Monthly Archives: May 2017

Trends in Higher Education 2017

It seems like here in the U.S., higher education is being attacked for being too liberal or not liberal enough or not providing enough instruction in technical, hands-on skills. The new presidential administration will have some influence on the debate through what areas of education it funds. I believe that colleges and universities need to clearly articulate their value proposition. How does our school add value to students? What do we offer that differentiates us from our competitors? How can we better serve our current and prospective students? These are the same questions a business poses when trying to grow and thrive. In this blog I will highlight trends I think will have an impact on how we answer those questions.

Personalization

A 2015 article in EdSurge News defines personalized learning as “technology-assisted differentiated instruction.” The article made a valid point that we are in the business of educating real people and not just a generalization of students. This means tailoring curriculum to current students and their needs. Do you cater to first time students or returning students that have several years of industry experience? It does not make sense to apply the same model to all students. Personalization is particularly difficult when you have a mix of new and returning students, but technology makes it possible to create multiple tracks of the same course so that the outcomes are the same but the paths vary to suit the needs of the students.

High Velocity Learning

Businesses are increasingly asking employees to be more flexible and move faster. The United States Navy recently introduced what they call high velocity learning which means being nimble, flexible and faster at processing change. Educators should adopt the same mindset. This may mean an accelerated program for those who have already proven competencies or modifying the way we test for competencies. This goes right along with personalization and is a hot topic as tuition continues to rise and the length of time spent in college is extended. It is important to review our curriculum to make sure it is relevant, necessary, and promotes our value proposition.

Thoughts

I think in the future higher education will need to be more responsive and flexible and technology will be used to create dynamic curriculum that caters to individual needs. Just as important is an honest review of offered courses to ensure they still prepare students for the future. These are just some of the ways that educators can serve students. Do you have other ideas that will align education offerings with current needs? Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

The New Face of Retail Delivery

The Future of Transportation

I recently ran across an interesting collection of YouTube videos called the Dead Mall Series. This series is filmed and narrated by Dan Bell and has nothing to do with suburban zombies but highlights our changing shopping habits. Bell tours and films shopping malls that have an 80 to 90% vacancy rate and then dubs in a personal narrative about his experience. It is a stark reminder that our buying habits have changed significantly since the 1960s, partly due to the popularity of online shopping. In watching these videos, I think not only about our changing retail experience but also about how the entire supply chain has evolved. Instead of driving to suburban shopping malls supplied by large trucks, we place orders online and our purchases are delivered to our doors by UPS or FedEx or USPS. While the video series shows declining retail shopping, this blog examines how transportation is changing to keep up with our new demands.

Trains

In the U.S. trains are used primarily for transporting industrial products such as lumber and chemicals, but are seldom used for retail products. Part of the reason is that we do not have an extensive infrastructure of stations, unlike in Europe. In Europe, the German Aerospace Center is working on next generation trains for both passengers and freight. They are proposing a train system that is more flexible and can get closer to filling retail orders. There the train is the backbone of retail delivery not the large trucks we see on our highways. In the U.S., the nearest train station may be 50 or 100 miles from the customer.

Trucks

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently revealed that Tesla plans to unveil an electric semi truck in September 2017. The company previously announced it is working on vehicles other than autos. It makes sense Tesla would go after this market, but I think they will need to somehow extend the battery range in order to make it viable. The Model S runs 265 to 300 miles per charge. Large trucks travel constantly with two drivers and can go approximately 1000 miles between stops. Batteries are generally heavier than fuel for the amount of energy output, so electric planes don’t make sense yet and electric semis may need some newer technologies to make them mainstream.

Now, if you could outfit an electric semi truck with autonomous or semi-autonomous capability then you would have something. An autonomous truck made a beer delivery from Ft. Collins to Colorado Springs, CO in October 2016,  so it has been done. This could be the next wave of truck delivery.

Drones

Amazon launched Prime Air in December 2016 and completed the first two deliveries via drone. An Amazon video shows a small package that took 13 minutes from purchase to delivery. Amazon plans on increasing the customer count eligible for this service to dozens and then hundreds. A customer would have to live close to a fulfillment center in order to get the prime service. Apparently, next day or even same day delivery is no longer fast enough.

Thoughts

There are many pieces that make up retail sales and delivery, and companies are using technology to efficiently move goods to customers. Whether in the future we see a sky full of drones or a road full of electric autonomous trucks is anyone’s guess. Shopping options are definitely changing and the supply chain will have to change as well in order to keep up. What do you think the future holds? Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Technology Assisted Parenting

I have been thinking about all of the conveniences and technologies that help with—and sometimes hinder—the raising of children. Do they make it easier to successfully and safely raise kids? I grew up with television, long before personal computers and modern electronic communications. I knew only one person with a car phone, but cell phones and smart devices were still off in the future. Our favorite technology was the bicycle, which gave us all of the freedom we needed. There was one computer in our town and it was housed in a large room at the local university. Now I have six computers just in my house.

We raised our son in the computer age and one of our hardest parenting tasks was keeping him away from technology so that he could do other things, like homework. The computer was more of a distraction than a tool in his young life. He and I built our own personal computer, which was a source of pride for him and helped fuel his love for all things technical. He now helps me with new applications, instead of the other way around.

This week I want to look at a couple of newer technologies I think can help parents raise children.

Newborns and Infants

Ford Motor Company created a prototype crib that simulates a car ride, right down to the sound and motion and even the passing street lights of a real car ride. The crib is internet connected so you can travel the baby’s favorite route, in your Ford of course, and record the movement and sound and then upload that to the crib. Ford built only one prototype, which will be given away in a contest, but who knows if it will catch on.

Homework Helpers

There is sometimes frustration around homework, both for students and parents. In our house, homework was sometimes completed but not turned in, which drove me crazy. Many classrooms now use learning management systems like Canvas or Blackboard that are accessible by both students and parents via computer or mobile interface. This may seem like spying but it greatly reduces surprises at the end of the term and hopefully promotes discipline.

There are several apps to help with homework. I am intrigued by the iOS Socratic app, which combines computer vision and artificial intelligence to help with problems in math, chemistry, science, and other areas. The app allows a student to take a photo of a math problem, for example, and then guides them to further material that will help them answer the question. The Android app is coming soon.

Becoming Responsible Adults

Circling back to the car theme from the beginning of this blog, several auto manufacturers are adding safe teen driving and monitoring features into their new cars. Chevrolet has introduced the Teen Driver System that allows a parent to limit functionality of the car and monitor the activities of the automobile. This function is tied to the teen’s key fob so that a parent driving the same car would not have the same limits. Devices such as Zubie work with older model cars and monitor not only teen driving but all aspects of the vehicle such as upcoming maintenance and fuel and oil levels.

Thoughts

My own son is grown now but I am glad there are technologies available to assist parents. Some innovations target safety, others convenience, and still others enhance learning. Do you know of other developments that help in raising kids? Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.