Archive for the ‘The Future’ Category

Recent additions to the themes of this blog have been moved to a new WordPress site.  The new blog “Beyond the Crystal Ball” will focus on preparing teachers and  students for the 21st Century, so the focus has been expanded beyond the original topics covered on this site.  To visit the new blog click on http://futurestudy.wordpress.com

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I just came across two blog posts  that deal in a thoughtful way with the impact of Web 2.0 technology on education and the world at large.

1.   “Not Natives & Immigrants but Visitors and Residents by Dave White presents this dichotomy in an insightful and useful fashion in terms of planning for distance learning with students.

2.  In another blog post, Rob Paterson takes a broader look at the evolution of society through a Web 2.0 lens in his commentary  “The Social Web – A New World.” He compares the current transition to an earlier period in United States history.

“I think that Web 2.0 is not just a set of tools but is more a label for a real “New World” that shares many of the characteristics of America in its more innocent years – post the Civil War.  If it was just tools, any one could pick them up. No I think that Web 2.0 is a place.”

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There has been considerable interest in recent years in the study of virtual worlds and computer/video games. This interest can be broken down roughly into the following four areas:

  1. Pure research
  2. Knowledge and skills acquired while gaming
  3. Games as educational models
  4. Virtual Worlds and Games as teaching/learning tools

In this post we’ll take a look at the first area, pure research, with a focus on virtual worlds.

Virtual worlds with their millions of participants worldwide has drawn considerable interest as a social phenomena. They represent fertile grounds for research and study in such varied fields as psychology, sociology, economics, education and even law. What are the implications for those who spend 20 or more hours per week on average in these spaces and for the future when many more people will be inhabiting these worlds while at work, study, play and when socializing?


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A friend just sent a link to a presentation by computer scientist and visionary Alan Kay on the topic of predicting the future. It’s a great piece with a lot to consider. There certainly are significant implications in Kay’s observations in terms of education and the use of some of the technologies that are the focus of this blog. Here’s the link along with a few quotes of interest from the presentation:


the best way to predict the future is to invent it.

“Humans beings can’t exist without communication. It’s one of those basic human traits, and we’re always willing to pay more for a better communications amplifier.”

“McLuhan had a great line about the 20th century. He said, ‘the 20th century is the century in which change changed.’ ”

“In some sense our ability to open the future will depend not on how well we learn anymore but how well we are able to unlearn. Can you imagine a course at Stanford on unlearning? That would be revolutionary.”

“I think the weakest way to solve a problem is just to solve it; that’s what they teach in elementary school. In some math and science courses they often teach you it’s better to change the problem. I think it’s much better to change the context in which the problem is being stated. Some years ago, Marvin Minsky said, “You don’t understand something until you understand it more than one way.” I think that what we’re going to have to learn is the notion that we have to have multiple points of view.”

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