Tag Archives: Technology

My u.lab learning journey at Boston’s Hubweek

I am currently taking the edX course “u.lab: Leading from the Emerging Future.” One of the choices for the week 2 assignment was to take a learning or sensing journey, which is defined like this:

Sensing journeys pull participants out of their daily routine and allow them to experience the organization, challenge, or system through the lens of different stakeholders. Sensing journeys bring participants to places, people, and experiences that are most relevant for the respective question they are working on.

IMG_0649I chose to make Boston’s Hubweek my u.lab learning journey. Hubweek is, “A weeklong celebration of innovation and creativity in Greater Boston, founded by MIT, Harvard, Mass General and The Boston Globe.” This blog post is a slightly edited version of the journal entry I wrote to complete the assignment. I went to dinner this past Friday with friends and one was so genuinely interested in my Hubweek experience that I decided to publish it here for her and others to read.

There is no question in my mind that Entrepreneurship is on the rise and people are looking to engage with emerging technologies in new ways. In my view, a subtle shift has also taken place: the libertarian / Ayn Rand vibe, where the focus of every start-up was “getting rich,” has transformed into discussions of inclusion, community, sustainability and impact. Although everyone may not appreciate the accelerating nature of technological development (artificial intelligence, genetics, robotics and others are called “exponential technologies”), there was surely an awareness that the ground is shifting under our feet and the only solution is to adapt together.

Monday began in Roxbury, which is one of the most economically challenged sections of Boston. Nevertheless, the event was hosted in a new “innovation center” where teams of high school students were showing off their innovations and talking about their plans to start a business. One young man was such a good salesman that I bought his product: a simple rubber holder for an eyeglass wipe that can attach to a belt or key chain. I keep it in my car now. A young woman had studied the use of sunlight to fight depression in the winter and was showing off a window valence for a bedroom with a built-in full spectrum light (patent pending). I learned about BUILD, which is, “dedicated to proving the power of experiential learning through entrepreneurship, and igniting the potential of youth in under-resourced communities.” I talked to the people at the booth, and was struck by a couple of facts: 1) 97% of kids who graduate from Build’s 4-year program graduate from HS on time, and 2) 95% are accepted to college. This is impressive considering that all these kids remain in public school, significant since the charter school question is on the Massachusetts ballot this November. I also ran into NuVu Studio, which is an educational program based on the studio model. This school sounds interesting and MIT News answered a question on my mind:

Such programs are difficult to implement broadly, Arida (NuVu Studio founder & MIT alumnus) admits, and private institutions tend to favor them, rather than public schools. But this fall, NuVu is entering its first public-school partnership, with Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, which will send 10 students for the entire semester — and those 10 students will earn credit. It’s a step in the right direction, Arida says.

Starting on Tuesday, I was joined by my friend, Chitra Dwarka, which made attending the events even more fun. We began at “Expanding Opportunity in the Digital Age,” hosted by Hubweek, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (MIT_IDE) and MIT Solve. Leading the discussion were Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew Mcafee, authors of The Second Machine Age (a book I reviewed in detail back in 2014). Given that MIT_IDE is a sponsor of the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium (Chitra and I are both on the organizing team), and the background reading that I’ve done, I felt more or less at home with the topics and messages in this session. What struck me most was the parallel goals between this session and the one in Roxbury, yet the very different vibe, academic reasoning vs. in the trenches transformation. For example, “inclusion” was a topic at both events (and a topic that came up later in the week); MIT_IDE sponsored an Inclusive Innovation Competition to, “inspire and reward entrepreneurial solutions that enhance the economic prospects of workers in the Second Machine Age.” The Boston Globe reported on the winners. Some of the organizations represented at this talk were The Joyce Foundation, which strives to “develop and advance policy reforms that promise to improve quality of life, promote community vitality, and strive for a fair society,” and Opportunity@Work, which is “dedicated to re-wiring the labor market so that all Americans can work, learn, and earn to their full potential.”

One track that I did not make was MIT Solve, which is described as, “an organism for solving the world’s most challenging problems.” Looking at the website, the mission and tracks remind me of Singularity University (I attended the summit in San Francisco this past August). Although I did not make any events during HubWeek, I signed up for the newsletter and will keep my eye out for future events.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went to the Broad Institute, “a collaborative community pioneering a new model of biomedical science.” They hosted a talk about the intersection of art and science and they have an artist in residence, Naoe Suzuki, who engages with the scientists. I was really impressed with how Naoe looked at science through the lens of an artist, for example, transforming whiteboard scribbles (equations and diagrams) into an artistic collage. She is also crowdsourcing her investigation into our relationship with water, and you can participate here. I’ll highlight a few other points from this discussion. Naoe’s perspective of exponential technologies is the compression of time, although it is an emerging thought for her. All the speakers noted that the processes of innovation are not that different between art and science. Finally, one person said that, as scientific data became more freely available on the web, the term “data parasites” emerged to describe researchers who leveraged this data to make new discoveries. Get your own data, said some. But, that position has been rebuffed as the larger community has asserted that freely available data sparks discovery.

Next, I went down the street to the Venture Cafe to hear a talk on, “Driving Startup Growth: Building an Innovation Ecosystem.” I’m familiar with this group as they hold a networking night every Thursday (very valuable, but fast paced, so you need to go with a clear objective in mind). The importance of ecosystems, as well as ESOs (entrepreneurial support organizations), were discussed at length. One of the speakers was Banu Ozkazanc-Pan, who is a researcher on the topic of inclusive organizations (and will be releasing a report by the end of the year). One of the interesting things that she said was that start-ups need to think about diversity prior to hiring employee #9. After that, the mold is set and hard to undo. Opening the lens a bit, other threats to the innovation ecosystem discussed were inequality, climate change, culture. Tim Rowe, CEO of Cambridge Innovation Center, said that, by far, the most net new jobs in the US are created by startups (see the pic here).

On Wednesday, I joined Chitra for a single late event, the Benton Throwdown, which features student teams, representing 10+ local colleges and universities, that have created start-ups. Audience members hear 3-minute pitches from each and then vote using monopoly money. Winners are announced at the end. The evening began with a bit of sage advice from venture capitalists — think of getting money as a sales process (don’t cold e-mail investors), they see proposals every day (don’t ask them to sign an NDA) and be sure to tell them what the future holds and why you believe in it. The winner of the contest was “Ask Molly” (MA College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences), which is a database of illicit substances and describes interactions with prescription drugs. The second place team was “DropZone” (Babson College), which is a search engine for Vets to ensure that they get all the benefits they deserve. The third place team was “Echo Me” (Boston College), which is an in-sync music service (you can subscribe to the music someone else is listening to). Other projects were also notable, but I won’t go through them all.

By Thursday I was getting tired, and almost decided to stay home, but pulled on my energy reserves to go to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to hear “The Hype and Promise of Blockchain.” On my way, I got a message from Chitra, who decided to go with her friend Steve, who works in the financial industry. That was lucky because I was late and they saved me a seat in the second row (the room was packed). Tom Ashbrook, from WBUR, led a panel discussion. A key point, predictable in many ways, was that banks like to talk about blockchain, but no one wants to be the first to adopt it: current systems work, so they are not motivated to risk switching. Nobody on stage wanted to stick their neck out and assert that block chain would transform our economy and society. As a counterpoint, watch this TED talk that I posted on my Facebook page almost a month ago. In fairness, the speaker in this talk wrote a book, but still I feel that the panel speakers were erring on the conservative side. Regardless of one’s level optimism, this is an important topic. My prediction is that this technology will not enter the mainstream via Bitcoin, or the banks, but rather will rise somewhere else, where there is less resistance. It is imperative that it does.

Besides the panel, there were a number of very good speakers. Anders Brownworth, who teaches Blockchain at MIT, did an excellent job explaining the fundamentals of blockchain, along with an online demo (try it yourself via this link). Chelsea Barabas, head of social innovation, digital currencies, MIT Media lab, made a lot of good points about how this technology would impact society (similar points are made by Don Tapscott in the TED talk). Her main story, that I liked, was about how the internet as started as a democratic constellation of people publishing their content, became a place where a few big players (Banks, Media, Google, Facebook, etc.) have too much control and may evolve into something very different — a place where people in the future will share power and control. This is of great importance as millions of people come online in coming years. Finally, I want to shine a light on Ariel Ekblaw, a graduate research assistant at the MIT media lab. She is a very impressive young women, working to use blockchain to make it easier to share medical records while ensuring patient privacy (abstract of her paper here). One last call out goes to Nimit Sawhney, CEO of Voatz, which is a blockchain powered mobile voting app. There were other speakers, but these were the best, in my opinion.

Hubweek ended for me at Demo Day at the Hynes Convention Center, which was a gathering of the “highest impact start-ups and companies” in the Boston area. I went to a talk about “Strategies to Accelerate Growth,” which was hosted by the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program. As it turns out, IBM has a blockchain offering for start-ups. I talked with the folks on the panel (and it eventually came out that I’m an ex-IBMer), got on their mailing list, and got a few pointers to educational materials. The core of their educational offerings is on the developerWorks portal (in my case the Architecture Center was of particular interest). The developerWorks portal hosts a variety of online education classes, including one for blockchain. Unlike Microsoft, IBM does not participate in mainstream MOOCs, such as edX and Coursera, which I think is unfortunate as I’ve found Microsoft’s data science curriculum on edX to be outstanding. Nevertheless, the IBM team did tell me of Coursera offering for blockchain, by Princeton University.

In the expo, there were lots of start-ups, and I will highlight a couple. To begin, there was Cambridge Blockchain, offering a blockchain platform. I did not talk to them, but I imagine many start-ups popping up, along with open source solutions. Of specific interest to me was Voatz, which is a blockchain based mobile voting app. The founder of this company spoke at the blockchain event on Thursday, so I was excited to meet him in person. I took an entrepreneurship class some months ago and had to make a list of 10 possible innovations for an assignment. Here’s an excerpt from the note I made to myself, “An app that provides secure and reliable voting from your mobile device; eliminates the need to visit the voting booth. Leverages technology from cyber currency. The benefits are obvious and there is a lot of desire.” Imagine how interesting it was for me to talk to an entrepreneur who had a similar thought, fully developed it, and now has a viable implementation! Nimit added me to his list of beta testers, so I’ll be able to try his app during the November elections. How much fun! Another app in this space is We the People, which attempts to increase voter participation. I’ve already downloaded it to my phone. Add these two start-ups that want to improve democracy to the three that I met at the Singularity University Summit and it becomes clear that change is in the air.

In conclusion, a lot of new voices have been added to my Twitter and Feedly feeds. These are exciting times and I’m glad to part of a movement to reimagine our economy and future. All I can say is that there are a lot of smart and inspiring people out there. 

Cambridge: Internet of Things

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View of Boston from the MIT Media Lab

On April 27, 2016, I attended a panel discussion about the Internet of Things at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA. The discussion was sponsored by the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the panelists were:

 

  • Sanjay Sarma, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT
  • Jeff Baer, Founder and CEO, LinkeDrive, Inc.
  • Frank E. Gillett, Vice President, Principal Analyst Serving CIOs, Forrester Research
  • Dip Patel, Co-Founder and CEO, Ecovent

The invitation to the event describes the excitement about the Internet of things this way:

Far faster than we realize, the objects around us are being embedded with sensors and intelligence that let them talk to one another, make decisions, and talk about us. The next tech wave isn’t just an economic battlefield — it’s a revolution likely to touch everyone personally.

Here’s a summary of the discussion. What is IoT? It is not a technology or product (you can’t buy it), and it is not a platform. IoT is a new design language that enables an entirely new way of thinking about the world. This is evident when you observe a child interact with objects such as Amazon’s Echo. Children expect the device to respond intelligently, and also expect the device to have awareness of its surroundings — their brains are wired differently. We need to adapt and find new words for this type of thinking and these types of interactions, otherwise we’ll fall behind. IoT is about applying technology to things, not people. A digitally enabled device is able to answer three questions about itself: 1) What is it? 2) What’s happening? and 3) What action can it take? By building devices with this capability, IoT connects the digital and real world, allowing business to better respond to their customers. Interoperability is not about making all devices talk to each other (it is unlikely that a door lock will need to interoperate with a toaster, but it might with a video camera or other security device ), it is about creating value from meaningful device interactions. Many companies are vying to get into the home. To position themselves for this future market, they are selling cheap devices to get their foot in the door (Apple sells AppleTV for only $100.00).

My recording of the entire session is here:

 

This was one of a series of events, in different cities, that MIT Sloan has sponsored, and the Twitter feed (#MITIoT) can be found in Storify.

 

 

An economy for our shared future

Allan: Irving Wladawsky-Berger writes a very good post about current and future economic challenges. Put aside the debate as to whether this is best characterized as the third or fourth industrial revolution, and instead focus on what we all need to do to cope with these changes and build an inclusive society. Inside this post are many good references, which I would also encourage people to read. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, writes:

We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.

For those that read this Blog, you know that I have long been concerned about challenges that will face the workforce between now and 2025. Irving Wladawsky-Berger references a Pew Research Center study, Digital Life in 2025, that predicts the impact of the Internet on humanity by 2025. This is a perfect follow-up, and this study makes expert predictions that can be, “grouped into 15 identifiable theses about our digital future – eight of which we characterize as being hopeful, six as concerned, and another as a kind of neutral, sensible piece of advice that the choices that are made now will shape the future.” The most important conclusion, I think, is #15:

Foresight and accurate predictions can make a difference; ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.’

The issues are extremely complex; nevertheless, the future is ours to build.

Originally posted February 23, 2016
Irving Wladawsky-Berger: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond was the central theme of the 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) that took place earlier this year in Davos, Switzerland.  The theme was nicely explained by Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman, in the lead article of a recently published Foreign Affairs Anthology on the subject.

Dr. Schwab positions the Fourth Industrial Revolution within the historical context of three previous industrial revolutions.  The First, – in the last third of the 18th century, – introduced new tools and manufacturing processes based on steam and water power, ushering the transition from hand-made goods to mechanized, machine-based production.  The Second, – a century later, – revolved around steel, railroads, cars, chemicals, petroleum, electricity, the telephone and radio, leading to the age of mass production.  The Third, – starting in the 1960s, – saw the advent of digital technologies, computers, the IT industry, and the automation of process in just about all industries.

“Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century,” he noted.  “It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

Most everyone agrees that there was a major qualitative distinction between the First and Second Industrial Revolutions.  While some believe that the Fourth is merely the evolution of the Third, Schwab argues that they’re qualitatively different for 3 major reasons:

  • Velocity: Compared to the previous three revolutions, “the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace.”
  • Scope: Disruptions are taking place in “almost every industry in every country.”
  • Systems impact: “The breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.”

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Reviews of “The Second Machine Age” that inspire me

Andrew McAfee, Hotel Jerome (pic by aspeninstitute-internal)

Andrew McAfee, Hotel Jerome (pic by aspeninstitute-internal)

In an earlier post (May 2014), I reviewed the The Second Machine Age, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. Recently, two other reviews came to my attention that contribute to the conversation about technology and its impacts on society. Both reviewers have unique and interesting points of view, very different from mine, which they back up with their own research. If you read the book, then I highly recommend that you also read these thoughtful reviews. While the coming technological changes are interesting, the more important issue is how to channel the power of technology for everyone’s benefit. Along with the book, these reviews inspire me to engage in the conversation and advocate for policies that make technological progress a force for good.

The first review, “To Replace or Respect: Futurology as if People Mattered,” by Frank Pasquale came to my attention on Twitter:

Pasquale writes that, “the question of distribution of the gains from automation is just as important as the competitions for dominance it accelerates” and “2MA invites readers to consider how societies will decide what type of bounty from automation they want.” This is exactly the point: we can (and must) shape our future world.

He discusses the idea that ownership of data, as opposed to innovative algorithms, is a source of competitive advantage. He says, “it is a commonplace in big data literatures to say that the more data one has, the more valuable any piece of it becomes—something Googlers would agree with, as long as antitrust authorities aren’t within earshot.” He also writes about intellectual property law, bringing up many interesting points.

Pasquale challenges the policy recommendations made by Brynjolfsson and McAfee, and I agree that the policy issues are difficult and need vigorous debate. I think Pasquale does a good job surfacing issues that cast a shadow on technological optimism. There is no question in my mind that we need to confront the issues he identifies head on.

In this review, Pasquale references “Justice for ‘Data Janitors’,” by Lilly Irani. I appreciate the hard questions Irani asks, “Will technology produce new jobs, new industries, and new forms of comparative advantage? Or will technology take away jobs and concentrate wealth among those who own the machines?” I also appreciate her distinction that, “Automation doesn’t replace labor. It displaces it.”

Irani makes the case that underpaid and hidden workers power the magic of many advanced technologies. She writes about how, “Twitter deploys an army of cultural data workers to sort and classify tweets in real time.” Such workers are organized via systems such as Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT), which allow programmers to invoke human workers for “cognitive piecework on demand.” Irani writes that, “As contractors, AMT workers are excluded from the protections of minimum-wage laws.”

Irani makes good points that deserve further discussion as she summarizes the situation this way:

The pleasures and conveniences of human-powered technology will continue to fuel a growing market for technology’s hidden laborers. Employers, driven by profit margins and stock prices, have great incentives to keep these workers off the books and out of sight. Inside the machines, inequality will persist. Unless, that is, we discredit and challenge the industry’s hierarchies of value that grant managers and programmers rock star status and wealth, while confining data workers to a life of underpayment and insecurity.

There is one point in both reviews that I believe requires clarification. Pasquale says of Brynjolfsson and McAfee, “By seriously considering the possibility of a basic income (232), they evince a moral sensibility light years ahead of the “devil-take-the-hindmost” school of cyberlibertarianism.” Irani says, “Despite the shortcomings of their analysis, Brynjolfsson and McAfee propose a weapon that could strengthen the hidden workers of the digital age: a basic income guarantee (BIG).” To be clear, what Brynjolfsson and McAfee said in the book was, “Will we need to revisit the idea of a basic income in decades to come? Maybe, but it’s not our first choice.” Brynjolfsson and McAfee consider BIG, but don’t advocate for it. There was a recent basic income experiment in India that I discussed in this blog, and the embedded video shows Brynjolfsson engaged in a discussion on this topic. I can’t read minds, but I would guess that Brynjolfsson and McAfee, if asked today, would agree that BIG needs more research and should remain on the table as an option for the future. As Irani says, “An income guarantee would allow workers to walk away, or at least starve the algorithms of their data until managers shape up.” In brief, BIG has the potential to level the playing field and empower workers.

Although both authors uncover dark sides of technological progress, the result is an inspiration to shape our future such that technology benefits everyone. Pasquale concludes:

All too often, the automation literature is focused on replacing humans, rather than respecting their hopes, duties, and aspirations. A central task of educators, managers, and business leaders should be finding ways to complement a workforce’s existing skills, rather than sweeping that workforce aside. That does not simply mean creating workers with skill sets that better “plug into” the needs of machines, but also, doing the opposite: creating machines that better enhance and respect the abilities and needs of workers.  That would be a “machine age” welcoming for all, rather than one calibrated to reflect and extend the power of machine owners.

We need more discussion about the impact of technology on society, and we need business leaders who think about more than maximizing profits. In a world where technology produces an unimagined bounty, we need inclusive policies to make sure that everyone benefits.

Top Ten Highlights from the 2014 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium

Registration for the 2015 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium opened last week. As with last year, I’m a member of the organizing team. One of my roles is to write content, such as the text below, for our newsletter. We sent similar content via e-mail in yesterday’s edition.

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2014 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium -- Innovation Showcase

2014 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium — Innovation Showcase

The 2015 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium is just around the corner: May 20, 2015 at the MIT Kresge Auditorium, Cambridge MA. This global event helps CIOs and senior IT executives become better business leaders.

Last year, Lindsey Anderson, event chair, told us in his opening remarks that we should all be thinking about the digital revolution because of two concepts: exponential growth of technology and convergence of global markets. Here are ten highlights from the 2014 Symposium (download the program pdf) to remember:

  1. Thaddeus Arroyo, Chief Information Officer of AT&T Services, received the MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award.
  2. During the morning’s academic panel, Erik Brynjolfsson, co-author of The Second Machine Age, set the scene for the day saying that, “We are at an inflection point where technology continues its ever rapid pace . . . and as a result is having a profound impact on society.” See the video.
  3. All day networking was highlighted by the 2014 Innovation Showcase and Evening Reception. Dell’s Karaboutis said, “Data is the new currency in the digital world,” a sentiment that Jeff Boehm observed as he visited vendors such as CloudPhysics, Cambridge Semantics, Luminoso, and RapidMiner that were showing new ways to gain insights from data.
  4. “Every company is now a software company,” says Mendix CEO Derek Roos while summarizing the digital disruption. The issue facing every business is that the world is becoming programmable, so software is critical for customer satisfaction and brand differentiation.
  5. To cope with this second machine age, “culture, laws, ethics, and economics all matter.” CIOs can no longer focus on technology alone; they must work closely with business owners.
  6. “Fear vs. fear” has replaced “hope vs. fear.” Narinder Singh, chief strategy officer for Appirio, says, “It’s now fear of disruption versus fear that we can’t screw something up because I don’t want to get fired.”
  7. Collective intelligence is the new frontier. Professor Thomas Malone tells us that the team’s strength depends on team members having high social intelligence, as well as a willingness to have everyone participate. Andrew McAfee explained how collective intelligence is expanding to include combinations of humans and machines.
  8. “IT doesn’t support the business; it is the business,” this is one of many great quotes from Adriana Karaboutis, the Dell CIO. Another was when she explained how she ditched the company’s IT steering committee, “I’m not a ship; I don’t need to be steered.”
  9. After the event, Sheila Lahar’s take away from the event was that modern CIOs are agile, customer-focused, visible, and innovative. Laura Aberle’s take away was that CIOs need to help enterprises stay ahead of the customer empowerment curve.
  10. Matt Haney identified the one overarching theme to sum up the Symposium: “evolve or perish.” This was the theme of the afternoon’s general session about becoming the CIO of the future.

Are you looking forward to the 2015 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium?

(Click here for the 2015 Registration Page)

The Robot Revolution and Jobs: “Humans Need Not Apply”

This post by Martin Ford talks about the impact of automation on our economy. This is a topic I’ve discussed in previous posts, and this is a good update. I echo Martin Ford’s recommendation that anyone interested in the subject watch the 15 minute video by C.G.P. Grey (short commercial will play first).

Martin Ford

It has been about five years since the publication of my 2009 book The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, which argued that we are on the brink of a revolution in robotics and artificial intelligence that would put millions of jobs at risk—and quite possibly threaten our overall economic prosperity.  Over the next few years, I followed up with a series of posts both here and at Huffington Post, warning of a future unemployment crisis, the potential automation of low-wage fast food jobs as well as the higher-skill white collar jobs sought by college graduates, and the negative economic consequences of widespread automation.

For most of the five years that I have been writing on this subject, I’ve been a relatively lonely voice; the attention of both the public and economists has been focused elsewhere. Over the the past year or so…

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Technology’s impact on education and learning

Earlier this month, I published a new post on IBM’s Thoughts on Cloud blog, “Five ways cloud is enhancing higher education.” In summary, the five points I discussed are how cloud technology can be used for:

  1. Streamlining operations
  2. Improving student productivity, conferencing and collaboration
  3. Extending the reach of higher education
  4. Enhancing and scaling delivery of course material
  5. Personalizing education and improving learning outcomes

If you read the post, you’ll see that cloud technology, combined with network, mobile, social and data analysis technologies, are driving the transformation. For readers of this blog, the Thoughts on Cloud post, especially point #3, updates the post I wrote here back in January 2013, “Can massive open online courses (MOOCs) help us change the world?” The short answer is that MOOCs have evolved quickly, but we still have a long way to go before they reach their full potential. Nevertheless, interest and optimism remain high, so I will continue to write about MOOCs as the story unfolds.

The emerging opportunities from the intersection of technology and education are exciting to me. In the 2013 IBM Global Technology Outlook (download available here), the education industry was said to be “at the brink of an IT-enabled transformation.” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding research to explore the potential of MOOCs. I expect the next few years to bring an avalanche of academic research about using technology to transform education.

If you want to be inspired, and think about how people will learn in the future, watch this You Tube video – Megatrends in technology disrupting higher education – Optus Vision 2014. Professor Young, Pro Vice Chancellor, Learning & Teaching, Macquarie University, talks about technology’s impact on education in the short, medium and long term. The big takeaway for me is that we’ve only begun to imagine the possibilities. For a more detailed discussion, read the New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Report > 2014 Higher Education Edition.

Stay tuned: we live in exciting times.