Late March: the calm between two storms

NERCOMP 2014On March 26th I’ll address the 2014 NERCOMP conference. My topic is, as ever, the future of education and technology, but I’m giving it a twist, thanks to some recent conversations.

My title, “The calm between two storms”, is designed to place the audience in a weird spot.  Some will feel surprised, considering our own time to be one not of calm, but rapid change.  Others will see themselves as having successfully weathered storms economic and/or technological, and not be delighted at the onslaught of new ones.

Good.  I’d like to haul them out of the status quo, and get them thinking.

The old storm is the recent one of mobility and the social web.  Academia is still grappling with that double whammy, still trying to figure out what to admit, what to block, where to turn next.  But it’s no longer a new storm.  Smartphones are mature, growing only incrementally in terms of features, ownership, and use cases.  Social media: ditto.  Most educational technologies are similarly in incremental change mode: ERP systems, course management systems, content management, etc.  Changes happen, but small and steady.  There are exceptions, of course, but this “old storm” is, like “Web 2.0”, a heuristic designed to free up thinking from the present.

The new storm?  That’s the mix of wilder, actually new technologies and the latent, as yet unfelt implications of recent ones.  Think 3d printing, or the disintegration of computing we call “wearable tech”.  Consider the consumerization of Watson, and the upward, accelerating curve of human jobs automation.  On the side of less freaky tech having latent effects, think of the way privacy is drizzling away under the impact of mobile and social media (to say nothing of the NSA).  Watch games and gamification move from strength to strength, and digital storytelling become simply storytelling.  Remember the demographic bomb for America’s youth population, an explosion just starting to detonate.

And that’s for starters.

We’re about the sail into strange waters indeed, and so we can take this rare moment to consider the voyage before it really gets going.  We can strategize before we have to operationalize.

In the meantime I’ll blog and tweet about these ideas.

Here’s the full text describing my session – and I hope to see my northeastern readers there.

What does the future hold for education and technology? To answer this question, we will begin by surveying current trends, sussing out major drivers of institutional and technological transformation. Then we will extend these forces into the future, using several approaches, starting with the most recent Horizon Report and environmental scanning. We will conclude by considering scenarios for higher education in 2022, including the Fall of the Silos, the Phantom University, a Creative Renaissance, and the Old Guard’s Revenge.





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One Response to Late March: the calm between two storms

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