Predictions Questions about the Next Decade

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Four Crystal Balls, by Valdemar Horwat ((Horwat, Waldemar. “Four Crystal Balls.” Flickr. 28 Mar 2009. Web. 27 Dec 2009. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturalturn/3393185440/>.))

Obviously, this started out being a list of predictions about 2010 and beyond. But, after working on it for about a week, I concluded that the questions we are asking, as we move toward the future are much more interesting. ..and, of course, the biggest and most interesting question for 2010 is, “What are we going to call it, two-thousand and ten or twenty-ten?” Anybody? Anybody?

Let’s get down to brass tacks, and getting down to brass tacks is actually a great way to begin. It’s not a very old expression, as expressions go — first used in an 1863 issue of The Tri-Weekly Telegraph, a Texas newspaper. The line said,

When you come down to ‘brass tacks’ – if we may be allowed the expression – everybody is governed by selfishness. ((Martin, Gary. “Get Down to Brass Tacks.” The Phrase Finder. Web. 23 Dec 2009. <http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/get-down-to-brass-tacks.html>.))

..and this, more than anything else, is what drives the future.  What we are able to imagine and invent is easy.  It’s limitless.  We can go in any direction we want.  The “want” is the question.  What will help us answer our questions, solve our problems, or accomplish our goals — as we perceive them or as we are persuaded to perceive them.  Will this new 3Gs iPhone help me do my job?  Will increasing my taxes bring down greenhouse gases, feed and house the poor, and provide a more relevant education for our children?

So, perhaps the best way to predict the future is to explore our questions/problems.

  • This first one really isn’t want-based.  But it’s one that nagging at us all.  What is Apple going to unveil at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, on anuary 26? ((Gelles, David. “Exclusive: Apple to host event in January.” Financial Times 23 Dec 2009: n. pag. Web. 28 Dec 2009. <http://blogs.ft.com/techblog/2009/12/exclusive-apple-to-host-event-in-january/>.)) My prevailing question is, “Will the built-in features of Apple’s alleged Tablet make it a (the) ideal learning technology? ..or will Apple have to contrive instructional applications as they (and others) have done in the past for their new ‘game changers’?”
  • This is a big one for me. Does learning performance, as measured by annual test scores, accurately and appropriately predict success in a future that is characterized by change? I’m looking for research to be done that correlates the level of life success in adults to their success as students.
  • Even if we conclude that high stakes testing is harmful to our children, no tipping point in the greater education conversation is going to kill it. An alternative is necessary, and I wonder what kind of killer app might emerge that makes electronic portfolio assessment (or other procedure) simply look too perfect to resist. Is there some new digital tool on the horizon or, might there be something that’s already out there, but has not yet reached a critical mass, that is going to change the game?  What’s the next big thing?  What will be the buzz at ISTE 2010? (see this conversation David Jakes started on Posterous)
  • Are we (teachers) going to become digital users or subscribers?  For decades we have been comfortable using packaged instructional content (textbooks, etc.) to help students learn, and this was probably necessary in closed learning environments.  But with astoundingly abundant information, might we become our own packers. I’m curious about the emergence of video search. Hulu, the web-based TV service, now allows viewers to search the closed caption text of qualifying movies and TV shows. ((Wei, Eugene. “Search Captions on Hulu.” Hulu Blog. Hulu, Hulu LLC.. Web. 28 Dec 2009. <http://blog.hulu.com/2009/12/21/search-captions-on-hulu/>.)) It’s a bit quirky, but another step toward making a universe of digital content more accessible and workable by teachers and learners. Will we take advantage of all this abundance of content, or continue to limit ourselves to the comfort of subscribing and prescribing?
  • What’s to come of social networking? Will we, as a larger defining education community, come to accept social learning techniques and integrate them, or will we continue to fear and block these opportunities?
  • Will the current economic bottom-drop curtail the proliferation of 1:1 learner to computer environments, or might it cause an acceleration? There are two other prevailing questions that nag at me,
    1. What technologies constitutes a true ubiquitous personal digital learning tool?
    2. How will ubiquitous personal digital learning tools affect the learning cultures of schools, classrooms, and our larger learning environments?
  • A huge question-mark resides over the future of textbooks. I continue to wonder if we might discover that going digital could be a cheaper way to help students learn than continuing down the road of pulp-wood based learning resources? ..and “Will somebody (textbook industry or open source community) create a new “textbook” platform that truly harnesses the qualities of digital networked learning?  Kindle is not the answer!
  • Where does my job as a teacher stop? I think that much of the network conversation, that will continue to take place out there, will be about this question.
    1. Just how much influence might I have, as a teacher, on the learning that my students are engaged in outside of my classroom and outside of the school’s bell schedule?
    2. How might emerging ICTs enable more interesting and potent learning experiences beyond the confines of traditional schooling?
    3. How responsible am I to pursue these opportunities or do I continue to follow the traditional role of teacher and leave tech and the networks to the “natives?”

OK, so I do have some predictions after all for 2010

  • Personal Learning Networks (PLN) will not get easier to explain.
  • We will see some form of augmented reality in the exhibit hall at ISTE 2010, so watch where you point your 3G iPhone.
  • Increased acceptance of social networking applications will continue, as security concerns are addressed and as we come to realize the benefits for conversational learning and learning management.
  • High stakes testing will die, and it will die quickly and embarrassingly.  But this will happen only after there is a compelling alternative.
  • The next big “cool” thing will be augmented reality.  But, although it will enable some interesting and useful instructional opportunities, like so many big “cool” things before it, AR will not live up to its hype.
  • Mobile and cloud computing will continue to rise in popularity and application, but not as fast as we wish.  They are both limited by infrastructure and penetration.

That’s it for now.  I may revisit this blog post in the next minutes or months.

Happy New Year!

david@onlearning.us'

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.