Monday 9 December 2019

#Learning monitoring in Belgium - based on #LearningDoctrine #synchronous

Just this morning I got a link to a video representing a new learning technology used at IMEC. As I looking into synchronous learning technology, this is of interest. But as I was watching the video, I felt a bit uneasy. This synchronous learning solution WeConnect is offered by Barco and is implemented at IMEC (which is connected to KULeuven, which will in the years become the major university in Belgium, as it is good in gaining and keeping established power).

Monitor the learner to push them into good followers
In this synchronous learning solution, online learners attending the synchronous classroom are monitored (facial expressions), psychophysiological data is captured (using wearables), engagement is measured (based on body movements) and interventions (quizzes, polls) are embedded in the lecture in order to keep the attention of learners. But again, this is leading the biggest batch of learners, the 'normal' learners, those who have an attention span lasting a full lecture. And it is aimed at lecture-based content (university content mainly), with of-course a teacher dashboard indicating engagement of the overall student population.

It is not about instruction, it is about stimulating creative thinking on subject areas of interest
I can see the benefits of this system, but it just annoys me intensely that it is again about instruction (absorbing information), not about actual learning (creating). For instance, if you use challenge-driven education and learners are working on their own projects.... surely the engagement and learning will skyrocket through the roof?

Adults learners need a digital shepherd?
When a child is young (even up to 18 years old), I can imagine you want to learn how to learn, how to stay attentive and what it can provide you with... but once you are an adult, surely you will know your own way forward? Surely, there should be more ways for any intelligent young adult to open their own world and live it the way they feel fit?
Why are technologists so scared a learner wouldn't be attentive, stare outside, have something on their mind... and then zoom in again on the subject that is given? To me, if a learner is not interested enough in the lecture... so what? If a teacher cannot grab your attention, what of it? Should we pressure learners into learning patterns they

Learning comes naturally
When you consider MOOCs, learners learn them and take them in their spare time. There is no 'optimization of learner posture'. People learn because they like the content because they are intrinsically motivated because they have a personal goal. I would think that tailoring content and delivery to nurture intrinsic motivation and personal goals is more useful, more fulfilling from the learner's point of view? Learning is in our genes, which makes all of learning unique yet natural in its uniqueness. With all of these technologies, I would think that human satisfaction would become more interesting as a subject for innovative technologies, then creating humans that learn alike, do alike, and follow digital indicators?

Can a learner - using this system - decline being monitored? While still following the course or the lecture? Surely this should be the case? I would immediately ask to be non-monitored. But then this could be me.

Quantum supremacy surely makes 'proper old-school learners' obsolete?
I would be very surprised if the future would be all about the best learners (which human society has never been about either), but for those who can actually fill their spare time with actions that make them feel confident, useful, creative and ... happy. Subtracting new knowledge from data can become a processing-power based activity done by e.g. computers having the sycamore chip though granted, it will still take some years before it becomes fully functional for day-to-day actions. But still.... shouldn't we focus on getting humans more actively involved in a less-school-like higher education?

What do you think? Below is the link to the movie that sparked my sighed-based eye roll resulting in this blogpost. I will try to get my hands on using it for innovative learning.

LECTURE+ from imec on Vimeo.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Why is #AI useful to pro-actively prepare #learners in a changing world? #skills

Preparing for my talk today at Online Educa Berlin, after a great workshop-filled day yesterday (one of the workshops was on preparing for the 4th industrial revolution guided by Gilly Salmon ) and a wonderfully inspiring and ideas provoking workshop with Bryan Alexander looking at methods to predict parts of the future).

Below you can find my slides for the session at Online Educa Berlin looking at ways that Artificial Intelligence can be used to pro-actively prepare learners for the skills of the future.

It covers the steps we have tackled at InnoEnergy with the skills engine. In the talk I will share our approach, and how this differs from what was previously done. The slides are rather minimal, but if you download the talk, you can look at the notes in the slides to get the full picture.

Thursday 3 October 2019

Yes a learning engine: demo is ready, but #AI and #Learning challenges ahead #TBB2019 @InnoEnergyCE

If you have ideas on ensuring continuity in pedagogy when clustering courses (research), on certifying across corporate and university learning (blockchain/bit of trust certification), on opening up industry academies to decrease L&D costs (HR and L&D), ... please think along and respond to the challenges mentioned at the end.

People in high and common places seem to agree that the world is in transition, especially workplace learning, as innovations keep changing what is possible. As I am working on one such an innovation (the skill project of InnoEnergy), I am at the one hand very excited about the new opportunities it might open, yet at the same time concerned that the complexity is bigger than expected.

First: have a look at the demo screencast here. It shows the overall idea, and ... this might immediately give rise to questions.

Today the Business Booster event (TBB) is opened, and with it, the skill project demo is launched. The skillproject (we still need to get a brand name for it), is combining AI and learning for the sustainable energy sector. But in essence, once we get the sustainable energy sector mapped with this tool, others can follow. 

AI and learning? What does it do: the project identifies industry needs (AI-driven), pinpoints emerging skill gaps in the sustainable energy sector (AI-driven), analysis the existing workforce to know where urgent skills gaps are situated (AI-driven) and then refers employees to a personalized learning trajectory addressing their skills gap (part AI, part human support). The goal of this project is to ensure that employees of the sustainable energy sector stay futureproof in a quickly changing working environment. Let's be honest, it sounds cool, but ... the challenges are multiple. 

The emergence of a Learning Engine
The skillproject helps realize the emergence of a learning engine, an intelligent career-oriented engine which knows your own skills and which signposts you to where you want to go with your career by suggesting a personalized learning track.
In the Learning Engine you simply type in “goal: become Director of Innovation’s in offshore wind energy which courses?” and the engine immediately returns a tailored, personalized learning track consisting of a variety of certified, business training from both universities, corporate academies, open educational energy resources and coaching options to send you on your way. This will allow professional learning to surpass the limits of classical, university-based learning.

In order to get our engine to come up with the best, most-tailored courses, we need access to industry academies, as well as university courses. 
Learning-to-Learn capacities. Once we signpost learners to a cluster of courses, they need to take them (the familiar 'take the horse to water' comes to mind). But even if the learners are taking the courses, 
Granularity for course clustering: clustering courses to keep on top of your field of expertise is one thing, but then what is the granularity of those courses? Micro-learning is an option, and modular learning will become a clear necessity, as all learners have different existing knowledge, which means they all need different parts in order to upskill what they already know. 
Ensuring pedagogical continuity, even OU finds that a challenge. Great, so let's cluster modules. But then, how can we link these modules together, Do we believe in the non-pedagogical support (e.g. hole in the wall from Sugata Mitra already dates back 10 years), or do we need to find a solution to provide pedagogical continuity that fits with this new assembly of short modules, and courses coming from different sources (both university and industry)?
Certification across the learning ecologies: to blockchain or not to blockchain. Once we start learning across institutes, we need to keep track of that what we learn, by keeping tabs on the actual learning: corporate academy learning, university modules, hands-on training, workplace learning... one solution is to embed blockchain in education to keep track of all learning. But this is easier said than done, and open standards and trust might be an issue to consider (bit of trust initiative offers good reading). 

Feel free to send questions, comments, share your own projects... let's get together.

Thursday 19 September 2019

LiveBlog #Ectel2019 Rose Luckin @Knowldgillusion Keynote #AI & #education mindset

 Rose Luckin takes the stage with a headset and immediately getting into her talk. The talk was very informative and to me it looked as though Rose is so knowledgeable about a range of topics, so I got a bit curious and envious in how her mind works [It I heard - I do not know if this is correct, will ask her ] that she only got into academic life later on in life?

Key topic: develop the right AI mindset for businesses

A perfect storm: data mass plus computing power and memory enhancements, sophisticated algorithms ... this made AI part of our lives and education.

3 routes to Impact on Education

  • using AI ED to tackle some of the big educational challenges
  • education people about AI so that they can use it safely and effectively
  • changing education so that we focus on human intelligence and prepare people for an AI world (hardest to do at the moment)

Working with select committee processes to try and take forward new developments. Debating on 4th industrial revolution and what it means that people understand AI (it is not coding, it is about the humans and their understanding of the fundamentals of machine algorithms, awareness, it is a much higher order we need to engage people with).

Need for multidisciplinary teams with equal input
As change happens, we need to change our educational systems (Singapore). Be resilient to change, be adaptive.
The above are not separate routes, it interconnects, and these interconnections increase AI and that we need to change and invest in our society using emerging ideas and realities of these three buckets.
We need to build bridges between communities: all stakeholders (parents, communities, government, coders...).
Currently separated communities need to work together to build a credible, societaly based AI solution.

Companies working with UCL EDUCATE
Not all companies are already using AI, but they want to understand more about it.
EDUCATE was from Europe, but turning into a global program from Jan 2020.
250 educational study start-ups (each start-up has to have a link with London, but they need to have some profile in London, so most UK-originated).
UCL provides training (labs, clinics, blended rooms, mentoring sessions)
It is free for the companies (years spend on figuring out the gaps between educational departments and industry. This was the case for hard sciences and industry, but not education). A lot of the reasons was because they did not know who to talk to, where to start => reason for starting with start-ups, embedding the educational mindset and to understand more about outcomes and validation of educational projects, so what it means when we say 'it works' (complexities... this results in the golden triangle: edtech developers, teachers & learners, academic researchers).

Start-ups are pushed to build a logic model, and the change being the learning that they want to take place. Opportunities they have to analyze the data, how should they demonstrate impact. We hope they will get to the last stage (see picture).
EdWards are set in place (awards to proof evidence applied and evidence aware awards).
120 companies became evidence aware, and 25 become evidence applied (last being much more difficult to achieve).

EDUCATE for schools
objective: build capacity in schools to identify and evaluate edtech that meets the needs of their teaching, learning or environment.
This approach can work in different educational programs.
Sit down, get head teacher in to pick two or three educational challenges - what they find tricky, than teachers are chosen to test it, to find out how the edtech works.
Currently this is under development:
all resources included in option 1, schools identify new or existing edtech to pilot
EDUCATE provides new resources to help schools plan their edtech pilot,
educate povides video and document resurces to walk schools through the pilot process
schools step through piloting process and recieve one hour of 1:1 video mentoring support
evaluate it (not sure I put this in correctly - this last step)

Century AI:
AI and big data powers personalised learning
Quipper: video insight, smart study planner, knowledge base
EvidenceB KidsCode : paths through materials, optimised parts through material

classic recommender systems (finding the right resources for the educator/student)

Chatterbox: refugee as expert native speaker with matching backgrounds (e.g. engineering background)
OyaLabs cloudbased monitor in the baby lounge and monitors interactions between baby and its cognitive developments for language developments
MyCognition algorithms automatically increase the number of training loops for the domains where you have the greatest need. If attention is your greatest needs you will receive more attention loops, building resilience in attention. As you progress the loops become more challenging. Looks at your attention, actions... assessment and report, which powers aquasnap and takes you to a underwater world (sea routes, fish names...) and adapted to your own cognitive status.

Building an AI mindset
Important for any company that wants to get into AI
What does it means to have the right data,
not just the tech team must understand the data and AI
as an individual it would be good to understand more about AI

Working with OSTC / ZISHI company: example of AI mindset collaboration. What they do: training for trader floors. They have to train everyone. They try to attract diversity in the workforce and pick them from less evident universities. ZISHI tries to use AI, AI for financial sector.
Financial sector has used AI for some time. AI used for assist in recruiting the best traders, assist in training the traders, help traders in improving performance, mentor the traders through out their careers.

Understanding OSTC's performance metrics

  • how can training behavior be measured?
  • can we profile traders by their trading behavior?
  • how do these profiles relate to performance?
  • can we then create a tool to help recruitment a tool to help traders and a tool to help managers?

The CEO of OSTC started out at the post floor of Lloyds and moved up. One's he saw the lack of training, he got into training and set up OSTC. Fundamentally what they try to do is creating AI mindset.

Much is not easy or obvious of what traders do

  • what others tell me that I do
  • what I think I do
  • what I really do
  • what family thinks you do...

Nearly half their traders left less than one year in. So something was wrong, and investment was too costly for the results in the longterm.
Modeling using machine learning techniques to profile traders and make predictions (recruitment data from tests, interviews and videos, trading history data from trading platforms, multimodal data from eye-movements and button clicks, and behavioral data.
Masses of data from the tools used in the company.

Profiling 4 types of traders, using four identified characteristics:
data visualizations, using clustering techniques.
It turns out that the behavioral patterns relate to significantly different performance (risk management, bonuses... and different cognitive abilities & traits (openness to experiences, agreeableness...) [here my mind went off... must be something related to trader-vocabulary?]

Challenges to IA mindset

  • collaboration: is everybody onboard?
  • getting rid of AI's sci-fi fantasies and fears
  • digging in rich soil will bring out stuff. Are we ready to act upon it?
  • the appetite comes with the first byte - be ethically prepared to diet
  • data is har to collect, standardize, clean, #you-name-it

Opportunities for IA mindset

  • map the organisations' data information knowledge wisdom pyramid (and who is where
  • identify data sources: what is ready to be picked, what still needs to be ripened or sown
  • what can we learn from previous (successful of failed) experiments or pilots? what hypotheses they already have? what are their blind spots?
  • metrics - how do we know what success looks like?

OSTC - lessons

  • team members across different tiers need to embrace change
  • collect as much data 
  • tech team in company not the same as data team
  • need new expertise to digitize documenten and learning content
  • develop coherent and consistent procedures in all offices across the globe despite the cultural bias
  • track the daily activities through logs and multimodal data
  • develop tools

Developing an AI mindset

  • AI is set to transform education
  • three core types of interconnected work: using AI, understanding AI, changing education because of AI
  • multi-stakeholder collaboration can help achieve these three types of work
  • EDUCATE is an example of a multi-stakeholder collaboration to help develop a research mindset in Edtech developers and educators
  • for AI companies, or companies who want to use their data and AI we also need to develop an AI mindset (or perhaps initially a data mindset)
  • Academic research partners need to be put in this mix

Barclays provided somebody (eagle) in branches, and they would help people to use technology (from simple to complex) to get people engaged about using and thinking about technology, and how they can get involved.

Wednesday 18 September 2019

#ectel2019 #mlearn2019 keynote @GeoffStead on #informal learning at scale #languages #AI

Geoff Stead (@geoffstead ) takes the stage with a headset, a black shirt and walking like a fit Californian surfer (looking great).

As chief product person of the Babbel language corporation, he talks about informal learning at scale and will offer insights. 750 people all working on 1 app, fully funded by individuals willing to pay small amounts of money to learn languages. Mostly Euro-centric coming from the organic growth of the organisation.

5000 courses => 64000 lessons (unique language pairs), focus on communicative confidence, light-hearted, diverse topics. Well over 1 million subscribers (of which I am one - Spanish).

Digital = scale and reach
Team of 10 people can start the magic of the web.
How can we ensure Quality?
Learner centric, otherwise what is the value of the application?

Using a learner journey to unite efforts, to enable connections between learners. Conceptual flows of individuals that is used as the mantra to move the app forward.
See picture, where they also embed some spaced learning.
They work with patterns that are turned into fake persona's, which are designed and modeled (design thinking approach). Enabling developers and strategist to understand the different demographics. These personas are linked to learner journeys. Which enables to keep a focus on the learners.

Learning from the learners
What do they do? analytics, A/B tests, behavioral segmentation (showing what you did, signposting to what you did and worked...), interviews, intercept surveys, wishboard, market surveys, UX research (ask permission to video tape parts of the learner journey and ideas), customer service, market research. Not one is representative, but hoping that with enough different angles they are hoping to get closer to the actual learning in all it's complexity.

Dev at scale
20 different teams of people, a lot of independence, but only one product. So how likely it is that the releases are synchronizable as soon as they are launched by teams? Tripping over each other, contradictions, quickly becomes chaos. So it is self-driven and autonomous, but potentially disastrous for the learners. Marketing and money was basis for scaling: stickers in planes and on poles in big cities, get people to pay a bit of money.

How do you trade off freedom versus working together
Teams organised around User Journey: Experience Groups (XGs) are clusters of teams across Product & Engineering, uniting tho enhance cross-functional collaboration around product ideas and speed up the development cycle: impressions, engagement, learning, learning media, platform and infrastructure (really interesting this!).

Product department 
Product is made up of many specialist teams. some teams are embedded within multi-function or engineering teams: didactics, product design, product management and QA, data engineering and analytics, quality and release management.

Towards "learning experience design"
Mixed multidisciplinary approach, but in larger companies most of the time they are not often set up as bridged teams in a multidisciplinary, cross-functionalness.

Babbel meetups in Berlin every 2 - 3 months, welcome to come and have a look.

LXD basics
digital learning is not content distribution, we are only a small slice of our learner's day, we never really know what is going on. Learning Experience Design, all about the multidisciplinary nature.

Learner engagement
It only works for them if they use it. What is the science of pulling learners back in?
Weekly active paying users: returners. One of the key drivers = 7 day return to learning (it is this that most of the dev teams use to validate short term impact of new features and refinements). If the people who try a new release, do they come back within 7 days to use this newly released option. This simplifies discussions on what is important.

Obsessive focus on interpreting events: Tableau, Amplitude (big fat data stream).
Mixing art and science to understand the engagement ladder (to help our learenrs focus - hooked (N Eyal) triggers motivation (Fogg), Nudge (Thaler, Flow state, spaced repetition, babbel qualitative and quantitative data....).

Gamification: treat with care, some very useful tools, often used for trivial impact.

AI to make Babbel more human
AI is a very broad umbrella term for a wide range of very specific disciplines. Babbel uses 'narrow AI' to focus on very specific problems/opportunities. NLP, CL, ASR...
Making interfaces more human (hybrid human-AI). Using NLP to give the automated feedback more human (eg "I understand what you meant").
Making guidance more useful: content recommendations, based on other, related topics and level. Still very much in beta. Optimising for speed, and identifying opportunities.

Rose Luckin's golden triangle is used.
Tutorbot corpus (Kate McCurdy, Dragan Gasevic...)

Tuesday 17 September 2019

#mLearn2019 workshop Urban safety and #smart civic #education

liveblog from mLearn2019, so consisting of bits and pieces and notes written during the workshop.

Part 1 by Wim de Jong (OU Netherlands)
Smart solutions for urban problems (design solutions), governance for safety (prevention of crime, policing....) and systemic challenges (eg.polution...).

Can technology foster the fears it tries to combat? (perception and condition of city safety)
How can we counterbalance the bias in current perceptions of safety? (Question from Daniel Spikol).

Safe cities index (2019) here 
Sherlock app (citizens who can help and assist in crime-solving with police - Dutch)
OTT (where are the fights going on?)

Part2 Leadership in smart cities & Open innovation
New paradigm in industrial engineering. A new way to integrate a community for designing things.
Wicked problems (things are connected and affect each other): social instabilities, traffic accidents, environmental pollution, floods...)
Need for innovative solutions
requiring input and expertise of a wide array of people

the innovative ecosystem
focal entity
combination bottom-up & top-down
value capture and creation = difficult and complex
importance of partner alignment => intrinsic motivation

[While following this talk, I see how the framework shared in pictures below can be relevant when looking at #AIED and citizen jury / citizen action ].

#Ectel2019 Covadonga Rodrigo from #UNED @cova_rodrigo #gender #AI #bias

From here a couple of cases and projects (slides will follow)

Great presentation by UNED Covadonga Rodrigo: will AI be sexist? @cova_rodrigo (liveblog)
Referring to male/female recruitment of Amazon. AI had a biased in favor of men. Why?
Because the AI was trained with historical data, so more males, which made the system think male candidates were preferable.
Microsoft (2016) had the same result with their AI system: automated bots on twitter, this bot was getting sexist in the end due to AI learning.

So who is programming the AI systems: up to 90 % are men (2015), it changes gradually, but at the moment women are only 16 to 19% of the programmers. This results in differences in terms of bias. By 2023 it will probably be 27,7% (= number of software developers in the world) this is not the critical threshold of 33% that we know is critical from social sciences in order for a group to get their voices heard).

Some issues Glass ceiling, identity of what engineers are, school atmosphere, more female references in the curricula. It is not only in engineering, also in other areas.
The AI assistants are also mostly female-voice based => the female secretary, not female leads.

Ethics: curricula are biased, ethical subjects in curricula. Lack of humanistic studies in education, we need to transform this.

Mentions that she is 50+ and she was an engineer from early on, so there were women engineers, so no problem with entry of women. So we have male domination, which results in biases in terms of gender, and differences that exist in society.

Sources of sexism (slides will follow)

#ECTEL2019 Workshop #AI in #Education #liveblogpost #AIED @cova_rodrigo @paco

This is a live blog, so bits and pieces noted.

Paco Iniesto (The Open University, IET, AIED) is the workshop lead, and he is looking good and giving a strong overview.
AI is all around us: cars, games, robotics, AlphaGo (see netflix), predictive policy, dating apps, (3 min video is of interest, how they generate these images), ...

What is AI?
It isn't easy to define AI and many people have an idea, but there is no definition.
computer systems desinged to interact with the world ... (Luckin, Waynes...)

The promise of AI is not yet realized, although it has been developing for 40 years.
It's big business
AI shines a spothlight on existing educational practices
AI rehashes what we have at this point in time

Implications of AIED: algorithms and computation: what are the algorithms, what are their consequences, how to control them... accuracy and validity of assessments, are we treating students as human beings?

Lumilo augmented reality glasses for teachers (, video can be found here: This got some negative critiques from teachers and learners.

Ethical questions
Connection between effect and psychological traits of learners, but where can this lead to? (cfr Cambridge analytics).
What if we have the data for 'good', what if others use it for 'bad' ideas.
What about GDPR, who owns the data, how does this affect funding, if students opt out of the system and all their data is erased; can we use blockchain in order to keep the data connected to the learners?
Where is the data in order for the data be erased, how does this affect future employment?
Will the system be able to evaluate actual learning, if this is the case, what benefits will it bring to teaching and learning?
Does the support of learners lead to limiting the self-directed learning-to-learn of the learners
Starting from the technology to move to support the learning seems to be the other way round then it should be done,
What is the educational progress using these technologies?
What is the difference between monitoring and surveillance? (where is the barrier)
Can learners hack the system to get more or less support?
Does the teacher have enough time to support learners with difficulties? And does their help actually benefit the learning?
Consent forms of those who are not able to give consent?
marginalized people are in need of technological support, but how do we support them in a secure way?

Sheila project:
Methods of mass destruction book

The post-it notes with ideas from three different groups addressing some of the questions mentioned in the above slide.

Monday 16 September 2019

Academia & ageism?Looking for role models & #data #academia #ageism #success @EcTel19 @mLearn19

Image result for Iris apfel
Iris Apfel overall fashion icon

As I am preparing to head out to mLearn/EcTel 2019, an issue turned up on potential ageism. Do you know of anyone who started their academic track at 50 or older and managed to gain access to a higher academic position? Please send me a message, I would love to interview them and know how they achieved that position. In case you have data regarding the below statements on age and academic positions, please inform me as well, would love to factualize my assumptions.

Academia is filled with older people!
If I look around at conferences, the biggest target population consists of older (old-ER) academics, who have achieved academic status, and doctoral students (mostly younger, present author and some of my friends excepted). So, if I walk around, it feels as though there is equal representation in terms of age.
But then I started to dig a bit deeper, while looking for successful role models within academia, who started their academic journeys later on in life. Now I wonder whether people that start their academic careers later in life, actually make it to higher positions within the academic world?

You just need a body of work …
It is a reality that you need to have some sort of body of work within a certain field to step up the professional ladder in most areas. But there seems to be a discrepancy in what is possible in the professional (read corporate) world and what is possible in the academic world. Or am I mistaken?
Forbes has this 30 under 30 people to follow. The list is comprised of people who are successful at a young age in something newsworthy. If you consider the age of 30, this means that even the ‘oldest’ ones only have 9 years maximum to reach this status of success. If you would translate this into academic tracks including bachelor, master, and phd finished, you have only about 4 to 5 years max to achieve potential success. This means you can achieve a successful status within this short amount of time: less than 5 years. Basically, if you start at 50+ you should be able to achieve success before keeling over and dying of old age :D
Now let’s get back to academia and tenure tracks for researchers starting their career later on in life.

Looking for numbers
We move towards a more data-driven world and with that, an increased belief that data is the final argument (not agreeing with this, just generalizing). So I wonder: what is the average post-doc age, and how does this average compare to average PhD age? Or better yet, how many 45+ people start a Ph.D. track, and how many 50+ people get into a post-doc function?
Just wondering, as I have the feeling that this doesn’t add up. And if this adds up, then how many of the tenure positions are held by academians starting out later in life? Can anybody get their hands on such numbers?

The reason I ask, is because some of us late academic bloomers can have a lot of citations (in open journals), written and published in a short amount of time. We also come in with transferrable skills: project leads (corporate), team skills, innovations… and I am just wondering whether these might be neglected when comparing candidates for academic positions. Could this be? Or am I wrong in assuming this? (again are there numbers?)
In a world where there is increasing pressure to combine academic with professional fields, this seems something that is missing. Because people with a prior corporate or governmental background, might be well placed in cross-over academic tenure positions? And in those countries where they urge people over 50 to stay employed or be employed, I just wonder if there are equal opportunities?

Or aren’t late bloomers part of academia status positions?
Who knows, excuses might be:
  • Yes, but they don’t have enough high profile papers,
  • Yes, but they didn’t supervise enough phd students,
  • Yes, but you need the 10 years of prior experience (not true, certainly not for 30 under 30)
  • Yes, but there is no ageism (without arguments to follow that statement),
  • Yes, but if you start late, you cannot expect to move up the academic ladder (that would be a crushing answer, would not it!).

Just looking for role models or numbers
Do you know of anyone who started their academic track at 50 or older and managed to gain access to a higher academic position? Please send me a message, I would love to interview them and know how they achieved that position.
If you have numbers regarding the above, oh!!! Please inform me as well, would love to factualize my assumptions.
In the meanwhile, writingly yours from EcTel and mLearn. 

Monday 26 August 2019

Working on the #LearningEngine matching #learning to #skillgaps #skills

Forget the search engine, ravel on the emergence of the Learning Engine (admittedly it is still a dream in progress, but we are getting closer)

What made search engines so innovative decades ago? 
They created connections. Connections between online users and content. The search engine developers did not produce a lot of content, but they referred to content from outside providers, and that was what made it special: the immediate connection. It connected supply with demand, connecting small and big businesses, individuals and groups. The service built upon existing new developments that each of the content producers provided. 
Content free and available. A great big benefit of the content that comes up in the search engines is of course that it is free, ... which is a lot more difficult if you are trying to build a learning engine. Professional courses are rarely free (MOOCs notwithstanding), and in a lot of cases even the courses themselves are behind closed walls: e.g. online courses only available for employees, for registered students...

Search engines are great, but Learning Engines are becoming a really urgent demand
The shift in our professional society is no longer about jobs that disappear due to automation, it is about jobs diversifying through the demands of change, driven by innovation. Learning to learn is becoming essential to being employed and moving forward (or at least it seems that way for some of the jobs in sectors driven by innovation and change). 
In order to learn how to do a variety of jobs, we need to learn, and we need to personalize each of our learning journeys based on our previous experiences and skills, both hard and soft skills. This is where the Learning Engine comes in and takes shape. At InnoEnergy I am now co-developing learning for real life jobs. At present ‘addressing the skills gap’ is all the rave. LinkedIn is investing in its Economic Graph, Burning glass and alike are gathering data on Skills, countries and regions are building skills taxonomies (e.g. Nesta ), that can be used either in manual brainstorms and in Artificial Intelligence driven projects. 

If you take into considerations these latest tech-innovations and options, it isn't difficult to imagine a true personalized Learning Engine. 

The challenge is how to build a Futureproof Workforce? Maybe a Learning Engine
With the Learning Engine in my mind it combines innovation, AI and learning skills for the sustainable energy sector (as EIT InnoEnergy works within the sustainable energy sector). Basically, the project identifies industry needs, pinpoints emerging skill gaps in the sustainable energy sector, analysis the existing workforce to know where urgent skills gaps are situated and then refers employees (or employee groups) to a personalized learning trajectory to alleviate their skills gap. 
The combination of these steps should ensure that the employees of the sustainable energy sector stay futureproof in a quickly changing working environment. 

This project helps to realize the emergence of the ‘Learning Engine’, an intelligent career-oriented engine which knows your own skills and signposts you to where you want to go with your career by suggesting a personalized learning track. 
Just imagine that you go to the Learning Engine and you simply type in “Director of Innovation’s in offshore wind energy” and the engine immediately returns a tailored, personalized learning track consisting of a variety of certified trainings from both universities, corporate academies, open educational energy resources and coaching options! Personally, I think that would be quite a catch!

Learners mix and match already
In a way, we already see this shift towards a more quilted professional learning in the MOOC’s which are taken by professional learners to enhance their career opportunities. Those career-minded employees register for MOOCs developed by universities as well as businesses, and they take a few courses here, and a few courses there. Soon employees will be able to link different course certificates to ensure a future-proof career (whether we should be using blockchain in Education to validate the learning trajectory is something else (see some mails on this here and here).

Corporate academies will need to open part of their courses: are they willing?
As the project evolves, it is clear that the AI engines are running and becoming smarter as additional data is fed into the system. But the main challenge is still: how to get access to course descriptions so we can signpost learners to those courses. If we don't have access to courses, even descriptions than we cannot send learners to them. 
I would think that corporate academies would benefit from sharing some of their courses: if they form a network, they will no longer need to develop all the courses, they could 'swap' or agree to develop specific courses and find other courses for their employees at competing companies. Because although they are competing, all of them have basic courses for their employees, and those course costs could be cut by coming to a course-development agreement. 

Monday 24 June 2019

Can people be pushed into #mandatory #learning? Old myths in new mantra's #learning #pedagogy #instruction

Let's be clear: teachers still are not transforming into guides-on-the-side, contemporary-online-learning is not a fabulous learning utopia (we can build it, but we lack whom we want to reach) and pedagogy is now debilitated through new innovations in learning. At least that is my frustration of the day. Let me explain (picture credit: PhD

As I am getting more into the 'AI helps people to be trained in a personalized way'-project (officially called the skills3.0 project, slides here), I am starting to feel uncomfortable with some of the ideas that emerge and resonate with false assumptions found 20 years ago:

  • the old elearning assumption: if you build it, people will come (they did not, at best you need to market it ferociously in order to attract some worldwide learners - confer MOOCs). But when looking at the numbers and the degrees, it is still rather weak in terms of successful tailored learning resulting in professional learning enhancement. In most cases, MOOCs cover the basics, not the advanced side of professional topics.  
  • another one: having to transform instructors (defined as sage-on-the-stage) to guides-on-the-side (something which is repeated by Norris Krueger in his blog article 'from instructor to educator' with a focus on entrepreneurial education). This idea of guide on the side stems from 1981, which means in the last 38 years we haven't managed to get there... this does show it is hard to expand people to embrace a different approach to learning. For in my opinion the best teachers have always been guides-on-the-side, they inspire their students and lift them to their own next level.  
  • The debilitation of pedagogy: I cannot get around this tendency to oversimplify learning, and almost dismiss the proven, evidence-based pedagogy we - the learning researchers - established over the last 30 years. For years fellow researchers in online learning were testing, investigating, reiterating learning options, to see what worked best. And as soon as the market took over, all is reduced to .... classic courses, with one speaker who delivers knowledge but barely listens, clearly a sage-on-the-stage model (MOOCs) and all of us learners discussing and sharing knowledge with each other in the discussion areas in order to tailor what was said to our own situations (social learning, which actually happens in face-to-face courses as well). The only thing that is added to the sage-on-the-stage in most of the MOOC cases is 'fancy video' and a 'new type of Learning Management System' (cfr. Coursera, FutureLearn, EdX... they are basically LMS's with some extra's). Yes, some people learn from the hole in the wall, some do, but most of us don't. So why do learning data scientist and innovators in their new learning tools think that all of humanity will start to learn simply because they say: here it is, this will get you in a better career position. And even if this would be the case, please tell me who would have these actual magic courses, for who can build courses at the speed of the emerging, changing industry? And if we build them, who will be waiting, filled with anticipation and willingness to follow these courses?
I feel frustrated that learning is again be seen as simply a thing that all of us do, and for industry-related reasons. Honestly, I think most of us learn informally (proven!) and if we learn for professional reasons we need to be able to spend time on it (HR enabling time), and if we were to be allocated time to learn, it should be allocated in terms of our own capacity for learning, based on our own background in learning (using a holistic approach to pedagogies). 

In order to move forward with the Skills3.0 project, there are several elements that need to come together and make sense in order to scale the project as well. These elements are:

  1. Using AI to filter out industry needs (which means you look at all the reports from industry, and analyse which new concepts arise from these reports to predict where the industry is going)
  2. Using AI to analyse which true experiences (and related competencies and skills) a person has: based on LinkedIn profiles, current CV's...
  3. Finding the skills gap between both previous steps: getting to know what people might be missing in order for them to answer to upcoming industry needs,
  4. And finally pointing them to training/courses/workshops that might push them to be better for the future jobs. 

The project is taking off (see movie at the end, to see where we are at, I look a bit tired in it, or maybe simply older).
The last step is underestimated by most of the non-educational people. At present learning cannot be put into simple formula's, it is the complexity of life itself, it is why everything evolves in the long and in the short term, including us humans. 

All of the above steps of the Skills3.0 project are laudable. If this works, it has a broader societal meaning, you can even say it provides a way to direct people to a more fulfilling professional life. But... that feels like a Utopian emotion following new innovations. We can see how providing guidance to courses that will help each one of us to perform better, to enhance our careers, to find new professional challenges, ... is a good thing. The only problem is, that humans are also bound to their own learning characteristics (e.g. Big five personality traits, or more academically the learner characteristics guiding their own self-directed learning).

Simply providing courses might not be enough, we need coaching, workshops, orientational sessions which depict which types of learning will benefit you most (e.g. if we look for data science courses online, which ones are useful to each of us individually? that will depend on what we know, where we want to use them for, and how we learn (for me, numbers are a challenge)).

Whether we say learners must self-direct, or self-regulate or self-determine their learning, inevitably this means we are talking about learners that are willing to learn, and are capable of learning. Indeed, in the near future we will ask learners to learn at a speed that is ever increasing, meaning you need to be a really good learner to keep up with your own changing field. Can we do this? And if we can, how does it work?

Short video on the Skills3.0 project recorded during the WindEurope conference in Bilbao. Which will lead to 'building the workforce':

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Part 2 on #Blockchain in #learning: some points of discussion

This is a second post on Blockchain in learning (specifically for certification, it is referred to as Blockcerts). In the first blogpost on the subject, I took a look at some examples that are currently out there (industry/academia), but in this post, I will have a closer look at the discussions surrounding Blockchain for learning. First I will zoom in on how I see Blockchain certification being the new big brother in an already very structured dominant education system. After that I share a prankster who conned himself into a professorship, then an example from Russia, and to finish the blogpost, a quick overview of one of the major critiques on blockchain. First off: fight the power!

Blockchain the move from freedom to the rigid, dominant system in learning
In history and innovation, there is always the first momentum which feels like liberation and promises a minor or major new Utopia (the emergence of television: education for all right in your living room; Internet: education at our fingertips; MOOCs: free education for all by highly acclaimed institutions, ... and now blockchain: certification for our lifelong learning, right in our mobiles). Blockchain certification is cutting out the middle person and making sure that all transactions move from user-to-user (where the user might be any person or company that is at one end of a transaction). At first, the promise of secure data transition is felt like new freedom to some, but once the technology gets more embedded and used by more people, a more rigorous system kicks in, the dominant system.

To me, it feels like dominant learning is reeling all of us, informal learners, back in, and blockchain certification might just be a strong example. Why would blockchain be a ball-and-chain from the dominant system? Easy, it now stacks formal certification, which means it becomes even more difficult to live and develop outside of the pre-set pathways of life (if you want a professional career that is). Why would this be necessary? Well, not all of us want to pull pranks, not all of us want to live outside of the set boundaries (study, go to uni, work and climb the ladder within a specific branch), but some of us do like a bit of job freedom. I for instance like switching jobs, and retaining some freedom while performing to the best of my abilities.

Our human right to pull pranks within the educational establishment
For me, we - as humans - need the freedom to pull off a prank from time to time. Nothing as big as full-blown fraud, but just something small to satisfy our inner fool.

I remember a prank that Gogol pulled off which actually went against the rigid educational system of his time. Gogol was a famous Russian author using quite a bit of surrealism in his books, eg. The Nose. At a certain point in his life, he could earn enough money, so he was looking for a means to earn money, and he managed to earn a chair as Professor of Medieval History at the University of St. Petersburg, a job for which he had no qualifications. He pulled this off for a year (not giving lectures, keeping all the information very general, and taking exams with a towel wrapped around his so-called toothache, so that he did not have to talk and another professor took the exams of the students. Great! I mean, let's be serious, this is something that makes all of us pranksters laugh. It takes a serious position and turns it into a very human momentum. Let's be honest, no robot or cyborg would do this, only humans can come up with such a beautifully orchestrated prank.
However stupid a fool's words may be, they are sometimes enough to confound an intelligent man. Gogol, Dead Souls.     
Blockchain certification is for idiots who cannot pinpoint real knowledge or expertise
Sometimes Blockchain certification is promoted with: "it takes away the risk of hiring someone who has not gotten the degrees that the person says they have". So what? If you cannot tell if someone had or didn't have an education based on what they deliver in terms of work, it sure means they were intelligent enough to really grasp those skills and experiences in their own way. If they cannot pull it off, it does not matter whether they had the qualifications in a formal way or not either, because if they cannot do the job, no matter which qualifications they have, you will fire them. So in a way certification is only a fools tool within a dominant system that agrees it is too difficult to distinguish real earned certification versus fraudulently earned certification. Or is it?

Universities are no longer on top of the educational ladder: the Russian implementation
In my previous post, I mentioned a couple of Blockchain certification options, but since then I came across a more advanced blockchain in learning example, and it is a Russian implementation called Disciplina. This platform combines education (including vocational training), recruiting (comparable with what LinkedIn is doing with its economic graph) and careers for professionals. All of this is combined into a blockchain solution that keeps track of all the learners' journey. The platform includes not only online courses as we know it but also coaching. After each training, you get a certificate.
TeachMePlease, which is a partner of Disciplina, enables teachers and students to find each other for specific professional training as well as curriculum-related children's schooling. Admittedly, these initiatives are still being rolled out in terms of courses, but it clearly shows where the next learning will be located: in an umbrella above all the universities and professional academies. At present, the university courses are being embedded into course offerings by corporations that roll out a layer post-university, or post-vocational schooling.

Europe embraces blockchain, as can be seen with their EU Blockchain observatory and forum. And in a more national action, Malta is storing their certifications in a blockchain nationwide as well. We cannot deny that blockchain is getting picked up by both companies and governments. Universities have been piloting several blockchain certification options, and they also harbor some of the leading voices in the debate on blockchain certification.

Major critique on Public Blockchains for learning
First of all, and prominently present, is Serge Ravet. He is co-author of the Bologna Open Recognition Declaration, founding partner of the Open Recognition Alliance, which already offers a good deal of interesting blockchain for learning related reading. On his learning futures blog, Serge wrote a couple of articles on why he thinks that blockchain for learning is not the way to go and is, in fact, solving a false problem. . While going head-on, he pinpoints the real actor behind the EU blockchain observatory and forum, he then goes on to state that blockchain promotion is based on the promotion of the idea of distrust. When I read this, I concurred to the notion, as indeed there is another way to certify education and learning, that is by using the Web of Trust.
The blockchain is sometimes presented as the new panacea needed to heal the wrongs of the world. It is not just superficial, it is plain wrong: some applications of blockchain technologies can make things worse than they were, like the Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are not just boosting traditional criminal activities but enabling new ones, not to mention global warming. (It’s about Trust, Stupid! Why Blockchain-based BlockCerts are the wrong solution to a false problem (0/3) by Serge Ravet)
In his follow-up post Serge zooms in on the economic-dimension of using blockchains, notably the actual risk of erasing regulatory bodies, and one of the most irregulated markets, the cryptocurrency market. He states:
The rationale for the initial development of blockchain technologies like Bitcoins, was to solve the problem of double spending while simultaneously:
  • Getting rid of regulatory bodies — the dream of the proponents of anarcho-capitalism also called libertarian anarchy, one of the ideologies widely shared between the alt-right, Trump and Silicon Valley (c.f. their track-record in tax dodging).
  • Getting rid of the need for trusted authorities to secure transactions — which resulted in creating an ecosystem that works best when everybody is at war with everybody. Trust is a mortal sin as trust between the [blockchain] miners could lead to collusion and cheating. 
 This puts a large part of society in a precarious position, as blockchains are pushed as being secure, while actually not only cutting away the middle man, but also the regulators, and the only ones really benefitting from having no regulators are those in power.

Another well-known downside of blockchains is their impact on global warming (definitely regulators needed there).
Public blockchains based on Proof of Work (PoW) are actively contributing to global warming—Bitcoin operations consume the annual energy of New Zealand, and growing! (It’s about Trust, Stupid! Why Blockchain-based BlockCerts are the wrong solution to a false problem (1/3) by Serge Ravet.
He also dispels the blockchain myth in pointing to how easy it is to get funding if you use 'blockchain' in any type of way.
What I really like, and often think, is that there is not always a need for blockchain. There are other options that do the job you want and have less impact on the climate, as well as less impact on society (so keeping it a low risk).

When addressing blockchain for certification, he hits on similar ideas as I did in the beginning of this post (though Serge uses a much more literary and blockchain-tech angle). And he uses some bitter wit as well:
The blockcert-authors want to use blockchains to reinvent the teaching machine that B. F. Skinner imagined for humans out of his extensive study of pigeons. But with an interesting twist this time: the positive reinforcement is not for the students, but the teachers; and it is financial! ... If the goal is to “enable a wave of innovation” what kind of innovation could emerge from making credentials “cryptographically signed, tamper-proof, and shareable”? The only innovation here is in using a new technology to improve paper-based credentials. We had a piece of paper, a static piece of information that is now a digital record, just as well a static piece of information, but easier to share and more difficult to tamper with.
When reading this last paragraph, it dawned on me that blockchain certification might well be a contemporary version of the Emperors New Clothes. Ah, so that means blockcerts might be a prank after all?! That idea feels satisfying, I no longer need to search a viable product for my project... or do I ? 

Tuesday 28 May 2019

(live blognotes @ErasmusMATES) on #skills shift effect on #education & #training

Live blognotes MATES workshop on future skills education needed

This blog post refers to the future of education. In the near future (now actually) we need to set up professional learning that addresses the skills needs that emerge from the innovation-driven transition affecting different jobs. As a result, learning becomes effectively lifelong learning, and it becomes mandatory, as many jobs change constantly. This means universities must make their curriculum more dynamic in roll-out to cater to immediate demands, or ensure professional long learning. 

In this workshop, the European skills gap address is sketched. The field is specifically shipbuilding, but the notes I took are related to something that all educators interested in a pan-university or pan-training-organizational might find useful.

Everything between square brackets refer to my own ideas or questions [ ]

Julie Fionda Deputy Head of Unit Skills and Qualifications (DG Employment EC)
Great quote by Margaret Mead (Yeah!) We are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools …”
  • A future of transitions
  • Changing jobs more frequently
  • Content of work changing faster (by 2022 54% of the

    existing workforce will need up/reskilling (Davos world economic forum)
  • Changing tasks more than redundant jobs ‘cobotisation’ (2022 machines/algorithms 42% humans 58 percent, huge shift (now 17%)

Which skills and where: diverse skills across Europe.
Cross cutting messages: digital skills (90% of all jobs now require some digital skills, including manual jobs), knowledge becomes less important (but navigating and applying the knowledge is increasingly more important than the knowledge itself)
Problem solving and critical thinking become more important (for themselves and as co-workers)
STEM disciplines are necessary, but the creatives are needed to say what the engines must do in terms of feelings, ethics, …
Sector specific skills: skills intelligence is often quite poor at individual level. Very important decisions are made on patchy information and pre-conceptions, that is why skills intelligence is one of the pillars in Europe.
Skills agenda in Europe high priority.
[skills intelligence: graduate tracking – blockchain certification from a learner , predicting future skills based on AI]
Education training systems need time to get people certified and credited, yet there is an immediate need to provide people with specific skills now. This also means we need to look at skills across the board (transparency across all levels, European, national and regional level)
Sectorial skills – European projects (Wave 1 – 2017, Wave 2 – 2018, Wave 3 – 2019)

Europass (certification ! informal and formal !): a suite of documents and services to improve transparency of skills. Over 130 million Europass CVs filled in (2005 – 2018), this will be renewed and testing it from June onward [ask Inge!]. The new Europass: web-based documentation tools, fact-based trends
More information on trends in your sector, connecting with learning opportunities, signposting for recognition of credentials, making it easier to identify the right candidates (to understand their qualifications, to trust their documentation is genuine and to have them find you).
Big data analysis of skills needs (roll out by 2020): Tens of millions of online vacancies, what are the skills sets they require, how does this vary across Europe, what trends can we see, first data March 2019, CEDEFOP expertise.

Graduate tracking: question on whether also tracking for informal learning after graduation (professional learning). Yes, this is done by Europass and it would be a service offered by Europass that can be embedded in a project so that both formal and informal certification can be validated by all and kept and/or provided by learner themselves. The Europass solution would be rolled out and available by 2020. Would be vocational tracking as well as university-related tracking, but admittedly the vocational tracking is more of a challenge.

Skills panorama (look at the picture for link).

Brain drain, movement of skilled labour in Europe, where are people going, where from, challenges and successes, independent study and mutual learning [here informal certification]
Transparency and recognition of qualifications: European Qualifications Framework (EQF), credentials, and international qualifications, blueprint qualifications, digitally signed credentials.
Looking for implementable projects and that it makes an impact on a strategic level.
Find out more: (and see picture with links )
Qualifications across nations/continents.
[our InnoEnergy skills3.0 bottom up approach, starting from the sector reports provides a more realistic market realistic overview of the skills needed]
ESCO skills taxonomy will be released as update in 2021.

Lucia Fraga Lago presents MATES findings (16 months of work)
Objectives: digital skills, green skills, 21st century skills, gender balance, VET standards and governance, ocean literacy. Transversal skills like these gain importance.
Project structure is iterative, currently in planning phase: stakeholder mobilization, baseline report on current skills gaps, analysis fo paradigm shifters, lines of action. for full report 176 experts and stakeholders commit to contributing to the strategy, organized in 8 thematic groups.

Input sources: 242 publications and 149 projects bibliographic, state of the art compilation, 2 rounds of regional stakeholder workshops [did MATES use AI for this]
Methods: description of current status in both sectors, value chain approach, mapping of relevant occupational profiles (based on ESCO), mapping of relevant Education and training programs across Europe, and identification of gaps in Education and training programs and skills shortages.

General challenges: aging workforce, young people not interested in the industrial maritime sectors, women are under-represented, and there aer few gender statistical data.
Mapping of occupational profiles (those that are very directly related to this field – shipbuilding). 35 primary (e.g. metal workers, welders, machinists…), and 25 supporting occupation profiles (e.g. civil engineer).

Relevant education and training programs across Europe (450 programs found) few programs directly targeted at shipbuilding industry, majority are VET programs addressing first phases of specialization only (mainly metalworking), few training schemes provide specific apprenticeships like advanced welding etc. , only 17% of the programs are English or bilingual and mainly higher education programs.

Skills shortages: specific technical gaps is highest, but also in language skills, health and safety.
[question: 450 programs found, but how do you solve the personal need of each worker, and how do you connect it to different parts of these programs?]
Info: Lucia Fraga @erasmusMATES

On my question regarding: “who does a mix-and-match of existing programs and courses to the skills needs that are situated? Response of MATES and University of Amsterdam: multidisciplinary, dynamic curriculum development, multi-disciplinary curriculum building, more modulated, blended in terms of in-classroom teaching and on-site training. The MATES Lucia Fraga: we are going to tackle this step by step [so Skills3.0 project of EIT InnoEnergy might be leading in this]