Saturday, April 29, 2017

Google AI experiment may lead to robots that can learn WITHOUT human input - Tim Collins Daily Mail

And creating robots that can learn without any input from humans is moving ever closer, thanks to the latest developments in artificial intelligence. One such project seeks to pit the wits of two AI algorithms against each other, with results that could one day lead to the emergence of such intelligent machines. Researchers at the Google Brain AI lab have developed a system known as a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN). Conventional AI uses input to 'teach' an algorithm about a particular subject by feeding it massive amounts of information. This knowledge can then be employed for a specific task - facial recognition being just one example. GANs seek to generate new content from this learned information, creating digital content like pictures and video based on their understanding of similar real life images and footage.

Online Learning and Institutional Resilience and Business Continuity - Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed

Should every institution develop some capacity for online learning? What about small residential colleges, places that differentiate around an in-person residential learning experience? I’ve argued that small-scale online and low-residency programs are a way to build on institutional strengths, grow the knowledge and skills of our educators, and reach new groups of students. Online learning can also be a catalyst for organizational change, as the impact of traditional and open online learning programs on improving residential teaching and learning has been consistently under-appreciated. Need another reason to invest in online learning? How about institutional resilience. Will your institution be able to keep going if a black swan lands on your campus?

A Russian hacker has created his own 'starter pack' ransomware service - Zack Whittaker, Zero Day

A new kind of highly-customized ransomware recently discovered by security researchers allows individual criminals to deliver "ransomware-as-a-service". What sets this ransomware apart from other kinds of file-locking software is that criminals who buy this specialized malware, dubbed Karmen, can remotely control the ransomware from their web browser, allowing the attacker to see at-a-glance a centralized web dashboard of their entire ransomware campaign. That dashboard allows the attacker to manage their fleet of infected victims' computers, such as by tracking how much money they've made. If this figure falls short, the attacker can then bump the price of the ransom they seek. In other words, it's a "starter pack" for low-level criminals to engage in ransomware campaigns, said Andrei Barysevich, director of advanced collection at Recorded Future, who co-authored the report. "For $175, any script kiddie can carry out ransomware attacks," he said on the phone.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Purdue's Bold Move - Paul Fain and Rick Seltzer, Inside Higher Ed

Indiana institution acquires Kaplan University and its 32,000 students in an unprecedented move to enter online education as many large for-profits continue to slump. Purdue University’s acquisition of Kaplan University is an unexpected tectonic shift in American higher education, revealing both the changing roles of public universities and the dwindling fortunes of for-profit colleges. The deal announced Thursday has the Indiana-based public research university acquiring nearly all of the credential-issuing side of Kaplan’s higher education business -- seven schools and colleges that make up Kaplan University, but not its School of Professional and Continuing Education.

Why Richard Culatta Will Be the New ISTE CEO - TANYA ROSCORLA, Converge

The Rhode Island innovation leader hopes to use his new position to tackle tech challenges related to digital equity, next-generation assessments and transitions between high school and college. After 18 months as Rhode Island's first chief innovation officer, Richard Culatta will become the new CEO of the nonprofit International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) on May 1. The ISTE Board of Directors* had been looking for a new CEO since Brian Lewis' employment ended last September. Out of a 42-person interview pool, Culatta earned that spot because of his proven innovation record at the U.S. Education Department and the state of Rhode Island, along with a good grasp of the needs of ISTE's members, who hail from more than 92 countries and number upward of 17,000.

Researchers examine the effectiveness of a psychological strategy on online learners - Milenko Martinovich,

While online education has opened access to learners worldwide, new Stanford research suggests that a single approach to teaching everyone in an online class may not yield the best outcome, especially when it comes to course completion. The key, the Stanford researchers say, is to recognize cultural differences among class participants, especially the difference between cultures that celebrate the power of the individual versus those where the good of the group comes first. Instructors can then tailor teaching strategies to best meet the learners' needs. In a new study published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, results support the need for tailored strategies – based on cultural backgrounds – that can be scaled and help millions of learners worldwide.

Will higher ed funding hit $0 in New Mexico in 2018? - Autumn A. Arnett, Education Dive

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed 100% of higher education funding for next fiscal year, The Washington Post reports, and the legislature won't be able to overturn her veto. Public colleges and universities in the state have seen a 32% drop in funding since the recession. Increases to the state's public school system were also a part of the veto package, continuing a downward trend that has amounted to a 14% cut in public school funding since the recession. Martinez expressed frustration over the state Senate's failure to schedule confirmation hearings for her Board of Regents nominees. New Mexico State University President Garrey Carruthers decried the idea that the state's public universities are getting "caught up in political strategy," and Democratic leaders in the legislature are planning to sue the governor over the veto.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

BREAKING: Purdue to acquire Kaplan U, Kaplan to stay as non-academic administrator - Autumn A. Arnett, Education Dive

Purdue University has plans to purchase for-profit provider Kaplan University, according to a Securities Exchange Commission filing by Kaplan parent company Graham Holdings Company made Thursday morning. Kaplan will become New University, a public Indiana university affiliated with Purdue, according to reporting by The Chronicle of Higher Education. New University will maintain a separate accreditation and its own administration, and current students and faculty are expected to be retained by the new institution according to the original filing.

Steady Hand in an Unpredictable Time - Andrew Kreighbaum, Inside Higher Ed

Recent personnel choices at the Department of Education have received scrutiny for connections to private industry and personal ideologies at odds with the mission of their office. But the appointment of James Manning, a career public official, has drawn a different sort of reaction. Manning was named acting under secretary of education last week, one of nine hires officially announced by the department. Former officials who have worked under Republican and Democratic administrations described Manning as an administrator with a broad skill set and a deep understanding of the workings of the student financial aid system. Even critics of recent steps taken by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on student loan servicing said it was important to have an expert on the complex federal loan program in place at the department.

Online courses make up more than half of CPS’s revenue - Liz Konneker, GW Hatchet

The College of Professional Studies is earning more than half of its revenue from online courses – making the college a leader in online learning at GW.Fifty-four percent of the college’s revenue comes from students enrolled in online programs or courses and 60 percent of its students took at least one online course this academic year, Ali Eskandarian, the dean of the college, said at the April Faculty Senate meeting. Faculty said the school has embraced online learning because many of their students are non-traditional, meaning they already have professional jobs or families that take up a significant amount of time. The school began offering online courses a decade ago, and since then online learning has become a dominant part of the school’s mission, Eskandarian said in an email.

11 Ways to Make Your Online Course Go Global as a Freelance Educator - Sarah Cordiner, THE Journal

The continued growth of online courses and the introduction of alternative accreditations will spawn a growth in freelance or independent professors. By 2025, all you need to start your own university is a great online teaching style, course materials and marketing plan.” The booming demand for self-study, on-demand and access-anytime training and education is evident through the popularity of platforms like Udemy and Coursera. The online learner is ready and waiting for your course. Many educators are shifting away from their traditional teacher, trainer and professor roles at brick-and-mortar institutions and realizing the benefits of freelancing, such as sharing their expertise beyond the walls of their classroom and earning extra compensation.

What MasterClass Online Courses Pay to Lure Hollywood Stars as Teachers - Nataley Jarvey, Hollywood Reporter

A hundred grand is entry-level pay for masters including Shonda Rhimes, Aaron Sorkin, Steve Martin and Kevin Spacey dabbling as online instructors: "I would love a class from Elon Musk," says MasterClass CEO David Rogier. When San Francisco-based MasterClass got underway in 2014, it had a hard time finding big names to teach its $90 online education courses. But the days of co-founder/CEO David Rogier cold-calling author James Patterson to convince him to sign on as an instructor are over. A-listers such as Hans Zimmer, Aaron Sorkin and now Shonda Rhimes are signing lucrative deals to teach, as MasterClass plans to expand into new subjects. MasterClass aims to bring the quality of Netflix to the $100 billion e-learning industry.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Seventeen jobs, five careers: learning in the age of automation - Max Opray, the Guardian

Welcome to the fourth industrial revolution: the economy of always learning. Staying still is more likely than ever to result in obsolescence, as indicated by a report released last month by consultancy firm PwC, which estimated 30% of British jobs could be automated by 2030. As professionals need to update their skills more frequently than ever, so too the education sector is evolving to cater to a new state of affairs in which young people are projected to have 17 jobs over five different careers, according to the Foundation for Young Australians 2015 report, The New Work Order.

USU-Online to offer accelerated course options - Mitch Henline, Cache Valley Daily

For students already competent in their field of study, Utah State University-Online is making it possible to get through courses faster – or just test out of them altogether. Starting this summer, USU-Online will be offering a limited number of its courses with accelerated options. At the professor’s discretion, three methods will be offered: A student can take a comprehensive assessment, complete a comprehensive project or complete the course material at a faster pace. USU’s distance education manager Kevin Shanley said competency-based education is a growing trend across the country.

6 improvement trends spreading like fire across all colleges and universities - MERIS STANSBURY, eCampus News

Academic program creation and evaluation is top-of-mind with institutions. This year colleges and universities are looking to diversify their program portfolios, either through offering online or blended learning offerings, through offering micro-credentials, or by placing their bets on emerging programs. What’s also noteworthy this year is that Hanover has gone a step further in identifying the overarching improvement trend of academic program creation and review by including a list of the top high-growth and emerging programs in higher ed at the moment. “Facing declining enrollments and reductions in funding across key academic offerings, higher education institutions are diversifying their program offerings, experimenting with new teaching methods, and emphasizing the value in higher education to key external stakeholders.”

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Democratization of Machine Learning: What It Means for Tech Innovation - Kartik Hosanagar and Apoorv Saxena, Wharton

Now we are on the cusp of a new grand leap thanks to the democratization of machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence that enables computers to learn without being explicitly programmed. As recently as 2015, only large companies like Google, Amazon and Apple had access to the massive data and computing resources needed to train and launch sophisticated AI algorithms. Small startups and individuals simply didn’t have access and were effectively blocked out of the market. That changes now. The democratization of ML gives individuals and startups a chance to get their ideas off the ground and prove their concepts before raising the funds needed to scale. There is an effort underway to standardize and improve access across all layers of the machine learning stack.

China’s Artificial-Intelligence Boom - SARAH ZHANG, the Atlantic

The country’s universities and tech giants are starting to surpass American ones when it comes to researching and implementing AI. China’s rapid rise up the ranks of AI research has people taking notice. In October, the Obama White House released a “strategic plan” for AI research, which noted that the U.S. no longer leads the world in journal articles on “deep learning,” a particularly hot subset of AI research right now. The country that had overtaken the U.S.? China, of course. It’s not just academic research. Chinese tech companies are betting on AI, too. Baidu (a Chinese search-engine company often likened to Google), Didi (often likened to Uber), and Tencent (maker of the mega-popular messaging app WeChat) have all set up their own AI research labs. With millions of customers, these companies have access to the huge amount of data that training AI to detect patterns requires.

UTEP president: Funding for higher education is in a downward spiral TX and NM universities facing budget cuts - Stephanie Guadian, KVIA

A downward spiral. That is how UTEP President Dr. Diana Natalicio described the decline in state financial support for higher education institutions. It was a sentiment shared by NMSU's President Dr. Garrey Carruthers at a town hall organized by the El Paso Times that was held on the UTEP campus. The two panelists were joined by El Paso Community College President Dr. William Serrata and Dr. Richard Lange, president of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center - El Paso. Organizers said the status and future of higher education is an important conversation to have in the middle of a legislative session. Lawmakers are trying to slash billions of dollars before June amid the prolonged oil price slump that has stung state coffers. Higher education and Medicaid are among the targeted cuts.

Monday, April 24, 2017

How New York’s Free College Plan Could Disrupt Higher Ed Market - Kirk Carapezza, WGBH

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill making the Empire State the first state to cover tuition at all public colleges and universities for low- and income families. Under the new law, students whose families earn up to $125,000 won't have to pay tuition at the state's community colleges or four-year universities. “I think they should be worried because it's the same admission market," said Brian Mitchell, the former president of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Mitchell expects Cuomo's plan will reduce out-of-state admissions at private schools in the northeast. “If you are subsidizing public sector tuition in the sense of making it free, you put the privates at a profound disadvantage,” Mitchell said. “It's not just the privates in New York State, but it's the privates in Pennsylvania and in Massachusetts. The first second and third largest collection of private colleges are in New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts respectively, and they should all pay close attention to this."

U of Phoenix-HBCU Partnership Expands - Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed

Another historically black institution -- South Carolina State -- teams up with the University of Phoenix to offer online courses to a greater number of students. S.C. State will waive a $35 readmission fee and offer students a 50 percent discount on tuition rates, dropping the cost of a three-credit-hour course to $651. Students can take up to 27 credits from Phoenix. After the university reviews the students’ accounts for academic or financial holds, the academic departments map the courses they need to finish the degree they were pursuing before stopping out to equivalent courses offered by Phoenix. The BARC program is the latest product of an “alliance” that Phoenix and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund entered into in November 2014 to boost online education at historically black colleges and universities.

Why Gen Z needs librarians now more than ever - GINNY BOUGHTER, eSchool News

Whether guiding research or introducing new technology, today’s librarian gives Gen Z the skills and tools they need to move from ‘getting it right now’ to ‘getting it right.’Librarians and media specialists are in a unique position within schools, since they are very often the person responsible for introducing students to new technologies, and are also on the front lines when it comes to connecting students to meaningful sources for research. Today’s students have never known a world without the smartphone or tablet, and many of them have been using these devices independently since infancy. The answers to their questions have never been more than a click of a button away. In this brave new world of technological innovation and free-flowing information, librarians are now tasked with teaching these digital natives how to navigate these waters with discernment, while still taking full advantage of the opportunities these tools afford them.