Friday, September 25, 2015

Accelerated Learning for Accelerated Times

Constant distraction is the bane of the digital age. Most of us are now connected 24/7, the Internet is just a click away for the good and for the worse. Especially education, or better the way we acquire and retain information, is shaped by mobile devices that can come up with answers and relevant information when and where we need it.
Another factor is the fast pace of the technology space in general. Not only does it incessantly throw new gadgets and matching applications at consumers, but it also demands workers with skills in the latest programming language, social media product or design software.

This environment seems to call for education solutions that drastically cut down the time spent to learn a skill in order to make sure that employers can access a pool of employees with the latest set of skills needed.

What can one learn in 30 days?
One Month started as One Month Rails, an online coding course that promised to teach anyone the popular coding language Ruby on Rails in one month to an extent where the learner would be able to launch a fully functional web application at the end of the course.

The course became hugely successful, according to the founders Mattan Griffel and Chris Castiglione it is still one of the best-selling programming courses of all time.

With a fresh round of seed investment One Month is now extending its courses into other verticals, implementing its accelerated learning philosophy.

“We think that when it comes to learning a new skill, the first 30 days are the most important to determine whether someone is going to quit or not.” states Mattan Griffel.

Micro-Learning and Micro-MOOCs
Coursmos, another edtech startup that announced new seed investment this week, aims to condense educational content even more. With micro-learning topics are chopped into 3 minute lessons with a maximum of seven lessons forming a micro-course.

Of course, there is only so much you can teach in 21 minutes but Coursmos aims to link multiple micro-courses together, forming knowledge clouds. As the lessons tend to be around a video, Coursmos could be described as a media enhanced encyclopedia.

When I look something up on Wikipedia, I tend to spend more time on the site reading related articles. The same could work for Coursmos as learners look up a certain subject and then get deeper into the subject, or a related topic, through the interlinked courses.

Stackable Credentials
On the other end of the scale of accelerated learning one can find nanodegrees. I already touched upon them in last week’s article about the partnership between AT&T and Udacity.

Nanodegrees aims to teach a certain topic up to a credential within six to twelve months. Again, the product clearly caters to the needs of employers in the tech space. Those nanodegrees cover a very defined subject but also aim to be “stackable” meaning that the learner will be able to combine different nanodegrees in order to advance in her career.

Risk and Advantages
The advantages for employers and employees are clear. Accelerated learning will not only cut down on the time commitment but also cost to acquire a new skill. The One Month courses are priced at $99 which is a very compelling offer based on the premise that learners will be able to create a working product after 30 days. Nanodegrees are priced at $200 per month, again a good value as Udacity also hopes to get its learners into paid work after completion.

To my mind the biggest risk in this way of learning is that people are more and more trained out of retaining knowledge in their memory. Internet connected technology and accelerated learning might lead to a mindset of outsourcing when it comes to learning.

People might think they don’t need to remember information and also don’t need to cross reference in their minds anymore as Google Now or Siri do a much better job which I think is a rather chilling development

By Kirsten Winkler

Friday, September 11, 2015

New Dragon Professional: $300 New, $99 Upgrades

Nuance announced a new version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking this morning – and it’s no longer called Dragon NaturallySpeaking!

The Dragon voice-to-text program is now called Dragon Professional.

The new program is available for both Windows and Mac computers. Nuance also revealed a new version of Dragon for Mac.

Dragon Professional will also work on both IOS and Android mobile devices

There are two versions of Dragon Professional, Individual and Group. The Group version allows groups of Dragon users to save shared customizations and lets administrators track how employees use Dragon.

During this morning’s announcement, Nuance demonstrated a new feature that can transcribe a voice from an audio file from any speaker, no ‘training’ required.

They also showed off a new cloud feature that allows users to save customized vocalizations and shortcuts to a cloud that can be shared amongst a user’s devices. They call this new item Dragon Anywhere. It will be available through a monthly or annual subscription.

The full retail price of Dragon Professional, Individual, is $300. It’s available for pre-ordering through Nuance and will be available for downloading on August 31.

Dragon for Mac 5 is $200, is also available for pre-ordering, and will be available sometime in September.

The price and availability of Dragon Professional Group is customized for each organization.

Nuance did not say if current users of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 will receive any discounts for upgrading to Dragon Professional.

Though the price of Dragon Professional, Individual, is pretty darn steep for bloggers, I expect we’ll see it on sale fairly often and discounted at various resellers, similar to the way that Dragon NaturallySpeaking has been discounted.

***** *update* *******

According to an email being sent to  registered Nuance customers, registered customers may upgrade from Dragon NaturallySpeaking to Dragon Professional, Individual, for $99.

A new Chief Nursing Officer at ONC

National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, MD, announced this week that Rebecca Freeman, RN, will join the agency to spearhead its nursing outreach and help shape its clinical informatics activities.

Working in ONC's Office of Clinical Quality and Safety, Freeman will lead initiatives focused on health IT enabled nursing practice and research. As a liaison offering support to providers, vendors and healthcare agencies, she'll help her fellow RNs keep up with the fast-changing field of nursing informatics..

Prior to joining ONC, Freeman was assistant vice president and Epic national nurse champion at the Hospital Corporation of America. There, she led the planning and coordination of enterprise-wide Epic deployment, working to ensure the technology's alignment with HCA's safety, compliance, efficiency and care improvement goals.

Before HCA, she was chief nursing information officer and manager of the nursing informatics program at the Medical University of South Carolina. She's also an executive nurse fellow at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In addition to a degree in nursing from the Medical University of South Carolina, Freeman also holds a BS in psychology and philosophy from the College of Charleston and a PhD from the Medical University of South Carolina.

"Rebecca's experience in implementing and using health IT systems – and her background in philosophy – make her a perfect complement to the team here at ONC," said DeSalvo in an email to department staff