Future imperfect

Following the third Pew Future of the Internet survey and the most recent Horizon report, I came across this Map of Future Forces Affecting Education recently and keep finding myself drawn back to it despite myself.  Though the interactive map itself looks smart, it’s a bit clumsy and impractical to use (somehow I wasn’t surprised that their ‘how to use this map’ video was made on a Mac ;-) ), but there’s a nice pdf version (requires registration) also available for the more Web 1.0 amongst us.

It’s intentionally US-centric, but many of the trends, dilemmas and topic hotspots will be very familiar to educators elsewhere, such as participatory pedagogy, cheap mobile devices, serious games, open content, transformed learning environments and alternative financial models.  The map offers an opportunity to look at these in a wider context of change and under influence from other, competing or complementary, factors.

So why does it make me feel so uncomfortable?  There’s a heavy emphasis on personsonalisation and diversity, yet at the same time there’s a strong underlying perception of ‘Generation Y‘ as a homogenous group, all of whom are highly adaptable (or fickle), socially-orientated, technologically adept and heavily into group activities, and a distinct sense that all the innovations proposed serve a single, extroverted learning style.  There’s the inevitable reference to ‘integrating digital natives and digital immigrants’, yet voluntary and involuntary digital exiles are disregarded, and there’s an apocalyptic, been-watching-too-much-Mad Max feel to some of the predictions which undermines its intention to ‘provide a common framework to explore innovations, new solutions and experiments’.  To be fair, it doesn’t intend to propose a single potential future but rather to act as a ‘conversation catalyst’ based on the assumption that ‘a trend is a reasonable possibility’, and it largely achieves that with only the odd wtf moment. 

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