What is authentic learning in a digital environment?

We don’t really know. Nobody does. Yet.

Despite the many answers that are lighting up the Twitterboard — mostly with endorsements of commercial learning “suites” — surveys, studies and news accounts are telling us that the online education industry is simply too young and too inexperienced to have come up with a fail-safe system for educating students from kindergarten through college.

To appreciate the complexity involved in answering what makes for authentic learning in a digital environment, let’s look at a list of the major online delivery models (courtesy of Phil Hill, executive vice president at Delta Initiative). Among these are:

+ Ad hoc online programs assembled by individual teachers.

+ Fully online programs designed for for-profit organizations, such as the University of Phoenix, and online-only courses designed by non-profits, such as Rio Salado College.

+ School-as-a-Service companies that develop curriculum and online tools. Our competitor Pearson is an example.

+ Corporate-Academic partnerships, such as the Cisco Networking Academy, that deliver curriculum, technology platforms and program assessment tools.

+ Competency-Based Education that emphasizes educational outcomes over grades. An example: Western Governors University, which confers certification on students who have “demonstrated learning outcomes.”

+ Blended/Hybrid Courses and the Flipped Classroom, which offer online and face-to-face class instruction where students listen to lectures online and do homework in the classroom. The Khan Academy might have spearheaded this approach by posting bite-sized tutorials on YouTube that let viewers learn K-12 math at their own pace and then spend more one-on-one time with their teacher.

+ Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), the system whose technology enables students — in the hundreds of thousands — to log on and take courses with high-profile faculty who design and lead courses. The best known examples include Stanford University-based Coursera and Udacity, and edX, founded by Harvard and MIT.

The makers of online learning products may not know exactly what constitutes authentic online learning, but they are producing them for a variety of learning platforms nonetheless. In addition to getting a jump on the market, what else does the proliferation of these online models signify?

First, online learning is new. For all intents and purposes, it’s only as old as the Web, and no single system, pedagogically or technically speaking, can claim bragging rights. Even a MOOC maker, which looked to be a celebrity winner, recently pulled the plug on an online course that had attracted some 40,000 registrants. A blog headline on The Hechinger Report, an independently funded project of Teachers College, Columbia University, summed up that particular experience: “My first MOOC: Online class about how to create online classes failed miserably.” The moral of the story: If you rush pedagogy into a bad marriage with technology, you’re going to end up in divorce court with your students.

Second, data pointing to the efficacy of online learning is in short supply. That’s not to say that organizations, such as the Babson Survey Research Group, are silent on many of the essential questions about the online experience. Survey authors are getting answers from “chief academic leaders” about their commitment to online learning, the perceived workload involved in teaching online, and the kind of schools that choose one digital experience over another. The most important questions, however, remain unanswered: “What online learning system actually works? For whom? How and why?”

Third, all of the players in the online learning ecosystem are still experimenting. And that’s a good thing. They know that fanfare over the latest scalable technology is not the same as a pedagogical victory. We won’t know who the real winners are until that excellent digital environment comes into existence.

That’s sort of a meta assertion — that we’ll know it when we see it. But we will know a good system when we can evaluate what happens when a student engages with online educational content. For this we will need to establish metrics and then evaluate them in light of the relevant data we can collect. That data probably won’t come until digital textbook publishers, cognitive scientists, classroom teachers and software developers build out the online environment.

Should McGraw Hill just wait for the digital environment to evolve into something seamless and interoperable? The harsh reality is that companies that do not keep up with technology simply become society’s vestigial organs — if they survive at all.

Admittedly, we were prudent when we entered the digital learning marketplace. We went after the low hanging fruit — homework management and lecture capture, to name just two of the tactical issues we addressed with our Connect and Tegrity tools. With 125 years of institutional memory, we have been alert to the snares that await an enterprise that sets out on a fishing expedition instead of a clearly mapped trail. As we wrote in our post about the Impenetrable Forest of Doom, we did not want to create pedagogical tools and content without knowing what works — and without knowing how to reach a vast, distributed customer base with diverse educational needs. When the online learning data are in, we will move forward knowledgeably to integrate Connect, Tegrity and our other educational aids into good online learning systems.

We made the right decision at the time. But that was then and this is now.

We cannot wait around for others to develop the pedagogy and tools in harmony with an online environment. We have a blueprint in mind that shows how good content plus a reliable business model can speed the advent of effective online learning.

For now, let’s just say, it’s in the Cards.

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How to enter the Impenetrable Forest of Doom and live to tell about it

When it comes to education, every new year brings out the forecaster in us. In case you haven’t heard, this is the year of the massively open online course, the MOOC. It’s also the year of the iPad educational app. And it’s also the year of gamefication.

You almost have to envy the ancient Greek Erythraean Sibyl. All she had to do was decipher an acrostic in a set of oak leaves to predict the divine parentage of Alexander the Great. Education seers today are learning that their predictions increasingly depend on a more complex oracle known as “big data” — a collection of metrics so information-rich that it requires cognitive computing systems to analyze it. But if we prognosticators speak without understanding how students make decisions, memorize, pay attention and engage in many other individual and interactive learning behaviors, we will be hard-pressed to predict with any accuracy what pedagogies and technologies will bring about the desired result — whatever that may be.

Lest you throw your hands up at the hugeness of our prediction conundrum, we want to mention what we already know about the very near future of the education marketplace, or, as we call it, the Impenetrable Forest of Doom.

Like many of us, we grew up loving video games.  The Legend of Zelda was a big favorite. Like all the games we got obsessed with, winning meant entering into a fantastical world, overcoming obstacles and attacks, liberating an unfairly imprisoned royal and bringing order to a chaotic universe. This gaming paradigm is more or less the one we turn to whenever we talk about conquering the equally labyrinthine education “ecosystem” — a world every bit as formidable as Zelda’s.

As with Zelda’s world, the education ecosystem is made up of many disparate constituencies and topographies. The customers for our textbooks and learning systems are spread across the immense Impenetrable Forest of Doom — “IFOD” — in K-12, colleges and universities. Most of the ivies and quite a few state schools are “Level 1” in difficulty to reach. Meaning, textbook publishers know who they are. In fact, publishers see them as low-hanging fruit. But what about the schools in Paragould, Arkansas, and Victorville, California, “settlements” deep in the interior of IFOD? If you are a textbook publisher and you do not have a sales force in the hundreds, if not thousands, you are only circling the perimeter of IFOD — and leaving innumerable opportunities unseized.

So, the first problem the education entrepreneur encounters is distribution. Even if you have a pretty good idea of who constitutes your customer base — and that’s a big “if” — can you afford to send your sales force out to meet with everyone in it?

At least two problems can arise when you have this kind of spotty customer base:

+ You are reluctant to make intellectual and capital investments in a product with a profit margin that remains relatively small because you can’t actually sell enough of your product. Moreover, you can’t modify it to satisfy the unique requirements defined by fifty different state educational systems.

+ You produce products that do not address core education issues but opt instead to create generic training programs common to large organizations. Instead of developing content that teaches students how to write computer code, interpret “Huckleberry Finn,” and solve problems in English, history, math and physics, you sell programs that train employees to avoid sexual harassment or to use their 401K plans. At best you are able to sell productivity tools to school systems that automate the rote tasks associated with teaching math and science.

McGraw Hill has several popular products that fall into this latter category. For teachers a tool like Connect reduces the amount of unproductive time spent grading tests or worksheets. For students a tool like LearnSmart aids in memorizing mathematical formulas or foreign languages. For teachers and students, Tegrity records lectures and make them available online for curriculum enhancement and self-paced learning. All of these tools are built at great cost and address tactical issues. And they fall short of employing technology as we dream it might be used: To help students learn how to live and work in a world with an infinite number of urgent problems waiting to be solved. Producing an online learning curriculum involves bringing together good content, effective pedagogy and a seamless technology in a way that does not now exist at any scale.

As they say in Maine, “How do we get there from here?”

Part of the answer lies in offering content developers an open platform where they can create education applications that work with everything: Your iPad, iPhone, Android device, laptop and any other digital devices you own. An open software system, which would let developers write code that other developers could modify, would accomplish at least three things. It would:

+ Offer gifted developers a way to distribute their education apps into every corner of IFOD.

+ Give education publishers profitable channels whereby they could sell into IFOD.

+ Enable an education-focused technology that has the potential to reach students, teachers, administrators and standards boards virtually anywhere in the world.

We don’t want you to conclude that McGraw Hill alone has overcome the problems that are hampering the growth of this open platform. We have the same legacy systems and technology islands that bedevil just about every company whose name isn’t Facebook or Google. It’s going to be a financial and IT feat to build out this open platform, but without it, education entrepreneurs will never jump off of “Level 1.”

We’ve got to figure how to move up to Level 10 — by which time we will have grown our customer base and developed robust educational offerings supported by big data analysis.

That’s our prediction for 2013.

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Bringing the Benefits of Technology to Education

In the beginning there was the chalkboard.

The wall-mounted slate was a disruptive technology that enabled the social networking of pupils in a common space. It provided access to a shared learning environment and allowed for pedagogical assistance at a nearby help desk. The technology was a revolutionary leap over personal slates or twigs used in conjunction with a patch of dry soil.

In any conversation about education and technology, it’s worth remembering that a new device or aid has staying power if it solves a problem. The chalkboard addressed a longstanding problem in 1800 about how to educate children of all ages in a one-room schoolhouse with a single instructor who had to teach a “cross-disciplinary” curriculum, or, as it was called, the Three R’s. The survival of the chalkboard to the present day in nearly every corner of the world attests to its role as a transformational educational tool.

We at MHE Labs see no reason to abandon anything that has worked incredibly well for 200-odd years without an on/off switch or without a software stack designed to extend its educational reach. The chalkboard and other enduring technologies, such as textbooks, have helped educate generations of students, some of whom acquired the intellectual necessities to produce penicillin, split the atom and invent the Internet.

What we are more tempted to challenge, though, is a mindset that cherishes the status quo because change is expensive or frightening, or because what was good enough for me should be good enough for you. Our goal is to investigate educational technology to see what works – whether the technology is new, old, consumer-based or business-to-business.

All of us who have lived through the past two decades understand that the world we inhabit today is not exactly the world of our fathers and mothers. None of us alive as recently as 2000 could imagine that every industry that brought us the benefits of modernity — automotive, publishing, retail, for example — would be shaken to the core in less than a decade. The Internet economy has had an impact on the way we work, consume culture, and even as Nicholas Carr argued in “Is Google Making Us Stupid,” think. Moreover, the geopolitical landscape has undergone seismic shifts. The majority of U.S. manufacturing jobs are snaking their way around Asia and Latin America, and, if the futurists are right, many of them will yield to automation by 2045. When that era arrives, we can only hope that people will be doing ultra-sophisticated high-tech jobs that will require ongoing education and training.

That era isn’t very far away. By the end of this decade, China is expected to graduate 195 million young people from colleges and universities, and the U.S. 120 million. Will 315 million students from China and the U.S. alone have the luxury of learning the “old fashioned way,” in a classroom with teachers, textbooks and chalkboards? We also have to ask: How good has the old fashioned way been at teaching students from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds?

Of course technology already has made inroads into the conventional classroom. edX, a nonprofit start-up from Harvard and MIT, enrolled 370,000 students in late 2012 for its first official massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Coursera, a Stanford University start-up, has 1.7 million enrollees. The Khan Academy, an online offering of 3,000 self-paced tutoring and practice videos, already boasts 229,704,855 “lessons delivered.” At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, McGraw Hill itself unveiled an adaptive ebook that assesses what students retain as they make their way through the incrementally more challenging “Smartbook.”

Yet without any research to speak of on these new learning formats, the question begs to be answered: How authentic an educational learning experience are any of these from the student, teacher and state standards point of view?

Which brings us to the mission of McGraw Hill Education Labs.

No single individual or constituency knows with certainty how to address the technology demands of a twenty-first-century education system. That’s why we at MHE Labs are using this blog to spark a conversation. For starters, we would like to share with you some questions we have about the educational landscape:

+ What problems need to be solved?

+ Why is technology such a hard sell?

+ What educational and marketplace opportunities cry out to be met?

We intend to offer up some possible answers as well — answers derived from our own long engagement with the education marketplace.

We surely welcome ideas from textbook publishers, but we also need to hear from the garages and kitchen tables where most of this country’s innovations, from Apple to Hewlett-Packard, have been born. We recognize that innovation comes from a certain risk-taking personality — free of institutional dark matter — that creates products and systems. It’s these innovators who will attract the one or two customers ready to use a new product, provide feedback and spread the word to potential customers. We are the first to admit that the most profound educational innovation is likely to come from outside the ecosystem of big business and government.

As the publishers of conventional and digital textbooks, we are even prepared to ask if we are expecting too much from technology. We have seen other industries, notably healthcare and aviation, wrestle with the same question. How much technology can an innovation-averse industry, such as healthcare, assimilate into its processes? How much technology can an innovation-friendly industry build into its airplanes without creating a fresh set of problems? As much as we want to test the potential for digital technologies to improve educational outcomes, we need to make sure we don’t change something that has worked well at various times in history.

To fulfill the mission of MHE Labs and this blog, we will articulate our vision for an open community that inspires educational content driven by metrics, research and science. We will describe the logy, inefficient education market that all textbook publishers know first-hand. And we’ll talk about how an open, flexible technology infrastructure can facilitate the growth of a dynamic educational marketplace whose beneficiaries are not just individual students but also a global society that must educate a new generation for a world whose contours we are still struggling to make out.

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McGraw Hill Education Lab

In 2013, I wrote a series of blog posts about online learning for an exploratory group at McGraw Hill.


Introduction to online learning. The mid-nineteenth century style of in-classroom instruction — one teacher for every twenty-five or thirty students — is a model that can only educate a manageable number of people. What about the hundreds of millions of people who are leaving behind low-tech rural economies, once represented by countries such as China, India and Brazil, for high-tech urban centers?

Bringing the benefits of technology to educationOur goal is to investigate educational technology to see what works – whether the technology is new, old, consumer-based or business-to-business.

How to enter the impenetrable forest of doom and live to tell about it. If we educators and publishers speak without understanding how students make decisions, memorize, pay attention and engage in many other individual and interactive learning behaviors, we will be hard-pressed to predict with any accuracy what pedagogies and technologies will bring about the desired result — whatever that may be.

What is authentic learning in a digital environment? Despite the many answers that are lighting up the Twitterverse — mostly with endorsements of commercial learning “suites” — surveys, studies and news accounts are telling us that the online education industry is simply too young and too inexperienced to have come up with a fail-safe system for educating students from kindergarten through college.

In the beginning was motivation. The students, teachers, administrators and state regulators who have come to find the various standards-based accountability systems problematic could fill Yankee Stadium.

Turning abstract knowledge into intuition we can use. The learning patterns students are expected to acquire from their textbooks and tests are radically disconnected from the wider adult world that school originally meant for us to live in.

Why can’t schools be more like Whole Foods? Whole Foods curates a seemingly unlimited array of cheeses, meats and “alternative” health products. Can we create an educational system that curates an unlimited curriculum of math, science, English, history and music?

The future of content. Practically speaking, how do we create a digital learning environment that motivates students to learn?

Compensating authors and other content producers for their work. Without a rational payment system to compensate authors and other content providers, online learning will sink under the weight of copyright infringement and unfair labor practices.

Online learning in the classroom cannot work without teachers. Teachers and teachers unions understandably worry that technology will do to education what it already has done to journalism and the music business: “Disintermediate” the human beings who were the heart and soul of those industries.

Last updated on December 7, 2014

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

A sampling of closed grant evaluations I wrote for The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Financial impact of a competitive payment system on New Jersey hospitals 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Evaluation of the implementation of the AHCPR smoking cessation guideline 1 2 3 4 5

Symposium on mental health policy and managing care in the public interest 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Program to develop emergency medical services for children in rural areas 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

National Basketball Association program to educate youth about the health risks of tobacco use 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Abstinence-based teen drug, HIV and pregnancy prevention program 1 2

Page created on January 10, 2012

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IEEE Techwise Conversations

Here is a list of episodes I produced for Techwise Conversations, an IEEE podcast. IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers — the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity.

As producer, I identify good stories, locate prospective interviewees, invite them to be part of the podcast, “pre-interview” them, write questions for the host, and set up the actual interview for the IEEE interviewer.

Electric Shocks Preferred to Thinking (Especially by Men).  Erin Westgate, a graduate student in social psychology at the University of Virginia, says we — men especially — aren’t so happy to be alone with our thoughts. (08/15/14)

A Case Called Alice: Software Patents and the U.S. Supreme Court. Intellectual property lawyer Linda Thayer discusses the implications of a 2014 ruling for high-tech companies. (07/17/14)

Combing Sensors and Rewards for Good Behavior with “Nudge Engines.” Balaji Prabhakar, a professor in the department of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford University, says his technology can produce less-crowded streets and healthier employees. (06/17/14)

Economists Predict the Next Century. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, a professor in the department of management at the London School of Economics, talks about In 100 Years: Leading Economists Predict the Future. (05/16/14)

How Women Got Through the Doors of Engineering Schools. Amy Sue Bix, director of the Center for Historical Studies of Technology and Science at Iowa State University, and author of Girls Coming to Tech!: A History of American Engineering Education for Women, describes how 20th-century pioneers began breaking down the gender barrier. (04/25/14)

The Second Machine Age: Avoiding the Dark Side of the Digital Revolution. Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, and co-author of  The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, talks about how to keep technology from causing long-term reductions in the quality of life for a significant portion of the population. (03/21/14)

Identifying the Recipe for Literary Success. Yejin Choi, assistant professor of computer science at Stony Brook University in New York, says computer analysis can predict a book’s appeal. (03/07/14)

Is the End of Net Neutrality Near? John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge, talks about what the end of net neutrality — treating all Internet traffic equally — would mean to consumers and technological innovation. (02/21/14)

NeuroPace: Controlling Epilepsy With a Brain Implant. Frank Fischer, the CEO of NeuroPace, talks about using sensors and deep-brain stimulation to control severe epilepsy. (12/13/13)

Cyborg Cockroaches to the Rescue. Edgar Lobaton, professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University, talks about instrumenting swarms of insects to explore catastrophe zones. (12/5/13)

Crowdsource Control. Sinan Aral, David Austin Professor in Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, shows how easy it is to manipulate online opinions. (10/2/13)

A Digital Jigsaw Puzzle. Roni Shweka of the Friedberg Genizah Project talks about scanning and reassembling 250,000 document fragments that are hundreds of years old. (08/20/13)

Ajay Bhatt: Intel’s Rock-Star Inventor. Ajay Bhatt, co-creator of the USB, now wants to build an all-day computer. (07/23/13)

Jaron Lanier: We’re Being Enslaved by Free Information. Jaron Lanier says our network architecture is shrinking the economy and impoverishing the middle class. (07/16/13)

The Almost-Free Cellphone. CEO Stephen Stokols says Freedom-Pop offers modest cellular voice and data plans for free. (07/09/13)

Telecommuting, Serendipity, and Innovation. Proximity spurs collaboration, says Jason Owen-Smith, associate professor of sociology and organizational studies at the University of Michigan. (07/01/13)

Repackaging the News for Smartphones. Founding editor David Cohn asks, “Is Cir.ca creating fast food journalism, or reinventing it?” (06/20/13)

Your Dad’s Next Nurse Might Be a Robot. Carnegie Mellon University roboticist Jim Osborn notes that the increasing number of elderly and the decline of caretakers creates the perfect storm for nurse-robots. (06/18/13)

Supermarkets Are High-Tech Hotbeds. Kroger’s infrared cameras to shorten checkout queues is just one example, says Kurt Kendall, partner and director at Kurt Salmon. (06/07/13)

Is Data Science Your Next Career? Opportunities abound, and universities are meeting them with new programs, says Chris Wiggins, professor of applied mathematics at Columbia University. (05/28/13)

Will Face Recognition Ever Capture Criminals? Despite thousands of cameras on the scene, the Boston Marathon bombers weren’t caught by face recognition technology, says James Wayman, former director of the National Biometric Test Center at San Jose State University. (05/24/13)

IBM’s Watson Tries to Learn…Everything. Jim Hendler, professor of computer science and cognitive science at Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, and his students want to find out what happens when Watson learns a million databases. (05/21/13)

Data Science Is Now a Job Market Based Entirely on Merit. Anthony Goldbloom, founder and CEO of Kaggle, talks about a start-up that ranks data scientists and creates competitions between them for specific consulting projects. (05/17/13)

A Social Network for Emergency Notifications. Christine Sommers, co-founder of ePACT, talks about the company;s dedicated system to keep organizations connected in emergencies. (02/02/13)

Marriage By Skype. Adam Candeub, professor of law at Michigan State University and director of its Intellectual Property, Information & Communications Law Program, talks about the legal and technology ramifications of proxy marriages. (04/26/13)

Literature Is Hard to Remember — Compared to Facebook. And gossip is more memorable than the evening news, according to a study by Laura Mickes, senior research fellow at the University of Warwick. (04/19/13)

Robots Are Not Killing Jobs, Says a Roboticist. Henrik Christensen, KUKA Chair of Robotics at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, believes automation is still creating more jobs than it destroys. (04/09/13)

Paying for Free TV. CEO Chet Kanojia explains how Aereo takes broadcast TV signals and puts them on your computer, tablet, and smartphone — for a fee. (04/05/13)

A 3-D Printer for Human Embryonic Stem Cells. Will [Wenmiao] Shu, a researcher at the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering at Heriot-Watt University, hopes to print out an entire human liver one day. (04/02/13)

Going Back to School for Drone Pilot Training. Dan Macchiarella, chairman of the aeronautical science department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, is training some of the pilots who will navigate the 10,000 drones that will be in use by 2018. (03/26/13)

Are Paywalls Working? Tinypass CEO Trevor Kaufman says the successful paywall for Andrew Sullivan’s blog may have everyone rethinking free content. (03/19/13)

Telecommuting and Yahoo’s Desperate Need for Innovation. Management expert John Sullivan says Yahoo is right to end telecommuting. (03/15/13)

With Better Software, Office Buildings Can Cut Energy Use by 30 Percent. BuildingIQ CEO Mike Zimmerman talks about how existing control systems in buildings can wring out the waste. (03/12/13)

The Most Popular Résumé in the World. Programmer Philippe Dubost turned himself into an Amazon product page that got a million page views. (03/05/13)

Authenticating Video. Nathan Freitas, founder of the Guardian Project, produces software that verifies human rights videos and project activists in the field. (03/01/13)

Can You Trust an Amazon Review? Trevor Pinch, professor of science and technology studies in the Cornell University sociology department, says reviewers are gaming the system at Amazon and elsewhere for mischief, politics, and profit. (02/19/13)

No Textbooks, Just iPads. Gregg Cox, Lynn University vice president for academic affairs, talks abouit putting the school’s two-year common-core curriculum on the iPad Mini. (02/15/13)

Gun Control: What About Technology? Robert Spitzer, professor of political science at the State University of New Yor’s College at Cortland, wants to know why guns can;t recognize their owners. (02/12/13)

Would You Trust a Website With Your Paycheck? Brian Merritt, director of engineering at Simple, argues that simple.com does much of what a bank does without bricks, mortar or fees. (02/08/13)

Is Wikipedia a Real-Time News Source? Brian Keegan, a postdoctoral fellow at Northeastern University in Boston, studies the Wikipedia volunteers who publish a story about a disaster within minutes after it occurs. (02/05/13)

Is Micropublishing the Death of Publishing — or Its Salvation? Australia book publisher James Morrison self-publishes thousands of books that almost nobody will read — and makes money at it. (02/01/13)

Do Libraries Have a Future? Maureen Sullivan, president of the American Library Association, advocates for the sale of ebooks to libraries — as opposed to renewing ebook licenses every year. (01/25/13)

The Job Market of 2045. Rice University professor Moshe Vardi asks what human beings will do once robots do all our work. (01/22/13)

Smartphones as Blood Analyzers and Allergen Testers. Aydogan Ozcan, associate professor in the UCLA department of electrical engineering, has developed a phone platform that can analyze blood, tell whether a cookie contains peanuts and watch sperm cells dance. (01/17/13)

Games in Schools: Making “Ender’s Game” a Reality. Jessica Hammer, graduate research fellow at Teachers College (Columbia University), tallies the pluses and minuses of gamification. (01/08/13)

What’s a Good Job, and Why Aren’t There More of Them? Paul Osterman, professor of human resources and management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, dismantles some famous myths about technology and the job market. (01/02/13)

This is Your Computer on Skis. Pete Wagner — engineer, programmer, skier and founder of Wagner Custom Skis — uses algorithms to figure out the “optimal geometry” for your personalized skis. (12/28/12)

Computers: It’s Time to Start Over. Robert Watson, a senior research associate in the Security Research Group at the University of Cambridge, and a research fellow at St John’s College, wants to redesign the computer from scratch — with security foremost in mind. (12/26/12)

License Plates, Cameras and Our Vanishing Privacy. Col. Lisa Shay, professor of electrical engineering at the U.S. Military Academy/West Point, talks about the ubiquity of tracking technologies — and the need to advocate for systems with built-in privacy protections. (12/17/12)

Rewriting the constitution on Facebook. Thorvaldur Gylfason, professor of economics at the University of Iceland, talks about democratizing the new Icelandic constitution through crowdsourcing technologies. (11/30/12)

Son of Sandy. Malcolm J. Bowman, professor of physical oceanography at Stony Brook University’s Marine Sciences Research Center and head of its Storm Surge Research Group, asks, “Are we going to just sit back and wait for the next superstorm, or do something about it?” (11/26/12)

Dynamic Pricing: “How Much” is Not a Simple Question. Eric Best, CEO, Mercent, talks about how the algorithms that price airline seats are also being applied to cameras and cereal. (10/15/12)

Police States and Domestic Terrorism. James Bamford, author of The Puzzle Palace and Body of Secrets, ponders the role of U.S. security agencies, which are collecting billions of our phone calls, texts and e-mails. (10/09/12)

Smartphones are Goldmines of Economic Data. Dan Silverman, an economist at the University of Michigan and Arizona State University, taps into Pageonce, a payment app, to deconstruct the habits behind our financial transactions. (09/24/12)

For IT Outsourcing, Have You Considered North Korea? Paul Tija, senior consultant and founder of GPI Consultancy (The Netherlands), says North Korea has a flourishing information technology industry that’s eager for your business. (09/14/12)

Study: U.S. Colleges Ain’t What They Used To Be. Matthew Chingos, Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy, says educational achievement has been stagnant for three decades. Can online learning help? (08/28/12)

Trackable Banknotes, at Last.  Husam Alshareef, associate professor at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, talks about Saudi Arabia’s development of new RFID technology to be embedded into the riyal. (8/28/12)

The Amazon Smartphone. Rumors of an Amazon smartphone are too loud to be ignored, says Yankee Group’s Carl Howe. (8/13/12)

Training the Brain for Happiness. Elaine Fox, psychology professor and director of the Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Essex, talks about new data on the complicated genetic basis of depression and happiness. (8/6/12)

Does Reddit’s Self-Policing Go Too Far? Erik Martin, Reddit’s general manager, explains why top publications and editors sometimes get banned  from the social news website. (7/27/12)

The Cultural Treasures in Google Ngram. Harvard’s Jean-Baptiste Michel tells Steven Cherry about a Google Books project that reveals what words tell us about language, culture and fame. (7/9/12)

14-Year-Old Student Turns Rain Into Electricity. Raymond Wang talks to Steven Cherry about his Google Science Fair project, which harvests wind too. (7/6/12)

A Butane Recharger For Your Cellphone. Mouli Ramani, vice president of marketing and business development at Lilliputian Systems, talks to Steven Cherry about the company’s efforts to develop a USB-based fuel cell system that will recharge your portable electronics inexpensively. (7/2/12)

Why Bad Jobs – Or No Jobs – Happen to Good Workers. Wharton’s Peter Cappelli talks to Steven Cherry about the non-existent skills gap — and what employers should do about it. (6/19/12)

Can One Chemical Be the Basis of All Morality? Professor of economics, management, and psychology Paul Zak talks to Steven Cherry about the role of oxytocin in helping us play nicely with others. (05/17/12)

Airport Security: Everything You Know Is Wrong. Former TSA head Kip Hawley tells Steven Cherry that we’re spending our money on all the wrong things. (5/8/12)

Arduino’s Playmate. Eben Upton, founder of Raspberry Pi, talks to Steven Cherry about the credit card-sized microprocessor that students can buy for $35 and use as an exciting programming tool. (4/18/12)

Brighter Lights, Quieter Cities? Acoustic engineer Nick Antonio talks to Steven Cherry about the audio engineering feats that can make urban spaces more liveable. (4/17/12)

This Is Your Brain on Metaphor. Neuroscientists use fMRI to look at our most treasured turns of phrase. Steven Cherry interview predictive analytics expert Eric Siegel. (4/6/12)

Your Favorite Stores Know You All Too Well. And your purchases, e-mail address and credit card activities are helping them know you better all the time. Steven Cherry interviews data mining expert Eric Siegel. (3/30/12)

Consumer Electrics, Driver Distraction, and You. Steven Cherry talks to David Strickland, administrator, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, about the role of dashboard electronics and personal gadgets in automobile accidents. (3/23/12)

Fixing the Brain With Computers. Steven Cherry talks to Richard Bucholz, a neurosurgeon  at the St. Louis University School of Medicine, about implanting little machines into the brain to help “cure” blindness, deafness, depression, epilepsy and Parkinson’s Disease. (3/19/12)

Open Source Comes to Textbooks. Steven Cherry talks to Richard Baraniuk, founder and director of the Connexions platform, who says college professors are ready to reinvent the textbook. The new price: $0. (3/15/12)

Law, as Much as Technology, Made Silicon Valley. Steven Cherry speaks with Anupam Chander, professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Law, about the legal climate that facilitated the exponential growth of the California-based Internet economy. (3/1/12)

Can Software Predict Repeat Offenders? Steven Cherry interviews Richard Berk, a professor of criminology and statistics at the University of Pennsylvania, about an algorithm he developed to help the criminal justice system head off future perps at the pass. (2/22/12)

What’s Wrong With Flight Simulators. Steven Cherry talks to Pete Reynolds, former test pilot for Bombardier and Lear Jet, about efforts by test pilots to reduce pilot error during any number of loss-of-control incidents, especially at high altitudes. (2/17/12)

Bone Transplantation Without Rejection. Steven Cherry talks to Belgium’s Peter Mercelis, founder and managing director of LayerWise, about the technology involved in implanting a titanium jaw into the face of an 83-year-old woman. (2/10/12)

Reinventing the Lecture. Steven Cherry talks to Daphne Koller, professor of artificial intelligence in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University, about the growing prevalence of personalized online instruction. (2/3/12)

Engineering the New Libya. Steven Cherry talks to Mustafa Abushagur, an electrical engineer, IEEE member and interim deputy prime minister of Libya, about rebuilding the country. (1/11/12)

Reinventing the Scientific Method. Host Steven Cherry interviews Michael Nielsen, author of Reinventing Discovery and theoretical physicist specializing in quantum computation (Kindle edition). 12/30/11

The Critical Threat to Critical Infrastructure. Host Steven Cherry interviews Steve Chabinsky, deputy assistant director, Cyber-Security, FBI, about the urgent need to protect corporate networks, personal computers and government systems. 12/12/11

The Future of Work. Host Steve Cherry interviews Andrew McAfee, co-author (along with Erik Brynjolfsson) of Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy. McAfee, an economist at the MIT Sloan School of Management, argues that technology really has put a lot of people out of work. He suggests ways in which government and industry can get the U.S. economy going again. 12/7/11

Last updated on August 22, 2014

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IBM executive speech

The Power of Values to Change the World (pdf)

Speech written for Robert Samson, general manager, global public sector, IBM Corporation.

Delivered to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, Commandant’s Lecture Series,   Washington D.C., April 29, 2009.

Published in “Vital Speeches of the Day,” September 2009, Volume LXXV, No. 9.

Last updated on November 6, 2011

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