One of the things that amazes me as I set about scanning through the week’s news is the amazing number of research reports that are available. This week highlights some of those, including the new NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Higher Education Edition, Make Room’s State of Senior Renters, Center for Research on Education Outcomes' report on online charters, Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s and Rutgers University’s Opportunity for All? Technology and Learning in Lower-Income Families. Read in detail, these reports provide tremendous insights. But in our busy work lives, perhaps just maintaining an awareness of these reports might help us shift our thinking to some of the key issues researchers, funders, and policy advocates are zeroing in on in this time of change.
You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our future work.
And let us know what you're reading this week to help think about later.
Amnesty International’s second holographic "ghost rally," this time in Seoul, South Korea, protests the erosion of free speech in the country by projecting life-size images of marchers and building support from participants who visit a webpage and send photos and video or audio recordings through a messaging app (BBC “Holographic Protest Against South Korea March Ban”).
Virtual and augmented reality have the potential to transform our computing interface into a truly immersive experience, with realistic 3D worlds and controlling hand gestures that move us from a 2D experience into a 3D experience (TechCrunch “3D Is The New 2D").
Books, Publishing, and Media
Depending on when you read the story, Amazon is planning to roll out 300 to 400 retail stores (that has since been clarified), but the important news is that Amazon will indeed open more bookstores (in addition to their Seattle location) and possibly some additional types of retail stores, helping to re-imagine the physical shopping experience by merging it with the best features of an online retailer (Re/Code “Meet the Guy Behind Amazon’s Secret Retail Store Plans”). See also ArsTechnica, CNET and here, The Daily Dot, Fast Company and here, GeekWire and here, Gizmodo, Grist, Marginal Revolution, The New Yorker, and TechCrunch.
Editions at Play, a new series of books from Google’s Creative Lab and Visual Editions, a London publishing house, live on browsers (they’re not apps) and encourage a more interactive and playful form of reading (Wired “Google's New Interactive E-Books Would Be Impossible to Print”). See also Motherboard.
In honor of Black History Month, The New York Times’ Unpublished Black History is sharing previously unpublished images from the paper’s photo archives and contextualizing them, in terms of the paper’s historical coverage and the larger history of the nation, in an effort to consider the Times’ coverage of race and to gather readers’ thoughts and memories (Nieman Lab “The New York Times Is Unearthing Unpublished Photos from its Archives for Black History Month”).
From February 9th through February 15th, McDonalds will offer books with their Happy Meals, the fourth year of a partnership with HarperCollins and Reading Is Fundamental (PSFK “McDonald’s to Fight Illiteracy with Happy Meals”).
Leitura de Bolso (or pocket reading) is a Brazilian campaign that takes advantage of the bite-sized reading movement (and the fact that 70% of Brazilians did not read a single book in 2014) and encourages individuals to read daily in five-minute installments delivered weekly through WhatsApp (PSFK “Bite-Sized Books for the Supermarket Checkout Line”).
YouTube Red will launch its first set of original programming on February 10th with four series – comedy-thriller series Scare PewDiePie, documentary A Trip to Unicorn Island, teen musical Dance Camp, and Rooster Teeth comedy Lazer Team (The Verge “YouTube Red's First Batch of Original Content Is Premiering on February 10th”). See also Fast Company and Variety.
Oznome is a 10-year research program run by Australia’s government research agency CSIRO to build a complete digital representation of the country, starting with environmental data, and bringing together data from government agencies, researchers, private companies, and citizen scientists to better understand how different systems connect with each other and how they might help the nation understand its future (New Scientist “Australia’s Plan to Make a Digital Representation of Everything”).
A new report from Make Room, a campaign to the end the rental housing crisis in the United States, highlights the challenges older Americans face in paying their rent - the number of severely rent-burdened seniors increased by 34% from 2010 to 2015 and 43% of these seniors are living on social security income alone (Next City “10 Metros Where Rising Rent Is a Big Threat to America’s Seniors”).
The New Media Consortium (NMC) and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) released their “NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Higher Education Edition,” identifying advancing cultures of innovation and rethinking how institutions work as long-term impact trends; redesigning learning spaces and shifts to deeper learning approaches as mid-term impact trends; and the growing focus on measuring learning and increasing use of blended learning as short-term impact trends (New Media Consortium “NMC and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Release the NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Higher Ed Edition”).
The Walton Family Foundation, one of the largest private funders of charter schools, funded three research studies (by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (or CREDO) at Stanford University; the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington; and Mathematica Policy Research) on virtual charter schools and the results are “sobering” (Education Week “Walton Family Foundation: We Must Rethink Online Learning”). Over the course of a school year, students in virtual charters, which enroll some 200,000 children in 200 schools across 26 states, learned the equivalent of 180 fewer days in math and 72 fewer days in reading than their peers in traditional charter schools.
Micro-schools (schools that have no more than 150 students in grades K-12; multiple ages learn together in a single classroom; teachers act more as guides than lecturers; there's a heavy emphasis on digital and project-based learning; and small class sizes) appear to be the next trend in K-12 education, offering parents a drastically different version of education than traditional public and private schools (Education Week “'Micro Schools' Could Be New Competition for Private K-12”). See also Tech Insider.
The further regulation of drones, campaign finance transparency, access to or decryption of smartphone data, data collection and public privacy, 3-D printed firearms (or ghost guns), and employer access to employees’ personal social media accounts could be among the tech policy issues to watch in state legislation in 2016 (Government Technology “7 Tech Policy Issues to Watch in 2016”).
As part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) ConnectHome initiative, Google announced that it will be providing free connection to its Google Fiber service to a public housing project in Kansas City and will provide the same service to individuals living in public housing in any Fiber city in the future along with free training on basic computer skills and discounted devices (Motherboard “Google’s Free Gigabit Internet for Public Housing Is No Replacement for Reform”). See also CNET.
Young people are transitioning out of broadcast social media (Facebook and Twitter) and opting for more narrow-cast tools (Stories on Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, or group text apps), a move that might raise concern for their participation in the public sphere, including political discourse and social movements (The Conversation “So Long Social Media: The Kids Are Opting Out of the Online Public Square”).
A study from Sesame Workshop’s Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Rutgers University finds some good news in that the vast majority of Americans, even low-income Americans, have some access to the internet, but continuing concern for the divide for those who are “under-connected” with mobile-only access that is subject to data caps or interruption due to payment issues (Re/Code “Low-Income Americans Face Internet Access That Is Slow, at Risk of Disruption”). 94% of lower-income parents have some kind of access, but 50% report slow connections, 25% rely solely on a mobile device, and 20% reported their access being cut off due to their inability to pay – and there are ethnic disparities, with Hispanic immigrant families the most likely to have no internet access or rely solely on mobile devices. See also Mind/Shift.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg sees the social network’s reach expanding to 5 billion people by 2030 – that would be nearly 60% of what is expected to be the world’s population in 2030 – through partnerships with governments and other companies to help expand connectedness to underserved areas (The Verge “Mark Zuckerberg Wants Facebook to Have 5 Billion Users by 2030”).
A great article highlighting the changes happening in libraries – including academic libraries’ (North Carolina State University, San Diego State University, and The College of San Mateo are featured) adoption of the makerspace movement (Mind/Shift “What Colleges Can Gain by Adding Makerspaces to Their Libraries”).
Another look at makerspaces on campuses (Rutgers University is featured) and a focus on the pedagogy of tinkering and its significance for learners and the future of innovation (The New York Times “Wood Shop Enters the Age of High-Tech”).
Robots will be front row at Stockholm Fashion Week, outfitted with the latest virtual reality cameras to broadcast shows to fans around the world via the Democratic Front Row app, which allows users to “like” outfits and light up the robots in real time (PSFK “Robots Let You Sit Front Row at Stockholm Fashion Week”). See also Forbes.
The Sharing Economy
A quick look at all the things we are now sharing (goods, knowledge, money, time and skills, and content) thanks to platforms that connect peers and build trust, while changing the economy and our society (TechCrunch “The Sharing Age”).
The functional future of wearables (that everyone seems to be waiting on) might exist in a ring – smart rings that are jewelry with the functionality of gadgets (Wired “Everyone Wants to Make Smart Rings, And No One Knows Why”).