Robots fall, flirt, fail


Wall-E and his stuff


Behind the scenes at the final DARPA Robotics Challenge | The Verge

Personal Robots Are Charming, But Don’t Expect Help with Chores | MIT Technology Review

Robots playing soccer at this year’s RoboCup is like watching toddlers learn to kick


The first because it shows just how extraordinarily difficult it still is for a machine to do simple human tasks.

The second because it shows that robots may be better at social than at practical things. (And it looks cute but not as cute as Wall-E.)

The last because it is just funny to watch these things stare at a soccer ball. (Michalko)


Seven education innovations

Seven Inspiring Innovations In Education From Around the Globe

original article
June 5, 2015

This is a look at seven educational innovations from around the world. “Some of these innovations are technological, while others are philosophical. Some are brand-new, while others have been around for a few decades. All are enhancing student learning in interesting and sometimes counterintuitive ways.”

While the earlier ATF articles about obstacles to changes in education and legacy technologies relate to these innovations I was mostly taken by the robot English teacher. (Michalko)

Which library assets are functionally obsolete?

Breaking the Death Grip of Legacy Technologies

original article
May 28,, 2015

Willy Shih explains why many established firms will be slow to adjust and reap the benefits of new technologies because of a formidable obstacle: legacy assets and capabilities that they are reluctant to abandon. Why are older incumbent firms slow to adopt new technologies even when the economic or strategic benefits are clear?

While this article looks to manufacturing and consumer product development for its examples and narrative the underlying dynamic is one that you will recognize. We see this dynamic play out in libraries in the struggle to distinguish between “functional” and “economic” obsolescence of our assets. (Michalko)

Digital natives and the hyper-connected classroom

This Cool Infographic Maps the Evolution of Classroom Tech Through 2025

original article
via Big Think
July 2015

This infographic from the folks at Sungard details the evolution of digital technology in the classroom. It maps out what the tech classroom looked like in 2005, looks like now, and should look like in 2025.

Surfacing this at, Robert Montenegro observes that we are starting to use the term ‘millenials’ as a synonym for ‘young person’. In education the Visitors and Residents dichotomy which my colleague Lynn Connaway has helped develop is much more apt. (Michalko)

The thinking that keeps us from changing education

courtesy Richard Cabrera via flickr5 Rarely Considered Obstacles To 21st Century Education

original article
June 21, 2015

Jordan Shapiro makes the case that  the biggest obstacles to changing education are not economic or infrastructural. He says the most significant challenges are philosophical. “We are wedded to particular ways of thinking about school and learning and life that are limiting our ability to best serve our children.”

My favorite of his five is “We are really good at throwing away obsolete tech toys, but we stink at throwing away thought paradigms. This is the shadow side of our archival genius.”  Learning is no longer about memory and recall since we outsourced that to the machines. But our educational delivery mechanisms haven’t adapted and teaching often still favors that learning paradigm. Seems to me that  library service evolution is struggling to replace  a similar paradigm. P.S. You might also enjoy his attempt to define ‘Generation Blockhead‘. (Michalko)

Visualize, Quantify, Rotate

A Stunning New Journal By One Of The World’s Top Data Viz Studios | Co.Design | business + design

The Quantified Baby – The Awl

The Brief History of the Ferris Wheel | History | Smithsonian

The first because you probably won’t get one of the 500 copies so look at these pictures (and then look at their portfolio – wow).

The second to understand what happens when you combine a fitbit tendency with modern parenting.

The third because it’s summer and thoughts turn to carnivals, vertigo and queasiness.  Read The Devil in the White City on the beach for the Wheel’s  fictionalized history. (Michalko)

Praise vs. Criticism – Which Is More Effective?

original article
Praise vs. Criticism – Which Is More Effective?

May 15, 2015

Noa Kageyama answers the question by going back to a study of legendary basketball coach and educator John Wooden’s coaching behaviors.
I usually avoid the business-workplace-sports analogies. They are usually tortured and reinforce the heroic executive trope which is desperately beyond its expiration date. But this is pretty darn sensible. And actually rooted in an observational study Tharp, R. G. and Gallimore, R. (1976). Basketballs John Wooden: What a coach can teach a teacher. Psychology Today, 9 (8), 74-78. (A 2004 update is here.) (Michalko)

What if my output is a relationship?

multi-scalar strategies
multi-scalar strategies

original article

Managing Performance When It’s Hard to Measure
May 11, 2015

Jim Whitehurst,the president and CEO of Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source enterprise IT products, talks about how to do performance management where measuring someone’s “output”is about how they managed a team or influenced others or helped people collaborate better. He specifically discusses the challenge of managing someone whose ‘output’ might be a contribution to an external community.


It’s true that the library is a service organization within its parent institution and consequently a lot of the traditional modes of performance review and management apply. It is also the case that libraries increasingly have to overtly manage complex cooperative external relationships  that are much more like the open source community of volunteers reference here. My colleagues Lorcan Dempsey and Constance Malpas have both talked about the importance of managing these relations referring to libraries’ “simultaneous participation in cooperative efforts operating at multiple scales.” See for instance this presentation by Constance (slide 49 is the image for this post).  (Michalko)


Can this Silicon Valley approach fix primary education?

original article

Our Schools All Have a Tragic Flaw; Silicon Valley Thinks It Has the Answer
Pacific Standard
May 5, 2015

This article describes in detail a company called AltSchool, founded in 2013 by a former Google executive named Max Ventilla. The company has a big nest egg courtesy of well-known venture firms and a willing audience made up of Silicon Valley parents initially motivated to beat the San Francisco public school lottery system (you may or may not go to school in your neighborhood depending on a lottery). They intend to build a network of micro-schools that offer personalized, child-centered learning experiences. Bring to bear all the other tech trends -constant individual monitoring, immediate feedback, big data collection, real-time analysis – on the primary education process.

Boom. Here you have it. The quantified kindergartner. This might actually be a good picture of how childhood education should be delivered. But can these practices go beyond the elite that can pay $26K and more per year? Will what is learned have any chance of trickling down? And how hard should we be listening to what a five year old has to say? It’s not even clear to me how much we should be listening to the 19 year-old students in our universities. See for instance this modest rant  College students are not customers: A political shorthand that needs to die. (Michalko)

What does the unbundled college experience look like?

original article

This is the Future of College
May 18, 2015

reports that within the next 10 to 15 years, the college experience will become rapidly unbundled. Lecture halls will disappear, the role of the professor will transform, and technology will help make a college education much more attainable than it is today, and much more valuable.

Those of us at elite institutions (public or private, tech or liberal arts) may wave off the predictions in this article but a lot of it rings true. For those at mid-tier institutions the re-invention along the lines suggested here – shortened campus residencies, disappearing lectures, hands-on interactions and practicums, and a calculated responsiveness to the businesses and employment needs – seems likely to happen within the 10-15 year timeline.  Randall Bass, vice provost for education and professor of English at Georgetown University says “Some places won’t make it, a lot of smaller places will merge or disappear because the value proposition won’t be there.” Is he wrong? (Michalko)