Predicting the Future is a Risky Business

Part of my day job involves following trends and predicting what might happen in the future of online education.  Pretty risky business – I remember ten years ago when one article predicted that all colleges would one day have at least one class delivered online through AOL.  A-O-Who? Do they still exist?

But despite the potential for immense embarrassment, I still find looking to possible futures fascinating (can you guess what my favorite genre of entertainment is?).  I enjoy it so much that I wrote an article on what education could look like in 10 years, based on predictions of where technology is heading. The article is called “When the Future Finally Arrives: Web 2.0 Becomes Web 3.0” and it will be a chapter in a book called Web 2.0-based E-learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching

The great news is that chapter will be published next month. The bad news is that it took two years to get published, so a lot of what I say about Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 sounds pretty dated.  This situation in itself exposes the weakness of publishing in traditional media. All of your cool, hip terms will become over-used cliches before your article gets printed.

I wish that I could just post the whole article here – I just proof-read it and I got pretty excited thinking about what the future could be like.  Some of the topics covered are:

  • Affordable media centers that have wide-screen, high definition, holographic, three-dimensional, multi-touch screen monitors, with cameras that can follow your movement to manipulate the display (like Minority Report) or respond to voice commands
  • Classes that easily transfer back and forth from synchronous to asynchronous.
  • Integrated systems – virtual worlds integrated with the web and each other, smart-phones integrated with desktops, etc.
  • Greater use of tags to organize information with more accuracy.
  • Better interaction between students and between the student and instructors.
  • And finally, of course, really cool technology like three dimensional printers and scanners.

Much of what I wrote on is technology-focused.  I realize that good pedagogy needs to come first in all educational situations… but if you think enough when you read it, you will see how I snuck a bunch of good pedagogy in there. If you do get to read it, I would recommend just skipping down to the section called “An Example of Online Learning 10 Years in the Future.” The rest of the stuff before that was just my attempt to sound scholarly and all that :)

That is to say – if you get to read it.  This is the other problem with traditional media: this booked is pretty darn expensive.  And I had to sign all my rights away to get it published, so I can put it on my blogs.  I can always let people that live near me read the “draft” version that I printed up for proof-reading.

2 thoughts on “Predicting the Future is a Risky Business

  1. Matt, love your thoughts, particularly the segue between a/synchronous. I also think about a ‘slow learning’ model that goes from event-based (or flood) to a long-term micro-development model (drip irrigation). Mobile, context-sensitive, semantic, crossing performance support with education, etc.

    Agree with the problem with the price of books. Can I suggest you be more persistent in your negotiations next time? I got a publisher to let me put copies of my chapter in an edited compilation up on my site (with proper disclaimers, pointers to the book, etc). So while I can’t post the whole chapter in my blog (it would be a *long* posting ;), I can point to it from my blog, and host the PDF for downloading from my site. Can be done.

  2. Thanks Clark – that is good to know about negotiating with publishers. I’m still new in that whole area. After the book is out, I plan on asking if I can do the same as you. Never hurts to ask, right? :)

    I was noticing your Learnlets blog has some great thoughts on questioning ADDIE (among other issues as well). Readers of EGJ: you will find some interesting meat to chew on at Clark’s blog:

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