Search this site
Other stuff

All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

My latest books:


        Available now

       Available Now

Available now 

My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

 The Blue Skunk Page on Facebook


EdTech Update





The prescient Apple video from 1987

It's poor quality image, but this old clip from Apple is 30 years old:

Today's Siri and Alexa make the nerdy looking "Knowledge Navigator" strangely prophetic.

1987 I was using an Apple IIc that took 5 1/4 floppy disks, owned no portable phone at all, used a 300 baud dial up modem to get me into a bulletin board, and watched over-the-air-broadcast television. Oh, and read paper books and magazines and letters. So things have changed.

Hard to image just how much more they will change over the next 30 years. If you want a glimpse, I highly recommend Kevin Kelly's book The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future. I like his optimism.

(Oh, note how long and slow-paced the video is - our attention spans have shrunk as well!)


BFTP: 3 technologies with staying power

My allergy, however, to rose-colored scenarios of a future rich with technology remains. I can only imagine how painful it must be for those hard-core advocates of more-technology-the-better who predicted the end of schooling years ago to see that public schools are still around. So what might 2023 look like? Larry Cuban

I've commented before that one human year is equal to 10 Internet years. If so, any technology that sticks around for 10 years has an analog age of 100. How well would even the most prescient scholar have done in 1913 in describing today's technology? As someone on NPR recently observed, "Instead of the Jetson's flying cars, the future has given us Twitter." 

However in Predictions about High-Tech in K-12 Schools in 2023, Larry Cuban bravely opines:

Clear trend lines for U.S. classrooms in the next decade are the continued growth of digital textbooks  downloaded on hand-held devices and tablets (smartphones, iPads, eBook variations), spread of computer adaptive testing, and expanded online learning (also see: goingthedistance). But not the slow dissolution or “disruption” of public schools.

Cuban is right on target. Digital resources accessed on individual devices, computerized testing, and online learning will continue to make gains in nearly every school. Do these technologies have the potential to be "disruptive"? Yes, but only if ....

  • The digital resources and readers are actually used to differentiate instruction and make learning more active/hands-on/student centered. If they remain only a silicon versions of print textbooks, no.
  • If the data from adaptive testing are actually used to develop individualized/personalized learning experiences for students. If the results are simply a means of politically "grading" schools and teachers, no.
  • If online learning is actually used to provide a broader range of high quality learning experiences giving leaners greatly expanded choices in course subjects and teaching methodologies. If it is only a means of providing a cheaper educational experience, no.

Are there other 100 year predictions one can reasonably make about technology use in education? I am going to stick my neck out and make a few myself...

  1. Information and entertainment will be increasingly accessed in audio and video formats with less print use. Our move to a post-literate world will continue and accelerate.
  2. Technology as an extension of our mental abilities will be increasingly the norm, not the new. These extended brains will be more powerful, more biologically integrated, and more personal. Families, not schools, will provide these tools.  Memorizing anything will be seen as archaic with information literacy and problem-solving reigning asthe vital skills.
  3. Schools will become increasingly diverse in how technology is used rather than more uniform, and the differences may well break along socio-economic lines. The affluent will be able to choose schools where technology is used to empower students, developing problem-solving and creativity; the less affluent will be given schools where technology means programmed instruction and testing of low-level skills and concepts.

One of the reasons that educators do not embrace change is that they are asked to change too damn often. Even as a classroom teacher in the 70s and 80s, I would shudder each time an administrator came back from a conference, wildly enthusiatic about the latest "silver bullet."  As I wrote way back in 1998:

It is extremely discouraging to work diligently and faithfully toward change only to have any support of it pulled away by a new administrator, a school board flip-flop, or shifting political wind, often long before any expected desirable impact can occur. In many a seasoned teacher an internal dialog starts the minute the next “best-thing-since-sliced–bread” change is proposed: 

“Let’s see. I invested heavily in my own time and took some real professional risks the last time a change was brought into the district. I didn’t get any reward or recognition for doing so. There wasn’t much training or encouragement. Nobody cares anymore if I know the elements of quality, use cooperative groups, or buy into outcomes. This round I think I’ll just wait’em out. This too shall pass.”

Sound familiar? You mean it’s not just Minnesota that has cynical teachers?

This is why we, like Dr. Cuban, should think deeply about technologies that have staying power and focus on those most likely to last. I'm letting somebody else always try out the next new thing.

Anybody willing to take a bet on how long the term "flipped classroom" will last?

Readers, your 100 technology year predictions? 

Original post January 12, 2013


The horse is out of the barn: cell phones

Not long ago signs similar to this were not uncommon in Minnesota schools:

But yesterday I noticed two very different signs related to cell phones in high schools in two different districts:


Can we safely conclude that the cell phone battle between educators and kids is over - and that the kids won? 

In 2009, I wrote a list of 20 technologies that many educators were trying to keep out of the schools:

These educational technology resources, annoyances, and conditions are here to stay despite some educators denial, resistance and fast grip on the status quo. The sooner educators, especially tech directors and administrators, accept that these things are a permanent part of the educational landscape, the sooner attention will be paid to using them positively and productively.

Cell phones were number one on my list of these "horses that were out of the barn."

This week I ran across a great article in Wired, "Demonized Smartohones Are Just Our Latest Technological Scapegoat" that reminded me that new technologies (including writing and the printing press) have always been met with dread warnings of the damage they will cause to civilization as we know it. 

Read any articles lately about how "technology addiction" is ruining the world?