From DSC:
Some of the largest waves of change that are hitting the beaches of numerous societies throughout the globe are coming from technological changes such as:

  • Artificial intelligence (which includes things like machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, personal assistants, bots, algorithms, and the like)
  • Big data and analytics
  • Robotics
  • The digital transformation of businesses
  • New forms of human computer interaction such as virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality
  • Mobile computing
  • Cloud computing
  • The Internet of Things
  • Wearables
  • …and more

But in all of these developments, what is common amongst them is that the pace of change has changed. It’s much faster now. In fact, we are no longer on a linear path of slow, steady, incremental changes. We are now on an exponential trajectory – or pace – of change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This new pace of change is starting to have profound implications for societies, individuals, institutions of higher education, and workforces throughout the globe. Some of these ramifications include:

  • Profound modifications to the existing workforce; in some cases, staff reductions
  • New fields, new positions
  • New skillsets that require highly-educated individuals as well as a massive amount of additional training for existing employees
  • New methods of learning and the requirement for lifelong, constant learning from here on out
  • The need to become more responsive and nimble
  • The need to pulse-check a variety of landscapes to ascertain the best potential strategies to pursue (in light of the potential upcoming scenarios)

Yet the changes aren’t just arising from technological changes. For institutions of higher education, there have been other areas of change that bring with them significant impact, such as:

  • Decreases in state funding
  • The increasing costs of healthcare and benefits for faculty, staff, and administrators
  • Headwinds from demographic-related declines (depending upon one’s geographic location)
  • Aging facilities and infrastructures
  • …and more.

Navigating these rough waters is not easy. But the key questions now are:

  • Is your institution poised to ride the waves of change or is it about to get crushed by these same waves?

 

  • Is someone at your organization looking out for these oncoming waves?
    That is, is someone pulse-checking a variety of landscapes to ascertain the trends that are developing, trends that could significantly impact your institution and/or your students?

 

  • What are some of the ways that your organization could respond to these waves of change to positively impact the following parties?
    • Your organization
      What new programs could be offered at your institution? How is the level of responsiveness at your institution to these changes?
    • Your students
      Many jobs that your students will have in their futures haven’t even been invented yet. How can you best develop them to be ready for the new, exponential pace of change? How are you helping your graduates who (increasingly) need to come back to your institution and reinvent themselves – quickly, conveniently, and cost-effectively?
    • Your employees
      Given all of this change, the professional growth of your own faculty members, staff, and members of your administration is extremely important. How are you looking after their growth?

 

  • Would you use the word “innovative” to describe the culture of your organization? That is, is your institution willing to experiment and take some calculated risks? To take no action or risks in the current environment is likely the biggest risk of all.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
In Part I, I looked at the new, exponential pace of change that colleges, community colleges and universities now need to deal with – observing the enormous changes that are starting to occur throughout numerous societies around the globe. If we were to plot out the rate of change, we would see that we are no longer on a slow, steady, incremental type of linear pathway; but, instead, we would observe that we are now on an exponential trajectory (as the below graphic from sparks & honey very nicely illustrates).

 

 

How should colleges and universities deal with this new, exponential pace of change?

1) I suggest that you ensure that someone in your institution is lifting their gaze and peering out into the horizons, to see what’s coming down the pike. That person – or more ideally, persons – should also be looking around them, noticing what’s going on within the current landscapes of higher education. Regardless of how your institution tackles this task, given that we are currently moving at an incredibly fast pace, this trend analysis is very important. The results from this analysis should immediately be integrated into your strategic plan. Don’t wait 3-5 years to integrate these new findings into your plan. The new, exponential pace of change is going to reward those organizations who are nimble and responsive.

2) I recommend that you look at what programs you are offering and consider if you should be developing additional programs such as those that deal with:

  • Artificial Intelligence (Natural Language Processing, deep learning, machine learning, bots)
  • New forms of Human Computer Interaction such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality
  • User Experience Design, User Interface Design, and/or Interaction Design
  • Big data, data science, working with data
  • The Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications, sensors, beacons, etc.
  • Blockchain-based technologies/systems
  • The digital transformation of business
  • Freelancing / owning your own business / entrepreneurship (see this article for the massive changes happening now!)
  • …and more

3) If you are not already doing so, I recommend that you immediately move to offer a robust lineup of online-based programs. Why do I say this? Because:

  • Without them, your institution may pay a heavy price due to its diminishing credibility. Your enrollments could decline if learners (and their families) don’t think they will get solid jobs coming out of your institution. If the public perceives you as a dinosaur/out of touch with what the workplace requires, your enrollment/admissions groups may find meeting their quotas will get a lot harder as the years go on. You need to be sending some cars down the online/digital/virtual learning tracks. (Don’t get me wrong. We still need the liberal arts. However, even those institutions who offer liberal arts lineups will still need to have a healthy offering of online-based programs.)
  • Online-based learning methods can expand the reach of your faculty members while offering chances for individuals throughout the globe to learn from you, and you from them
  • Online-based learning programs can increase your enrollments, create new revenue streams, and develop/reach new markets
  • Online-based learning programs have been proven to offer the same learning gains – and sometimes better learning results than – what’s being achieved in face-to-face based classrooms
  • The majority of pedagogically-related innovations are occurring within the online/digital/virtual realm, and you will want to have built the prior experience, expertise, and foundations in order to leverage and benefit from them
  • Faculty take their learning/experiences from offering online-based courses back into their face-to-face courses
  • Due to the increasing price of obtaining a degree, students often need to work to help get them (at least part of the way) through school; thus, flexibility is becoming increasingly important and necessary for students
  • An increasing number of individuals within the K-12 world as well as the corporate world are learning via online-based means. This is true within higher education as well, as, according to a recent report from Digital Learning Compass states that “the number of higher education students taking at least one distance education course in 2015 now tops six million, about 30% of all enrollments.”
  • Families are looking very closely at their return on investments being made within the world of higher education. They want to see that their learners are being prepared for the ever-changing future that they will encounter. If people in the workforce often learn online, then current students should be getting practice in that area of their learning ecosystems as well.
  • As the (mostly) online-based Amazon.com is thriving and retail institutions such as Sears continue to close, people are in the process of forming more generalized expectations that could easily cross over into the realm of higher education. By the way, here’s how our local Sears building is looking these days…or what’s left of it.

 

 

 

4) I recommend that you move towards offering more opportunities for lifelong learning, as learners need to constantly add to their skillsets and knowledge base in order to remain marketable in today’s workforce. This is where adults greatly appreciate – and need – the greater flexibility offered by online-based means of learning. I’m not just talking about graduate programs or continuing studies types of programs here. Rather, I’m hoping that we can move towards providing streams of up-to-date content that learners can subscribe to at any time (and can drop their subscription to at any time). As a relevant side note here, keep your eyes on blockchain-based technologies here.

5) Consider the role of consortia and pooling resources. How might that fit into your strategic plan?

6) Consider why bootcamps continue to come onto the landscape.  What are traditional institutions of higher education missing here?

7) And lastly, if one doesn’t already exist, form a small, nimble, innovative group within your organization — what I call a TrimTab Group — to help identify what will and won’t work for your institution.

 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Before we get to the announcements in more detail….
can you imagine being a teacher, a professor, or a trainer — with all of the required applications
launched — if you were the presenter in this video at say the 12:45 mark?

If you are at all interesting in emerging technologies and what several pieces
of our future learning ecosystems — and meeting spaces — could easily look like,
you NEED to watch the entire presentation.


Also, they announced

Microsoft’s purchase of AltspaceVR…in virtual reality!
This clip shows them meeting in a virtual space.

 

 



 

The era of Windows Mixed Reality begins October 17 — from blogs.windows.com by Alex Kipman
Samsung unveils Windows Mixed Reality headset, AltSpaceVR joins Microsoft, SteamVR catalog coming to Windows Mixed Reality this holiday.

 

 

At an event in San Francisco we unveiled our vision for Windows Mixed Reality, announced SteamVR and AltSpaceVR are coming to Windows Mixed Reality, introduced the new Samsung Odyssey HMD, and kicked off the holiday shopping season by announcing the availability of pre-orders for Windows Mixed Reality headsets at the Microsoft Store.

 

Also see:

 



 

Inside VR & AR

Oct 4th, 2017

 

Microsoft held its long-awaited launch of Windows 10 Mixed Reality yesterday, and while most of the new devices and products had been leaked earlier, there were still some big takeaways. Here are some of them:

  • Mixed Reality: Microsoft gave a demo of what its new platform will do, covering the AR/VR spectrum with games, apps, and experiences. One such experience is Cliff House, a virtual work space and entertainment room.
  • Altspace VR: When the pioneering social VR app shut down this summer and was rescued by a “third party,” people wondered who that was. Turns out it was Microsoft, which acquired Altspace VR for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition was announced yesterday.
  • Steam VR and Halo: Microsoft had previously announced that its new Mixed Reality headsets would support Steam VR titles. Developers can now access that support, and consumers will be able to access it later this year. In addition to the hundreds of VR titles available on Steam, on Oct. 17, Microsoft will offer free downloads of Halo Recruit.
  • Odyssey and other headsets: The new Windows 10 platform is launching alongside a host of new headsets. In addition to the new Odyssey, which was made in partnership with Samsung, there are other headsets forthcoming from Acer, HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Asus.
  • 2018 Olympics: This was announced previously in June, but yesterday Microsoft briefed the press that Intel is partnering with the International Olympic Committee to bring Windows Mixed Reality experiences to the 2018 games.

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Getting employees to make time for L&D needs to be based upon “what’s in it for them” — i.e., the main role of the L&D Team/Department should be to create the platforms and means by which employees can learn whatever they need to learn in order to do their jobs well (as well as to learn the skills necessary to move into those new areas that they’ve been wanting to move into). They’re going to find ways to do this anyway, why not give them the tools/knowledge of the tools and the platforms in order to better facilitate that learning to happen at a quicker pace?

An L&D Team could provide content curation services themselves and/or they could connect the employees with knowledgeable people. For example, give employees the key people to connect with who are doing their jobs really well.

For example, the L&D Team could maintain and provide a list of the top 10*:

  • Internal Sales employees to connect with and learn from, as well as the top 10 external Sales people to connect with and learn from (these people may or may not be in the same industry).
  • Internal Customer Service employees to connect with and learn from, as well as the top 10 external Customer Service people to connect with and learn from (these people may or may not be in the same industry).
  • Internal Marketing employees to connect with and learn from, as well as the top 10 external Marketing people to connect with and learn from (these people may or may not be in the same industry).
  • Etc.

 

* Or top 5, or top 50, or top whatever # that the L&D Team
thinks
would be most beneficial to the organization

 

I think each employee in the workforce needs to know about the power of RSS feeds and feed aggregators such as Feedly. In fact, I advocate that same approach for most every student in middle school, high school, and college as well. We need to be able to connect with others and tap into streams of content being produced — as well as contribute to those streams of content as well. Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, CMSs/LMSs, etc. can provide beneficial streams of content.

 

“And learners are evolving at a quicker pace than the learning programs that support them.”

 

Also, based upon the above image, I find it interesting that the corporate L&D teams are struggling with what higher education has been struggling with as well — i.e., predicting which skills will be needed and responding as quickly as possible in order to develop the necessary learning modules/RSS feeds/content/etc. to remain up-to-date. Actually, I suspect that it’s not that the learners are evolving at a quicker pace than the learning programs that support them, rather its the required skills and needs of the positions that are evolving at a quicker pace than the learning programs that support them.

Our institutions and our L&D Departments are simply not used to this pace of change. No one is.

We need better mechanisms of dealing with this new pace of change.

One last random thought here…perhaps a portion of the L&D department will morph into creating bots for internal employees, helping answer questions at the point of need.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Google’s jobs AI service hits private beta, now works in 100 languages — from venturebeat.com by Blair Hanley Frank

Excerpt:

Google today announced the beta release of its Cloud Job Discovery service, which uses artificial intelligence to help customers connect job vacancies with the people who can fill them.

Formerly known as the Cloud Jobs API, the system is designed to take information about open positions and help job seekers take better advantage of it. For example, Cloud Job Discovery can take a plain language query and help translate that to the specific jargon employers use to describe their positions, something that can be hard for potential employees to navigate.

As part of this beta release, Google announced that Cloud Job Discovery is now designed to work with applicant-tracking systems and staffing agencies, in addition to job boards and career site providers like CareerBuilder.

It also now works in 100 languages. While the service is still primarily aimed at customers in the U.S., some of Google’s existing clients need support for multiple languages. In the future, the company plans to expand the Cloud Job Discovery service internationally, so investing in language support now makes sense going forward.

 



From DSC:
Now tie this type of job discovery feature into a next generation learning platform, helping people identify which skills they need to get jobs in their local area(s). Provide a list of courses/modules/RSS feeds to get them started. Allow folks to subscribe to constant streams of content and unsubscribe to them at any time as well.

 

 

We MUST move to lifelong, constant learning via means that are highly accessible, available 24×7, and extremely cost effective. Blockchain-based technologies will feed web-based learner profiles, which each of us will determine who can write to our learning profile and who can review it as well.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 



Addendum on 9/29/17:



  • Facebook partners with ZipRecruiter and more aggregators as it ramps up in jobs — from techcrunch.com by Ingrid Lunden
    Excerpt:
    Facebook has made no secret of its wish to do more in the online recruitment market — encroaching on territory today dominated by LinkedIn, the leader in tapping social networking graphs to boost job-hunting. Today, Facebook is taking the next step in that process.
    Facebook will now integrate with ZipRecruiter — an aggregator that allows those looking to fill jobs to post ads to many traditional job boards, as well as sites like LinkedIn, Google and Twitter — to boost the number of job ads available on its platform targeting its 2 billion monthly active users.
    The move follows Facebook launching its first job ads earlier this year, and later appearing to be interested in augmenting that with more career-focused features, such as a platform to connect people looking for mentors with those looking to offer mentorship.

 

 

 

Six reasons why disruption is coming to learning departments — from feathercap.net, with thanks to Mr. Tim Seager for this resource

Excerpts:

  1. Training materials and interactions will not just be pre-built courses but any structured or unstructured content available to the organization.
  2. Curation of all learning, employee or any useful organizational content will become a whole lot easier.
  3. The learning department won’t have to build it all themselves.
  4. Learning bots and voice enabled learning.
  5. Current workplace learning systems and LMSs will go through a big transition or they will lose relevancy.
  6. Learning departments will go beyond onboarding, compliance training and leadership training and move to training everyone in the company on all job skills.

 

A successful example of this is Amazon.com. As a shopper on their site we have access to millions of  book and product SKUs. Amazon uses a combination of all three techniques to position the right book or product based on our behavior, peer experiences as well as having a semantic understanding of the product page we’re viewing. There’s no reason we can’t have the same experience on workplace learning systems where all viable learning content/ company content could be organized and disseminated to each learner for the right time and circumstance.

 

 



From DSC:
Several items of what Feathercap is saying in their solid posting remind me of a vision of a next generation learning platform:

  • Contributing to — and tapping into — streams of content
  • Lifelong learning and reinventing oneself
  • Artificial intelligence, including Natural Language Processing (NLP) and the use of voice to drive systems/functionality
  • Learning agents/bots
  • 24×7 access
  • Structured and unstructured learning
  • Socially-based means of learning
  • …and more

 

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

 



 

 

Future Forward: The Next Twenty Years of Higher Education — from Blackboard with a variety of contributors

Excerpts:

As you read their reflections you’ll find several themes emerge over and over:

  • Our current system is unsustainable and ill-suited for a globally connected world that is constantly changing.
  • Colleges and universities will have to change their current business model to continue to thrive, boost revenue and drive enrollment.
  • The “sage on the stage” and the “doc in the box” aren’t sustainable; new technologies will allow faculty to shift their focus on the application of learning rather than the acquisition of knowledge.
  • Data and the ability to transform that data into action will be the new lifeblood of the institution.
  • Finally, the heart and soul of any institution are its people. Adopting new technologies is only a small piece of the puzzle; institutions must also work with faculty and staff to change institutional culture.

Some quotes are listed below.

 

“What’s more, next-generation digital learning environments must bridge the divide between the faculty-directed instructivist model our colleges and universities have always favored and the learner-centric constructivist paradigm their students have come to expect and the economy now demands.”

It will be at least 10 years before systems such as this become the standard rather than the exception. Yet to achieve this timeline, we will have to begin fostering a very different campus culture that embraces technology for its experiential value rather than its transactional expediency, while viewing education as a lifelong pursuit rather than a degree-driven activity.

Susan Aldridge

 

 

 

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing higher education right now?

A: I think it is a difficult time for decisionmakers to know how to move boldly forward. It’s almost funny, nobody’s doing five-year strategic plans anymore. We used to do ten-year plans, but now it’s “What’s our guiding set of principles and then let’s sort of generally go towards that.” I think it’s really hard to move an entire institution, to know how to keep it sustainable and serving your core student population. Trying to figure out how to keep moving forward is not as simple as it used to be when you hired faculty and they showed up in the classroom. It’s time for a whole new leadership model. I’m not sure what that is, but we have to start reimagining our organizations and our institutions and even our leadership.

Marie Cini

 

 

 

One of the things that is frustrating to me is the argument that online learning is just another modality. Online learning is much more than that. It’s arguably the most transformative development since the G.I. Bill and, before that, the establishment of land-grant universities. 

I don’t think we should underestimate the profound impact online education has had and will continue to have on higher education. It’s not just another modality; it’s an entirely new industry.

Robert Hansen

 

 

From DSC:
And I would add (to Robert’s quote above) that not since the printing press was invented close to 500 years ago have we seen such an enormously powerful invention as the Internet. To bypass the Internet and the online-based learning opportunities that it can deliver is to move into a risky, potentially dangerous future. If your institution is doing that, your institution’s days could be numbered. As we move into the future — where numerous societies throughout the globe will be full of artificial intelligence, big data, robotics, algorithms, business’ digital transformations, and more — your institutions’ credibility could easily be at stake in a new, increasingly impactful way. Parents and students will want to know that there’s a solid ROI for them. They will want to know that a particular college or university has the foundational/core competencies and skills to prepare the learner for the future that the learner will encounter.

 

 

 

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing higher education right now?

A: I think the biggest challenge is the stubborn refusal of institutions to acknowledge that the 20th century university paradigm no longer works, or at least it doesn’t work anymore for the majority of our institutions. I’m not speaking on behalf of our members, but I think it’s fair to say that institutions are still almost entirely faculty-centered and not market-driven. Faculty, like so many university leaders today who come from faculty ranks, are so often ill-equipped to compete in the Wild West that we’re seeing today, and it’s not their fault. They’re trained to be biologists and historians and philosophers and musicians and English professors, and in the past there was very little need to be entrepreneurial. What’s required of university leadership now looks very much like what’s required in the fastpaced world of private industry.

If you are tuition dependent and you haven’t figured out how to serve the adult market yet, you’re in trouble.

Robert Hansen

 

 

 

It’s not just enough to put something online for autodidacts who already have the time, energy, and prior skills to be able to learn on their own. You really need to figure out how to embed all the supports that a student will need to be successful, and I don’t know if we’ve cracked that yet.

Amy Laitinen

 

 

 

The other company is Amazon. Their recent purchase of Whole Foods really surprised everybody. Now you have a massive digital retailer that has made billions staying in the online world going backwards into brick-and-mortar. I think if you look at what you can do on Amazon now, who’s to say in three years or five years, you won’t say, “You know what, I want to take this class. I want to purchase it through Amazon,” and it’s done through Amazon with their own LMS? Who’s to say they’re not already working on it?

Justin Louder

 

 

 

 

We are focused on four at Laureate. Probably in an increasing order of excitement to me are game-based learning (or gamification), adaptive learning, augmented and virtual reality, and cognitive tutoring.

Darrell Luzzo

 

 

 

 

I would wave my hand and have people lose their fear of change and recognize that you can innovate and do new things and still stay true to the core mission and values. My hope is that we harness our collective energy to help our students succeed and become fully engaged citizens.

Felice Nudelman

 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
I appreciated hearing the perspectives from Bruce Dixon and Will Richardson this morning, as I listed to a webinar that they recently offered. A few key takeaways for me from that webinar — and with a document that they shared — were:

  • The world has fundamentally changed. (Bruce and Will also mentioned the new pace of change; i.e., that it’s much faster.)
  • We need to have more urgency about the need to reimagine school, not to try to improve the existing model.
  • “Because of the advent of the Web and the technologies we use to access it, learning is, in a phrase, leaving the (school) building.”
  • There is a newfound capacity to take full control of one’s own learning; self-determined learning should be at the center of students’ and teachers’ work; co-constructed curriculum
  • And today, at a moment when learners of all ages have never had more agency over their own learning, schools must unlearn centuries old mindsets and practices and relearn them in ways that truly will serve every child living in the modern, connected world.
  • Will and Bruce believe that every educator — and district for that matter — should articulate their own “principles of learning”
  • Beliefs about how kids learn (powerfully and deeply) need to be articulated and consistently communicated and lived out
  • Everything we do as educators, administrators, etc. tells a story. What stories are we telling? (For example, what does the signage around your school building say? Is it about compliance? Is is about a love of learning? Wonder? What does the 20′ jumbo tron say about priorities? Etc.)
  • Bruce and Will covered a “story audit” and how to do one

 

“Learning is, in a phrase, leaving the (school) building.”

Richardson & Dixon

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

These educators have decades worth of experience. They are pulse-checking their environments. They want to see students thrive both now and into the future. For these reasons, at least for me, their perspectives are highly worth reflecting upon.

 

 

 

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:

 


 

 

 

A leading Silicon Valley engineer explains why every tech worker needs a humanities education — from qz.com by Tracy Chou

Excerpts:

I was no longer operating in a world circumscribed by lesson plans, problem sets and programming assignments, and intended course outcomes. I also wasn’t coding to specs, because there were no specs. As my teammates and I were building the product, we were also simultaneously defining what it should be, whom it would serve, what behaviors we wanted to incentivize amongst our users, what kind of community it would become, and what kind of value we hoped to create in the world.

I still loved immersing myself in code and falling into a state of flow—those hours-long intensive coding sessions where I could put everything else aside and focus solely on the engineering tasks at hand. But I also came to realize that such disengagement from reality and societal context could only be temporary.

At Quora, and later at Pinterest, I also worked on the algorithms powering their respective homefeeds: the streams of content presented to users upon initial login, the default views we pushed to users. It seems simple enough to want to show users “good” content when they open up an app. But what makes for good content? Is the goal to help users to discover new ideas and expand their intellectual and creative horizons? To show them exactly the sort of content that they know they already like? Or, most easily measurable, to show them the content they’re most likely to click on and share, and that will make them spend the most time on the service?

 

Ruefully—and with some embarrassment at my younger self’s condescending attitude toward the humanities—I now wish that I had strived for a proper liberal arts education. That I’d learned how to think critically about the world we live in and how to engage with it. That I’d absorbed lessons about how to identify and interrogate privilege, power structures, structural inequality, and injustice. That I’d had opportunities to debate my peers and develop informed opinions on philosophy and morality. And even more than all of that, I wish I’d even realized that these were worthwhile thoughts to fill my mind with—that all of my engineering work would be contextualized by such subjects.

It worries me that so many of the builders of technology today are people like me; people haven’t spent anywhere near enough time thinking about these larger questions of what it is that we are building, and what the implications are for the world.

 

 


Also see:


 

Why We Need the Liberal Arts in Technology’s Age of Distraction — from time.com by Tim Bajarin

Excerpt:

In a recent Harvard Business Review piece titled “Liberal Arts in the Data Age,” author JM Olejarz writes about the importance of reconnecting a lateral, liberal arts mindset with the sort of rote engineering approach that can lead to myopic creativity. Today’s engineers have been so focused on creating new technologies that their short term goals risk obscuring unintended longterm outcomes. While a few companies, say Intel, are forward-thinking enough to include ethics professionals on staff, they remain exceptions. At this point all tech companies serious about ethical grounding need to be hiring folks with backgrounds in areas like anthropology, psychology and philosophy.

 

 

 

 
© 2017 | Daniel Christian