At ISTE 2014, Jason Ohler presented five global technological trends that are establishing a "new normal" in education—one in which Ohler says a learner’s attitude toward learning new information determines “how smart” they are.
To set the context for this conversation, Ohler spent a few minutes talking about information overload. “We now are bombarded with far more information than we are capable of verifying, substantiating, thinking about, or using,” he said. “We are so overwhelmed with information that we can’t possibly deal with what we are immersed in every day. We have come to a point in history that is really rather remarkable because, for the first time ever, abundance is disruptive. It’s so difficult to digest and assimilate the information that we have that we are waiting for new paradigms to break out to deal with that.”
The five trends that Ohler believes will become the new paradigms for education are:
Big Data. “We have no more barriers to storage. You can have access to all the data you ever, ever wanted or didn’t know that you wanted,” said Ohler, noting that in the big data universe, students never disentangle themselves from the web. “Big data never stops flowing. And, our output becomes their input. But what we also need to remember is that their outputs become our choices. There literally is no Big Data without predictive analytics anymore. Predictive analytics is there to take all this stuff and help us make sense out of it.” Ohler recommended reading Big Data Makes its Mark on Schools--for Better or Worse by Corey Murray.
Augmented Reality. Augmented reality is only one version of immersive reality. “Immersive reality comes about because we are massively, massively interconnected. And, we are always on. And, our machines are always on us. We never turn them off. So as long as we can count on that, then we are going to live in a world in which we have one foot in RL (real life) and one foot in VR (virtual reality),” said Ohler. Augmented reality opens a host of possibilities for students, such as virtual tours.
Sematic Web. Ohler emphasized that the web is being constantly re-written. The next quantum leap that it’s going to take is when it becomes the semantic web. Web 3.0 will connect a discrete piece of information on one site to a discrete piece of information on another site and develop a relationship between them. Web 4.0 is when everything has an Internet ID. “Everything is an app holder, everything is a sensor. The semantic web is going to take all that information that overloads us and drowns us right now and give it an intelligent foundation,” explained Ohler. “So when we search for stuff only the really relevant stuff comes up, and it comes up in a format that makes it useful. How does that impact education? It all depends on who controls … the relationships that are being built between discreet pieces of data.”
Extreme BYOD. The BYOD revolution began because everybody wants their own workspace. “What does this do for us? It puts the ‘you’ in BYOD. It allows you to decide, by virtue of how you learn and the technology that you really resonate with. It allows you to wade into that ocean of data the way you really want to rather than have it sort of dumped on you as a huge list of Google hits,” said Ohler. “Education will be judged by how well we help our students blend their digital and non-digital lives … into one inspired, safe, responsible approach to learning, living, and so on.”
Transmedia Strategy. “It is just sort of hovering outside of education looking for a way to get inside, and we’re not quite there yet. Most students come to school understanding the story form. The question is: How do we bring story into academics? Transmedia is all about how do we take the story form, marry it with all the different channels that we have right now, and produce something that allows fan access over a number of different channels,” said Ohler.
As these technology trends take hold and redefine education, Ohler recommended engaging students through the lens of digital citizenship. “Every technology connects us and disconnects us. And, I want students to know and be able to reflect upon that fact. And if you want to know if you have a good digital citizenship program, you ask yourself this question: Do your students have opportunities to explore questions about their digital lifestyles? If I could change one thing about digital citizenship: Adults need to stop making rules. We are robbing students from the much-needed opportunities to sit and think and talk and research about their digital lifestyles.
Ohler advised that educators to put students "in charge" of making their own rules. ”We want our kids to frame the system, not game the system,” he emphasized. “And, if we don’t ask them to frame the system, they will game the system.”