Technology and the Future of Work

Every day there seems to be a new report about the future of work. Will most jobs be replaced by robots? How will artificial intelligence impact future careers? The answers vary depending on the source and the underlying presuppositions. In November I had a chance to join over 150 educational and community leaders for a Career Readiness Summit sponsored by Remake Learning in Pittsburgh. According to Remake Learning, the event was a chance to “analyze the current state of workforce development, share promising practices, and build the partnerships required to prepare students for a changing world.” The keynote for the event was Tom Vander Ark. Tom addressed a variety of issues but focused on the impact of artificial intelligence on the future of work.

Remake Learning highlighted on their website the key implications that Tom made about career readiness for students today. These included the ability to:

  • navigate projects and work in teams, as the majority will be freelancers by 2027,
  • contribute to the economy through human judgement, creativity, empathy, social interaction, and innovative mindset,
  • work computationally and across disciplines, and
  • upskill continuously as the economy and required skills will change at a more rapid rate than ever.

Much of Tom’s references came from his research for his new project, “Ask About AI: The Future of Work.” While industries like medicine and law grabble with the implications of Artificial Intelligence in their business practices, education has not really begun to address the impact of AI on learning. Tom and the Getting Smart Team spent two years studying the implications of AI and came to the following conclusion: “machine intelligence turbocharged by big data and enabling technologies like robotics is the most significant change force facing humanity.”

To follow Tom Vander Ark and his team as they continue to document this trend, use the hashtag #AskAboutAI.

VR, AR, and the Internet of Things: Life Beyond Second Life

[According to this Campus Technology interview with Phil Repp, the VP for IT at Ball State, there are many new opportunities to view ancient ruins, use simulations in the health sciences, or understand the mechanics of flight using AR/VR.]

By Mary Grush 12/06/16


It gets even more interesting when virtual and augmented reality meet the Internet of Things.”  — Phil Repp

Ball State University has been exploring virtual reality since the early days of Second Life. Here, CT talks with Vice President for Information Technology Phil Repp about how our hyper reality has changed, with more advanced virtual reality, augmented reality, the ability to work in HD, the inclusion of the IoT and datasets, and the increasing accessibility of related tools and devices.

Mary Grush: When did Ball State University start working with virtual reality and related technologies, and why was that priority for you?

Phil Repp: Our own efforts in VR began in the mid-90s and grew out of the need to have greater visualization of ideas in many of our disciplines on campus.

Grush: Hadn’t there been strides in visualization in some disciplines much earlier than that?

Repp: Ways to visualize ideas has been a kind of search for a very long time, particularly in the design disciplines. You can even find it dating back to the 15th century in examples like Filippo Brunelleschi, who invented perspective: He didn’t like the idea of flat drawings of his buildings, so he learned how to show dimension through perspective. And there have been stages in various disciplines over time — e.g., mathematics and the sciences — where discipline-specific visualization tools took several steps forward.

So the search for better visualization of ideas has been on for centuries, but recently technology has taken it to a whole different level. And VR can both span disciplines and offer an intuitive experience.

For us at Ball State University, when technology tools started to get more sophisticated and VR became more generally available — you remember the early days of Second Life, for example — that’s when we began experimenting with the hyper reality of representing and visualizing ideas.

Soon we were using many 3D tools, virtual reality, and augmented reality to move ourselves toward the ability to represent things in a way that would be closer to what’s in a person’s mind’s eye in sharing and communicating an idea.

Read more…

How to Turn a District’s Edtech Portfolio From a Hodgepodge to an Ecosystem

[In today’s world of digital resources, it’s hard to find a way to access everything seamlessly. The Houston School District has developed a digital ecosystem that allows teachers and students to access all resources from one portal. Discover more about their system in this Edusurge article. I work Beatrice Arnillas, the Chief Technology Officer, on the CoSN Emerging Technologies Committee. It’s taken a number of years, but the Houston ISD has created a system that other schools may want to investigate. According to Beatrice, “The Houston Independent School District (HISD)’s response to this challenge has been to adopt IMS Global’s Learning Tools Interoperability Standards. Through these standards, we have eliminated multiple login/passwords and we are able to open high-quality digital content provided by multiple vendors in one platform, which we call “The HUB.””]

By Christine Willig, Oct 29, 2016


This fall, Jillian Estrella started her fourth year as a science teacher at the Energy Institute High School in Houston. To most outsiders, Energy Institute High School might feel like a school of the future. There are Smart TVs in every classroom and interactive whiteboards and table tablets in the student media lounge. All course content, assignments, grades, shared documents and study tools are delivered digitally. They are accessible through a centralized online portal that the school district rolled out three years ago.

On the first day of school, students have laptops assigned to them, and through the district portal, they have instant access to dozens of resources and apps—from Khan Academy to Google Drive to McGraw-Hill Education. When Ms. Estrella opens her own laptop on day one, she can click into one of these apps and track what her students are doing and how they are progressing. The various digital programs interact with one another and student data flows between each one. Why? Because school leaders in Houston have focused on solving a key issue: interoperability.

Four years ago, before the Houston Independent School District (HISD) began to tackle the interoperability issue, student digital learning wouldn’t have been so simple and so seamless. For example, if Ms. Estrella wanted her classes to use a variety of different digital tools, she would have to input all the names and email addresses of her students—manually—and generate new usernames and passwords for each of the various programs. Then she would have to figure out a system to help students remember those login credentials.

In the past, “I didn’t make use of as many digital apps because I didn’t have time to input all that information,” Ms. Estrella said, recalling her first year in the classroom. The problem she faced was that the different online tools and programs that were available to her students didn’t operate together and couldn’t exchange information.

Read more…