Joel Hellermark, 21, the founder of Swedish edtech startup Sana Labs believes so. And he’s not the only one: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, apparently are intrigued with Hellermark. There are three good reasons why: the education industry is worth $6 trillion worldwide; only 2% of education is digital; and AI learning in education is in its infancy.
Instead of the traditional rules-based AI, Sana Labs is using deep neural networks, a strand of machine learning. Continuously analyzing historical data, it is a more efficient and effective form of AI. Recently it won Duolingo’s Global AI competition in language learning. Now Hellermark believes his company is ready to use its AI-learning platform for all types of learning, not just language, and believes students will finish their studies in half the time, or be 25 to 30 percent more engaged.
Whether or not Sana Labs will be an AI leader in education remains to be seen, but AI in education will definitely continue to grow at an accelerated rate in upcoming years.
Source: Tom Turula, Business Insider Australia
Most movers and shakers, visionaries and thinkers in the technological field--past and present--generally hold an overall positive standing in people’s eyes. Think Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg, Musk, Brin and Page, Bezos, to name a few. Sure, they have all had moments in their lives where people have given pause or raised an eyebrow or even outright questioned their actions. But for the average person, I am quite certain that most of them would gladly switch places with these renowned individuals in a heartbeat.
Evgeny Morozov is not of those people. In fact, he is quite the opposite--a contrarian, with strong opinions, analytical skills, and solid, well-developed arguments filling up his dense book. As an educator and writer, I feel it is critical to keep an open mind to all sides of an issue, especially one that has so much current and future impact on our global society.
It is interesting that he describes himself as a “digital heretic,” a solitary, whispering voice in the desert, trying valiantly to spread his message over the sounds and shouts of this juggernaut that never sleeps.
Morozov’s premise: “Silicon Valley’s quest to fit us all into a digital straightjacket by promoting efficiency, transparency, certitude , and perfection.” He goes on to say that their evil twins--friction, opacity, ambiguity, and imperfection--may not so “evil” and should deserve a place in our society. Humans, after all, are imperfect.
Source: To Save Everything click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov, 2013
Nicolas Carr wrote a fabulous essay in the Atlantic in 2008, which is still, or even more, relevant today. It was entitled, "Is Google Making us Stupid?" Having access to the "world's information at your fingertips" at first glance seems like a great idea--the more you know and all that good stuff.
However, media theorist Marshall McLuhan noted in the 1960s that the "medium is the message." The internet is beginning to change how we think, simply because of its addictive, hyperlink structure. Although it may be a boon for a writer or researcher--being able to find resources, quotes, facts in seconds--as a reader, it sends people on wild (but often fun) goose chases all over a virtual landscape.
Scholars at University College London conducted a five-year research program and found that people using the British Library and a U.K. educational consortium of journals, ebooks and other resources, found most people only read a page or two before jumping to another resource. They were skimming or "power browsing," seemingly trying to find quick answers to their questions.
Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University, described our internet reading
style as efficient and immediate; people are now "mere decoders of information." Deep reading that creates rich mental connections are nowhere to be found.
What's powerful about the medium of the internet, a computer system, is its all-consuming nature. It has swallowed up all the old technologies and reshaped and reformed them in its unique image: it is now a map, clock, printing press, typewriter, calculator, phone, radio and TV, according to Carr.
Interestingly enough, even Socrates (in Plato's Phaedrus) bemoaned the development of writing. He worried that the information that previously was stored in their heads would now remain only in written form. People would "cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful." Although some of his fears were founded, other wonderful benefits, such as expanding human knowledge and spreading ideas, made up for that loss. Similarly, the Gutenberg printing press in the 15th century brought along similar concerns: books would lead to intellectual laziness and weaken their minds, as well as "undermine religious authority, demean the work of scholars and scribes, and spread sedition and debauchery." Of course, much of that did come to pass, but as did a myriad of benefits to society.
So in the end, are fears concerning the internet as unfounded as writing or the printing press? Perhaps. But Carr warns us, using Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, by saying that as we rely more on computers to understand the world, the more our intelligence becomes more robotic and artificial. Our humanity may be at stake the more we strive to achieve this superior or artificial intelligence. And wouldn't you know it, Larry Page told scientists at a convention that Google is "really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale."
Source: Utopia is Creepy and other Provocations, Nicolas Carr, 2016
Scott Gilmore wrote an interesting article on manufacturing. The good news is manufacturing jobs are returning to North America. The bad news is that the work is being done by robots.
As we continue to make machines smarter with machine learning and artificial intelligence, they're able to do the jobs that at one point we thought could not be doable. But then again, we live the era of computers that have beaten the world chess champion, Jeopardy champion, and the Go champion.
Autonomous transport trucks are hitting the highways shortly, which could replace over a quarter of a million drivers in Canada (the 2nd most common job for men) and about 9 million jobs in the US.
Henry Siu, professor at UBC specializing in automation has an interesting solution to these future losses, which I found fascinating as a teacher. He suggested avoiding STEM-related disciplines. In other words, these graduates are only contributing and speeding up the process of their own future demise. Instead, a more open-ended arts degree might be the way to go. Students need to be able to think laterally, creatively, and outside the box. That is the kind of thinking that computers will not be able to do for quite some time.
Source: Macleans, February 2017
If you follow any kind of sport--be it football, basketball, hockey or tennis--analytics or data analysis or data mining has become an integral part, especially in how to make better players, make the sport more exciting, or how to attract more customers to watch the games. If you can believe that today's smartphones have more computing power than Apollo 11, the rocket that went to the moon, then you can see how today's computers can crunch and analyze mountains of data, and synthesize and spit out much smaller piles of useful information. Of course, large corporations, such as Google and IBM, have probably been using analytics for quite some time now.
I was wondering if the same can be applied in the educational/teaching field. I think if we equate analytics with testing or evaluation, then I think there's a lot going on, but in a variety of methods. As a teacher, I do accumulate quite a bit of data on each of my students, including their behaviors, attitudes, and, of course, marks and grades on a variety of assignments and projects. What I don't see is having huge databases that can take all that data, compile it, and then use it to analyze trends and, more importantly, have predictive ability--to know where they might struggle or have success. On a smaller scale, yes; but, on a larger scale, not so much. I think some programs or apps, such as FreshGrade and others, do try to capture data, and do so with different measures of success and for different purposes, such as communicating ongoing learning with parents and students. Others might give more statistical analysis on specific skill breakdowns.
I think analytics is growing approach in many fields, and it's one that may carry more weight in the educational field in the future. The only concern is we need to be careful not to turn our unique individuals into simply 0s and 1s in a computer.
In 2010, IBM's survey of 1500 CEO's found that the creativity was most sought after management skill, ahead of operations or marketing. This is what our students need (and probably already have) in schools today. It's the matter of fostering, nurturing and allowing this creativity to flourish, because in these increasingly complex and troublesome times, unique, creative and original thinkers will be critical. So how can and do we allow creativity to become a natural part of everyday life in the classroom?
(Source: Creative Intelligence, Nussbaum)
Daniel H. Lee
This blog will be dedicated to sharing in three areas: happenings in my classroom and school; analysis and distillation of other educators' wealth of knowledge in various texts; insights from other disciplines and areas of expertise that relate and connect with educational practices.