A hugely powerful vision: A potent addition to our learning ecosystems of the future


Daniel Christian:
A Vision of Our Future Learning Ecosystems

In the near future, as the computer, the television, the telephone (and more) continues to converge, we will most likely enjoy even more powerful capabilities to conveniently create and share our content as well as participate in a global learning ecosystem — whether that be from within our homes and/or from within our schools, colleges, universities and businesses throughout the world.

We will be teachers and students at the same time — even within the same hour — with online-based learning exchanges taking place all over the virtual and physical world.  Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) — in the form of online-based tutors, instructors, teachers, and professors — will be available on demand. Even more powerful/accurate/helpful learning engines will be involved behind the scenes in delivering up personalized, customized learning — available 24x7x365.  Cloud-based learner profiles may enter the equation as well.

The chances for creativity,  innovation, and entrepreneurship that are coming will be mind-blowing! What employers will be looking for — and where they can look for it — may change as well.

What we know today as the “television” will most likely play a significant role in this learning ecosystem of the future. But it won’t be like the TV we’ve come to know. It will be much more interactive and will be aware of who is using it — and what that person is interested in learning about. Technologies/applications like Apple’s AirPlay will become more standard, allowing a person to move from device to device without missing a  beat. Transmedia storytellers will thrive in this environment!

Much of the professionally done content will be created by teams of specialists, including the publishers of educational content, and the in-house teams of specialists within colleges, universities, and corporations around the globe. Perhaps consortiums of colleges/universities will each contribute some of the content — more readily accepting previous coursework that was delivered via their consortium’s membership.

An additional thought regarding higher education and K-12 and their Smart Classrooms/Spaces:
For input devices…
The “chalkboards” of the future may be transparent, or they may be on top of a drawing board-sized table or they may be tablet-based. But whatever form they take and whatever is displayed upon them, the ability to annotate will be there; with the resulting graphics saved and instantly distributed. (Eventually, we may get to voice-controlled Smart Classrooms, but we have a ways to go in that area…)

Below are some of the graphics that capture a bit of what I’m seeing in my mind…and in our futures.

Alternatively available as a PowerPoint Presentation (audio forthcoming in a future version)














— from Daniel S. Christian | April 2011

See also:

Addendum on 4-14-11:


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What's the best way to deal with ever-changing streams of content? When information has shrinking half-lives?

From DSC:
After looking at some items concerning Connectivism*, I’ve been reflecting upon the following questions:

  • What’s the best way for us to dip our feet into the constantly moving streams of content?
    (No matter the topic or discipline, the streams continue to flow.)
  • What’s the optimal setup for K-12 based “courses”?
  • What’s the optimal setup for “courses” within higher education?
  • How should L&D departments deal with this phenomenon?
  • How do publishers and textbook authors want to address this situation?

Thinking of Gonzalez (2004; as cited in Siemens (2005)) description of the challenges of rapidly diminishing knowledge life:

“One of the most persuasive factors is the shrinking half-life of knowledge. The “half-life of knowledge” is the time span from when knowledge is gained to when it becomes obsolete. Half of what is known today was not known 10 years ago. The amount of knowledge in the world has doubled in the past 10 years and is doubling every 18 months according to the American Society of Training and Documentation (ASTD). To combat the shrinking half-life of knowledge, organizations have been forced to develop new methods of deploying instruction.”

Stephen Downes addresses this and points to a possible solution to this phenomenon in his presentation from 3/15/11 entitled “Educational Projection: Supporting Distributed Learning Online.”



I need to put more thought into this, but wanted to throw this question out there…more later…



* From DSC: Some of the items I looked at regarding Connectivism — some directly related, others indirectly-related — were:

Siemens, G.  (2005).  Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.  Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm.

Downes, S.  (2005).  An introduction to connective knowledge.  Retrieved from http://www.  downes.  ca/post/33034.  Downes noted that this was published in Hug, Theo (ed.  ) (2007): Media, knowledge & education – exploring new spaces, relations and dynamics in digital media ecologies.  Proceedings of the International Conference held on June 25-26, 2007.  November 27, 2007.

Kop, R.  & Hill, A.  (2008).  Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, v9 n3 p1-13 Oct 2008.

Tracey, R.  (2009). Instructivism, constructivism or connectivism? Training & Development in Australia, December, 2009. p08-09, 2p.  Retrieved from EBSCOhost. ISSN 0310-4664.

Kerr, B.  (2007).  A challenge to connectivism.  Retrieved at http://learningevolves.  wikispaces.  com/kerr.

Sims, R.  (2008).  Rethinking (e)learning: A manifesto for connected generations.  Distance Education Vol.  29, No.  2, August 2008, 153–164.  ISSN 0158-7919 print/ISSN 1475-0198 online.  DOI: 10.  1080/01587910802154954

Lisa Dawley.   (2009).  Social network knowledge construction: emerging virtual world pedagogy.  On the Horizon, 17(2), 109-121.   Retrieved from ProQuest Education Journals.  (Document ID: 1880656431).

Hargadon, S.  (2011).  Ugh.  Classic politics now extends to social networking in education.  Retrieved from http://www.  stevehargadon.  com/2011/03/ugh-classic-politics-now-extends-to.  html.

Cross, J.  (2001).  Crowd-inspired innovation.  Retrieved from http://www.internettime.com/2011/03/crowd-inspired-innovation.

Rogers-Estable, M..  (2009).  Web 2.0 and distance education: Tools and techniques.  Distance Learning, 6(4), 55-60.  Retrieved from ProQuest Education Journals.  (Document ID: 2017059921).

Marrotte-Newman, S..  (2009).  Why virtual schools exist and understanding their culture.  Distance Learning, 6(4), 31-35.  Retrieved from ProQuest Education Journals.  (Document ID: 2017059881).

Hilton, J., Graham, C., Rich, P., & Wiley, D. (2010). Using online technologies to extend a classroom to learners at a distance.  Distance Education, 31(1), 77-92.  Retrieved from ProQuest Education Journals.  (Document ID: 2074810921).

Attwell, G. (2010). Personal learning environments and Vygotsky. Retrieved from http://www.pontydysgu.org/2010/04/personal-learning-environments-and-vygotsky.

The Connected Life at Home — from Cisco

The connected life at home -- from Cisco



From DSC:

How will these types of technologies affect what we can do with K-12 education/higher education/workplace training and development? I’d say they will open up a world of new applications and opportunities for those who are ready to innovate; and these types of technologies will move the “Forthcoming Walmart of Education” along.

Above item from:

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How will technologies like AirPlay affect education? I suggest 24x7x365 access on any device may be one way. By Daniel S. Christian at Learning Ecosystems blog-- 1-17-11.


Addendum on 1-20-11:
The future of the TV is online
— from telegraph.co.uk
Your television’s going to get connected, says Matt Warman

Cutting the Pay TV Cord, Chapter 5: Unlimited Internet TVfrom Phil Leigh


In short, often there is no reason why modern flat panel TV screens cannot function as giant monitors for up-do-date computers.

Thus a growing number of us are attaching computers to our TVs.  The trend is especially prevalent for WiFi enabled computers because they can connect over a home network and thence to the Internet. In such configurations computers – commonly dedicated laptops – function as Internet gateways for televisions. They transform TVs into dual function devices normally controlled from a comfortable viewing distance with ordinary TV remote units.

Also see:

Cisco Product Announcements and Demonstrations

Also see:

  • What is the New Workspace? — from Cisco by John Gaudin
    Take wikis, videos, phone calls, document sharing, same time editing, application sharing, messaging, conferencing, workflow, think of all aspects of your work and imagine it digital and integrated with any other tool you’d use, accessed from any device regardless of operation system and location.  Is your workspace really the device you’re on, or is it what that device ultimately connects into and enables you to do?

Twenty years of research on the academic performance differences between traditional and distance learning: Summative meta-analysis and trend examination

Mickey Shachar
TUI University
Cypress, CA 90630, USA

Yoram Neumann
United States University
National City, CA 91950, USA

Twenty Years of Research on the Academic Performance Differences Between Traditional and Distance Learning: Summative Meta-Analysis and Trend Examination

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

While distance learning in higher education may have been looked down upon two decades ago, it has clearly become well accepted and gained legitimacy over the past decade. Students, universities, and employers no longer differentiate between university degrees earned traditionally or online. In many cases, universities offer the same degrees traditionally and online while the final diploma does not even mention the mode of delivery. The improvements of technology, the widespread Internet access, the increased legitimacy of online learning within established universities and employers, and the increased participation of adult learners in higher education with clear preferences toward learning anytime and anywhere will further drive future improvements in the quality of distance learning programs. Traditional programs suffered irreparable damages during periods of economic downturns (the post dot com era in 2000-2002 and the major economic recession from 2007-2009), their levels of support have eroded substantially, and their quality did not improve at the same levels as online programs.

Therefore, one should not be surprised if the gap in academic performance between online and traditional learning will only widen in the next decade.

The findings of this study reemphasize prior results and extend it for a period of twenty years. It is clear that the experimental probability of attaining higher learning outcomes is greater in the online environment than in the face-to-face environment. This probability is increasing over time. The future should call for different treatment of online learning by policy makers and regulatory agencies – on one hand, and future research to examine DE learning by: academic subject, asynchronous / synchronous / blended methods etc. – on the other.

The paradigm of the superiority of the FTF modality over its distance learning alternative has been successfully negated. The distance learning approach is becoming the “normal science” (Kuhn, 1962).

Yet, this is not fully comprehended by the various decision making institutions where the gate-keeping positions represent, by and large, the past paradigm. Therefore, distance learning is still treated as the anomaly (“step child”) instead of as the emerging standard of quality in higher education. We expect that as a new generation of leaders in higher education emerges, the policy making orientation and regulatory models will change to reflect the new paradigm.

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5 things Netflix streaming can teach higher ed — by Joshua Kim

1. Replace Yourself:
Where can we replace ourselves in higher ed, before someone else does it for us?

2. Service Tomorrow:
Do we have a good idea how education will be constructed, delivered and consumed in the future?

3. Experience, Not Technology:
How can we in higher ed focus on the experience of learning, as opposed to the delivery mechanism?

4. Be Fearless:
How can we be more fearless in higher ed, and be willing to take risks for our students?

5. Design For Your Customer:
Are we in higher ed offering enough choices for how our students’ want to consume and participate in learning?

Cisco will buy ExtendMedia to manage video delivery — from yahoonews.com


“ExtendMedia will enable Cisco to help service providers deliver multiscreen offerings as the market transitions to IP video,” Earnhardt wrote. “In English: Video, video, video and more video on any screen, on any network, on any device.”

“As the video market transitions and consumers expect multiscreen engagement, service providers are enhancing their infrastructure to manage and deliver video to any device while providing a rich user experience,” Rodriguez said.

From DSC:
I believe this type of announcement also has relevancy for those of us in higher ed. Video on any device…at any time…at any place.

Also see:

  • The Virtual MSO — from ExtendMedia
    Apple’s planned subscription service, Netflix’ streaming service, maybe even Comcast’s new Xfinity are early examples of the Virtual MSO. Its attributes – premium content, multi-business model (subscription, advertising, transactional), linear and on-demand consumption, user and multi-device entitlement – come from both Web video and pay TV.

Distance Education: The Centralization vs. Decentralization Debate — from Faculty Focus

The debate for “control” of distance education at institutions of higher learning continues. On one side, the administration side, there is a need for centralization of operations, to include course development, instructor training and development, scheduling, evaluation, and student and faculty issues. On the other side of the debate, faculty leaders (deans, department chairs, program coordinators) tend to favor decentralization.

In June 2010, the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunication (WCET) asked the membership how institutions were doing with this issue: centralization vs. de-centralization. Twenty-three administrators (provosts, VPs, associate VPs, directors, associate directors, COOs, deans, associate deans) and faculty members provided their valuable insights on the issue.

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Brick, Mortar, the Cloud and Drones – the Future of the Classroom– from Kirsten Winkler

What if you could actively participate in a class that takes place on a campus on the other side of the world, not only watching a live stream but actually interacting with the teacher and writing your solution on the whiteboard?

What if you could be physically present on a campus on the other side of the world and talking to your professor before walking into the next class while sitting at home on your computer?  Futuristic you say? Wrong. Take a look at the two videos below and see what is already possible today.

Also see:




Online collaboration: New innovations pave the way for convergence — from prnewswire.com
Merger of television and computer takes giant step closer as innovative online tool suite is released

CALABASAS, Calif., Aug. 16 /PRNewswire/ — Anticipating the coming paradigm shift that will merge your television and your computer, NxtGenTV has just released the most cohesive system of online tools to facilitate the ultimate interactive communication platform. Four years of innovating has resulted in NetConference.com, an elegant, easy-to-use online meeting system that supports the diverse requirements of single users, small and medium size businesses as well as enterprise and nonprofit organizations. Creating a new opportunity for the global audience to interact online in even greater and more efficient ways is only one of the many benefits of building a social media broadcasting system that facilitates Communication, Collaboration, Presentation and Education.

An industry leader in online games, apps, widgets, banners and rich media development for major entertainment brands, The Illusion Factory created a new company, NxtGenTV to develop and patent cutting-edge online technologies such as shared synchronized visual media and other key innovations that will further blur the lines between computers and television. “We have been passionate about creating the cumulative new systems that will drive Convergence,” shares Brian Weiner, CEO of The Illusion Factory, “our creation of NxtGenTV will lead the push for truly interactive television.”



The open, social, participatory future of online learning — from The Chronicle by Marc Parry

Madison, Wis. — Educators from around the country are gathering here this week to trade ideas at the 26th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. One expert they’ll hear from is George Veletsianos, an assistant professor of instructional technology at the University of Texas at Austin who edited the new book Emerging Technologies in Distance Education. Wired Campus caught up with Mr. Veletsianos to get his take on the state of online education.

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