When you really look at what the school system does, you would have to conclude that one of it’s primary purposes is to graduate students who have internalized certain pieces of information and know how to apply them to their lives. It is of course very debatable as to the level of success the system does this, but that seems to be a primary goal. This information can take many forms; books, videos, lectures, websites, etc… but all of it has to be created by a person. Because this takes a great deal of time, the material has to be written in such a way as to be usable for most students. It’s not customized in any way.
The Internet also runs on content. Rapid production of new content is the main goal of many websites, especially the ones who are trying to gain a daily audience. Technology is rapidly advancing in the area of content creation and may soon allow automatic creation of materials.
Software that was first put to work writing news reports has now found another career option: drafting reports for financial giants and U.S. intelligence agencies.
The writing software, called Quill, was developed byNarrative Science, a Chicago company set up in 2010 to commercialize technology developed at Northwestern University that turns numerical data into a written story.
Quill is programmed with rules of writing that it uses to structure sentences, paragraphs, and pages, says Kristian Hammond, a computer science professor at Northwestern University and chief scientist at Narrative Science. “We know how to introduce an idea, how not to repeat ourselves, how to get shorter,” he says.
Companies can also tune Quill’s style and use of language based on what they need it to write. It can accentuate the positive in marketing copy, or go for exhaustive detail in a regulatory filing, for example.
Quill can also take an “angle” for a piece of writing. When writing about sports for an audience likely to favor a particular team, for instance, Quill can write a story that softens the blow of a loss.
Systems like this are improving rapidly. If you noticed in that quote where they talk about being able to tune the “style” of the content, you may realize that you can use that feature to customize the content for different learning styles. So systems like this may be able to create lessons for students in real time, customized for each student and building on what a student as previously learned.
This also scales to a global size with the other article I wanted to mention.
Last month, Skype, Microsoft’s video calling service, initiated simultaneous translation between English and Spanish speakers. Not to be outdone, Google will soon announce updates to its translation app for phones. Google Translate now offers written translation of 90 languages and the ability to hear spoken translations of a few popular languages. In the update, the app will automatically recognize if someone is speaking a popular language and automatically turn it into written text.
The Internet is transforming the world because it allows much more rapid communication of ideas between people. A current limiting factor is that content only works with people speaking the same language. Imagine what will happen when the whole world gets put into the same chat room. Take the amount of information available today and increase it by an order of magnitude. That is what is happening soon. The effect on education should be dramatic because you will be able to access classes and resources from anywhere in the world. The third world will be able to learn from the first world.