Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In Response to Jenny Black - A Report From My Crystal Ball

Man with crystal ball
Jenny Black, in her EDM310 Midterm Reflection, wrote:
I have a personal one for you Dr. Strange. I don't mean this in a derogatory way, but I was just wondering why you are so sure that our schools are going to become web-based? Does that mean we won't be going to school anymore, and school will be considered our own computers? I'm still not exactly sure of what you mean by web-based schools. I honestly would like to know what you believe is going to happen, in detail.

My response: Your questions are not derogatory at all. They have stimulated me to clarify and write down what I think will happen in the profession of which I have been a part for 46 years. And I don't think "web-based schools" is my term so I will not respond to what that means.

You really want to know what I see in my Crystal Ball? It changes from time to time, especially when I wipe it to clear the dust or fog. But here is what I would say today:

These predictions are pretty clear:
1. Most information will be collected and processed electronically.
2. Those who do not have the electronic tools to use with this information, or who do not know how to use them, or who refuse to use them for a variety of reasons, will be seriously disadvantaged, especially economically.
3. Text will have run its course as a separate medium of communication. It will be used only with other media, especially video, audio and images.
4. The communities and individuals with whom individuals interact will be worldwide and even though many of these relationships will be virtual they will be important and intense.
5. Many businesses will be radically changed or non existent: newspapers, book publishers (print), television stations, radio stations, hard disk manufacturers, some computer companies (old school), schools, churches, universities and may others.

Now specifically about schools and universities in the next 15-20 years. I will admit however, that the crystal ball is a bit foggier.
1. If schools (K-12) still exist in 15-20 years (2025-2030) they will provide very different functions for society:
a) They will be baby sitting institutes in many instances
b) They will be fewer in number as a result of a great shift away from them by parents who want to maximize the learning of their children
c) They may be, as one of my cynical friends says, prisons. I think that may be too harsh a term. Daytime Detention Centers might be more appropriate.
d) They may be centers of evaluation - where assessment and certifications take place
e) They may be physical activity centers - operators of sports teams, exercise activities
2. If universities still exist in 15-20 years (2025-2030)
a) They will be centers of evaluation and certification
b) They will be centers for advising as to the most important strategies for learning
c) They will be centers for research financed by government agencies and, in some cases, industry
d) They may be operators of sports businesses which may be farm teams of professional teams and/or operators of sports institutes in what remains of "schools"
e) They may offer apprenticeships through their research centers to apprentices of high standing
f) A few may be collective organizations of independent producers of multimedia "learning" products, much like a firm that provides an "umbrella" to independent agents

Do I think K-12 institutes will still exist in some form? Yes, but public support for public schools paid for by everyone will be severely undermined and efforts will be made for the parents of students to pay for all school costs.
Do I think universities will still exist? I am certain that a few will, but the number of colleges and universities will be radically reduced.
Do I think there will be teachers. Yes, some people will be called that. But they will not resemble teachers as we know them today. This applies to both K-12 and universities.

Am I eager for this to happen? In some ways yes. In some ways no. Whether I like it or not is irrelevant. It cannot be stopped. So I need to decide what I am going to do. I have an answer: My goal is to prepare my students as best I can to be leaders of the transitions that will occur as opposed to being victims of the changes that are ahead.

Where will most learning take place? Independently, in family groups, in small community organizations that take advantage of all the new technologies that will have been invented by 2025. Remember the Internet is just 15 years old. Cloud computing as we know it today is less than 5 years old. The ability to communicate instantly, freely, and with video throughout the world is about 3 years old. That is only 20% of the time shortest frame I am reporting from my crystal ball. In my Class Blog post for October 21, 2010Think About This! I discussed Apple. Apple is the second largest company in the world based on the value of its stock multiplied by the number of shares outstanding. Only Exxon-Mobile is larger. And 60% - yes 60% - of Apple's revenues come from products that did not exist 3 years ago. Newspapers are failing as we speak. Huge booksellers, having put most of the small books sellers out of business, are going into bankruptcy themselves. Almost all video rental stores are already closed because of bankruptcy. The way doctors are organized as well as their interaction with hospitals are radically different than they were 10 years ago. Music producers and distributors are very different than they were 10 years ago. Twenty percent of people in front of television sets between the hours of 8 and midnight are watching Netflix films. The first audio CDs were released 18 years ago in 1982. How many are you buying these days? I could go on and on. The point is that change is becomming more rapid in all aspects of our society.

How confident am I in my predictions? I think I am probably wrong. If I am it will be because the changes I predict will happen more quickly than I expect.

What do you have to do?
1. Master the new tools.
2. Make sure your children master them.
3. Participate in the invention of what learning will look like next.
4. Be prepared to reinvent your job, and probably your profession, many times during your lifetime.
5. Do not be fooled into thinking that you will be a "teacher" like your teachers were.
6. Master the art of problem solving, asking questions, adapting to change, directing change. These skills will be the key to economic survival.
7. Learn Chinese (unless they adopt English first).

Thanks for getting me to write this down. It will be interesting to see what kind of responses I get.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Think About This!

Graph showing Apple sales 2005-2010
Change - It is Vital - In Business and Education

Think about this:
60% of Apple's sales are from products that did not exist three years ago!
Source: Asymco

Think about this:
Do you still believe that schools and the roles of educators can remain the same?

Monday, October 11, 2010

How Do I Evaluate Them?

Friday October 8 a tweet of @tucksoon caught my eye. He asked How Would You Assess This?

If YouTube is blocked and you cannot watch the video, Click Here.

The link in the tweet takes us to a post in the blog Education Stormfront. The author of the post is crudbasher who describes himself as "a Teacher and Education Futurist at Full Sail University". Two main points are made by crudbasher: 1) The skills and knowledge of Yeol Eum Sum cannot be evaluated by standardized tests that are the mainstay of education today and 2) the internet and the new communication tools will allow the Yeols of the world to interact with equally creative souls resulting in an "outburst of creativity ... like nothing since the Renaissance".

A Similar Question from Me

How also would you evaluate the teaching skills of two of my undergraduate students who assist me in EDM310? I have three undergraduate assistants who manage the EDM310 lab and assist me in commenting on student blogs. Last Friday I saw a comment left by Anthony Capps and Stephen Akins on the blog of Carey Dekle. If YouTube is blocked for you, Click Here. Carey had watched Wendy Drexler's The Networked Student (if YouTube is blocked, click here) and a video by one of Wendy's 7th grade students entitled My Personal Learning Environment. If YouTube is blocked, Click Here. Here is the comment left by Anthony on Carey's Blog:

Hi Carey,

Your response was a little against the grain in contrast to some of your peers... So Stephen and I decided to make a podcast response to it. Please watch our response by following this link.

We have a question for you at the end, please respond in this thread or with your own video which you can post on my blog!


Watch the video Stephen and Anthony made. Then answer my original question: How would you evaluate Anthony and Stephen if you were assessing their teaching skills. I might say that their response to Carey was spontaneous and had not been encouraged or condoned by me. But I did react in an additional comment on Carey's post and in an email to Anthony and Stephen. Here's what I said to Carey (and Anthony and Stephen): "You are really lucky to get a 'non-traditional' comment on your blog post. A podcast reply! My responses have been just text. Anthony and Stephen have set an example, however, that I must learn from.

I am eager to read/hear/watch your response. How will you reply?"

Standardized test? Impossible. But I can and did evaluate Stephen and Anthony. And you did too if you followed this story. And you would be delighted to have them teaching with you, wouldn't you? Even they have no degree and are merely undergraduates.

Another question. How would you evaluate the 7th grader? My students, after watching her video, indicated that her PLE was a lot better than their PLNs. Of course. That's what I intended. They have another 8 weeks to continue working on their PLNs before I evaluate them (without a standardized test, I might add). And they have a lifetime to continue making their PLNs more powerful and important.

This is what we need to foster. And if we must change our evaluation techniques to do that we better start immediately!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Connie and Her iPad

i pad
Of what use is an iPad? That is what I asked myself when I pre-ordered mine so that I would get it immediately upon release. Of course my question did not deter my desire to have one on Day One. I am an Apple gadget freak.

What happened? Well, we decided to take a trip and since the first shipments had no G3 access, I had to order another one for travel. The same question applied then too, but was also ignored by me.

Meanwhile the first iPad was being used. In the kitchen. I had bought a keyboard/stand and tried that out on the kitchen counter where there are lots of empty plugs. Connie (my wife) immediately began looking up recipes and using the iPad on a stand. The iPad became an electronic cook book

Now a bit about Connie. Connie is NOT a computer person. Connie's number one passion is Golf. Computing is at the bottom, whatever number that would be. Connie does correspond by email. And she does search the internet. Three or four times a year she creates a document. I think she can change fonts and the size of fonts. But I know for sure that she does not use tabs. I have to show her every time how to align items on her handouts for the golf club. That's it.

So what has happened to the iPad? Well, since Connie had begun to use it, I showed her how to check her email. She liked this very much because she did not have to go upstairs, wait for the computer to boot, locate the correct icon to double-click, and reply to the sender.

So for several weeks the iPad was used for internet access and email. Connie also began removing the iPad from its keyboard stand and accessed golf scores when they were not being shown quickly enough for her on The Golf Channel. Then Connie began looking up movies, actors and actresses. (She has begun insisting that we watch a movie together most nights "so that you [me] will get off that xxxx computer"). And then Connie discovered Netflix on the iPad. She is starting to use the Netflix icon on the iPad, but still relies primarily on the disc in the mail. I have ordered an Apple TV. Streaming from Netflix controlled on the iPad is next I predict.

Two weeks ago Connie said she wanted some music downstairs. I told her my complete collection of over 4,000 songs was accessible on the iPad through iTunes. After a 30 second demonstration she declared that it was too much trouble and she wasn't interested in learning to use iTunes. So I showed her Pandora. She could not believe that she could, in essence, have her own radio station. For the first week and a half her only entry was The Carpenters. Now she says she has eight different artists in her Pandora list. Amazing!

And NPR News and Music are now a presence in the kitchen compliments of the iPad.

When I told Connie earlier this week that I was going to take the iPad to school for the lab, I was told it no uncertain terms that "you will not take my iPad to school."

What is interesting about this story?

Many people are like Connie. They dislike computers. My guess is that when they have a chance to use the iPad they will love it as much as Connie. As technology becomes more compact, easier to use, accessible instantly and from everywhere, even the resisters will be swept along.

Will this happen in schools where there continues to be resistance, or at least reluctance and unwillingness? I think so. I hope we are preparing our new teachers to take advantage of the opportunities they will have in this new world where all information is in all places at all times and where we can talk with and see everyone else. And all for free. With the spread of the new technologies maybe we will come to understand what changes in teaching techniques will be necessary. If we don't, schools won't last long.

I will address the many issues raised by this last paragraph in later posts.

What about my iPad you ask? Am I going to put my iPad in the lab for students to use? Absolutely NOT. It has become a necessary part of me. I can watch the required movies nightly with the internet in my lap!