AI voice actors sound more human than ever —and they’re ready to hire— from technologyreview.com by Karen Hao
A new wave of startups are using deep learning to build synthetic voice actors for digital assistants, video-game characters, and corporate videos.

Excerpt:

The company blog post drips with the enthusiasm of a ’90s US infomercial. WellSaid Labs describes what clients can expect from its “eight new digital voice actors!” Tobin is “energetic and insightful.” Paige is “poised and expressive.” Ava is “polished, self-assured, and professional.”

Each one is based on a real voice actor, whose likeness (with consent) has been preserved using AI. Companies can now license these voices to say whatever they need. They simply feed some text into the voice engine, and out will spool a crisp audio clip of a natural-sounding performance.

But the rise of hyperrealistic fake voices isn’t consequence-free. Human voice actors, in particular, have been left to wonder what this means for their livelihoods.

And below are a couple of somewhat related items:

Amazon’s latest voice interoperability move undermines Google — from protocol.com by Janko Roettgers
With a new toolkit, Amazon is making it easier to build devices that run multiple voice assistants — weakening one of Google’s key arguments against licensing the Google Assistant for such scenarios.

People should be able to pick whatever assistant they prefer for any given task, simply by invoking different words, Rubenson said. “We think it’s critical that customers have choice and flexibility,” he said. “Each will have their own strengths and capabilities.”

Protocol Next Up — from protocol.com by Janko Roettgers
Defining the future of tech and entertainment with Janko Roettgers.

Voice is becoming a true developer ecosystem. Amazon now has more than 900,000 registered Alexa developers, who collectively have built over 130,000 Alexa skills. And those skills are starting to show up in more and more places: “We now have hundreds of physical products” with Alexa built in, Alexa Voice Service & Alexa Skills VP Aaron Rubenson told me this week.

 

So this is what my new Streaming TV studio looks like – I call it ‘Keynote Television’ — from futuristgerd.com by Gerd Leonhard

Excerpt:

Many of you have asked me how I do my online keynotes, specifically my green screens, lights, virtual backgrounds etc. So here are some pictures and below is a short video from Twitter but the bottom line is… it’s complicated and took me some 6 months to learn it all:)). But well worth it: Keynote Television rocks!

Gerd Leonhard's studio where he makes what he calls Keynote Television

From DSC:
I was one of those people who asked Gerd if he would tell teachers, professors, trainers, IDs, and others how he does what he does. Thanks Gerd for sharing this information! May it be a blessing to many!

 

What I Learned: 4 Things L&D Should Borrow from Peloton — from learningsolutionsmag.com by JD Dillon

But modern technology has evolved the experience in ways that can inspire L&D solutions.

Excerpt:

Engagement is personal. What motivates me may not motivate you. Therefore, the best gamified systems allow users to make their own choices with regards to how they engage. Some will change their behavior to earn points, ascend the leaderboard, and capture rewards. Others will disengage if they’re forced into a competitive environment. It’s fun to scroll through my Peloton badge collection, but it doesn’t bring me back for the next ride.

 
 
 

When Should You Use Branching Video Scenarios for eLearning? — from learningsolutionsmag.com by Bill Brandon

Excerpt:

Among the many changes today in the way we think about learning and training is the shift from knowledge transfer to skill development. Scenario-based learning (SBL) and the inclusion of practice with feedback are often overlooked but in many cases more effective approaches to the development of skill and competence.

What’s a scenario?
A scenario is a type of story; it presents learners with a situation in a way that engages them and places them in the situation. Scenarios are a methodology for quickly creating and delivering content to an audience based on needs and feedback. Scenarios are closely related to microlearning, and in fact some microlearning employs short scenarios as the main method of delivery. Learners are able to make decisions, solve problems, apply knowledge, and practice skills. The scenario presents challenges like the ones the learners will face in real-life situations.

The story is important! In his book Scenario-based Learning: Using Stories to Engage Learners, Ray Jimenez says, “The design of scenario-based training requires the craftsmanship of a storyteller, an instructional designer, and a subject matter expert.” 

 

Teaching: Why an Active-Learning Evangelist Is Sold on Online Teaching — from chronicle.com by Beth McMurtrie

Excerpts:

Now, says Mazur, the results are in and he’s convinced: online teaching is better. Not in all circumstances, to be sure. But in his applied-physics courses, students showed larger learning gains and felt more supported than students had in in-person classes. In fact, they appear to have learned so much more effectively in this new format that he wonders if it’s “almost unethical,” to return to the classroom this fall.

“I have never been able to offer a course of the quality that I’m offering now,” he says. “I am convinced that there is no way I could do anything close to what I’m doing in person. Online teaching is better than in person.”

One benefit of this setup, says Mazur, is that students go at their own pace. He has thought a lot about how classroom-based work, even when it is student-led, is hostage to the clock and the instructor. Not every group works at the same pace, yet everyone has to wait until others are ready, or rush ahead when they fall behind. When groups set their own pace, it gives them the space to work through problems or get help as needed. The value of self-paced learning is also evident outside of class, says Mazur, who built more asynchronous work into his online course.

“I have never seen students work this hard for my course,” he says. “Never. And so consistently.”

Also see:

A snapshot of Eric Mazur's physics class from Canvas.

But he’s so convinced of how valuable this model is that he asked Harvard to allow him to keep teaching online this fall. 

Also relevant/see:

 

Record, transcribe, clip, and share video from Zoom in real-time. — This Grain tool/resource is from Jeremy Caplan’s Wonder Tools newsletter. Thanks Jeremy for passing this info along!

From DSC:
These kinds of tools should make for interesting discussions in online-, hybrid-, and hyflex-based courses…as well as in microlearning-based streams of content perhaps.

This image shows the home page of a tool called Grain -- Record, transcribe, clip, and share video from Zoom in real-time.

 

The image below was excerpted from:

 

A great example of a learning ecosystem from CommLab India!

 

Thursday, 5/20/21, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day!!!

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is this Thursday, May 20, 2021
Help us celebrate the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)! The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, and the more than One Billion people with disabilities/impairments.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is is Thursday, May 20th 2021

Also see:

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is Thursday, May 20, 2021

 

 

 

What if we could create these kinds of calendars and/or apps for faculty and staff as well as for students? — idea from Daniel Christian. The vehicles could be developed as analog/physical formats or in digital formats and apps. In the digital realm, one could receive a daily notification.

For faculty/staff:

  • Teaching and learning tips; pedagogies (flipped learning, active learning, etc.); ideas that have worked well for others
  • Creative experiments to try (such as digital storytelling or with an emerging technology such as AR, MR, or VR)
  • Tips & tricks re: tools within the learning ecosystem of one’s organization
  • How to make digital content that’s accessible
  • Items re: bias, diversity, equity & inclusion
  • Dates to be aware of (for processes on one’s LMS/CMS as an example)
  • Notes of encouragement and/or humor
  • Links to key resources
  • Other

[The Corporate Training / L&D world could do this as well.] 

An example of what a front cover of a physical flip calendar could look like

An example of what a page might contain within a physical flip calendar

A calendar page that says Memory if the residue of thought.

Example calendar page that states when courses will be published on an LMS

For students

  • Studying tips
  • How to take courses online
  • How people learn
  • Resources, books, people to follow on Twitter, blogs and RSS feeds, etc.
  • Pictures of judges, legislative bodies, law offices, corporate HQs, other
  • Notes of encouragement
  • Ethics
  • Professionalism
  • Other
 

Enrich your history and social studies classes with these resources — from educatorstechnology.com

Excerpt:

Below are three websites we are featuring in our blog for the first time. These are platforms where teachers (and students) can access resources and teaching materials to help them with their history teaching (learning).

Addendum on 5/4/21:

 

Four creative methods for engagement in training — from trainingjournal.com by Susan Tomlinson Schmidt

Excerpt:

Educational courses are one of the most often sought-after and impactful professional development opportunities that people can engage with, so it’s vital that you keep your audience engaged even once they’ve started coursework. Here are our four tips for success.

  1. Leverage several media strategies.
  2. Keep learning modules short.
  3. Provide relevant examples for educational concepts.
  4. Communicate the purpose of knowledge checks.

Although we’re specifically discussing online educational opportunities in this guide, the ideas behind these concepts speak to other training opportunities you provide as well.

 

DC: Yet another reason for Universal Design for Learning’s multiple means of presentation/media:

Encourage faculty to presume students are under-connected. Asynchronous, low-bandwidth approaches help give students more flexibility in accessing course content in the face of connectivity challenges.

— as excerpted from campustechnology.com’s article entitled, “4 Ways Institutions Can Meet Students’ Connectivity and Technology Needs

 

 

eBook Release: The Needs Analysis Playbook—How To Make L&D A Trusted Partner In Your Organization — from elearningindustry.com by Christopher Pappas
You need buy-in to achieve success and enhance your business infrastructure. This needs analysis guide highlights the importance of gathering stakeholder and learner audience feedback, as well as red flags to look for throughout the process.

Excerpt:

The conundrum that many organizations face is whether to invest in needs analysis or skip right to development. After all, identifying gaps and realigning objectives takes time, organization, and planning. The truth is that it creates a solid framework for your L&D initiatives moving forward so that you target pain points instead of just brushing the surface of employee development. This needs analysis guide is designed to help you analyze stakeholders and get buy-in using a step-by-step methodology. Before we dive into the content, let’s look at why needs analysis is imperative for modern organizations.

 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian