My colleges are ready to take their winter breaks. People are using up some personal and vacation days to extend the break before and after Christmas and the New Year. And I will take a break from writing here too until the new year.
Here's wishing all my readers a happy and healthy holiday season and a great new year.
If you can put aside education and technology for a day or week, do it. Refresh your brain.
As the year comes to an end, you see many end-of-year summary articles and also a glut of predictions for the upcoming year. I'm not in the business of predicting what will happen in education and technology, but I do read those predictions - with several grains of salt.
“A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam.” wrote sci-fi author Frederik Pohl.
Many of the education and technology predictions I see predict things rather than the impact those things will have. Here are some that I am seeing repeated, so that you don't have to read them all, but can still have an informed conversation at the holiday party at work or that first department meeting in January.
If you look at what the folks at higheredexperts.com are planning for 2019 just in the area of higher ed analytics.
Is "augmented analytics" coming to your school? This uses machine learning (a form of artificial intelligence) to augment how we develop, consume and share data.
And IT analyst firm Gartner is known for their top trends reports. For 2019, one that made the list is "immersive user experience." This concept concerns what happens when human capabilities mix with augmented and virtual realities. Looking at the impact of how that changes the ways we perceive the real and digital world is what interests me.
We are still at the early stages of using this outside schools (which are almost always behind the world in general). You can point to devices like the Amazon Alexa being used in homes to turn on music, lights, appliances or tell us a joke, This is entry-level usage. But vocal interaction is an important change. A few years ago it was touch screen interactions. A few decades before it was the mouse and before that the keyboard. A Gartner video points at companies using remote assistance for applications such as an engineer working with someone in a remote factory to get a piece of equipment back online.
Will faculty be able to do augmented analytics using an immersive user experience? Imagine you can talk to the LMS you use to teach your course and you can ask, using a natural language interface, and ask " Which students in this new semester are most likely to have problems with writing assignments?" The system scans the appropriate data sets, examines different what-if scenarios and generates insights. Yes, predictive analytics is already here, but it will be changing.
But are IT trends also educational technology trends? There is some crossover.
Perhaps, a more important trend to watch for as educators for next year is changing our thinking from individual devices (and the already too many user interfaces we encounter) to a multimodal and multichannel experience.
Multimodal connects us to many of the edge devices around them. It is your phone, your car, your appliances, your watch, the thermostat, your video doorbell, the gate in a parking lot and devices you encounter at work or in stores.
Multichannel mixes your human senses with computer senses. This is when both are monitoring things in your environment that you already recognize, like heat and humidity, but also things we don't sense like Bluetooth, RF or radar. This ambient experience means the environment will become the computer.
One broad category is "autonomous things" some of are around us and using AI. There are autonomous vehicles. You hear a lot about autonomous cars and truck, but you may be more likely to encounter an autonomous drones. Will learning become autonomous? That won't be happening in 2019.
AI-driven development is its own trend. Automated testing tools and model generation is here and AI-driven automated code generation is coming.
Of course, there is more - from things I have never heard of (digital twins) to things that I keep hearing are coming (edge computing) and things that have come and seem to already have mixed reviews (blockchain).
Data governance grows - that should be true if their survey has accurately found that 35% of responding institutions said they don't even have a data governance policy - a common set of rules for collecting, accessing and managing data.
Finding the ROI for AI and VR may be what is necessary to overcome the cost barrier to full-scale implementation of virtual and augmented reality. AI has made more inroads in education than VR. An example is Georgia State University's Pounce chatbot.
Their fourth prediction is institutions learning how to use the blockchain. The potential is definitely there, but implementation is challenging.
Predictions. I wrote elsewhere about Isaac Newton's 1704 prediction of the end of the world. He's not the first or last to predict the end. Most have been proven wrong. Newton - certainly a well respected scientist - set the end at or after 2060 - but not before that. So we have at least 41 years to go.
Using some strange mathematical calculations and the Bible's Book of Revelation, this mathematician, astronomer, physicist came to believe that his really important work would be deciphering ancient scriptures.
I have held those titles in past years and currently I'm working as a Virtual (that's remote, right?) Instructional Designer (ID). It certainly is a job that varies from place to place. In a small college or company, you are likely to be doing some of the work of an instructional technologist, media creator, graphic designer, pedagogical coach and some pretty boring copy/paste of content from faculty and subject matter experts (SME).
That job posting is from iDesign, an educational service company, so it is corporate with a classroom flavor. So, what is a learning architect? Like George on Seinfeld, I always wanted to be an architect, so this looks like my opportunity. Maybe.
This post will outlive the job posting, so here is an abridged version of the job description.
iDesign is currently seeking qualified learning architects and instructional technologists to join our course development team. iDesign is offering a comprehensive suite of services to help academic and business partners increase their online presence.
Learning Architects work with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and key stakeholders to support and guide the design, development and production of innovative online courses. The Learning Architect collaborates with SMEs to adapt content for online instruction, suggests relevant learning technologies, and develops course materials that support the stated learning objectives. The Learning Architect works closely with a number of team members including Learning Architects, Instructional Technologists, Quality Reviewers, Multimedia Editors and Graphic Designers to ensure the design and development of online learning support the vision of the partner and subject matter experts. Learning Architects works with the Senior Learning Architect/Project Manager to keep them informed of issues that impact course design and development and delivery of the project.