Opinion

Why I am depressed about the future sometimes

1to1unconf7204Reading Matt Crosslin the other day over at EduGeek Journal about the steps to bring about the Education Revolution, I became depressed. The Big Idea post about technology and change in education is not uncommon, but this one was insightful, which is rare. Read his post, but the nine points he makes were the cause of my depression.

  1. Expand Student Community Options
  2. Give students control over their online identity
  3. Incorporate informal learning
  4. Build a course taxonomy system
  5. Deconstruct courses
  6. Re-focus big data
  7. Deconstruct degree plans
  8. Return to deconstructing courses more
  9. Open up research and internship opportunities

Photo from 1to1 Learning Unconference

As I read through these initiatives, I came to the realization the system under which I work, in my department, at my university, under the Ministry of Education, is pretty much working in the opposite direction.

Technology is offering us a way to pull apart, inspect, and put together again in a new way (deconstruct) what a teacher does, and replace the parts that are done better by dumb machines so that the teacher can focus best on what she does best. The core of this direction is student centered learning, which has been given a huge boost by the capabilities offered by mobile technology and the Internet.

Stephen Downes (co-creator of the first real MOOC in 2008), breaks a teacher’s role down into 23 parts. With a view toward fostering connectivity as the basis for learning (content is a McGuffin), we will be able to build new institutions to handle the revolution. Sadly, I have little hope our current institutions will be able to keep pace. If you are under 40 years old (at least here in Japan, where change happens very slowly), I would keep my eyes wide open on alternatives. For countries like the US, Korea, Taiwan and the northern parts of Europe, I would guess anyone under 50 will see drastic changes before they retire.

2 thoughts on “Why I am depressed about the future sometimes”

  1. Very interesting. I am currently enrolled in a few MOOCs, and find the experience far supersedes anything I experienced in traditional education. I am learning more in the Introduction to Biology course from MIT than I ever learned in the 5 or 6 biology courses I took as an undergraduate. I am also enrolled in a 2 year certificate program in the Fundamentals of Computer Science also offered by MIT. I cannot believe that I can actually take courses from MIT teachers, for free. While I hope that the credentials I earn from these studies will be recognized as legitimate by other traditional institutions, the education itself is the real treasure.

  2. Just this Friday I had the classic exchange with one of our engineers, a relatively new to the business fellow. His epiphany came with: “and here I thought Japan had the latest of everything tech.” Left me wondering once again whether this delusion will ever self-correct.

    Technology as disintermediary is simply too toxic to the institutions in much of Japanese society. Education is very high on the scale of hypersensitivity. Social disruptions are avoided and the notion of creative destruction, what is called in the piece “deconstruction” is felt keenly everywhere. Why would we expect an institution or a sector or even a society already under considerable pressure to embrace a mind set so disruptive?

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