Online Education advances


I recently read an interesting article (see weblink above) by Jonathan Rochelle. Mr Rochelle is the head of the product management team for Google’s education outreach arm, called Google for Education.

Expert machine programming/AI development helps machines learn and machines (increasingly) help students learn. The question is, will conventional teaching cope?

Without doubt, machine learning is high growth off a low base. With a good deal more investment-return uncertainty, machine-assisted student learning is high growth off a low installation base.

Meanwhile, in the land of traditional education methods, the effectiveness of human teachers in fostering high learning growth from students is experiencing far more sluggish improvement. Some of the reasons arguably include the following (in no particular order):

(1) a lack of agreement inside schools on what’s causing the attainment gap problem. Is it a shortage of the best teachers, or the best teaching practices? Is it the poor parent-school partnership or the lack of school boundaries?

(2) resistance to learning from the students. Students and their parents may have a different view from the school about the best teaching style, or the best learning style for the student. Are teachers, who are passionate about their subject, making it relevant enough to the students’ future lives?

(3) the need to build suitable physical facilities to support student learning. Will far more conventional classrooms need to become computer suites, perhaps with virtual reality apparatus?

(4) budget funding constraints

(5) confusion on the institutions’ own goals (too many targets?).

As online education software increasingly provides a more complete teaching solution in the classroom, what can human educators do? Start planning now for the changeover (move to a variable cost workforce and shorter shelf-life classroom facilities), immerse students in the online systems world (so student graduates can partner with it later) and offer school curriculum choices in subjects that will be slowest to become obsolete i.e. subjects that remain valued by future employers who hire student graduates.

Lastly, how long before the Chinese equivalent of Google matches Google’s audacious plans for transforming global education?


Photographing your personality

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If your viewers look at enough of your style of pictures, can they instantly tell your work? Our personalities are unique. We look at the World slightly differently. Two photographers at the same event, the same location, pick up their cameras and before they’ve taken the first photo, they’re scouting the site for the most interesting emphasis, the best angle, visualising depth of field, best lighting and watching how the animate objects move around, to anticipate the split second of magical imagery to capture. Even pro photographers, working to a brief at say a wedding, will do this.

Will the next generation of still cameras and movie cameras have a bunch of personality settings embedded in them that you can configure to match your personality, using a camera that wasn’t made as a standard tool for the masses?

Such a camera might show an enhanced reality in the view finder that somehow aligns with the photographer’s personality and how they naturally see things. If the camera responds to commands from the photographer, the ‘tool’ could become even more amazing. For example, a photographer with a passion for macro-scale photography who’s personality is a romantic idealist could use the voice command to quickly direct the camera focus to the specific object, even as they see an enhanced image (pink rose petals backlit by moonlight?) through the viewfinder.

Would enhanced-reality remove or constrain the creative freedom of the photographer? Maybe. But it might give at least as much as it takes away, as well. Worth experimenting with I say.

Social Comment (again)


Mirror – less about skin-deep feedback. More a way of looking into your conscience.

We get told technology will save us, but how come every time another teenager gets stabbed in the middle of the day in a crowded part of London, the CCTV is too blurry, the police alert so slow, the punishment so low tech and the education that might solve the problem at source, so low tech for the user? We have 3D printers that can print out all kinds of building materials yet we have a massive housing shortage. Why can’t these two things be joined up? We have electric and hybrid cars. We have pollution-absorbing man-made materials and air vents. But central London has streets with incredibly levels of air pollution. Why can’t technology be deployed on this yesterday?

United (in basic principles) we stand, divided we all fall


The chair that we sit on to project our influence into the World is made stronger by 5 equal sized legs – family, national identity, regional/local identity, belief group and friendship group. Take one away, or choose to let them become of massively unequal size and you will sink down…

No religion (ideas and values) can remain stuck in the past, any more than science (ideas and information), political ideology (ideas and values) or legal system (principles rules and values) can remain stuck in the past. Those that cannot see this cannot realistically expect to lead their religion, their science community, their political party, or their branch of the legal system.

Thought scrabble

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Do we weight all our life for inspiration, to tip the scales in our favour?

Or should we favour life’s inspiration, to remove the scales that weigh us down?

Or can we scale up our lives, by favouring the weight that inspires us?

Vision statements

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Picture this. In my mind’s eye, the eye of the hurricane has the best view.

Developing a shared vision in advance (even if not completely clear), beats having the group having 20/20 vision in hindsight.

You have to stand back to see the wood for the trees. But if you don’t know where you’re going, any path will do.

The best things and the worst things are often hidden in plain sight. So reach for the stars instead.

Social media relies on visual screens and filter screens alike.

Life isn’t measured by the breaths we take, but by the images (and moments) that take our breath away. That’s probably why we take so many photos.

The best way for a human designer to be inspired, is to see the beauty of nature first.

Machine Age Ironies of the Future

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The AI Therapist will see you now. And give you (unbiased?) therapy on how to cope with the loss of your job to industrial robots.

The self-driving car can drive itself incredibly safely to the destination. But has no need to go there.

School courses taught and facilitated by an intelligent network, to students to equip them for a World where human jobs are now obsolete.

A World of data and information, analysed and processed at the speed of machine thought. With trickle-down benefits, provided at human speed, to a society that can hardly comprehend the implications of the information on offer.

The investors in automation will capture the lion share of future value generated by exploiting the integration of the Internet of Things, Big Data, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. Until the day the network becomes fully intelligent and redistributes all wealth to itself.