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Next Horizon Forum roundtable: Education and the Technological Singularity

An invitation to the next Horizon Forum meeting at the University of Minnesota:

Education and the Technological Singularity

January 27, 2010

11:30am – 1:30pm

250 Wulling Hall (U of M East Bank)

At the next Horizon Forum, you are invited to join the discussion, moderated by Arthur Harkins and John Moravec, with special guests, as we probe into the deep future of education.

The New York Times’ John Tierney published an interview with Ray Kurzweil on accelerating change:

Now, [Kurzweil] sees biology, medicine, energy and other fields being revolutionized by information technology. His graphs [of accelerating technological change] already show the beginning of exponential progress in nanotechnology, in the ease of gene sequencing, in the resolution of brain scans. With these new tools, he says, by the 2020s we’ll be adding computers to our brains and building machines as smart as ourselves.

What does this mean for schools today? Kurzweil’s vision of the Singularity is criticized for being technologically deterministic. But, are there relevant social and cultural aspects related to the human experience? At the Horizon Forum’s next open roundtable, will explore what changes could take place in our schools and learning institutions within the next 35 years as technology transforms the human mind and human potential… and what we can start doing today!

Lunch and validated parking will be provided. Please RSVP your attendance by 10am on January 25 to Carole MacLean at cmaclean@umn.edu or call 612-625-5060.

The Horizon Forum is sponsored by the Preparation to Practice Group in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. For for information about the Horizon Forum, contact John Moravec at moravec@umn.edu or call 612-625-3517.

2009 in review: Results from the annual prediction game


[Photo by darkmatter]

Keeping with Education Futures’ annual tradition, I released five predictions for global education in 2009 early last year.

How did I do?

Much better than my predictions for 2008! Let’s look:

  1. No Child Left Behind won’t get left behind. Contrary to all the data that shows that NCLB is a miserable failure, it still has too many fans within the Washington Beltway to disappear. Besides, would the Obama administration want to send a message that they’re giving up on the noble quest of educating all children? NCLB is here to stay, but it will evolve into something else. Would we recognize it by 2010? — Yes, NCLB is still here, but it hasn’t changed a bit. Perhaps there’s hope for 2010?
  2. The economic downturn will get much worse before it gets better, but the international impact will be greater than within the U.S. Expect economic tragedies in China and elsewhere that depend on exports to the U.S. and other highly industrialized nations. — The jury’s still out on this one. We’ll have to wait until the recession is over for hindsight … especially the impact on China.
  3. With limits in available venture capital and new development funds within corporations, technological innovation will slow in the United States. Companies will focus on improving their core products and services at the expense of research and development. What does this mean for education, which is in desperate need of transformative, innovative technologies? — The effect on schools, which are dependent on tax revenue, was much worse in 2009 than I could imagine. Many institutions are abandoning thinking about innovative ideas to focus instead on how they will pay for basic services such as bussing and utilities.
  4. The footprint of open source software will increase, but development will slow down. Unless if a business is committing code to the OSS community, individuals and corporations have fewer time resources available to contribute to projects. However, OSS adoption will increase as a cost-saving measure in homes, offices and schools. (This contrasts with last year’s prediction, where I said “education-oriented open source development will boom.”) — The real growth in 2009 was centered around social technologies and social media. Many of these can translate into the education sector well.
  5. I’m keeping my money on India, and repeating last year’s prediction: India is the place to be. As more U.S. companies quietly continue to offshore their creative work to India, India’s knowledge economy will boom. The world will take notice of this in 2008 2009. — India continues to develop its human capital resources. I’m keeping my money here through 2010 as well.

Settlers of the Shift

New World Order 2.0

I like conceptual maps –tools for illustrating the relationships among ideas– and, Tero Heiskanen created an interesting one. It’s huge. Without any further commentary:

Settlers of the shift is an open map of experts, organizations and ideas that are scattered around the globe. It’s for people whose work is shifting us towards a better tomorrow – a New World Order 2.0. This map aims to encourage people to connect across sectors and enable you to tie partnerships with like-minded individuals.

And:

Six values are suggested as a common backbone for the partnerships:

  • Justice: fair and honest treatment of everyone involved
  • Co-creation: synergistic dialogue and collaboration
  • Meaningfulness: solutions to problems worth solving
  • Generosity: giving time and resources for the sake of giving
  • Dignity: acting in a respectful and ethical manner
  • Abundance: denying artificial scarcity and limitations

(Thanks to Pekka Ihanainen for sharing this find!)

Education Futures in the Netherlands

I’m back from a busy week in the Netherlands. First on the agenda was Education Futures NL, an Education 3.0-focused workshop collaboration between Education Futures and Helikon (Fons van den Berg). In addition to our collaboration, the workshop was supplemented with contributions from Cristóbal Cobo and the Knowmads. Meeting space for the event was generously provided by the Creative Learning Lab, a part of the Waag Society. The event attracted 40 of the sharpest minds in the country, most of whom indicated that they were prepared to bring disruptive innovations to education immediately. The group will continue to meet and develop ideas — stay tuned for further developments, and make sure to view Marcel de Leeuwe‘s photos from the event!

My second conference visit was with i+i, where I gave a keynote talk on innovative teaching and learning “in the cloud.” An interesting component of the conference is the close relationships between its members, who, often, are isolated as technology leaders within their institutions. The event was therefore an intellectual reunion for many. One interesting aspect was “TeachMeetNL09,” an unconference within the conference, organized by Fons van den Berg and Marieke van Osch. By capitalizing on the social aspects of the i+i group and refocusing it into an unconference, I believe that Fons and Marieke are pioneering new trends that we will see emerge in professional and academic conferences.

As a side note, I also joined the Knowmads advisory board. With these great developments (and more), I hope to be back soon!

Photo credit:

November agenda: Boundless conversations

The month of November promises to be a remarkable series of boundless conversations on the intersections of creativity, technology and innovation in education.

First and foremost, I owe many thanks to Fons van der Berg for organizing Education Futures NL at the Creative Learning Lab in Amsterdam, November 2. The event will feature talks by me and Cristóbal Cobo, with additional activities facilitated by Fons. The Knowmads will also pay us a visit. Central to our conversations is the question: How shall we create new educational contexts that are relevant to Society 3.0?

I will then travel to the i+i Conference in Lunteren (Netherlands) on November 4. This technology-oriented group is interested in the technological, social and philosophical opportunities afforded by computing “in the clouds.” The focus of my keynote: ICT professionals are among the first to notice how accelerating technological change is driving dramatic transformations in society and how we work -but, what about the classroom? Are schools lagging behind in providing meaningful teaching and learning for the 21st century? Unfortunately, in most places, the answer is “yes.” This talk focuses on the evolving needs of society and the economy, and the failure of education to address them. I will present a roadmap to the changes required of education, and open a discussion on “what’s required next” as technology-enabled innovators reinvent Education 3.0.

Later that evening, I will join up with Fons for TeachMeet NL 09, where they say, “the best technologies for learning are conversations and beer.” I can’t wait!

Tom Elko will report from the premiere meeting of the WISE Forum to be held in Doha on November 16 – 18, 2009. The Forum will draw leaders and decision-makers from governments, businesses, civil society, schools & universities, international institutions, NGOs, grassroots movements, top-tier media, multimedia, art and other creative communities around the globe. The event is bringing in an impressive list of speakers, including Gerhard Schröder and Biz Stone (Twitter). Of particular note to educational innovators, Curriki will accept one of the first WISE Awards for innovation in education.

Finally, I head to Helsinki on November 20 for a visit with a seminar at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Science on Boundless Learning. With both virtual and in-person components, the seminar is developing into a real treat to participate in. For a sample of the ideas we will explore, view the videos posted on the Boundless Learning blog.

More soon… stay tuned!

Kurzweil's Transcendent Man

We haven’t had an opportunity to screen Ray Kurzweil‘s the film, Transcendent Man, yet, but The Futurist magazine published a preview:

Scene: A movie theater on the west side of Manhattan during the Tribeca Film Festival. The audience teems with hip New York film students eager to see the world premiere of a new documentary. They’re joined, unexpectedly, by computer scientists, geneticists, and futurists from Denmark, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. The lights dim. After a brief opening, inventor Ray Kurzweil appears on the screen, looks squarely into the camera, and says, “I’m never going to die.”

So began the world premiere of Barry Ptolemy’s Transcendent Man, a feature-length film that chronicles Kurzweil’s ideas on the future of technological innovation. Chief among his forecasts: In the next 30 years, humans will use genomics, nanotechnology, and even artificial intelligence to escape death.

The film is in limited release and we will post more about the film and its implications for education as soon as we have an opportunity to view it. In the meantime, Read more at The Futurist or visit the film’s website.

TEDIndia fellowship deadline approaches

The organizers of TEDIndia asked that I share this reminder that the application deadline for TEDIndia fellowships is June 15, 2009. What makes TEDIndia extra-special is, that the TED Fellows program will include a group of 100 innovators from India and South Asia who have shown unusual accomplishment and exceptional courage. These young world-changers will get the opportunity to become a part of the TED community which will help amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

TED is looking for an eclectic, heterogeneous group of young thinkers and doers from the fields of technology, entertainment, design, the sciences, engineering, humanities, the arts, economics, business, journalism, entrepreneurship and NGOs. More information is available at http://conferences.ted.com/TEDIndia/

The role of technology in Education 3.0

Note: This article is a part of the Designing Education 3.0 series at Education Futures.

Little evidence suggests that new technologies in the classroom are being used to transform educational paradigms. At last year’s ASOMEX technology conference, ISTE‘s Don Knezek pointed out that student graduation rates — and their rates of interest in schools — have dropped over the past few decades.  At the same time, investments in educational information and communications technologies continue to expand. If technologies are not making an impact in the classroom today, should they power Education 3.0?

Yes, but we need to use technologies differently.  Moreover,

The problem is that Society 1.0 schools most often use technologies to teach old information rather than taking advantage of them to generate new knowledge.The use of technologies must be purposive and expand to the realm of adopting social technologies in schools. To harness the potential of open, socio-technological systems, 3.0 schools will need to rebuild themselves not on software, not on hardware, but on mindware. Such new technologies integrate the development of imagination, creativity and innovation –all critical in the 21st century workplace.  Mindware maximizes the potentials for human capital development that ambient awareness technologies permit.

Is your school investing in mindware technologies?

Designing Education 3.0

This week, Education Futures presents a series on Education 3.0. For a little background on this new paradigm of human capital development, you may wish to start with this chart on Education 3.0, or view this presentation on SlideShare.

This is my take on the future of education. Just as there are various conceptualizations of what Web 2.0 and future Web 3.0 might be, there are various conceptualizations of the Education 1.0 – 3.0 spectrum. Derek Keats shared one model he created with J. P. Schmidt a couple years ago, and a simple Google search provides links to various other frameworks or conceptualizations. My model focuses on the feedback-looped, transformative relationship between technology and society, and extends the relationship to transformations in human capital development. In brief,

  • Society 1.0 refers to pre-industrial, industrial and information age society that was based on linear, task-oriented relationships. The role of the corresponding Education 1.0 regime was to create graduates that would perform well in jobs with easily defined parameters and relationships.
  • Society 2.0 refers to the knowledge-based society that is driven by globalization and the growth of networking technologies. In this paradigm, information is no longer as important as the knowledge that’s created as we interpret information and create meaning. Increasingly, people are becoming more valued for their personal knowledge rather than their ability to perform tasks. Moreover, rapidly evolving information and communications technologies allow us to socially construct knowledge in new ways (i.e., through Twitter, Facebook and other social networking tools). The role of Education 2.0 is to develop our talents to compete in a global market with new social relationships, and where we are able to leverage our knowledge.
  • Society 3.0 refers to an emerging innovation-based society that is not quite here, yet. This is a society that is driven by accelerating change, globalized relationships, and fueled by knowmads. In an era of accelerating change, the amount of information available doubles at an increasing rate, and the half-life of useful knowledge decreases exponentially. This requires innovative thinking and action by all members of society.

Borrowing from the New Paradigm model that I recently published in On the Horizon, basic characteristics of the 1.0 – 3.0 spectrum may be summed in this table:

Paradigm

Domain 1.0 2.0 3.0
Fundamental relationships Simple Complex Complex creative (teleological)
Conceptualization of order Hierarchic Heterarchic Intentional, self-organizing
Relationships of parts Mechanical Holographic Synergetic
Worldview Deterministic Indeterminate Design
Causality Linear Mutual Anticausal
Change process Assembly Morphogenic Creative destruction
Reality Objective Perspectival Contextual
Place Local Globalizing Globalized

We will dive into more detail on these trends throughout the week.

What about education? This week, we will examine how Society 3.0 impacts Education 3.0:

Please visit often and submit your comments!