The Future of Technology in Education (Part 2: How The 2014 K-12 Horizon Report Gets it Wrong)


The Future of Technology in Education (Part 2: How The 2014 K-12 Horizon Report Gets it Wrong)

Please see my previous post titled ‘The Future of Technology in Education (Part 1: How The K-12 Horizon Report 2014 Gets it Right.)’ for an introduction to the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition (HR14) in which I summarize the many exciting findings of HR14. In this post I will only be considering the oversights and misconstructions contained in the report. Continue reading

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The Future of Technology in Education (Part 1: How The K-12 Horizon Report 2014 Gets it Right)


The Future of Technology in Education (Part 1: How The K-12 Horizon Report 2014 Gets it Right.)

The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition (HR14) is an annual summary of key technologies which are having , or are likely to have a meaningful effect on education. It also considers certain key implementation challenges these technologies may face.

The most interesting aspect of HR14 is the constant emphasis on the fact that these emerging technologies go hand in glove with reinvigorated pedagogies and attitudes towards education. This is true to such a strong degree that HR14 might be considered as much an exposition of future educational methodologies as it is a consideration of future educational technology.

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Big Brother is Judging: The Insidious Effect of Big Data & Learning Analytics in Education


I know, let's gather all the information we can about our students.

We'll tell people we're using it to personalize and enhance kids' learning experience. We'll call it Educational Data Mining. No wait, the acronym for that would sound like someone battling to say the word 'idiom' – and the 'mining' bit sounds vaguely insidious and exploitative. How about 'Big Data' – that's got a cool ring to it doesn't it? Sounds a bit like something that you'd get up-sized with onion rings and a shake. Although maybe some astute souls might see a reference to Big Brother in there. So no, let's keep it sober and safely euphemistic: Learning Analytics.

Here's what we'll do:

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How Training Cats is Like Teaching Kids

Ever tried to train a cat? I'm talking the kind of training it takes to get them to do tricks – not potty training or not-scratching-the-furniture training. I can't say as I have ever tried. It must be nearly impossible, but it must be doable. However, knowing cats, I do think you would have break the poor thing's spirit a little and stifle a good chunk of its independence to get it to do what you want, the way you want, when you want.

I reckon teaching kids (of any age) is fraught with the same potential pitfalls. But it does get a little easier as they grow older because they've so often had their wilder spirits squashed before they reach you. The good thing, though, is – unlike trained cats – human children do not need to spend the rest of their lives cowering skittishly, they can have their spirits lifted and their independence reinvigorated.


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A Terminal Tailspin (Why We Need a New Economic Order)


Even as the world economy falters, its champions are already predicting that the disease which afflicts it, though malign, is not terminal. They predict an ‘up turn’ within a few years of what is a very expected and ‘natural’ ‘down-turn’. The truth, though, is that the symptoms of the current ‘global recession’ are without precedent and point to a far more malignant diagnosis: the world economy (as we know it) is dying… and it is dying quickly. Continue reading

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10 Laws for a New World


Once, I started writing a science fiction novel about a society recovering from the end of civilization. Then I realized it wasn't particularly good. The rules I made up by which this society functions, though, were worth something, I think. I do reckon that maybe a new society could function under these laws. And maybe we don't need the world to end and be rebuilt for them to work. Maybe. I called them the 10 Laws of Tribe. Let me know what you think…

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Questions From a Pangalactic Anthropologist (Batch #1)

I met a very strange and interesting individual called David a few days ago. He asked me if I would use my blog to help him find answers. He seemed particularly agitated and a little sad (quite pathetic, really), so I agreed. Please feel free to reblog this post. David needs answers.

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Questions From a Pangalactic Anthropologist

A flying saucer creature named Zog arrived on Earth to explain how wars could be prevented and how cancer could be cured. He brought the information from Margo, a planet where the natives conversed by means of farts and tap dancing. Zog landed at night in Connecticut. He had no sooner touched down than he saw a house on fire. He rushed into the house, farting and tap dancing, warning the people about the terrible danger they were in. The head of the house brained Zog with a golfclub. (Kurt Vonnegut Jnr, Breakfast of Champions)

Alien Thoughts

I have worked hard to understand. I've been here as long as many of you. You all seem to understand what's going on. You seem to get how things work. You seem OK with it all. You function. I don't.

The difference is, I think, that I'm not from around here. And by 'here' I mean this solar system. There, I said it. But before you run away – bored, most likely, by yet another weirdo on the internet pretending he's a little green man in disguise, let me say this: I need your help. Yes, you. Please. I need you to help me. This is serious.

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To the Class of 2014: Life Is Long, Do Something Big


Dear Class of 2014

In just a few short weeks, your time at school will be over. And that time is going to fly. In many ways, though, the rapid passing of the final part of your schooling sets a bad precedent for the rest of your life. You'll leave school thinking all time passes as quickly as these last few weeks will. But it doesn't. Life is incredibly long, and there will be ample time for you to do great things.

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On the Wretchedness of Memory

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The Musings of a Skeptical Tourist Part 3: Missing the Ausfahrt to Bumplitz (From the Bottom to the Top of Europe)

The Water City

First this: Venice needs a sound track. Perhaps something operatic, or if you can't stand wailing soap operas, perhaps something classical. And if your collection doesn't include either of the previous genres, some early James Bond theme songs work nicely (Shirley Basey and Matt Monro in particular). Set? Okay…

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Rethinking Ed Tech? MIT Blossoms story at Slate

Originally posted on Tech Whys:

Ed-tech enthusiasts who think they can do an end run around teachers will find that teachers are still the ultimate arbiters of what’s welcome in their classrooms: Witness the interactive “Smart Boards” introduced with such fanfare into America’s schools, now functioning as so many expensive bulletin boards.

Ed-tech proponents who think that technology can “disrupt” or “transform” education on its own would do well to take a lesson from the creators of Blossoms, who call their program’s blend of computers and people a “teaching duet.” Their enthusiasm for the possibilities of technology is matched by an awareness of the limits of human nature.

Read the whole article at Slate.

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Occupy Education: On Using the Occupy Movements’ Hand Gestures to Stimulate Engagement in Flat Classrooms

Image credit:

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23 Reasons Why the FIFA World Cup is Like Traditional Old-School Education



This just in from the Half Tongue-in-Cheek Department:


The FIFA World Cup, said someone once, rather disparagingly, involves national teams of overpaid players with lovely haircuts kicking a ball around, falling elaborately for no particular reason and acting confused when they do something wrong. There is often a fair bit of crying and seldom any goals.*

Think about the players as classes of students, the ref as a teacher, the pitch and stadium as the school, the game as a school year, the process of scoring as academic performance, the fans as parents and other stakeholders – and the World Cup does provide some useful (if convoluted) analogies to traditional schooling.

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21st Century Students & Teachers (Two Cool Images by Peter H Reynolds)

Take a look at this awesomeness courtesy of Peter H Reynolds at







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Does the Quest to Program an Intelligent Robot Provide a Model for 21st Century Education?


Learning is a system with inputs, processes and outputs. There has been much discussion in recent years around how we need to improve the inputs so that the outputs become more relevant and meaningful in the modern world. We know we need to change how we teach so that our students can become confident, innovative, independent and high-functioning individuals in a globalized world. We call these initiatives twenty-first century education.

But seldom do we discuss the processes which take place between the inputs and outputs encoded in the systems view of education. We presume that if the inputs are teaching methodologies which are child-centered, relevant and focused, then the outputs will be kids who embody all those wonderful outcomes we all aim for (see image immediately below). But as to the actual processes involved, we say very little beyond touching on the importance of metacognition in learning and in trying to apply the lessons modern neuroscience has for twenty-first century learning. But there is more to the process of cognition than this. Much, much more. And I think one of the best ways to get at what these processes involve is to look at the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics.

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My New Top 20 Favorite Teacher Hacks, Tips & Ideas

What follows are a few hacks, tips and ideas I picked up over two days at the Google Apps for Education Summit in Johannesburg (2014). For most of them, I feel foolish for not knowing they existed – or for not taking the time to figure them out properly. Now that I do know about them I thought I’d share them in case any of you faithful readers have not yet come across them.

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Twenty-First Century Learning & The Education Revolution: One Big Thing

Is there one thing that makes trying to transform my classroom into a twenty-first century learning environment worth doing? Is there a single outcome that unlocks all the others – including independent learning, the tendency to innovate and the intrinsic motivation in students to maximize their own potential? Is there one thing I can try to achieve which can foster a passion for learning and the desire to make it a lifelong pursuit? Is there one thing I need to aim for in integrating technology and a student-centred approach in my classroom? I think there is such a thing. And I think it's this…

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The Brave New World of Twenty-First Century Learning (A Retort)

Dear Margaret

I read your article in The Globe and Mail (Saturday, Jun. 28 2014) with dismay. In the article, you assert that “21st century learning is nothing more than warmed-over romantic progressivism” with absolutely no evidence to support its efficacy. And while I agree that, like most movements for change, there is a fair amount of bandwagoneering, I do disagree fundamentally with your conclusion that “twenty-first century learning zealots” are engaged in some kind of groupthink that bears no questioning and has no merit. Continue reading

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The Passing of Greed – The Greatest Speech Ever Given (Transcript)

The following speech comes from a movie called The Great Dictator starring Charlie Chaplin. It is a moving and empassioned plea against greed and cruelty and an exhortation to humanity to create a better world.

Sadly, it is as relevant now as it was in 1940.

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10 Things That Sucking at Chess Has Taught Me About Life

10 Things That Sucking at Chess Has Taught Me About Life

The Game

I love playing chess. Mostly because it seems that I am involved in a very tiny way in one of the greatest collective intellectual achievements of humankind. The end result of centuries of crowd-sourced tweaking, chess is the ultimate brain-training app; it develops analytical skills, consequential thinking, pattern recognition and is a wonderful means of improving one’s creative problem solving skills. And chess is rife with analogies to life.

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