from the world's big
Take Aways from the 2011 K12 Horizon Report - the Start-Up Perspective
Fellow Big Think blogger Scott McLeod invited me to write a dual post with him on our thoughts about the 2011 K12 Horizon Report today. Although my background is more in the education 2.0 start-up world as you might know, I found the report very insightful and it was very interesting to read about the adoption of new technologies in the K12 space.
The report focuses on six key technologies and estimates the time of adoption. In my post I will try compare those findings with what we have seen in the start-up space over the past three years.
The report estimates the adoption of of Cloud Computing to one year or less. And of course there are a couple of reasons for this, one of them being the relatively low cost of hosting content in the cloud.
We have seen the same happening in the start-up scene and I would even go so far that cloud hosting services like Amazon S3 were and still are major drivers of innovation. This service made it very affordable for small start-ups on a shoe string budget to build scalable platforms. There is a saying that “success can kill you” which essentially means that if you had not the financial means to pay for extra traffic caused by a huge amount of visitors to your web platform, this might likely put you out of business as you were not able to pay the bills.
As the report points out, today traffic costs pennies per gigabyte.
Another important driver for innovation and growth are of course products like Google Apps, which are widely used in K12 as well. And there are now cloud based software solutions like writing, spreadsheet and presentation tools etc.
All this sums up to a massive opportunity for schools to save money that have been hit by the recent budget cuts. They can outsource their data centers, don’t have to buy expensive software etc. I recently did a video interview with one of the start-ups featured in the report called LearnBoost that builds an open source LMS with Google Apps integration.
Here, the report estimates the adoption to again one year or less. The main catalyst for this is almost naturally the iPad. The report also names other devices but for the time being I don’t see any other tablet to be a real competitor for the Apple device. The numbers we saw yesterday at the WWDC speak for themselves with 25 million sold iPads from launch til today.
Edutainment applications for iOS devices are becoming very popular in the start-up scene but what is probably even more important, they also receive funding from investors. This is due to the proven business model of Apple’s iTunes App Store. Up to now, Apple have paid out more than $2.5 billion to app developers and the whole Apple ecosystem has been trained for years now that applications have a price tag which is a huge difference to the Internet where the perception still is that everything essentially is either free or freemium.
Because of this Apple can attract talent that wants to develop for the iOS platform and therefore we saw a rising group of really fascinating educational applications, some of which received significant funding North of $1 million. Again, investors can be pretty sure that those app developers will actually earn money and therefore it’s a safe bet.
If you take a look at the 500Startups incubator / accelerator of super angel Dave McClure you will already find a number of education start-ups amongst the first 100 of his investments. There are for instance MindSnacks, MotionMath, YongoPal and 955 Dreams that are creating products solely for iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad).
Another driving factor is the easy adoption of those devices, especially the iPad. Kids love it and with its launch we saw a lot of videos with kids in it, playing around with the device easily without the need of in depth instruction from their parents. Or, as Fast Company’s Kit Eaton wrote lately, the iPad is a $500 Kids game. Think about it, Apple even sells them at Toys’R’Us.
So, parents know already what a great device the iPad is for learning and with new apps, like Brainracer for example, launching every week on the app store, there is a change in the mindset. Like the report points out, the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
The next point covered is game-based learning or serious games. Time to adoption is estimated between two to three years. If we rewind human history it is obvious that playing games has always been an important part of how we learn. Children back then learned how to hunt by playing hunting games. This was a core skill in order to survive.
Transferring this concept in today’s world, we need to prepare children through games, e.g. something that they naturally like to do, for the world we live in and they will have to live in.
I also think that the perception of games changes due to the shift in generations. Everyone who is now around the age of 30 grew up with some sort of video games. Either you had a console at home or one of your friends did. It’s part of our personal story and that has of course an impact on how we see our kids play.
Sure, there is a huge difference between ego shooters, multi player online games and strategic games as every genre has its certain appeal and aspects that can be used in more education focused games.
Time to adopt two to three years. Open content or open source has been one of the major drivers for innovation on the Internet. Basically, all core features that browsers are built on are based on open sourced code and programs. If you want to see what happens to an ecosystem that changes from a closed to an open sourced model, the tech space is an ideal case.
Back in the days when Microsoft was the dominant player there was no choice. The company kept its secrets, e.g. the code behind walls and only a handful of pre-screened developers had access to parts of it in order to build additional software.
Then came the anti-trust investigations, Linux rose as one of the first open sourced projects and today we have a vital scene of developers and start-ups that build great products based on open sourced code.
The same potential is there in order to disrupt the textbook industry. Today, you have a handful of dominant players on the market that decide what is being published and at which price. Alternatives like Flat World Knowledge want to change that and again budget cuts work in favor of this change. Open content costs a friction of the price of a normal textbook and then there are textbook rental services like Chegg or BookRenter that are disrupting the market from the other side.
This is a point very dear to my heart. The adoption for this is estimated at four to five years. I already wrote a lot about the concept of a Knowledge Graph that would track anything we learn over our entire lives.
In the tech space the so called “big data” is creating more and more buzz. There are tons of it available as people share information with companies like they never did before. People share everything from their phone number to their friends and the places they are at the moment etc. If we combine all those different data sets, there are huge possibilities for new services.
We are getting closer to Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of a world around us that is changing due to our social graph and personal preferences.
In the K12 sector we can already see a lot of great usage in data collecting and analytics. The Khan Academy software does a stunning work of delivering granular data on the student’s performance but there are of course others such as TenMarks, too.
Personal Learning Environments
This point touches another rising topic in the tech scene, curation. Again, adoption is set to be four to five years. According to the report, personal learning environments will provide students with tools and services to enable them to curate content and information shaped to the way they learn. To give an example, making a difference between visual and auditory learners will result in offering them different sources of content.
The overall choice of content is growing every minute and a huge part of it is noise. In order to provide a working PLE with the useful tools and filters requires us to be very selective. The question is whether students will be able to set their own filters or if this has to be done by teachers only or collaboratively.
I am currently learning about this topic through setting up my own site for curation of information, using the Eqentia software. Though is relatively fresh and an ongoing process, I can already tell you that there is much more to effective curation than tagging and setting some filters. The good thing is that I am guided by the founder and CEO William Mougayar and so I learn a lot. It’s a fascinating topic and I believe one of the key technologies in the years to come as content will keep on growing.
The report gave me hope that formal education is starting to catch up quickly with “the real world” now. We have to keep in mind that all the above is at its core a cultural and sociological shift which needs certain preconditions.
With the generation of digital natives having their own children ready for school and replacing more and more of the older generations in decision making positions, change will happen more naturally and hopefully also more quickly than it did over the past years.
Image: Flickr user bengrey
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From "if-by-whiskey" to the McNamara fallacy, being able to spot logical missteps is an invaluable skill.
- A fallacy is the use of invalid or faulty reasoning in an argument.
- There are two broad types of logical fallacies: formal and informal.
- A formal fallacy describes a flaw in the construction of a deductive argument, while an informal fallacy describes an error in reasoning.
Appeal to privacy<p>When someone behaves in a way that negatively affects (or could affect) others, but then gets upset when others criticize their behavior, they're likely engaging in the appeal to privacy — or "mind your own business" — fallacy. Examples:<br></p><ul><li>Someone who speeds excessively on the highway, considering his driving to be his own business.</li><li>Someone who doesn't see a reason to bathe or wear deodorant, but then boards a packed 10-hour flight.</li></ul><p>Language to watch out for: "You're not the boss of me." "Worry about yourself."</p>
Sunk cost fallacy<p>When someone argues for continuing a course of action despite evidence showing it's a mistake, it's often a sunk cost fallacy. The flawed logic here is something like: "We've already invested so much in this plan, we can't give up now." Examples:<br></p><ul><li>Someone who intentionally overeats at an all-you-can-eat buffet just to get their "money's worth"</li><li>A scientist who won't admit his theory is incorrect because it would be too painful or costly</li></ul><p>Language to watch out for: "We must stay the course." "I've already invested so much...." "We've always done it this way, so we'll keep doing it this way."</p>
If-by-whiskey<p>This fallacy is named after a speech given in 1952 by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah_S._Sweat" target="_blank">Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat, Jr.</a>, a state representative for <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi" target="_blank">Mississippi</a>, on the subject of whether the state should legalize alcohol. Sweat's argument on prohibition was (to paraphrase):<br></p><p><em>If, by whiskey, you mean the devil's brew that causes so many problems in society, then I'm against it. But if whiskey means the oil of conversation, the philosopher's wine, "</em><em>the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning;" then I am certainly for it.</em></p>
Slippery slope<p>This fallacy involves arguing against a position because you think choosing it would start a chain reaction of bad things, even though there's little evidence to support your claim. Example:<br></p><ul><li>"We can't allow abortion because then society will lose its general respect for life, and it'll become harder to punish people for committing violent acts like murder."</li><li>"We can't legalize gay marriage. If we do, what's next? Allowing people to marry cats and dogs?" (Some people actually made this <a href="https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/national/cats-marrying-dogs-and-five-other-things-same-sex-marriage-won-mean/dLV9jKqkJOWUFZrSBETWkK/" target="_blank">argument</a> before same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S.)</li></ul><p>Of course, sometimes decisions <em>do </em>start a chain reaction, which could be bad. The slippery slope device only becomes a fallacy when there's no evidence to suggest that chain reaction would actually occur.</p><p>Language to watch out for: "If we do that, then what's next?"</p>
"There is no alternative"<p><span style="background-color: initial;">A modification of the </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma" target="_blank" style="background-color: initial;">false dilemma</a><span style="background-color: initial;">, this fallacy (often abbreviated to TINA) argues for a specific position because there are no realistic alternatives. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used this exact line as a slogan to defend capitalism, and it's still used today to that same end: Sure, capitalism has its problems, but we've seen the horrors that occur when we try anything else, so there is no alternative.</span><br></p><p>Language to watch out for: "If I had a magic wand…" "What <em>else</em> are we going to do?!"</p>
Ad hoc arguments<p>An ad hoc argument isn't really a logical fallacy, but it is a fallacious rhetorical strategy that's common and often hard to spot. It occurs when someone's claim is threatened with counterevidence, so they come up with a rationale to dismiss the counterevidence, hoping to protect their original claim. Ad hoc claims aren't designed to be generalizable. Instead, they're typically invented in the moment. <a href="https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Ad_hoc" target="_blank">RationalWiki</a> provides an example:<br></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Alice: "It is clearly said in the Bible that the Ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Bob: "A purely wooden vessel of that size could not be constructed; the largest real wooden vessels were Chinese treasure ships which required iron hoops to build their keels. Even the <em>Wyoming</em> which was built in 1909 and had iron braces had problems with her hull flexing and opening up and needed constant mechanical pumping to stop her hold flooding."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Alice: "It's possible that God intervened and allowed the Ark to float, and since we don't know what gopher wood is, it is possible that it is a much stronger form of wood than any that comes from a modern tree."</p>
Snow job<p><span style="background-color: initial;">This fallacy occurs when someone doesn't really have a strong argument, so they just throw a bunch of irrelevant facts, numbers, anecdotes and other information at the audience to confuse the issue, making it harder to refute the original claim. Example:</span><br></p><ul><li>A tobacco company spokesperson who is confronted about the health risks of smoking, but then proceeds to show graph after graph depicting many of the other ways people develop cancer, and how cancer metastasizes in the body, etc.</li></ul><p>Watch out for long-winded, data-heavy arguments that seem confusing by design.</p>
McNamara fallacy<p>Named after <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_McNamara" target="_blank">Robert McNamara</a>, the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Secretary_of_Defense" target="_blank">U.S. secretary of defense</a> from 1961 to 1968, this fallacy occurs when decisions are made based solely on <em>quantitative metrics or observations,</em> ignoring other factors. It stems from the Vietnam War, in which McNamara sought to develop a formula to measure progress in the war. He decided on bodycount. But this "objective" formula didn't account for other important factors, such as the possibility that the Vietnamese people would never surrender.<br></p><p>You could also imagine this fallacy playing out in a medical situation. Imagine a terminal cancer patient has a tumor, and a certain procedure helps to reduce the size of the tumor, but also causes a lot of pain. Ignoring quality of life would be an example of the McNamara fallacy.</p><p>Language to watch out for: "You can't measure that, so it's not important."</p>
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
Generation Ships<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a1e6445c7168d293a6da3f9600f534a2"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/H2f0Wd3zNj0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Many of the most popular apps are about self-improvement.
Emotions are the newest hot commodity, and we can't get enough.