Thursday, June 09, 2011

Future of learning (education)

Just settling back into things at work this week. A few articles from last week and this week to mull through and digest on the future of education.

First up, an article from the Guardian via Thom Cochrane, on ‘smartphones killing personal computers’ . A somewhat ‘one sided’ viewpoint, supporting the rise of the ‘smartphone’ with the comments providing a bit of a wake-up call. My take is that very very soon, the smartphone will be the one piece of hardware that does everything device. However, at the moment, not quite there yet, especially with mobile access to the web still comparatively expensive in NZ. Access to wifi has improved considerably though and one of the proposals for a ‘new’ Christchurch City is to ensure there is freely accessible Wifi throughout the city centre. Tablets are the main compromise at the moment, obviating one of the major disadvantages of smart phones, the small screen. Having now enjoyed reading off my Ipad, I am not too willing to read off my blackberry. However, a recent trip to China and Singapore, reaffirmed that reading Asian script off a small screen is actually quite reasonable as you can fit more characters on to a small screen then words using alphabets.

Next up, an updated ‘future of education’ brochure via email from Knowledge Works Foundation. Glossy and attractive layout, detailing a series of ‘trends’. They propose five ‘trends using ‘buzz words’ These are increased focus on skills required of all learners for – pattern recognition (the visual web), the ‘maker’(user/consumer created) economy, the new civic discourse (rise of democracy through citizen action), platforms for resilience (increasing flexibility and creativity to cope with rapid change), ‘amplified’ organisation (extending human capacity through technology requires new ways to do things) and ‘altered bodies’ (new understandings of how to link biological brains with technology to improve outcomes e.g. for the disabled). Also summarises the impact technological change has on individuals, organisations, systems, society, economy and knowledge.

And their latest blog, summarises the key trends from the New Media Consortium report for schools. These are the challenges posed by the abundance of information off the www to educators; school resources becoming more and more based in the cloud; technology continues to profoundly affect the way we work, collaborate, communicate, and succeed; expectations of ubiquitous computing are now commonplace; and innovation and creativity are increasingly perceived as high value.

Things have shifted in the last 5 years with regards to access to the mobile net and these changes are reflected in how we make use of both the hardware and software as tools. Deploying these tools cause us to change the way in which we do things, leading to a loop of manufacturers/developers, working to meet percieved consumer demands. In the end, as summarised in the future of education brochure, it's the human innate drive to 'play', tweak, innovate, improve which will always make things interesting and slightly unforecastable. It's this 'unknown' that makes life always interesting for all of us. Perhaps, to 'prepare' the next generation for the future, requires little intervention in the form of nurturing our children to keep their sense of curiosity and wonder, for education to NOT quench our desire to experiment and learn.

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