Is the 21st Century here yet? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Various on Monday, 12 January 2009

/2009.jpgThey say you should never make predictions, especially about the future so it didn’t come as a surprise that our request to a group of thought leaders to make predictions for 2009 was met with a little reticence. But after some cajoling and reassurance that it was only a bit of fun to start the year off they didn’t let us down. In fact there are some real eye openers not to mention disagreement.

Our crystal ball gazers are Tim Pearson, John Davitt, Annika Small, Tony Vincent, Mike Sharples, Alice Taylor, Dr Mike Short, Chris Nash, Kyle Dickson, Mark van’t Hooft, Geoff Stead, Eileen Devonshire, Phil Hemmings, Ray Fleming, Geoff Stead, Adrian Hall, Mark Robinson and Martin Owen. The result is an interesting picture of what 2009 might have in store for us. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we have and will contribute your own via the comment link!

tim pearsonTim Pearson, former CEO, RM Plc

As anyone who has read "The Black Swan" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb will know  "expert predictions for the future" are not only incredibly useless but even more incredibly we don't seem to notice how useless they are on an ongoing basis!

That said, here are some predictions:

A much wider adoption (sadly and worryingly) of CCTV in the classroom to protect teachers and schools from lawsuits.

A continued strong push on BSF - this is a scheme that is rolling and is the sort of thing that the current Government is talking about in terms of public works activity - it is virtually impossible for new big schemes to be created overnight so if the govt wants a "New Deal" type of public works push it will need to go with schemes already in place.

Increasing thought and solutions and perhaps product releases for schools managing pupil owned devices rather than school owned devices - although actual real sites switching to this will be very very small for a number of years - and ironically BSF may make it harder.

"Netbooks" (both Linux and Microsoft) will be the only growth area in school devices

There will be lots of data loss stories and this will increase pressure on suppliers, schools and authorities to tighten up.

chris nashChris Nash, Consultant, M-consult

Mobile internet browsing begins to match the numbers of fixed line browsing.

2009 will see a sudden surge in eco companies being set up to recycle all the low cost/quality netbooks purchased for schools in 2008 which are rapidly falling apart and no longer fit for purpose.

/john-davitt.jpgJohn Davitt, Writer, broadcaster and education technology specialist

The Year of the Knitted map

I think we will build communities of learners more rapidly and powerfully this year because lots of people now realise the power of the small but beautifully connected.

The connected DNA of text and twitter messages rather than the dinosaur application points the way to the future and helps us knit together our own personal maps of what might be possible.

mark hooftMark van ‘t Hooft, Researcher & Technology Specialist, Kent State University

2009 will be the year that web becomes truly mobile, not as a separate mobile web, but the web becoming more mobile. According to Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software “Worldwide, the mobile Web has incredible room for growth. The next billion people will come online with a mobile device. I hope we look back on 2008 not as the year the mobile Web went mainstream, but as the year people realized that we have One Web that we access through a multitude of device” i.e. the Web on mobile devices should be no different than the Web, period. A similar argument has been raised in the past by Tim Berners-Lee, who has been opposed to the development of the .mobi domain name, but instead champions the development of One Web ( e.g. see here)

Annika SmallAnnika Small, Director of Education, Tony Blair Faith Foundation

I think we can read something into the fact that one of the top 10 games played on Facebook is ‘Who Has the Biggest Brain?’ where players compete to solve math and memory problems. I predict that, in 2009, we will witness the development of more games for existing social networks, allowing people to play with their friends rather than strangers. My wish is that the developers recognise the potential to develop educational games for this medium and that teachers recognise the potential of these tools to enhance learning.
In 2009, I think we will see a new divide forming between those organisations who see the current global recession as a reason to ‘stick to their knitting’ and to avoid taking risks; and those organisations who approach the recession as a catalyst for change and an impetus for doing things differently. My hope is that we see the latter considerably outweigh the former in the educational ICT field, giving rise to fresh new thinking, resources and practices.

Tony VincentTony Vincent, LearningInHand.com

I think the iPhone/iPod touch App Store is going to greatly increase its number of applications and the usefulness of those apps.  Currently there are 10,000 apps hosted in the App Store. There are already some really good apps for education. There are animation, comic, math practice, simulation, and game apps that are super great for learning. In 2009 I predict we'll see 75,000 apps. With the current ratio of 8% of apps categorized in Education, that's 6,000 apps! Many will be content-specific (like design and interact with a molecule) and others will allow for creativity and creation (like make your own narrated cartoon). The compelling number of educational apps will convince many schools to buy iPod Touch’s for their students in 2009.

phil hemmingsPhil Hemmings, Director of Corporate Affairs, RM Plc
Despite the best endeavours of ICT zealots and pundits, pupils won’t desert traditional schools in favour of technology-facilitated, loosely-linked, peer-to-peer educational communities. However, the very best educators will continue to use technology – lots of different kinds of technology – to make learning more effective, more efficient and, above all, more inspiring.

/eileen-devonshire.jpgEileen Devonshire, Consultant

A scramble for being first to market with Web 2.0 has begun although many providers are forgetting the facility and functions that will set them apart will be a real-time capability for group collaboration irrespective of channel, device or point of entry to a dialogue – by definition not a “done to” model of intellectual exchange but a conversation with intent and anticipated follow up discourse about effective and successful learning.  The learning platform examples abounding seem still to be about supplier led conversations versus the richer learner and teacher led models of leading edge collaborative networks such as those operating in some Academies and Specialist schools.  Prediction is more money wasted unless a learner focus and indeed learner voice leads the next phase of this journey.

/ray-fleming.jpgRay Fleming, Education Marketing Manager, Microsoft UK

We’ll see some easing of the straitjacket of IT systems – things like locking out access to YouTube & Instant Messenger – and instead see more of a safety net approach – building ICT systems with safeguards rather than solid walls, that enable teachers and students to use web 2.0, and all kinds of different devices, to learn, collaborate and communicate. Bringing the “C” to ICT, and trusting teachers professional expertise more.

Geoff SteadGeoff Stead, Director of Technology, Tribal CTAD
Several of the large scale vendors and suppliers of VLEs, laptops, mobile phones will start talking seriously about mobile learning but they will dramatically over-simplify it to suit their own agenda. For example saying they support m-learning, when all they mean is that you can do a small subset of their e-learning on a micro browser.

Phone providers selling their phones as m-learning tools, when all they are really interested in is increased data income.

Content providers squashing big-screen learning on to smaller screens, and thinking that is m-learning. The risk here is that some of the real innovation that currently surrounds mobile learning might get swamped by these simplified ideas.

But all is not lost, because the number of mainstream tools that empower m-learning will continue to get easier (and cheaper) to use. Think podcasting, think GPS devices and maps, think portable media and game players.
As the body of research grows, showing that m-learning really does work, increasing number of teachers will give these tools a go and their cost of entry will go down as increasing numbers of learners will come to class carrying their own, rich media, learning enabed device (whether a smart phone, a UMPC or a game device).

Mike ShortDr Mike Short, President, Mobile Data Association

Olympics 2012 fever has a knock on effect on Education. Not just sporting activities, but more interest in the facilities/buildings, the measurement of health/fitness and the means for schools / colleges to support or participate in the main event.

Educational authorities will start to call for more Flat Rate Mobile Broadband contracts to assure better connected classrooms, blending current wifi with best practice cellular connectivity.

UK CCIS/DCSF will release support funding and programmes for better teacher training associated with Safer Internet usage for children.

I think it was Diraeli who referred to "lies, damn lies and statistics" so I will stop my UK forecasts there. However, 4 Billion Mobile Phones in use globally by December 2008 was not predicted very accurately, if at all!

Adrian HallAdrian Hall, Consultant

The UK educational software market will consolidate with the loss of some of the most innovative and creative developers. This is bad news as this potentially means that we continue to slip back in terms of our ICT standing in the world rankings. In order to combat a range of boring unimaginative educational software we should look to a new breed of developers who see the potential of developing along the lines of the iPhone applications model, and who may not currently be at the forefront of educational software development.

Alice TaylorAlice Taylor, Commissioning Editor, Education, Channel 4

The inevitable jump in unlimited data plans with kids is going to *rock*. Maybe not within just one year, but certainly sharp growth over the next two / three. It's currently at about 7% of teens, I'll bet it'll be at around 20-25% by the end of '09. And that means a whole world opens up to those handsets. I for one welcome our new DSi-wielding overlordlets.

kyle dicksonKyle Dickson, Professor of English, Abilene Christian University, Texas

As the iPhone and Android software communities continue to grow, one surprising prospect for education is silo collaboration. In 2009, the lone developer may gain a more significant role in shaping the practice and policy around the world through privately developed mobile software. What the blog revolution brought the individual voice through a platform like Blogger, new distribution communities like the iTunes App Store can move eccentric innovation more quickly into the mainstream.

With ever more powerful mobiles, 2009 will begin to envision iPhones and other smart devices as a learning platform capable of full-featured media delivery and two-way communications. This sounds obvious, and yet much early mobile development in areas like podcasting and course messaging has focused solely on distributing instructor-focused content more broadly. The next threshold for learning management systems will be sharing mobile audio and video as easily as text in online commenting, conferences, and collaboration.

Martin OwenMartin Owen, Director, Smalti Technology & Medrus Learning

The launch of a really great career education resource!

New Android devices at increasingly affordable prices.

Youth unemployment will not kick in as an issue 'til 2010 - but the manifestations which were "live" in other recent economic downturns like government "schemes" on the one hand and the "punk" phenomenon on the other will not be so obvious because a) the FE/training system is more fragmented and there is less central direction and b) EMA already acts as a financial buffer. However training bodies/FE will look for quick fixes to scale-up and turn to quick fix e-learning 1.0 - which will be an outstanding mistake.

Mark RobinsonMark Robinson, Group Head of Education Product Strategy, Promethean

By the end of 09 we will have a generation of children who may have no real tie to the concept of a ‘window’ or a ‘pull down menu’ – taught by a generation of teachers who have only just about got used to them!
We cannot second guess technology... We cannot really predict the tools and options that could become available next year even.... All we can predict is that it will be different and the rate of change will continue to accelerate. At some point soon the only skill that a school can and needs to teach is “adaptability”...  and how do you assess that?
The crunch may lead to a tightening of the education marketing budgets of tech companies that previously allowed proactive educators get their hands on cool consumer electronics. If those teachers want to continue to innovate - more sustainable options need to be found. This might actually lead to a much better understanding that true innovation in education is not so much about a neat idea or a neat gadget (you will be able to pick neat ideas off the internet like apples off a tree and the gadgets will be falling out of school bags) but that the real innovation is if the idea is truly scalable and sustainable and changes the behaviour of the mass of teachers.

mike sharplesProfessor Mike Sharples, Director, LSRI, Nottingham University

The convergence of location-based media phones and multi-player gaming into will be the next big thing in handheld computing, producing innovative mixed-reality games of exploration and discovery that combine indoor 'control centre' and outdoor 'cityscape' activities.

What do you think?
If you have any predictions that you'd like to share or if you'd like to comment on any of the ones you've read here then we'd like to read them!


Comments from the forum:
Is the 21st Century here yet?
Graham    January 12th, 2009 - 11:16 AM

I'm further indebted to Mark van't Hooft who forwarded to me this link to Rudy De Waele's Mobile and Wireless Predictions for 2009 which are well worth a read:

Re: Is the 21st Century here yet?
maximise    January 12th, 2009 - 3:51 PM
Thanks to all your contributors, it makes a great read.  However, I am a bit surprised, nay disconcerted, that there appears to be no mention of e-Portfolios.

I feel that the e-Portfolio is the perfect tool for managing learning anywhere, anywhen, anyhow and will certainly be invading a school near you, if Becta has anything to do with it!   No need to be hooked in to a cumbersome VLE.  A free-standing e-Portfolio can be a particularly 'lite' way of filing immediate documents for editing, collaborating and peer-reviews etc.

With the increasing proliferation of handhelds and UMPCs the e-Portfolio becomes the perfectly tool for configuring one's learning environment to ones' own specification.

Best Wishes,
Ray Tolley  NAACE Fellow
ICT Education Consultant
Maximise ICT Ltd
P:  http://www.raytolley1.xfolioworld.com
B:  http://www.efoliointheuk.blogspot.com/
W:  http://www.maximise-ict.co.uk/eFolio-01/htm
Winner of the IMS 'Leadership Regional Award 2009'

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