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
Many a man [sic] would rather you heard his story than grant his request.
Boys can be physically aggressive and violent, but mean girls can be aggressive in often subtler ways, and it starts early--at preschool or kindergarten. Social scientists describe this systematic teasing as "relational aggression" or "social cruelty." Relational aggression actually leads to physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, as well as often have more long-lasting effects than physical aggression.
Unfortunately, these behaviours are often hidden in girl culture, so adults are often oblivious of what's happening.
One common aggressive behaviour displayed by mean girls is exclusion, one of the most hurtful actions for most people, and in particular, girls. These actions lead to problems to girls' psyches and self-esteem, as well as affect their learning and achievement.
Girls are often stuck in a social system known as a yo-yo friendship; in other words, best friends one day, then worst enemies, and then best friends again--and on and on it goes.
Source: Little Girls can be Mean, Michelle Anthony & Reyna Lindert, 2010.
Richard Watson works at Imperial College London. His main thesis in the chapter Education and Knowledge is that technology and education don’t play well together. I will highlight some of the research and evidence he uses to support his thesis.
According to a 2015 OECD study of students in 70 countries, the high-achieving schools use less technology, and those who do receive lower results.
He feels the recent focus on STEM only creates employees with a narrow interest that meets the goal-driven, economy-serving nature of education.
Former CEO of Lockheed Martin, Norman Augustine, said his most successful employees were those who could read and write clearly, and think broadly. Watson worries that devices keep young minds from being reflective and thinking deeply.
A study by the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the University of Waterloo says a smarter curriculum would eliminate grades and exams and move towards portfolios of projects.
Patricia Greenfield, a psychology professor at UCLA, led a study of pre-teens (10-12 years old) who spent five days at a nature camp with no screens compared to a control group who had the usual amount of available technology. She found those at camp were much more adept at understanding others’ emotions and reading nonverbal cues.
Slow education stresses more inquiry-led and reflective learning. It involves more calm, attentive ways of thinking, along with deep reading and listening. Time is an important element, as kids learn at different rates and adults continue to participate in lifelong learning. Slow education is about interest and understanding, not memorization and facts. It is primarily people-centric and relationship-centered.
Sleep is critical for young minds and bodies. With TVs and computers and devices in the bedroom, screen time can barely be monitored, especially for teenagers. A study in Norway found using cell phones before bed doubles the change for teens to have a bad night’s sleep. Many teens sleep only five hours, checking their social media at all hours of the night. Some high schools are experimenting with later start times with improved results.
Ultimately, Watson feels that ideal students need the following qualities and values (not technology-based): resilience, empathy, compassion, honesty, humility, hard work, understanding, synthesizing and communication.
Source: Richard Watson, Digital vs Human, 2016
Bjarke Ingels is the founder of BIG, an architectural firm based originally out of Denmark. Bjarke has interesting philosophies and ideas that could relate to education, as well.
Pragmatic Utopia--it's really the best of both worlds; instead of choosing between a parking lot and an apartment, both can co-exist and thrive, with a kind of symbiotic relationship. It's not an either-or choice; rather an hybrid, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. "The Mountain" has both a garden and a penthouse view for all, and it sits on a cave of parking. And it's built on on block at a time. What do I find amazing? is important for the designer.
Yes is More--the basic philosophy that greater things can be done if "yes" is the answer. How can we get to "yes," as opposed to "no" or worse, "impossible."
Hedonistic Sustainability--linked with the environmental movement; what if sustainability could actually increase your quality of life? Maritime Youth House--it solved a lot of problems in unproblematic ways. What could have been a simple basic structure, it became completely different, with creativity and design.
In architecture, people say it's bad when it doesn't fit in. Yet, he gives the example of the spires in Copenhagen--the differences from the norm--that actually give the city the reputation it has.
Inclusive input becomes the driving force, making everyone happy, has to perform in so many different ways. If you're not realizing a dream, then 7 years is a really long time.
His whole philosophy is barriers exist but they in many ways, the barriers become opportunities to create even more that could have been expected. He's also fascinated in doing things never before conceived and then making it a concrete reality. It's individuality yet blended and encased in an overarching structure and theme that gives it a unity as well. It's dreams becoming a reality in the real world. Humans have the power to impact the world in positive ways.
Source: Netflix; Abstract: The Art of Design
Futurist Ray Kurzweil feels that technology is always a double-edged sword; a fire warms us, but it can also burn down the house. He thinks that the most powerful ones--biotech, nanotech, and AI--are potentially extinction-level risks. (Tesla's Elon Musk agrees with that AI could lead to disastrous results.) Nonetheless, Kurzweil feels technology has done more good than harm overall. Besides, it's probably impossible to put the genie back in the bottle anyways.
In terms of job loss to technology and AI, Kurzweil responds by saying that all jobs have been eliminated several times in human history. In 1900, 38% of people worked on farms and 25% in factories. By 2015, only 2% work on farms and 9% in factories. So there has always been widespread job loss, but new job creation has offset all of those losses. The only uncertainty is what many of these "future" jobs will look like.
Source: Fortune, October 1, 2017, Michal Lev-Ram
"Most of us must learn a great deal every day in order to keep ahead of what we forget."
"Man's mind, once stretched by new ideas, never regains its original dimensions."
According to Frey and Osborne, in 10 to 20 years, the landscape of jobs will change dramatically.
Jobs with 90% or more of being replaced by automation/computers in the near future include telemarketers (#1), library technicians, most clerks, loan officers, models, restaurant cooks, animal breeders, nuclear power reactor operators, manicurists, couriers/messengers, accountants, retail salespeople, tour guides, many technicians, among others.
The top 10 jobs least likely to be replaced by technology/computers are the following:
1. Recreational therapists
2. First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers
3. Emergency management directors
4. Mental health and substance abuse social workers
6. Occupational therapists
7. Orthotists and prosthetists
8. Healthcare social workers
9. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons
10. First-line supervisors of fire fighting and prevention workers
Fortunately, for elementary school teachers, we're ranked #20 with less than a 1% chance of being replaced by a robot in the next 20 years.
An important thought we need to consider as teachers is this: Are we supporting our students to be able to reach their full potential and wholly participate in our future society, with the requisite skills and knowledge?
Source: Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Volume 114, January 2017, Pages 254-280; Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne
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.