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Resources for Building Online Courses in an Emergency

Many traditional colleges and universities have cancelled regular classes for the time being and are preparing their faculty and students for online classes in order to complete the spring semester. For institutions with a substantial online presence, this is likely not a big issue. But for those institutions with little online experience, this could be problematic. Adding to the drama or chaos, depending on your perspective, is the fact that the online courses have to be ready by the end of the extended spring breaks imposed by these colleges and universities.

Artificial Intelligence Is Everywhere – Will You Be Prepared?

As an avid follower of information technology trends, I have read hundreds of articles and several dozen books about artificial intelligence (A.I.) over the past six years. A few of the books have been reviewed on this blog beginning in 2014 (see Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, RISE OF THE ROBOTS: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, and Review of The Second Machine Age: Work, Process, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee). Recently, two items triggered my Spidey sense (a term coined by Marvel Comics for the ability of superhero Spiderman to sense when something was about to happen).

Walmart’s Secret Weapon to Fight Off Amazon

The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Nassauer recently wrote about Walmart’s strategy to counter the continuing growth of Amazon, reporting that Walmart CEO Doug McMillon has revealed a change in strategy to compete head-to-head with Amazon. Rather than continue to build a separate ecommerce business or other standalone ventures, he said that the new focus will be on operating a web of businesses through existing Walmart supercenters.

The Age of Drones – Will It Be Weighed Down or Buoyed by Regulation?

Yesterday, while most of us were recovering from our midweek Christmas holiday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a long-awaited set of proposed regulations for operating drones in the United States. While owners and operators of drones that weigh more than half a pound have been required to register their drones since 2015, the new regulations propose that all drones operating in the U.S. be required to adopt technology that will enable them to be tracked while in flight at all times.

Keeping Up With Technology, As Observed Through CPA Continuing Education

More than 40 years ago, I started working at Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PwC). Even though I was on the consulting track, I was encouraged to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam and become a licensed CPA. Having this license, along with an MBA, boosted my career and I subsequently served as CFO at five different companies over the years.

Technology Advances or Declines – It May Depend on Where You Live

An article by Pamela Wood in the Baltimore Sun discusses fifth-generation wireless, or 5G, the latest and perhaps the greatest innovation for wireless devices. The technology will deliver data and video faster to consumers’ phones and also enable broader Internet of Things (IoT) technology usage like smart street lights, self-driving vehicles, etc. Our current cell technology utilizes tall towers located every mile or two in large metropolitan areas and further away in rural ones. The 5G technology will incorporate smaller antennas located much closer together, say every few blocks in a large city.

Why Skills Training Can’t Replace Higher Education

 

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Why Skills Training Can’t Replace Higher Education,” Dr. George Kuh posits that “much of the current media-reported posturing by policy makers and pundits about the failure of U.S. colleges and universities to adequately prepare people for the 21st-century workplace is either ill-informed or misguided.” Dr. Kuh, chancellor’s professor emeritus of higher education at Indiana University, describes today’s media narrative as one focused on the need for vocational skills versus “useless liberal arts programs.” Multiple badges and certificates will be issued to indicate proficiency in certain skills and in the future, a trusted entity will “rack and stack” a combination of them to issue the equivalent of a college degree.  He acknowledges that “short-term vocational skills-based programs are critically important and well-suited for many.” However, he also questions why this should be the desired policy for addressing the needs of the 21st-century workplace.

 

Dr. Kuh notes that “workplaces, societal institutions, and the world order are only going to get more complicated and challenging to navigate and manage, increasing the need for people with accumulated wisdom, interpersonal and practical competence, and more than a splash of critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and altruism.” He also notes that there are “no short cuts” to enabling people to deepen learning, develop resilience, and convert information into action. Shortening education in order to bolster productivity is shortsighted for many reasons, and he expects that many learners from traditionally underrepresented groups will likely gravitate toward these shorter and less expensive training programs at the risk of delaying or denying themselves a foundational baccalaureate degree. He calls on business leaders to speak about what the country needs from our postsecondary system and for a re-balancing to occur based on their experience leading their corporations through this era of rapid, technology-driven change.

 

GDPR, Blockchain, and the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Summit on Blockchain

 

Last year was undoubtedly a whirlwind in the world of technology—both good and bad. Taking effect a little over a year ago, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) changed the way tech giants such as Google, Facebook, AWS, Apple, and others collect and use their consumers' personal data. To date, 89,271 data breaches have been reported by the GDPR Data Protection Authorities. Although GDPR appears to be an important move to increase security around personal data, there have been a growing number of tech companies, where data are key components to core functionality of their technology offerings/products, who have been negatively affected.

Let’s take a look at Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, for example. In circumstances where AI is used by a financial institution as an automated decision-making system — say, in offering a home loan — a GDPR data privacy policy does not adequately address a subject’s “right to an explanation” to the “how” or “why” the subject was accepted or rejected for the loan. Because AI works through continually changing algorithmic logic and models, it will be difficult for these institutions to develop clear-cut language for compliance. Companies that use other trending technologies such as machine learning, data & analytics, virtual reality (VR) & augmented reality (AR), and cloud computing may also have similar issues regarding the accuracy of their explanations for GDPR compliance.

The Outcomes Imperative for Adaptive Learning

When I first joined APUS, conferences were an easy way to get up to speed on many issues. Similar to other industries, there are many different higher ed conferences whose agendas reflect member needs. There are events for college presidents, financial officers, enrollment management and student services staff, academic advisors, accreditation leaders, chief academic officers, faculty, etc. Over time, I’ve reduced my conference schedule as I feel more comfortable with the relevant issues in a given area.

One conference I consistently attend is the Higher Education Leadership Conference at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE). The event is unique in that only graduates of Penn’s Executive Doctorate in Higher Education program are invited. Alumni organize the agenda to address some of the current issues in higher education. Because graduates are administrators at colleges and universities (including more than 50 college and university presidents), the dialogue between speakers, panelists, and participants is as stimulating as the presentations.