John Moravec, editor of Education Futures, is with us today. John is a faculty member at the University of Minnesota and edits for Education Futures, a website working on “new paradigms of human capital development.” John has spoken at events like TedxLaguna.
1. What inspired you to start Education Futures?
I started EF as a graduate student in 2004 to develop and share new ideas in human capital development. It seemed to me that mainstream education was missing out on the impact of globalization, the importance of building creative, innovative, knowledge societies, and the ramifications of exponential, accelerating change. EF explores some really exciting ideas in these areas and more…!
2. How is the current generation of students different from previous generations?
Biologically, they’re no different. However, they use technologies in new ways that augment how they communicate, who they communicate with, how they think, and how they get things done.
I really don’t like to think of it as a “generation” issue, however. It’s much harder to characterize today’s students into generational descriptors than it was 20 years ago. The pace of technological change is exploding, and I think that we’re seeing many different types of students emerge from how they adopt and relate to technologies, their priorities, how they communicate, etc.
3. How can technology be used to help students learn better?
I believe we need to engineer new technologies to help them HOW to learn, not WHAT to learn. Our school systems have focused on WHAT for centuries. Likewise, we see too many educational technologies focus on the WHAT as well (i.e., pushing content rather than new idea generation). WHAT technologies are great for producing factory workers, but for creatives and innovators, we need to focus more on HOW to learn. The rapidly changing world demands no less. Students need to build capacities for continuous learning, unlearning, and relearning to be competitive globally. So, I believe that the technologies that address the HOW question will become the key for educational success in the remainder of the 21st century.
4. What is the biggest obstacle in integrating technology in education?
The greatest obstacle in integrating technology in education is finding a purpose for it. We bring technologies into the classrooms that we don’t even know what they do — so, we label it “technology” rather than something purposive. A blackboard has a purpose. it’s clearly defined. We know what its for and how to use it. It is an educational technology, but we label it what it is: a blackboard. Too often we bring in new technologies, but they are misapplied or repurposed to do the same thing that we relied on old technologies for. A great example is the SMART Board (marketed as an interactive whiteboard), which in many classrooms is underutilized, and relegated to the same tasks as a 19th century blackboard –just more expensive.
(I believe Douglas Adams made a similar observation at the JavaOne keynote in 1999.)
5. Do you think it is possible to one day have an all-online classroom?
Yes. They are already quite common. Unfortunately, they still resemble 19th century, industrial classrooms.