1. Articles in category: Latest News

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    1. Top 5 Learning Predictions for 2017

      Top 5 Learning Predictions for 2017

      Tuesday, January 30th, 2017

      Online learning continued to grow exponentially in 2016, partially fueled by companies like Udemy, Lynda.com and Coursera, all of whom offer extensive catalogs of courses. More and more students are finding that they can acquire the necessary job skills to land a new job by utilizing this form of online content.  And with employers more willing to accept that this type of courseware is necessary, we expect other related trends to emerge.

      So the first big trend you’re likely to see in 2017 is not what you might expect:

      1. Education Hacking

      The churn in technology advancement - both software and hardware - leaves a lot of traditional educational facilities in a tough spot.  Most times, universities and colleges find that their courseware is being rapidly obsolesced by new advancements that occur in 9-12 month increments. 

      An example of this rapid obsolescence can be seen with some of the new cloud computing companies.  Amazon Web Services boasted that they have over 700 significant changes to their cloud computing infrastructure each year. That means that if you’re going to participate in that arena, you can’t expect to find that content in traditional degree courses.  Those venues are necessarily slowed down by the entire credentialing process that most universities and colleges face.  In many cases the credentialing process for higher education takes longer than the next revision of technology to appear.

      So that leads to next big trend we’ll see in 2017:

      2.  Technology Boot Camps

      These are coding boot camps that compress the learning process into weeks instead of semesters.  Their popularity has spread quickly with venues like General Assembly who have opened up campuses throughout the country to meet demand. 

      But don’t count the universities out just yet.  Many entities are expected to announce their own versions of these technology boot camps, which offer professional courses versus credential courses to their students.  The University of Phoenix has launched one such venture called Red Flint, in Las Vegas, Nevada.  You can expect to see them increase that capability as they re-tool to be more responsive to current trends.

      3.  Micro-credentials

      With demand for traditional campus degrees waning - especially in the technology arena - attention is turning to non-traditional “micro credentials.” These are non-degree courses that offer expertise in niche areas like technology, but also other areas where there is a shortage of talent. These courses cost a fraction of typical education venues and can be stacked to create a customized educational experience, i.e., the “hacked” education venue. 

      With more employers warming to online certificates, and people changing jobs more often, expect this particular trend to grow exponentially. In an age where there is continuous change, the need for continuous learning is a foregone conclusion.

      4.  Apprenticeships

      This is expected to be another area where we’ll see greater growth, as evidenced by the agreement between Amazon and the U.S. Department of Labor announced on Thursday, January 19th.  This particular program announced an apprenticeship program to train veterans for tech jobs at Amazon.  One of the unique benefits of this type of program is that the veterans can earn a salary while learning the skills needed for the job.

      We expect other major software and technology companies to follow this trend, and see apprenticeships taking on a more important role as we move to other sectors of the population besides veterans.  These transitional programs should be welcomed by young families struggling to pay the bills while continuing to keep up with the changes in technology.

      5. Bricks and Clicks

      We see this as a more accepted venue as educators in the corporate space focus on the unique job roles that have to be brought up to speed across their enterprises and ecosystem.  While it was pretty easy to dump everything into the classroom venue in the past, the huge economies of blending online training with classroom venues will continue to push this trend further. 

      We expect that the ultimate solution in the next few years will be the enactment of the 20/80 model.  That model suggests that 20% of the training will occur in the classroom, while 80% of the training is being provided by a combination of online and embedded learning - the latter of which is training within an application, or like in the Amazon apprenticeship program, right on the warehouse floor where employees can access the training at the point of need.    

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    2. Time Management for Both Brains

      Time Management for Both Brains

      Thursday, January 30th, 2017

      So, your boss has enrolled the entire department in a time management training course … again. Wasn’t it just 18 months ago that you went through this before?

      Actually, you did come away from that last course with some very helpful insights on prioritizing projects and organizing information more effectively. Yet, your desk is still a mess, and much of the time your team is still racing the clock to beat every deadline. Maybe your boss has a point.

      But what are the chances that another round of time management training will “cure” you or the rest of your team of your time management defects?

      Here is some good news for everyone out there who may be burdened with time management performance anxiety: it’s okay to be you, just as long as you know what you are doing and why you are doing it!

      The Importance of Being Human

      These days, many time management consultants are beginning to recognize the roles that human factors like learning styles and personality types play in the way people approach time management issues. Simply put: we are each unique human beings, not clones or robots. We don’t all think the same way, or value the same things.

      In addition, over the years, research has revealed that our brains may often take the same input and process it in a completely different way than someone else. Though it’s not neurologically accurate, one of the most popular models of contrasting information processing modes is expressed in binary terms, as “right-brain” and “left brain” thinking.

      In a nutshell, people whose thought processes are described as “left-brained” think about information using linear, analytical patterns, while “right-brained” people work through the same type of information through creative, intuitive processes.

      It probably comes as no surprise that, for many years, most time management courses were designed using “left-brained” methods, placing a high emphasis on making lists and organizing data into neat, digestible categories. This type of system works great for left-brainers, but it can drive a “right-brained” person nuts.

      For right-brained people, a lot of work gets done from random association, creativity, and inspiration. An analytical system built on lists, calendars and categories seems restrictive and stifling. (To people in the left-brained world, meanwhile, right-brained behavior and working methods can appear disorganized and chaotic.)

      Right? Left? Right? Wrong?

      As far as effectively managing time and getting things done, right and left – and right and wrong – really have nothing to do with it!

      Instead of focusing on the system, redirect your attention to the final product. Time management is about wisely using the 24 hours of each day that we all have to work with. It is about finding ways to be as productive as possible during those 24 hours, in ways that enhance every aspect of your life.

      This sounds like a tall order, but it can be broken down into a few smaller goals. You simply need to find methods that help you do three things:

      1. Identify Priorities – Decide what is truly most important to you, and give yourself permission to get those things done first.
      2. Organize Information – Collect and store important data so that you can easily and quickly locate it when you need it.
      3. Keep Promises – Honor appointments and meet your deadlines.

      Now, how you get these things done is really up to you! A time management system or training course can help you get a handle on the basics, but you still have to customize the process so that it fits who you are – a class is not going to alter your personality.

      If making lists and keeping charts helps you, great! If you function better by making piles on your desk, there is nothing wrong with that – as long as you can still find things!

      If you can find a way to be you and meet those three main goals, you will be both happier and more productive. And really, that’s what time management is all about.

      Reprinted by permission from Baker Communications, Inc.

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    3. MASIE Center Announces Hands-On Curation & Learning LAB

      MASIE Center Announces Hands-On Curation & Learning LAB

      Wednesday, January 24, 2017

      Curation and Learning Lab

      Elliott Masie has announced a brand new Curation & Learning LAB to be held at The MASIE Center in Saratoga Springs, NY from March 7-9, 2017. Curation for Learning, Curation Tools Leveraging Learning Systems, and Curating Internal Content are just some of the hands-on explorations planned for a small group of learning colleagues in a 2 ½ day intensive exploration and lab experience at the 10,000 square foot MASIE Learning LAB in Saratoga Springs.

      “As content, context and collaboration for Learning expands, your employees are facing a wider Learning Panorama,” says Masie. “Curation is the process of finding, sorting, organizing, rating, ranking, recommending, validating, clearing, tracking and personalizing learning resources. I am deeply excited to bring together a small group of learning colleagues from around the world – at all levels of experience – exploring, experimenting, assessing and deploying a range of curation strategies. This is a LAB where we will experiment collaboratively.”

      Learning colleagues from around the world will gather together to explore a wide range of curation strategies, including Curation Tools: Leveraging Learning Apps & Frameworks, Curating External "Open" Content, Curation & Compliance: Keeping it Legal & Safe, Curating Real Time Content for Wider Use, The Learner as Curator?, and much more. Elliott Masie will facilitate a LAB experience for the participants in this vendor-neutral program.

      Lab topics will include:

      • Curation of User Created Content & Collaboration
      • Curation Skills for Learning Professionals
      • Curation and Learning Designers/Producers
      • Performance Support & OJT Curation
      • "Recommendations" (Ranks, Ratings & Advice)
      • The Librarian as a Curation Model
      • Governance of Curation
      • "Truth Testing" & "Appropriateness Screening"
      • Curation for Transfer: Learning at the Moment of Need
      • Building a Curation Taxonomy: Tags, Keys & Sorts
      • Machine Learning & Curation
      • Curation Goals: Targeting, Transparency & Optimizing
      • Mapping Curation to Current Design Models (e.g. Addie)
      • Curation for Global and Diverse Workforces
      • Curiosity Based Curation: From Siri to Alexa and More
      • Emerging Curation Tech & Methodologies

      For more information, please visit www.masie.com

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    4. Google’s Lunar $20M X Prize Competition Down to Five Finalists

      Google’s Lunar $20M X Prize Competition Down to Five Finalists

      Friday, January 27, 2017

      Google’s Lunar X Prize competition is down to five finalists - SpaceIL, Moon Express, Synergy Moon, Team Indus and Team Hakuto.  All of these companies are competing to be the first private company to launch a spacecraft destined for the moon by the end of 2017. To win the competition, the teams need to not only fly to the moon in order to qualify, they also to travel a minimum of 500 meters on the surface once they arrive.

      The teams are all planning different launch strategies to reach the Moon, as well as how to complete the second requirement of traveling 500 meters.   Most, however, plan to send back both photos and live video streams from the Moon’s surface to document the second requirement.  All of the competitors must launch their missions by December 31, 2017 to qualify for the $20 million grand prize.  The winner is the team that arrives on the moon and completes the requirements first.  There is also a $5 million prize for for second place.   Google says it plans prizes for separate achievements, such as getting to the original Apollo 11 landing site where Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon.

      Google is splitting $1 million in prize money across the entire field of 16 who have made it this far, as a reward for their contribution to research and education awareness on spaceflight.  The five that have made it this far have all managed to receive verified launch contracts.  There have also been multiple prizes awarded in the past.  You can see those prizes here: Terrestial Milestone Prizes.

      SpaceIL was the first to receive a launch contract, and they have a contract with SpaceX to launch its lunar lander by the second half of 2017. Moon Express also has government permission to fly.  Synergy Moon will fly using Interorbital’s Neptune 8, which is another rocket that has yet to actually reach space. And lastly, team Indus and team Hakuto will be sharing their launch on a rocket provided by the Indian space agency.  That rocket already has a proven track record.

      Launch rides may end up being the deciding factor here, as only three of the remaining five finalist have trips booked on vehicles which have actually traveled to space in the past.  But the five finalists also face daunting challenges, such as the delays to SpaceX’s program because of the company’s pre-launch explosion last year.  Being one of the five remaining finalists is still a major triumph for each of these X Prize contenders, so kudos to all 5 teams.

      You can find out more about the project here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Lunar_X_Prize

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    5. Amazon Launches STEM Club Toy Subscription

      Amazon Launches STEM Club Toy Subscription

      Thursday, January 26, 2017

      Amazon has created a new subscription program that’s called STEM Club, which is aimed at children from ages 3 to 13.  The program delivers educational toys to your home for $19.99 per month, and is grouped into 3 age categories:  3-4 year olds; 5-7 year olds, and 8-13 year olds.   Amazon selects which toys are shipped each month, and ensures that each of the items picked are appropriate for each age category.  And of course “STEM” means that the toys will be focused on the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

      The subscription program will feature only those toys that have recently launched, or those that are exclusive to Amazon.  To sign up for the subscription program, parents visit the STEM Club homepage, and then select the age range of their child (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M7UAJJI).   After parents sign up for the subscription, the first toy will arrive in under a week’s time.  The toys are shipped free, and the appropriate taxes are collected.  From that point forward, the service will select a new item to arrive each month.  For the initial launch, Amazon says that the service is only available in the U.S.

      Prior to this new subscription service Amazon launched the STEM Toys & Games Store in 2015, (https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=14725559011).  This was a dedicated area for browsing through these types of products on their site.  This is a typical approach as Amazon sees increased demand levels for various categories of products, not just educational toys.  At the time, STEM toys were their second-most visited section and had seen the highest sales volume during the prior holidays.

      The move to a subscription service for these STEM Club toys is aimed at getting shoppers to subscribe once and then forget it going forward.  Having a subscription revenue stream is a way of leveling their revenues, but in the case of the consumer, it does serve a narrow market focus.

      Amazon seems to be counting on the fact that STEM toys are going to remain a continuous category of interest, but it remains to be seen if that interest is going to be strong enough to merit a monthly subscription.   Perhaps this will be a category that home-schooled children rely on to continue their education.  That is currently a very large target population.

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    6. Hanson Robotics Introduces Professor Einstein via Kickstarter

      Hanson Robotics Introduces Professor Einstein via Kickstarter

      Wednesday, January 25th, 2017


      Hanson Robotics is introducing an educational toy called Professor Einstein.  Famous for its high-end commercial robotics, Professor Einstein is the company’s first venture into the consumer electronics market.  Professor Einstein is a mere 14.5 inches tall, uses natural language processing and other artificial intelligence capabilities, to comprehend and answer children’s questions about science.

      Professor Einstein can work in standalone mode or in conjunction with Hanson Robotics’ Stein-o-Matic app.   The app promises to deliver new, interactive content on a daily basis. Professor Einstein is Wi-Fi enabled and compatible with both iOS and Android phones or tablets.  It’s powered by rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries.

      Early backers can pre-order Professor Einstein via Kickstarter for $249 and its projected final list price is around $269 (link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1240047277/professor-einstein-your-personal-genius).  Professor Einstein ships in April. Hanson Robotics has equipped Professor Einstein with original content and a speech processing system, but it can access AI systems like IBM Watson and Microsoft’s Xiaobing chatbot to enable conversation.

      In the commercial sector, Hanson Robotics is known for its development of robots with empathy, such as Bina48, a robot introduced by the Elearning! Media Group at ELCE10.  However, until Professor Einstein’s appearance, the general public has not been able to purchase the company’s technology.  As was shown with Bina48, Hanson Robotics has invented a skin-like material called “frubber,” as well as motors and systems that can imitate all the major facial movements and expressions of a human, and can be run on low power systems.  It’s this natural facial movement that makes interfacing with humans more natural.

      Andy Rifkin, who is now CTO of Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong, is the inventor of Professor Einstein.  He previously worked at Time Warner, Mattel, Disney and United Internet Technologies.  Andy says he’s positioned Professor Einstein to be used by children who are at least thirteen years old.   Hanson Robotics is confident that Einstein’s expressive face will make people more open to learning, questioning and thinking, much as attendees saw with Bina48 as ‘she’ interacted with the audience to answer questions.  

      If Professor Einstein succeeds, it will be another step in the evolution of educational, robotic toys.  The hope is that someday these types of educational toys will make the notion of a “personal tutor” an everyday reality.  The science behind that goal comes from Bloomberg’s 1984 study which showed that students, who were provided one-on-one training, outperformed 98% of those students who were trained in the classroom.  So Professor Einstein joins the Amazon Echo and Google Home in the race to enable personal tutoring on a massive scale.   

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    7. Amazon and U.S. Department of Labor to Create Apprentice Program for Veterans

      Amazon and U.S. Department of Labor to Create Apprentice Program for Veterans

      Monday, January 23rd, 2017

      Amazon and the U.S. Department of Labor announced on Thursday, January 19th, 2017 that they plan to create a registered apprenticeship program to train veterans for tech jobs at Amazon.  One of the unique benefits of this agreement is that the veterans can earn a salary while learning the skills needed for the job.  This new program happens through ApprenticeshipUSA program, which currently has over 200 employers, colleges and labor organizations that have signed on to become part of the apprenticeship.

      This announcement follows Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos announcement last May that the company has set a goal to hire 25,000 veterans - and spouses of military personnel - over the next five years.

      U.S. Secretary of Labor Deputy Chris Lu praised Amazon in a press release saying, “We are pleased that Amazon is joining the remarkable group of forward-looking organizations that are pursuing innovations in apprenticeship for the 21st century.  Partnerships like this one have reinvigorated our nation’s apprenticeship system, creating opportunity and pathways to prosperity for hundreds of thousands of Americans that will last for years to come.”

      Thus far, Amazon and Tesla are the only major tech companies that have created registered apprenticeship programs.  Conspicuous by their absence are tech giants Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft.   

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    8. Microsoft develops a language teaching bot for Skype

      Microsoft develops a language teaching bot for Skype

      Friday, January 20th, 2017

      Learningonline.xyz Collaborates with Microsoft to Introduce a Language Learning Bot for Skype

      CUPERTINO, CA - In 2016, Microsoft introduced a new world of conversational computing—where conversations become the new platform. This paradigm shift is enabling machines to harness the power of human conversation, leading to endless improvements in efficiency, intelligence, and, of course, fun.

      Since the emergence of conversational computing, there has been an ever-growing presence of bots. More than creating efficiencies or entertaining experiences, bots are also pushing the boundaries of education for consumers. Skype, in collaboration with Eton Institute and partner company Learningonline.xyz, is developing a bot that can teach users a new language. Coming soon, this new tool is just a fraction of what will be possible with this emerging technology.

      While still in the early days of innovation, this tool is truly changing the way consumers access and engage language learning.

      Sue Brett, C.E.O. for Learningonline.xyz commented, “We are excited to offer our expertise and knowledge to Microsoft, for the development of a revolutionary method of language learning, a vital step for the emerging language learning markets of China and the Middle East. Our aim as an online learning platform is to provide learners with the opportunity to learn languages effectively without the constraints of time and space, therefore the growth into bots is the next-gen solution for a simple yet effective ‘human touch’.”


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    9. What Workplace Elements Matter Most to Employees?

      What Workplace Elements Matter Most to Employees?

      Thursday, January 18th, 2017

      Glassdoor just completed a study of more than 615,000 Glassdoor users who reported their salaries and ranked the following factors in the workplace:

      • Career opportunities
      • Compensation and benefits
      • Culture and values
      • Senior leadership
      • Work-life balance
      • Business outlook

       These factors were ranked in order of importance to the employee and placed in a corresponding graph to show the distribution overall, as well as by salary levels. Perhaps the most surprising result was that compensation and benefits came in last overall at 12%.  Instead, the most important factor for job satisfaction was the company’s culture and values at 22%.

      This factor, however, changed based on how much people earned.  The study showed that some workplace factors become more important as pay rises, while others become less important to overall employee satisfaction.  According to the study, less than 10% of those making more than $120,000 per year said that compensation and benefits were integral to their overall job satisfaction.  Equally surprising, only 12.8% of those making less than $40,000 said that the amount of their compensation and benefits gave them job satisfaction.

      The factors that seemed less important to the high earners were work-life balance and the company’s business outlook over the next 6 months.  Experts at Glassdoor attribute this finding to the fact that the bigger the paycheck, the more likely employees were to spend more time at work.

      Interest in how well the company is doing also falls as the size of the employee’s paycheck increases.  Glassdoor offered speculation that this could be due to the fact that lower-income workers are more concerned about economic insecurity.   Glassdoor also speculated that higher-income workers are mostly employed in larger, more stable companies, and this could explain the findings.

      Regardless of earnings, what seems to matter most to all employees, are culture and values.  This is especially true of higher earning employees.  This finding ties into senior leadership, because they are often charged with setting the stage for culture and values.  The study seems to support that as pay rises, employees shift their priorities toward longer-term careers, working under great leaders, and spending their days in a workplace with positive culture and values.


      The only data that might might have proven illuminating would have been to look at employees age groupings, to see if there were any influences on these factors from an age perspective.  To see more study findings, you can click on the study here: https://www.glassdoor.com/research/more-money-change-value-at-work/

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    10. Mountain View California Offers Residents Tuition-Free Education

      Mountain View California Offers Residents Tuition-Free Education

      Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

      The recently launched Mountain View Working Scholars program was designed as a low-cost way for the community to help adult workers earn a college degree. The program, which is a joint effort between the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, Thomas Edison State University and online course provider Study.com, leverages partnerships between the private, public and nonprofit sectors to remove the most prevalent barriers to education, cost and inconvenient class schedules.

      Through the partnership, working adults can earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited 4-year university entirely online by taking college courses from Study.com and Thomas Edison State University. Participants have the flexibility to take courses anytime and to continue to work while they earn their degree. The program addresses the college affordability problem at the root by reducing the total cost of a college degree from over $44,000 to under $4,300 through a combination of discounted fees and the use of low-cost transferable credit. Mountain View Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation is pairing this low-cost degree path with scholarships created from corporate sponsorship to make it free for participants.

      Most people associate Mountain View with Silicon Valley and the tech industry. The reality is that for every tech worker, there are 5 non-tech workers in service-related industries. Approximately 45% of adults over the age of 25 living in Mountain View do not have a bachelor’s degree. With the high costs of rent, home prices and other living expenses in the Bay Area, a college degree can be the key to unlocking greater earning potential.

      “As an edtech company in the heart of Silicon Valley, we have been grateful to participate in the tech boom, but realize that many outside the tech industry have not prospered and are increasingly burdened by the rising cost of living. A bachelor's degree is the key to upward mobility and the foundation for success in today's knowledge economy. Mountain View Working Scholars is bringing the dream of a college degree within reach for thousands of local workers” says Adrian Ridner, CEO of Study.com.

      The program, which is still actively enrolling participants, was the brainchild of Adrian Ridner and Ben Wilson, co-founders of Study.com who wanted to give back to the community. To date, over 200 people have applied for the program and 42 are actively taking courses.

      More details about the program can be found at http://www.study.com/mv or by attending an information session Thursday, January 19th 2017, at Mountain View City Hall from 6:00-8:00PM.

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    11. How to Do Customer Service Right

      Monday, January 16th, 2017

      There are endless definitions of what “customer service” really means, and guidelines for what it involves. It might be time to consider the term as self-defining; perhaps customer service entails, quite simply, serving your customers.

      Unfortunately, many businesses have a tendency to view their customer service processes from an inside perspective, placing emphasis on reducing costs rather than on providing quality service. If you take a moment to revisit your processes from your customers’ point of view, you might gain some insights about what dealing with your company is really like.

      Is My Call Really Important To You?

      Research and common sense both reveal that customers become frustrated when they call for service and are subjected to a recording that tells them every two minutes, “Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.”

      Customers feel (rightly) that if their call was really important to the company, they would be talking to a live representative and getting their questions answered, rather than sitting glued to their phone for an indefinite period of time listening to Muzak.

      The hold message, of course, is a less costly measure than hiring more representatives to handle the call volume with no wait time, but companies that approach customer service from a cost-control perspective are in danger of losing business, because they are not viewing their processes from the customer’s point of view. An effort must be made to understand where customers receive the most value when interacting with a company.

      Most people would like to deal with a friendly and understanding representative as soon as possible, or failing that, at least an efficient touch-tone system that allows them to quickly access the correct information or get in touch with the right people. Anything less makes the customer feel undervalued.

      Simply put, customers want their question answered or their problem solved, and they want to be able to quickly and easily contact someone or something that will accomplish that purpose. They have better things to do with their time than “continue to hold,” and may decide that since their call isn’t important enough for your company to handle efficiently, it’s a clear indication that you don’t value their business. The obvious solution is to take that business elsewhere.

      The “Cost” of Customer Service

      If customers don’t feel that their relationship has value to the company, they won’t value that relationship either. Companies that fail to meet customer service expectations are actually encouraging consumers to shop somewhere else. Do not place too little emphasis on the customer service experience; it is vitally important to retaining customers.

      Hiring more customer service representatives, maintaining facilities for them, and ensuring that all customer-facing employees are properly trained to deliver top-notch service can be a costly proposition. However, executives should think of customer service as an investment rather than an expense.

      Not only will quality service improve customer loyalty and result in more repeat business, the fact is that many people, even in a recession, are willing to spend more money with a company they enjoy shopping and interacting with. Better customer service actually attracts higher-paying customers, and those are the customers that will really help your business succeed.

      Customer Service for Customers

      Even in an economic climate where disposable income is down and more emphasis is being placed on keeping prices low, customers are still looking for a positive customer service experience. Analyze your current processes from their point of view. Determine where improvements need to be made to ensure that your customers remain your customers.

      Improvements in customer service should always be made with the customer’s perspective in mind. If a customer enjoys interacting with your company and feels that their problems or questions are taken seriously, they are much more likely to return and do business with you again. Your investment in improving the customer service experience will pay off.

      Reprinted Courtesy of Baker Communications

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    12. New Study on MOOCs Released by Harvard and MIT

      New Study on MOOCs Released by Harvard and MIT

      Monday, January 16th, 2017

      Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) released the 2017 version of their ongoing study that analyzes student participants in MOOCs.  The study can be found here:  Study.  The results of the study reflect only the performance of students enrolled in edX, which was cofounded by Harvard and MIT, but it covers 4.5 million learners who have participated in edX MOOCs since 2012, making the data pretty reliable.

      A summary of key findings are as follows:

      • The participation in edX MOOCs has now plateaued since edX discontinued the option for learners to earn a free certificate of completion.  That further reinforces one of the drivers of attendance to be personal credentialing.
      • 32% of the participants in edX MOOCs currently work (or used to work) as teachers. This may suggest that MOOCs are important sources to keep teachers current in their fields.
      • 60% of the learners who enroll in a typical MOOC elect to receive the paid certificate.  Again, this statistic points to one of the motivators behind enrollment: personal credentialing.
      • The average student in a MOOC spends 29 hours with the courseware before earning a certificate.

      Harvard and MIT will continue to publish these results which in turn will help all of us understand what elements are driving attendance, and thus required by the attendees.  Competition for MOOCs include shorter certificate courses and massive courseware providers such as Udemy and Coursera.

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    13. A Wearable Translator Hits the Market in May 2017

      A Wearable Translator Hits the Market in May 2017

      This is one new invention that could really change what we do in the classroom.  In the words of the inventor, Andrew Ochoa, “Being lost in translation has happened to everyone while traveling, even us, and that's exactly how the idea was born. Waverly Labs is at the convergence of wearable technology + machine translation, developing the world's first smart earpiece language translator.

      Using the latest technologies in speech recognition, machine translation and the advances of wearable technology, our smart earpiece allows wearers to speak different languages but still clearly understand each other. Simply put, when one person speaks, the other hears it in their language. Science fiction has called it many things, but we call it Pilot.”

      The Pilot was designed to hug the curves of your ear without being obtrusive.  It’s both snug and fashionable, and comes in red, black and white.  Pilot also includes a secondary earpiece for wireless streaming of music, or to share with the person you are speaking with.

      There’s also an accompanying smartphone app that toggles between languages and uploads them to the earpiece when in use offline and overseas.  For more basic translation, the app can be used as a phrasebook, but the real power of this device is the elimination of the phone in communicating. 

      If you watch the video, you’ll see that’s it’s translating in real time to the listener’s native language.  So you can imagine what that will be like in the classroom.  Will it be spot on initially?  It would really surprise us.  But in the long run, this is the right way to do translations in the classrooms, or when attending webinars, or in live conference situations.  Its promise to eliminate the barrier of language in human interactions may have started in a romantic way, but this could be the path for business going forward.

      Watch the video in this Kickstarter campaign, and you’ll see how speech is instantly translated: Kickstarter Link.  And if you’re like our editors, you’ll probably order a pair before you leave the site.   Video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/NjjQ5cH_YzI.

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    14. 21 Symptoms and Habits of Really Bad Bosses

      21 Symptoms and Habits of Really Bad Bosses

      Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

      Have you ever worked for a really, really bad boss?  Do you remember how it felt?  If someone just sent you the link to this article, it may be time to worry.   If you read it and chuckle, well congrats on recognizing these as undesirable traits.  

      We thought it might be constructive to provide this list of symptoms and bad habits exhibited by bosses who have gone over to the “dark side.” If any of these hit a nerve - well, you know what you should do.  And remember, the #1 reason most people leave a company is to get away from a (really) bad manager.   Hopefully, you’ll add even more to the list after you’re done reading these.  We think the total count may be in the 100’s.  Enjoy:

      1. The turnover rate in your department sounds like a halfway decent golf score.
      2. The term ‘micro-managing’ was invented by you.
      3. The only guidance you provide your direct reports is telling them that if they don’t know how to do something, you can find a replacement for them easily.
      4. You’ve never been wrong about anything - and you have the T-shirt.
      5. You don’t know what a performance review is used for.
      6. You’re the office bully when it comes to your subordinates.
      7. You spend more time kissing up than showing any love in the other direction.
      8. Your personal life looks like an episode of Jerry Springer.
      9. You take credit for your subordinate’s work - when it’s good.
      10. You like to publically humiliate your team members when they mess up, and you’ve now discovered the additional power of social media to spread humiliation even further.
      11. You find yourself disagreeing with a STOP sign.
      12. You have more personalities than Baskin-Robbins has ice cream.
      13. Your idea of inspiring people is to tell them how bad it would be if they got fired.
      14. When something goes wrong, you quickly find a scapegoat on your team to blame it on.
      15. You haven’t made a decision in the past 36 months.
      16. You hire C players so that no one outshines you.
      17. You can’t remember the last time you said ‘we.’
      18. The V in your VP title stands for ‘Vindictive’ - and the P - well you get the picture.
      19. You never let your team know what’s going on in the company.
      20. You are the last to arrive and the first to leave each day.
      21. You don’t know how to say “Thank you, great job!”

      We’re sure there are more.  Add one to the list for a shot at a Starbucks card.

      Read Full Article
    15. MASIE Center Publishes Virtual Reality & Learning Report

      MASIE Center Publishes Virtual Reality & Learning Report

      Wednesday, January 11, 2017

      Elliott Masie has just announced the publication of an open source VRLearn Report, which takes a look at Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Simulation Reality, and other emerging technologies, all from the perspective of Workplace Learning.

      The MASIE Center's VRLearn Report

      The MASIE Center's VRLearn Report

      The MASIE Center has just completed the VRLearn Report: a 12-page open source, vendor-neutral analysis of Virtual Reality and Its Implications for Workplace Learning. It takes a crisp look at Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Simulation Reality, and other emerging technologies – all from the perspective of Workplace Learning. Is VR and Learning real, hyped, or “too soon”?

      VRLearn Report: Virtual Reality and Learning Perspectives
      Publisher: Elliott Masie
      View, Download, or Print: http://www.masie.com/VRLearnReport

      The MASIE Center teamed with colleagues around the world, who provided input and experimentation as the VRLearn Report was curated. Together, they tracked the interest in a wide range of emerging Virtual Reality technologies for this report, including Pokémon Go, Facebook’s Oculus, 360 Degree Video, and more.  

      Read Full Article
    16. Why is Your Behavioral Style So Important?

      Why is Your Behavioral Style So Important?

      Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

      All of our relationships in life work like a bank account.  Into those relationships we make deposits, and sometimes we also make withdrawals - from an emotional perspective.  There are a lot of reasons why these deposits and withdrawals happen, but the primary reason is so that you have an even greater amount of influence in those relationships.  Would it surprise you that an action - a deposit - in one relationship could actually be a withdrawal in another relationship?

      Below is a link to a video that tells you more about the importance of your personal behavior style: Why Behavioral Styles Are Important.  For sure, it will add to your knowledge of the importance of your own personal style and how it helps or hinders your interactions with others.   Also provided to you is a link where you can assess your own behavioral style, and receive a personal, confidential result of that assessment: Your Personal Style.

      We think that if you spend the time to go through the video, and then take the free personal style assessment, you might just discover something about yourself that you didn’t suspect.  It’s a great way to start the year, and you might want to share it with the rest of your team.

      It’s being provided to you free of charge from the good folks at Baker Communications. They said to wish you a happy and successful new year.  

      Read Full Article
    17. Some Great Thoughts on Leadership

      Some Great Thoughts on Leadership

      Monday, January 9th, 2017

      There are a couple of great videos and articles on leadership out there that we wanted to share with our readers.  They cover a wide range of topics from capitalizing on change to getting back to basics when it comes to creating an environment where teams thrive.

      To start at the beginning, this video from the Microsoft Research and it features one of our favorite speakers: Simon Sinek.  Each year Microsoft Research hosts hundreds of influential speakers from around the world.  Their speakers include leading scientists, renowned experts in technology, book authors, and leading academics.  These presentations are all recorded and made available in a similar fashion that TED does.

      Here is one of our favorites that talk about the role of leaders, and why some teams pull together and do extraordinary things, and why some teams falter, or even self-destruct:

      Leaders Eat Last : Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't

      Here is great playlist from TED on how to be a great leader: How to be a great leader.   The twelve (12) topics are:

      1. How great leaders inspire action - Simon Sinek
      2. Learning from leadership’s missing manual - Fields Wicker-Miurin
      3. Lead like the great conductors - Itay Talgam
      4. Everyday leadership - Drew Dudley
      5. What it takes to be a great leader - Roselinde Torres
      6. Trial, error and the God complex - Tim Harford
      7. Tribal leadership - David Logan
      8. Listen, learn … the lead - Stanley McChrystal
      9. Inspiring a life of immersion - Jacqueline Novogratz
      10. How to start a movement - Derek Sivers
      11. Why we have too few women leaders - Sheryl Sandberg
      12. The difference between winning and succeeding - John Wooden

      Here is another great session by Tony Robbins, who talks about the right mindset of a leader, and then goes on to provide three valuable leadership lessons:

      3 Leadership Lessons from Tony Robbins | Tony Robbins Compilation

      We hope these videos inspire you to think like a leader, as well as provide you with a framework to be one of the very best leaders.  And then just maybe, you will have planted the seeds for others to follow in your footsteps.

      Read Full Article
    18. EdTech Market Segment Shows Growth Potential

      EdTech Market Segment Shows Growth Potential

      Saturday, January 7, 2017

      The Global EdTech market segment of the learning industry is estimated to grow from approximately $190 billion USD in 2016 to over $590 billion by 2021, at a CAGR of 25%.

      Key reasons for the strong growth include:

      • Continued improvement in the connectivity of handheld devices
      • Increased collaboration between hardware vendors and educational content providers
      • Increasing importance of e-learning in the corporate and academic segments
      • Technological advancements, and
      • Widespread government initiatives in this growing market.

      However, lack of knowledge and expertise among end users, along with lack of resources and infrastructure in developing global markets continue to restrain growth in this segment. 

      Based on the learning software market, the LMS market is expected to have the largest market share during this forecast period. This call-out is because of the features and benefits associated with this segment such as course content management, reporting and assessment, feedback management, video and audio-based content management, and user management.

      As always, the corporate user segment is expected to grow at the highest rate and will continue to have the largest market share during the forecast period.  This projection is due to corporate organizations seeking solutions that help to provide training to their increasingly mobile employee base, and doing that in efficient and effective manner.

      With the widespread initiatives taken up by the government in the region and huge technological advancements and adoption, APAC is expected to grow at the fastest CAGR in the EdTech market segment during this forecast period.  However, North America is expected to continue to hold the largest market share during the forecast period due to the increase in adoption of tablets and smartphones by users for academic and business purposes.

      For these and other reasons, such as the increasing presence of e-learning providers such as Udemy, Coursera, Lynda.com, and many others, the forecast continues to look strong.  

      Read Full Article
    19. Sleep and Your Brain

      Sleep and Your Brain

      Thursday, January 5, 2017

      According to “The cumulative cost of additional wakefulness: dose-response effects on neurobehavioral functions and sleep physiology from chronic sleep restriction and total sleep deprivation,” getting only 6 hours of sleep is as bad as getting no sleep at all.  Wait!  Say what?!

      That’s right.  This sleep deprivation study, which was published in the journal Sleep, took 48 adults and restricted their sleep to a maximum of four, six, or eight hours a night for two weeks.   And there was one unlucky group was deprived of sleep for three days straight!

      The results: Subjects who got six hours of sleep a night for two weeks straight functioned as poorly as those who were forced to stay awake for two days straight.

      So you can stop wondering how much is enough:  the subjects who were allowed to sleep eight hours per night had the highest performance - on average.  Subjects who got only four hours a night did worse each day. The group who got six hours of sleep seemed to be holding their own, until around day 10 of the study.

      In the final days of the experiment, the subjects who were restricted to a maximum of 6 hours of sleep per night showed cognitive performance that was as bad as the people who weren't allowed to sleep at all!   In fact, getting only 6 hours of sleep was as bad as not sleeping for two days straight.  And rounding out the study results: The group who got only four hours of sleep each night performed just as poorly, but they hit their low sooner.

      Surprisingly, the 6-hour group didn't think their sleepiness was all that bad, even as their cognitive performance was going downhill.  So don’t fool yourself into thinking that 6 hours is enough.  Get to bed!

      Read Full Article
    20. Elearning Experts Announces Jamie Kramer as Their New CEO

      Elearning Experts Announces Jamie Kramer as Their New CEO

      Thursday, January 5, 2017

      Elearning Experts LLC, a Virginia, USA based elearning company and an authorized US Moodle Partner and Totara Platinum Solutions Partner, will have a new CEO in 2017.

      CEO and co-founder, Katherine Robeson, will step aside in early 2017 following 5 years at the helm of the organization. Robeson will assume new duties as Chairman of the Board.

      "It has always been a privilege to guide the amazing talent that comprises Elearning Experts. The people and services of this organization represent the elearning elite," Robeson said. "I’m looking forward to continuing to support a smooth and seamless transition of leadership, and I am energized by new opportunities which will contribute to the company’s growth and success."

      Long-time co-founder and COO, Jamie Kramer, will assume the role of CEO effective January 3, 2017. Kramer holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and telecommunications management from the University of Nebraska, Kearney. Kramer has long led the company’s development teams and provided oversight to all aspects of the company’s operations.

      Kramer said in a statement that he is "truly honored" to be named CEO and that he's "looking forward to continuing providing superior elearning services to our existing and future customers."

      About Elearning Experts

      Official Moodle and Totara Partner. Elearning Experts offers the best in open source e-learning technologies to help our clients reach their training, performance, and learning goals. We design e-learning solutions for organizations, education, as well as businesses and larger corporations.

      We've been working with Moodle, the world's largest and most popular open source LMS platform, since 2003 and Totara since 2012. We specialize in creating affordable online learning solutions for small to large businesses and companies using Totara's enterprise class LMS.  For more information about Elearning Experts, visit http://elearningexperts.net

      Read Full Article
    21. Introducing Kuri - Kind of a Mobile Amazon Echo

      Introducing Kuri - Kind of a Mobile Amazon Echo

      Wednesday, January 4, 2017

      Commercial robotics have started to arrive, ranging from self-driving cars to speakers that control your smart home.  Mayfield Robotics’ Kuri is a new entry into the home robotic arena, and combines mobility and true interaction with approachable, friendly design.

      Mayfield Robotics is a startup owned and funded by Bosch, with a team that has extensive experience in the field of robotics, and also in interaction design and machine learning. Their first product is Kuri, an intelligent home robot that made its debut at CES this year, with pre-orders beginning in the U.S. and a target ship date of sometime during the holidays in 2017.

      Kuri responds to voice input, similar to other devices like Google Home or Amazon Echo. There’s a four-microphone array built into its compact, vaguely conical body so that it can hear you no matter where you are in the room, and it also has a built-in speaker.  Kuri doesn’t respond with words, but instead uses sounds, lights and expressive eyes to communicate responses back to the user – all of which was a key part of its design.

      The robot also has a built-in HD camera behind one eye, and a range of sensors to stop it from falling down stairs or bumping into furniture.  It moves on 3 wheels that help it rotate in any direction, and it can move from room to room with ease as it follows you or goes where you tell it. There’s an on-board processor to handle voice and image recognition tasks, and it’s programmable to expand its feature set.

      Kuri is under two feet tall, and about a foot wide with a total weight of 14 lbs.  Both iOS and Android apps are available to help control and interact with the robot when you’re not using him and it seeks out its charging pad when its battery needs charging.

      Read Full Article
    22. The Most Important Management Decision You’ll Make in 2017

      The Most Important Management Decision You’ll Make in 2017

      Wednesday, January 4, 2017

      Managers make hundreds of important decisions every week, but none will ever be more important than the decision you reach regarding this vital question: Are you going to spend your day doing everyone else's work for them, or will you spend it training and motivating them to do it for themselves?

      For those who choose the latter path, this article may help you get started. 

      Most good managers feel personally responsible for the success of their teams.  And a team's continuing ability to get projects completed on time and within budget reflects directly on that manager’s abilities.  With failure not an option, the path of least resistance is to do the work yourself, rather than take the time to explain how to do it to someone who may be less qualified than you, or less committed to the team’s success. 

      Training your team is going to be very hard work. And it can even be a little intimidating having all those folks looking to you for directions and solutions.  But if you’re one of those individuals who have been promoted through the ranks, you probably do know a lot more about doing everyone else’s job.  And maybe you know more about those jobs than you do about your own.   So it is very tempting, and very easy, to just slide back into the old routine.  

      In fact, if you’re new to management, you may have even tried the approach to training where you take one of the new people with you and let them watch you while you do their job.  Chances are that really didn’t work out the way you hoped.

      People don't learn by watching. People learn by doing - once they’ve received the proper training.  The smart manager finds a way to let go and let the team do their jobs. Your team is not going to learn and grow and hit their peak level of productivity until you stop doing their work and become highly effective at doing yours. 

      Here are 5 simple strategies for accomplishing the job you were hired to do:

      1. Start out by simply accepting the fact that your job is to train others to do what you have been doing. The organization doesn't want you to do the work of three people; the organization needs those three people to work at full capacity, while you help them become successful.  Your job is to get your people up to speed. Once you get the hang of this, the productivity of your team is going to skyrocket. 

      2. Implement a hands-off strategy. Once you give everyone their assignments and the training to prepare them for success, back off and leave them alone.  Depending on their level of expertise, you may not want to assign a full set of tasks immediately.  However, once you have made an assignment, the successful manager will get out of the way and let the responsible team member do the work. Train them, explain your expectations to them, and then step back.

      3. Inspect and correct (kindly). People need accountability and feedback. Praise them for what worked well; make suggestions for what to improve. If something needs to be redone, let them redo it. It may slow you down today, but in the long run you’ll be ahead. 

      4. Let them know that it’s okay to make mistakes and even fail, as long as they learn from it and do better next time. Tell them of some of your early mistakes, and let them know that they’re in a safe learning and working environment. Tell them that you trust them and that you will back them all the way. 

      5. Now that you’ve freed your time up a bit, begin reworking the big picture for your team. How can you improve training, communication and performance?  What are you going to cover at your next team meeting?  What are you going to do to recognize outstanding performance? What can you do to help the team member who is still struggling a little? 

      This decision to train and motivate your team to do the work is going to be one of the most important decisions you have to make in this New Year.  Do you have the courage?

      Read Full Article
    23. Negotiating Under Time Pressure

      Negotiating Under Time Pressure

      Saturday, December 31st, 2016

      It’s the end of the year, and your small business needs to close this big deal to finish the year in the black.  You have a whole team counting on you to get it done, and just to add some pressure, you’re cash is running low and a payroll is right around the corner.

      The stress has been getting to you. Today’s bad news has frayed your nerves almost to the breaking point.

      Somehow, your customer seems to have caught wind of your situation, and has decided to schedule the final contract negotiation… at 3:00 on the last day of the year.

      Who will have the upper hand in this negotiation?  Clearly, it’s not you.  Your customer has decided to use time to their advantage. It is a difficult situation to be in, and one that you would be wise to avoid at all costs.

      The Impact of Time Pressure

      Dealing with deadlines and time pressures can cause undue stress, and can also lead to lopsided negotiations and money left on the table. Regardless of whether you are a purchasing agent needing to acquire materials before they run out, a contracts analyst working to help your sales department close a year-end deal, or an executive seeking to seal a merger before nervous shareholders scream too loudly, knowing how to manage time is a critical skill.

      Managing time properly not only enables you to avoid excessive pressure, it also enables both parties to weigh situations and consider various options without feeling overly rushed to agree to terms.

      In some instances, specific clauses or proposals may require approval from individuals who are not present at the actual negotiation: a C-level executive, Legal, Finance, or in some cases, the Board. Allowing sufficient time for review and approval processes will help accommodate these situations.

      Here are three top tips to help you manage time during a negotiation:

      Deadlines – When faced with a deadline in a negotiation, ask yourself who controls the deadline. Is the deadline imposed or controlled by you, or by the other party? If it is internally imposed, is it a realistic deadline? If the client has imposed it, is it set in stone? What are the reasons for the deadline? Is it artificial? Is it flexible? Try to gather as much information to determine why a deadline exists and if it can be influenced. If necessary, it never hurts to ask for more time.

      Be Willing to Bend on Time – There may be times when the other party may ask you for more time during a negotiation. One of the keys of principled negotiations is to be willing to act in good faith to ensure that a win-win situation and strong relationship will emerge from a negotiation. Providing additional time, within reason, shows the other party that you are open to working with them. Of course, if providing additional time results in an advantage for them or places you at a disadvantage, it may simply be a tactic. Ask a few probing questions to find out why they need more time. Ultimately, you should seek to take actions that ensure a positive outcome for you while also protecting the relationship with the other party.

      Don’t Allow Negotiations to Stall – In those instances when the other party requests additional time, or the negotiation is paused or delayed for another reason, be sure to impose a deadline and set up a new negotiation meeting. Don’t let any momentum you have managed to build so far fall by the wayside by allowing a negotiation to stall.

      So how did you manage to get out of the above scenario that we stated up front?  Fortunately, you knew that this tactic was coming, and you had formulated a response ahead of time.  When you finally sat down at the table with this prospect, you stated that you can’t go lower than the price quoted, because you would go under your GSA pricing guarantee.  However, you’re prepared to make some other (non-financial) concessions to get the deal done this year.  They include immediate shipment of the products, and also escalation of any problems to the second tier of your support.  The deal closed, and you saved your company from disaster.

      Our thanks to Baker Communications for supplying the role play scenario and tips.

      Read Full Article
    24. How EdTech Investments Fared in 2016

      How EdTech Investments Fared in 2016

      Wednesday, December 28, 2016

      In 2016, an estimated $1.03 billion was raised on nearly 140 EdTech deals. That was down from the 198 deals that totaled $1.45 billion in 2015. These totals were across all companies who sought to improve learning outcomes for learners of any age.  When you look at that as a category, it unfortunately pales against the funding that can be seen elsewhere in the VC world.  For instance, in calendar year 2015, there were 74 megadeals (investments of $100 million or more) in the general industry, compared with 50 in 2014.

      As in previous years, companies offering tools in the postsecondary and “other” categories raised more money than those with other products.  The “other” category includes a mix of products that range from helping business professionals develop skills, to offerings aimed at parents - but not K-12 or higher-ed institutions.

      This year also was devoid of mega-rounds for startups in the postsecondary sector.  In 2015, those mega-rounds included deals like HotChalk, Udacity, Udemy, Coursera and Civitas Learning.  Those few deals accounted for more than $520 million of funding.  Udemy led this pack in 2016 with a $60 million round.

      The biggest funding round of 2016 went to Age of Learning, which raised $150 million and accounted for 55% of the funding total for K-12 curriculum products.  This is the Glendale, California company that’s the developer of ABCmouse.  This is a collection of online learning activities aimed at young children. This is one of those tools that was first developed for the consumer and parent market, but is now attempting to make headway into schools and classrooms in its next level of market maturity.

      Angel and seed level funding rounds, which signal investors’ interest in promising but unproven ideas, declined in 2015 as well. The 66 deals at this stage are the lowest since 2011, but roughly on par with 2014 levels.

      Fewer but bigger seed deals are usually a sign of maturation in the industry, but it remains to be seen if this is the case in EdTech, or whether it’s more selectiveness on the part of investors.  Either way, the bar for seed rounds just went up a notch or two.  And when that happens, entrepreneurs have to show more traction and revenue to close a deal.  That translates into a closer look at revenue growth, adoption, implementation timelines and usage - all of which are much more complex to show.

      Although investors say 2017 is still looking very good, it’s expected that those receiving the big payouts will have to be very adept at showing how their products are doing at the consumer-use level.  Perhaps the biggest intrigue is still around emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality.  However, in our magazine’s opinion, the dominant players are going to be companies like Amazon and Google, who both have the ability to fund that experimentation inside their companies.


      Read Full Article
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