Monday, December 16, 2013

eDemocracy, eLearning, eGovernment eEverything

-         Lots of arguments start when people find they are using the same words but using them differently.  I want to make it clear here that I'm using many words almost as synonyms.  

L  Four sets of synonyms I am using: 
  • Online, digital, electronic, internet “e” – eg. eLearning, eGovernment
  • Digital democracy, eDemocracy, internet democracy, digital citizenship
  • Direct democracy, participatory and/or pure democracy
  • Education, change, democracy

The function of #ePetitions in #ParticipatoryDemocracy and #FuturEd

A petition is a request to do something.  Typically a petition sets out a problem and demands that responsible parties solve it.  An #ePetition is a request made accessible and sharable on the internet, using a variety of electronic polling and networking tools.   This means unlimited numbers of people can electronically sign the petition, and very large numbers of petitioners can be difficult for responsible parties to ignore.  This is the essence of true democracy – individuals participating in decision-making on an equal basis – one person, one vote – with a simple majority being able to reach the decision.   True democracy transformed itself into representative democracy before we had the tools for everybody to be involved, so individuals are elected to represent large numbers of people who transfer their voices to their representative.  The flip side of representative democracy is direct democracy where individuals have the opportunity and the responsibility to engage in informed decision-making.  The internet makes this possible, the scale of global problems makes this necessary, digital petitions are vehicles for direct democracy and positive change, and education systems must take a responsible role immediately.   In this context, democracy, education and change are essentially synonyms. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

And now for something truly disruptive: ePetitions, Participatory Democracy and Education

I haven't been blogging for a long time, but I have something to say and I'm going to blog it.

I believe that the single best use of the internet at this point in time is for #digitaldemocracy or #participatorydemocracy - using all the tools available to animate social change.  

Social change and participatory democracy are needed because representative democracy is dead - unable to deal with the huge challenges we face on planet Earth.  In my view, too much time and energy is wasted on such drivel as organized global photo ops for politicians, and not enough is focused on the real issue of #social justice and #survivability - how we need to adapt our thinking and our social actions to survive as a species.

The tools that facilitate participatory democracy are the internet, online activism organizations, and #ePetitions, among other things.  I'm going to focus on ePetitions because they are so powerful at bringing about change AND they are an excellent teaching tool.  

The best ePetition organization I know is #Avaaz.org.  Lessons I have learned from Avaaz have prompted me to make this commitment:  I will sign an online petition every day and I will encourage everyone else to do it too.  

Because it could be dangerous to mindlessly sign petitions, there are a number of associated skills that can be acquired in "the classroom" using ePetitions as a teaching tool.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Am I the only one sick of updates and upgrades?

I've been labelled an "early adopter" - I've often had and used technologies before most people - motivated by the fear of being the last, so why not be first?  I work hard - with only the advice of Victor far away in Dubai - to stay on top of tools and technologies.  But I have to say - it is really hard and often I am driven to absolute distraction by forced updates and upgrades - FORCED because you get half way through an updating process and realize you need to also upgrade at substantial cost and/or inconvenience. Two examples from this weekend alone:

MobileMe - some cloud computing service from Apple - demanded that I update my method of payment - new country, new credit card.  So in the process, I found I was expected to add new apps and spent time doing that on my Macbook Pro so that I could make the necessary changes on my iPod.  THEN I learned that all I had done was only valid on an iPod 4 and mine is a 3.  Get the picture?  This morning I had another demanding email from MobileMe.  Jeez....

Then I decided to buy some music from Amazon.  First I updated my account - new country, new credit card.  Then I found the music I wanted and, with one click, ordered an MP3 download.  Now remember, I've been in Saudi Arabia where there is no music, no art or drama, no theatre or laughter, no fun of any kind.  Here in Malaysia, there is an abundance of all those things.  But guess what?  MP3 downloads are only available to people in the US.  So now I wait for a CD to be mailed?  Are they NUTS????  

I cannot, at this point, even contemplate setting up my Sony eBook reader, or my Skype phone, or my Youtube camera.  We technology users are the victims of the stupidly brutish business of consumer electronics.  This really impacts on what and where universities, e.g., should invest in technology.  Anybody listening out there?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Mobile Office

Where to start being a resident futurist?  By going mobile, I think.  I've spoken to the head of ITS and I'm going to get an iPad that will, for all intents and purposes, become my office.  I plan to move around, sit down and set up all over the university.  I want to meet more people, see how things work, see where change is desirable and necessary, see who the change agents are.  Listen, learn, inspire if I can. 

Education Futurist in Residence

What is the dream job of an education futurist?  Well, find yourself living in a great city and working in a world-class university and be directed to bring about change.  No permissions required, no routine paperwork - just get into action animating change.  Success criteria?  Engaging teaching, engaged learning.  My title is Senior Advisor, Education Innovations and my job description is "shake things up."  The dream job - education futurist in residence!    

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What is an education futurist anyways???

An education futurist is just the opposite of an historian. I study the future, not the past, of learning systems. That is not to say the past is disregarded - trend analysis is a critical part of future studies. I find my inspiration for futurist initiatives and values from the futurist literature OUTSIDE of the education community - business, enviromental, socio-economic, military futurists all have sometime wise and cogent to say about how learning systems need to change.

So what is the future of education, you ask? Futurists speak about three kinds of futures - possible, probable and preferred.

The possible future is limitless - or almost. Fundamentally, I believe it is possible to change all aspects of our learning systems - who is taught, who is teaching, what and where the learning takes place, how learning is acquired and assessed and managed, why we have a system in the first place.

The preferred future is drawn from the choices - a coherent vision of a coordinated system of inputs, processes and outputs. In my vision of a preferred future, we have radically transformed all aspects of our learning systems -putting learning at the heart of the endeavor.

The probable future? Well, a cynic would say that nothing much will change. The forces that argue for the status quo are so strong. But by definition, a futurist is an optimist. I'm optimistic that radical transformation is possible and in places like the UAEuge vision of change and progress, a preferred future is possible.