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A Toast to the Tech Future

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LinkedIn Top Voices in Tech & Innovation were asked their thoughts about the technologies shaping the future of how we live and work. I'm wary of "thought leaders" and prognostication in general, but I know it is part of all this. There are buzzworthy topics that I have written about here - the metaverse, NFTs, Roblox - which are all starting to have an impact but likely have not changed your present.

Here are some links to these voices. See if someone piques your interests and read their post or follow them.

Allie Miller - Global Head of Machine Learning BD, Startups and Venture Capital, AWS - Miller is all about AI

Anthony Day - Blockchain Partner, IBM -  blockchain in crypto, NFTs and other trends and innovations

Asmau Ahmed - Senior Leader, X, the moonshot factory - she posts about her company’s latest work - robots, access to clean and reliable power, improving availability of safe drinking water (by harvesting water from air)

Many of these people are consciously or unconsciously also posting about who they are and how they got to where they are - and perhaps, where they want to go.

Avery Akkineni - President, VaynerNFTT which is Gary Vaynerchuk’s new NFT venture.

Bernard Marr - Founder & CEO, Bernard Marr & Co. - a self-defined futurist, he writes cars, phones, delivery robots, trends in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Cathy Hackl - Chief Metaverse Officer, Futures Intelligence Group - how many CMOs have you heard of so far? Her agency helps companies prepare for the metaverse.

Martin Harbech worked at Google and Amazon prior to Meta (formerly Facebook) and shares news and updates from the tech industry. You might read about remote truck drivers, photorealistic avatars, or haptic gloves research. He also shares insights on new companies and the future of various industries.

Lateral Thinking

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Thinking by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

With all the concern about the pandemic this year, moving courses online and making plans for reopening, I'm afraid that what has been set aside is pedagogy. I did graduate work on a doctorate in pedagogy that I never completed, but it exposed me to a lot of ideas on how we might improve our teaching.

One of the things I learned about some decades ago is lateral thinking developed by Edward de Bono in the 1960s. Lateral thinking fosters unexpected solutions to problems. De Bono believed that we tend to go for the straightforward, and obvious solutions to problems. He encouraged seeking out more oblique, innovative answers.

Lateral thinking is sometimes called “horizontal thinking” as contrasted with vertical thinking. The latter might be defined as going for the first good solution that comes to mind and launch into the details.

Lateral thinking encourages a longer brainstorming session in order to enhance creativity and come up with the most innovative solutions.

There are several lateral thinking techniques: awareness, random stimulation, alternatives, and alteration.

For de Bono, we need to cultivate an awareness of how our minds process information. That is a skill that is very rarely part of any curriculum, and yet moving away from established patterns leads to greater innovation.

Random stimulation is something I have been employing during this pandemic year - and I suspect many readers of this have also - probably unconsciously - done it. Normally, we try to shut out all distractions in order to focus on a task. In lateral thinking, problem-solving improves with some "random" input which often includes information - taking a walk, talking with a colleague or stranger, listening to a podcast, journaling.

At the heart of de Bono's approach is to deliberately consider alternative solutions. That has been described is many ways, including "thinking out of the box." Doing this is not easy for many people. His term, "alteration," can mean using several techniques. You might reverse the relationship between parts of a problem. You might deliberately go in the opposite direction of what’s implied as the correct approach. Sometimes breaking a problem or obvious solution into smaller parts can lead to an alternate mindset about individual parts.

It didn't help the spread of de Bono's theories in academia that he was not a fan of extensive research. He had called research “artificial.” For example, he claimed that “nobody has been able to prove that literature, history or mathematics classes have prepared people for society” - though I think we all believe that they have helped prepare people.

Lateral thinking has its critics, but the basics are sound and I have always thought that incorporating them into classroom activities is a good thing. I have never "taught" de Bono to students, preferring to embed it in activities. 

 

 

The 3.0 Era of Schools in China

ChinaI wrote recently about Web 2.0, 3.0 and even the coming 4.0, but this post was inspired by an article that asked if traditional classrooms would become obsolete when schools in China usher in the "3.0 Era." 

A keynote by Zhang Zhi, director of Shanghai Educational Technology Center, said that "while ushering in 3.0 era (in China), schools will be marked by individuation and innovation, embracing massive amounts of information."

I have posted here in the category of Web 3.0, but my Education 2.0 category seems to be one step behind.

Is the "3.0 Era" referred to in that article about the Web 3.0, Education 3.0 or the merging of the two? Zhi sees the school of industrial age as School 2.0. For me, that is School/Education 1.0. I agree that this is education based on a classroom teaching model designed to prepare students for an industrial society. 

We moved into Education 2.0 when we started to move away from a classroom with a teacher in front giving out information. I say we are still moving through the 2.0 information age in education.   

What Zhi sees as a school in the 3.0 era is what I see happening now. Classroom and campus boundaries are becoming less clear. Online learning did this more than anything. The role of teachers is changing. Artificial intelligence is changing how we learn and how we will teach.

When asked how schools in this new era will look, Zhi replies: "Now, the role of teachers has shifted from the authority to facilitators, companions and supporters. The time-space of learning has become ubiquitous. The future of school 3.0 will empower every learner by data including teaching, interpreting, making the decision, management, and innovation, which is the trend of school evolution.” 

This sounds like my version of Education 2.0, but in Zhi’s vision, the focus is on elementary and secondary school more than higher education. In these schools, he says these scenarios will exist. I don't know that in the United States we are doing these things - or that we want to do all these things.

  1. Each student will have a digital profile in light of the continuous data collection of his or her learning activities since the first day he or she is enrolled and this digital profile will be constantly updated through the individual’s growth. 
  2. Every teacher will have an AI assistant. 
  3. Each subject is interwoven with a knowledge map.
  4. Each teaching task is likely to be outsourced. For example, the workload of school principals will be significantly lightened, but they will need to evaluate and select the services providers.
  5. Every physical school is a part of the overall virtual school similar to the concept of Cloud Classroom.
  6. All the learning activities will be recorded. People used to read books and now “read the screen” but we also  interpret and better serve each learner through the analysis of eye movements, expression changes, internet operating behaviors and results.
  7. Each learner’s learning tasks are personalized. Thanks to the advanced technology, every student will be assigned different homework according to their level of knowledge mastery which is difficult to achieve relying on traditional education. 
  8. The length of schooling for each student will be flexible. Students move at their own pace.
  9. Every legitimate approach to learning will be admitted.
  10. Education will focus on collaboration and symbiosis. Future schools should be learning-centered communities and students will no longer see each other as competitors.
  11. Each family will form a unique educational unit. 
  12. Every piece of educational equipment tends to be intelligent. 
  13. Every school will embrace a hidden curriculum such as museums, sports games, and film festivals. Future schools must place great emphasis on the design of this so-called hidden curriculum.

One thing that is not revolutionary or radical in this vision of the next era is that Zhi sees physical schools as still necessary because “attending school is for communication, and exchanging ideas is for verification which can help us know ourselves. People cannot be taught but need to be guided to find the true self.”

This school 3.0 era is driven at all levels by technology but he cautions that "technology cannot replace emotion, experience, and communication, which should not be overlooked. Education is a process of exchanging feelings of affection in the collision of two hearts. From this perspective, the education industry will always be flourishing. Although much work may be accomplished by the advanced technology, the jobs that entail teachers to devote their love will never be replaced.”