Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Business as Usual?

Second session is from Keri Facer, Professor of Education at Manchester Metropolitan University and is on Challenges Facing Education. She promises us Zombies by the end of the talk!

The ideas that we hold about the future are critically important to education. We have an educational contract. We say that if we invest in education now, the student and society will be better in the future. But, is this contract breaking down? Questions are being asked. Students work to borrow money to get them through Higher Education, and to get jobs after graduation which are similar to those they get whilst studying.

Do we take "the future" seriously enough in education? We haven't got time, conning on issues of today. Also we use cycles a lot, if it happened in the past we assume it will happen again in the future. Often ideas are highly tokenistic and rhetorical. Also the future is very technologically determined.

Problems of this approach: radically disempowering, vulnerable to fads and gurus, lack of awareness of special interests, no accountability to future generations.

So, what should we be doing? We should understand the range of discussions already going on about the future, think about how education could respond to those discussions, and intervene in the futures that are being imagined.

Project looking at possible scenarios, beyond current horizons, is here.

Technology futures we know will happen are:
Constant connectivity, to people, to systems, to networks and processing power
Culture of accountability and security, coupled with increase of storage capacity, leading to massive data sets. easier to keep everything, then use search
Merging of digital and physical, the Internet of things, pervasive and augmented realty, prosthetics.

In the longer term:
Working and living with the machines, automation, access to NHLI and processing power
The rise of Biotech, the biotechnical in education, cognitive enhancement, genome maps. Personal genomes, bespoke medicine, cosmetic pharmacology. How will this interact with social and cultural norms? Cognitive enhancement?

How will Universities cope with bioethical diversity? How are we responding today to the connected learner? How are we enabling students to work with their own data?

Knowledge futures:
Collective intelligence or the global brain. Developing a student who knows how their knowledge fits with the knowledge of others.
Embodied knowledge, modelling and the reconnection of mind and body, academic and vocational knowledge
Dangerous knowledge. Biotechnical knowledge, eg posting genome of flu virus on Internet. Interconnected systems and interdependencies of systems eg financial ones. Recently biggest crash on stock Market, billions wiped off, then it came back. No-one know how it happened.

Demographic futures:
By 2035, 50% of population of wester Europe will be aged over 50 with a further 40 year life expectancy. Competition for public resources, eg pensions at expense of education. Raising working age when lot of youth unemployment.
Intergenerational conflict?
Radical longevity argument. If we get through next few years, will be able to live to 500. Raises interesting questions about lifelong learning.

Are we moving into a high skills, low wages culture?
Radical casualisation of middle class roles ie secure professional roles. Growth of crowdsourcing, freelance, amateur, volunteer effort.

More radical future scenarios.
Energy shocks and constraints interacting with climate disruption causing breakdown? We don't know how oil is going to run out. Don't know how temperature changes will effect society.

What sort of education helps students deal with the futures outlines above?

Technological, demographic, knowledge, economic and environmental changes mean that we cannot count on a business as usual future.

How can we radically reimagine Universities?

Need to remember that playfulness, trying out different approaches has to be part of this conversation. Here come the Zombies! Several hundred gamers in Bristol playing zombies on the street. Video. Maybe we should adopt this sort of creative gameplay to imagine the future and how to deal with it?

Be creative! Move aware from future proofing the university. Recognise that we can't control the future, but we can work together to nudge it in the direction we want.

Be optimistic and imaginative.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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