by Stephen Downes
Dec 15, 2016
This has come up in other discussions as well. "No matter which political party holds the White House or Congress, over the next 25 years, 47% of jobs will likely be eliminated by technology and globalization." Well then, won't new jobs replace the ones we lose? Maybe not. "What would our society be like with 25%, 30% or 35% unemployment?" asks venture capitalist Art Bilger. I think we can imagine, since it's a reality faced in various nations around the world today. But it raises the question: what should we be training our children and youth of today for? Job training seems so irrelevant in a world without jobs.
What this makes me wonder is what the best way to think is when creating bots. Consider this: "A designer who thinks in systems will get to know their users’ problems better and will be able to see the point where the bot technology won't be able to solve problems anymore." OK, fair enough. So thinking in systems is one way to approach bot design. But is it the best way? What would the alternatives be? I tend to think in terms of spaces and affordances, not systems. I think of open-ended possibilities, not ways of reaching objectives. But is that appropriate to a bot? I'm not sure, but we need to ask the question. As Desiree Garcia says, "I think there's a need to have a point of view, to note the ways we may be setting precedent for product design throughout the industry, and to know how to articulate it inside our multidisciplinary teams and throughout the broader design community."
The National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future (NCTAF) has released an update (24 page PDF) on its original report released 20 years ago. "We have squeezed all we can out of the hard rind of econo-metric formulas," they write. "Now it is time to activate the human factor - the motivation and intelligence of students and educators - to reorganize schools around what drives learning." I'm not sure there was any juice in that particular rind to begin with. But the turn is a welcome one. So if for the most part their focus on teachers and teaching - not the traditional people and roles, but a redefined set of activities and relationships between them and the students and the community. The report also appears to recognize that there are many other system-wide factors to consider - a shift in demographics in the U.S., where a majority of students are now people of colour, and the gripping reality of poverty, where 50 percent of students qualify for free or subsidized lunches. The report came out in August but SmartBrief revisited it this week.
A large organization I know launched a mentor program for new employees by asking for volunteers, matching them with partners, then leaving them to do whatever. That's a program that's ineffective by design. People aren't born being mentors; it's a skill that needs to be honed over time through learning and development. This article is hardly the last word on the subject, but it's a start. Mentors need to know why they're doing it, have some sense of what they should be doing while they're doing it, and be able to monitor and track results. People acting as mentors should have ongoing support and feedback. Related: Mentoring's promise and limits, the Atlantic..
It's a fun thing, though shouldn't it be called the 12 apps of the holiday season? #jk "This short free course is for anyone who is interested in mobile learning, specifically the potential mobile apps hold for learning and teaching. Over 12 consecutive weekdays, starting Dec 1st, take the time to read 12 short case studies written by educators from Ireland, the UK and America, and be inspired by the work that they are doing."
These five tips are practical and, according to the article, effective. It was the first tip that drew me in: find out what devices students are actually using and align support accordingly. In this case, the trend was toward Apple. But it won't always be - you have to check. The second tip was also a winner: teach not just for consumption but also for curation. And the mechanism suggested was a good one: have the class go out and take pictures of injustice, then (as a group) select the one they want to use. The quality goes down a bit from there but it's still worth reading all three pages.
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