Technology in Education: Looking toward 2020

By Raymond S. Nickerson; Philip P. Zodhiates | Go to book overview
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an obligation to worry about the social consequences of their work, how much greater is the obligation of cognitive scientists?

Teachers. As Carl Berger says, teachers are where the rubber hits the road. Even the most technophilic educator needs teachers at least to stand out of the way. Those of us who see essential roles for teachers, perhaps even more demanding than in the nontechnologically intensive past, need ways of understanding and engaging teachers as part of the "we" whose goals I have been proposing, and as part of the team that realizes them.


I have argued that in looking toward 2020, we have the possibility and even the obligation to decide what being educated should mean. We may agree at the start that we would like to help nurture knowledgeable, thoughtful, ver- satile, creative, responsible, and even wise individuals. But, it is less easy to say exactly what those qualities entail, how we should go about instilling them or balance conflicting goals, like depth and breadth. To help in this task, I have proposed a short list of subgoals that are more instrumental, without losing the important quality of raising our sights beyond our current means. I have argued we want and need to consider teaching less, to teach more deeply what it means to know. I have argued that, more than at any time in history, we have the possibility to engage students' own goals and aesthetic senses in what is taught. I have argued that we have a better sense for the range of knowledge, from detailed, subject specific, to intermediate levels that broaden and generalize understanding within a discipline, to high levels that allow us to enter new areas without fear and allow us to get the last ounce of efficiency from what we already know. Finally, I have argued that it is profitable to consider extending text with computation to a new, general medium of knowledge expression that will, in a highly nontrivial way, affect even what we call literacy. Changing the currency of representing knowledge will have profound effects on the scale of decades, at least.

These goals are properly timeless and timely. Educational goals should not be at the mercy of the latest technological whimsey. But on the other hand, new capabilities should reorder our priorities in that although we might desire many things, the efforts we exert should have the serious possibility of paying off in ways that were, until now, out of our grasp.

Finally, setting goals is not only an intellectual task but a highly social one that will involve many constituencies. Deciding on and willing the pursuit of our future selves, as I have sketched in my images here, will take serious discussion among politicians, curriculum power brokers, domain specialists, cognitive scientists and technologists, teachers, and the public.


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