information

Announcing Education Futures Review

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The hard truth is almost nobody reads research papers.

With over 100,000 scholarly journals across all fields (and growing), expanding bodies of information and knowledge, and high subscription costs, many journal articles fail to get noticed. One-in-three social sciences articles and 80% of articles in the humanities fail to get cited at all. We can only speculate as to how many people are actually looking at any of the articles.

And, we’re always busy. This is especially true for leaders and organizational decision makers. There is a lot of great research out there, but we have little time to filter through the noise to find that which is most relevant for innovating in education.

Let us help.

On February 15, 2016, we will launch Education Futures Review: A digest of essential research and news in education.

For the time being, subscriptions are offered for free at https://www2.educationfutures.com/review

Education Futures Review is curated by top experts for decision-makers and leaders in K-12 and higher education. The newsletter is distributed as a monthly email.

The newsletter covers “pre-K to grey” education news and research from around the world, with an approximately equal focus on both primary/secondary and tertiary education. Topical areas include: learning technologies, new approaches and concepts about learning, innovation in education, insightful research, and case studies for leaders, incorporating experiences from around the world.

The challenge decision-makers and other leaders face with academic research in education is that there is a LOT of it, and much of it is out of reach: ignored on library bookshelves, behind paywalls, or even written in ways that are not appealing to general readers. Education Futures Review cuts through these obstacles to provide an expert-curated and global perspective of the changing educational landscape. We intend to build this publication into essential weekly reading for every decision-maker and leader in education.

The publication’s target audiences are decision-makers and leaders in the education industry that either do not have the time to keep current on the latest research and ideas in learning or those that do not have the resources to access the hundreds of journals and news sources to keep current to lead with vision in their fields. These groups are particularly important to sponsors as they have the greatest influence on purchasing and resource allocation within their organizations.

Photo credit: Johann Dréo https://www.flickr.com/photos/nojhan/3392024746/

 

Knowmad Society is now available!

Last December, we celebrated the completion of the Knowmad Society project by launching it at Seats2Meet.com in Utrecht. Now, we are pleased to launch the website, and offer the book as a free download, a free iPhone app, or a $0.99 Amazon.com Kindle purchase.

Full details about book is available at http://www.knowmadsociety.com.

Photo by Rene Wouters
Knowmad Society launch – Photo by Rene Wouters

A collaboration between John Moravec, Cristóbal Cobo, Thieu Besselink, Christel Hartkamp, Pieter Spinder, Edwin de Bree, Bianca Stokman, Christine Renaud, and Ronald van den Hoff, Knowmad Society explores the future of learning, work and how we relate with each other in a world where we are now asked to design our own futures. These nine authors from three continents, ranging from academics to business leaders, share their visions for the future of learning and work, and provide insight into what they are doing now to help drive positive outcomes. Former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart provides an afterword on his take on how to best support a knowmad society in the international arena.

Knowmads are nomadic knowledge workers –creative, imaginative, and innovative people who can work with almost anybody, anytime, and anywhere. Industrial society is giving way to knowledge and innovation work. Whereas industrialization required people to settle in one place to perform a very specific role or function, the jobs associated with knowledge and information workers have become much less specific concerning task and place. Moreover, technologies allow for these new paradigm workers to work within a broader options of space, including “real,” virtual, or many blended. Knowmads can instantly reconfigure and recontextualize their work environments, and greater mobility is creating new opportunities.

The authors explore knowmad society in terms of socioeconomic evolution from industrial, information-based society to knowledge-based society, to a creative, context-driven Knowmad Society. Educational and organizational implications are explored, experiences are shared, and the book concludes with a powerful message of “what’s it going to take” for nations and cultures to succeed in Knowmad Society.

Key topics covered include: reframing learning and human development; required skills and competencies; rethinking schooling; flattening organizations; co-creating learning; and new value creation in organizations.

Knowmad Society is published by Education Futures LLC with additional support from Seats2Meet.com.

Rage against the machine?

Will Richardson laments the “Khanification” of education:

Which begs the questions, a) what should an education degree or a teaching certificate require when increasingly anyone with a connection can be a teacher of content, and, b) more importantly, what changes when the world begins to accept a definition of “teacher” as someone who knows “how to make and post a video”?

Indeed, if we view teaching as simple information delivery, and teachers as delivery mechanisms, then teachers have something to be worried about: If they can be replaced by machines, they should be (paraphrasing Arthur C. Clarke).

But, most teachers would argue that they give students knowledge. Do they? To be clear, let’s define the differences between data, information, knowledge, and innovation.

  • Data are bits and pieces here and there — from which we combine into information;
  • Knowledge is about taking this information and creating meaning;
  • And, innovation is about taking action with what we know.

I think this is the greatest problem facing teaching: We need to decide if we want to train kids to regurgitate data and information, or if we want them to develop personal knowledge and enable them to act on what they know. We are trying very hard to manage “knowledge,” and, as a result, we confuse it with information. We focus on information delivery and the quality of students’ ability to repeat it (i.e., through standardized tests).

Knowledge isn’t something that is ideally generated through watching a Khan Academy video or sitting through a classroom lecture. Knowledge also is not about being able to Google something.

Knowledge is something that is more personal and has intangible qualities that combine tacit and explicit dimensions. What we know, individually, is not easily measurable through the principles of industrial psychology that we embrace in schools. It is qualitative in nature.

If we continue to treat teachers as content delivery machines, curricula as industrial blueprints, students as future factory workers, and obsess over measurements of industrial quality, the Khan Academy and its contemporaries have a bright future.

If we start to think of teachers as having a real role in knowledge development and its application (innovation!), then the world of teaching and learning will look very different. The Khan Academy in such a context becomes supplemental in an ecology of options, and not a replacement for an outmoded machine.

Is YouTube bursting higher education's bubble? Not so fast…

Last Sunday, Jeffrey Young wrote about the use of the Internet to deliver lectures in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The article centered on the work of Salman Khan, who posts home-made lectures on YouTube:

The lo-fi videos seem to work for students, many of whom have written glowing testimonials or even donated a few bucks via a PayPal link. The free videos have drawn hundreds of thousands of views, making them more popular than the lectures by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, famous for making course materials free, or any other traditional institution online, according to the leaders of YouTube’s education section.

Young…

[…] called up one of the donors, Jason Fried, chief executive of 37signals, a hip business-services company, who recently gave an undisclosed amount to Khan Academy, to find out what the attraction was.

“The next bubble to burst is higher education,” he said. “It’s too expensive for people—there’s no reason why parents should have to save up a hundred grand to send their kids to college. I like that there are alternative ways of thinking about teaching.”

A review of the comments appended to the article suggest that many readers agree that higher education faces serious competition from online knowledge repositories. What the article misses however, is consideration of the conversion of information acquisition/collection to personal knowledge. Schools such as MIT, through their support of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, have demonstrated their understanding that the real value of higher education is not the downloading of knowledge through texts and lectures, but rather through the production of new and personal knowledge that their unique environments offer. This tacit, added values provided by the institutions are what define quality higher education.

European colleges and universities are notorious for having embraced lectures over other course formats (i.e., seminars, laboratories). In these environments, student learning does not occur as much within lecture halls as it occurs outside of the classroom — through interactions with other students, individual and informal study groups, independent or directed research, etc.

In the age of YouTube lectures, universities need not worry about their bubbles bursting, but rather, what they should be doing in the classrooms instead of lecturing.

Five secrets futurists don't want you to know

Professional futurists continue to make outstanding contributions toward the development of understandings of the future, but is futures thought limited to this select group? Definitely not! With a do-it-yourself attitude, and leverage of the right resources, anybody can become an effective futurist. Here’s why:

  1. Nobody knows the future – don’t trust anybody who says otherwise. The world is changing at an accelerating pace, and it’s simply getting harder and harder to imagine what will happen next, let alone 20 years from now. We are all white belts when it comes to approaching the future. We have never been there before, and it is hard to model a world that does not exist yet. What futurists provide is their “best guess” — hopefully supported by quality research and trends analyses.
  2. Futuring is easier than you think. While some futures research methodologies, such as the Delphi method, require an element of professional experience and expertise, many others are easily done — and should be done — by just about anybody. Environmental scanning, for example, involves simply exposing yourself to as much data and information on a broad range as possible (i.e., reading as many newspapers as you can, daily). The futures wheel is related to mindmapping, and can be easily done within individual or group settings. Jerome Glenn and Theodore Gordon wrote an excellent volume on methodologies used by futurists, Futures Research Methodology Version 3.0 (Available at Amazon.com). For do-it-yourself futurists or those wishing to explore the field, it is an excellent resource that will get you going.
  3. We are all futurists. Few activities are as natural and universal among humans and human cultures are storytelling. We use stories to share our memories and imaginations of events that have happened or will happen. We use stories to share histories, fables and myths of the past. We also use stories to share visions of and for the future — including goal setting, promises of change, narratives of how we improve ourselves, and even apocalyptic nightmares. Even in our sleep, we often dream about future scenarios. Futurists explicitly tap into our stories and the power of storytelling to share their visions and dreams. So can everybody else.
  4. You can access the same information as professional futurists can. Unless if you’re divining knowledge from an isolated and highly controlled information source, the ubiquitous availability of data and information in today’s networked society mean that you can easily and cost-effectively build up your knowledge base of future trends. Moreover, you are welcome to join the same professional societies that professional futurists participate in, such as the World Future Society, providing you with the same connections and access to professional society-level knowledge they have.
  5. We all create the future. Futurists do not create the future, everybody does. Time may move forward, but the future does not just “happen.” Rather we share a responsibility to ensure that the futures we create are positive (ideal outcomes for humanity, the world, etc.). Moreover, in our interconnected world, we cannot disconnect from our futures. We cannot “futureproof” an organization. Nor can we find ways to fight it as individuals. Rather we can harness our inner futurists and lead in the creation of futures of our own design.

Toward a smarter planet

Last month, IBM took out a two-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal that touted their vision for a smarter planet. They believe:

The world continues to get “smaller” and “flatter.” But we see now that being connected isn’t enough. Fortunately, something else is happening that holds new potential: the planet is becoming smarter.

That is, intelligence is being infused into the way the world literally works—into the systems, processes and infrastructure that enable physical goods to be developed, manufactured, bought and sold. That allow services to be delivered. That facilitate the movement of everything from money and oil to water and electrons. And that help billions of people work and live.

Furthermore, they write that the smarter planet is powered by three drivers:

  • The world is becoming instrumented. By 2010, there will be a billion transistors per human, each one costing one ten-millionth of a cent.
  • The world is becoming interconnected. With a trillion networked things—cars, roadways, pipelines, appliances, pharmaceuticals and even livestock—the amount of information created by those interactions grows exponentially.
  • All things are becoming intelligent. Algorithms and powerful systems can analyze and turn those mountains of data into actual decisions and actions that make the world work better. Smarter.

What does this mean for the futures of our various institutions?  For our hopes in quality of life?  IBM examines these questions in their blog, Building a Smarter Planet. They don’t provide answers, but they get the conversation going.

With the world becoming increasingly instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent, what new opportunities and challenges are presented to education and human capital development systems?

Infoxication 2.0

On her blog, Elena Benito-Ruiz shares a draft chapter on “‘Infoxication 2.0’ as one of the main downsides to Web 2.0 and its educational application.”  Infoxication is a state of intoxication of the mind, caused by an overload of information. Although centered around technology, this is thought to contribute to a decline in intellectual performance. The problem is increased in Web 2.0 environments as such environments require both a push and pull of ideas.

Currently, she suggests, RSS readers (when used properly) provide a remedy for teachers and students. That’s a good way of compiling and simplifying information, but what can be done about new knowledge generation in the Web 2.0 world? Perhaps something beyond RSS tools are needed?

Read her text here…

"3G" education

Gustavo Andrade at UNAM in Mexico City just posted a video from a conference I participated in last April. He writes:

3G technology allows us to build an innovative vision of education. Education anywhere and at anytime, with a device that can be your own cell phone. John Moravec at the University of Minnesota explains the features of this form of learning, compared with that which is practiced among the brick walls that make up the classroom. For his part, Cristóbal Cobo of FLACSO-México explains that students and teachers must learn to unlearn in order to innovate in their teaching practices, and learn to respond to the accelerated pace of today’s digital revolution. If you want to know where is this “ubiquitous” information society in schools, take your time to see and hear this video. greetings

Piracy as a source of innovation

Matt Mason, author of The Pirate’s Dilemma, is pressing for a television piece based on his book and, “how youth culture drives innovation and is changing the way the world works. It offers understanding and insight for a time when piracy is just another business model, the remix is our most powerful marketing tool and anyone with a computer is capable of reaching more people than a multi-national corporation.”

Check out what he has to say about communication, information, knowledge and innovation in this teaser/demo: