Monday, October 15, 2018

Food For Thought: These Are The Skills That Your Kids Will Need For The Future (Hint: It's Not Coding)

CREDIT: Getty Images

The jobs of the future will involve humans collaborating with other humans to design work for machines and value will shift from cognitive to social skills

An education is supposed to prepare you for the future. Traditionally, that meant learning certain facts and skills, like when Columbus discovered America or how to do multiplication and long division. Today, curriculums have shifted to focus on a more global and digital world, like cultural history, basic computer skills and writing code.

Yet the challenges that our kids will face will be much different than we did growing up and many of the things a typical student learns in school today will no longer be relevant by the time he or she graduates college. In fact, a study at the University of Oxford found that 47% of today's jobs will be eliminated over the next 20 years.

In 10 or 20 years, much of what we "know" about the world will no longer be true. The computers of the future will not be digital. Software code itself is disappearing, or at least becoming far less relevant. Many of what are considered good jobs today will be either completely automated or greatly devalued. We need to rethink how we prepare our kids for the world to come.

Understanding Systems

The subjects we learned in school were mostly static. 2+2 always equaled 4 and Columbus always discovered America in 1492. Interpretations may have differed from place to place and evolved over time, but we were taught that the world was based on certain facts and we were evaluated on the basis on knowing them.

Yet as the complexity theorist Sam Arbesman has pointed out, facts have a half life and, as the accumulation of knowledge accelerates, those half lives are shrinking. For example, when we learned computer programming in school, it was usually in BASIC, a now mostly defunct language. Today, Python is the most popular language, but will likely not be a decade from now.

Computers themselves will be very different as well, based less on the digital code of ones and zeros and more on quantum laws and the human brain. We will likely store less information on silicon and more in DNA. There's no way to teach kids how these things will work because nobody, not even experts, is quite sure yet.

So kids today need to learn less about how things are today and more about the systems future technologies will be based on, such as quantum dynamics, genetics and the logic of code. One thing economists have consistently found is that it is routine jobs that are most likely to be automated. The best way to prepare for the future is to develop the ability to learn and adapt.

Applying Empathy and Design Skills

While machines are taking over many high level tasks, such as medical analysis and legal research, there are some things they will never do. For example, a computer will never strike out in a Little League game, have its heart broken or see its child born. So it is terribly unlikely, if not impossible, that a machine will be able to relate to a human like other humans can.

That absence of empathy makes it hard for machines to design products and processes that will maximize enjoyment and utility for humans. So design skills are likely to be in high demand for decades to come as basic production and analytical processes are increasingly automated.

We've already seen this process take place with regard to the Internet. In the early days, it was a very technical field. You had to be a highly skilled engineer to make a website work. Today, however, building a website is something any fairly intelligent high schooler can do and much of the value has shifted to front-end tasks, like designing the user experience.

With the rise of artificial intelligence and virtual reality our experiences with technology will become far more immersive and that will increase the need for good design. For example, conversational analysts (yes, that's a real job) are working with designers to create conversational intelligence for voice interfaces and, clearly, virtual reality will be much more design intensive than video ever was.

The Ability to Communicate Complex Ideas

Much of the recent emphasis in education has been around STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) and proficiency in those areas is certainly important for today's students to understand the world around them. However, many STEM graduates are finding it difficult to find good jobs.

On the other hand, the ability to communicate ideas effectively is becoming a highly prized skill. Consider Amazon, one of the most innovative and technically proficient organizations on the planet. However, a key factor to its success its writing culture. The company is so fanatical about the ability to communicate that developing good writing skills are a key factor to building a successful career there.

Think about Amazon's business and it becomes clear why, Sure, the it employs highly adept engineers, but to create a truly superior product, those people need to collaborate closely with designers, marketers, business development executives and so on. To coordinate all that activity and keep everybody focused on delivering a specific experience to the customer, communication needs to be clear and coherent.

So while learning technical subjects like math and science is always a good idea, studying things like literature, history and philosophy is just as important.

Collaborating and Working in Teams

Traditionally, school work has been based on individual accomplishment. You were supposed to study at home, come in prepared and take your test without help. If you looked at your friend's paper, it was called cheating and you got in a lot of trouble for it. We were taught to be accountable for achievements on our own merits.

Yet consider how the nature of work has changed, even in highly technical fields. In 1920, most scientific papers were written by sole authors, but by 1950 that had changed and co-authorship became the norm. Today, the average paper has four times as many authors as it did then and the work being done is far more interdisciplinary and done at greater distances than in the past.

Make no mistake. The high value work today is being done in teams and that will only increase as more jobs become automated. The jobs of the future will not depend as much on knowing facts or crunching numbers, but will involve humans collaborating with other humans to design work for machines. Collaboration will increasingly be a competitive advantage.

That's why we need to pay attention not just to how our kids work and achieve academically, but how they play, resolve conflicts and make others feel supported and empowered. The truth is that value has shifted from cognitive skills to social skills. As kids will increasingly be able to learn complex subjects through technology, the most important class may well be recess.

Perhaps most of all, we need to be honest with ourselves and make peace with the fact that our kids' educational experience will not--and should not--mirror our own. The world which they will need to face will be far more complex and more difficult to navigate than anything we could imagine back in the days when Fast Times at Ridgemont High was still popular.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Food for Thought: Technology in the Classroom: Creating a Cyber-Safe Space

Dear all,

I hope that the week with IB and CIS visitors in school was not too stressful for you all. We did very well and should be pleased with the outcome. It is an interesting process and one that I think raised questions about using outdated standards / educational thinking to make judgments on a progressive school that is challenging the educational status quo. This was to be expected, and further emphasizes the issues with being different and yet having to have accreditation from traditionally conservative organizations. Working with our visitors this week reminded me again of the quote from Russell Ackoff

Image result for russell ackoff better to be doing the right

However, the process of self study and evaluation is about what we learn and recognize as areas for development. One area that has emerged, that concerns me, is our lack of a Cyber Safety curriculum and consistent signs of Cyber Safety being taught the school. Hence, this Food for Thought and its focus. As the Victorian State declares in their document on Cyber Safety, 

" Cybersafety is every teacher's responsibility. Cybersafety is not the sole responsibility of the ICT teacher. Schools and their teachers have a responsibility to educate children and young people and address the underlying values (ethics) and responsible behaviours expected of them regardless of their physical location."

I believe this to be true, just as we are all language teachers and teachers of learning skills, we should also,every time we ask our students to use their technology, be reminding them of Cyber safety procedures and regulations. It is suggested that as a minimum we should be constantly reminding students about posting or participating in bullying or harassment; accessing inappropriate content; unwanted contact with strangers; posting or sharing personal information and passwords;using (or stealing) content owned by others eg images, music or videos; plagiarising: taking ideas or information created/ owned by others without referencing their origin; using critical thinking skills when using the internet; accessing offensive or illegal content; and always seeking support from a trusted adult when there is an issue.

Image result for Common sense media Cyber safety images

Several years ago we did commit to using Common Sense Media as the backbone to our Cyber Safety curriculum because it gives us everything we need, at all Grades in the school. Hence, I would suggest that you all spend a few minutes surfing the common sense media site so you can make yourself more familiar with the resources it provides for you to embed cyber safety in lessons and advisory. This will help cover us as we create actions plans and move towards creating a comprehensive cyber safety curriculum for ISHCMC.

Common Sense K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum Scope & Sequence. "The Common Sense Curriculum is designed to empower students to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in our digital world. From lesson plans, videos, student interactives, and assessments, to professional learning and family outreach materials, our turnkey Curriculum provides schools with everything they need to take a whole-community approach to digital citizenship. "

Finally here is another resource from TeachHub that might provide you with a few ideas to start embedding in our classrooms that will ensure our students are thinking about cyber safety when they use their technology at home and school.

Now that we can say most of our schools are filled with pieces of technology in the classroom, it’s time to start thinking about cyber safety a little bit more. Digital citizenship is meant to help keep our students safe and secure while using technology in the classroomtools. Like it or not, there are people (and things) out there that can disrupt the safety of our students when they are utilizing technology in the classroom tools. If you are looking for a few tips on how to teach your students how to be responsible when it comes to technology and their online presence, then you must follow these suggestions.

Teach Students Responsible Technology in the Classroom Behavior

First and foremost, teach students responsible and respectful online behavior. They should interact online as they would if the person was right in front of them. All too often, young (and old) people have hidden behind their computers to interact with others in an irresponsible, unkind manner. Encourage students to think before they act, and to always remember that when they are online, they leave a digital footprint that is archived and can be brought back at any time. Teach your students to be kind, courteous, and respectful online as well as offline.

Have Students Become Cyber Detectives

A fun way to teach your students the importance of Internet safety is to have them become cyber detectives. The Cybersmart Challenge is an online resource aimed at teaching upper elementary students about online safety. The site uses real-world examples to help students make predications and responsible conclusions.

Get Parents Involved

Make sure that you keep parents in the loop about what online tools their children are using in the classroom. Back-to-School night or open house is the perfect time to discuss with parents the dangers of inappropriate uses online. Encourage parents to talk with their children at home, as well as to monitor their child’s online use. You can even go as far as suggesting to parents that their child sign an online safety contract (there is one for parents as well). The more that parents are involved in their child’s online education, the safer their child will be.

Explain Digital Footprints

Make sure your students are in the know about how they leave a digital footprint when they are online. Online information is pretty much impossible to get rid of, and children need to understand and fully grasp that concept. For example, if you are teaching impressionable middle school students that love to share every aspect of their lives on social media, they need to understand that what they post now can potentially harm them in their future.

Use Tangible Objects to Prove Your Point

One of the best ways that you can show your students about the importance of online safety is to make it tangible for them. Create a digital toolkit by gathering items (essentially props) so that they can visually see and feel the concepts of security, privacy, and cyber safety. This would include real-world items, such as a magnifying glass (to remind them to look carefully) and a permanent marker (to show them that what they post online cannot be removed). You can also add other items like a padlock to represent that their personal information needs to be secure, and a red flag to represent that they are in a place that is not appropriate for them.

Create Real-World Scenarios

Create real-world scenarios about dangerous Internet usage. An example could look something like this: “Emily is a 12-year-old girl who has an Instagram account. She has her account set to private, but still allows kids she does not know to “Friend” her. One day she gets a private message from a boy that she has never met, but is friends with on here Instagram asking to meet up with her.” After sharing this example, ask students the following questions.
  • Are there any issues with Emily’s situation?
  • What would you do if you were Emily?
  • Is it OK to allow strangers to be your friend online?
The goal is for the students to come up with a conclusion to this dangerous real-world scenario. Encourage students to remove themselves from any situation where they feel uncomfortable, bullied, or threatened.
The Internet can be a dangerous place, so it is essential that you educate and empower your students so that they have the wherewithal and knowledge to be safe. Talk to them, and most importantly be open and honest with them, especially about their digital footprint.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Food For Thought# 8: Tribute to Sir Ken Robinson

With a week of evaluation and accreditation lying ahead of us I thought that I would share a laid back, humorous talk from Sir Ken Robinson about education and how the system is achieving what it was designed to produce. In answering a question from the audience Sir Ken does give some good advice about being the change you want to be and explains that there are many teachers already changing. The video ends touchingly with Amanda Palmer, Dresden Dolls, singing a tribute that she had just written to the man with the most TED views of all time.

Have a good week,


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Food for Thought: The Science of Learning (and technology’s impact on how we learn)

I hope you all enjoyed the 3E learning experience. 3E again emphasized just how much professional talent we have at ISHCMC and how much passion for education and learning exists in our community. Student learning is at the center of what we do at school. So understanding how students learn is fundamental and how as teachers/ coaches/ guides we can positively contribute to this learning.

ISHCMC has a definition of learning that we should be focusing on everyday in our classrooms:

Learning is a life-long process that empowers students through engaging with and reflecting upon information and experiences to construct new or to modify existing understandings as well as transferring skills and values.

This links very well with our school vision which is also built around the right environment for learning whether that be physical or attitudinal: 

To be widely recognized as a school that nurtures a creative and collaborative learning environment in which students and teachers seek to achieve beyond their goals, flourish as individuals, display compassion, embrace challenge, take principled action on local and global issues and enjoy being part of their community.

This weeks Food for Thought builds on our goal of improving student learning in our classrooms. This short video explores why technology has not revolutionized learning in the classroom whilst at the same time highlighting the important role of the teacher in the process of learning.

The second part of this week's Food for Thought is an excellent article from A.J. Juliani on the Science of Learning and how technology impacts how we learn.

"So how do people learn? What are the mechanics of memory? Can we distill thousands of articles and books to something that is manageable, digestible, and applicable to our classrooms?

1. Attention: the filter through which we experience the world
2. Encoding: how we process what our attention admits into the mind
3. Storage: what happens once information enters the brain
4. Retrieval: the recall of that information or behavior
Almost everything we do or know, we learn through these stages, for our learning is memory, and the bulk of our memory is influenced by these four processes: what we pay attention to, how we encode it, what happens to it in storage, and when and how we retrieve it.
Let’s start with Attention. Going back to the previous post on why we learn, it all begins with attention. Most of the time we pay attention for two reasons: Interest or Necessity.
Our brain is flooded with information from a multi-sensory world that is throwing sounds, sights, feelings, and everything else at us in rapid succession. With all of this information coming at us we tend to pay attention to things that we are curious and interested about, or information that has a direct correlation to our physical, emotional, or psychological well-being.
Then comes the Encoding. Our senses are being hit with so much information that when we finally process that information we begin to categorize it as a new experience or a connected experience with prior knowledge.
After we’ve successfully paid attention and made some connections (or created new information) we come to the Storage stage. Here we store this new or connected information in our short-term, working, or long-term memory. Where it is stored and how it is stored is associated with how powerful of an experience it is/was, and how often we bring that experience back into our daily lives.
Retrieval is the final stage. This is when we pull information out of the memory to help us in learning something new, or adapting to a situation, or connecting the dots on an experience. Retrieval also allows us to “re-encode” which starts the learning process all over again. 
Consider the fact that technological advances over the years have always impacted how we learn, and changed how we engage with the learning process."

Along with 3E this article and video should give you something to think about as you plan your lessons. Adding the science of learning to the pedagogical tools and discussions you had on Friday and Saturdays should enable you to further develop your pedagogical skills as you grow as a teacher.

Have a good Sunday and Monday,


Friday, September 14, 2018

AI Extra: The Robots are coming and they want your job. Are universities preparing students for the future?

Experts believe that almost a third of the global workforce will be automated by 2030. But are universities preparing students for the rise of the office machines?

Had you popped into the equity trading floor at Goldman Sachs' New York headquarters in 2000, you would have walked into a bloodbath of the senses: 500 men and women projectile swearing, phones blaring, the dizzying aroma of adrenaline oozing from every human orifice. These days, you might just make out the lifeless whir of 200 high-speed servers over the ticking clock. Because those 500 people have been whittled down to three. The other 497 have been usurped by complex algorithms. 
These were not working stiffs: cleaners, receptionists or other service-industry hirelings already humbled by computers. They were university graduates with hard-fought degrees in subjects like business, finance or economics. Trouble was, for all their brainpower, passion and pedigree, algorithms just did the job better. They aren't the only victims. The computers, now, have caught the scent of blood.
"A lot of people assume automation is only going to affect blue-collar people, and that so long as you go to university you will be immune to that," says Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. "But that's not true, there will be a much broader impact."
This raises the question: as we move toward the brave new automated world, is a university degree in, say, economics, philosophy, English or anything else that isn't to do with fixing cobots (collaborative robots) or writing algorithms worth the PDF file it was exported on? Or is it, practically speaking, useless? And if so, what are universities doing about it?
"Most universities are simply not doing enough to prepare students for the automated workforce," says Nancy W Gleason, PhD, director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Singapore's Yale-NUS College, and the author ofHigher Education: Preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. "We need to teach students to be cognitively flexible, to have the skills and confidence to try different jobs throughout their lives. In the gig economy, you're not going to have seven employers, you're going to have seven careers. People might say, 'Oh my degree in history didn't do me any good.' Well, guess what, neither will a degree in radiology, dentistry or law."
This is not a joke. Last year, a report by McKinsey Global Institute suggested that up to 800 million careers (or 30 percent of the global job force) – from doctors to accountants, lawyers to journalists – will be lost to computers by 2030, while every single worker on earth will need to adapt "as their occupations evolve alongside increasingly capable machines". Others suggest this number may be as high as 50 percent. "Machines are taking on cognitive capability, beginning to compete with our ability to reason, to make decisions and, most importantly, to learn," adds Ford. "At least over the next couple of decades, AI and robotics are going to eliminate huge amounts of jobs. Beyond that, it gets more unpredictable; we really don't know what's going to happen."
To find out more, I contacted 25 of the world's leading universities to ask what, if anything, they are doing to prepare students for the choppy waters of fluid work. Of America's eight Ivy League schools, only Dartmouth College had something to say; the rest either did not reply, were too busy or couldn't find the proper person for me to speak to. And of the eight UK universities I approached, the London School of Economics and University of Sheffield did not reply, while Leeds and Birmingham both couldn't find anyone suitable to comment. A press officer for the University of Cambridge said she wasn't "aware of anything Cambridge-specific".
Oxford, Bristol, Manchester and City, University of London, however, all got back to me. "Next year, we'll be introducing an interdisciplinary course unit that all of our undergraduates can take, and which looks at exactly this issue," said Caroline Jay, PhD, a senior lecturer in computer science at the University of Manchester.
According to its overview, the course, called AI: Robot Overlord, Replacement or Colleague?, aims to "equip Manchester graduates from all disciplines with an understanding of the impact this technology currently has, the way this is likely to change in the future and, crucially, the ability to grasp the opportunities it brings, whatever your chosen career."

"The whole point of universities is to equip people with the skills to learn," adds Jay. "Students are not just here to learn a set of facts, but to learn how things change, evolve and how they can fit into that future."
The University of Bristol takes a broader view. "If the economy is becoming more of a gig economy, preparing students to become entrepreneurial is something we take very seriously," says Dave Jarman of the university's Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
So the university has built Bristol Futures, a new initiative that offers a range of open online courses designed to provide "the opportunity for the development of core academic skills and key personal attributes to help students become adaptable, successful graduates". The courses currently offered – Innovation and Enterprise, Global Citizenship and Sustainable Futures – are not degrees per se, but run alongside a student's chosen subject.
"This is our long game," says Jarman. "We're looking at how we smuggle those ideas into anything from classics to chemistry. Of course, sometimes changing practice in a university is like turning round an oil tanker in a phone box, but we're in that process."
Dirk Erfurth, the careers service director at the University of Munich (LMU), in Germany, agrees. "You cannot expect every professor in every faculty to take these issues as their most serious concerns. That is not their task. It is our task in the careers service, as the bridge between the labour market and the academic world."
He says LMU offers funded overseas internships, mentoring programmes and holiday-season mini-courses (€95 (£85) for 40 hours of class time) in subjects like presentation and rhetoric, leadership, time management and communication, and conflict management, as well as a "professional education unit" for former students looking for a skills bump. Erfurth says LMU takes students' future employability very seriously, as long as the students are prepared to play the game.

"This is not about grades or certificates," he adds. "We want to show students that, if you invest a little bit of time and money in your skills, wonderful things can happen to you. You have to leave your comfort zone and go out into the world, to distinguish yourself from others, take internships, develop your open-mindedness, creative thinking, curiosity, networking and entrepreneurial spirit. Those are the skills that will make you employable in the future." This is what the University of Copenhagen calls an "interdisciplinary skills profile".
"We aim to improve students' opportunities to exploit the potential of digitalisation and big data both across the university and with our collaborated partners," says the university's vice-provost, Anni Søborg, echoing much of what I've already heard. "And we make explicit how programmes can be applied in the job market, including a focus on initiatives that ensure students have the requisite skills for innovation and entrepreneurship."
And so, over to America, which Dr Gleason says is "doing very little in higher education relative to other countries". "The truth is, we don't actually know all the jobs we are preparing students for," says Dartmouth's associate dean for the sciences, Dan Rockmore. "Dartmouth is the premier liberal arts university in the world. The liberal arts ethos is that a well-rounded and broad education, an exposure to the multidimensional nature of the great challenges of our day, are what prepares a mind for the unpredictable challenges of the world post-graduation. We aim to teach critical thinking, habits of mind that can be brought to bear in many different contexts."
He then pointed to the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network, which gives students "the opportunity to try out ideas for and in the 'new economy'", along with its "flexible quarter" system that gives students the "opportunity to experience the workplaces of the new economy" all year round. "In short, a Dartmouth education will prepare students to take advantage of those [technological] transformations."
The key point here is that all these courses are optional. No students are forced to take them, and they offer no future-proofing guarantees. But then, is it really a university's responsibility to hold students' hands throughout their lives? Or is it, really, up to students?
"I would say this is like a gym membership, not a butler," says Jarman. "You don't pay your money and the goods turn up. You pay for an opportunity, but you've got to go in and lift the weights and run the distance. If you do those things, universities have got amazing facilities and people that can help you accelerate that process. But it doesn’t land on a plate."
University students – as Jonathan Black, the director of university career services at Oxford University, is keen to point out – are adults after all. "One of the things Oxford, and other universities, endeavour to do is to persuade people who are perfectly bright enough to benefit from a university education to consider our many extracurricular services, such as the careers department, student societies, volunteering or work experience in the summer. That's where they're going to get that experience, but they’ve got to realise they're getting it."
He went on: "But we're not going to tell students what to do. I think we'd be doing students a disservice if we hold their hand all the way until the end and then say, 'Here's your job.' We're here to lay the table, show students what's available, but it's up to them to decide if they want to eat."
The truth is, what keeps most university presidents up at night is not the robocalypse, but shorter-term threats to their survival, like competing for endowments and enrolment. But there is one university president whose dreamsare overrun by robots. That, Joseph E Aoun says, is his advantage: robots cannot dream. The president of Northeastern University (NU) in Boston has developed a strategy to fight back. He calls it "humanics".
"If robots are going to replace human beings in the workplace, then we need to become robot-proof," he says. "The rise of extraordinary artificial intelligence requires us to cultivate extraordinary human intelligence. Even today's most brilliant machines still have limitations. Machines do not yet have a capacity for creativity, innovation or inspiration."
His idea, essentially, is to give students the ability to solve the world's most urgent issues in a way that robots cannot – with empathy. Or, as he puts it: "I've not yet seen a computer cry."

Laid out in his book, Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, humanics has become a staple of Northeastern’s programme that requires computer science majors to, say, take side classes in theatre or improvisation. "Why? Because it allows them to start interacting with others, which is a simplistic but vital example of getting people to go beyond what they’re studying," he says. "Human interaction is going to be a vital skill in the future."
Aoun argues that the only way to create a curriculum for a "robot-proof" education is by fostering "purposeful integration of technical literacies, such as coding and data literacy, with human literacies, such as creativity, ethics, cultural agility and entrepreneurship".
But, he says, experiential learning is also essential, and so has developed an acclaimed co-operative education and career-development programme called Co-op at NU. "We have a network of 3,000 employers in 136 countries on all continents, including Antarctica, where the students apply for paid jobs for six months," he says. "There, they get the unique opportunity to learn how people interact in the workplace, what opportunities look like, what it's like to work in a different cultural setting; they start understanding themselves better. That is powerful and transformational."
The numbers speak for themselves: most students do two or three co-ops throughout their college years, and 92 percent of them find full-time work within nine months of graduating.
The flood of automation is coming. But Aoun and Gleason say simply teaching students to swim – as the handful of universities I spoke to are beginning to do – will not save them from drowning eventually. Instead, they agree, we need to build an arc. "We must move away from the idea of a university degree being front-loaded in the first 18 to 24 years of your life," says Gleason. "Instead of a three- to four-year model, students should be admitted for 20 years with the ability to come back and take classes for free whenever they want."
That is exactly what both NU and NUS, where Gleason works, are doing. NUS, for example, has launched two government-supported "lifelong learning institutes", where graduates can return at any stage of life to "upskill" in hundreds of courses – long and short – from psychology to Arabic, "business agility" to "cyber security for the internet of things". "We are looking at stacking courses together to re-skill adults," Gleason says. "It's a long road ahead, but the real low-lying fruit is more experiential learning, and less lectures."
As for NU, Aoun has overseen the establishment of a lifetime-learning network of campuses in Charlotte, North Carolina, Seattle, Silicon Valley, Toronto and San Francisco, where members can return to learn new skills. "Seventy-four percent of the population are what we call 'non-professional learners'," he says. "Ignore them and universities will become irrelevant. If we don't step in and integrate lifelong learning as part of our core mission, we become like the railway industry that saw the onset of the airline revolution and said, 'This is nothing to do with us.' They didn't see themselves in the transportation business, and their business suffered as a result."
None of this, of course, comes cheap. NUS and NU are both well-funded institutions. Gleason suggests a tax on robots would cover it. If not, industry needs to step up and cough up. "I don't see why industry shouldn't," she adds. "It's not like they won't be profiting from some of the jobs that go away."
So what, in the meantime, can students who don't go to NUS or NU – or one of the world's few other universities with similar ideas – do to future-proof their careers? The answer, really, is to become as human as humanly possible. We need to fight back with feelings. "The future labour market needs not content experts or information processors," says Gleason, "but creators, analysers, problem solvers, collaborators and lifelong learners who are able to acquire new skills as old ones quickly become obsolete. The best place you can learn those skills are in the liberal arts."

Maybe, as a start then, that degree in philosophy or English isn't such a bad idea after all.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Food for Thought #5 18-19: Mindfulness and Health

Yesterday afternoon I went for an early dinner to a lovely Italian restaurant in D1, 4 P Pizza, the food was good. If you like experimenting with tastes they have some odd choices like Camembert ice cream. A couple of Israeli  tourists sat at the table next to us and a conversation sparked up over the beer I was drinking and moved to be about their trip to Vietnam and then more about who they were back in Isreali. It turned out that the young lady was a neuroscientist and undertaking some ground breaking research regarding the impact of stress on cancer and its impact on metastasis in cancer cells. It was a very interesting conversation. You may be asking yourself why is Adrian waffling on about this in his Food for Thought? Well it turns out that the research that this young lady is involved in is now quite advanced and they are carrying out human tests on drugs that can reduce stress for cancer patients. However, her team of scientists has moved on to research the impact of mindfulness on stress reduction and consequently on metastasis of cells. Their findings are already proving very interesting and could mean that we may soon have even more scientific proof that mindfulness and in particular meditation reduces the risk of cancer in the first place, as well as reducing metastasis of cells after operations and chemotherapy.

Mindfulness is one of our areas of focus this year on our strategic plan so getting to know as much about its benefits is important for all of us. hence this weeks I am sharing three short(ish) video with you that stress the importance of mindfulness and building it into our regular routines. 

This 3 minute video builds on the conversation last evening and explains the science as to why mindfulness is good for us.

In this video (6 minutes) Daniel Goleman highlights how quickly the benefits of mindfulness can impact our health and well being. 

I'd like to end this Food for Thought on the healing powers of mindfulness with this 6 minute Jon Kabat-Zinn talk where he explains why the cultivation of 'moment to moment, non-judgmental awareness' can be a powerful antidote to worry, fear or depression. as He ends with a quote that fully supports why it is so important that we engage every student in mindfulness so that it becomes a natural response to challenges and that they "Learn how to in habit being to such a degree that the doing flows out of being"

There is overwhelming evidence from renowned thinkers that what we are doing with our students will empower them and allow them to take better control of their lives in the future.

Added extra: Impact of loving kindness meditation that we have done at school by Daniel Goleman. In this brief talk from Big Think Goleman makes some very interesting observations as he suggests that doing mindfulness changes who you are, making you kinder, more empathetic and happier. Wouldn't we like that for everyone oin our community and around the world? It is almost the perfect video to explain why mindfulness/ meditation is so important at ISHCMC and for the future.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Food for Thought #4 : AI, the BIG question, how should we react to it? Part 2

This week's Food for Thought will provide a bit of balance to last weeks that expressed the concerns for AI particularly if in the wrong hands. This week we focus on the positive aspects of AI and how it can help us improve our lives. This article, from Intel, apologies it is  a bit of an Intel advert, however, does give ways in which artificial intelligence is good for society. The article has embedded 3 videos, the first of 35 minutes gives an overall view and is very interesting and will give you a much deeper view of where the positive aspects of AI can impact society, such as banking, sports (techniques, injury prevention), arts, personalized cancer treatment and farming. The other two videos are snapshots, 30 secs and 2 minutes of farming logs and cancer treatment that are mentioned in the longer video.

How to get empowered, not overpowered, by AI (17 minutes)

"Many artificial intelligence researchers expect AI to outsmart humans at all tasks and jobs within decades, enabling a future where we're restricted only by the laws of physics, not the limits of our intelligence. MIT physicist and AI researcher Max Tegmark separates the real opportunities and threats from the myths, describing the concrete steps we should take today to ensure that AI ends up being the best -- rather than worst -- thing to ever happen to humanity." Max Tegmark is the founder of Future of Life Institute and most definitely sees the glass half full not empty. He sees the future as being defined by a wisdom race, and as mentioned last week, we cannot afford our wisdom regarding AI to be formed from mistakes and reactive corrections, at MIT this approach is called safety engineering. He goes on to address the elephant in the room; the issue of values and goals, by asking the important question of whose values and where do we want to go with AI, what is really our objective?

My conclusion for what it is worth form all the reading and videos I have watched, is that AI does pose a potential threat if developed without careful thought and for the wrong reasons. It is inevitable that there will be a time in the not so distant future when we create super intelligent machines, by at the latest 2040, and this will seriously impact human societies. It will be up to us how we face this future and accept that we are no longer the smartest or most intelligent things on this planet. The challenge is without doubt going to be developing AI for the right reasons, controlling greed and human ambition, avoiding an AI arms race, so that we can create the best ethical and moral values for AI that will ensure a peaceful future in which humans and AI coexistence along side each other.