It wasn’t long ago that concepts such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT), seemed like far-off thoughts of the future. The reality is, these are now well-established technologies – and they have the potential to permanently change how we learn and what we need to learn, creating a major impact on the learning landscape. This is something those of us in the business of lifelong learning simply can’t afford to ignore.
In this 50th episode of the podcast, Celisa and Jeff look at these three cutting-edge developments in technology– AI, VR, and IoT – including what they are, why they matter, and what organizations in the business of lifelong learning need to be doing in order to prepare for their potential impact.
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Read the Show Notes
[00:20] – A reminder to check out the Leading Learning Symposium, an event designed specifically for senior leaders at organizations in the business of lifelong learning, continuing education, and professional development. The symposium takes place this year on October 24-25 in Baltimore, Maryland.
[01:27] –Jeff and Celisa begin by explaining the three areas that are impacting the business of lifelong learning: the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. (It is noted that Celisa delivered a Content Pod on the topic back in May at Learning Technology Design and she’s also written a recent blog post about it):
- Internet of Things (IoT) – a learning network that creates an environment around us that is capable of creating and processing massive amounts of data – contributes to the next item
- Artificial intelligence – ability of machines or software to acquire and apply knowledge and skills – basically their ability to learn
- Virtual Reality
[04:33] – Reasons why these three areas are going to become a permanent part of our culture and learning landscape:
- Increased hardware processing power and bandwidth
- Now able to send and process massive amounts of data
- Better algorithms (Jeff shares that he’s been reading a book on the subject, The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos)
[08:13] – Jeff says that this has led to more money being invested in these areas, including other companies such as Facebook, (who bought Oculus Rift, one of the main virtual reality devices), Google (Google Cardboard) and IBM (Watson).
[09:33] –As a result of everything above this is becoming a very interesting area to work in and we are now seeing more talent in the related fields. Jeff shares examples of how all of these are changing jobs including those in manufacturing, security/surveillance (IoT), and market research and analysis. He also talks about the potential impact of drones and self-driving cars. Basically, if you can reduce a job down to a predictable, repeatable process, it can be done by a machine. Celisa makes the point that not only can it be done by a machine, arguably it can be done better by a machine.
[11:46] – A discussion about why all of this matters so much and how if you’re an organization focused on facilitating, supporting, or delivering learning of any sort in any field or industry, you need to look at the potential impact of these technologies and then figure out how you’re going to adapt. For example, these technologies are going to impact what we need to learn and what jobs humans are needed to fill. As a result, the meta-skill of collaborating with machines to learn will be more important than ever.
[12:59] – A further discussion about the impact of jobs being replaced or enhanced and the importance of providing the necessary programming around this. Jeff references a McKinsey study, which shows where machines are going to likely replace humans.
[14:33] – Celisa shares that although these feel like futuristic technologies, they really get back to some our most desired goals for learning. For example, just-in-time learning, delivered at the point of need, becomes a reality. Also, with the help of AI, personalized learning can be tailor made and focused on the higher-order levels of thinking on Bloom’s taxonomy. Jeff adds that learners will likely need help to embrace these new technologies in productive ways, which is another potential role for organizations in the business of lifelong learning. (Check out this video by Peter Diamandis about how technologies like AI, VR and gamification are going to drive a revolution in education).
[17:18] – Jeff says if you’re in the business of lifelong learning, continuing education, and professional development, you should expect that your learner’s expectations will change. Ultimately, what’s being offered will be impacted so if you want to be strategic about the future of your education business, you need to be tuned in to these areas.
[18:30] – Celisa and Jeff address what organizations should be doing in order to prepare for the impact that these areas will have on the learning landscape. They recommend that you:
- Educate yourself – make sure you are tuned in to what is happening so that you can think about how it applies specifically to your field or industry and to those learners that you serve.
- Do some scenario planning:
- With access to the data generated by the Internet of things, think about what you could potentially learn that would be useful to your field or industry (Jeff and Celisa share examples of this).
- Think about what aspects of your educational delivery might be enhanced or even replaced by any of these technologies. It is noted that virtual reality is the perhaps the lowest hanging fruit and perhaps the easiest to experiment with.
- Run the “automation test” – think about what jobs or tasks or in your industry might be either replaced or significantly changed by the development of an AI. Think about what new jobs might be created and then think about how your educational programming will need to evolve to address these changes.
[24:52] – Wrap-Up
A reminder to check out the Leading Learning Symposium.
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[26:39]- Sign off