New MacBook Pro Leaks Reveal Tim Cook’s Big Risk And Bigger Reward
Although no big consumer facing changes are expected to Apple’s Mac and MacBook line-up this year beyond keeping pace with Moore’s Law, Apple analysts are expecting the crop of 2018 machines to feature in Apple’s push to become self-reliant with regards the design of its chips
Both the Touch Bar enabled MacBook Pro (with the touch input focused T1 chip) and the iMac Pro (with the power and security focused T2 chip) ship with Apple designed co-processor chips. Further afield the AirPods, along with a handful of Beats headphones) have the W1 wireless peripheral chip, the Apple Watch runs with the W2, and iOS devices have had Axx chips running all the way back to the A4.
But the goal may not be restricted to co-processors. In my opinion, and that of many in the geekerati, the goal will be complete control of the design of all of the silicon in your Apple hardware.
Part of the attractiveness of developing its own silicon for specific functions has been to allow Apple to control its own destiny and not be reliant on the technology and code of third parties. If you are looking for a recent example, look no further than the Intel’s issues with Meltdown and Spectre. Apple would consider these to be the faults of Intel, but faults which it ultimately had to bear responsibility.
The assumption being that if Apple could control the silicon, it can control its destiny.
This makes another assumption… that Apple is able to program a better, more secure, more stable chip than Intel. And if you are looking for a recent example that this is going to be a lot harder than it appears, then look no further than the issues over older iPhone Batteries and the drastic action that iOS is forced to take after around a year of regular use. Throttling back handsets without disclosing the action until forced to by a third-party investigation is not the sort of standard to be aiming for.
The suggestion from Bloomberg is that Apple will be looking to include new custom chips in three macOS machines released in 2018. These will likely be updates to the current line-ups, rather than brand new entries into the portfolio. It’s highly unlikely that Apple will be ready to replace the Intel-designed CPUs at this stage, I would expect Apple to extend the current co-processors to offer new features and appear in new models.
For example the iMac Pro’s T2 chip that helps process audio and video would make for a good addition to the top end MacBook Pro to offer more workstation-like features; an update to the iPad Pro could also benefit from a mobile version of this media processing chip; and a general expansion of graphics capabilities in the MacBook Pro machines though dedicated GPUs and graphical chips would not only be appreciated but allow Apple to sell the 2018 MacBooks as carrying ‘new’ features as it tries to move consumers to a yearly update cycle on its desk-bound hardware.
That would give Apple more experience and data on co-processors, it would allow it to investigate and code in new areas, and it would move it closer to the point where it could take total control of the design of all of its silicon and create an even bigger digital moat around its products.
Mitsubishi’s new Outlander is almost relentlessly sensible
Paul Walker screeching to a halt in a bright-green Eclipse. Short-wheelbase Pajeros thundering across the dunes on their way to Dakar domination. Rally-driving champion Tommi Makinen laying another EVO-powered beatdown on chief rival Subaru. For years, Mitsubishi was all about performance and enthusiasm.
Then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t. The Lancer EVO shuffled off into the ether with barely a whimper. The Eclipse nameplate, once a favourite of the Fast & Furiouscrowd, is now reborn as an economical crossover. And as for Mitsubishi’s halo model, you’re looking at it: a plug-in hybrid crossover. That’s a bit sad, isn’t it?
However, if you are looking for an economical, practical machine with an extremely long warranty, then here you are. The Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) may be based on the face-lifted version of an aging platform, but it’s almost relentlessly sensible.
Goodbye Nomex racing suits, hello everyday khaki trousers.
Aside from the badges, some painted exterior trim pieces, and a unique shifter, the PHEV is essentially the same as the standard Outlander. On the plus side, that means relatively inoffensive styling and a practical layout. Only a two-row layout is available, and the PHEV actually has a little more cargo space than its pure-combustion siblings.
Up front, the Outlander PHEV is perfectly acceptable. It doesn’t reach for upscale, but anyone considering this vehicle from a practical standpoint will note the conventional switchgear, clear graphics on the modestly-sized central touchscreen and dated but easy-to-use heating and air-conditioning controls. The PHEV isn’t trying to be cutting-edge, instead aiming for low-effort.
Under the skin, however, this electrified Outlander is quite clever. There are three propulsion units: one 80-horsepower electric motor out back, another up front and a 2.0-litre internal combustion engine capable of charging the battery or feeding power to the front wheels.
Because it has electric power for both front and rear axles, the Outlander PHEV can operate as a fully electric all-wheel-drive vehicle. There is no connection between the front and rear axles, but Mitsubishi has adapted its proprietary all-wheel-drive system to work as in more conventional applications. S-AWC (super all-wheel control) can trace its roots to those rally championship days, and provides the PHEV with torque-vectoring and surprisingly agile grip.
Electric motors have much better torque response than a combustion engine, and around town, the Outlander PHEV scoots off the line with aplomb. The driver can choose to control how the PHEV apportions the power, or simply leave it to its own devices. In flat-road conditions, at less than 120 kilometres an hour, Mitsubishi says that the plug-in Outlander’s 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack will give it 35 kilometres of pure-EV range.
As tested, the Outlander wanted to run its engine for the first few minutes, even with the electric-only EV Priority mode selected and the battery indicating a full charge. Chalk this up to the temperature and that our test vehicle had been sitting as a display vehicle with an espresso maker hooked up to it.
AARP Releases Consumer Insights Survey on Nutrition and Brain Health
Adults age 40-plus who say they eat healthy foods most of the time are twice as likely to rate their brain health and mental sharpness as “excellent” or “very good” compared to adults who rarely eat a healthy diet (77% vs. 39%), according to a new AARP consumer survey on brain health and nutrition. But only about one-third (35%) of adults surveyed reported eating nutritious and well-balanced meals “most of the time (5-7 days).”
“Maintaining a healthy diet is vital for good brain health and it is unfortunate that not enough people are aware of the risks associated with poor nutrition,” said Sarah Lock, AARP Senior Vice President for Policy, and Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) Executive Director. “The results from this survey, along with the latest GCBH report on “Brain Food,” show how certain dietary changes can provide a good foundation for improving brain health.”
Key findings from AARP’s 2017 Brain Health and Nutrition Survey:
•Significantly more adults who ate the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables reported better brain health than those that did not. Most adults, however, are not getting the daily recommended servings in all five food groups. Moreover, one-third did not consume the recommended amount in any food group.
•Nearly nine in 10 adults said they are likely to eat healthier if they knew it would lower the risks of cognitive decline (87%), heart disease (88%), and diabetes (88%).
•More than 60% of adults age 40 and older said that they would eat more fish, less red meat, and lower their dairy fat intake if they knew it was good for their brain health.
•Adults ages 40-54 were significantly more likely to cite barriers to healthy eating compared to adults ages 65 and older.
“The most common reasons people gave for not eating healthier included that it was too difficult, too expensive, they weren’t a “healthy foods type” of person, or their family wouldn’t like the taste,” said Lock. “Half of adults said they would be more likely to change their diet if their doctor told them to do it but only 37% said their doctor has spoken to them about their diet.”
New Recommendations on Nutrition’s Role in Brain Health
Long-term healthy eating habits promote good brain health, according to new consensus recommendations released separately today by the GCBH. The new report finds that a plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with better brain health, and eating fish and other seafood seems to benefit cognitive function. However, excessive alcohol, high levels of saturated fats, and high salt intake are all harmful to brain health. A heart-healthy diet is also a brain-healthy diet because high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes—all common conditions influenced by diet—harm both cardiovascular and cognitive health. And contrary to recent reports, GCBH recommends a healthy portion of skepticism for people who are drinking coffee, tea, and red wine expecting a brain health benefit until more evidence is developed.
The 2017 AARP Brain Health and Nutrition Survey can be found here:
•GCBH Recommendations on Nourishing Your Brain Health:
•AARP Brain Health and Wellness Website: http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/
•Additional surveys and reports on brain health: http://www.GlobalCouncilonBrainHealth.org
The 2017 AARP Brain Health and Nutrition survey was fielded October 25-November 8, 2017. Data were collected using GfK’s online probability-based panel. The final, nationally representative sample included 2,033 adults age 40 and older. The final sample was augmented to include a minimum of 350 African Americans, 350 Hispanics/Latinos, and 200 Asians. The margin of error for the general population is ± 2.7 percentage points.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit http://www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.
High-pitched, eerie and yet distinct, the sound of a voice calling the name “Amy” is unmistakable. But this isn’t a human cry – it’s the voice of a killer whale called Wikie.
New research reveals that orcas are able to imitate human speech, in some cases at the first attempt, saying words such as “hello”, “one, two” and “bye bye”.
The study also shows that the creatures are able to copy unfamiliar sounds produced by other orcas – including a sound similar to blowing a raspberry.
Scientists say the discovery helps to shed light on how different pods of wild killer whales have ended up with distinct dialects, adding weight to the idea that they are the result of imitation between orcas. The creatures are already known for their ability to copy the movements of other orcas, with some reports suggesting they can also mimic the sounds of bottlenose dolphins and sea lions.
“We wanted to see how flexible a killer whale can be in copying sounds,” said Josep Call, professor in evolutionary origins of mind at the University of St Andrews and a co-author of the study. “We thought what would be really convincing is to present them with something that is not in their repertoire – and in this case ‘hello’ [is] not what a killer whale would say.”
Wikie is not the first animal to have managed the feat of producing human sounds: dolphins, elephants, parrots, orangutans and even beluga whales have all been captured mimicking our utterances, although they use a range of physical mechanisms to us to do so. Noc, the beluga whale, made novel use of his nasal cavities, while Koshik, an Indian elephant jammed his trunk in his mouth, resulting in the pronouncement of Korean words ranging from “hello” to “sit down” and “no”.
But researchers say only a fraction of the animal kingdom can mimic human speech, with brain pathways and vocal apparatus both thought to determine whether it is possible.
“That is what makes it even more impressive – even though the morphology [of orcas] is so different, they can still produce a sound that comes close to what another species, in this case us, can produce,” said Call.
He poured cold water, however, on the idea that orcas might understand the words they mimic. “We have no evidence that they understand what their ‘hello’ stands for,” he said.
Writing in the journal Proceedings ofthe Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, researchers from institutions in Germany, UK, Spain and Chile, describe how they carried out the latest research with Wikie, a 14-year-old female orca living in an aquarium in France. She had previously been trained to copy actions performed by another orca when given a human gesture.
After first brushing up Wikie’s grasp of the “copy” command, she was trained to parrot three familiar orca sounds made by her three-year old calf Moana.
Wikie was then additionally exposed to five orca sounds she had never heard before, including noises resembling a creaking door and the blowing a raspberry.
Finally, Wikie was exposed to a human making three of the orca sounds, as well as six human sounds, including “hello”, “Amy”, “ah ha”, “one, two” and “bye bye”.
“You cannot pick a word that is very complicated because then I think you are asking too much – we wanted things that were short but were also distinctive,” said Call.
Throughout the study, Wikie’s success was first judged by her two trainers and then confirmed from recordings by six independent adjudicators who compared them to the original sound, without knowing which was which.
The team found that Wikie was often quickly able to copy the sounds, whether from an orca or a human, with all of the novel noises mimicked within 17 trials. What’s more, two human utterances and all of the human-produced orca sounds were managed on the first attempt – although only one human sound – “hello” – was correctly produced more than 50% of the time on subsequent trials.
The matching was further backed up through an analysis of various acoustic features from the recordings of Wikie’s sounds.
While the sounds were all made and copied when the animals’ heads were out of the water, Call said the study shed light on orca behaviour.
“I think here we have the first evidence that killer whales may be learning sounds by vocal imitation, and this is something that could be the basis of the dialects we observe in the wild – it is plausible,” said Call, noting that to further test the idea, trials would have to be carried out with wild orcas.
Diana Reiss, an expert in dolphin communication and professor of psychology at Hunter College, City University of New York, welcomed the research, noting that it extends our understanding of orcas’ vocal abilities, with Wikie able to apply a “copy” command learned for imitation of actions to imitation of sounds.
Dr Irene Pepperberg, an expert in parrot cognition at Harvard University, also described the study as exciting, but said: “A stronger test would have been whether the various sounds produced could be correctly classified by humans without the models present for comparison.”
Hootsuite users can now schedule and publish Instagram posts
For years, Instagram has prevented account holders from organizing and broadcasting posts ahead of time. Today (January 30), Vancouver social media management company Hootsuite has announced that it will be the first platform to allow users to release content automatically.
“Historically, individuals were only able to publish Instagram posts in ‘realtime’, which did not satisfy the needs of many businesses,” Jeremy Wood, VP of product marketing at Hootsuite, tells the Straight. “With this announcement, our customers are not only able to publish securely but also to schedule their posts to go live at any time. This allows users to schedule posts at times that align to their business objectives, day or night. We’re excited to bring these features to Hootsuite clients.”
The development has been made possible through an update to Instagram’s API. In the past, users had been able to pre-create a post and save it as a draft. Hootsuite could send out a push notification at a specified time, but the content would only be published if an individual entered the Instagram app, and manually triggered its release. Now, users can program posts for Instagram, and Hootsuite will share them at the selected time.
“Scheduling and publishing of Instagram content has been the number one request for our 16 million customers,” says Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, in a statement. “Now, they can manage large volumes of content, multiple team members, and multiple Instagram accounts with ease and security. Hootsuite is excited to launch our new integration with Instagram to help our customers achieve their business goals and succeed with social.”
Companies like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ all have auto-scheduling technology enabled. With its new Instagram integration, Hootsuite has created a dashboard that will allow users to pre-arrange posts across all networks at once.
Hootsuite is the most widely-used social media management tool in the world, and Instagram has proven to be the fastest growing social network on the company’s platform. More than two million photos and videos are shared on the app every month via Hootsuite.
“As Instagram grows it continues to put the highest priority into preserving their consumer experience,” says Wood. “We worked hard with the company to ensure that any direct publishing solution for businesses would yield the best experience possible.”
The new feature is only available for registered Instagram business profiles, but it’s likely to roll out to personal accounts in the future.
Google officially closes HTC deal of $1.1 billion
In September 2017, Google had officially closed a $1.1 billion deal with the Taiwanese OEM HTC Corp. to acquire most of HTC’s smartphone design division.
Back then, Rick Osterloh, Google’s Senior Vice President for Hardware in a blog post had said, “We’ve signed an agreement with HTC, a leader in consumer electronics that will fuel even more product innovation in the years ahead. With this agreement, a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organization. These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we’re excited to see what we can do together as one team.”
Fast forward to January 2018, Osterloh has officially confirmed the completion of the $1.1 billion deal with HTC in a blog post. “I’m delighted that we’ve officially closed our deal with HTC, and are welcoming an incredibly talented team to work on even better and more innovative products in the years to come,” he said.
He added, “These new colleagues bring decades of experience achieving a series of “firsts” particularly in the smartphone industry—including bringing to market the first 3G smartphone in 2005, the first touch-centric phone in 2007, and the first all-metal unibody phone in 2013. This is also the same team we’ve been working closely with on the development of the Pixel and Pixel 2.”
The deal involves Google acquiring more than 2,000 HTC engineers who will be joining the company’s Taiwan division, which Osterloh says is the “key innovation and engineering hub for Google.” The search giant has also acquired non-exclusive licenses to HTC’s intellectual property. Also, the expansion will make the Taipei-based unit grow its footprint in the Asia Pacific region.
Further, the deal will help Google stride deeper with its new teammates to improve the experiences for its users around the world by designing its own consumer hardware, artificial intelligence, and software.
Osterloh also hinted that Google will continue to expand its smartphone business following the Pixel series launched last year as ‘made by Google’ phones.
“We’re focused on building our core capabilities, while creating a portfolio of products that offers people a unique yet delightful experience only made possible by bringing together the best of Google software—like the Google Assistant—with thoughtfully designed hardware,” he said.
On the other hand, HTC said that it will continue to produce handsets and concentrate its efforts on its next flagship smartphone. “Today marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter at HTC as we continue to drive innovation in our branded smartphone and VIVE virtual reality businesses,” Cher Wang, chairwoman at HTC said in a statement.
You can’t spell will.i.am without AI
In case you missed it, will.i.am is a dedicated technologist. And as my colleague Matt Hughes pointed out last year, we’re not even joking a little bit.
He’s quickly becoming one of the biggest names in AI. Again, not kidding. And it’s not for nothing either. He seems to know what he’s talking about, his intentions seem good, and his products work. He’s like Elon Musk, but only one of them has seven Grammys.
Granted will.i.am isn’t putting rockets in space, but there’s something to be said for his attitude on education. In a Fox Business interview he said:
If I’m going to inner cities and telling kids they should apply themselves down the path of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and then I go off and, you know, go on stage, they’re going to look at me sideways… “I wanna do music like you.” No, you wanna do tech like me. This the way, not out of the ghetto, but to change the ghetto forever.
Later in the interview he says AI is “the next big frontier,” going on to compare its impact on the world to that of the lightbulb. He’s not alone in his belief either, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai recently compared AI to fire and electricity. For his part, will.i.am. believes AI will create jobs and change the world for the better, he’s definitely an optimist. He continues:
Right now your iPhone is an internet phone and there’s a bunch of internet devices. AI devices are right around the corner. We’re about to deploy ours shortly, this year. I’m real excited for our launch.
His company has 300 employees across six locations around the world, and its biggest product is a voice assistant for enterprise called Omega.
Whether you believe it or not doesn’t matter. The musical superstar cum technology mogul is walking his talk, creating jobs, and trying to make the world a better place.
And he’s years ahead of the compeitition, just like he was when the entire world was singing “I Gotta Feeling.” When asked whether, as far as technology is concerned, 2018 will be the year of France, the US, Europe or Asia, he responded:
My eye’s on 2030. Because that’s when my kids will be old enough to create jobs. The ones that I’m focused on right now, 9 year olds, so 2030. My eyes are looking further. I’m committed further.
Whose your AI Mount Rushmore? We’ll start: Andrew Ng, Ray Kurzweil, Yann LeCun, and will.i.am.
7 Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2018
What education technologies and trends will have the most impact in the coming year? We asked four higher ed IT leaders for their take.
Whenever we analyze the landscape of higher education technology, we find a range of trends in various stages of development. There are topics with real staying power, such as learning space design (which has factored into our trends list for several years). Others have evolved over time: Virtual reality made our list in 2016, then expanded to include augmented and mixed reality in 2017, and this year makes up part of a broader concept of immersive learning. And while some topics, like video, have been around for ages, new developments are putting them into a different light.
To help make sense of it all, we asked a panel of four IT leaders from institutions across the country for their thoughts. Here’s what they told us.
Assistant Dean for Facilities & Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, School of Government, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Director of Academic Technology, Information Services, Oregon State University
Chief Information Officer and Dean of the Library, University of Louisiana Monroe
Director of Learning and Teaching Services for FAS Libraries, Harvard Library, Harvard University
1) Data-Driven Institutions
Brian Fodrey: In the age of big data, with leaders focused on making data-driven decisions, having a data and information management strategy in place in IT is no longer just a luxury, but quickly becoming a necessity.
A unified data standardization effort can make all systems and processes better and can be directly managed by assessing how data is collected, cleansed and ultimately stored. Employing a data in-information out mindset forces us to be strategic in why data is being requested, how it is solicited and the manner in which it will inform future offerings, services and/or systems enterprise-wide. Additionally, having reliable data sets also lessens the need for redundant collection points to exist at various application levels, and instead creates a more uniform and positive user experience.
Beyond the capturing and management of data, understanding and recognizing the diversity in where and how all constituents at an institution are consuming various data sets can also lead to learning more about those who value our information, utilize our services and influence how we collect data in the future.
Thomas Hoover: Data and big data have been buzzwords — rightfully so — for the last several years. Universities are making great progress when it comes to using data to help with retention and student success. However, there is still much room for improvement to take advantage of data-driven decision-making across the entire campus.
For instance, data can be used to determine if classrooms are being utilized optimally before new construction projects are kicked off. It can and should be used to determine if aging computer labs should be renewed or transformed into something that is more useful to the university. Efforts like these can not only streamline campus operations, but also ensure that we are making most of the resources we have in the service of teaching and learning.
Another area where data can be used more is GIS data. Historically, GIS data has primarily been used in the hard sciences — but that same data could be analyzed in practically any class on a college campus. Think history, political science, criminal justice, urban planning — there is so much data out there, and we can all do a better job of using it.
David Goodrum: The future of any innovation in teaching and learning is almost always a combination of all — or at least most — of the following: academic discipline, pedagogy, learning environment, data and educational technology. And data-informed research and formative evaluation are the key to avoiding just chasing shiny new objects on the one hand and just staying with what we’ve always done on the other. The foundational blocks for making any headway in analytics, particularly learning analytics, are: a) institutional (rather than vendor) ownership of data generated by teaching and learning activity; b) transparency of data models created through our data (rather than being proprietary); and c) data and integration standards (such as those shepherded by the IMS Global Learning Consortium).
2) Immersive Learning
Anu Vedantham: Last January, I indulged my curiosity about virtual reality and gamification with a workshop at Harvard organized by Alex Zahlten and presented by Johanna Pirker. It was a joy to spend two days learning the basics of programs such as Unity and PhotoScan. Touching the software hands-on was essential for me to understand why this technology is powerful and how it can be used for more than just first-person-shooter games. Later in the year, forHUBweek, our Cabot Science Library hosted presentations on the Giza Projectand the Archaeology of Harvard Yard. My appreciation for the educational potential for VR technologies was deepened after exploring the work of Nicole Mills, who is using VR to capture the feel of different Parisian neighborhoods.
One challenge of this technology is how fast it is moving. Another is that it crosses conceptual boundaries. Is it like watching a movie? Is it like playing a game? Is it like wandering an online landscape without constraint or direction? It has all of these components, which makes it harder to integrate into an educational experience. I’m also interested in how we are exploring other senses — touch, smell and taste — in the context of virtual reality.
3) Digital Course Materials and Assignments
Vedantham: YouTube began in February 2005, and 12 years later, Wikipediareports 1 billion hours of content watched on the platform each day. The sheer volume of educational video creates challenges for faculty in creating new content, as well as finding and reusing content. During the busy academic semesters, faculty do not have time to watch, curate and clip videos! The cognitive overload of video use can be significant, leading us to look for specialized collections such as Ted Talks and Khan Academy. Harvard’s DART initiative is one recent effort to try to help faculty and instructional designers make full use of open access assets created for edX MOOCs.
As we increase dependence on instructional videos, we also need to focus on issues of accessibility for people with a range of needs. I have benefited from the annual Disability Symposium at the University of Pennsylvania for its ability to bring campus together to discuss such issues.
I can skim text material fast to decide if it is worth including in my course. I need a similar tool to assess video content quickly and reliably. Video has emotional and cultural connotations that can be hard for me to predict or control without taking time to watch and digest the content and identify what to include and what to edit out. We need to develop new metaphors for how to work with video content in education in ways similar to the established practices of quotes, paraphrases and adaptations of text content. Our ability to abstract out of specific tools (What do YellowDig, Canvas and Piazza have in common?) and to develop pathways from simple to more complex tools will be needed to maintain momentum.
Goodrum: Digital education is generating new learning opportunities as students engage in online, digital environments and as faculty change educational practices through the use of hybrid courses, personalized instruction, new collaboration models and a wide array of innovative, engaging learning strategies. Furthermore, a 21st century view of learner success requires students to not only be thoughtful consumers of digital content, but effective and collaborative creators of digital media, demonstrating competencies and communicating ideas through dynamic storytelling, data visualization and content curation. As instructors create assignments and develop rubrics for assessing new forms of student work across academic disciplines, faculty and students would benefit from access to new collaborative spaces with the technology and consulting expertise to successfully complete media-rich assignments and projects. One example at Oregon State is in general biology courses, where Senior Instructors Lesley Blair and Mark Lavery infuse their own lectures with media-rich components and have their students include their own media elements in assignments and social media postings. You can follow their journey in changing biology education at vividscience.org and @VividScience on Twitter.
4) Enterprise-wide Video
Goodrum: Being relatively new to Oregon State, I’m lucky to work with Raul Burriel (the streaming media coordinator for Information Services), who was interviewed this past May by Campus Technology about lecture capture, but also mentioned online video platforms that provide enterprise capabilities for recording, managing and delivering videos. In short, at the technological level, institutions are increasingly looking at video holistically. It shouldn’t matter where your video was made, what equipment or device was used to make it, or where you’re going to use it, because everything should be connected. At the same time, we mustn’t conflate everything being connected with needing to buy into one single product. What we should look for is modularity, compatibility, adherence to standards (for formats and integrations as well as data), accessibility and ease of use. We exist in a world today where video equipment and tools are becoming modular and compatible, and the capabilities of consumer smartphones, action cameras and even drones have attracted amateurs and professionals alike. The demand for support for digital fluency is growing; everyone has video tools in their pocket; and communicating via DIY media is increasingly commonplace. An enterprise-wide video strategy can help people throughout the institution convey their work, research and creative activity.
Vedantham: I agree with David on the value of a single video platform that is enterprise-wide. It’s a hard goal to achieve, but without it, it’s very difficult to streamline and coordinate across departments. Most universities agree that a common e-mail and document-sharing platform makes sense, and I see a common video platform as the next step as we continue to integrate video into our teaching practice.
5) Mobile Tech and the Internet of Things
Fodrey: The work being done across higher education institutions is becoming increasingly mobile, virtualized and geographically dispersed, which affords us to be more collaborative, effective and readily available. Mobile technology provides instant gratification both for efforts inside the classroom and out, but it also increases demands on resources and the expectations of many. Oftentimes, it is managing those expectations that can be the greatest challenge.
The infusion of mobile technologies affords a multitude of opportunities, expanding use cases for how and where people learn and consume information, and allowing institutions to learn more about user behavior in more ways than can be imagined. Mobile technology on a college campus serves a variety of purposes, often with varied levels of success and effectiveness. IT divisions must continue to think about how their systems and infrastructure can scale into platforms and devices that go beyond the traditional and instead into a more competitive, mobile-friendly marketplace.
We must capitalize on the strengths of portability and the BYOD nature of mobile tech, and accept that as a result our faculty, staff and students are going to command new and different support from our IT divisions.
Goodrum: The modern person on the street or in their home may not have the time or attention to understand much about the Internet of Things (unless they ask Siri or Alexa about it), because they are too distracted by their smart-phone, -watch, -exercise tracker, -bulb, -thermostat, -doorlock, -refrigerator with a webcam, etc.
At Oregon State, the College of Agricultural Sciences is developing a precision agriculture curriculum, which is all about generating and using data that will allow farmers to make the best decisions possible. Faculty members in the Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering expect IoT to play a significant role in the generation of data that, when matched with the power of the cloud and scientifically validated algorithms, will allow producers to make smart decisions. Assistant Professor Chet Udell, a faculty member in the department, is developing a multi-term curriculum (funded in part by an Information Systems Learning Innovation Grant) which aims to teach students how to build and develop sensor packages and interact with the cloud, thus putting theory into action. In addition, Professor John Selker runs the Open-Sensing Lab, which focuses on developing environmental sensing projects and research using solid-state sensors of water, atmosphere and soil status. Through the Internet of Agriculture (IoA), the technology for sensors and communication could potentially play a critical role to ensure our ability to feed the human population in 2050.
6) Role of IT
Hoover: IT can and should play a huge role in today’s higher education institution. It goes without saying that IT first needs to focus on helping the institution fulfill the university mission and strategic plan. That should be the core responsibility for IT.
IT has the distinct ability to enhance and offer assistance to every department on campus. In this time of decreased public funding for higher education, IT can position itself to be a great resource for the university. On the academic side, IT can streamline the recruitment and enrollment process, as well as assist with retention and helping students to graduate. Those are extremely important areas in states that are moving or have moved to performance-based funding models. On the administrative side, IT can help improve workflow and automate administrative tasks in various departments. As one of my esteemed CIO colleagues says, “IT is the circulatory system of the university.”
Another area that IT can play a role is in recruitment. As universities begin to battle for the reduced number of traditional students, a solid information technology infrastructure on a campus could make the difference in which universities students choose. Students are more apt to select a university that invests in technology and uses its information technology innovatively across campus. This is especially true when it comes to technology in the classrooms and collaboration spaces. The bottom line is that students are more apt to choose a university that invests in information technology than a university that just minimally funds technology enhancements across campus.
Fodrey: Due to ever-increasing complexities throughout higher education, IT divisions find themselves juggling a growing service portfolio, addressing seemingly endless challenging fiscal climates and acting as leaders throughout an organization as both service providers and chief innovators.
Put more simply, every project in an organization is in some fashion a technology project — and when IT has a seat at the table, that allows you to ask, what is the organization trying to accomplish? And how can technology support that effort? IT does more than provide the technology, it powers the mission of an institution.
The role IT is to assist in managing organizational change and transform our respective institutions for the future. IT divisions must be able to better predict and deliver what our faculty, staff and students want at the precise moment they want it! This lean-in approach will allow our divisions to help steer the conversation toward a technology footprint that can evolve and that we can best support, as well as divert elsewhere in situations where a technology infusion may take away from the goal or problem being addressed.
Goodrum: Certainly, a key to IT’s strategic impact in higher education is to focus on the value proposition, rather than the feature list of the latest technology peaking on the Gartner curve. Can we find a match between needs, delivering value and managing expectations and timelines? There’s often a lot of pain when there is a mismatch! Perhaps one analogy would be to consider two appliances that apply detergent and water with the purpose of cleaning: You wouldn’t want to put your clothes in the dishwasher and your dishes in the washing machine. Also, as with many of our personal purchases, we too often seek tools with long lists of features, then either avoid using them because they are too complex or only use them for one or two tasks. In our daily lives, we often buy (or receive) things because of convincing marketing, but then leave them in the drawer because the purpose is not a priority or we can’t afford the time to learn to use them. Or we buy the tool to satisfy a particular person, when in fact the work will be done by others. The end result of a mismatched technology will be a distraction, or worse, a disruption, keeping everyone from the purpose at hand: teaching and learning, research, service and/or the running of the university.
7) Learning Space Design
Vedantham: Changes in student behavior are informing the design of learning spaces on university and college campuses, often creating pressure on campuses with older building infrastructure. For example, new library spaces now emphasize casual interaction, movable furniture, writable surfaces, transparency and multimedia creation. Our Cabot Science Library with its media studios opened in April 2017 to rave reviews. The 2017 Designing Librariesconference featured us and several other new spaces.
Changes in physical space also require changes in policies (ease of entry, longer hours, friendliness to food, noise and sleep) and an acceptance of the student as a whole person. Connecting library capabilities to classrooms and residential housing multiplies the impact of space investment, enabling course assignments that can be more creative and ambitious. To get there, we need to look at our campuses as an ecosystem of interconnected spaces and ask: How do students experience our buildings over the course of the day? How can we better understand their behaviors and space needs? How can planning conversations be inclusive and flexible to increase the ROI for learning spaces?
As our understanding of neuroscience deepens, we begin to appreciate the emotional aspects of learning space design, and the importance of spaces that build confidence, feel welcoming and create a sense of inspiration and wonder.
Read last year’s take on the biggest trends in education technology: “11 Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2017.”
Goodrum: The range of active learning approaches that can be used to foster in-class interaction include: practice and feedback; knowledge application; students making judgements, comparisons, synthesis and analysis; individual and group problem solving; and even student-to-student instruction. There’s also substantial research supporting increased use of active learning methods in general. A large-scale comparison of science teaching methods led by University of Washington researcher Scott Freeman showed that courses that include active learning activities in the classroom led to increased student exam scores and decreased failure rates. Various approaches to active learning classrooms have had considerable success at schools such as MIT, North Carolina State, University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, Indiana University and others. At Oregon State, faculty have also looked to address the potential for increasing engagement in even the large lecture hall as they worked to design a new general classroom building, the Learning Innovation Center (LInC). In the LInC, round lecture halls keep students in the last row within 45 feet of the instructor and facing the majority of their fellow students, with researchers studying the impact in an effort called The Geometry of Learning.
Hoover: At the University of Louisiana Monroe, we have completed a deselection of the library’s stacks collection. We are in the process now of redesigning those newly created open spaces in the library and forming an information commons for our students. In all of our research and fact gathering there have been some very interesting, and sometimes surprising, findings. Among them: students crave collaboration space; they desire multiple types of seating, which also includes varied seating heights; they want individual study room space and group study room space; students find whiteboard easels very useful in group and individual study work; and they need access to technology that allows for content to be easily shared among a group of students.
We are working closely with our students, faculty and staff to help develop these spaces that will truly meet the needs of our students not only now but for the next five years.
Podcast playback remains one of the biggest opportunities for Apple Watch. Apple doesn’t offer an official Podcasts app and watchOS doesn’t let developers create a fully featured app with features like sync, subscriptions, and even volume control.
Outcast for Apple Watch doesn’t magically fix any of those limitations, but the app does work within current constraints in a way that makes it actually usable.
The ideal Apple Watch podcast player would support streaming on Wi-Fi and cellular, syncing episode progress between devices, and offer subscriptions with alerts for new episodes, but third-party apps can’t create that experience yet.
It is possible to download episodes on-the-fly and play them back over wireless headphones, and Outcast offers the most straightforward and understandable version of that.
I’ve been using Outcast to play podcasts during outdoor runs with just my Apple Watch and AirPods, and Outcast doesn’t require logging workouts to work so you can use it with other workout apps.
Outcast is made more approachable thanks to audio and visual cues thoughtfully placed throughout the app. For example, Outcast includes two sample “episodes” that explain how the app works and how to add new episodes.
Third-party watch apps can’t control volume either, which is a limitation that isn’t obvious to users. Outcast addresses this by putting a fake volume control on-screen that explains how to use Apple’s Now Playing app to adjust volume. After one tap, this fake button can be hidden too like other visual hints.
Outcast also thoughtfully makes suggestions when searching for a podcast episode to add. You can search by voice or with Apple’s Scribble text drawing method, and Outcast includes search suggestions to popular podcast networks like Relay FM and Gimlet as well.
When you find the right podcast to play, Outcast lets you download an episode for offline playback and shows a progress bar with file size amounts included.
This process can be slow when Apple Watch is connected to iPhone because of how it defaults to Bluetooth transfer, but disabling Bluetooth on the iPhone in Settings and relying on Wi-Fi dramatically speeds up the download.
If you’re away from your iPhone, Outcast offers the ability to download episodes over cellular on Apple Watch Series 3 models with LTE. Depending on network speed, this can also be surprisingly fast. (Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE also has 16GB of local storage versus 8GB on other models which is useful.)
A companion iPhone app optionally lets you import (or export) your subscription library and paste specific podcast URLs for adding, but you can hit the ground running with just the Apple Watch app alone which is great.
A few other nice-to-have features include
- Nine color theme options
- Customizable skip duration between 5 seconds and 1 minute 30 seconds (and skip back and forward can be set independently)
- Digital Crown scrubs forward and backwards with four speed options
- Playback speed can be set between 0.5x and 2.0x
I still listen to podcasts primarily on my iPhone from Apple’s Podcasts app and on my Mac in iTunes, but Outcast for Apple Watch has proven invaluable as my go-to Apple Watch podcast player for now.
Well worth a 99¢ download from the App Store if you want an easy way to play podcasts from Apple Watch before Apple (eventually, hopefully) adds support in watchOS.