion.[2] Employers are demanding that applicants possess soft and hard skills that many college graduates do not hold.[3] At the same time new and emerging technologies are changing the way credentials are shared and work is done.

It is in this context that continuing, professional and online programs have been imported from the periphery to the center of traditional universities. Students and employers alike have made clear that their top priority is relevance to the rapidly changing workplace. Artificial intelligence, blockchain, augmented/virtual reality and other technologies are driving the changes. Professional and Continuing Education (PCE) has long been the leader in providing relevant courses, certificates and degrees that connect students with the needs of employers.

 

…the Online Master’s Science in Computer Science degree at Georgia Tech is now the largest computer science program in the world. And the degree costs less than $9,000.

 

Also see:

Interview with Hunt Lambert – What is the 60-year curriculum?
Colleges and universities used to be primarily responsible for a four-year learning experience. We now need to envision a 60-year curriculum, whereby educational institutions partner with learners at all stages of their professional career, providing skills and knowledge as needed.

 


 

 

 


 

 

For a next gen learning platform: A Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities / educationally-related “apps” [Christian]

From DSC:
In a next generation learning system, it would be sharp/beneficial to have a Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities that you could turn on and off (at will) — as one component of your learning ecosystem that could feature a setup located in your living room or office.

For example, put a Netflix-like interface to the apps out at eduappcenter.com (i.e., using a rolling interface at first, then going to a static page/listing of apps…again…similar to Netflix).

 

A Netflix-like interface to check out potential functionalities / educationally-related apps

 

 

 

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”

 

 

 

Cut the curriculum — from willrichardson.com by Will Richardson

Excerpt:

Here’s an idea: A Minimal Viable Curriculum (MVC). That’s what Christian Talbot over at Basecamp is proposing, and I have to say, I love the idea.

He writes: “What if we were to design MVCs: Minimum Viable Curricula centered on just enough content to empower learners to examine questions or pursue challenges with rigor? Then, as learners go deeper into a question or challenge, they update their MVC…which is pretty much how learning happens in the real world.”

The key there to me is that THEY update their MVC. That resonates so deeply; it feels like that’s what I’m doing with my learning each day as I read about and work with school leaders who are thinking deeply about change.

 

When we pursue questions that matter to us, rigor is baked in.

 

From DSC:
I love the idea of giving students — as they can handle it — more choice, more control. So anytime around 8th-12th grade, I say we turn much more control over to the students, and let them make more choices on what they want to learn about. We should at least try some experiments along these lines.

 

 

As everyone in the workforce is now required to be a lifelong learner, our quality of life goes much higher if we actually enjoy learning. As I think about it, I have often heard an adult (especially middle age and older) say something like, “I hated school, but now, I love to learn.”

Plus, I can easily imagine greater engagement with the materials that students choose for themselves, as well as increased attention spans and higher motivation levels.

Also, here’s a major shout out to Will Richardson, Bruce Dixon, Missy Emler and Lyn Hilt for the work they are doing at ModernLearners.com.

 

Check out the work over at Modern Learners dot com

 

 

Top six AI and automation trends for 2019 — from forbes.com by Daniel Newman

Excerpt:

If your company hasn’t yet created a plan for AI and automation throughout your enterprise, you have some work to do. Experts believe AI will add nearly $16 trillion to the global economy by 2030, and 20 % of companies surveyed are already planning to incorporate AI throughout their companies next year. As 2018 winds down, now is the time to take a look at some trends and predictions for AI and automation that I believe will dominate the headlines in 2019—and to think about how you may incorporate them into your own company.

 

Also see — and an insert here from DSC:

Kai-Fu has a rosier picture than I do in regards to how humanity will be impacted by AI. One simply needs to check out today’s news to see that humans have a very hard time creating unity, thinking about why businesses exist in the first place, and being kind to one another…

 

 

 

How AI can save our humanity 

 

 

 

The world is changing. Here’s how companies must adapt. — from weforum.org by Joe Kaeser, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens AG

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Although we have only seen the beginning, one thing is already clear: the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the greatest transformation human civilization has ever known. As far-reaching as the previous industrial revolutions were, they never set free such enormous transformative power.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming practically every human activity...its scope, speed and reach are unprecedented.

Enormous power (Insert from DSC: What I was trying to get at here) entails enormous risk. Yes, the stakes are high. 

 

“And make no mistake about it: we are now writing the code that will shape our collective future.” CEO of Siemens AG

 

 

Contrary to Milton Friedman’s maxim, the business of business should not just be business. Shareholder value alone should not be the yardstick. Instead, we should make stakeholder value, or better yet, social value, the benchmark for a company’s performance.

Today, stakeholders…rightfully expect companies to assume greater social responsibility, for example, by protecting the climate, fighting for social justice, aiding refugees, and training and educating workers. The business of business should be to create value for society.

This seamless integration of the virtual and the physical worlds in so-called cyber-physical systems – that is the giant leap we see today. It eclipses everything that has happened in industry so far. As in previous industrial revolutions but on a much larger scale, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will eliminate millions of jobs and create millions of new jobs.

 

“…because the Fourth Industrial Revolution runs on knowledge, we need a concurrent revolution in training and education.

If the workforce doesn’t keep up with advances in knowledge throughout their lives, how will the millions of new jobs be filled?” 

Joe Kaeser, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens AG

 

 


From DSC:
At least three critically important things jump out at me here:

  1. We are quickly approaching a time when people will need to be able to reinvent themselves quickly and cost-effectively, especially those with families and who are working in their (still existing) jobs. (Or have we already entered this period of time…?)
  2. There is a need to help people identify which jobs are safe to reinvent themselves to — at least for the next 5-10 years.
  3. Citizens across the globe — and their relevant legislatures, governments, and law schools — need to help close the gap between emerging technologies and whether those technologies should even be rolled out, and if so, how and with which features.

 


 

What freedoms and rights should individuals have in the digital age?

Joe Kaeser, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens AG

 

 

5 influencers predict AI’s impact on business in 2019 — from martechadvisor.com by Christine Crandell

Excerpt:

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) already proving its worth to adopters, it’s not surprising that an increasing number of companies will implement and leverage AI in 2019. Now, it’s no longer a question of whether AI will take off. Instead, it’s a question of which companies will keep up. Here are five predictions from five influencers on the impact AI will have on businesses in 2019, writes Christine Crandell, President, New Business Strategies.

 

 

Should we be worried about computerized facial recognition? — from newyorker.com by David Owen
The technology could revolutionize policing, medicine, even agriculture—but its applications can easily be weaponized.

 

Facial-recognition technology is advancing faster than the people who worry about it have been able to think of ways to manage it. Indeed, in any number of fields the gap between what scientists are up to and what nonscientists understand about it is almost certainly greater now than it has been at any time since the Manhattan Project. 

 

From DSC:
This is why law schools, legislatures, and the federal government need to become much more responsive to emerging technologies. The pace of technological change has changed. But have other important institutions of our society adapted to this new pace of change?

 

 

Andrew Ng sees an eternal springtime for AI — from zdnet.com by Tiernan Ray
Former Google Brain leader and Baidu chief scientist Andrew Ng lays out the steps companies should take to succeed with artificial intelligence, and explains why there’s unlikely to be another “AI winter” like in times past.

 

 

Google Lens now recognizes over 1 billion products — from venturebeat.com by Kyle Wiggers with thanks to Marie Conway for her tweet on this

Excerpt:

Google Lens, Google’s AI-powered analysis tool, can now recognize over 1 billion products from Google’s retail and price comparison portal, Google Shopping. That’s four times the number of objects Lens covered in October 2017, when it made its debut.

Aparna Chennapragada, vice president of Google Lens and augmented reality at Google, revealed the tidbit in a retrospective blog post about Google Lens’ milestones.

 

Amazon Customer Receives 1,700 Audio Files Of A Stranger Who Used Alexa — from npr.org by Sasha Ingber

Excerpt:

When an Amazon customer in Germany contacted the company to review his archived data, he wasn’t expecting to receive recordings of a stranger speaking in the privacy of a home.

The man requested to review his data in August under a European Union data protection law, according to a German trade magazine called c’t. Amazon sent him a download link to tracked searches on the website — and 1,700 audio recordings by Alexa that were generated by another person.

“I was very surprised about that because I don’t use Amazon Alexa, let alone have an Alexa-enabled device,” the customer, who was not named, told the magazine. “So I randomly listened to some of these audio files and could not recognize any of the voices.”

 

 

5 questions we should be asking about automation and jobs — from hbr.org by Jed Kolko

Excerpts:

  1. Will workers whose jobs are automated be able to transition to new jobs?*
  2. Who will bear the burden of automation?
  3. How will automation affect the supply of labor?
  4. How will automation affect wages, and how will wages affect automation?
  5. How will automation change job searching?

 

From DSC:
For those Economics profs and students out there, I’m posted this with you in mind; also highly applicable and relevant to MBA programs.

* I would add a few follow-up questions to question #1 above:

  • To which jobs should they transition to?
  • Who can help identify the jobs that might be safe for 5-10 years?
  • If you have a family to feed, how are you going to be able to reinvent yourself quickly and as efficiently/flexibly as possible? (Yes…constant, online-based learning comes to my mind as well, as campus-based education is great, but very time-consuming.)

 

Also see:

We Still Don’t Know Much About the Jobs the AI Economy Will Make — or Take — from medium.com by Rachel Metz with MIT Technology Review
Experts think companies need to invest in workers the way they do for other core aspects of their business they’re looking to future-proof

One big problem that could have lasting effects, she thinks, is a mismatch between the skills companies need in new employees and those that employees have or know that they can readily acquire. To fix this, she said, companies need to start investing in their workers the way they do their supply chains.

 

Per LinkedIn:

Putting robots to work is becoming more and more popularparticularly in Europe. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Slovakian workers face a 62% median probability that their job will be automated “in the near future.” Workers in Eastern Europe face the biggest likelihood of having their jobs overtaken by machines, with the textile, agriculture and manufacturing industries seen as the most vulnerable. • Here’s what people are saying.

 

Robot Ready: Human+ Skills for the Future of Work — from economicmodeling.com

Key Findings

In Robot-Ready, we examine several striking insights:

1. Human skills—like leadership, communication, and problem solving—are among the most in-demand skills in the labor market.

2. Human skills are applied differently across career fields. To be effective, liberal arts grads must adapt their skills to the job at hand.

3. Liberal art grads should add technical skills. There is considerable demand for workers who complement their human skills with basic technical skills like data analysis and digital fluency.

4. Human+ skills are at work in a variety of fields. Human skills help liberal arts grads thrive in many career areas, including marketing, public relations, technology, and sales.

 

 

 

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