Robots Are Taking Classes and Passing Exams

Here’s some rethinking: maybe we need higher ed institutions that can teach artificial students.

A commentary by  Chuck Martin of MediaPost describes robots replacing students. Robot Completes College Course (It Passed) tells of an artificial intelligence system named Bina48 that took a college course over Skype, completing “all the assignments for a class in the ‘philosophy of love’”, participating in class discussions taking the final exam.

Another robot recently passed China’s national medical licensing exam. “The robot was designed to capture and analyze patient information and scored well above the required mark on its test.”

For machines that want to learn, the University of California at Irvine publishes an AI course catalog as the UCI Machine Learning Repository. Robots can download big data sets in bioscience, telecommunications, city planning, automotive engineering and over 300 other topics.

And there are still jobs for teachers. A New York Times article by Daisuke Wakabayash, YouTube Hiring More Humans to Train Computers to Police the Site, reports that thousands of humans will soon be teaching Google robots how to recognize perverts.


For Jack – Higher Ed Should Target MicroLearning

$71 billion spent on corporate learning & development, how much of that could campus experts and specialists tap into? How much benefit would there be to Johnson & Johnson bringing in a specialist from Rutgers? Seems like J&J get to say they support local economy and Rutgers would get to say that their are contracted by local businesses to support development. Win-win.

Internships that Don’t Pay

When Internships Don’t Pay, Some Colleges Will

By Anemona Hartocollis

It is likely that most of us while in college consider taking an internship as an opportunity to gain some valuable experience in a field that draws our attention. But it’s also likely that many of us decide not to take it because of the financial sacrifice that it entails. Ms. Hartocollis writes about the initiatives taken by several universities around the country to offset the financial burden placed on students when taking an unpaid internship. Some colleges, such as Pace University in New York City, are providing funds to needy students to subsidize unpaid internships in fields where funds are scarce.

“Internships have become a necessary credential in a highly competitive job market—about half of interns are offered a job by a company where they have interned… But for those thinking of careers in nonprofits, public service, social services or the arts paid opportunities are scarce. Employers often can’t afford a stipend, and many students can’t afford to work for free.” Ms. Hartocollis continues to comment on some of the initiatives taken by colleges around the country.

Shira Eisenber, a student at the University of Chicago, was one of those who benefit from such a program. She was guaranteed a paid internship, “paid by the University if no other source of money was available.” She like others in the article agree that having a paid internship helps leveling the playing field where affluent students do not have to worry about the financial burden of unpaid internships.





Who needs departments when you can have hubs!?

Interesting article about the moves a chancellor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale is trying to accomplish.


Reminds me of what many of the speakers have talked about this semester, what if you broke up the “departments” and made hubs to keep the student experience fluid so a student could “level up” in arts, history, and technology without having to worry about which class fits which department’s fixed structure.

Begs the question, is micro-learning and amassing credentials a better way to earn a completion certificate (degree) than sticking to a fixed list of courses designed by faculty who may or may not be in the field or aware of changes? Does that open the door to people struggling with labeling everything?

“I earned a degree at LSE.”
“Oh, in what?”
“A little bit of everything.”
“No, no major? No specificity?”
“Listen, I earned 7 micro-credentials, 4 official certifications, and completed 120 credits which is equal to about forty 15-week courses with LSE faculty. Does naming this thing really matter that much?”

First Job

My first post-graduation job found me data-entering indecipherable strings of code into a system that would publish these hieroglyphics into industrial supplies publications. I worked in a department with other new graduates, all young women with the title, “editorial assistant”, on the 19th floor of an equally inscrutable midtown building. No-one spoke to us, except a supervising manager, and occasionally, one of the single men in the marketing department next door. I wonder now, at the lack of training of us, the surety that the information about tractor-trailer parts in Cimarron, Kansas was importantly publishable. I’m still not sure who read these heavy volumes, issued by the hands of undervalued city girls, tapping out abbreviations of farming machines. We were kind of a machine ourselves. I am less sure how this corporation was in business. When it became clear that the history of a Kansas town named Cimarron was much more interesting than what I was supposed to be doing, and that I was writing poems with the names of the towns, Duboistown, Medicine Bow, Grenada, that my days at Thomas Publishing, Inc. were numbered.


I carried two or three jobs at any given time during my program work at Fordham University, working as a tutor, in the offices of financial aid and security while I studied full time. I duly visited the Career Services department and poured through the job listings available. Unfortunately, if there was career advisement taking place through the department, it was not made known. My professors were generous and encouraged my classmates and me in our work in their courses. The jobs I got were usually in higher education, waitressing and house cleaning. The strange, Bartlebyish job at Thomas, Inc., was gained through a New York Times ad. More happily, I found a job as an English as a Second Language teacher at a language school, also through the Times. That teaching job led me to another teaching job, a teaching fellow at my CUNY program. I am grateful for this experience, and hope to explore it in the future.


Career service networks and recruitment modules are still a bit puzzling to me. At my workplace, I collaborate with other staffers and students to develop activities and networks that we believe will support conversation about looking for the next step up. We rely on the official department of our parent school to work directly with our students. I compare the experiences of my students with my own. As a liberal arts and social science leaning thinker, I’ve learned how to look for myself, and represent my own work to potential employers, somewhat. I’m no longer the vague office girl, window shopping at lunch. Now, my work at a labor school with adult students, nurtures and pushes me along. I’m the one getting a real education, working with striving and politically active people who wear about five different hats at the same time: employee, parent, daughter/son, community member, union member, civic participator. And maybe, that is the real story here.

My Last Job After College

My first big job came before I graduated college, maybe in spite of graduating college.

Working summers in my father’s store-front print shop, I learned a lot about typesetting, printing, images and pages. But I also consumed too many books and movies about intrepid reporters, hot scoops and stop-the-presses.

In April of my junior year of high school, I wrote a letter to a little local newspaper saying that I would do anything to be a writer, a reporter, un journaliste! I’d wash windows, scrub floors, fetch coffee — anything to be near the newsroom. It turns out that just then little local newspapers were  buying their own publishing computers, and they needed somebody who knew about typesetting and printing, images and pages. I got to write stories from time to time, but I really loved making all the new computer gear clackety-clack in harmony.

It was very high tech, a half-dozen years before the IBM and Apple PCs. There were no video screens or disk drives. We punched out news copy onto paper tape along with program code and ran it through refrigerator-sized computers that would expose the pages onto film. I worked a 40-hour week through the end of high school, getting extra credit in English class for my tales from the newsroom.

College was tough because my family never had a lot of money — or anyone who’d ever gotten beyond twelfth grade. My first college loan included $1,200 to pay off my Catholic school tuition so the good fathers would give me my diploma which landed a small scholarship to St. John’s University.

I worked my way through two years at St. John’s by freelancing nights at small computer typesetting start-ups all over Manhattan, learning everybody’s code and seeing the best and the worst bosses side by side. Then I got a big job at a sizzling hot computer start-up, but it had to be days, so I transferred to the New School for Social Research where most classes were after 4:00 pm.

There weren’t a lot of computer science classes in those days. I took one programming course in COBOL, an ancient accounting language, but my tray of punched cards wouldn’t run at the NYU mainframe lab where the New School borrowed computer time. Nobody was a computer expert in the beginning. We were all learning on the job, making things up as we went along. Great mistakes were made, but so were great breakthroughs … and great paydays.

The sizzling hot computer start-up took off, bringing national recognition, more paydays plus a couple more start-ups.  Along the way, I finished college and got my degree, but they had to mail it because I was traveling on business during graduation.

I’m happy I got my BA. I think it made me a better thinker and speaker, but it’s hard to track the skills learned in the classroom into daily life. The New School then was a hot bed of post-structuralism with those French criminals Foucault and Derrida, and I’m glad I graduated just ahead of the horrors of critical theory and identity politics that have so defiled the academy.

Four years after my New School degree, I walked out of that sizzling hot job to start my own research and consulting business. I never worked a straight job again, but I did hire a lot of college graduates.

Jack Powers