Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Convergence of Technologies-The Perfect Storm for Online Education??- Part I

As we often see in the media, many different technologies are advancing and developing at an increased rate. What we might not grasp is that these technologies are not developing in isolated linear streams but in fact are converging where advancements in one technology will converge and intersect with changes in another technology to enhance and enrich the other. The effects of this rapid convergence of technologies might be considered the "perfect storm" in a post information age. It is not my intent to describe how this convergence will affect all aspects of our lives but instead, narrow my focus to online education alone.

Gold Zoom

Online education depends upon the technologies of computer development, artificial intelligence, LMS (Learning Management Systems), Asynchronous and Synchronous transmission, Cyber-Security just to name a few. How online education deals with the seismic waves produced by this convergence depends first and foremost on the vision of where we want online education to take us. If we look at this from the point of view of the trainer of employees, there is a question that needs to be answered. With the vision that we have, are we training students for employment in occupations that will cease to exist in the future that the students will live in? Is the vision that we subscribe to in online education flexible enough to adjust to the convergence of technologies or does it need to be discarded. I would submit to you that the industrial model of education and its vision for online education will not be able to adapt because in itself it reflects a world context that is not in synch with the changing realities that students are facing. It is my position that we need to work towards a vision that sees cultural innovation as a way to adjust, integrate and adapt to the convergence of technologies.
For example, the advancement of computer design is not only being affected by advances in chip technology and computer architecture. The technologies dealing with artificial technology and nanotechnology are having an impact on computer advancement. Cyber security advancements recognize that the use of passwords needs to be replaced by something that is highly individualized and secure. The rise of cyber attacks on corporate, military and civilian institutions is on the rise which very clearly demonstrates how vulnerable we are when it comes to the loss of personal and financial data. This displays the weaknesses and also the potential danger of relying on the present system just because it kept us safe in the past. So, what are the potential solutions to this problem?

It has been my opinion for awhile that we will need to depend upon the advancements in biotechnology and specifically, biometric security. We have been able to see new technologies designed for secure access develop. Such innovation as using finger prints to access systems, use of facial recognition to access systems, Iris access...etc have been going through growing pains. The concept behind them is the right idea. We need technology that uses unique biological identifiers that can't be spoofed or replicated in order to have security while working online. For example, such biometric identifiers could be used to authenticate that the person logging on to the virtual education interface is the person that they claim to be based on their biometric identifiers. It could also be used to authenticate that the person doing a test is the person that is suppose to be doing the test. Biometrics could also be used for tracking a person during a test to make sure that if the person is not allowed to use certain areas of the Internet during the test, that their integrity is encouraged and maintained.
With respect to the devices required to accomplish, I am party to such an innovation as part of the developer conference for the company. The item I am referring to is called a NYMI. It is a bracelet that a wearer will use that uses the individual EKG of the person to communicate with smart devices. When they take the device off, they can't access their devices. Having someone else put the device on will not give them access to that person's smart devices or data because the bracelet is based on the first person's EKG. There are other biological identifiers that are unique to the individual that might also be used. Right now the NYMI is in the beta stage of development.

Next... How course development will be affected by the convergence of AI and virtual world simulation.

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