Watch this: Sunshine
… the medium is the message.
And this: Helvetica
While the Dynabook doesn’t seem so revolutionary today, this was certainly not the case in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Your own computer? That you program? How wild and futuristic considering that Thomas Watson had predicted worldwide demand of 5 computers. Interesting how these visionaries, like Kay and Goldberg, realized that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Many of us simply experience technology happening to us.
Universities had better not assume this posture. Momentum already appears that the university/college as institutions of higher education are being undermined by entrepreneurs who are seizing upon technology and opportunities availed by economic conditions to create change – i.e., invent the future (hey! I thought WE were supposed to do that!) See: A Boom Time for Education Start-Ups in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Gardner Campbell spoke to my students today on emerging trends that I suspect they hadn’t quite considered. I felt like they expected me to defend the role of the university in it’s current form, which I was not about to do. Given the role of personal “computers” as tools/devices with infinite applications – only limited by what we can imagine – our conception of “computer” as a box, portable, or tablet should already be changing. We have “smart” roads, smart cities, cloud-connected thermostats, smart bombs(?), etc. all with the ability to collect information and react to specific commands. In essence, the Dynabook is miniaturized and distributed throughout our environment in one form or another.
The fear is that humans will lose personal skills to deal with other humans and discontinue building relationships. I already witness this and it doesn’t involve computers. Religion and politics are very effective at dividing and dissolving human interaction. In my opinion, religions that preach discrimination, intolerance, and hate, are far more destructive to human relations.
I think this can/should be the future of education – with the assistance of ICT. Most (if not all) of the professor’s knowledge is available from other sources and in different modes. These include excerpts from text books, articles, web pages, videos, other instructor’s materials, etc. Why not conduct class sessions that are scavenger hunts for information about topics or the topics themselves? Students can be responsible for finding images, presentations, blog entries, research, etc. on concepts that then need to be stitched together in meaningful ways. Isn’t this what the instructor does? And doesn’t the instructor learn from the experience? I know that I’ve had this experience time and again. No better way to learn something than to be charged with helping someone else undertsand it. Instructors already create learning environments to do this, but what then is the role of the instructor? Tour guide? However, tour guides have predefined paths or tours – so what if the tourists/students want to go off the path? What if the tour guide/instructor does not have a prepared script to dexribe places encountered? The instructor then becomes a tourist also, but hopefully with a bit more experience or wisdom to help navigate and avoid dead-ends. This calls into question the traditional classroom role of the instructor as sage or guru for which they are compensated(?) But we should encourage “personal learning networks” because they are a more natural way of learning.
Can this become a more accepted model in the future? Students taking more self-guided tours without prescribed destinations? Perhaps suitable for certain course types but not all. How then do these experiences connect with professional expectations and career “needs”? Maybe more creativity or just less understanding of the terrain? I think we will find out.