What Awaits in Our Future.

Bryan Alexander‘s presentation The Visible College: Four Futures for Higher Education is a hour and a half lecture of discussing the means of recent technology and the future of education. He proposes four possible unique traits of the near future.

Sample Prezi presentation.

Technology has become so attached to our daily lives and it is something we cannot remove nor replace. One specific example is Powerpoint which Alexander states that it is the lingua franca of presentation tools. We all like using Powerpoint over other applications such as Keynote or Prezi. It seems that there really aren’t major alternatives for it yet. Although, if another application that overwhelms the quality of Powerpoint is released, we may gradually switch to that instead. We constantly create new matters and try to replace the existing invention with that, and we adapt to the new circumstances accordingly. However, can we know what is going to happen in the future in advance to be prepared?

Science fiction is a fiction based on technologically advanced imaginary future with much change in the environment or social context. Alexander mentions a Sci Fi classic, Asimov’s The Foundation series as he describes about way of predicting the future. I have never read the series, but I remember the storyline very vaguely. Though, I didn’t expect myself to see it again in a cyberspace class. Anyhow, Alexander relates to the fictional science called Psychohistory with a method of predicting the future, “environmental scanning”. I had to look up the definition and the process of Psychohistory and environmental scanning to fully understand the concepts. Psychohistory and environmental scanning are similar in the means of applying statistical analysis of the environment with the help of technological computation. Again, I thought, we see ourselves depending on technology, even to foresee what lies ahead. I didn’t imagine science would take root in this world back in the early nineties when personal computers were being distributed among the public.

The first of The Foundation Series.

In my opinion, environmental scanning appeared to me a method anyone can try. Especially for those who are quick with the news and the trend online. I’m definitely not a good challenger to this. A few of the important features referring to the scanning process – interacting and sharing (e.g. last.fm, Kony 2012 video) are usual actions we take naturally as long as we are connected to the Internet. I recognized that funding through “free online advertisements” such as videos are successful. While people pass by donation boxes on the street, they give donation to whoever or whatever they assume to be real. Of course, there are sincere people who are in need of cash, but I was mildly surprised when I noticed this. It demonstrates how influential the Internet is as a communicational medium.

Finally, lets go into the central details of the presentation:

The four possible futures on education Alexander delivers are scenarios also concerning us. I believe we are a lucky generation of students. Out of the four, I name these two: 1) Phantom Learning and 4) Renaissance as the more intriguing characteristics of the future.

Phantom Learning – School is rare, there’s ample info near by, and children learn from augmented reality. The default form of education is massive collective classes (MOOC). This is simply astounding for me, because I am used to being part of a small-scale community and never had an experience of taking online courses. My instructors back in high school didn’t recommend online courses for the lack of efficiency. I agree, but what happens if there’s augmented reality involved in education? I don’t know.

Renaissance (of creativity) – Creativity is rebirth-ed. We project our creativity freely and easily through digital storytelling (like DS106) and use fake identities (people are active online under pseudonyms). We feel nostalgia for the loss of earlier invention (end of mouse and simplified set of technological advancements). Game-based life becomes the standard (“gamification”). As for gamification, it is a familiar system for us, though in an analog version. I use to get treats back in kindergarten and elementary school by collecting ice cream sticks for clearing an objective each day. Game-based education could be more fun, but I thought that by extending the technological intervention into our lives we may become pschologically dehumanized, as seen in phantom learning. We are distant from each other.

Conclusion: The scenarios made me somehow imagine of an almost apocalyptic future. I felt insecure about our future.

I’m not sure why I’m writing a petit essay-length post. Yet, I couldn’t help myself from splattering my commentary in this post.

Thank you for reading.


3 thoughts on “What Awaits in Our Future.

  1. You did a great job of presenting your reactions to the presentation in this blog post. I’m glad you were so moved by the ideas to write in such detail. I thought that the Phantom Learning and Renaissance scenarios were two of the more optimistic outcomes of the four Dr. Alexander presented.

    It seems you and several of your classmates don’t like the idea of so much online interaction as suggested in these scenarios.

    • Online interaction is not a vice, but I can imagine my life and the fellow members from the Lost Decade living more uncomfortably in such scenarios. Mechanicalization of the Industrial Revolution in Europe back in the past deprived some of the essential value the human beings had. That is different from the futuristic views Alexander proposes, yet, I think the issue stays along the same line.

      • I agree that dramatic technological transformations cause equally dramatic transformations on human society, entirely. I like the way you manipulate these complex and challenging themes with such apparent ease.

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