In response to your video I went looking for a video about the future for children in the year 2030. I stumbled on a vision for the future made about 20 years ago. In 1993 AT&T produced the following ad. I was amazed at how accurate the predictions were.
I feel like I lived this ad campaign. For example, last winter I attended an online meeting with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in my bare feet and pajamas. I told him about the need for diversified roles in the teaching profession so that teachers can spread their expertise. That online meeting and several others produced the policy report Teaching Effectiveness for the New Millennium. That wasn’t possible when AT&T made their ads.
Another spot-on prediction in the ads was a reference to sending a fax from the beach. An actor puts down a “fax” machine that looks exactly like an over-sized iPad. When I showed my family the video last night my wife cracked-up when she saw the fax machine. My son asked, “What’s a fax machine?” He had never heard of them. My daughter, ever the know it all tween answered, “Its like an email or a cell phone only less advanced.”
That is how kids understand technology. It doesn’t matter what it used to be like. My son has never known a time when there weren’t cell phones. It has been almost 20 years since my father purchased a lunch box sized cell phone to keep in touch with his aging parents. Yet, I recently had to explain to my son that phones used to have “tails”.
In the video you see precursors to some of the most important web 2.0 platforms of our times including Google, Skype, iTunes, and eBooks. In your baby video she expects the magazine to do something. It is in her Operating System. I can’t help but think that for the children of 2030, if their learning platform doesn’t “do something”, they will disconnect from the process.
I think these innovations were so accurately “predicted” by AT&T because they knew they would be involved in making them happen. I would like to feel the same way about the hopeful vision we set forth in Teaching 2030. What will prevent our innovative vision from becoming real is that teachers will not necessarily be able to influence the realization of it. This is why I am always pushing for the inclusion of accomplished teachers voices in the development of policy, curriculum, standards, and innovation in schooling systems. We must have passionate, knowledgeable, and skillful teachers influencing the education we create for the year 2030 or we won’t possibly be able to accurately direct our energies in a useful direction.
I know that digital media is highly engaging to young readers. That is why we have been very intentional in how much screen time our kids get. I think the most important part of your post is that image of you and your son sitting next to each other reading. It encapsulates the key to the hopeful future, human connection. My wife and I have taken our kids to the library once a week for the last 10 years. Now both my son and my daughter are avid readers. I still read to them though. It is critical that a human being is present to mediate and maximize any media whether it is made out of silicon or trees.
AT&T was so right on with these advertisements from 1993 that I wonder what their videos would look like for the year 2030. Here are some of the innovations I see for the children of 2030.
Dear child of 2030,
Become uncoupled from your peers in how quickly or slowly you progress through curriculum
Form stronger, more valuable, relationships with teachers than ever before through social media platforms
Use digital media to hack your education, creating a school experience tailored to your learning needs and interests
Spend as much time, and have as much fun learning out of school as in school
Finally, you will be encouraged to pursue passion-based learning modules