"Extraversity" via Annie
Having recently spoken in Hamilton about the Ten Trends at a CORE Breakfast my mind is already thinking forward to what lies on the horizon for 2013, so it was with interest I read this morning the latest McKinsey report on Disruptive Technologies: advances that will transorm life, business, and the global economy.
What I like about the McKinsey report is that it attempts to look beyond the usual hype and speculation that comes with an emerging technology, and dig a little deeper to examine the potential impact of that technology, why they consider it disruptive, and what both the benefits and challenges may be.
The report identifies twelve disruptive technologies, and provides a very useful analysis of each – supported by clear and easy to interpret graphics that make the task of digesting all of the information that much easier.
The image below is captured from the pop-up gallery of disruptive technologies that can be accessed from the web site. It lists the twelve technologies that are examined in the report, showing the estimated potential economic impact of each.
Of interest to me is the criteria used to determine what the McKinsey group actually mean by a disruptive technology. They identify three key things – speed, range of impact, and potential scale of economic value, which are represented in the report as follows…
- The technology is rapidly advancing or experiencing breakthroughs. Disruptive technologies typically demonstrate a rapid rate of change in capabilities in terms of price/performance relative to substitutes and alternative approaches, or they experience breakthroughs that drive accelerated rates of change or discontinuous capability improvements.
- The potential scope of impact is broad. To be economically disruptive, a technology must have broad reach.
- Significant economic value could be affected. An economically disruptive technology must have the potential to create massive economic impact.
- Economic impact is potentially disruptive. Technologies that matter have the potential to dramatically change the status quo.
Then there's the 'so what' part of thinking about all of this. Towards the end of the report, the authors summarise what they see as the implications for governments and policy makers. Among their advice is the following which I see as having huge implications for those of us involved in preparing young people for their future;
The biggest challenges for policy makers could involve the effects of technologies that have potentially large effects on employment. By 2025, technologies that raise productivity by automating jobs that are not practical to automate today could be on their way to widespread adoption. Historically, when labor-saving technologies were introduced, new and higher value-adding jobs were created. This usually happens over the long term. However, productivity without the innovation that leads to the creation of higher value-added jobs results in unemployment and economic problems, and some new technologies such as the automation of knowledge work could significantly raise the bar on the skills that workers will need to bring to bear in order to be competitive.
With the world of work predicted to change so markedly, it's simply no longer acceptable to sit back and us the nature of our assessment and other excuses as reasons for no pushing forward with a more future-focused view of our curriculum and how we present it. As educators we need to be thinking more critically about the offerings we provide in our curriculum, and just how seriously we take the 'front half' of our (NZ) curriculum framework that deals with key competencies, for example.
In our schools, and in society more generally, we have some serious questions to address…
- Do we truly understand and have grappled with the implications of what it means to 'raise thebar' on the skills that workers will need to bring to bear in order to be competitive? What does this mean for our students? what does this mean for the current and next generation of teachers in their own professional lives?
- In our vision for the students in our schools currently, what is the emphasis we give to creating 'knowledge workers' for the future? Do we have an accepted understandin of what that means? How do we assess this?
- As we move towards a more knowledge-based economy, with greater levels of automation of how do we avoid the consequent potential for unemployment and negative economic impact?
I have recently returned from the Michna Palace in Prague where I was at an inter-disciplinary conference on Storytelling: Global Reflections on Narrative. It was a purposefully small group, by conference standards – perhaps 80 at most and all delegates at some point were speakers, presenting their ‘stories’ or research from a variety of different contexts. We had social workers, architects, educationalists, therapists and photographers amongst others, who discussed the use of stories, storytelling and story gathering from these varied perspectives.
Patrizia Sanguedolce and Sarah Jones outside the conference
It’s the first inter-disciplinary conference that I have attended and the mix of people brought a richness to the discussions which followed, helping me to form new ideas and connections that might not otherwise have occurred to me. As well as being inter-disciplinary, the organizers banned power point, citing the never-ending text filled slides as the reason why. So it surprised me, that instead of finding some other creative way to impart research about stories, a large number of the delegates decided to read out their papers, verbatim. It seems paradoxical, that those who have embraced the art form of story telling, were not able to create stories of their own research. If I wanted to read someone’s paper, I could have downloaded it from the conference website without leaving the comfort of my own home. I had a go with a Prezi and you can access it here although you’ll need to read the paper here, to make sense of it.
Of course not all of the delegates fell into this category. There were some truly excellent performances – not least from a Suchitra Mathur from India who discussed the portrayal of men and women in Bollywood Film or the presentation on Andrei Bitov, by Marina von Hirsch about how the Pushkin drafts have been recited to an accompaniment of improvised jazz. We heard 2 minutes of this and the result was really powerful. Although hard to put into words – there was a deep resonance with something almost primeval – perhaps because the focus for me was on the sound as I don’t speak Russian. It reminded me of a Radio 4 programme, which I listened to on the way to the airport, presented by Robert Winston on the Science of Music, where he suggests that our first language as cavemen was sound or music, rather than words.
Later that afternoon, another presenter, Joanna Coleman suggested in her presentation on the Role of Fairy Tales in Environmental Education, that actually our first language, before sound, was body movement. Her presentation put forward the often, alternative Western view that we humans are linked with animals, communicating through mind, spirit and movement as well as sometimes sound. Giving examples from American Indians, she argues that it would do us well to reconnect with this notion. She convinces us to,
put aside our human voices and speak in the tongues of the wild world, or take off our skins and enter the fur of the forest-dwellers. As the impending environmental crisis urges us towards a change of thought and heart, we are confronted with a paradox; how is it that we empathize, to a large extent, only with our own species, when our tales remain those in which courtesy to other species is, according to Marie Louise von Franz, the only consistent moral imperative?
Here she is talking of the role of fairy tales and with delegates from around the world, many shared reflections from their own cultures – particularly from India and South Africa.
Bull Elephant, eating outside our house - Swallows Camp
And it made me reflect on how I have changed since we have had our house in Mpumulanga, where we can open the door and a lion might be walking past or hyena might circle us a night whilst we cook outside on the campfire. I have always been interested in nature and have felt ‘in touch’ with the natural world, but the intensity and relevance of this has increased ten fold since we’ve had our house. I listen for the oxpeckers flying overhead, warning us of potential danger, the impala bark telling us a predator is close by or when the frogs stop croaking, suggesting that a leopard is walking past. And I listen to the animals talking to each other, the honey guide and honey badger, the dwarf mongooses and the hornbills and I wonder, how do we attempt to join in the communication with these animals and birds? What do we give them in return for what they give us? Perhaps a sanctuary away from those who choose not to listen, who have thrown away their connection to the wild, those who have lost the story of who they really are.
Coleman, J. (2013) Storytelling and Harmonious Dwelling: The Role of Fairy Tales in Environmental Education Available from http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/probing-the-boundaries/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Coleman.pdf last accessed 23rd May 2013
I have a 15 year old son who is in year 11 at high school this year. Since age 10 he has been keen on learning how to program computers, beginning with Scratch while he was at intermediate school, and moving onto building his own mods for Minecraft and teaching himself a bit of Java by watching videos on YouTube in more recent years. He had to wait until this year however, his third at high school, before a course was available for him to participate in at school, where he could receive credits for one of the areas he is passionate about learning in.
He's not alone – I know if several families with kids who are keen to learn how to 'make the applications' that others use on their devices – to understand what makes it work and to be able to problem solve for themselves anything that may go wrong. Some schools do a great job in providing courses that allow students to do this, a lot of is is extra-curricular. For the most part, however, there isn't too much emphasis on teaching programming in our schools – at any level. There are, of course, many reasons for this. While it's true there are kids out there wanting to do this, there are often not the numbers in any one school to make it a viable option to offer. Second, we simply don't have the number of teachers with the necessary skills and knowledge in all of our schools who can teach it competently to be able to staff all of our schools.
A story I read this week titled Teaching our kids to code: an economic and social justice issue prompted this post as I reflect on this issue. The article reports on the work of entrepreneur and investor, Hardi Partovi, who wants all high schools to offer computer science classes because it represents a growing cluster of job skills. To fix the problem Hadi launched Code.org, a non-profit foundation dedicated to growing computer programming education. The front page is worth a look with its extensive list of high profile people adding their support for the initiative – and the video above is from the site. A quote from the article sums up the motivation for the site:
[Code.org] is packed with stats that make the case for coding. For example, did you know that coding jobs aren’t just in tech? In fact, almost 70% of them are in other sectors–most businesses need people that can code. However, there are fewer schools, teachers, and computer science students in the US than 10 years ago. By contrast, every high school graduate in China must take 4 credits of Computer Science–and yet in the US it’s not even on the menu in most schools.
This is where we need to start thinking more creatively about how we address the issue of providing coding courses in school. In the case of my son, the course he is now doing comes courtesy of Code Avengers. Each child in his class is provided with a log in, and the teacher becomes the mentor, guide, encourager etc as they work their way through the tutorials and assessments at their own pace. Not only does the use of this site provide the essential, instructionally-designed resources to support the course, the fact that it is online and bale to be accessed from home or school enables the students to complete the requirements at their own pace and from their own place – personalisation at its best!
The desire to 'take control' of the code and modify, adapt or simply build something from scratch is something we need to foster and encourage in our students if we're to successfully develop a generation of knowledge workers who can contribute to the economic future of NZ. This applies to more than simply learning to code – as illustrated in CORE's user+control focus in the Ten Trends for 2013.
I've been developing some thoughts for some time now about what I see as the key drivers of change for 21st Century learning – the things that will differentiate how learning occurs and how our learning insitutions and structures from what they were just a few decades ago.
The framework I've come up with consists of three key ideas:
- Ubiquity - Anywhere, anytime, any pace, any device
- Agency - ‘the power to act’ –informed/empowered/enabled learners
- Connectedness - ‘edgeless’ education, connected minds
I explain a little of the thinking behind this in the video above which I prepared in response to a request from Wayne Mackintosh from the OER foundation. It's being used as a part of a series of 'video signposts' where international thought leaders to identify what they believe to be key uncertainties for the future of education. Please visit the pages on Wikieducator and post your thoughts and feedback on what the different speakers have to share.
I have been working for the HoTEL EU Support Action recently at Brunel University and I was asked to produced a report on learning theories – a struggle, since there seem to be so many ‘isms’ and often I come across what seems to be the same theory, but from a different disciplinary or professional context.
So, this A3 poster of Learning Theory was central to the outcome and I would welcome feedback, especially since I will use it as part of my theoretical and conceptual framework for my PhD by Retrospective Practice. There is also the live this CmapTools version with clickable links to Wikipedia and InfEd.
Here is an extract from the report:
“Learning theory has been a contested scientific field for most of its history, with conflicting contributions from many scientific disciplines, practice and policy positions. With the continuing and disruptive influence of technology on information, knowledge and practice in all sectors of society it is no wonder that innovators, drawn to the interactive potential that computers bring to learning, are challenged by the theoretical basis for their innovations.
Formal education is also a high stakes, culturally & institutionally conservative activity, which serves more than one societal purpose, including:
- learner development and fulfilment;
- child care;
- preparation for citizenship, parenthood and retirement;
- preparation for work;
- selection for jobs.
Even in the higher, informal and professional sectors of education, complexity of education is matched by complexity of learning outcomes which may include:
- skills development;
- knowledge acquisition;
- improvement in strategic, analytic and creative capacities;
- attainment of competence;
- establishment of attitudes and values.
Each of these societal purposes and these learning outcomes demand different approaches and understandings for the theorist and may develop at varying rates or found to be diverse in relation to context, location and culture.”
Thanks to all the Twitterati that responded so positively when I shared an earlier draft at the HEA TeachMeet: @mike_blamires @stephenharlow @lenatp @LizaField @fleapalmer @laurapasquini @JuneinHE @ProfDcotton @RebeccaRadics @catherinecronin @oliverquinlan @STEMPedR @IaninSheffield @louisedrumm @valerielopes @marloft @ethinking @HEAEducation @suzibewell @DebbieHolley1 @cgirvan @suebecks
I took a moment over lunch today to watch this recently released TED talk video. It's of Dr Geoffrey Canada, President of the Harlem Children's Zone in New York. Raised in poverty and the son of an alcoholic father, Canada introduces himself as black and mad. What he's mad about is the state of education, and the fact that few people seem to be bothered to do anything about it. He recognises that our traditional system caters well for the top achievers, who go on to be successful as leaders in our communities etc., but that it is hopelessly inadequate in dealing with a vast number of children who are then 'trapped' in the cycle of poverty and underachievement.
Canada's work with the Harlem Children's Zone is inspirational reading – I am particularly attracted to his vision of an education pipeline, from cradle to grave, which is outlined in the HZC's Path to Sustainability strategy.
Canada's TED talk doesn't provide answers, or explore solutions – they are evident through exploring the work he has done with the HCZ for more than two decades. This talk is of a passionate educator, speaking from the heart, provoking, convincing, persuading, appealing – that enough is enough! It's time for real change. There are some real gems in here, including the story of how banks changed their business model, and of the importance of data, but how useless it is if it isn't available when we need it to inform educational decisions.
While the context Canada speaks from and about is a long way from New Zealand, his underpinning concern resonates with me. Enough is enough. Time for a transformation agenda.
A quick apology for the lack of posts, but the last few months have been exciting on a personal level, but little has happened that made me want to post.
In fact, I’m now on maternity leave and expecting our little baby in late June. The very fact that our child will be born has made me rethink education, learning and development over and over again… and my focus has been on early childhood more than ever before.
What has also gotten my attention has been the publication of Precht’s new book “Anna, die Schule und der liebe Gott” (Anna, school and God), a highly critical book about the current educational system in Germany. I expect to be spending some time reading and posting about it in the next few days. I’m curious to see how it fits with my ideas on education, learning and development, my critique of the state school system and my ideas of how I can make a difference.
There is potential there for this blog, so please don’t give up on me quite yet. Looking forward to sharing new ideas and projects, thoughts and wonderings with you!
It's now 20 years since the WWW was brought into the world, and to celebrate,The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) has recreated the website that launched it.
Preserving this unique piece of the world's history is really important. As Dan Noyes, the web manager for CERN’s communication group says:
I want my children to be able to understand the significance of this point in time: the web is already so ubiquitous – so, well, normal – that one risks failing to see how fundamentally it has changed. We are in a unique moment where we can still switch on the first web server and experience it. We want to document and preserve that.
The whole project is being housed at the original web address info.cern.ch, and is worth visiting as it contains the history of the web, as well as CERN’s plans to preserve that history.
I see and hear lots of reference to game-based learning these days – the concept isn't new, but is certainly seeing a resurgance of interest with ongoing development of computer-based games and the application of the principles of this sort of game-playing being applied to the design of learning experiences for students.
The National Foundation for Education Rsearch (nfer) and Futurelab have just published a report titled Game-based learning: latest evidence and future directions (PDF) which provides some useful perspectives on the types of educational values that can be attached to gaming.
The report first considers how the notion of game-based learning is defined, with a review of the literature and then offering some thoughts for moving forward. It then addresses the impct and potential impact of game-based learning on education, before considering specifically the implications for future reserach and implications for teachers and schools.
An excellent publication for anyone interested in game-based learning, particularly those looking at doing research in this area.
The main findings are as follows:
- The literature was split on the extent to which video games can impact upon overall academic performance.
- The studies consistently found that video games can impact positively on problem solving skills, motivation and engagement. However, it was unclear whether this impact could be sustained over time.
- Despite some promising results, the current literature does not evidence adequately the presumed link between motivation, attitude to learning and learning outcomes. Overall, the strength of the evidence was often affected by the research design or lack of information about the research design.