‘The Future of Education’

As part of a strategic planning day tomorrow, we were invited to look at an article by Thomas Frey titled ‘The Future of Education’. The article came to us with some aspects highlighted, and we were asked for comments, so here are mine. Firstly, let me say that I have no issue with what was written in the article, and I think the main purpose was to get the group thinking. Most of my comments relate to the highlighted version we got, which you cannot see.

For what they are worth, my comments are:

    The article is ‘old’! It was written in March 2007, and while that isn’t that long ago, since then things have moved on. Indeed, some of the things ‘wished for’ in the article are now available, although perhaps not in the ideal way imagined. This does highlight an issue when planning, you need to make sure that the information is up to date – when discussing technology things can become out of date quite quickly.
    There are some constraints that you cannot change. I get the point about the Roman chariots and the impact on the Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters, but that is the way things are at this point. Yes, when planning, we need to ask what current systems/processes are holding us back, but in many cases we cannot do much about them. When planning, I think we need to recognise what these constraints are, and then use our influence to change these where we can. What you cannot change, work around, which is what the SRB engineers did.
    ‘The classroom touch point’. I agree that the ‘notion that learning can take place only in a classroom’ needs to be changed. There are so many additional ways in which learning happens. A related point is that often the learners feel that they need to be in a ‘classroom’ to learn, which can be a constraint. Eventually this will change. However, because some learners want to be ‘consumers’ instead of ‘producers’, perhaps an initial way of helping the learners (and some of the teachers) develop the new skills required is to use the classroom as the starting point for the journey into the future of education. This gives them a recognised base from which to begin. Peer learning may be a good place to start
    I wonder whether having a ’60 minute learning experience’ is still too long? Perhaps 20 minutes would be better – and it would be easy to break up content into shorter ‘chunks’. (This article on Wikipedia indicates that 20 minutes might be better)
    The main premise of the article seems to me to be that we need a ‘courseware builder’. We already have many different variations of this. And while it perhaps would be better if there was only one, that isn’t the way that it is at this point, and so decisions need to be made about which tools will be used (and often, this decision is made by others, another constraint we have to deal with!) I think he bigger issue is the content and how its broken down into suitable learning objects. As we have the courseware builders, as well as the ‘containers’ to hold the results of these tools, the emphasis needs to be moved to developing suitable processes to manage the content to meet the learners needs. This is a bigger challenge for educators.

The article is thought-provoking, and I look forward to seeing the discussion that results. To me, strategic planning is about three things; knowing where you are, knowing where you want to be, and then working out how you are going to get from where you are to where you want to be! And then starting the cycle again because things have changed.

Kids & technology

An interesting article:

5 things my 4-year-old taught me about technology

I know that my grandson (now 3 1/2) is comfortable with the technology, and is able to use his dads iPhone and iPad in ways I am still coming to grips with! These kids are growing up exposed to technology as a part of every day life.

‘How Online Innovators Are Disrupting Education’

Another article about how online education is changing things. Yes, it has an US focus, but many of the points are still relevant. See what you think:

How Online Innovators Are Disrupting Education

I agree with the point made that “online education isn’t the one and only teaching tool.” As we have mentioned previously, the tools used need to met the needs of the learner. Another point I found interesting is the comments in response to the article. There certainly are a wide range of viewpoints.

The ‘Digital Toddler’

I had heard of the term ‘digital native‘, but here is a new one – ‘digital toddler’! The article linked below explores how young children are growing up with technology, and quickly learning how to use it. See the article at:

The Birth of the Digital Toddler

Is ‘place-based’ learning on the way out?

In the article below, Bill Gates is said to have made some comments at a 2010 conference about technology making ‘place-based’ colleges less important than they are now. See the link below;

Bill Gates on ‘place-based’ colleges

The article states that this was said at the 2010 ‘Techonomy conference’. The link below goes to the Techonomy website. It will be interesting to see what comes out of that!

TECHONOMY 2011 website

Does education need an upgrade?

In the article linked below, Virginia Heffernan writes on the subject of whether education needs an upgrade to get learners ready for the ‘digital age’. Virginia quotes figures that indicate that many of todays learners will be working in jobs that don’t even exist today. Read the article at:

Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade

Did you read the comments as well? These can give an idea of the range of views people have about the subject, and they vary widely.

So what does this mean? Much will depend on your point of view. I think one of the issues is how do we design and deliver learning for something we don’t yet know. We cannot do that effectively. But we can give learners the skills they need to get ready for it, even if what we have to deliver now is limited by training packages or curriculum. One to do this is to help them learn how to learn, then they will be able to learn what they need when they need it (just in time learning).

This is best done by being a facilitator, helping the learners in ways that suit them. Use technology as a tool. Incorporate the use of technologies where appropriate, but help the leaner see that the tech is a tool to learn what is needed, not the end in itself.

South Korea to move to digital textbooks

An article from engadget.com talks about the plans of South Korea to move towards the use of ‘digital textbooks’. See:

South Korea plans to convert all textbooks to digital, swap backpacks for tablets by 2015

The links in the article have a bit more information.