As of 2010, 95.48% of the population of the world do not live in the United States. It can be safely said that 100% of the people of the world will need to learn things in order to survive and thrive. It is also pretty widely accepted that the US has some of the best universities in the world. Countries send their best and brightest here to be educated but the vast majority of the world’s population will never get higher education, much less of US quality. Doesn’t this seem to be a market waiting to be tapped?
With all that in mind, let’s look at the following: (H/T Gizmodo)
In a blog post today, AT&T SVP for technology and network operations John Donovan made the official announcement that the API for Watson (the company’s proprietary voice-recognition software that transcribes spoken words into text) are now open to and available for app developers to access.
If you recall, Watson is a software system where you can ask questions and it will provide answers. (It beat the Jeopardy champions.) In the article above it also mentions that the system has 10 million questions and answers ready to go. An API (for the non programmers out there) is a way of one software system to use another as a service. As an example, if you have a LMS system, it could automatically scan your lessons and use Watson to link to additional resources. Or else, there could be an Ask Watson input where students could ask a question about the lesson and get additional information. With an API this can be built right into the LMS.
Since this operates with just text, doing realtime translation into many languages is also pretty straightforward. Most people in education take certain things for granted. For example, it is pretty much common knowledge that in order for education to happen you need a teacher. I would agree as long I can amend that with the following:
- Education and learning aren’t the same thing.
- Education is defined as a teacher imparting information to students.
- A teacher doesn’t have to be human.
I am becoming more and more convinced that this decade will see a massive worldwide improvement in learning efficacy outside of school. The desire to learn is fundamental in the human spirit. Sir Ken Robinson says (I’m paraphrasing) “Children are born very creative. We then educate their creativity out of them.”
The amazing innovation happening on the Internet is global by it’s very nature. Therefore if you are an education reformer here is my message to you: In the Internet age, if your education reform ideas don’t work on a global scale you are doing it wrong.