The future of education

I love football. If you ask me anything about Newcastle United I will be able to give you the answer or make a well informed guess. I would certainly know where to find the answer quickly. But I have never made any special attempt to learn this stuff. Just like my friends who watch a film and learn the director, year it was made, cast, plot line and film studio via osmosis. It interests them so they learn effortlessly. They can put it into a rich context.

Over recent years I have begun to love science as much as anything else. I have no idea how much I know about science but I imagine it is only a tiny amount. But what I know, I love.

But at school I didn’t know anything. I used to love reading books. Some of my favourite authors include: Isaac Asimov, Tolkien, James Clavell, Phillip K Dick, Robert Greene, Sun Tzu and William Gibson. These books taught me a lot about the world we live in. Whether it was Asimov’s analogy of the collapse of the Roman Empire, Greene’s laws of power, or Clavell’s economic or political strategy, they all help you see things from other perspectives, which expands your own.

So why did I not want to learn anything at school? Why was I not enthused and inspired?

Many people are saying today that the technology in the students hand goes way beyond what they have in the classroom. This is true. But it’s a smoke screen. Students have got imaginations and energy that way surpass the teachers. They have books in their homes and the Internet or tv to inspire them.

Education is broken because individual students are not encouraged to explore their interests and passions. We live in a world of abundant information. Students should have history lessons to give them the skills needed to be critical about the sources of information and agendas/ societies that influence their teachings, as well knowing where our culture fits in and where it came from. They should be given lessons in living in the modern world so that they know what kind of life they can expect to live in the future, how other people around the world live and how it all fits together. And then they should be able to explore the world as their interests dictate.

Well, that’s what I think this morning anyhow 🙂

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The Power of the Cloud

Googles new laptop: the Chrome Book, or something like that, doesn’t have any internal storage. And it can only work when connected to the Internet. So, basically, it is a purely cloud based machine.

The cloud is gaining power. Cloud computing, of the like that powers CERNs Large Hadron Collider – where the power of millions of computers are used as opposed to machines in just one facility- provide the potential for vast processing of information. Organised efficiently.

Ambient monitors can track and inform the cloud of where we go, what we do, who we’re with, how we got on, benchmark our progress and learn how to best inform us. All in the cloud.

The cloud is getting more powerful, it has a bigger memory, it has nodes that tap it for life and it knows exactly what is going on at all times.

So the question for Google- the main organiser of information- Will be whether it can harness the beast? Or will the concept of singularity (where artificial intelligence overtakes human intelligence) become a reality? Or is it already like that without us knowing?

I already think that if aliens floated round in the earths orbit and looked at us, they would think that we are a species that carried round little electronic devices. That’s how they would describe us. And the cloud is powering the devices. Who is really in control?

Who’s in charge?

When a baby cries it’s parents will give it attention.

When your phone rings or beeps you will go to it and at least see who has called.

You go out for a friends birthday, have one too many to drink and end up singing Tina Turner songs on the way home in the taxi.

Th next morning it is necessary to check Facebook otherwise you might be tagged in a picture or video that is not for the world to see.

Which of our behaviours are our own free will and which of them are other factors controlling us? In the digital world it seems to me that we can have our behaviour modified as easily as when nature dictates to us.

Making a product demo video

ok so I am only 3 days in to the experiment but I think I may have some useful results to share already.

I created a video of our products in action. It was simply a screen cast and some music. In it I tried to show as many of our features as possible as fast as possible and at the end made a call to action. I posted it on YouTube and embedded it on our website.

The first day we doubled the number of free trials we gave away. But only from 1 per day, to 2 per day. And we got the same result on the second day. It works!! Then..

On the third day, I was at a board meeting, and got back after a long day of travel and work and went straight to bed. I woke up today and we’d given away 121 free trials!! Unprecedented!

The viral nature of the web is a powerful thing but why had it not happened before?

Everything was the same on our pages except the video. So what is it about video? Or was it just good luck?

My job is now to answer these questions. What I can do is monitor how well the video continues to do and also to make a “better” video, where we give away more value and see how that effects free trials.

If these turn a blank then it may have been luck. If other videos go viral then we are on to a good thing.

Why not try it yourself??

Learning a new language

Selamat Pagi

I have not blogged much recently because I have been spending a lot of my time learning a new language.

Have you tried using a podcast to learn a language yet? It is amazing!!!

I searched for “learn Indonesian” on iTunes and 2 podcast series appeared. I downloaded both for free. One of them was a set of 45 lessons each about 5 minutes long and although I’m only 6 lessons in, I’m completely amazed at how much I have picked up and how well the technique is for teaching.

Each lesson teaches just a few words and puts them into a sentence and real life situation. They then mix it up a bit so you have to think about what you learned. They then test some of the previous lessons material. It seems like they are training you to be prepared to learn as well as to digest information. And it works.

As I mentioned in my post Learning Spaces, iPhone and devices really expand your opportunities to learn in the times and ways you want. I do a lot of travelling where I can’t do much more than answer emails or make plans, which is why I started blogging. Now I can learn a new language in this time too.

It does raise many questions to me about use of being taught languages in schools if it can be done so effectively outside of school? I guess the same could be said about any subject? If people are motivated towards learning them they will learn. So does this mean that the purpose of school is to motivate learning? To inspire the desire to learn? If so, how much of lessons should be done explaining the reasons to learn rather than the subject matter?

Eat for £1 per day

My parents are both taking part in the Christian Aid charity fundraiser called: live below the line, by which they must live on food that comes to under £1 each day for a five days.

This is a great effort by them but is nothing really compared to the hardship millions of people live by in their daily life.

If you think that is worth sponsoring or want more information, go to http://www.christianaid.org.uk/getinvolved/fundraise/live-below-the-line/index.aspx