The buzz about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in the media and education space is understandable but overrated. Through much of our research on the Future of Learning at the Institute for the Future, we are seeing that MOOCs are really just the tip of the iceberg—just one signal—among many drivers of change that are affecting the way we learn. As I recently wrote in Fast Company, “MOOCs today are our equivalents of early TV, when TV personalities looked and sounded like radio announcers (or often were radio announcers). People are thinking the same way about MOOCs, as replacements of traditional lectures or tutorials, but in online rather than physical settings. In the meantime, a whole slew of forces is driving a much larger transformation, breaking learning (and education overall) out of traditional institutional environments and embedding it in everyday settings and interactions, distributed across a wide set of platforms and tools.”
To see the full article, go to Fast Company: http://www.fastcoexist.com/1681507/the-future-of-education-eliminates-the-classroom-because-the-world-is-your-class.
More than just MOOCs, we are beginning to move away from traditional educational institutions to what I am calling learning flows, “where learning resources are not scarce but widely available, opportunities for learning are abundant, and learners increasingly have the ability to autonomously dip into and out of continuous learning flows.”
What if, together, we could imagine hundreds of civic innovations to improve our communities?
Last week my colleague Jake Dunagan ran a Foresight Engine game called Connected Citizens that asked this question to hundreds of online participants.
IFTF’s Foresight Engine is a platform that allows for a global brainstorm on a given provocation, like the question above. The 24-hour game collected over 6,700 microforecasts—ideas on civic innovations that ran their course through different threads of comments by players around the world.
This is exactly the kind of initiative that I talk about in my book, The Nature of the Future. Governance is one of several domains poised for socialstructing—the aggregation of microcontributions from large networks of people to create a new kind of value. You can watch the provocation video, read about Connected Citizens or even download the microforecasts yourself to participate in changing the relationship between citizens and government.
In the world of work, the focus is on skills
People regularly ask me for career advice—What job should my son be applying for? What are the career tracks of the future? How do I keep growing in my field? With the economy in recession, these questions are not only on the minds of the transitioning workforce, but they are serious questions of the current and future student body.
Last Sunday I presented some insights on Work Skills for the Future in a keynote at the National Council on Workforce Education Annual Conference. There are many drivers affecting the world of work, and the types of skills we will need to navigate that world successfully in the years to come. There are online staffing agencies that can organize teams in the cloud, like Elance. Freelancing opportunities abound, while stable 9-5 positions are becoming harder to find or transition through. I often use the example of the org chart from the gaming company Valve as a signal of the possible structure of new work environments. There are some very creative titles and work flows listed in their Handbook for New Employees (I particularly like their chapter heading “Welcome to Flatland”).
While we can’t predict the categories of future jobs—in fact, do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise—it is helpful to think about the skills and proficiencies that will be useful in coming work settings. The research from the Institute for the Future on Future Work Skills 2020 is the model for my answer to friends, students, and anyone who asks for the advice of a futurist to navigate the working world. Don’t focus on job titles, career tracks or even stable professions. Instead, look at your own passions and the skills IFTF outlines, and see where to build on what you already have.
We are moving from a world in which content is created only by institutions to one where bots, systems, and platforms tweet, tell stories, and write music. This is one of five trends I explored in my session on The Great Content Shift presented at the National Association of Broadcasters annual conference last week. In the second part of the session, I interacted directly with the audience through the use of attendee feedback and live social media as I was interviewed by Andy Jordan, a leading technology and business reporter for The Wall Street Journal.
Young people today are caught in the transition between two worlds—the world of institutional production of education and a new world of possibilities for highly personalized on-demand continuous learning. It’s a typical two-curve problem with mass-produced education delivered through existing institutions on the decline; on the rise are new forms of education and learning that combine technologies with the best of social tools to enable learning that is personalized and meaningful. At our March 24 event Redesigning Education: An Innovation Leaders Exchange, sponsored in conjunction with Autodesk and Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities, we convened a group of thinkers representing different parts of the new education ecosystem to exchange best practices and to dream together about how to build the best learning environments given today’s sets of tools and technologies.
One were we will see new landscapes evolving and encounter whole new ways of organizing society
Over the last 40 years we have moved from a centralized communication system to a highly distributed communication network. Technology has amplified this transition, and most of our domains of daily life are being affected, from education to health, energy, and business.
Last week at the World Business Forum in New York, I offered some examples of this shifting landscape. Watch the video of my interview with Professor Marta Elvira of the IESE Business School, or read the full event summary here.
“When not feeling sorry for Maria Shriver or the wife of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Anne Sinclair, I want to scream: Don’t stand by your man no matter what, because eventually he will turn on you.” That’s what I wrote in an op-ed in Forbes in May. In the piece I describe an interesting study by two psychologists that points out that our understanding of ourselves is imperfect at best. We need our friends, colleagues, children, parents, and spouses to tell us what everyone else can see but we cannot. So go ahead—do tell. Please.
Drawing by Scott Cooper, IFTF
Stirrings of unrest in the digital manor economy
The digital peasants are getting restless. The first signs of unrest are evident in the stirrings of the bloggers filing a suit against the Huffington Post and its parent AOL, which acquired the publication in February for $315 million. The same writers who were happy to contribute for free before the sale are now accusing the publication of turning them into “modern-day slaves on Arianna Huffington’s plantation.” The suit claims that about 9,000 people wrote for the Huffington Post on an unpaid basis, and it argues that their writings helped contribute about a third of the sale value of the site. These bloggers weren’t paid a single penny in the sale—the money went mostly to Huffington and a few investors.
Whether the bloggers have a case or not remains to be seen. The suit, however, brings to the fore tensions inherent in a new kind of production that is emerging today—what we might call “social production.” This kind of work involves micro-contributions from large networks of people who often receive “payment” in the form of fun, peer recognition, and a sense of belonging—that is, in social rather than monetary currencies. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Flickr, and many other stalwarts of today’s digital economy are enablers and beneficiaries of such production. They couldn’t possibly exist without the content of social producers, without the unpaid, albeit fun, labor. It is we who create Facebook profiles and post to them, we who share our thoughts on Twitter, we who upload our pictures to Flickr, we who post our medical data on PatientsLikeMe—it is we who are the new producers. Without us making these daily micro-contributions, none of these platforms could persist and grow and create value at the scale of hundreds of millions of dollars.
But the Huffington case brings us face-to-face with the reality that we, as social producers, are all becoming digital peasants. By turn, we are the heroic commoners feeding revolutions in the Middle East and, at the same time, “modern serfs” working on Mark Zuckerberg’s and other digital plantations. Continue reading
Current US unemployment figures are likely to persist into the foreseeable future as a result of two technological forces: communication and desktop media technologies that allow books, videos, and even feature films to be produced outside the traditional media industry, and automation of not only the factory floor but now increasingly the realm of the white-collar worker. This morning I spoke with Lisa Murphy on Bloomberg Television’s “Fast Forward” regarding the impact of robotics on employment and the implications for education and job training. Watch the video of my interview or read about it here.
How do you prepare for a job of the future? What kinds of skills will you need to have twenty or thirty years from now, what kind of worker will you need to be, and how is the marketplace changing? Those were the questions posed to me and to Doug Hardy, former editor in chief of Monster.com, by Kerri Miller on Minnesota Public Radio’s “Midmorning” show this morning. I responded that having hybrid skills—accumulated by moving through multiple jobs and multiple degree programs—can be great preparation for jobs of the future. It’s a sign of adaptability, which I think is an absolutely critical skill for the future. If you’ve lived in different countries, held different jobs, have different kinds of friends, you’ve had to adapt and can do so going forward as the world of work changes. Listen in for more as callers make comments and pose questions.