The big problem with education today, and for at least the next twenty years, is that teachers have no idea what they are educating students for. Teachers have no idea what careers are going to be available for their students' productive working life.
The web is an example of this phenomenon. The web represents perhaps the largest sudden shift in the workforce that has occurred in the history of man for the time being. The web as we know it came into existence around 1994. In 2000 a small percentage of school leavers ( any idea what % ) went to web based careers, careers which were not dreamt of when they started High School in 1995. Now a few years later the webpage designer and resource researcher are old job specs, and new web careers proliferate. Today people make their livings from simply using web services such as Ebay. This expansion of the career structure generated by the web is not going to stabilise within the next 20 years. Technological and social changes are going to continue at an unforeseeable pace for the next generation at least.
Hand in hand with this change in technology will be a change in social structure. It is not clear yet whether these changes will create a computer literate elite or whether changes waiting in the wings at present will make computers more accessable for everyone to use. In the next 20 years the gap between the computer literate and others will become a social gulf as great as the social gap that seperated the literate from the illiterate in earlier centuries. As an example of the kind of social gaps that used to exist regarding literacy, in England, a condemned man could escape hanging by demonstrating his literacy by reading a passage from the bible which the hangman carried with him.
It is easy for us to think that computers will become more affordable and easier to use. But this is a naive forecast. Trends of the last 10 years indicate that computers get more powerful, faster and have more storage capacity. But they are not more affordable. Computers with simple requirements are not offered in the market. Instead demand for higher spec hardware is driven up by operating systems and other software which demand a higher spec environment, without actually delivering any extra function. The software becomes more complex, harder to use, and more arcane. The workings of the software are hidden under layers of obscuring interfaces. This is caused by an industry that needs us to keep spending money on its product on a continual basis in order to sustain itself. This industrty also helps itself by fostering an elistist body of experts to work in this environment.
The effect of this structure is that computers will not get more affordable, but will be as expensive as the market can bear. They will get more powerful, complex and arcane. Access to information on how to use this technology will become more protected and commercialised.
The only foreseeable change in this arrangement is if a large economy outside of the US which has a different market and economic system, decides to create a computer industry for iteself. This has happened several times in the past. In the 1970's Japan entered the market and halved the cost of IBM mainframe computers. This also caused the death of the European computer industry which had managed to survive because IBM was so expensive. In the 1980's Korea and Taiwan entered the mini-computer market preempting and undercutting the IBM PC. The PC market adjusted to its present form and many Asian companys such as Samsung are still part of it.
In the future we must look to China or India for a shakedown in the current market structure. India is now becoming the worlds major source of computer programmers. If India develops an independant hardware industry we can expect it to undercut its foriegn suppliers in its home market. This kind of development will not happen in India or China or anywhere else for at least 5 years, because the silicon chip industry is near the end of its lifespan and a plastic chip industry is being developed.
As a consequence of all this we must expect the current status to continue for 10 years or so. This is at least one stable aspect in the picture of ICT in education.
The problem of what to teach now to prepare children for the future seems to be imponderable, but there are ways of addressing this problem.
5 Future Careers
being revised June 2006 - links updated
This chapter is concerned with specific career paths and with attempting to determine how significant each is in the general scheme of the labour force, so that schools can decide how much weight they wish to give to teaching skills for this career path. To help give teachers some idea of what is involved in preparing a student for a particular career path refernce is made back to the various projects in the introductory, intermediate and advanced sections which a student should have completed satisfactorily.
- Self-instruction - by teaching the basics of how to find, access, and use information in order to learn how to use tools. This is a skill that must be taught and learnt because it involves issues of self-reliance, self-confidence and self-motivation that can easily be undermined in the normal course of events.
This is not a chapter on the theory of education, but the phrase how to find, access, and use information in order to learn how to use tools deserves close examination. In the past we have been able to teach children how to use tools, with the expectation that these are the tools that the school-leaver will be using. This is now a false expectation. We can now be sure that the ICT tools that we teach children to use in school will be superceeded by other tools in less than 10 years.
- Information Literacy - by teaching students how to organise information, structure it and present it. Object oriented concepts of object, method and attribute, database concepts of table, field, key, functional dependancy, and basic mathematical concepts of semigroup, group, linearity, and logic are part of the foundation of information literacy.
- Tool building - by teaching students how to build their own computer tools, that is, teaching the basic concepts of computer programming.
- Finally it is possible to monitor current trends and crystal gaze to some extent to make projections about future trends. Currently new job descriptions or career paths are being created in the computer industry at the rate of about 1 per day. This is a mind boggling proliferation, and of the 1000's of careers that will exist in a very short time I will only mention the major careers that any school could reasonably expect students to move to from school. There are many other careers that will require tertiary education. For instance, for every career there is a complement career in training people for that career, which would require some tertiary qualification.
But first we need to look at the Future in a more general fashion.
This is the real crystal ball gazing section. This section is about "possibilities" rather than "safe bets" or "likelys" or even "probables". This review of possiblities sets a framework in which we can view the more likely career paths that will be available to school leavers in the next 12 years.
There are three categroies of career future that we can look at:
There are two major areas of advance which are currently apparent. These will be the main forces of advance until we discover a bit more about how the brain works. When that does happen and is applied in computers about 20 years out from now there will be another technological revolution. But that revolution may not have as great an impact on the society of its day as some of the other things that will be happening such as genetic engineering of humans.
For the present the two major paths of advance are object modelling and artificial intelligence. These two paths are closely linked because intellegence is about manipulating groups of objects in interesting ways. But first the objects and their properties need to be defined. Then the ways of operating or manipulating objects needs to be defined. Finally the ways that one object effects another needs to be defined. Artificial Intelligence is about manipulating interacting objects in ways that are not predetermined, observing the results and recognising important generalities.
One untrumpeted bridge was crossed in the late 1990's. We arrived at the digital age. Computer technology became powerful and cheap enough to be able to model everything around us using digital formats. Music made its breakthru with the digiat CD, but this only became a cheap technology accessible to everyone in the late 1990's with the CD writer. Now you can make your own digital CD's at home. Image and video technology has also become digital. These technologies are still a little to cumbersome to provide quality results on a PC, but this gap is also closing. Basically, any object that we wish to model can now be modelled using a digital format, that can be manipulated in a computer. In the year 2000 even our genetic code was rendered in digital format.
With the general availability of plastic chips by about 2006, our ability to model reality will have increased 1000-fold over current 2001 technology. Plastic chip techonology will make all our current computer technology totally obsolete by 2006 though we will continue to use the old technology for some years. Computers of 2006 may not have keyboards but will be purely voice-activated.
A good example of an object to be modelled is the cube. This is a simple object that we all understand. We think of a cube as a three dimensional object, but it is most usually modelled digitally in just one dimension. The word cube is in fact itself a digital lineal model of the concept of cube. when we say the word cube we are referring to an idea
in our minds rather than a physical object. We dont have any particular take on how big a cube is, whether it is solid or insubstantial, whether it is dense, heavey or green. Unless pressed we dont immeditately have any take on its structure, like how many corners it has and how they are arranged. (Ah, maybe now that connection is suddenly made.) Cube is a notion that we learn at school. In our minds we form a pattern, perhaps best described as a template, to which the idea of cube is associated. For the word cube this template is remarkably sparse in its description. But you may notice that as the word cube is repeated here more associations are made, perhaps ice-cubes, alphabet blocks and so on. It is a mistake to think that everyone has a similar template for the word cube. Some people's ideas are more fuzzy about what a cube is. Some may identify any reactangular block with a square face as a cube. Others may consider a drawing of a square to represent a cube. Others may recognise a cube only as a solid object and not recognise a 2-D representational drawing of a cube, or have any grasp of a cube as an abstraction.
Expanding career paths for people who would be using existing tools in their career. This is not really crystal ball gazing and is left to the career paths discussion later in the chapter.
- Career paths for emerging technologies such as genetics. This is crystal ball gazing at its most cloudy.
- Career paths within the computer industry itself which will be developing tools that children starting school now might be expected to be using when they start work in 15 years time. This view is the key to finding out what we should be teaching children now. What is being developed in computer labs now is what school leavers will be using in the workplace in 5 years time. This area falls somewhere between the first two items in terms of probable outcomes. For a realistic view in the immediate future refer to The Technology Infused English Classroom.
The modelling of objects as they are conceived in our minds is one major area of technological development that will advance in huge leaps in the next 20 years. At present this work has not even begun.
We can next consider the two dimensional representational model of a cube. This may be a stick figure drawing with wiggly lines. (Please pay close attention to your own conception of this stick figure as you read this). It may be given substance by being coloured in. This gives the cube faces. We can use computer software such as Povray to draw a very realistic 2-D view of a 3-D cube. But we have to tell Povray quite a story to do this. Because we see in terms on light, Povray needs to be told all the light conditions and reflective qualities in order to render its image. Colour of the cube, its opacity, its reflectiveness, the lightsource, its colour, its position relative to the cube and the viewer, and so on. It turns out we are not modelling the cube at all, we are modelling the behaviour of light as it reflects off surfaces, or passes thru transparent or opaque objects. At present this software only models light in a static 2-D mode, whereas light is treee dimansional and ontinually varying. Laser technology is still in its infancy and is a long way from being able to represent 3-D objects using analogue processes, let alone digitally.
The next step is to consider the modelling of a cube in 3-D space digitally.
The cube was perhaps the first shape to be modelled in three dimensions on a computer. Originally, it was built from 6 square planes and did not have any integrity as a cube. The cube was simply a result of the planes being arranged in the right places in space. Then came the problem of making them all move or rotate together when the cube was moved. Vector algebra covers most of this. Eventually a cube was defined as one of the primitive building blocks in virtual reality models. So much for the cube in general, but still there is no definition of a cube in 3 dimensions such that it defines a space. Which is to say there is no model of the negative idea of the space occupied by a cube. If we want to describe a cube which has a small cube cavity in the centre of each face, we cannot describe the 6 cavities as cubes. Similarly we can describe a tube object but not an arch object. This gives some idea how afar away we are from describing natural objects like flowers and trees. However, in 10 to 15 years all this will have happened. VRML spaces are already a fascinating reality on the net despite their somewhat primitive look.
These are just a few of the object modelling techniques that will develop in the near future. The computer will be the key tool for all object modelling in the future. However it will always have its drawbacks for nothing in a computer is real. Nothing in a computer has to obey the laws of nature. It is interesting to note that despite the use of Computer Aided Design (CAD) for many years, the construction of the Auckland Skytower had to be rehearshed step by step using a real scaled prototype. This indicates just how far we have to go before robots can build spaceships in space. And yet, this also will happen within our lifetimes.
Nobody really knows what the net and the world wide web are going to be like in five years time. The last five years have been such a surprise. The biggest surprise is the way that everyman has adopted the net and taken it into his home.
Compared to this, Artificial Intelligence is a much greater mystery again. Nobody really knows what Artificial Intelligence is, nor can they say how it might be different from human intelligence. At the same time as we talk about Artifical Intelligence compared to human intelligence we tend to deny the existence of other forms of intelligence.
The closest that computers have come so far to Artificial Intelligence is the appliacation of Linear Programming to solve large complex problems of supply and demand over a constrained network. This problem was born from the need to supply the armies of the Second World War with limited means and often with sudden changes of conditions. Linear Programming is not used so much these days because the cost of not delivering materials on time does not usually involve such high costs as loss of life. Defining and maintaining linear programming programs is a complex time comsuming task and slight erros in the data can cause catastrophic results. However it is as good an example of a computer being "very clever" as is available these days.
Artificial Intelligence should not be confused with Robotics. Robotics is an engineering problem involving real objects rather than computer modelled objects. Robots use computers as important components to process input and output signals from the environment (like a simple brain) and to maintain a stable continuous level of functional operation (another simple brain function). These concepts are reasonably well understood and many robots operate around the world. Several household appliances can be considered to be robots because of the control systems they use to maintain their functions.
To understand a bit more about Artificial Intelligence, what it is and how to recognise it, it could be a useful exercise to have a think tank and come up with ideas:
You know its got artificial intelligence when:
This list does not deal with the obvious ICT Career Paths of computer programmer, computer engineer, computer operator, systems analyst etc. These are jobs which have existed for decades. Rather this list concentrates on careers that make substantial use of computer tools or are totally dependant on specific computer tools to supply services outside the computer industry.
This is an old job which is steadily being redefined. A data entry operator may well now require knowledge of Relational Database Structure and how to use Database Programs such as MS Access.
This is another old job whose description is being redefined. Secretaries may now be required to have a wide range of basic ICT skills. New technology is an integral part of competitive business and secretaries in business will constantly be required to upskill to new equipment and technologies.
Requiring expert knowledge of ICT publishing and communications skills. This career path may start in some specific area such as editing conference communications for publication using LaTex, or setting up a LAN, or setting up a multi-media staion for a dance party, and progressing to event management up the scale to Opera in the Park, APEC Meetings, Commonwealth Games Ceremonies and World Trade Fair Pavilions.
These are also old jobs, but again technology has changed the publishing industry.
10 years ago a computer fully equipped to prepare documents ready to print cost up to $100,000 and was the province only of publishing houses. This is no longer the case. You can now design your book ready to print using such publisher quality tools as Acrobat or LaTeX. You can specialise in biography, social or political commentary or popular fiction genres. These books can be sold internationally through such companies as amazon.com. It is this last element, the advent of .com merchandising, that has been the most important change.
- your car beeps at you when you make a wrong turn
The case of music is even simpler because no book needs to be published. Musicains can now write their own high quality CD's with equipment costing less than $5000. Again web merchandising has created the economic framework for this.
There are specialty secretary professions. These involve setting up an organisation, a large legal office, a ministry or government department, or maybe construction company with pro-forma systems of forms using paperwork or electronic communications media and their maintenace. Documents for contracts, specifications, regulations, which can be adjusted by the service agent using programs.
Careers based on the web are all new in the last 5 years. Billion Dollar Web Companies such as eBay, Amazon, AOL, Yahoo and Barnes and Noble have developed faster than any other commercial phenomenon in history. There are a host of Careers associated with the Web and here is a short list of jobs which school leavers can now go directly to. All these career skills have a place in schools as well as in government and the business community.
This is perhaps the fastest growing job description at present in the world and will continue to be so for the next 10 years at least. And is a long-term career path that will grow to involve up to 1% of the total work force and more, depending on your definition of what a WebMaster is. It can be expected that 1 to 3% of current school leavers will go into this career path. If your school is a strong promoter of computer literacy then this figure could be 10%.
This was one of the earlier Web Careers to be created. This is the Web equivalent of a library information service. Many large companies employ researchers to collect information on certain topics such as political and economic status of countries in which a company has or is planning to have a branch operation. In the past newspaper atricles were cut out and pasted into scrap books. Yes, you can make a professional carreer of making those bigbooks in the primer classes. On the web the entries are collected, catalogued, indexed and keyworded for easy access and reference by senior management.
Operating a network service requires knowledge of physical networks, though much of this is done by telecommunications service providers. But the net does not consist of just the world wide web. There are a wide range of services and protocols provided over the TCP/IP network. New technologies are arriving each year each of which is a small revolution in network technology. On the downside, security is also a major issue.
Graphics continue to be leading edge computer technology because of their high resource demands. As computers become more powerful, more specialist tools become possible and new careers are created based on these tools.
These businesses service the Advertising industry by supplying images on request. They maintain archives of images and patterns. They may be high quailty for photo quality work or for web-based work. The web-based images may be used in web-page design or in 3-D Worlds. The images may be designed on computer, collected in the field, or transferred to computer from other media.
Computer archiving of historical material is an important specialty career.
Existing image archives will have to be remade as Video Display technology improves and screens have greater pixel density.
This is a special kind of graphic design that requires special spatial conceptual skills. Computers are now allowing an explosive growth in the use of 3-D graphical application areas. Already this has divided into several major subgroups which are all major career choices in themselves. These different areas are of importance because quite different computer programs are used to create the different types of 3-D models. In addition there are also quite different concepts and assumptions underlying the different methods used. It is not a simple matter to cross from one type to another.
Drafting has been a specialist subject in schools for many years and this task is now performed largely on computers as is required for the larger building projects now being undertaken. Indeed it is possible to see a link between the computer management of the design of large construction projects and the scale of projects being undertaken. Larger projects also require more elaborate rendering techniques to sell themselves to the people fronting up the money for the project. This is realistic rendering of architectural projects.
Webpage design involves some graphic design, but graphic design is a specialist task with an enormous number of specialty areas ranging from Greeting Card design, both on card and on the net, to movie special effects. The web provides a commercial medium for animated images starting with something as simple as this cute bear.
Yes, somebody was paid to design this and an endless array of other animated greeting card images on the net. Childsplay?
There are other areas of realistic architectural rendering being undertaken now, such as special historic sites which are difficult to visit or are closed off for their own protection. Examples are the prehistoric caves paintings of the Avergne, and the Louvre Museum. This also extends to the computer archiving of 3-D objects of historical significance in Museums.
The third major area is in the design of machines starting of course with automobiles and most challenging of all, computer chips.
Another area for 3-D rendering is the design of virtual worlds which are not bound by the constraints of having to exist in reality. Currently these virtual worlds are used mainly in the entertainment industry in three major areas.
It is obvious from this list that the modelling of virtual worlds will continue to be a major creative industry for a long time. Just the job of creating and maintaining photorealistic virtual copies of real objects is a major industry which is still developing. It is the 3-D version of the companies which currently exist to provide 2-D computer based material to advertising agencies.
- On the web where they represent the "Star Trek Holodeck" in its infancy. These virtual worlds are used in commercially based chatrooms to provide an interesting and elaborate fantasy environment for chatting. In addition to the virtual worlds there is the specialty science of creating avatars which are your personal representation in cyberspace, and which may be a realistic representation of your person or a totally surreal concoction.
- In computer games particularly the violent action games, many of the virtual worlds have been written by teenagers enjoying being creative. The requirement to deliver product on time means however that there is also a commercial industry. This area is still in a fledgling phase as the tools are still being developed to make objects in these worlds interract with the real protagonists in interesting ways.
- In the movies and TV flat image backdrop are no longer considered to be "high production value". Now the background of an image is rendered as a 3-D computer model so that its perspective shifts when the camera shifts. Such virtual worlds may be cyber models of such real places as New York City represented with an eye to extreme realism, or they may be surreal and fantastic creations. Here very expensive professional tools are used to provide very detailed images suitable for use by advertising agencies to produce TV advertisments and billboards. This is the world of Hollywood 3-D special effects.
The major problem associated with 3-D on computers is the trouble that people have navigating in a 3-D world. It is an unfamiliar concept and slightly more complicated than flying a plane. 3-D worlds will become more popular when 3-D literate users take hold of this medium, namely the current generation of children who are fascinated by 3-D action games.
Companies will pay big money for their product to be displayed for sale in exciting new ways. Cyber shopping is already a huge business and will replace mail order within a few years as the second retail market. To make cyber shopping attractive to the new generation the current form-based and rather dry presentations of merchandise will develop to the cyber-mall. This is a complete 3-D representation of a shop or mall with the goods on display. This will possibly be the biggest growth career path in the next 20 years although the first cyber mall is not a reality at time of writing.
This is currently a fledgling career path.
Government and Business has been using computers for years. The Health sector has been using computers for many years, though with several major catastrophes, and a dubious overall success rate.
The next major sector to enter the computer age is Education.
Teaching is another old job that will have its job description radically changed in the next few years. All teachers will need to be acquainted with ICT. But the main change will be the way in which they work with their students to integrate with the community in major projects. As well as this, for every 100 teachers there will be at least 5 specialists providing support services. Nobody expects ICT in schools to make teachers "more productive" - that is, to enable the pupil /teacher ratio to be raised. Quite the opposite may be the case. We can expect an increased demand for ICT skilled and experienced staff to be needed in this sector for support services. However if New Zealand can embrace ICT in schools it could lead the world and reap rewards in the international marketplace with its expertise.
To see what kind of job description a teacher will have in 10 years time we need to look at current social forces and project to see what the education system will be like in 10 years. The results are surprising and disturbing. 30 years ago there was a job called "seagull". Seagulls comprised the strongest and most militant union in New Zealand. Today there are no seagulls.
In order to project into the future consider these current trends:
There appear to be no forces which are acting to counter these trends now or for the foreseeable future, therefore we must see home schooling cohorts as an increasingly safe, effective and affordable option compared to school. What are the figures for home schooling over the last 5 years ? If these trends continue schools will depopulate unless the school is in a position to take a hard line on drug use, student behaviour, safety, peer group pressure, and the provision of education resources of the highest standard.
- At present there is appearing more and more educational resource material on the web. 20 years ago the provision of educational resources was the effective monopoly of the MoE. We can project that in 10 years time there will be complete educational information resource on the web and via DVD (and media yet to be invented) to cover the entire curriculum. This is because there will be a worldwide demand by parents for this resource in order top form homeschoolling cohorts. The demand will be driven by a number of factors:
But once the resources are made available in the US market they will be available everywhere.
- concerns, particularly in the USA, for the safety of children in the neighborhood and at school.
- Quality of schooling delivered at school.
- Concerns over peer group pressures in the school environment.
- At present the cost of providing educational resource is dropping and the product quality is rising. 20 years ago Encyclopaedia Brittanica cost $??,000 in printed form. Today it costs $?? with historic video and audio clips. In 10 years time educational publishing companies will offer entire interactive curriculla packages at prices a household can afford. It is possible that Treasury Papers see the current gearing of education costs as too high compared to the real cost of delivering homebased education which does not require major capital investment in buildings and grounds particularly at primary level.
- 20 years ago schools were a safe environment for children to learn and play in, and the neighborhood was a safe place for children to walk or bus to school in. While New Zealand neighborhoods remain relatively safe, many parents are concerned with the amount of drug use their children encounter amongst their peers at school and the effect of peer group pressure on their children to experiment in drug culture. Currently some schools report that 50% of students are somewhat regular drug users. Parents know that drugs impair their child's ability to learn. Schools that wish to take a hard line with drug use to prevent the degradation of the quality of teaching that they can offer in the classroom, feel hampered in their efforts to take a hard line by legal requirements to provide a place for all children regardless of their drug habits. Students can only be stood down if their behaviour is considered to be a bad example or dangerous to other students. "Bad example" is in part determined by the culture of the school as it is seen by its BoT and Parents. Concerned parents can see for themselves, that the Rules for Standing Down and Suspension of a student lay enormous weight on protecting that student's access to an education. They give no weight at all to the effect of peer group pressure within the school environment on students formation of "normal behaviour" within their peer group. Parents, who do not want their children to be subject to pressure to experiment with the drug culture, are taking their children from school and giving them home schooling.
In general this issue is not being dealt with in New Zealand. Current NZ policy is to sweep the problem under the rug by adopting a "Kiwi uspension" whereby students are suspended unofficially. This is considered to be a good thing, because it doesnt go on the students record, the school doesnt have to formally document the suspension, and the school does not have to admit that it is suspending students for drug use which would reflect badly on the school. Consequently nothing is being done to address this whole issue and it will continue to deteriorate.
- In addition parents who want their children to get a decent education rather than be taught in a classroom of dysfunctional students under a regime of degraded teaching conditions are taking them from school and giving them home schooling.
- It is known that as well as other general health indicators, IQ is increasing in children at a rate of about 5% point ecery 20 years.Over a period of 40-50 years this represents 10% improvement which is a substantial shift. Enough to say that most children are substantially more intelligent than their grandparents. However in this same timeframe the school curriculum has not been geared up to match childrens capabilities, rather it has been dumbed down. Very few children are intellectually challenged at school unless a particular school sets its own curriculum standards.
In 10 years we can see a picture where education is divided into 3 entirely different sectors.
One can see that this will have a drastic effect on the profile of the teaching profession. Perhaps 20-40% of the best qualified teachers will retain their positions as effective professional teachers. 20-30% may be school minders in schools effectively working with children "at risk" and with no acedemic pretentions. The other 40-50% will have to move to related fields of work outside the classroom, some possibly inside cohorts, as the preparers of resources, cohort advisers, assessment officers, quality assurance officers, and so on. The role of the "typical" classroom teacher will vanish just as the seagulls vanished. But these teachers will not tend to be absorbed into the cohort structure because the government will be happy to pay minimum wages to non-working parents at home to supervise the education of their children and effectively reduce unemployment levels rather than pay teachers salaries.
- The high-performing schools which are self-funding based on their abiltiy to attract fee-paying overseas students due to their hard-line on student conformance and their provision of premium resources and services. This will make up ?? 20 ?? % of schools (360 ??). Perhaps 50% of the total roll of 216000 will be foreign students ( 110000) generating $1100000,000?? dollars ( over $1b) of overseas income for the economy each year.
- The bulk of students (hopefully 50% ) will be taught in home-schooling cohorts using the web and its communications facilities. In 10 years time this will include live video-conferencing and advances we cannot imagine yet. We have also to consider the possiblility of foreign students living and learning in the context of NZ homeschooling cohorts, an extension of the student exchange programs that have been working so well. This will allow even homeschoolling cohorts to be profit centres for the economy and generate overseas income.
- The remaining 80% ?? of schools ( 1440 ??) will be day-care centres for children who have no place to be during the day and no aptitude to learn anything. With 50% of students out of school there will be perhaps a 30% reduction in schools (from 2700 down to 1800) . The spare schools will be capitalised to balance the governments books. (what is the capital value of 1/3 of the schools in NZ)?
It is not yet politically opportune for Work and Income to offer this employment option to "unemployed parents". This move is probably about 5 years away (2007). It will happen only when the current education system reaches a sufficient state of crisis that public clamour requires it to be provided or it becomes a convenient carrot for an election campaign (in 2008 ?). Treasury may already be aware that this option can be paid for by income from the capitalisation of the spare schools.
This effect will be felt most profoundly in the primary school sector where there is less need for "hard technology" education: labs, and workshops. Home schooling cohorts may need to have access to these facilities from Y7 up and schools may in part survive by supplying these technical services to homeschool cohorts.
This move may sound bad for teachers, but it is good socialism. It reasserts the family and immediate neighborhood via the cohort as the building blocks of the community. It asserts parental responsibility and a good home environment as fundamental social factors rather than economic prosperity or disposable income.
The trends mapped out here cannot be clearly seen in current statistics because the key forces, availability of teaching resources in the home, and the cost efficiency of home schooling are not yet delivered. It will be 5 years before these factors come into full force. At this same time A new range of computer technology 100 times faster and 1000 times more compact than anything existing will start to become available. It is quite possible that interaction with computers will be primarily by voice rather than mouse and keyboard as at present.
Despite this lack of direct evidence of these future trends there are symptomatic indications of this trend. There is a growing gap in educational achievement between the schools with best acedemic record and those with poor acedemic record. This appears to be determined by social factors beyond the control of teachers and schools. Government attempts to throw money at this statistic are having no effect.
The following tables are an attempt to give some idea of the kinds of shifts that might take place.
The above table is constructed on the following assumptions:
at School (,000s)
The most important aspect of this table is that no great change in students attending school is noticed until the limit on foreign students is reached. FFP students will largely fill the school rolls vacated by homeschooling students. However, during that time the divide between high and under-achieving schools will have developed. When the FFP student limit is reached there will be a sudden major impact on school rolls.
- The resident student population remains reasonably static throughout the period. This has been assumed partly to focus on the changes caused by the trends. However New Zealands internal population growth is slightly negative and this is balanced by an immigration policy which meets the defecit.
- The non-resident student population grows steadily but is managed by means of government visa controls and a proportional quota limit in the classroom. Only achieving schools and cohorts will attract foreign fee-paying students (FFP). This is been guessed as represented by 1/3 of the resident student population which attend such schools. A guesstimate of 1 nonresident to 4 resident students has been made here. However, in some classes the ratio already exceeds 1:1. THe social and management dynamics of FFPS favour reasonably large roles in order to manage English classes, and to provide a social melieu for FFPS. This means that New Zealand has a limited capacity to absorb FFP students into its system of 1 per 12 resident students or 60,000 FFP students in total. This figure could easily be arrived at within 10 years considering the econmonic advantages to schools of enrolling FFP students.
- The correspondence school has been declining for some years and can be expected to be absorbed into the homeschooling system as communications in remote areas are put in place. Also the correspondence school itself is not considered a good educational option and it is appropriate that it be laid to rest.
- No hard statistics are kept regarding truancy in New Zealand. The MoE is currently implementing a National student record to help determine the extent of truancy as part of general student planning and management. Here the figure of 20,000 has been guessed at. But the trends favour an increase in truancy as many schools devolve their educational expectations and find themselves dealing with an increasingly dense population of students with no motivation to learn. The upper limit at which pioint truancy becomes a political concern, and the ability of politicains to change this trend is anyones guess at present. A limit of 1/30 of resident students has been guessed at here. This is 24,000 which is close to the current guess. Truancy is already a political topic, partly because the Ministry of Education has no handle on the "Kiwi Suspension" system.
Truancy is not an important factor in this table but will effect the profile of under-achieving schools.
- The homeschooling cohort figure is guided by its feasiblility which is not easy to gauge at present but could come within the reach of many parents within a few years. It is also driven by parents own negative reaction to the education system as they experienced it and as they see their children experiencing it now. This could range from .1 to even up to .5 of the resident student population. As homeschooling develops schools will have an increasing proportion on non-achieving students and this will propel the move to homeschooling, creating a snow-ball effect and creating a divide across the education system.
The homeschooling figures have been estimated by a parabola that hits a limit at 1/4 of the residential students. The figure of 1/4 is highly debatable but a figure of 1/2 could even be proposed, so 1/4 (180,000) is a middle range figure. The move to homeschooling is unlikely to complete in the next 10 years. If it did it would be a major movement causing major change and some pain, with perhaps 30,000 students a year moving to homeschooling. Schools could depopulate, funding of schools on the basis of roll size would become impractical. Class student/teacher ratio would decrease providing for a better teaching environment but with students with little motivation. This will support a move by teachers away from schools and into the homeschooling support market.
Factors such as Correspondence School and Truancy can be seen to be entirely peripheral to the homeschooling discussion.
While these changes do not appear to be too alarming as they are a reverse mirror of the school roll increase over the 80's, what is not apparent from these figures is the dislocation that occurs within the school system. Pressure will be placed on high-achieving schools. Resident students will not leave them for homeschooling and FFP students will want to attend these schools by preference. Their rolls will be under increasing pressure and these schools can be expected to grow. At the other end of the scale motivated resident students will leave for homeschooling. The empty classrooms will not so much be a problem as much as the fact that the schools will become the obvious symptoms of social malaise. A ghetto school mentality will form with reference to the school.
New Zealand already has a well recognised class of "A" schools and a class of "D" schools. In between these two extremes is a happy ground in which most parents are happy for their children to attend their local school. This is the picture which will change over the next 10 years. In fact it has already shifted. Many parents now have pre-school children who can read, write, do basic arithmetic and draw. These children also have equivalent computer skills and can use computer programs to perform these tasks as well. These parents know that their children will learn nothing in their first 2 years at school. These 3 and 4 year old children are not aware of this big picture. However they will come home from school and do their learning on the computer at home after school regardless. In other words, the children themselves will shift the focus of education from the school to home. Teachers will no longer be able to inhibit childrens learning by withholding books and information from them. Teachers will be faced by "precocious" (read normal) children in the classroom who are always 2 years ahead.
This means that the "visible face" of homeschooling is only a fraction of the picture. Children themselves will create their own homeschooling environment.
The Education Sector is currently undergoing a revolution which will take roughly 20 years to work through before a new stable model of Information in Education is established.
The existing model is based on the pact made between the Education sector and the publishers of Education material, in particular textbooks. Education in the past has been managed by with holding inforamation and resources from children. This means that no child has ever acheived his/her full potential in a school setting. Many children have achieved their potential despite their schooling regime, but most prodigies had private tutors. The major exception to this is children who have elder siblings who bring their textbooks home with them. But with smaller families, this effect is now less than it was a century ago.
The model is based on the issuing of information in the class at a time detemined by the limitations of the school and its teachers, not by the needs of the students. This is done by keeping the educational information in textbooks which students only have access to in their designated classroom.
Publishers take care to support the textbook industry by partitioning this information off from that of more general non-fiction in order to protect their own interests and the interests of the author who is generally a teacher. Schools also comply with this arrangement by not keeping the full range of the schools text books in the school library to be available to students of any age.
This compartmentalisation of the textbook industry, in order to restrict access to educational material, is a system that is now being totally undermined. This is happening because there is now a new economic model for author of this material. By publishing on the web abd selling page space for advertising which is closely allied to the material being presented, Google have presented an alternative economic model for the textbook author. This alternative model makes all educatiopnal material available to everyone on the net at any age group of level.
This means that web literate students of any age (those who can surf, read and search on the world wide web) have access to textbook quality information at a time appropriate to their needs, rather than the requirements of the education system.
Mean while the advertisements that accompany the webpages will react to the market, and so become attuned to the webpage material offering specific support services which may be webbased or people based, that is offering tutorial support by real people cordinated by companies that specialise in providing this resource in the locaity that the webpage is being viewed. We are already familiar with dial-a-temp, and human resource companies in many specialist fields. Now a new field will open up for tutor/teachers which will likel;y be entirely web-based. that is the request for this resource and its allocation in any area will be managed by webpages with a computer-system engine driving it.
But the development of this infrastructure is still in the future and is the picture of the new stable model which will emerge in a number of years. In the meantime we are witnessing the undermining of the old system and something of a vacuum with regard to the new system which is going to create havoc in the currernt education system which still has its interests firmly tied to the old system.
Teachers/tutors for the new environment do not yet exist. A large amount of infrastructure needs to be built up before the new system will work properly. This is largely centered around forming a class of students.
The infrastructure requirements will be discussed more fully in the Infrastructure Chapter. We already have a partial model for the open school in the Open University. We can also take a very critical look to the development of web-based Open Universities to see how these systems can best be applied to the learning needs of children.
The main issue to address here is how to create a class of children with similar education needs in a general curriculum area that can be served by an appropriate teacher. It is quite possible that existing schools and other building types can be used to house the classes. The main issue here is one of matching human resource needs.
This is the kind of system that needs to be constructed for the current school environment, particularly at high-school level now. Such a system will make it possible to extend the education sector into a more blended interaction with the general community via teaching services which may be indepentant of any existing school. Many subjects are already in this field, particularly in the performing arts, which is one reason why the performing arts is so poorly represented in schools.
It is possible to postulate the system that will emerge by 2025, and how it will operate. What is more difficult to envisage is the generation of students who will be the first products of this new system. We will have a generation of students whio have been taught at a level more approaching the optimal level in response to their needs. We have only a rough idea of what this means in human terms. We are all aware of the child prodigies of history, and acknowledge that their educations tented to fit this future pattern. But the upper classes of Europe have habitually used private tutors and highly geared finishing schools to educate their children. We can note that the upper classes are not populated with child prodigies but could better be described as being populated by original thinkers and high achievers, much of which has been put down to the oportunity provided by their social position rather than being the product of their education. The result is a murky view of the first generation of the products of the Open School. We can look to the Schools of Ancient Greece, the Aristotelean school, and the schools that followed in its wake as creating a generation of brialliant minds that is now called a Golden Age. But we are also aware that that Age quickly lost its lustre as a conflict developed between the new minds and the society that they emerged into, still founded as it was on old values, and that was prepared to destroy the new generation in order to maintain the status quo.
These are jobs that will develop within the infrastructure that builds up around cohorts. They will mainly supply services, such as people who perfornm the cohort related tasks described above. They may also provide information resources such as websites, written, video and interactive materials. They may provide these services to a suburb, a country or internationally. Huge multinational comanys will emerge, the equivalent of Microsoft or Oracle today with annual turnover of 100's of billions of dollars within 20 years. These companys will possibly be the biggest growth sector in the next 10 years, exceeding communications and genetics. These companys are currently in their infancy.
- We require a standard student record that can be understood by computer programs.
- We need a student constraints record that lists each students commitments in terms of time and place to attend classes.
- We need a resource management system for teachers which contains a mirror of these two systems for the students. In particular, a course qualifications record which says what subject and at what level the teacher is able to teach at, this will probably be a qualification record, assessed by an independant qualification board, and a personal record that contains that teachers preferences.
- A constraints record for the teachers listing their existing commitments in time and place.
- These is also the issue of a more general class constraints document which places limits on the applicability of students to classes based on culture, language proficiency, age group, handicaps such as blindness, learning difficulties and so on. This is to enable a class to be formed where students are able to relate to each other as closely as other constraints permit.
The success with which these companys serve the cohort sector will determine their adoption within formal schools as well. This can be expected to take place.
The web introduces an as yet unexplored mechanism for engagimg in politics. This is not about Government or electioneering. Politics is about the process of deciding how we want to live as a community, of putting those policies into practice and regulating them. The web has not yet been used to engage in political issues, processes, movements or debate. However this will happen in the future. Today mass demonstrations can be organised in 24 hours and petitions collected by the use of email chains.
In the past we had to rely on our elected representatives to engage in political debate about our options for social development. We no longer rely on this process, which proves to be less representative and more brokered as it ages.
Up till now computers have not had a great impact on social policy, but this is changing. We are not just talking about social initiatives here either. Basic concepts such as what an object is, who owns it and so on, are having to be redefioned. At present we have no socially recognised of the idea of ownership in cyberspace. This is becoming important as more people rely on their livelihood on the ownership of cyberproduct.
Areas which are currently being reviewed are concepts of what an object is and its ownership when it resides in a computer. Issues of copyright for example. There is also the issue that the web has created a global marketplace and objects can as easily be bought in a foreign country as locally. This is changing ideas of currency, exchange, and tax. These are now becoming issues which must be addressed globally rather than nationally.
However these changes are small compared to what can happen in the next 10 years.
Consider this example:
This line of thought leads to further speculation on the kind of society children today will be living in. It may be very unlike anything we know and this also raises the issue of what "kind of society" are we teaching our children to live in. The project "What is a safe community" is a foundation stone in teaching children to scrutinise what happens in their world and learn to take appropriate action to ensure their society is safe for them to live in and develop. "What is a safe community" is a project that paves the way for society to change so as to be able to incorporate future technological change. At the heart of itis the idea that children or anyone can use the web to actively explore social issues and sponsor change.
There are career paths for people who advice on the policy changes and law changes that are required for a country to adapt appropriately to change so that it stays abreast of the world market and can continue to compete in the world marketplace. Advising on how to best adopt new technology on a national scale, what changes are required at the government level, what law changes are required, what changes are required to basic social attitudes.
Within the area of changing social policy, education itself is a key component. It is easy to see that our education system could make a terrible mistake by focussing too much on specific technologies and less on equipping children with resources to help them live within a rapidly changing social environment.
A similar event occurred within universities in the post-war period 1950-1970. By the mid 1970's the technologies that came from WW2 had formed the base of the business world, but schools were still teahing Classics and Latin through the postwar period and tertiary students were spending years getting good degrees based on a University system that taught from a pre-WW2 perspective. When economic crisis occurred in the mid-70's many highly educated people found themselves unwanted in the workplace. Their world had moved on and society saw no place for them in the workforce. Some began retraining in their 40's and 50's and got back into the workfore, but many became disaafected members of our society.
Then through the 1970's and 1980's the continued high unemployment rate meant that students leaving school could not find jobs. They had been taught during the 1960's that there would be a job for them when they left school, but when the time came there wasn't. Another socially disaffected class was created which had families of their own who themselves grew up under the umbrella of those attitudes.
It is not reasonable for a country such as New Zealand to use a country like the USA as a model of what we should be doing. The USA is technologically advanced and is riding a boom towards full employment on the strength of technological innovation. But it does this by using resources of market size and weight, international influence, and sophisticated infrastructure that New Zealand can never emulate. However New Zealand can work hard to integrate new technology into the country and so keep pace, rather than find itself left behind as some kind of museum piece with a subsistence economy and a dissaffected population which is desperate to leave in order to find rewarding work.
If New Zealand's education system does not embrace the idea of social change as integral to the skills it teaches its children, then a major social disaster could occur.
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The Robot Cart
In 10 years we could have a robot cart that delivers goods door to door. It has no driver. You set it off from home to run an errand, say to get shopping from the supermarket, it drives there, collects the shopping which you can check by video and a secure transaction receipt. It then trundles back home with the shopping.
Technologically it will be possible, but what kind of social issues make it impractical? We dont want it bumping into other traffic on the road, so all road vehicles will need to be equipped with robot navigation systems like the one the shopping cart has. Enforcing this is a social policy issue.
Pedestrians pose another problem, though the cart can probably see pedestrians coming and avoid them.
The cart could be hi-jacked and uplifted, or its contents stolen. This is a policing issue. Again major changes need to be made to ensure our society is "safe" for the carts to operate in.
If these hurdles can be overcome, other transport revolutions can occur, such as a robot bus system which could use smaller more frequent buses on more varied routes, more like an automated shuttle bus service. Again issues of trusting the patrons not to damage the bus must be considered.