2016 Ed Tech Predictions

Electronic waste in Agbogbloshie dump, Accra, Ghana.

Now is the time of year to think about the future while completely ignoring the past. What follows are my predictions for the Top 10 Ed Tech trends:

  1. People will produce lists of what they expect to happen in Ed Tech in 2016 with no critical evaluation of whether or not their 2015 predictions came true. Say, do you know if the prediction in 2007’s Shift Happens that “the top 10 jobs that will be in demand in 2010 didn’t exist in 2004” is true or not?
  2. People will attend ISTE in huge numbers, complain about it like last year, and go again next year.
  3. ‘Innovation’ and ‘entrepreneur’ will continue to be a popular words (as will ‘disrupt’ and ‘change’), though no one will carefully consider the underlying economic theories or whether or not what they are saying makes any real sense or contribution to making the world a better place. (Ask Tony Wagner or George Couros to explain the difference between Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” and Christensen’s “disruption” theories of innovation. And for bonus points, have them explain how the term ‘innovation’ gained cultural currency in the context of post-modern skepticism about technological progress). 1
  4. Issues to do with feminism and equality will take a back seat to corporations and profits (’10 things you can do with Google’  will be more popular than ’10 ways to make your class more feminist’). 2
  5. People will love the shit out of listicles and quotes photos (I am going to believe Einstein said it, even if I know better), which will help accustom us to neither making nor evaluating arguments and long trains of thought which are no longer important because… I forget.
  6. Thought Leaders will talk about ‘tech integration’ like it is 1995 while teachers do the hard work of making real change happen all the time.
  7. Our favorite books will be written by people inside the Ed Tech and Innovation crowd or who are popular in business management circles (Dan Pink, Thomas Friedman, Richard Florida, etc.) but we won’t be able to have a competent discussion about Neil Selwyn’s Distrusting Educational Technology because we will have neither heard of it nor read it.
  8. We will preach about kids having authentic audiences for their work to a bunch of teachers held hostage and forced to listen to us. We will talk about kids using authentic tools for their work, but never write about what exactly those are because we use Google Docs (Authorea is mad cool).
  9. We will victim-blame those who can’t find work and mumble something about a ‘skills gap’ because how could The Economist and Thomas Friedman be wrong? For what its worth, while we may think of ourselves as progressive, if we ever talked to people in sociology or political science, our belief in the ‘skills gap’ would make them burst into an hysterical fit of laughter.
  10. We will all read Jussi Parikka’s A Geology of Media and Jennifer Grabrys’ Digital Rubbish and stay up late worrying that our obsession with educating our kids with the latest technology in our schools for the good of our future might have terrible consequences for, well, large swaths of humanity and most of the planet.

Wait, that last one won’t happen. But now that you have read this, you can’t say that you only wish you had known what the future would hold and would have lived your life differently if you did. You now know.

Here is a link to the featured image.

2 responses

  1. Dear Anonymous,
    You have turned my ambitions upside down, and I am forever grateful for your critically sardonic and sharply witty blog. It appears that, like myself, you are new to this social media game. Consult Like a Pirate was amazing.

    As a teacher, I feel slighted. Education consultants and speakers are making exponentially more money than those of us in the trenches. I think any good teacher would like a piece of that pie considering how grossly underpaid we are. That being said, the cliche is glaring.

    I would be honored to co-write Teach Like a Stripper. It is an autobiographical piece about my career as an arts educator. Brilliant.

    I feel like a young person who just decided it is important to care about politics, and I am playing philosophical chairs on Twitter in an attempt to redefine my purpose as an educator. The good news is that education “reformers” are much smarter than (most) politicians. If consultants like Will Richardson are the liberals in this game, then you represent the important (and often silent) voice of a moderate. If you are a republican, I urge you to infiltrate the party and run for president. You are well researched and know your shit. You could, very well, save the country from imminent destruction.

    I have appreciated all of the author and publication references. After reading your 2016 Ed Tech predictions, I dug up the Tony Wagner archive from 2012 titled The Principal of Change. I couldn’t agree more with his contemplative assertions. But, I don’t see his message as a contrast to the preachings of the Ed Tech community. I am interested in hearing more about your proposed solutions. You offer valid criticism, but I want to hear your constructive ideas. If you feel like people like me are missing something really important, then what is it?

    Here is the deal. I generally view anonymity as a sign of weakness. Even Edward Snowden revealed himself. You offer a much needed voice of reason for those of us who have swallowed the proverbial Kool-Aid of anything branded “innovative.” I want to be your friend. I want to know who you are. I want to observe your classroom if you are a teacher. Why are you hiding?

    Sincerely,
    Allison Frenzel

  2. Bravo! Please write more!

    And thank you for the excellent recommended reading. I was already a big fan of Audrey Watters and Neil Selwyn, and have been anxious to read more widely and deeply about tech in education. It is, as you know, hard work to sort through the empty or cynical tech cheerleaders and find substantive work. I’m excited to have some new reading to look forward to.

    And Allison, I understand your hesitation about anonymous authors, but I use a pseudonym as well, because if I didn’t I would be in danger of losing my job. Our author here is swimming against a massive and well-funded current of both cynical demagoguery and well-intentioned ignorance that in many schools and ed-circles has led to the reign of a kind of “tyranny of enthusiasm.” Failure to breathlessly embrace all things tech and innovation, much less the temerity to voice skepticism, is always punished.

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