Information Age Education Blog
Educating Students for Their Possible Futures
Our current informal and formal educational systems are firmly planted in the past and present. However, technological, research, and cultural advances are now occurring so rapidly that educational systems must change considerably to prepare students for the complexities of the various possible futures they'll live in. You can get a sense of some of these changes by browsing the IAE document What the Future is Bringing Us at http://iae-pedia.org/What_the_Future_is_Bringing_Us.
A New Series in the IAE Newsletter
The Information Age Education Newsletter is edited by David Moursund and Robert Sylwester. It is a free publication, delivered by email twice a month. To see back issues and to subscribe, go to http://i-a-e.org/iae-newsletter.html.
The IAE Newsletter plans to devote much of 2014 to a series of articles that focus on educational policies and practices related to important future-oriented issues. We are seeking educators who might like to author a newsletter in this series. The published newsletters will then be incorporated into a series of short IAE books and made available free. Three recent IAE books based on the IAE Newsletters are available free at http://iae-pedia.org/IAE_Newsletter.
Some Examples of Important Future-oriented Topics
Research and technological progress are helping us to better address complex and challenging problems and tasks. Here are three areas that are important in education:
1. The overall field of robotics. Robots are steadily becoming both more physically able, and smarter. They are becoming a powerful change agent in worldwide productivity, and they are strongly affecting the job market.
2. The rapidly growing Web is already the world’s largest library, becoming more effective in two important ways: a) enhanced information retrieval capabilities—contrast today’s search engines with the card catalogs; and b) the enhanced capabilities of computer systems to provide solutions and to answer questions.
3. Steady progress is occurring in developing Highly Interactive Intelligent Computer-Assisted Learning Systems (HIICALs) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These are starting to produce major global changes in both informal and formal education at all levels.
Four Proposed Newsletter Themes
We are currently planning to develop four short books, each based on one of the four themes listed below.
1. Capabilities and limitations of computer systems and “smart” robots.
• There are many situations in which humans are more capable than computers and smart robots.
• There are many situations in which computers and robots (smart and not so smart) are more capable than humans.
• Humans, computers, and smart robots working together are steadily becoming more effective.
Thus, we need an educational system that prepares students for a future in which humans, computers, and smart robots routinely work together and individually, each doing what they do best.
2. Empowering students. This theme includes how students might take more responsibility for their own education. This includes helping students become skilled in: a) using the broad range of technology-based aids to learning on their own; and b) setting and achieving personal learning goals and gaining skills in self-assessment of progress toward achieving these goals. Empowering students includes developing safeguards to prevent their “gaming the system” by cheating and finding other ways that students try to avoid the kind of “good” learning that leads to increased levels of expertise, transfers to other disciplines, and transfers to the future.
3. Formal education (schooling) and informal education (outside of school). We need to develop and implement ways to make formal schooling and informal education more effective and cost effective. Highly Interactive Intelligent Computer-assisted Learning (HIICAL), Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), instructional games, and 3-D printers for producing physical objects are prime examples.
Education for the future includes a strong emphasis on appropriate uses of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in disciplines such as art, business, social sciences, math, music, and sciences that have been significantly changed by technological tools.
4. Wide scale and global issues, problems, and challenges. Through improvements in transportation and communication, the world is growing “smaller.” Our students need to be prepared for adult life in which there is worldwide competition for jobs and businesses. In a “smaller” world, people need to deal with ethnic, religious, cultural, and language diversity. They need to effectively participate in human efforts to deal with global problems such as: a) health and medicine; b) sustainability; c) over-population; d) global warming; e) civil wars and wars between countries; f) poverty; and g) crimes against humanity and other violations of international laws.
What You Can Do: Part 1
Write and submit an article. The articles should run in the 1,000-2,000-word range, so it's something that most professional educators can develop without a burdensome time/energy commitment.
Further, please forward this email to anyone you believe would be especially competent to write about one or more of these themes.
What You Can Do: Part 2
Consider what today’s students are learning about their possible futures. Think especially about what you can be doing to help them be prepared for the types of changes listed in items 1-4 given above. Engage your students in discussions about what is changing and how these changes are apt to affect them.
Here is a "fun" activity you can do with your students. Select an "old" prediction about the future, perhaps from those available at http://iae-pedia.org/What_the_Future_is_Bringing_Us. Assign your students the task of exploring how good the forecast turned out to be. As an example of a old quote, Thomas Edison forecast that "Books will soon be obsolete." He predicted that film would replace books as a primary mode of learning.
Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications
You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.
Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.
Here are some examples of publications that might interest you:
21st century skills. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/21st-century-skills.html.
Computerization of jobs. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/computerization-of-jobs.html.
General educational goals in the United States. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/general-educational-goals-in-the-united-states.html.
Artificial intelligence. See http://iae-pedia.org/Artificial_Intelligence.
Eleven useful tips on setting goals and achieving them. See http://www.dumblittleman.com/2009/02/11-useful-tips-on-setting-goals-and.html.
Empowering students. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/general-educational-goals-in-the-united-states.html.
Important ideas about 21st century education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/important-ideas-about-21st-century-education.html.
Predictions about the future of computer technology. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/predictions-about-the-future-of-computer-technology.html.
Sylwester, R. and Moursund, D. eds. (August 2012). Creating an appropriate 21st century education. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download the PDF file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/243-creating-an-appropriate-21st-century-education.html and the Microsoft Word file from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/242-creating-an-appropriate-21st-century-education.html.
The pace of technological change. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/the-pace-of-technological-change.html.
What the future is bringing us. See http://iae-pedia.org/What_the_Future_is_Bringing_Us.