Thursday, January 28, 2010

Education futures timeline of education: 1657 - 2045 (WN0027)

The BBC's making very effective use of its licence fee funding and about to put out one of those mega-docs that it tends to do so well, this time on the Web and the revolutionary changes it has brought society over the past 20 years. I'm looking forward to sitting down in front of the iPlayer on Saturday night (or whenever ends up being most convenient) and getting through the first episode of 'The Virtual Revolution'. Can't wait to get my hands on some of the video rushes they're giving away too and mash them up a little for an upcoming small video project.

Of course, the Beeb's got the easy job here - that of picking over the past and offering it up for understanding and contemplation to help us better comprehend our present. A fascinating yet foolish game is the prediction of the future. It's such an easy thing to get howlingly wrong, but every now and then the forecasters end up being spookily right.

A few years ago, I started subscribing to emails from the World Futurist Society, to keep an eye on some of the ways ahead that the thinkers, theorists and doers are expecting might come to pass. Naturally, some of the predications are quite wacky or even slightly terrifying, but the majority of them tend to be both pretty positive and deeply captivating for the average futurism geek. By their very nature, it seems that futurists tend to be a pretty optimistic bunch.

As I'm now beginning to blog a little more about my line of work and include education in my subject palette, I thought I'd put the above timeline up for sharing. I could well imagine, for example, the idea Education Futures has that in 2033 a 'neo-Luddite' movement of educationalists aiming to 'preserve traditional teaching' and restrict the use of technology in learning environments. An intriguing discussion for another post, perhaps. They also propose 2025 (just 15 years away) as the time that human intelligence is surpassed by machine intelligence, and the Turing Test is passed routinely. The Semantic Web/Web 3.0 is down as coming to pass in 2012, the end of Obama's first term.

Humanity is undeniably moving through revolutionary times and I have a feeling that we're not even at the threshold of how different our world is going to end up in just a generation's time or less. No-one can really know the true shape of things to come, but I made it my intention several years ago to come along for the ride and try to follow the changes as best I could so as not to get left behind. Can't wait to see what's around the corner, that's for sure!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The world's English mania (OR a coming out, of sorts)

I have every intention of posting a review of the decade just passed. Time at the moment does not allow me the space to do so just yet, but it's planned and will come out before too long. In the meantime, I thought I'd throw a little something out there that is part New Year's resolution and part coming-out (of sorts).

For the past few months, I have had my head down while getting on with my study for the Cambridge DELTA qualification. It'll be taking up much of the coming year as well, so I've had to basically set aside all the rest of my intended projects to clear the deck for getting back down to academic study again. Doing the course is frustrating, fascinating, exhausting, enlightening and any other combination of positives and negatives one could have with simultaneously studying and working full time, but I'm delighted to be doing it and it's great to finally be doing some proper study again after so long away. I'll perhaps blog a little more about it at some point, but that time is not today.

I'm someone that has carefully constructed assorted contrasting identities over the years - rock singer, writer, charity founder, web consultant and traveller were a few of the ones I built up in Japan - and although it's a job keeping the different masks away from each other, I usually try and avoid crossovers between these different identities. Sometimes though, they have a tendency of running into each other and there's little I can do to stop it. This time, I'm going to pre-empt things and come out a little more into the open about another aspect of my life that rarely features in my online outpourings.

I am an English Teacher and have been teaching the language to non-native speakers on a full-time basis since 2003 (and on-and-off before then from 1996). I've never quite been able to put my finger on why I've not been more open about this through things like this blog, but I felt that it was about time I did. I've recently discovered that the Web is a massive part of the job I do and it's something I feel the need to embrace more deeply in order to be better at what I do and to make further connections with those in the same line as me.

That's about all I'll say on the matter for the moment, but I will leave this post with a few words about the video above. In another of the many fascinating TED Talks available for download and redistribution (via a Creative Commons licence) through their site, Jay Walker of Walker Digital describes the current global mania for learning English - a fact that has kept me in work for the past seven years and which shows no sign of abating. I've made it a bit of a plan this year to upload a new video to the Globalism Films channel every couple of weeks, and this seemed like a good one to get started with.

There'll be another video along in a fortnight, with a bit of a dig through the Shelf Life vaults, but in the meantime, a belated happy new year to you all!