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<br /> <b>Warning</b>: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, null given in <b>/home/oliverqu/public_html/liveblogs/wp-content/themes/bigfeature/library/functions/theme-functions.php</b> on line <b>930</b><br /> Towards the future-building education institution – Professor Keri Facer (@kerileef) #pelc12 | Oliver Quinlan: Live Blogs
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Towards the future-building education institution – Professor Keri Facer (@kerileef) #pelc12


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As people working in e learning we are often asked to predict the future, but what is our role is we do not know what the future will bring?

Facer asked us to consider the Newfoundland fish stocks. Scientists tried to predict what would happen to fish populations, yet the failed to take into account all the factors that were involved and the fish stocks have been dangerously depleted. If we cannot even predict this how can we possibly predict how technological change will affect us?

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We are seeing an increasing segregation of reactions to this, from those becoming hyper connected to technology, to those seeking to switch off. We are seeing constant connectivity, the merging of the virtual and the physical and the augmentation of bodies. A massive growth in intelligent prosthetics has come out of the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars. Large scale complex systems of devices which were not designed to be interconnected with each other is happening, for example in the finance system. What are the consequences of that? Systems collapse or massive new knowledge resources. Nobody knows why the recent financial crashes happened, the systems have become so interconnected and so complex we actually do not understand the consequences of changing aspects of them even though we built them…

However, it isn’t just a case of technological change; our societies and our values are changing too. Facer cited a study on parents asked about their children taking cognitive enhancing drugs. They were generally anti until it was reframed in terms of other children taking such drugs, which caused quite a change in attitudes.

Where Facer is at is not trying to predict it but to work out what are the certain things that we know?

One thing we do know is the demographics of our society is changing by 2035 50% of population of western Europe will be ages over 50 with a further 40% life expectancy. One future is a potential of conflict between generations.

The second big issue is the growth of radical inequalities. There is a decline in faith in the idea of the ‘knowledge economy’; we have international competition in the creative roles whoich we in the west felt we could keep to ourselves. Multinational companies are concentrating creative roles into elite centres recruited internationally, traditional middle class roles such as law are being outsourced. Pharmaceutical companies are reducing research staff and instead in some cases setting competitions for breakthroughs; great for those that succeed, not for the rest who invest resources in trying to solve the problem…The idea of continuous economic growth and the knowledge economy is seriously problematic.

Issue number three is that of resources and the economy; as we saw in the UK in recent weeks issues with energy supply have significant societal consequences.

“We cannot plan for a business as usual future.”

However, Facer says we cannot simply swing to the opposite view of preparing for total collapse. Our second option is future proofing, trying to cover all of the bases with a lack of aspiration for the future.

The option she suggests is ‘Future Building’; “looking for the seeds of desirable futures that exist in the present; nurturing these possibilities; recognise complexity and work to ‘tip the balance'”.

What she argues schools and Universities should be about is creating spaces for seeing possibilities for better futures. These institutions cannot achieve this on their own; they need to look outwards. Educational institutions are the last public service that exists in every community, and it is easy to underestimate their power.

To re imagine the future Facer says we need to re-engage with play and creativity, after all to imagine possible futures takes these aptitudes. Play can bring new ways of thinking, she cited the ‘Bristol Zombie attack‘ as an example of such play as exploring thinking.

Reimaging the future involves suspending reality a little, in order to imagine multiple, competing and contradictory futures. If we are to find the best possible futures this kind of divergent thinking is vital.

To turn these trends toward e-learning, Facer asked us to consider the digital architectures of our educational institutions. Ruskin described ‘the architecture of slavery’; standards and conformity, phrases which she feels often reflect our dialogue around digital systems. Instead, she argues, we should be looking towards Gothic architectures; quirky, capable of subversion of ideas, that does not construct students and staff as slaves but as craftsmen. Initiatives such as Helen Keegan’s alternative reality gaming exemplify this kind of ‘digital Gothic architecture’.

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To start to construct liveable futures we need to recognise the power of schools and universities as areas for their re imagining. We need the space to play and to imagine possibilities. We can facilitate this by developing a Gothic architecture of digital systems where creative possibilities come first and not standardisation. 

 

 

Related posts:

PELeCON 2012 Panel discussion #pelc12
Learning in the social workplace - Jane Hart (@c4lpt) #pelc12
Open Scholarship and Connected Learning - Alec Couros (@courosa) #pelc12
 

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Coding across the curriculum - Miles Berry @mberryNicky Morgan: Technology key to reducing teacher workloadFlexible learning space opening at Westfield Junior SchoolLearning to swim - Eylan Ezekiel #wherenext @EylanEzekiel Creating a sustainable education system - Stephen Heppell @stephenheppell #eduict2013Tim Rylands - Back to their future #bett2013

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