Adapting to technological and social change in education
10 Jun 2008

Adapting to technological and social change in education

In response to yesterday’s post: Change is

10 Jun 2008

In response to yesterday’s post: Change is accelerating: Get ready!

Socially adapting to the pace and direction of technology changes has been a mixed bag. Sometimes, consumer pressures have the effect of driving change; sometimes consumers are indifferent; and at other times they challenge or resist a particular technological innovation. In Kurzweil’s case, some consumers are challenging the potential of technologies he’s projecting for the future.

Most challenges in advance of marketable products and services indicate ignorance more than fear. Most consumers do not read speculative (read science) fiction, and those over a certain age (about 35) usually don’t flock to science fiction movies or television shows. (No, “Lost” is not science fiction!) Hanging on to the past is easier and more defensible in the absence of known alternatives.

Where the rubber hits the road is the effects of adoption lags and challenges that affect education. While Leapfrog Institutes actively promotes the use of hand held, Web-enabled devices to facilitate 24/7 learning, schools sometimes challenge Web schools and -in the US- collect students’ tech hardware at the school door. This is a remarkable example of how ignorance of alternatives produces counter-productive and even anti-intellectual outcomes.

Kurzweil has a great projective track record. His futures are already on the way. The spoils will go to those organizations and societies that act as Beta sites for new technologies, not those who compulsively challenge, shrink away, or actively resist. The bottom line: get involved in testing and assessing new technologies, even when they are projected and not yet “real”.

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