On Thursday we held the first Future Trends Forum. Audrey Watters and I looked deeply into several major forces shaping education. In this post I’d like to share some notes and a recording of the session.
If you haven’t used Shindig before, here’s a screenshot of what it looked like. On top are two speakers “spotlighted”; they have mikes along with visual pride of place. Below you can see a swarm of icons; those are images or video feeds from participants. (Those images actually move around.) On the bottom right you can see the chat box:
After a quick intro Audrey and I addressed a set of topics:
- The role of venture capital in educational technology. Important argument: VCs aren’t radical in what they tend to support, despite their disruption talk.
- What the history of educational technology tells us about the present and future. Watters brought up older ideas which are very much alive in technology projects, including behaviorism and Taylorism, while pointing out that our notion of “intelligence” is actually pretty limited (and historically embarrassing).
- The potential of automation. Audrey sees too many campuses and businesses investing in anti-student, pro-behaviorist algorithms, reducing (rather than augmenting) human agency and learning. We discussed the importance of looking at who builds and invests in technology, the lack of understanding about power and embodiment, and the ironic return of the factory model of education.
(Those are very, very sketchy notes. Scroll down to watch and listen to the whole thing)
After some time I got out of the way as MC and interlocutor so that participants could come on stage and talk with Audrey. Here’s Autumm Caines considering part of her excellent comments:
Questions via video and chat addressed the Turing test, the Pearson tax, financialization, and data analytics. (NB: Audrey just wrote about this last point at Medium).
Here’s the recording, which you can click on, or watch below:
Overall it was an intense, challenging, sometimes brooding, always high-octane discussion. Audrey’s points are essential for anyone thinking about education.
Shindig forces did a grand job of keeping all the parts working, from handling technical issues to recording the event. I appreciated how participants could play an active role.
Next week, we’ll meet with Richard DeMillo! That’s Tuesday afternoon, 2 pm EST.