Bryan Alexander: Technology Dialogue Day

Date February 4, 2011

Dialogue Day with Bryan Alexander MCC February, 3, 2011.

Bryan Alexander is senior fellow for NITLE that helps Liberal Arts College use pedagogy and technology in education. Roger Yohe introduced Bryan at MCC’s LB145. We’re going to discuss the Horizon Report and discuss the purpose and why that really does matter. Bryan began talking about who he is and what he’s about including raising goats and chickens and the 6′ of snow outside his home in Vermont and the broadband inside.

Plan of today’s session is 1. Methods, 2. Near term, Medium, and Longer, then 3) Scenarios built around the future of technology. Current features he works on include Prediction Markets, NITLE Network, the Horizon Report, and various events. They work with small schools of up to 2,000 and then link them together.

Wiki is old school he says, but people think it’s emerging because they’ve not worked with them before. Showed us the methodology tree: and we’re discussing futurism and trend extrapolation. IP addresses are running into problems now and we’ve moved to IPv6. Non-keyboard interfaces are becoming bigger and bigger while 3D is currently flatlining.

Advantages of a future marked is distributed feedback, continuous, and affordances of play. Fantasy Football is a type of this. Black Swan is something statistically unlikely that happens and changes the entire game. Sept 11, 2001 is a black swan, and history has changed because of that. The 2008 economic crash is the same thing. We can’t predict them.

There are groups who try to filter Google Searches to predict futures. Environmental scan is used to predict new movements militaristic, etc… The Delphi method, a formed detailed focus group, that is used to create the Horizon Report. Scenario Model is a type of prediction and by using role playing, we can find gaps in our knowledge. Some issues include: overlap and interconnection, gaps, no value judgements and no probability assessments.

He’s talking about and how you can get tens of thousands points of views simultaneously. And you can discover and analyze the echoes and repetitions to see patterns and trends.

What are the treads you expect to have a significant impact on the ways in which learning-focused institutions approach our core missions of teaching, research, and service? What are the key challenges related to teaching, learning and creating?

Technology to watch out for: E-books and mobiles within this year. Then Augmented Reality, and game-based learning. After that is gesture-based computing and learning analytics. The mouse is on its way out, but many people think that sounds a little too geeky. “People do want to work, learn and study whenever and wherever they want. Work is becoming more collaborative, giving rise to reflection about the way student projects are structured. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based and our notions of IT support are decentralized.”

Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.There are now new forms of authoring publishing and researching. It’s hard to keep up with the proliferation of information. Social Software is no longer controversy. It’s over, Bryan says. They don’t even watch these trends anymore; it’s part of the psyche of our world.

He’s continuing to discuss social media and is talking about the Hudson plane crash and how Twitter scooped traditional news media. … Now he’s discussing how comments are added to online publications. Media Common Press now allows users to comment anywhere they want in online publications. Social media is ubiquitous and we can change social publications.

Publications is changing from AUTHORITY to QUALITY, Bryan said. He did not talk to us about shooting photos, hash tags, etc… These spaces are permeable and the “social is the default”. In academia we’ve had the opposite for centuries and it’s a combination of all networking with easier media production. “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” Scott McNealy the CEO of SUN said this in 1999. Social Media has already changed the world so let’s move on.

An audience member said social media changes our truths. For example in Egypt, what we’re fed is different depending on where we “eat” or consume. There’s more responsibility on user, the consumers. CNN was showing the Cairo police web cameras for sometime, which is only one point of view.

Bryan said saying you don’t use Facebook is like saying you don’t do Email, now. We can’t get away from it. We can’t differentiate our online lives either. You can’t say Linked In is just for professional and FB is only for social. Boring and won’t work. Bryan said teens don’t listen to podcasts, but adults do. Podcasts are buried by iTunes. Twitter’s for old people so why are we asking our students to use it? Now he’s talking about e-books and says they’re old and in 2011 it’s mainstreamed. He’s showing us The White House Blog and talking about how universities are basing their own layout off of Obama’s website. A year ago the Economic Report was available in Kindle, Nook, and Sony reader editions. This was in February 2010. E-books took off in the late-90s and weren’t cheap so they didn’t take off as fast as the MP3 players. The multipurpose devices, like notebooks and smart phones, where people like to read, too. Advantages to e-reading are cost, weight savings, subscription updates, dictionaries built in, pleasure reading, public domain texts, green (paperless), greater purchasing of books, e-ink, and quick updates. Problems e-readers have are limited interfaces, hardware costs, annotation issues, DRM, title availability, visual quality, multimedia, and sharing limitations. The first e-book project started in 1967 with Project Gutenberg. This is years before the Internet and the project is still going. You can read your books in a browser, too. There’s an epub reader add-on for Firefox, too. He’s continuing this discussion of ebooks and how they’re grabbing a hold and moving forward; in the recession they’ve taken off since they’re cheaper.

Emergent future: one revolution. Movie devices include phone, wifi, bluetooth, and portability. These are ubiquitous now. A “device ecology” has happened over the last 8 years. Petra Wentzel wrote on this in “Wireless All the Way” in November 2003 through Educause. The ecosystem is wireless, multiplicity, and the evolving practices and issues include: digital layer over spaces, expanded media, consumption and capture, uneven uptake, social connectors, multitasking, small groups, and attention indexes.

We should be discussing smartphones and smartpens. Here’s a great blog post by Michael Wesch: on SmartPens. Uses for some of these (pens and tablets) include: drawing, math, world languages, multimedia consumption and the appeal of touch screens.

Personal tracking (like we’ve seen in Minority Report) has been in place in Asia for years. Sensor nets have been placed across the globe and companies like HP are doing this. Walmart uses these (in RFID chips) and so does the military. HP calls this “The Nervous System of the Earth”.

Now he’s talking about Augmented Reality, and I didn’t think I knew what that meant until he began. I definitely do know this. For example, I can open Yelp on my Android phone now and find all sorts of food everywhere. Couple that with Google Maps, GPS, etc… You can add augmented reality over the physical spaces where you are. Bryan is talking about Bruce Sterling’s keynote on AR from last year: Augmented Reality adds layers to our “real world” but what is now real versus augmented. SkyMap is another example of how this works. Military applications are obvious, too. Some issues there is with the dawn of AR include: competing overlaps in layers, classic problems of copyright and privacy, acculturating and “unplugging” and also curating and overcrowding AR spaces.

Gaming has taken over the earth. We think it’s all about 14yr old pimply boys. Media age is really between 34-36, and half of the gamers are women. All nations game, and as an industry gaming makes more money than movies (but not music). This impacts hardware, software, interfaces, and other industries. There is a large and growing diversity of platforms, topics, genres, niches, and players. The number of Facebook Farmville users recently is 55,891,706 million (as of January 2011). Gaming has become part of the mainstream culture. Classrooms use games for curriculum content, delivery mechanism, and creating games. Some impact on campuses includes: changes in hardware and software, it’s part of undergraduate life, learning content is both formal and informal and affects career paths. 97% of college students play video games. Gamification has seeped into everyday life, and this is a controversy idea. Wii or Xbox are social games stuck in the living room but so many games are out in our worlds. The Airline Industry is a huge game, and was showcased in the George Clooney movie Up in the Air. Foursquare, GoWalla and Brightkite does this, and so many people have left BrightKite for Four Square because there you can be “mayor”! Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal shows us how and why gaming will change our world and impact our society.

Interface changes are coming (4-5 years according to the Horizon Report) but more like 2 years according to Bryan. The changes include the end of the mouse, touch screens (iOS), Handhelds (like the Wii) and using NOTHING AT ALL (like Kinect). The Kinect is now. Not two years out. Not 4-5 years out. This is right now. Bodiless and interfaceless device, which also responds to voice. Bryan: “hello Kinect, let us play.”

He showed us Books Ngram Viewer about terms and how they interact. Then ended with a discussion of the future in education and technology.