Training magazine Events: The 3 New R’s

Exploring new learning frontiers of robots, relationships, and reach.

By Tony O’Driscoll, Executive Director, Center for Technology, Entertainment, and Media (CTEM), Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

On February 16, 2011, a computer named Watson beat Ken Jennings, the all-time money winner and record holder for the longest winning streak on game show Jeopardy!

On February 1, 2012, Facebook, having crossed a threshold of more than 800 million users, filed for an IPO that has been projected to put a $75 billion to $100 billion valuation on the company that was founded less than 10 years ago.

On March 5, 2012, more than 90,000 people had signed up for MITx’s 6.002x Circuits and Electronics Class.

What is the significance of these three events to those of us who spend our days designing, developing, and delivering learning? The short answer is: A lot! A whole lot!

The story of how IBM developed a cognitive computing capability that beat the world’s smartest human beings in a particular arena is one of the first clear examples of how robots are moving from helping humanity deal with procedural, task-oriented activities to ones that are knowledge and decision driven.

At Learning 3.0, we’ll explore how the emerging era of cognitive computing will influence education and learning. What does it mean when most of us will have access to Watson on our Smartphones? What happens to those of us in the education field when Watson ingests all there is to know about learning and begins to prescribe learning interventions just as he/she/it currently is beginning to do in the field of medicine? How does what we do as learning professionals have to change in a world where machines begin to exercise their own sense-making capabilities?

During our keynote session focused on Robots, we’ll hear from IBM’s Watson team and Ken Jennings himself as they wrestle with these questions based on the game-changing experience they had on Jeopardy!

While Facebook’s meteoric rise is not news to anyone, CEO Mark Zuckerberg articulated his vision for a rewired world in the company’s IPO filing: “By helping people form connections, we hope to rewire the way people spread and consume information. We think the world’s information infrastructure should resemble the social graph—a network built from the bottom up or peer to peer rather than the monolithic, top-down structure that has existed to date.”

At Learning 3.0, we’ll explore how this rewiring will influence where and how learning occurs. During our keynote session focused on Relationships, we’ll hear from David Weinberger, author of “Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now that the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room.” He’ll explore how access to and creation of knowledge has changed in the Internet age.

The idea of students having to enroll for a class is certainly not new. The idea that there is no limit to how many students can attend class is. At Learning 3.0, we’ll explore the challenges and opportunities organizations and institutions face as they look to break the bounds of the classroom constraint and move into a world of technologically
enabled learning that reaches a scale previously unimaginable.

During our keynote focused on Reach, we’ll hear from Anant Agarwal, head of the MITx Online Learning initiative and professor of the 6.002x Circuits and Electronics course with 90,000 students. We’ll also hear from Anya Kamentz, author of “DIY-U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation in Higher Education,” as we explore how institutions focused on learning must undergo swift and significant transformation to remain relevant in an increasingly connected world.

So get ready for a wild ride in Chicago October 24-25 as we tackle the learning frontiers of Robots, Relationships, and Reach at Learning 3.0.

Tony O’Driscoll is the executive director of the Center for Technology, Entertainment, and Media (CTEM) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. His most recent book, “Learning in 3-D: Bringing a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration,” explores how emerging Web technologies are transforming the learning landscape within organizations.

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