Monday, July 17, 2017

Horizon report – 2017 – for higher education

The Horizon Report always makes for good reading. This year's report is no different.

A much more international aspect to this year’s Horizon report. The report is also available in Chinese, German and Japanese. Good to see a less North American centric version, providing a wider overview of possibilities across a wider range of cultures.

As per usual, the report provides an update on to Long, medium and short term trends driving technology development and adoption across the higher education sector. 

Short term trends are already well along the way - these include blended learning design and collaborative learning approaches - something Ara has had in policies in place for over a decade.

Medium term trends include the growing focus on measuring learning, which is mostly driven by Government funding models. Hopefully in NZ, there will be some shifts as per the 'Productivity Commission's report on Tertiary Education'. The other trend is the redesign of learning spaces, something I am totally steeped in at the moment through supporting our tutors as they shift into a brand new building for architectural and engineering studies.

Long term trends include advancing cultures of innovation and an emphasis on deeper learning approaches. Both have been ongoing work undertaken at Ara by the learning design team.

The Solvable challenges are still significant - improving digital literacy is an ongoing task for tutors and students; and the integration of formal and informal learning is always on the agenda as many of Ara students are part-time, working towards a qualification. We also have large components of work integrated learning in our programmes.

The difficult challenges are both interlinked. Closing the achievement gap between students and advancing digital equity. In NZ, it is centred on closing the rates of course completions between students of Maori / Pacifica ethnicity and students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

The wicked challenges are managing knowledge obsolescence - with the need to support life-long learning due to the 'threats' of AI and robotics on work and rethinking the role of educators- as education shifts more from a 'one off post-school' to a continual process.

Developments seen to be important are adaptive learning technologies and mobile learning (current), the internet of things and the next generation of LMS (2 - 3 years) and implementation of AI and Natural user interfaces (4 - 5 years).


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Internet of Things - and Entrepreneurship

Attended two presentations by AlexandraDeschamps-Sonsino yesterday. Each with a different message. Alex has, since she graduated from design school, been working on developing, launching and support structures of a product based on the internet of things - the Good Night Lamp. She runs the consultancy designswarms which earnings support the entrepreneurial Good Night Lamp company.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been around for a long time, holding lots of promise but most people tend to think of as applying to the 'smart home'. 

First presentation was at Signal - the post-graduate school for IT which is a joint venture between Ara, University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, Otago Polytechnic and Otago University. The title of the presentation was "Harder, better, faster, stronger – a case study in internet of things entrepreneurship". She covered how to account for IoT when developing ‘products’. Sharing her experiences to assist us to leverage off her experiences and learning.

Provided overview of her education and experiences since graduation. Has an industrial and interaction design education. Was the first UK distributor of Arduino. London IoT meetup organiser since 2011 – 11,000 members on virtual site and usually 40 or so people at f2f meetups. Writing a book on smart homes for Apress.

Founder of Good Night Lamp – easiest way to sync up with your global friends and family. Provided an overview of rationale, development since 2005 and future plans. Challenges of working with cutting edge tech – in 2005 IoT was still just a concept. Especially working with existing corporations who may be unable to see how a new concept fits into their existing portfolio. Also academic systems not available to protect IP.

Experiences as distributor also provided learning – how to balance a service company with a development division. (2006 – 2012).

Set up company to revive and develop the Good Night lamp after registering trademark in UK.  Detailed development, technical, design and marketing etc. required to work together. Also challenges in finding funders, who envisage tech investment as software, apps etc. and unfamiliar with IoT. Kickstarter was an option but also struggled. Cautions on using crowd sourced funding as often, after initial funds used, there is no backup plan to keep refining and increasing market.
Found a partner – eseye – who had technical expertise – which worked out OK. Important to establish a viable customer base – used Shopify. Then worked with an industrial design studio to produce the ‘holder’ for the electronics. Detailed challenges with production, the design (types of clips, LEDs), technical (shifting from 2G to 4G), material and production (differences in craftsmanhip and quality) issues and how these had to be resolved. Took time to trademark in US to protect IP. Stressed importance of customer service – ensuring all customers had a good product experience. As product is IoT, data from each item sill available and usable for customer service improvement and future enhancements. Plans to go through IndieGoGo to finance shift from 2G to 4G.

Being an early entry means the product is mentioned in various books on IoT. Shared the many lessons learnt and recommendations for support at the early stages, affordable on demand talent and specialised entrepreneurship education and training – which needs to be trans-disciplinary – engineering, design, business etc.

Advice to entrepreneurs is to be ‘driven’ to get ahead with their project.

Second presentation was across lunch time to at Ara tutorial staff.
This time around the emphasis was on how education is able to support the development of entrepreneurship, in particular, around the IoT.

Large number of failures in ‘start-up’. Therefore, a place for support, development in the educational sphere and curriculum for inclusion of aspects of entrepreneur preparation.
From her experience, IoT products require designing a consumer product people will want to buy (product design, pricing, marketing); offering solid web connectivity electronics, firmware and backend design); and designing a universal user experience (ux, web design and e-commerce).
Product design includes product, accessories, packaging and shipping box. Can be done by self, hire industrial designer or most costly option of hiring an industrial design company. Working it out on your end now more possible with hacker/maker spaces, learn CAD online, use laser cutting / 3D printer. Need to account for the supply chain.

Pricing requires selling whole sale price being 4 times of costs which include bill of materials (use Dragon standard BOM google sheet), labour, shipping, tax, cost of returns, IP and other registrations etc. Allow for certification of your product if there are legislative / regulatory requirements – e.g. connected product. Actual prices to consumer will then be marked up 50 to 65%. Is it competitive?
Marketing requires press release, short video on social media, spare units to give away and conventions / trade shows etc. Currently, Consumer Exhibition showcases 50% of products with connectivity, rest a mixture of AR, VR and cars. Build list of websites and magazines and their editors contact details. Consider Christmas editions.

Cloud funding not the only way. Angel investment for lower amounts; If under a million, try a group of angels; above a million is very difficult. Incubators have a role but can cost and take time. Try government and academic grants if looking for under ½ million.


Ability to work across disciplines is important. Helps to understand how each discipline sees the world, what is important to them and how they approach a problem. Much of entrepreneurship is relationship building, resilience and ability to work through large challenges. 

Provided resources for further exploration. List of books via iot.london and her blog.

Monday, July 10, 2017

How long before a robot takes your job?

Here is a bbc article on how long it takes before your job is automated. The stats from from this report. Buisness insider predicts the timeframe for when AI will be able to exceed human performance - using much the same data and graphs as the bbc article. In short, jobs like truck driving will be replaced soonest, but full automation of all forms of labor within a hundred years from now. For truck driving, perhaps OK where there are straight roads (Australia's long haul trucks?) but NZ conditions may be a greater challenge! It will be interesting to check this prediction in 2027.

Another report from Harvard business review  takes the position that AI will help us do our jobs better and that we should leverage of this - as per previous post on book overview - we created AI and must take responsibility for how it unfolds. I think using AI to enhance how humans work is perhaps the most acceptable position. Using robots or mechanical aids and AI as mental augmentation - see this article - provides for transition and help humans understand the affordances and challenges of blending human, machine and digitally derived 'intelligence'.

Monday, July 03, 2017

From Bacteria to Bach and Back - Daniel Dennett - Book overview

I picked up this book from the ‘new book’ shelf in my local public library a couple of  weeks ago. 
Written by Daniel Dennett and published this year - 2017 - by Norton Publishers. The Guardian offers a comprehensive review 

Timing was just right for a wet weekend which allowed for two evenings of concerted reading. The main argument in the book is the role of evolution in producing the human brain. In short, evolution does not need to be ‘smart’ or to understand where it is headed. It just needs to ‘be’ and time will weed out the physical traits and ‘memes’ which will not last. There is an interplay between what is availed in the brains of individuals, with access to social learning affordances. Language, writing, apps, social media are seen to be things invented by humans, to further the development of their species. 

Its a longish book - 400 plus pages with helpful index, list of further readings and 20 plus pages of pertinent references but worth the effort to get into. The book is written for non-academic readers.

Examples and analogies are based on computers and other items familiar to a general audience, help to make clear, the more complex concepts.

The book has 15 chapters categorised into 3 parts. Part one sets the scene, going through the rationale for the argument to be sustained through the book and an overview of the foundational theories. Part 2 – from evolution to intelligent design – contains the main content of the book. There is an overview of the biological evolutionary process with the parallel cultural evolution’s role in forming human thinking. The two chapters in the last part, brings the various threads together to argue support the argument and contains some insights into the future.

The last chapter is perhaps most important. Here, the argument is for humans to be cognisant of their inherent ‘power’. Artificial intelligence may now have arrived, but it the humans, who have invented it, to understand the implications, to leverage the advantages and to ensure the worse implications do not come into fruition.

Overall, a good summary of Dennett's work, reiterating his scholarship into the 'mind' and how we should use our brains better. All in, a worthwhile read with pertinent learning to further / reinforce my understanding of evolutionary psychology.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Future of work - the predictions continue

Here is another take on the future of work. From a Commercial businees real estate point of view, the report - fast forward 2030 - summarises various reports with a handy 4 points of relevance to the real estate industries, with bullet point extensions.

One approach to the challenges of the future of work, to educational institutions is reported in a Channel News Asia advertorial.

The PSB academy pitches the need to prepare their students for the collaborative workforce. Of note is their approach. They  engage with their students to have them provide input into how the curriculum is developed. Stakeholder input is also sought. The institute that provides customised programmes attuned to the market.

Pluses and minuses to the approach. We (educators) risk becoming 'fly by nighters' in meeting every trend that makes itself visible above the parapet. There is still importance in ensuring the 'signature pedogogies'  are learnt so as to be able to proceed beyond to deeper and more innovative ways of approaching problems. Making the right decisions with good leadership is the key.




Monday, June 19, 2017

what will schools look like in 50 years time?

You have all see the same ppt slides. A photo of a classroom circa 1900 or earlier side by side of a photo of a contemporary classroom (especially in the post-school sector). Both will show pretty much the same arrangement of desks, facing a board and a teacher.

In this article, posted last year on the Australian Business insider, Jonathan Rochelle who is product manager for Google Apps for Education, provides some insight and direction.

The headliners in the article are - collaboration will be the norm, leveraging off 'machine learning' to provide for differentiated learning opportunities and the importance of teachers to lead.

So, the apps availed through Google, are developed to enhance collaborative learning at all levels - early childhood through to tertiary and lifelong learning. Learning analytics require better understanding by teachers, especially to use information on individual student's learning to help them proceed through individualised learning pathways, and teachers need to be enabled to learn how to best use technology to enhance learning.

The two products promoted on Rochelle's website are Jamboard and GSuite for education

Jamboard is part of the overall Gsuite. US$4999 provides 1 display, 2 stylii, a eraser and wallmount. There is a US$600 annual support fee. Therefore, the product is pitched at the corporate market and an alternative to other types of smartboards currently on the market.

Gsuite for education is free and includes core services for organising class activities etc. through 'classroom', sort of a learning management system, gmail, google drive, calendar, vault - which archives emails and charts, sharing of docs, sheets, forms, slides and sites and google hangouts for video conferencing.

There is a version for higher education with case studies of universities who have adopted Gsuite and an emphasis on security plus links to the Google research tools.




Wednesday, June 14, 2017

SEED - Sharing Experience in Educational Design - Ara tutors presenting teaching practice


Bernadette Muir on ‘Design Jam’. On project-based learning in architecture to assist students to complete authentic learning project with vertical integration of the students from all 3 years of the Architecture degree.
Revolves around the living building challenge – whereby sustainable buildings are designed. Small one day event whereby students have to find solutions based on relationships between the place, availability of energy and water. Industry experts and people working in the sustainability area were invited to support the student teams. Provided rationale, details and feedback from students. Students appreciated the authenticity of the project and the experience provided them with the opportunity to learn not only from the experts and tutors, but from each other. Also important to follow up beyond. Third year students now build a scale model of an exemplar contemporary timber building and then present the feature as if they were the architect. Students also visit recently constructed buildings in Christchurch to connect theory to practice.

Cheryl Stokes on ‘To Kahoot or not to Kahoot’. Provided a practitioner’s point of view and how she uses the app to engage students. Cheryl has always used a series of apps to help students learn. Ran a Kahoot to show examples. Provided rationale and learning advantages for using from both tutor and student perspectives. Also detailed the various ways Kahoot used, their advantages and disadvantages. Important to reinforce the learning that has occurred while students use Kahoot. Important to help students become aware of the learning potential of using Kahoot, so they are able to leverage off the learning achieved.