Techno-News Blog

September 13, 2019

Facebook taps Minecraft as training ground for next stage of A.I.

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By Aaron Mamiit , Digital Trends

The goal of Szlam and his team is to create an A.I. assistant that is capable of helping people with different kinds of tasks, and they believe that Minecraft will help them achieve that. A generalist A.I. assistant will be more useful to the regular user, compared to an A.I. system that can only do one thing well.  Within Minecraft, the A.I. assistant will need to learn the various concepts of the game and the nature of the possible requests. The requests may become very complex, but the opportunity for learning is massive, with the possibility of pushing A.I. research to the next level.

https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/facebook-training-ai-minecraft/

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Elon Musk Says The Gap Between Us And AI Is Like The Difference Between Chimps And Humans

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Ben Gilbert, Business Insider

“Can a chimpanzee really understand humans? Not really,” he said. “We just seem like strange aliens. They mostly just care about other chimpanzees. And this will be how it is, more or less.” Moreover, he couched that context in optimism: “In fact, if the difference is only that small, that would be amazing – probably it’s much, much greater.” It’s this stark difference in intellectual capacity between AI and human beings that has Musk worried for the future of our species. “What do you do with a situation like that? I’m not sure. I hope they’re nice,” he said. That’s why, he said, he founded his company Neuralink.

https://www.sciencealert.com/elon-musk-says-human-intellect-and-ai-is-like-the-difference-between-chimps-and-humans

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Virtual schools continue to attract top students

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CHERYL BURKE, Carolina Coast News-Times

Virtual schools allow students to take courses online, taught by a teacher who shares information offsite. NCVPS offers courses to students in grades six through 12, while virtual charter schools offer courses to all grades. “Public school students must enroll through their local schools. We function as a supplemental program for districts. Students may end up taking all their classes with us, but they are still a member of that local school,” Ms. Murphy said. “They will graduate with that school. We do not issue diplomas.”

http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/article_0f0db2e6-cc2e-11e9-8c6a-43fd76b86d38.html

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September 12, 2019

New Free Resource for Leading Change: The Science Education Initiative Handbook

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Stephanie Chasteen and Warren Code, Tomorrow’s Professor

Many departments and universities are trying to spread the effective use of research-based instructional practices among their faculty, such as active learning and effective course assessments. One strategy that was used at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of British Columbia was to provide direct, targeted help to faculty in the form of an educational expert who was also well-versed in the relevant subject matter. This Discipline-Based Education Specialist (DBES) partnered with faculty members to transform their courses, resulting in on-the-job learning and direct feedback to faculty members. This program (the Science Education Initiative)met with many successes – and challenges. The overall approach of the SEI is also adaptable to a wide range of initiatives aiming at helping faculty transform their teaching.

https://tomprof.stanford.edu/posting/1732

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Report: 40% of student success initiatives don’t help retention

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By Natalie Schwartz, Education Dive
Only 60% of student services positively impact student retention, according to a new analysis of more than 1,000 initiatives across 55 colleges from Civitas Learning.  Of the remaining 40% initiatives that had a “neutral impact,” however, 15% of participating students saw a lift in their persistence rates.  The news follows recent studies that suggest colleges can make a bigger impact by personalizing their messaging to address students’ biggest needs.

https://www.educationdive.com/news/report-40-of-student-success-initiatives-dont-help-retention/562712/

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Five Easy Ways To Engage In Lifelong Learning

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Young Entrepreneurs Council, Forbes

The only way to grow as a person is to continue learning. So, learning shouldn’t stop when you finish high school or graduate college — it should be a part of your everyday life. At the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is self-actualization, which is defined as “a desire to become everything one is capable of becoming.” This can be achieved by learning.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2019/08/29/five-easy-ways-to-engage-in-lifelong-learning/

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Why colleges could start closing nationwide

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Brook Silva-Braga, CBS News
For millions of students, Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer vacation and the start of another school year. But for the first time in 185 years, there will be no fall semester at Green Mountain College in western Vermont. The school fell victim to trends in higher education that could soon impact hundreds of other schools. One expert predicts that 25% of colleges will fail in the next 20 years.

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/expert-predicts-25-of-colleges-will-fail-in-the-next-20-years/#

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September 11, 2019

3 Questions for Sasha Thackaberry, Vice Provost of Digital and Continuing Education at LSU

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Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed
We are actually building something that has never been built before. We’re creating a program at both a flagship and a system that has a wide portfolio of programs that are stackable, incorporate prior learning assessment options, and have a pathway for every student. Our degrees are all LSU degrees; LSU Online is the brand associated with the online delivery modality of our same high-quality LSU degrees. We are not a separate college or university; we are LSU. Also unique about our model is that we’re combining the high-quality of LSU degrees with in-sourced marketing, recruitment and retention.

https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology-and-learning/3-questions-sasha-thackaberry-vice-provost-digital-and-continuing

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How Harvard’s Most Popular Class Became a ‘Lifestyle’

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By Geoff Colvin, Fortune
Traditionalists may look aghast at CS50, Harvard’s introductory computer science course, which last year became the school’s most popular course of any kind. It’s taught by a young professor in jeans and a black T-shirt, David Malan, whose lectures are highly polished, fast-paced performances filled with props, demonstrations, and student involvement. Students aren’t required to attend, though; lectures are recorded in a slick, multi-camera format with production values that rival commercial TV, and most students watch them online. In addition to being Harvard’s No. 1 course, it’s offered simultaneously at Yale, with Malan teaching, an arrangement apparently unprecedented in the rival schools’ 318-year coexistence.
https://fortune.com/2019/08/29/harvard-computer-science-cs50-edx/

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With lifelong learning, you too can join the digital workplace

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Nahia Orduña, World Economic Forum

As Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, explained in the 2018 Future of Jobs report, it’s critical that individuals take a proactive approach to their own lifelong learning. In addition, businesses and governments need to actively support workforces in learning and developing skills. Automation and AI will generate prosperity and millions of new jobs, but as many as 375 million people worldwide will need to shift occupational categories and upgrade skills during the transition. We need talent—including the talent of those who took a career break, or senior workers who finished their studies a long time ago but can add unique perspective, and especially people who have different backgrounds

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/08/lifelong-learning-in-the-digital-workplace-is-essential-heres-why/

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September 10, 2019

How They (Online Graduate Programs) Get You

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KATERINA MANOFF, the Atlantic

Eager to attract students to new online graduate programs, selective universities have adopted surprisingly aggressive telemarketing practices. Many online graduate programs from the nation’s top universities promise an experience that’s nearly indistinguishable from studying on campus. They offer live seminars taught by tenured professors, close collaboration with talented classmates, and degrees identical to those granted by traditional programs. But in one area, even the best online programs differ drastically from their in-person counterparts: the intensity of the recruitment. Prospective students—many of whom are busy professionals unfamiliar with online education and apt to rely on brand names as heuristics—must often navigate slick, insistent marketing operations run by for-profit third-party companies.
https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/08/online-graduate-programs-recruitment/596077/

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Enrollment and age at community colleges

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AACC 21ST CENTURY CENTER
Since hitting a peak in 2010, the total community college enrollment has decreased each fall after the Great Recession, declining by more than 1 million students nationally between 2010 and 2017…. one of the most striking findings is the dramatic and continuing rise in enrollment for the less-than-18-year-old students. That’s according to an a recent report from the American Association of Community Colleges. The number of part-time students younger than 18 dramatically increased, going from 287,000 in 2001 to more than 773,000 by 2017—an increase of 170 percent. This age group also saw an increase – though much less dramatic – in the number of students attending community college full time.

http://www.aacc21stcenturycenter.org/article/enrollment-and-age/

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Encouragement for Online Learners

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By: Jeremiah E. Shipp, Faculty Focus

Our role as faculty must extend beyond grading assignments but include verbal and written encouragement, which is vital for the academic and personal development of students (Lowe, 2005). Encouragement can come in many forms such as positive feedback on assignments, emails, phone calls, and video messages. To encourage online learners, faculty can utilize a video technique called “Midweek Motivation,” which consists of creating short videos that can be used to help students persevere through any academic and personal challenge they may be experiencing. The video topics are unlimited, but in my experience I have shared professional challenges I have overcome and funny stories.

https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/online-course-encouragement/

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September 9, 2019

About three-in-ten U.S. adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online

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BY ANDREW PERRIN AND MADHU KUMAR, Pew Research

As smartphones and other mobile devices have become more widespread, 28% of American adults now report that they go online “almost constantly,” up from 21% in 2015, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 8 to Feb. 7, 2019. Overall, 81% of Americans say they go online on a daily basis. That figure includes the 28% who go online almost constantly, as well as 45% who say they go online several times a day and 9% who go online about once a day. Some 8% go online several times a week or less often, while 10% of adults say they do not use the internet at all.

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/25/americans-going-online-almost-constantly/

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The Messy Conversation Around Online Cost and Quality

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By Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed
Asked to explain how they balance financial and academic considerations, administrators and professors say quality is key but struggle to define it.  Justin Ortagus’ new study “‘Like Having a Tiger by the Tail’: A Qualitative Analysis of the Provision of Online Education in Higher Education,” published in Teachers College Record, examines (and tries to make sense of) the complicated and often conflicting perspectives of 22 administrators, professors and instructional designers at three research universities with significant online offerings.

https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2019/09/04/researcher-seeks-clarify-messy-conversation-around-online-cost

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3 higher ed groups urge colleges to speed up data analytics adoption

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By Natalie Schwartz, Education Dive
Three prominent higher education associations serving almost 2,500 institutions have issued a joint statement calling on colleges to commit to using data and analytics “to make better strategic decisions.”  The Association for Institutional Research (AIR), Educause and the National Association of College and University Business Officers say data can be used to improve recruitment, student outcomes, institutional efficiency and cost-cutting efforts.  They urge quick action. “[T]he incremental approach used so often in higher education won’t be enough,” they write. “Tweaks won’t deliver the change we need in time to make a difference in the lives of the students enrolled in our institutions today.”

https://www.educationdive.com/news/3-higher-ed-groups-urge-colleges-to-speed-up-data-analytics-adoption/561694/

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September 8, 2019

Unconscious AI in higher education

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by KEITH RAJECKI, eCampus News

The human brain adapts and trains itself to its surroundings and is very capable of making decisions even though some of the decisions are unconscious responses. However, the inherent unconscious biases that exist within human behavior can also similarly affect human decision making. It has been noted (Anderson and Anderson 2007, Machine Ethics) that in self-learning AI systems these biases can seep through to the AI systems. Especially in conversational AI interfaces, these unconscious effects can get deep-rooted and skew the decisions making.

https://www.ecampusnews.com/2019/08/26/unconscious-ai-in-higher-education/

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Collaborating on Flipped Library Sessions: 8 Best Practices for Faculty & Librarians

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By: Nicole Webber and Stephanie Wiegand, Faculty Focus
A common practice at many colleges and universities involves course faculty inviting librarians into their classrooms to teach research and information literacy skills and concepts customized to disciplinary or course needs. Library instruction varies in format but often manifests in the librarian teaching a single, isolated class session—what librarians refer to as a “one-shot.” Flipped Learning methods can help counter these challenges even when the overall course is not based on a flipped model. They liberate librarians and faculty from the one-shot model and expand opportunities for library instruction to occur at multiple times in a course, to be delivered virtually or in person, and to invoke a broader range of educational tools.

https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/blended-flipped-learning/flipped-library-sessions/

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Wake Tech added OER to one class and saved students $360K

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EdScoop

“Many Wake Tech students take at least one online course, and it’s continuing to grow more and more all the time,” Shahid-El says. “That’s something that we’re thinking will really start to shape more and more how students experience not just their campus but the college community.” An introductory business course, which used OER developed by the class’ lead instructor and college’s instructional support team, saved students money on traditional textbook costs, she says. During the 2015-2016 grant cycle, Wake Tech received a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to address the “achievement, success and withdrawal gaps for students of color and in online courses.”

https://edscoop.com/video/oer-cost-savings-wake-tech-community-college/

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September 7, 2019

Regis University’s technology systems targeted by “malicious threat” likely from outside the country

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By ELIZABETH HERNANDEZ, Denver Post

Student, staff and faculty can keep updated on the situation through a new website and text message alerts.  The “external data security threat” prompted Regis to yank down its technology services — including its website and all phone lines, email services and online programs that students use to submit work and professors grade it. The Denver institution has been dealing with this disruption in the throes of wrapping up summer semester and welcoming fall students back to campus. The university has since created a supplementary web page, regisupdates.com, to communicate to its community about the ongoing inconvenience.

https://www.denverpost.com/2019/08/23/regis-university-cyber-attack/

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Looking for continuous improvement? Focus on continuous learning

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Michael Norton, Vail Daily

“In times of change, the learners will inherit the earth, as the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” — Eric Hoffer.  And since it seems like the world is changing at the speed of thought, we will all do well to focus on the way we grow, evolve, and learn. One of the mantras that we hear with greater frequency these days is around the term continuous improvement. Typically, we hear the term continuous improvement when it comes to our efforts to continually strive to improve our products, services, and processes. However, we are now seeing the concept played out when it comes to people as well. The push to be better, faster, smarter, and stronger has many top achievers placing a focus on their own continuous improvement.

https://www.vaildaily.com/opinion/columns/norton-looking-for-continuous-improvement-focus-on-continuous-learning/

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