How are analogue teachers preparing their students for a digital future?

Went to sleep with some questions : Just how off tangent am I from the goals and purpose I had set out about teaching? Am  I asking the right questions? If I had the right thought 1-2 years ago, how much of that belief would still be relevant in the context of the rapid change and increased channels those change have brought to amplify or execute that thought?

In trying to put it in words the contents of a fuzzy dream that seemed to stretch hours: You are standing at the leading edge of thought. It is true because you wonder;you will be the generation that witnesses the crossover to the intergalactic civilization. You are the last of the analogue/atom age. Choose your battles and efforts not from the perspective of what’s gone wrong but what needs to be.

The sleep osmosis crystallized some of my thoughts. I’ve been struck intermittently in the last 2 weeks with  headaches, feeling anger, fear or worry. I know when I feel that way I am getting out of alignment with my purpose. It’s not that my instincts were wrong but my need to step-up after I understood the first premise of my instincts seems to be accelerating. I’m moving in the same direction just the premise of what I thought I knew to go in the direction of where I’m going gets re-educated.

I had set out to create an e-learning platform to extend my availability and my reach for my ESL students because not only do I feel time is running out for them it’s running out for me too. Besides, I had started feeling very uncomfortable with my traditional idea of classroom teaching; my thoughts and insights may be forward but my delivery was not.

What had caused me great worry was the fact that no one else sees the speed at which we are moving. I worry because I know it takes time to develop deep-knowledge skills; validating, analyzing, critically think, self-directedness, higher order thought, etc. The fastest way I know how to is to try and seed their frames of thought so I can append other new thoughts to them. But even that I am failing desperately as they think I am “story-telling” and not preparing their brains for learning.

I started crystallizing my feelings that the big shift of the beginning of the 21st century will be in the discovery of multiverses or intergalactic civilizations. To quote Michio Kaku, we would be going from Civilization Zero to Civilization One.  If I am 32 now and the students we are concerned for are anywhere between 5 and 25, in 20-30 years they may no longer live the way we had to contend with. We, are the last of the Analogue Age.

We, “the last of the analogs”, grew up in a world where imagination was taboo, abundance was peppered with a sense of guilt and new freedom brought new anarchy, new disillusionments and new forms of chaos.  Who knew how to tap pulse using the old dial phone? I did. But have these young people we are teaching even seen a dial phone? They think dialing means punching in numbers on a touchscreen or a numberpad.

We resist this so much because we wanted to “restore” the old order. And the reason we wanted to was because we did not grow up understanding the contexts of the New Order.

By 2030-2040 we would be too old to matter much and the reigns of leadership will be handed to those born around 2000. Their children, those born around 2015-2020 will benefit when the transition becomes fully digital.  At the rate technology is advancing and cost to produce more is dropping, the content design and delivery architecture for learning would look completely different by 2015 to 2020 to what we call “e-learning” right now.

Perhaps I am seeing my whole premise all wrong; that I don’t have to teach higher-literacy. Perhaps I am the last of the analogue age. This digital generation would not need higher-literacy because they are audio and visual design content consumers. The technology to design content for their “download” and assimilation hasn’t fallen low enough, partly because the adoption isn’t high enough. But all that could change in 6 months, you’d never know.

I’m starting to imagine that  soon I will be able to afford powerful digital authoring tools. How that is going to happen without a substantial income, I don’t know but trust in the Law of Allowing. – By 2015, school textbooks would be too expensive an option. Training and learning publications will go the way of newspapers. Who is going to fill the void in learning and training  ( a delivery of knowledge and practices, archived and delivered)? There is simply no time to rebuild, organize and manage an institution the scale of schooling and publishing put together in order to create content and delivery because those who have enough higher order thinking to conceptualize, author and produce are already between 25 to 65.  The pool of analogue intellectualism is shrinking. The work of archiving thousands of years of human knowledge, thought and experiences will take decades. Yes, we have google, but we don’t have the systems in place for the digital-age consumers to know how WE made sense of information BEFORE the Information Revolution. Information without the sense to make anything out of it is pretty useless.

So, I imagine, something like the Apple Tablet, a supersized  Iphone,  would dominate markets, being far more affordable to the masses then that it is now. People will be able to download lessons and podcasts on anything, anytime, anywhere. The difference between one learning to another is simply design.

If an author has great content but not design and the content is meaningful enough to warrant someone to pick it up and redesign it for him, it will happen. If a complex idea needs to be stepped-down to be redesigned and remastered to make its meaning more digestible,  it will happen. We are seeing the birth of mass amaterization :what do you think it’s for? It’s to hone the skills of those who can understand the old analog wisdom and help with the work of remastering them for the visual, multiple styles of digital learning.

The most successful learning authors are those who are best at understanding how those born between 1990-2010 learn and design content for that. The years between 2010 and 2030 will see a massive archiving of the distillation of thought from the last of the analogue world. All the knowledge of mankind compiled in the last few thousand years will be made available for all future generations. All thought and knowledge will be hyperlinked and connected for origins,context, etc. E-learning is not going to be about stand-alone “for me” business models regurgitating hard copies onto flash pages. E-learning will be the means for a  massive last generation human effort in archiving all of human learning and thought. Perhaps we don’t need to teach critical thinking, after all. Those who can,should do and teach only to those who are inclined towards this mass-storytelling of our time.

Perhaps all we need to do is start to reverse-engineer all our thoughts and experiences of learning and then write them as stories.  By 2030, efficient systems to archive all these thought processes, of how we learned what we learned, how we knew what we knew, what sparked our first learning, how did we get from there to here, what made it harder or easier for us would be written down would become a reality. The job for those algorithms and machines is then to hyperlink our content to other authors who will provide more context to the “What” we mentioned. And from that context, another round of archiving will pick up the similarities and patterns of thought/knowledge among a  significant number of authors and synthesize all that into one thought for the next round of editing. Compressed wisdom. These machine-designed archiving would be like academic referencing on Speed.

When reading Howard Gardner’s FIVE MINDS FOR THE FUTURE, I was assuming that I needed to teach non-native speakers of English the skills to become authors and archivers for the years 2010 and beyond. I think now I was mistaken. Those skills, to find, validate, correlate, synthesize, leverage, problem solve and create new (content, architectures, etc) will always be scarce and highly prized. While algorithms and machines will come in place to help us archive and find and link to each other, Story-tellers will continue to have to correlate,synthesize etc…higher order thinking (wisdom) will always be the domain of  storytellers. Even as the collective wisdom of a civilization increases due to the available knowledge, highly-developed metacognition, perhaps to the point of being prophetic, will always be the post for the next level of wisdom to be achieved.

These deliverers of wisdom and knowledge will also need the savvy of stepping down their knowledge to organize all that information in a way that can be digested by the next generation before the machines can archive and produce the next body of knowledge to be found, linked, correlated, synthesized, leveraged, solve further problems for new innovations, etc.

Perhaps some of us “forward-thinking” teachers have been backwards-thinking. We look at this crisis in anti-intellectualism and digital-graphics consumption as a decline in humanity because we want to restore them to the sort of skills we had to acquire to make sense of this mass of information of the world we grew up in. We wanted our children to inherit these thinking skills. But what if it were not necessary  because, like in the movie The Matrix (Keanu Reeves), learning could be downloaded digitally, complete with all the links and wires and hierarchies to obtain “deep knowledge” in the matter within minutes or hours?

There is one short generation of story-tellers and archivers from the analogue world to prepare the ground for the mass digital transcribing. The job may fall in the hands of those born between 1960 and 1990. Who will enable the many tiers of storytellers, editors and content designers and architectures? There is no time for a formal recruitment to organize and manage them. Will we suffer the fate of clashing egos and waste precious time? Or would we be able to churn out stories in a symbiotic ecology?

The first round is to produce as much content and story out there. It is the job of the next tier to collate, edit, archive so on and so on. What do you think?

A few days later……………

The thing I love about blogging is that it makes me focus on a thought long-enough to attract the answers my questions were asking.

I may not be so far-off….The Future of Education by Futurist Thomas Frey.


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