I created the non-profit company Information Age Education (IAE) in 2007. During the same year I wrote the IAE-pedia article, What the Future Is Bringing Us (2007). I am now making good progress in writing the eleventh yearly article (year 2017) of this series. You can access all of these “futures” articles in the IAE-pedia (Moursund, 2017). You may enjoy looking at “old” forecasts and comparing what actually happened with what was forecast.
My intent in this multi-year series is to focus on changes in technology, especially Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and how these changes could or perhaps should be affecting our educational systems.
I recently encountered Jon Cohen’s article, Simpler, Safer Treatment Hailed as ‘Breakthrough’ Against Drug-resistant TB (Cohen, 2/15/2017). I asked myself, is this a suitable topic for inclusion in the What the Future Is Bringing Us series?
TB has long been a very serious worldwide medical problem. Quoting from a World Health Organization report (WHO, 2016):
In 2015, there were an estimated 10.4 million new (incident) TB cases worldwide, of which 5.9 million (56%) were among men, 3.5 million (34%) among women and 1.0 million (10%) among children.
In 2015, there were an estimated 480 000 new cases of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and an additional 100 000 people with rifampicin-resistant TB (RR-TB) who were also newly eligible for MDR-TB treatment.
There were an estimated 1.4 million TB deaths in 2015, and an additional 0.4 million deaths resulting from TB disease among people living with HIV. … TB remained one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide in 2015. [Bold added for emphasis.]
As I read about the new TB drugs, several thoughts occurred to me:
- Children with TB are typically not permitted to go to school. There is a well-justified fear of passing the disease on to other students. Wiping out or nearly wiping out TB will help in the education of a great many students and, of course, will improve the quality of life of many people.
- Much of modern medical research and practice makes use of computers and computerized tools and instruments. Some of the breakthrough research being done depends on genetic engineering, which is highly dependent on computers.
- Our schools and other educational systems should be keeping children and adults throughout the world informed on the progress that is occurring in dealing with TB, HIV, and the many other infectious diseases that pose worldwide threats (Mayo Clinic, 2017). What could or should children be learning about progress being made in the fields of health care and medicine?
More generally, here are two questions to ponder:
- To what extent should our schools help students to learn about major research and development-based changes that are going on in our world, and how such research and development is affecting or may affect their lives?
- To what extent should the preparation of teachers and other educators include a solid introduction into future studies (futurology) designed to help them better prepare students for the possible futures they may encounter as adults? (See Groff & Smoker, n.d.)
A Word of Advice
Future studies is an important area of academic study and research. The Foresight Graduate Programs website lists programs available from respected universities located throughout the world (Foresight Graduate Programs, n.d.).
Moreover, research in many disciplines can be thought of as attempts to accurately answer “What if” questions—what will happen in certain circumstances? Based on what I learned in a chemistry course I took many years ago, if I mix an acid and a base, I know I will get a salt and water. I believe (“know” with considerable certainty) that where I am currently living, the sun will set this evening and rise the next morning.
The “What if” questions in teaching and learning tend to be difficult to answer with certainty. However, researchers are making considerable progress in brain science (cognitive neuroscience), and in theories of teaching and learning (Moursund, August, 2015). The best of modern computer-assisted learning materials incorporate such research. Moreover, these computer-assisted learning systems gather considerable data from students using the systems. The student information being collected is used for further research on teaching and learning, and to improve current computer-assisted learning systems.
In contrast to research-based decision making, throughout recorded history we have had astrologers, soothsayers, fortune tellers, and oracles. Many people read their daily horoscope for fun. However, many others truly believe in the information provided by horoscopes, fortune tellers, and the various devices (such as a crystal ball or tarot cards) used to make predictions about the future. They often may act on such “advice.”
Now, here is something important to consider. Many people believe that they know exactly how to solve the problems of education and to improve our schools. They are quite willing to share their advice, but without providing adequate research data as solid evidence that their plans will be successful. I strongly believe that we must expect much more from educational leaders and change agents who are working to improve our educational systems.
What You Can Do
Our news media sources are replete with forecasts and dire warnings of upcoming disasters. Probably you have become aware of the “fact checking” now becoming a necessary precaution as various politicians and others make public statements that receive widespread dissemination.
Learn to become a fact checker yourself, and be careful to not spread rumors and forecasts based on unsubstantiated information. Teach your students and your own children how to check facts and why it is so important to challenge unsubstantiated assertions. For more information, see the free book, Validity and Credibility of Information (Moursund & Sylwester, 10/9/2015).
References and Resources
Cohen, J. (2/15/2017). Simpler, safer treatment hailed as ‘breakthrough’ against drug-resistant TB. Science (AAAS). Retrieved 2/18/2017 from http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/02/simpler-safer-treatment-hailed-breakthrough-against-drug-resistant-tb.
Foresight Graduate Programs (n.d.). Foresight graduate programs—Global list. Retrieved 2/18/2017 from http://www.accelerating.org/gradprograms.html.
Groff, L., & Smoker, P. (n.d.) Introduction to future studies. Retrieved 2/18/2017 from http://www.csudh.edu/global_options/IntroFS.html.
Mayo Clinic (2017). Infectious diseases. Retrieved 2/19/2017 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infectious-diseases/home/ovc-20168649.
Moursund, D. (2017). What the future is bringing us (2017). IAE-pedia. Retrieved 2/18/2017 from http://iae-pedia.org/What_the_Future_is_Bringing_Us_(2017). [This article has links to years 2007-2016.]
Moursund, D. (August, 2015). Brain Science for Educators and Parents. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Available on the Web at http://iae-pedia.org/Brain_Science. Download the PDF file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/271-brain-science-for-educators-and-parents-1/file.html. Download the Microsoft Word file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/270-brain-science-for-educators-and-parents/file.html.
Moursund, D., and Sylwester, R., eds. (10/9/2015). Validity and Credibility of Information. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download the Microsoft Word file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/275-validity-and-credibility-of-information/file.html. Download the PDF file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/277-validity-and-credibility-of-information-2/file.html.
WHO (2016). Global TB report. United Nation’s World Health Organization. Retrieved 2/18/2017 from http://www.who.int/tb/publications/global_report/gtbr2016_executive_summary.pdf?ua=1.
Free Educational Resources from IAE
IAE publishes and makes available four free online resources:
- IAE-pedia. See http://iae-pedia.org/index.php?title=Special:PopularPages&limit=250&offset=0.
- IAE Newsletter. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-newsletter.html.
- IAE Blog. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog.html.
- IAE books. See http://iae-pedia.org/David_Moursund_Books and http://iae-pedia.org/Robert_Albrecht#Free_Books_by_Bob_Albrecht.