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Brief Summary of Contents of Week # 8

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Inventing your future of ICT in education. We spent a week on "futures" in DAE1. Here we revisit the topic. The focus is on what an individual can do to invent his/her own future of ICT in education, help shape the future of his/her students, help shape the future of his/her school, and so on.

Some Specific Objectives and Topics for Week # 8

Objectives

  1. One of the goals of the DAE1 and DAE2 sequence of courses is to help build leaders in the field of ICT in education. A leader needs to have a clear vision of his/her future and of where he/she is leading others. This week's class session is part of leadership development.

Topics

Here is some material from a draft of the first chapter of Moursund's booklet on Inventing Your Future of ICT in Education. It summarizes some of the topics covered in the book .

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This book is about forecasting and inventing your personal future in the field of Computers and Information Technology (ICT) in PreK-12 education and in teacher education. In this book, the word "your" covers the reader and any organization that the reader happens to be involved with. Thus, the book is designed for individual people, schools, school districts, school boards, and others who are interested in helping to create the future of ICT in education.

ICT includes a wide range of computer and telecommunications hardware and software, and supportive knowledge and ideas. The computer hardware ranges from the processing and memory chips embedded in appliance controllers and wrist watches, to palmtop computers, to laptop and desktop microcomputers, to mainframe computers, to super computers. Connectivity includes a wide range of wireless approaches and a wide range of hard-wired approaches. ICT includes the Internet, which in turn includes the Web. ICT includes digital cameras and digital video. It includes the fields of Computer and Information Science, and Computer Engineering. To summarize, we do not want to be overly restrictive as we consider possible futures of ICT in education.

Alan Kay has made immense contributions to the field of ICT during his long career. For example, his pioneering ideas of a Dynabook are now reflected in today's laptop computers (Rheingold, 1985, Chapter 11). In 1971 Alan Kay said:

Don't worry about what anybody else is going to do… The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Really smart people with reasonable funding can do just about anything that doesn't violate too many of Newton's Laws.

The title and overall design of this book are based on the ideas in figure 1.1.

 

Figure 1.1. Explaining the title of this book.

The triangle in figure 1.1 is designed to suggest that Inventing, Planning, and Forecasting are an iterative and integrated process. In terms of educational uses of ICT in a school or school district, you might begin by studying the literature on long-range forecasts for ICT. Then you might do some long-range strategic planning for ICT in your school or school district. This is followed by forecasting possible outcomes of the plan. Probably this leads to moving back and forth between more work on long-range strategic planning and more work on forecasting possible results. Then the implementation begins.

The implementation can be thought of as inventing the future. As the actual future unfolds, you periodically return to the long-range strategic planning and forecasting steps of the overall process. The original future that you wanted to invent might not be achievable with the resources that you have available. Unforeseen events may intervene. Or, you might decide that this emerging future is not what you really want. Return to the drawing board. Do more planning and forecasting. Start anew on the implementation, to invent a new, more pleasing and attainable, future.

Figure 1.2 presents a Venn diagram of ICT and education. In this book we are specifically interested in inventing some part of the future of ICT in education. The diagram suggests that both ICT and education are immense fields in and of themselves. You can significantly change your role in both the field of education and in ICT. However, the chances are that you will not significantly change either of these two large fields.

Figure 1.2. ICT in education.

In this short book, our focus is specifically on ICT in education. We are not trying to invent or thoroughly cover the field of ICT or the field of education. However, we do devote a chapter to the field of ICT and include a number of forecasts in this field. These forecasts will help you to forecast likely outcomes of attempts to implement the long-range strategic plans that are developed for ICT in our classrooms, schools, and school districts.

Each of us is an inventor. However, some of us are far more inventive than others. Thomas Edison was one of the world's greatest inventors. The following quotation, however, suggests that there may be a huge gap between an invention and widespread adoption of the invention to help create a particular future or solve a particular problem.

I believe that the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks. (Thomas A. Edison, 1922.)

This forecast by Thomas Edison underlies a key idea in this book. Thomas Edison invented a number of products. In some cases he started companies to produce and sell his products. The combination of invention, production, and sales changed the world.

Now, consider what went wrong with his forecast on the use of motion picture in education. Thomas Edison knew little about formal schools (he was almost entirely home schooled) and change processes in education. He thought of education as an information delivery system. He thought movies could replace books. He was wrong.

Years later, as television became available, people thought that d television could replace books and teachers. They were wrong. First movies, and later TV, have been widely used in education. However, they have not proven to be an adequate or appropriate replacement for books and teachers.

As you work to invent your ICT in education future in your classroom or school, be realistic. There are powerful reasons why our current education system is the way it is. Our educational system is highly resistant to change. You, personally, can make substantial changes in your own, individual classroom. This is somewhat akin to inventing, producing, and selling a product. However, even there you may face substantial resistance from your students, their parents, your fellow teachers, and the overall educational system.

As groups of people work together, they have more resources to invent their collective ideas on some particular aspects of the future. Thus, individual teachers and school administrator work to invent the futures that they feel are appropriate for a good educational system. Moreover, there is a greater likelihood of success if the great majority of the teachers and administrators in a school decide to work together toward inventing an agreed upon future. There may be still greater likelihood of success if the great majority of the teachers, school administrators, students, parents, schools, school district administrators, school board members, and other key stakeholders in a school district pool their resources to invent a mutually satisfying future.

We end this section with a quote from Steve Jobs. The quote and the subsequent work of Apple Computer Corporation provide an excellent example of inventing the future.

When I went to Xerox PARC in 1979, I saw a very rudimentary graphical user interface. It wasn't complete. It wasn't quite right. But within 10 minutes, it was obvious that every computer in the world would work this way someday. And you could argue about the number of years it would take, and you could argue about who would be the winners and the losers, but I don't think you could argue that every computer in the world wouldn't eventually work this way. (Steve Jobs, Wired Feb 96 p102.)

In 1984, Apple brought the Macintosh computer, with its graphical user interface, to market.

 

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