by Stephen Downes
Sept 19, 2016
This infographic is only a small shard of the emerging ecosystem but it serves to highlight the developing market of AI bot platforms (Siri, Cortana, Now) along with messaging (Messenger, Allo, Skype) and the underlying AI -as-a-service (Watson, Alexa, Luis) and bot frameworks (Wit.ai, BotKit, Bot Framework). Things are beginning to get really really fun.
Let's just use the phrase "founders of distance education". Tony Bates offers several alternatives to the three suggested by Steve Wheeler (Bates, John Daniel, and Michael Moore) including Isaac Pitman, the University of London External Programme, Chuck Wedemeyer, Harold Wilson, Jennie Lee, and Walter Perry. I've generally averse to including politicians in such lists as they are almost certainly receiving credit for someone else's work. Drawing from this list, I'm thinking that if anyone deserves credit, it's the people who pioneered the use of radio (anything earlier, including the epistles, would be classified under 'correspondence education'). So the people who obtained broadcasting licences were held by universities in Utah, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in the early 1920s, as well as Australia's school of the air, and Canadian initiatives run by the railroads, would maybe qualify. There were also educational broadcasters as early as 1923 in India, along with initiatives in Scandinavia and the UK. Who were the people? I don't know. What role would make a person a 'founder' - the builder of the technology, the person who writes about the theory, the experimenter who verified it works, or the directors and politicians who institutionalized it? Bates's list runs to the last, while my list would almost certainly priorize the first.
The problem, as we all know, is that "Facebook is simply a cage to hold and study us monkeys while we are being fed ads. These ads are targeted based on an analysis of our activity on Facebook." So why isn't there a P2P version of Facebook, where we could get the interactions without the intrusion? The problem lies in the limitations of the mobile web. "It is designed for browsing web pages and downloading data off big servers, not serving up content to the whole world, like a mini version of a Facebook or Instagram server. It's very difficult, inefficient, and unreliable for your phone to serve out data to all-comers: it's a one-way street." Could we pair phones with web-based servers? Sure - but servers cost money. And "getting money means charging a subscription, or targeted advertising. Personally, I'm not willing to pay money to see pictures of your food." Via Doug Belshaw, who also links to the associated comment thread.
The UK's JISC has released an alpha version of its 'App and Resource Store'. Consisting in the first instance of resources migrated from the now-defunct Jorum service, the store will "works just like any other digital store, with a mixture of free and paid-for resources, each with clear licensing and cost." Here's an example of one of the migrated Jorum resources. There are mechanisms to display metrics, reviews and curation. It seems like an awful lot of overhead just to display images and PDFs, and I don't see why there can't be a way to jump straight from list result to resource, without the interstatial. It would also be nice to have a listing of providers, and URLs that did not use the has symbol '#' in a non-standard way,
I can't say I greet Zuckerberg's investments with enthusiasm. I personally feel they should fund education the way the rest of us do, by paying taxes and letting allocation be driven by social (and accountable) priorities. Their intent with CZI is to correct some of what they feel are government errors, focusing on graduation rates and introducing mastery learning into learning environments. Their funding "include BYJU’s, an India-based company that helps students learn math and science on their own, and Andela, a Nigeria-based company that trains top tier tech talent from across the African continent and pairs them with companies in need of skilled developers." Looks like 'picking winners' to me - isn't that also something business thinks government shouldn't do? Via Ann Isabel Paraguay.
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