Thursday, January 01, 2009

A 1988 Template Into The Future – Educational Trends

I was about 10 years old. I had just finished a science fiction story that had flying cars,food everywhere and dome housing. I wanted to know if I had a chance to see it in person.  I added my current age decade by decade until I hit 2008. I couldn’t get that old, could I?

Would the world really be like it was in the book or on Star Trek? I wasn’t the only person thinking about the future. The World Future Society has been looking at the current conditions the society is in and tries to project the paths that could change our society in the years to come. I have a copy of the 1988 report with some interesting predictions about the 21st Century.  I’ve selected a few predictions from the 1988 Education related section. Let’s see how well they did guessing our futures.


Educational institutions will be more concerned with ways to assess outcomes and effectiveness of educational programs.

When I thought of this statement No Child Left Behind popped into my head. The intent was fine but the implementation and funding? If you really want to get a handle on what the program is and where does the money go then read this report from George Mason University.

Allison Ohle, gained experience working for Teach for America has an opinion on the program. Yoga Mom looks at NCLB from a parent’s eyes. Joanne Jacobs has a post on Proficiency Promotions that might better serve young students instead of age progressive promotions.

What kind of adults do we want to create anyway? Do we want them to fit a certain kind of mold that is impossible to live up to? Do we want generations of kids that learn or do enough just to pass a very limited hoop? The word “Automatons” comes to mind.

Hannah at makes her case for just being who you are, not what a college application wants her to be. There seems to be a lot of pressure to mold young people into perfect college students and adults. Hannah shouldn’t have to “save the world” in order to improve her chances of going to college.

Mass Media Gets Personal

Mass media will be more personalized as consumers use pa-to-view television to select their entertainment. Viewers will download their choices from a tele-delivery service, paying for the program when they want to see it.

Educational programming on broadcast television has all but disappeared or morphed into edu-tainment.  There are a few educational programs that are delivered on cable television but the Internet has broadened the scope and reach of education. Many of the resources are free or low cost to anyone that wants them.

Part of my challenge in 2009 is to find more goodies out there but to get you started:

Maria Miller’s Homeschool Math Blog helps homeschooling parents find tools and techniques to teach math. Denise at Let’s Play Math has a list of free and low cost math resources for homeschoolers or anyone else in need of brushing up on the skill set.

One of my favorites learning shows is the chemistry Periodic Table of Videos. You can also visit the Periodic Table of Videos on their YouTube channel. Those rascals are constantly causing chemicals to react in very visible ways. Plus I dig the Professor’s hair. You should also be aware of TeacherTube.

Sometimes you want to learn or improve upon a hobby or skill. Candi Cane Canncel on Expert Village has a series of videos that basically teach you how to sew. Or you could visit Craft Gossip for more inspirational stitching ideas.  For general interest type tutorials you can watch

No time to read the software manual? Maybe a video tutorial would work for you. There is also a great graphics and software tutorial web site at for all sorts of graphic software tutorials. Maybe you need access free help such as this page from Smashing Magazine that list 80 Photoshop video tutorials

The Economy and Keeping Up Educationally

Because of fundamental changes in the economy, there will be fewer and fewer well-paying jobs not requiring advanced training. and Education cost will continue to rise; Heavy pressure to control cost will emerge. Loans rather than grants will constitute the main source of financial aid.

Right again, but there would be no way in 1988 to factor in other causes such as war, corporate fraud and the cost of fuel. And there is a block of college students that are in heavy debt due to their educational loans.  So what do you do when you can’t afford to go back to school or take time off work in order to obtain those advanced skills? There is always a way. is a series of six week online classes. You can learn a language, becomes a romance writer, get parenting advice, find professional development skills and more. I have taken a few classes with Ed2Go and it was a good experience. There is an instructor and you get to interact with your classmates in your pajamas. These not for credit classes are inexpensive compared to tuition at some local colleges.

If you do want to attend college or want a head start you should visit iTunesU. You don’t need an iPod player or an iPhone. There are a number of colleges and universities that have posted audio or video lectures online. This is a great opportunity to sample a subject to see if you would be interested in it before you plunk down money for the class.

Don’t want to use iTunesU? Not a problem. Check out your local college or university web site. Many schools have podcasts or videos on academic subjects for example the University of California Channel, all academia, all the time. And yes, you can use YouTube to find other colleges and university academic content.

Well the World Future Society did pretty good with these educational predictions. So what about 2009? Only time and careful observations will tell.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer where I am a Contributing Editor.

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