Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘higher education

One Big MOOC

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Our CEO, Ginny Rometty, has taken to updating the IBM workforce via some nifty video blogs since she took the helm last year.

In her most recent update, she encouraged the IBM workforce to recommit to continuing to build our skills, and so asked each of us to pursue 40 hours of continuing education in 2013, and that IBM would foot the bill for the additional costs (travel, books, etc.)

Back in 2001-2003, I pursued and completed my MBA in technology management from one of the world’s first for-profit continuing education institution’s, the Apollo Group’s University of Phoenix Online.

This was still the way early days for online learning. Most of the learning was done through traditional books and Phoenix’s proprietary equivalent newsgroup software, where I would exchange asynchronous messages with my professors and fellow students. We also participated in a few self-directed teleconference calls and lots of instant messaging meetings, as there were loads of team projects that required coordination with other students.

One course in particular that I remember wishing I had had a longer course schedule beyond the traditional six weeks (which is how long Phoenix’s courses lasted at the time) was corporate finance. Half the reason I had pursued the MBA was to expand beyond my right brain-oriented BA and MA in English and Radio/TV/Film respectively, and take on more left brain pursuits.

The finance course was exactly the kind of stuff I’d been wanting to learn, but again, in six weeks, it just moved too quickly to completely grok such a vast expanse of information.

So, flash forward to 2013 and my new learning mandate from our CEO. It just so happened last fall I had stumbled onto massive online open course (MOOC) provider Coursera, which has been offering a wealth of classes from a variety of higher learning institutions, and it just so happened they were also going to be offering a corporate finance class through the University of Michigan.

Voila, problem solved. I could now return to revisiting my finance love and spend a little more deliberate time learning it from the ground up, this time over the course of 16 weeks and at no cost to myself or to IBM (other than by taking a little of my time).

This time around, however, I have a professor explaining many of the concepts through online video, snippets of which I can watch in my spare moments or in binge viewing on the weekends. I also have access to more sophisticated online messaging collaboration tools to learn from my fellow students.

And, I do believe, I’m starting to see some technological foundations laid that could completely disrupt the traditional bastions of higher learning, much the way Napster disrupted the recorded music industry.

Good education requires some basic Sophoclean give and take, to be sure, but who says such give and take has to be in a physical classroom with way too many students and not enough personal attention?

I remember courses from my own baccalaureate matriculation at the University of North Texas that filled entire stadium classrooms, and I probably said nary a word to many of those professors, other than answering a few questions over the course of the semester.

What if I could have an even more personalized learning experience, at my own pace, through a MOOC?

Who’s to say a MOOC, in partnership with some of the best professors in the world, couldn’t create their own virtual university, one that isn’t undermined by the increasingly failing economics of brick and mortar learning institutions?

One that, if put together with the right forethought and technology could charge far less than most state and private universities today, and yet still hire the best-of-the-best when it comes to instructors.

If you haven’t heard about MOOCs, you’re definitely not keeping up with the learning Joneses.

Many MOOC courses these days are attracting multiple tens of thousands of students. In fact, Coursera was developed by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller after Stanford University offered three MOOC courses in the fall of 2012 and each averaged an enrollment of around 100,000 students.

Yes, 100,000 each!

Will MOOCs scale to the needs of higher education aspirants everywhere?  Possibly.

But what if it were able to address just a quarter of the higher education needs?  Last fall, an estimated 21 million new college students were headed to universities, many incurring absurd amounts of debt and often experiencing an overhang from the mortgage debt crisis.

In fact, a Wall Street Journal article from January 30 found that credit bureau TransUnion had discovered that 33 percent of the almost $900 billion in outstanding student loans was held by subprime, or the “riskiest,” borrowers as of March of last year.

I suspect that new MOOC-oriented firms like Coursera, Udacity, edX — and probably more to come — are just one avenue that future college students may well want to pursue for a higher level of education at a fraction of today’s traditional university price, and of course they are no silver bullet.

On the other hand, the avaricious appetite for the early MOOC courses from students around the globe would suggest the higher education market is not even close to meeting the inherent demand, and it was that great learned scholar, Aristotle, who taught us that “nature abhors a vacuum.”

 

Written by turbotodd

February 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm

IBM Expands Social Business Capabilities With New Cloud, Mobile Advances

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IBM SmartCloud Docs, a cloud-based office productivity suite, which allows users to simultaneously collaborate on word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents to improve productivity.

IBM SmartCloud Docs, a cloud-based office productivity suite, which allows users to simultaneously collaborate on word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents to improve productivity.

Some new news from IBM on the social business front today.

IBM announced new social business software to help clients collaborate securely in the cloud using a broad range of mobile devices.

The new IBM SmartCloud services include new social networking feaures and the release of IBM SmartCloud Docs, a cloud-based productivity suite that lets users simultaneously collaborate on word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents to improve productivity.

I saw this capability demoed at Lotusphere earlier this year and exclaimed that I wanted it and fast. Being as virtual as we are at IBM, I find all kinds of use cases to be able to do this real-time productivity app collaboration.

Nothing like writing a presentation by committee!

The Market Is Growing

Forrester Research estimates cloud computing is going to grow from a $41 billion business in 2010, to $241 billion in 2020. And social enterprise apps market is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016, reaching $6.4 billion. So clearly, there’s ample and broad market demand for this type of computing capability.

While many firms have adopted cloud, mobile and social networking, IBM is helping clients, including the University of Texas at El Paso, capitalize on the convergence, making it safe for the enterprise.

To help organizations address this growing opportunity, IBM is announcing IBM SmartCloud Docs and new services in its IBM SmartCloud for Social Business portfolio allowing clients to collaborate both inside the organization and externally with partners, clients or suppliers.

For example, when working on a document in the cloud, the presence awareness and instant messaging capabilities allow users to see if a document co-editor is online and available to chat in real time. The new features join IBM’s SmartCloud for Social Business portfolio which includes business-grade file sharing, access to communities, online meetings, instant messaging, email and calendar in the cloud.

Clients Getting Social in the Cloud

IBM is also announcing clients who are at the forefront of this transformation embracing social in the cloud, including the University of Texas at El Paso, Colleagues In Care (CIC), Centrax TCL, NEC Corp., the Victoria Implementation Center and Netkom iBPM LLC.

At the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), faculty and researchers are using the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business to track the status of research projects and help facilitate knowledge sharing across campus.

The IBM SmartCloud provides a cost-effective, easy-to-use cloud solution that allows faculty and researchers to share resources and track progress of research projects without clogging up their email in-boxes while aiding in the ever challenging “version control” process for collaborative documents.

UTEP has recently expanded its use of the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business to collaborate with universities across North America who are involved in CASHI, the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

CASHI aims to increase the number of Hispanic students who pursue and complete baccalaureate and advanced degrees in the computer and information sciences and engineering. UTEP uses the IBM SmartCloud to collaborate with faculty at other universities, invite users from the other universities at no cost as guests to work on projects together. They can share files, manage projects, assign work, and comment directly on posted documents.

“Going to one place to find materials and being able to track the progress and status of projects has been a major benefit,” said Dr. Ann Gates, Chair of the Computer Science Department at UTEP. “Before IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, email was the default way of communicating. Now I don’t have to manage a lot of emails, I can go back and look at the status of projects and what people are working on quickly and easily. We’re using the portfolio to boost brainstorming sessions across campus, sharing information immediately, saving time and resources for the university.”

New Services Make the Cloud Enterprise Ready

The following provides a breakdown of these new social enterprise capabilities in more detail:

  • Access documents anytime, anywhere — the new IBM SmartCloud Docs cloud-based office productivity suite allows users to simultaneously collaborate on word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents in the cloud to improve productivity. IBM Docs authors can store documents in IBM SmartCloud, co-edit documents in real time easing the management of multiple revisions from multiple authors in team-based documents.
  • Sharing insight and data in real time — the new IBM Connections capabilities in the cloud allow users to embrace business-grade social networking between employees, partners and suppliers to find and share the right insight when needed. New community based blogs, wikis, idea-generation blogs and file viewers will spur creativity and drive innovation across teams.
  • Meet and chat on the fly — the new e-meeting service allows teams to meet on the fly, using instant messaging chats, screen sharing to share information and presentations, and includes a new chat room feature to communicate with colleagues, partners and clients in real time.
  • Unlimited access — chat with guests regardless of their instant messaging platform, share files and invite guests to participate in e-meetings at no additional charge.
  • Improved mobile device management — new software to help business partners organize and secure cloud-based IBM email on mobile devices allowing organizations to extend their current business capabilities to mobile devices, while capitalizing on the new opportunities that mobile devices uniquely provide.

Pricing and Availability

IBM SmartCloud Docs is available now for no additional charge in IBM SmartCloud Engage Advanced service. IBM SmartCloud Docs is also available for purchase as a service add on for IBM Connections and IBM SmartCloud Engage Standard for $3 per user, per month.

To participate in a live webcast on December 13, 2012, on how to enhance the workforce with socially enabled office productivity applications in the Cloud, register here. To hear first hand from clients using social applications in the cloud, register for IBM’s premier social business conference in January 2013 at www.ibm.com/connect.

For more information, visit ibmcloud.com/social.

Learn more about the IBM SmartCloud Doc capabilities in the video below.

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