In a press release yesterday, Blackboard announced that it's bringing Student IDs to Apple Wallet. " With Blackboard Mobile Credentials, student credentials in Apple Wallet offer secure access to facilities, residence halls and more, as well as payments for dining, laundry, vending and retail, creating a seamless experience while navigating campus.It will be piloted this fall in three universities." This article discusses the implications. It notes that "automated attendance monitoring is listed as one of the technology’s key features" and suggests while "most students will resist the heightened surveillance these new digital IDs make possible, there is little question that college and university administrators and postsecondary educators will welcome the arrival of the new technology." I'm also seeing this as a pretty effective way to lock in your customers, because now moving away from Blackboard would mean replacing your student ID system.
It's still a novelty but we might be seeing much more virtual reality (VR) on the web soon using tech standards WebGL and WebAssembly. This is something that has been coming for some time with the development of the WebVR standards and the WebVR API. The experience will work with web browsers (I tested it with updated versions of Firefox, Chrome (which worked) and Internet Explorer (which didn't)) and also with VR headsets. Here's an example. But explore the Within website for a sense of what's to come - here's an immersive space experience, a taping of Saturday Night Live, and a song from U2. The key here is "is making VR content accessible to everyone, whether they’re watching on a laptop, mobile phone, or headset." Next: a shared group experience. There's (a lot) more to write about this, but for now let's just take a few minutes to admire.
OK, this isn't quite as easy as depicted in the article, and to actually use it to do anything you will have to type some lines of code, but the gist of the article points to an important new trend in software, specifically, the ability to use services to build features that are then accessible through other applications that you build. Scenario: suppose I'm building an elearning application to teach people how to use a drill, and I want them to learn how to hold it properly. I train the AI model using pictures of correctly and incorrectly held drills, then I connect my e-learning application to the AI model, and the application looks at people holding drills and tells them whether they're holding them correctly or not. Lobe is a service that creates the AI model; you still have to write your own e-learning application, though.
The difference between me an the people launching The Logic is that they think quality news and education should be sold to rich people while I think quality news and education should be distributed for free to poor people. It seems to me that the events of recent years should have taught us the wisdom of the second path, but the push (through such things as the previously mentioned Shattered Mirror report) is that we should be charging more subscription fees. I would love to do the same thing the people at The Logic are doing but I'm not willing to charge subscribers $300 per year for it, because I think it's wrong for the people, and wrong for democracy.
Transparency and the Marketplace for Student Data
N. Cameron Russell, Joel R. Reidenberg, Elizabeth Martin, Thomas B. Norton, Fordham Center on Law and Information Policy, Social Science Research Network, 2018/06/13
According to these four authors from various Fordham Centers, "Student lists are commercially available for purchase on the basis of ethnicity, affluence, religion, lifestyle, awkwardness, and even a perceived or predicted need for family planning services." According to the report (38 page PDF) some 14 separate data brokers sell access to student data. This results in email marketing to students from hundreds of sources. It's a business that would like to exist in the shadows; as the authors write, "transparency often exists solely because of regulator enforcement." Companies come and go and rise again under different names.
They get their data from surveys administered through schools, through student data brokers, and from self-reported data through honeypots (like scholarship information sites). Schools themselves don't seem to be a data source, but "organizations like the College Board and ACT, Inc. that administer college entrance exams and other standardized tests appear to be important sources of data for educational institutions advertising to students." See also the Hechinger Report.
The problem with certain models of education is that they require commercial sustainability. Thus with EdX. "EdX has been struggling to figure out how to support its work ever since Harvard University and MIT first opened it for learning in 2012." I don't know how EdX burned through an initial startup of $60 million (by contrasts, the cMOOC initiative burned through $4.95). I do know that that at EdX there was never a thought that open online learning would be a social good worth funding for its inherent value. No. It has to be a company. It has to be a start-up. As though no other model exists. Here's the EdX announcement.
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Copyright 2018 Stephen Downes Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.