EDUKWEST Monday Ristretto

Monday Ristretto: Departure, Big Thinkers and Star Trek

To get you up to speed for the week ahead, we serve you a Monday Ristretto here on EDUKWEST by picking the most important reads from the past week, putting them in a grinder and extracting the essential information for a short and punchy brew.

As every week, we’ve got three shots for you. Larry Page blames the education system for a risk averse mindset. Andrew Ng leaves his day-to-day role at Coursera to become Chief Scientist at Baidu. Google acquires Word Lens, one more part toward a Star Trek universal communicator.

Not enough Big Thinkers

In his annual founders’ letter, Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page states that the current education system is too risk averse and therefore does not engrain the sort of thinking and open mindedness companies like Google need to build their business for the future.

Google is known for its moonshots like the self driving car or Google Glass but according to Page the company has a hard time to find young employees who are interested to work on such projects, taking risks and also being open to learning from failures. We come back to Google in our third story.

MOOCs are boring

At least this is one way to read the departure of Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng. Though officially nothing much will change with the new management structure under Richard Levin, the announcement is a confirmation of the rumors around Ng and his interest in getting back into machine learning and artificial intelligence.

One can assume that the offer from Chinese search giant Baidu was also interesting enough from a monetary standpoint. Stating that “the MOOC movement is healthy and growing” seems to be overly enthusiastic, though. Again, co-founders who leave a startup quite early are nothing new or rare, it essentially happens all the time.

But shouldn’t the MOOC movement be the one big idea to work on for the rest of your life? Or are MOOCs not that revolutionary and impactful after all?

Star Trek

Back to Google. The acquisition of Word Lens is a very interesting one. Launched in 2010 the startup created an augmented reality translation app for mobile devices. Users simply point the camera on a text to translate and the app then changes the text into the target language directly on the sign, menu, map or whatever you point the camera onto.

If you take this concept and put it into Google Glass people will be able to walk through a city and read all written text on signs, leaflets, bus stops etc even if they don’t understand the language. And that’s of course just the beginning. More on that in an editorial later this week.

Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at