The future is already here

In 2003, William Gibson was quoted in The Economist stating ‘the future is already here’.  That was eight years ago and look how far technology has brought us.

Towards the end of last year, I read an article about Apple’s plan to allow television to be delivered over the internet in such a way that we may all have one in our living rooms very soon. Although still in its infancy, this type of technology called internet television (ITV) already exists. Two of the best current examples are ABC’s free iView and the BBC’s iPlayer subscription service, which are available in Australia and many other countries.

There’s no doubt that Apple will develop something that will revolutionise the way we traditionally understand the ‘television set’ – just as they transformed the way we use our mobile phones (through iPhones), tablet computers (through iPads) and music (through iTunes).  This signals the end of the ‘television set’ as we have come to know and love it.

For those digital refugees out there, I’ve been reflecting on the things that we have grown up but are becoming passe and why:

  1. Letterboxes (people relying on email/text/twitter)
  2. Fixed phone lines (everybody has a mobile phone)
  3. Retirement (people are continuing to work with computers/laptops blurring the line between work and leisure time, and not needing to be in the ‘office’ to be working)
  4. Login (turning phone on and all the information is there)
  5. Car keys (sensor locks)
  6. Wallets (credit card details can be on the iphone, as well as virtual cash)
  7. Television sets (replaced by ipad/iphone/computers/ Internet television ITV)
  8. Job certainty (globalisation)
  9. Diaries (iphones)
  10. Cash (ATM’s, credit cards)
  11. DVD, CD’s (replaced by ipads/laptops/computers/ITV)
  12. Bricks and mortar schools (replaced by e-learning, distance education)
  13. Retail shops (replaced by online shopping)
  14. Post Office (virtual communications)

I hope we don’t see schools heading the same way.

The world students are growing up in is very different to the world we experienced.  I think it’s important to reflect on this and how ubiquitous technology is in their lives.  The things they use each day don’t disappear, they just become smaller, faster and more powerful.

Society seems to have been able to adapt to these changes, perhaps with a little nostalgic yearning for the good old days. We shouldn’t see these as threats but as opportunities to enhance our lives. It has to be the same for schools. ICT is only an extension of the teacher’s toolkit; it’s how we use the tools to support learning will determine students’ futures.

4 thoughts on “The future is already here

  1. There’s a point in here about disruption of an existing model – that there’s a sequence of change that’s evolutionary, and then something comes along that’s revolutionary.

    (A bit like the trendy term of a few years ago DYOB – Destroy Your Own Business – to make sure that somebody didn’t destroy it for you, but that you stayed ahead)

    With so many things that have changed in a generation (or less in the case of some of your list), it’s amazing that my daughters’ school reading book lists for Y7 and Y11 look remarkably similar to my book list 30 years ago.

    As you say “ICT is only an extension of the teacher’s toolkit; it’s how we use the tools to support learning will determine students’ futures.”

    Can the pace of change within the classroom can keep up with the pace of change outside of it? Or is it time to break away from the evolutionary processes of change?

    1. As much as I’d like to be revolutionary, I think we are more likely to make incremental evolutionary changes – adapt rather than adopt. I still cherish good literature but at the same time we should be open to new technologies and the ability to live and learn differently. All I ask of our schools is that they ask questions and not ignore the changes happening around them. Technology isn’t some passing fad!

  2. Of the 15 points which ones would we choose to go back to? Technology has changed how we do things. Remember the exodus on pay day once our cheques were in our mail boxes?
    As it has been often stated it is what we do with the technology that is crucial. We have a choice,however, students in the classroom will be demanding change as this is the world they live in. Who are we to deny them?

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