Curating is a vital skill

Curating is one of the important building blocks of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence. The software for these Livebindersareas is going to be as good as the curating and if you have watched the video about Watson , you will know that intelligent software needs intelligent curation. The outcomes will only be as good as the input and that means resources on the internet need to be of a very high quality and peer reviewed. Cognitive computing is used widely in medicine these days and artificial intelligence is being applied in educational contexts. Currently we do not have many sites where students can safely curate information. Paper.li is a well established, well respected one and students can curate in Evernote but it is not the same as the widely available information aggregation sites. Safety and suitablity are important in schools so we needs apps and online sites which teach curation but which are student friendly and child safe. My own favourite information aggregation sites are Flipboard , Zite and Diply. I collect suitable links on my blogs and like  places like del.ic.ious. Livebinders allows you to curate your own material and is education friendly and has education support. These sorts of sites need to be more available on the Net, more prominent in schools and come with a safety tick for education.You need to use information aggregators to understand how they work and then that will inform good choices when you do your own curation on a site.

Little Lucy helps you learn

Lucy is one of the new emotionally intelligent robots developed by Professor Rajiv Khosla at La Trobe University. It is a collaborative effort across nations , in particular with Japan. There’s that word again – collaboration. Nothing of significance is achieved or created these days without collaboration. Lucy was originally designed to help with dementia and aged care patients but has now branched out into helping autistic people in a very significant way. In the SBS article Robots ‘help autistic children learn’ mother and nurse Yvonne Cartwright articulates extremely well what Lucy has done for her two autistic children but she also articulates views which resonate with any teacher. Robots are computers. We may personify them and identify with them as being like people but they are hardware and software. They will repeat things over and over. They will do what they are programmed to do . They are as clever as we can currently make them and will develop as we use them to engage with real people and then have experts like Professor Rajiv Khosla who will patiently, and seemingly happily, use his knowledge and network to improve the capacity of the robot to do and be more. Cognitive computing is making a difference in the lives of real people . It is allowing them to connect with others and it is allowing them to develop their personalities. It is also improving what they know and can do. Robots will repeat and repeat and repeat and not tire of it. In a real classroom they could provide some engaging help in lots of ways and they sound like they can develop linguistic skills so it would be good to have a Lucy in language learning classrooms. Finally, the future is here. Yvonne Cartright sums it up for teaching in the article:

“We don’t celebrate them finishing high school or uni, we celebrate those light bulb moments where you see sheer joy in your children’s face by something they’ve done, and they know they’ve achieved something.”

We don’t finish anything. We are on a learning continuum and as robots become available to us we shall be learning with them and teaching them how to achieve something else.

What will you do with Watson?

What would I do? I would put it into the hands of secondary school students. All secondary school students. Not just the anointed. I have learned over all my years in teaching that the best laid plans of mice , men and teachers can be totally thrown on their head when you get a school full of  secondary students onto a new approach, gadget or pathway. Secondary students are marvellous crap detectors. “What is the point?” “Why would you?” “But what if…”. They are also very good at interpreting things in ways you would never imagine. This can be hugely creative but it can also show up the loopholes, the weak spots and the deficits of any model or gadget you are trying to introduce to “the masses”. If Watson were to be put into the hands of a planet full of secondary students, they would soon sort it out. They would learn to work with it, undermine it, create with it, find the anomalies, ways of misusing it, ways of improving it. They would give Watson a run for its money. So why would you do that? Watson is one of the biggest programmes underpinning cognitive computing. Our secondary students are the ones who will be benefiting from it and who will add to it. They need to know how it works. They need a deep understanding of Watson and they need to be able to grow it into the next generation of cognitive computing software. If cognitive computing is about computers learning from humans and vice versa, then field work needs to be done with the young. Older people will bring their skills, expertise ,perspective and knowlege to bear to create a system which is more reliable, functional, dependable and adaptable. This really is the future and it should not be held back. Right now is a good time to genuinely collaborate on authentic learning for all. So, how would I put Watson into schools? I can’t answer that question at the moment. I am still learning about cognitive computing. They have put Watson up against humans in Jeopardy so they are still learning about it too.

Cognitive computing is happening right now

I read an article about cognitive computing last week and thought, I need to find out about that. It will have implications for education and classrooms and it will change how we do things. I am not an expert. Not even a teensie bit close. I have just found out about it and shall spend some more blog posts finding out about it so that I at least have some idea of what I am talking about and what cognitive computing means.The video explains it well but for me, the information which really made its mark is they have a chip ready to go next year and they are looking to – and this is a quote of a quote – “enable the next generation of mobile devices to see, read, feel and predict user behaviour.” Feel? I really do need to find out about cognitive computing.

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