National / International News
For the second month in a row, Americans spent less. More on that. Plus, Massive Open Online Courses [MOOCs] will be discussed in California today at the leading online course provider Coursera’s annual conference. A likely discussion on the agenda: the growth of corporate MOOCs. And many cities across the U.S. are trying to become the next Silicon Valley. The word "startup" is often thrown around as these towns try to compete in today's global economy. In Minneapolis, there's even an effort to attract young talent by pushing for a regional name change.
An Iraqi force has begun a large-scale operation to recapture Tikrit, according to state TV. Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, lies between Baghdad and Mosul.
The Mobile World Congress begins Monday in Barcelona, Spain. The agenda for the first day: 5G.
It’s still an emerging technology, but it’s got everyone excited because of what it promises. You can download movies in seconds, play your GIFs in milliseconds, and power the Internet of Things.
Even the FCC is excited: they announced late last year they they want to plan for 5G cellular networks.
“This is one of the most exciting things, in my mind, that the FCC has done in a while,” says Ted Rappaport, director of NYU WIRELESS, and a professor at New York University's polytechnic school of engineering. “They have issued a notice of inquiry about how we could we use a vast new spectrum resource that has never been used before for mobile.”
If this happens, says Rappaport, cell phone frequency will at least increase to ten times of what it is now: “Going from 2 or 3 gigahertz to 28 or 38 or 60 or 72 gigahertz.”
Those speeds would bring “enormous” bandwidth, he adds.
“Billions of dollars are being spent on the research and development for this 5G millimeter wave future,” says Rappaport.
Many cities across the U.S. are trying to become the next Silicon Valley. The word "startup" is often thrown around as these towns try to compete in today's global economy.
In Minneapolis, there's even an effort to attract young talent by pushing for a regional name change. That's right, a group of business leaders and academics think Minnesota should break away from the Midwest and establish a new region called the "North."
Tom Fisher is the dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota. He says this change wouldn't just include the land of ten-thousand lakes.
"The 'North' isn't just Minnesota. It also includes parts of Iowa, a big part of Wisconsin, parts of Michigan and parts of the Dakota's," Fisher said.
Fisher says this grassroots effort gives the region a chance to promote something it is often ridiculed for.
"In the 'North,' where we often apologize for being cold, at least in the winter, part of what we're talking is that there's a huge advantage to that," Fisher said.
Fisher says in a cold climate, people aren't as distracted during the winter months, allowing them to huddle up and be creative. He points to the innovative culture in places like Scandinavia. Fisher also says Minnesota and surrounding areas are overlooked for their contributions to the tech community, especially when it comes to health-care technology.
But Paul DeBettignies, a local tech recruiter, says a campaign centered around a name change won't do much to convince young innovators to flock here. He adds that bragging about being able to thrive in harsh winters might not be a good idea.
"I usually get asked four questions by candidates. The first one is: 'how cold is it?' And then: 'No really, how cold is it?' DeBettignies said.
DeBettignies says those behind the regional name-change should ditch their geography obsession. He says they will get more mileage out of simply promoting the good things that are happening in the startup community. He also says it wouldn't hurt to remind the rest of the world that it does get warm here during the summer.
One of the top online course providers, Coursera, holds its annual conference Monday and Tuesday. Coursera offers a long list of mostly free, massive open online courses, or MOOCs.
The latest trend? MOOCs designed for workers to sharpen their skills. Some corporations are now requiring them.
About half of the people taking MOOCs on Coursera are trying to upgrade their job skills. Some corporations have started paying for Coursera’s certificate programs.
MOOCs are especially useful for new fields like analyzing big data for things like credit scoring.
“Since it’s a brand new field, nobody studied it in school," says Rick Levin, CEO of Coursera. "Anybody over 30 never even heard of it when they were in school.”
So, their employer tells them to take a MOOC.
Jeanne Meister is founding partner of the consulting firm Future Workplace. She expects corporations to start demanding more.
“Custom MOOCs to fill particular skill gaps," she says. "That’s where it’s going.”
Meister surveyed 195 HR executives about MOOCs a year and a half ago.
70 percent wanted to use MOOCs for training. But there weren’t enough MOOCs on the subjects they wanted.
Their complaint now? Too many MOOCs to choose from.