I got an intro to this book in May and have been eagerly awaiting its arrival! Just today, I got my hands on it and luckily for my short attention span, the book is <100 pages!

If you've not heard of the book, you can find it at Amazon or at your favorite online book seller.

I'm wary that some of these trends, while exciting, may not occur. Yep, I'm going for my pessimism over the expertise of one who's been in the trend-spotting business for years. What can I say? I'm a born cynic.

I'm not going to infringe on copyright (copyleft?) issues, so will only give the teasers to the trends. For a deeper explanation, you'll want to read the book.

Trend #3: Social and intellectual capital will become economic drivers, intensifying competition for well-educated people. GOSH, I hope so!

Trend #5: The Millennial Generation will insist on solutions to accumulated problems and injustices, while an emerging Generation E will call for equilibrium.

Trend #13: Greater numbers of people will seek personal meaning in their lives in response to an intense, high-tech, always on, fast-moving society.

Trend #14: Understanding will grow that sustained poverty is expensive, debilitating, and unsettling. (I feel an unsolicited and controversial opinion pressing out of my fingers here...must. resist.)

If these sound interesting, I'm sure I'll be blogging/podcasting in response to some of these trends...let's get together after you've read it and chat (or podcast). If you've read the book, let's talk NOW! :)

Tags: 16trends, 21stCentury, future, futurist

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Nice pdf. Does a good job of briefly touching on the highlights for each of the trends. What did you think of this?
I haven't read the book. I searched the web for credentials. I couldn't find any clear one. I based the following on other online papers, like this one on "Ten Trends: Educating Children for Tomorrow's World".

I am of the same opinion as Ian. I am most uneasy about the tone used. He tells you what you want to hear and uses a few questionable tricks. He offers many analyses and predictions that are not substantiated by anything but his own beliefs and opinions, with this opinion being primarily influenced by changes that have taken place over the last 5-10 years and his personal hopes about the future. A few tricks are used that have me give little credit to the analyses proposed there. Each paragraph starts with such stats. Such stats have often little relevance to the content of the paragraph. This is a cheap trick used to establish Gary Marx authority and get you view him as an expert. You are simply expected to accept them. My problem them is that I take many to be either inaccurate or an important simplification of the reality.

Sure it would be great for the picture he depicts to one day become reality. But to hold the firm belief that this is due to happen won't make it happen.

Unfortunately, Gary Marx doesn't provide us with anything we can use to try and make it happen.

"Unleashing the genius of people will become a primary focus of every education institution, every community, and every country, if it hopes to gain a foothold in the international marketplace of ideas, products, and services."

Yeah, this would be great. This is completely utopian. It's just using a cheap trick of psychological manipulation. He is just talking to some of our higher order needs for self-actualisation ... see this page on maslow's hierarchy of needs for more info. Most of what he says does nothing else but propose to fully satisfy these different higher order needs we have. It is proposed that this will simply "magically" happen.

"The automobile, highway system, air travel, space exploration, radio, television, computers, e-mail, the Internet, nuclear energy and weapons, and pharmaceuticals ranging from fertility drugs to the birth control pill and Prozac have brought exponential change during the 20th century. What will drive our 21st century economy? It will be nanotechnology, which refers to technology at the molecular level. Moving from macro to micro to nano will likely mean pharmaceuticals concocted to match our genetic makeup and megamaterials such as superconductors that will lead to quantum increases in computer speed and capacity, making Moore's Law obsolete. In turn, these technologies will be driven by our accumulated social and intellectual capital."

This style of writing is **worryingly** reminiscent of the one used by Sokal, when he deliberately submitted a paper full of utter rubbish, "as an experiment to see if a journal in that field would, in Sokal's words: "publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions."

Take this "megamaterials such as superconductors". How many of you know the meaning of megamaterials? I didn't and I am quite knowledgeable about technology and new trends. Waw, that guy *must* know a lot. I had to look on the web. It rather looks like the guy used jargon without understanding it. No match when googling megamaterials supraconductor. When googling on megamaterials alone, only 84 matches!. This seems to be something to do with "an optical trick that can make objects disappear by bending light the wrong way" (source) or with "the ability to disassemble and reconstruct matter at the...source
The end got cut. In short, don't take this for an opposition to this kind of ideas.

My criticisms come from the fact that I am interested in shaping the future. Encouraging this kind of beliefs and opinions is of course an important first step. But little happens if you do nothing else but share opinions.

Better analyses are required to guide decisions and define concrete actions susceptible to shape that future.

I found this report, on the map of future forces in education, to be a lot more valuable in that respect.
Thanks Marielle,
This analysis highlights a worrying trend, perhaps there's a new forum to be started from it. There are a whole lot of gee whiz stories about a vast range of things. I'd love to find/see a repository of solid research. Fluff and soft research really clog up the capacity to think and plan, and impact the future. The 16 trends look nice (aside from the spelling mistakes!), and even nicer is the look of the future forces map - but is there substance under the appearance? Ray Kurzweil has some traction as a practitioner as well as a pundit but even there...
Any directions for solid research - or am I just a grouchy old educator who remembers too many fads and fancies who doesn't understand what research is in a fast-paced dynamic knowledge creating postmodern era ?
Wow. I really have to say there are some strong opinions being tossed out here about the legitimacy of the research being done on this book. I'm all for questioning research, but...

Perhaps instead of looking at a 4 page pdf and judging the research base that we look a bit more deeply into the 408 page book, or at least the 92 page overview, where the author has an opportunity to cite the research that he and the Educational Research Service have done.

I'm glad you find the topic interesting, and my purpose in posting this was to see if anyone had anything of interest to say after they'd done some reading of this work. I'm not sure that a 4page pdf qualifies a person to trash a lack a research. Then again, a 408 page book may indeed be full of hooey. We don't know unless we've read it and reviewed the citations.
Both the book and overview are items you have to purchase. Based on what I have read written by Gary Marx across the web, I am not prepared to purchase these books ;-).

To start a discussion... and such a discussion would be very interesting to have indeed, it may be easier to use the map of future trends, that everybody can freely access.

To give an idea (I have no involvement with that team... but I know that somebody from the KnF is part of the classroom20 community).

The map lists 3 key elements:

Trend: represents major shifts, new phenomena and concepts, and driving forces that will shape the future context of education. Some trends listed are personalized learning plans, participatory pedagogy, serious games, do-it yourself kits, etc.

Hotspot: Hotposts are trends that are thought to have a broad impact on education and make good starting points for exploring the map. Examples are: explosion of learning agents, media-rich pervasive learning, deep personalization, VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) communities.

Dilemna: Problems that can’t be solved and won’t go away. They require new strategies that go beyond either-or thinking. An example of dilemna listed on the map is achieving standards and personalization.

The map plots these different trends according to two dimensions.

The horizontal axis groups the impact areas: Family & Community, Markets, Institutions, Educators & Learning, Tools & Practices.
The vertical axis groups the drivers: the end of cyberspace (from physical vs digital to seamlessly physical and digital), urban wilderness (from predominantly rural to predominantly urban spaces), sick herd (from improving quality of life to increasing signs of distress), strong opinions (from a global media culture to a splintered fundamentalism), smart networking (from informed citizens to engaged networkers), assorted economics (from economies of scale to economies of groups).
Fair enough, Ginger
Now if I can just get our library...

Sorry this reply isn't in the right place - I haven't quite figured out the idiosyncrasies of the 'Reply to this' control!
Another good source of information, with most documents free, is the JISC, here in the UK (higher education, which is my background). Run a google search on jisc "white paper" filetype:pdf to try and locate some of their reports.

This is about higher education rather than schools, but the analysis of trends applies across the board. There is, for instance, a very thourough report on 21st skills.... I can't locate the printed version easily, it's somewhere on a cargo on the way to NZ. I will have to find the link to it.

I have a bunch of such publications on my computer. If there is an interest, I can provide a full list of references. If the purpose is to try and use this information to influence better practices rather than share opinions, a wiki could come in handy. I can offer space or some wiki farm can be used. Why not try it for yourself, collaboration, cooperation, exchanging ideas across areas of specialization, using information on practices in other fields of study (business, computing, etc.).

Again, this explains my criticism. My interest in Marx is not too high because I already share many of the opinions he expresses. I am already convinced of the benefit there is to increase co-operation, encourage creativity, broaden the scoe. My concern is on the next step, how to transform these values into reality.
@Ian C. The short answer is that there is a vast amount of articles on these topics. More than any of us has time to read. Some of these articles are indeed a bit shallow, lacking strong substance. This is to be expected as it comments mostly on trends that have taken place over the last 5-10 years. That is things we have observed but don't understand clearly yet. Another problem is that what is used as trend indicator is sometimes the result of the work of some innovators or lone rangers. It's not clear that this will become mainstream. Partly because there are many other forces at play.

This is my main problem with Gary Marx article. A one sided view is proposed, with little information on these other forces. Yes, life expectancy has increased steadily up to this millenium but the new generation is one that has a different lifestyle, spending much more time in front of TV or computers. Obesity problems develop, health problems follow. We are in a period of excess. History shows that things tend to swing from one excess to the other. It's unlikely that things will continue "exponentially" as he proposes. If we try and push too much in one direction without acknowledging these different forces, we could cause a crisis (revolutions and wars have happened in the past). Getting there successfully requires an in-depth understanding of both favorable and unfavorable forces.

Most of these reports put the school and governmental funded institutions as the agents of changes. Let's face it. Most of the changes that we have observed in our educational system has been primarily driven by changes that have happened outside of the educational system. School systems are in my opinion lagging 5 to 10 years behind main societal trends. Universities lag 3-30 years (depending on country, quality of the university, field of study). Social networking and collaboration. Availability of resources. Client/Student centered learning. Involving clients/students in the design of their learning, etc.

Because of that, I tend to turn to books published in the business arena to try and understand future trends.

There is for instance a very nice book, Meaning Inc.: The Blueprint for Business Success in the 21st Century, that contains in-depth analyses substantiated by observation and solid research.
i haven't read it yet, but it's interesting to see how the web trend (à la digg et al) of packaging content into easy-to-swallow "top 10" list formats, is now becoming fashionable in the book world.

Take a look at this top 10 list of reasons why top tens are so popular.

Yah, I'm pretty sure that a 92-page overview and a 408 page book on the topic are not really the same thing as a top 10 list.
The book sounds very interesting and similar to much of what Daniel Pink writes about in his book A Whole New Mind. Pink also does and exceptionally dynamic keynote address on the concepts in the book. This is a must-read for Web 2.0 centric thinkers.



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