Several readings that crossed my desk this week had my brain buzzing. Back in the days of the VCU Center for Teaching Excellence, I used to start the week over coffee with Jeff Nugent and Bud Deihl, and as we exchanged ideas, Bud would say “My brain is just buzzing as I try and connect the dots here.”
I am trying to connect some dots…and buzzing is the right word!
First, the annual Horizon Report on Teaching and Learning is out for 2023. A dozen years ago, I was fortunate to be a part of the Horizon Report process, exploring where teaching and learning were and where it was going. The process as morphed as Educause took control, and I like the new directions.
The report explores current trends in the areas of:
- Students want flexible and convenient instruction
- Inclusiveness is critical
- Microcredentialed programs growing
- Artificial Intelligence becoming mainstream
- Dichotomy between online and face-to-face instruction disrupted
- Low or No Code simplifying complex processes
- Students seek return on investment
- Funding and enrollment are down
- Need for lifelong learning is up
- Higher education at forefront in tackling climate change
- Ed Tech is behind the curve in tackling climate change
- Disinformation is rampant
- Nationalism is rising
- The world and the USA in particular are hampered by bipolar politics
In exploring the key technologies that will impact teaching and learning, the report listed six:
The second post that stirred my brain this week was from my Canadian friend Harold Jarche. In “step lively“, Harold discussed how artificial intelligence could potentially eviscerate knowledge workers! As a framework, he noted the stepping framework proposed in the book Only Humans Need Apply.
- Step-up: directing the machine-augmented world
- Step-in: using machines to augment work
- Step-aside: doing human work that machines are not suited to do
- Step narrowly: specializing narrowly in a field too small for augmentation
- Step forward: developing new augmentation systems
Again, read his post…I found it insightful!
A third unrelated reading this week was the Naval Academy announcing its 2023 Distinguished Graduates. One was someone I met several times during my Naval career – retired Admiral Jim Stavridis. Jim has written several leadership books, and one favorite of mine is Sea Power (2018).
Rather than explore sea power as a chronological history lesson (as many others have done), Jim looks at the oceans and seas that he sailed over his 40 years in the Navy and draws lessons from nautical engagements or explorations that happened in those waters.
It is a great example of connecting dots.
A white paper a few years back from Paradigm Learning was entitled Connecting the Dots. A quote that grabbed my attention was:
Our use of the internet involves many paradoxes, but the one that promises to have the greatest long-term influence over how we think is this one: The Net seizes out attention only to scatter it.
And now is not the time for scattered thinking, especially from our leaders.
So as I mash these readings together in my brain, I come back to Harold’s question of what options will be left for us in higher education teaching and leadership? With the daily barrage of both pro and con posts about ChatGPT and other forms of artificial intelligence, it seems we are in danger of scattered thinking!
For the past decade as I taught the technology course in Northeastern’s Master in Instructional Design, my students and I explored the promise and the peril of AI…and I have remained an optimist. To use Harold’s framework, I believe that we can (and should) step together with AI to improve both our own learning and that of our students.
But is this a pipe dream? What do you think?