Global Stories

Sören for blogSören Högberg has got a long experience from different educational settings. He graduated as Primary School Teacher 1985 and worked as a teacher for ten years. He got immediately involved in teacher education as a tutor during students’ placement studies. Later in the mid-nineties Sören Högberg began teaching at Dalarna University at the Teacher Training Program. 2003, he and some of his colleagues started an online version of the Teacher Training Program. As Programme Director between 2007 and 2010 he was responsible for issues related to net-based education. Now, since 2010 Sören Högberg is a Doctoral Student in Education with a certain interest in questions related to teacher students’ opportunities to develop their teachership in online settings.

What would you consider the top 3 challenges that the Higher Education sector faces in your country?

Challenge 1: The Bildung perspective in Higher Education is under pressure. The focus on educational outcomes, measurability and employability creates a discourse that tends to decrease the opportunities for students to be involved in processes where they elaborate on philosophical issues connected to education, future work as well as to life itself. The way courses are presented tend to increasingly tell students that there are ontologically right or wrong answers to be learned, a quite problematic experience to hold on to when students in later life are to shoulder responsibility. As a consequence of the Bologna-process Course Syllabus are defined in relation to outcomes, which create a demand to specify actual content as well as forms of examination and ways of work. Students are basically to follow a course, capture a pre-described knowledge and express this in predetermined ways.  Teachers in Higher Education are due to economic austerity given less space for taking students views into consideration when giving lectures, leading seminar or during assessment. On the whole we are facing a situation where the idea of students being involved in a process of Bildung is under pressure.

Challenge 2: Where is Campus? At smaller universities in Sweden there have been remarkable changes during the last decade when it comes to how educational programs are provided. In order to meet the demand from less urban regions people are now having great opportunities to study online programs of in almost all disciplines. As a consequence of this new range of possibilities students from more urban areas also choose to study online often combined with some kind of work. Lectures are given online, just as seminars are synchronously taking place online. Papers are sent over the Internet, books can be read online or posted from the library to students homes. Examination can be accomplished from home. When students enter Higher Education they do so basically online. It is a complete different environment than entering a campus full of students. And the students on campus, at least at smaller universities, discover that they are not as many as they used to be. Teachers work at home, even abroad occasionally. Now where is campus? We have probably not yet come to understand the consequences of this change. The opportunity of being a student at campus, at a place for transaction in Dewey’s terms is under pressure.

Challenge 3: Why can we not hear students’ voices in public? Students in Higher Education seem to have lost their confidence to take part as a vivid voice in the construction of society. Student organisations have great difficulties to involve students in collective projects probably because an increasing number of students look upon their time of life at the university as a period of transmission. Higher Education seem to have become a more individualistic project, more of an opportunity to make a career instead of an opportunity to get access to knowledge in order to make efforts for creating a better society. The life as a student in Higher Education appears to have become more of a right than of a duty – i.e. less responsibility as a student to act in some way or another in public.

Do you see any value of the OER (Open Educational Resources) movement in trying to address any  of the challenges?

The OER are of great value,

  • if a Bildung perspective is more salient,
  • if students are to be present at online campuses,
  • if students are to raise their voices…

but it is not the solution since that is connected to the use of OER

petarDr Petar Jandric is Senior Lecturer in e‐Learning at the Polytechnic of Zagreb, Croatia. He worked at Croatian Academic and Research Network, National e‐Science Centre at the University of Edinburgh, Glasgow School of Art and Cass School of Education at the University of East London. Petar has published extensively on inter‐, trans‐ and anti‐disciplinary, and the relationships between critical education, technologies, arts and society. He is involved in various programme committees and advisory bodies, reviews for several journals, publishes popular science and regularly talks in front of diverse audiences. His recent publications include the book Critical e‐learning: struggle for power and meaning in the network society (2012).

What would you consider the top 3 challenges that the Higher Education sector faces in your country?

  1. The dichotomy between the local and the global. In July 2013, Croatia is about to join the European Union. The whole Croatian society currently undergoes rapid transition, and higher education struggles to find its place in these processes. Certainly, this position is far from unique: worldwide national educational systems are facing various issues associated with globalisation such as McDonaldisation, commodification, and allocation of resources to the logic of the marketplace. In Croatia, however, those issues are strongly amplified by the current political situation.
  2. The dichotomy between restrictions and opportunities. Worldwide national educational systems are opening to the marketplace and steadily losing state funding. ‘Blue skies research’ is almost wiped out by applied research, particularly in social science and humanities. Small nations find it increasingly harder to fund research on national culture / history / language, and there is a serious fear of losing national identities over Hollywood culture and English language. However, the globalised world offers certain remedies. Croatian economy heavily depends on tourism, which may be based on local specifics. Information and communication technologies offer new ways of teaching and reseach. European Unions funds a limited number of innovative projects. While we must definitely admit that Croatian higher education has seen better days, we must also learn how to use the existing opportunities.
  3. The dichotomy between present and future. We live in the age of unpreceeded economic, technological and social change. Traditional concepts such as literacy, citizenship and human rights are in constant flux. In order to ensure smooth functioning of the society, Higher Education sector must correspond to the current reality. However, it must also look into the future: today’s bachelors must survive on the marketplace for the next 40 – 50 years. Furthermore, Higher Education sector must look beyond the marketplace. The elderly should not be disposed of just because of the inability to use new technologies. Youth should not be idle just because there is no available work. In order to live a meaningful life worth of a human being, people of all ages must have a place in the society. Amongst other things, the dichotomy between present and future also represents the dichotomy between the marketplace and the basic human values such as social justice and freedom. – and, in my humble opinion, we should always place humanity above profit.

Do you see any value of the OER (Open Educational Resources) movement in trying to address any  of the challenges?

At the general conceptual plane, I believe that the OER movement is extremely valuable because it opens the commodified discourse of global education to general humanistic values such as social justice and freedom. In practice, I believe that the published educational resources are the necessary prerequisite for democratisation of education. However, following Ivan Illich’s argument developed long before Internet in his seminal 1973 book Deschooling Society, I also believe that the OER movement is just a part of the wider struggle for a more just society. In conclusion, therefore, I would like to emphasise the importance of creating links between the OER movement and other movements for equality, democracy and freedom.

Okhwa LeeOkhwa Lee is Professor for Educational Technology at the Department of Education, Chungbuk National University in South Korea since 1996 after she served at national research institutes KEDI (Korea Educational Development Institute).  She has been the pioneer of educational movement for computer education, e-learning, smart education in Korea since the concept of ICT application in Korea was introduced. Her interest is educational innovation with technology support. She has served on three President’s committees – the President’s Council on Information Strategies; the e-Government committee of the Local Government Innovation Council; and the committee for educational reform.  She received the national medal for her service in the development of e-Government.

What would you consider the top 3 challenges that the Higher Education sector faces in your country?

  1. Mismatch of job training – High unemployment rate for young people is a serious issue in Korea, particulalry the new graduates from univeersities. The high unemployent rate can be a structural problem from the social and industrial changes but also a mis-match of university training and the needs from the industries. At least the mismatch of needs and supply from university aspects is expected to respond accordingly.
  2. High cost for HE – The cost for HE is creasing while the pressure for lowing the tuition is high. The high expectation and global competition for the quality of HE demand a big investment in HE. Administrators and policians are facing the perfect storm, that is students do not want to see tuition increase (or decrease) but universities are expected to provide high quality education and also be competitive globally. Where is the money to keep this unbalance balanced?
  3. Too many HE institutes – There are too many HE institutes while the number of high school graduates are decreasing due to the decrease of young population. In a few years, there will be more openings at HE institutes than the number of high school graduates in Korea. Inevitably HE institutes are experiencing tough competition to survive and need to experiment many ways to keep the institute sound.

Do you see any value of the OER (Open Educational Resources) movement in trying to address any of the challenges?
It is very in needs but translation or reinterpretation of OER in Korean and Korean context is in high demand. Collecting Korean OER is also promoted but it is still in its enfant stage. I think collecting Korean OER will excel once the innovations curve starts to pick up the curve which I expect very soon. Universities and government promotes OER but the individual content providers are still scare. In order to use OER more actively, there should be environments which allows flexible use of OER seamlessly connected with the institutional system.

1Zoraini Wati Abas is a learning technologist, trainer, author, researcher and consultant. She is a pioneer of e-Learning in Malaysia and has played a key role in the development of open and distance learning since 2004. She has held several leadership positions in universities in Malaysia. This includes the Open University Malaysia, the International Medical University, and the University of Malaya. She now serves as Director, Centre for Learning, Teaching and Curriculum Development, Putera Sampoerna Foundation University project, based in Jakarta, Indonesia.
She has contributed to the development of several learning portals for school children, medical students and nursing students. Her research interests include mobile learning and learning innovations.

What would you consider the top 3 challenges that the Higher Education sector faces in your country?

  1. To produce learners with 21st century skills. Employers have frequently voiced the need to have learners with soft skills such as communication skills, logical, analystical and problem solving skills and higher education institutions are expected to respond accordingly.
  2. To support learners via personal mobile devices. The effort to do so has begun in a couple of universities where tablet use is encouraged but more univerisities should be planning to do so as well as to do it effectively to benefit learners.
  3. To engage students in the learning process via a variety of student-centred learning approaches so as to make learning more personalized, meaningful and interesting and at the same time develop the 21st century skills among learners.

Do you see any value of the OER (Open Educational Resources) movement in trying to address any of the challenges?
To a certain extent yes. Malaysia would have to develop its own collection of OERs as well in order to support the majority of learners who prefer to have their learning materials in the national language rather than the English language. The OER movement is new in Malaysia with only 3-4 universities actively developing OERs. This is expected to grow albeit slowly.

Prof Grainne ConoleGráinne Conole is Professor of learning innovation and Director of the Beyond Distance Research Alliance at the University of Leicester. She was previously Professor of E-Learning in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University, UK. Her research interests include the use, integration and evaluation of Information and Communication Technologies and e-learning and the impact of technologies on organisational change. Two of her current areas of interest are how learning design can help in creating more engaging learning activities and on Open Educational Resources research. Updates on current research and reflections on e-learning research generally can be found on her blog

1. What would you consider the top 3 challenges that the Higher Education sector faces in your country?
The top challenge for me is helping teachers make effective use of new technologies. They are confused by the plethora of possibilities and lack the necessary digital literacy skills to harness the affordances of new technologies. In relation to this then designing for learning is the key challenge facing education. Learning design has emerged as a new research field in the last ten years or so to address this.

In general the lack of digital literacy skills is an issue for both learners and teachers. Jenkins lists 11, which he argues are needed to be part of today’s ‘participatory culture’. I would add an additional one on creativity.

For formal educational institutions there is an issue in terms of new emergent business models, which are challenging the standard educational model of formal courses with accreditation. Examples include the peer-to-peer university, the OER University and MOOCs. In a world where resources and expertise are increasingly freely available what is the role for a traditional institution? I think we are beginning to see a disaggregation of learning, so that in the future many learners will opt to pay for particular things rather than take a full course. They may for example pay for high quality resource, which are kitemarked in some way, or they may pay to have a guided learning pathway or some structured form of support. Finally, they may choose to learn through free resources and then pay to be formally accredited.

2. Do you see any value of the OER (Open Educational Resources) movement in trying to address any of the challenges?

Yes I think OER have an important role to play, this is something we explored in the OPAL initiative where we derived a set of practices around the creation and use of OER, which we then translated into guidelines for learners, teachers, institutional managers and policy makers. The guidelines can be used to first benchmark existing OER practice and then create a roadmap and implementation plan for future development.

Curtis Bonk

Curt Bonk is Professor of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University and President of CourseShare. Drawing on his background as a corporate controller, CPA, educational psychologist, and instructional technologist, Bonk offers unique insights into the intersection of business, education, psychology, and technology. A well-known authority on emerging technologies for learning, Bonk reflects on his speaking experiences around the world in his popular blog, TravelinEdMan. He has authored several widely used technology books, including The World is Open, Empowering Online Learning, The Handbook of Blended Learning, and Electronic Collaborators.

What would you consider the top 3 challenges that  the Higher Education sector faces in your country?

Top challenges:

  1. Options: There is a pressing need to help people understand the options and the value of those options. There are many delivery mechanisms and types of institutions to deliver content. They are not equally valued in society at this time. So how do people select from those options? Who will support their search among the options?
  2. Self-Directed Learning: With the proliferation of open educational resources, there is a need to support and embrace student self-directed and informal learning. How is self-directed learning recorded on one’s resume or CV? How can informal and formal learning be effectively blended? Should there be policies about the use of informal contents and activities within courses?
  3. Hype, Hysteria, and Fads: There is too much news about technology and the need to embed or react to it. MOOCs, digital books, OER, mobile learning, etc., provide an endless stream of announcements about how higher education needs to change. People pile on—politicians, media, higher education critics, etc. And with the rising costs of higher education combined with the recent financial crisis, it is easy for people to form flash mobs about how to change higher education with some magic MOOC pill or new technology of any sort. There is no deliberation. No thoughtful reflection. Not much discussion. Just a feeling that we need to change and that change is a good thing.

Do you see any value of the OER (Open Educational Resources)  movement in trying to address any of the challenges?

OER underlies much of my answers to the previous question. It provides options and offers new opportunities for self-directed learning. Today, anyone can learn anything from anyone else at any time. And OER makes that extremely obvious. OER also provides the hope for a better job or new career for those who are currently frustrated with what they are doing in life. At the same time, OER and all aspects of open education allow the hype factor to set in. People assume that just because it is online and free that people will learn from it; no instructor or guidance needed. They assume that this content can be quickly repackaged as a course. While I also believe that OER can help those who do not have access to traditional forms of education, it is not a magic pill.

Iain DohertyDr Iain Doherty is the Director of the eLearning Pedagogic Support Unit at the University of Hong Kong. He designs, develops and delivers professional learning opportunities for academic staff including eLearning workshops and an eLearning Certificate Course. He also teaches on the University required programs for academic staff. Iain has over fifteen years of experience in the areas of education and technologies and was Director of the Learning Technology Unit, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland from 2004 -2011.

What Would You Consider The Top 3 Challenges That The Higher Education Sector Faces in Your Country?

The first major challenge in the Higher Education sector in Hong Kong revolves around the recent curriculum reform ( that has seen a move from a three year university curriculum to a four year curriculum that includes both discipline courses and a Common Core of courses. Whilst the reformed curriculum has been implemented in Hong Kong Higher Education faces challenges in managing a double cohort of students, in delivering new common core courses and in determining whether the new curriculum achieves ambitious aims with respect to graduating students with a broad range of capabilities (

The second major challenge has to do with eLearning and the purposeful integration of technologies into teaching and learning. The various universities differ with respect to progress with eLearning / the integration of technologies into teaching and learning. In the case of HKU the implementation of an eLearning strategy in late 2011 was the last in a long line of educational changes. HKU is therefore at a nascent stage with respect to the use of technologies in teaching and learning. Bringing about change in an established and traditional university is challenging. At the same time the challenge for the university lies in delivering a technology enabled education that facilitates student learning in a way that will equip them with the skills and mindset for connected and lifelong learning when they graduate.

 The third issue – although it is probably not yet recognized to any great degree – has to do with the increasingly open nature of learning which is – arguably – leading to new teaching and learning paradigms. Open learning refers to the availability of courses and other educational resources available to anyone who wants to make use of them. The increasing availability of open resources along with emerging forms of accreditation have arguably brought us to a tipping point in our educational paradigm. The new paradigm will be based on an underlying model that sees learning as a non-institutionalized process with new and novel ways – Mozilla badges for example ( – to evidence skills.

Do You See Any Value of the OER (Open Educational Resources) Movement in Trying to Address Any of The Challenges?

The OER Movement has the potential to contribute positively to the first two challenges. Broadly speaking OERs potentially provide teachers and students with access to a rich array of teaching and learning resources for use in the disciplines and the Common Core. The movement can also potentially expose teachers and students to a greater diversity of perspectives thereby facilitating the development of student capabilities. Finally, the OER movement can help in cementing the notion that learning is a lifelong, anywhere, anytime activity.

In terms of eLearning the OER movement could provide a catalyst for the use of technologies, applications and services in teaching and learning. We could think broadly in terms of learners connected to other learners, teachers, and non-human sources of information spread across the world. Courses could be enriched through the use of OERs resulting in the purposeful use of technologies etc. for the enhancement teaching and learning.

The question of the OER movement as a challenge to the traditional educational paradigm can be answered in terms of re-framing the movement as presenting the opportunities outlined in the previous paragraphs. The flip side to this equation would be the Hong Kong institutes of higher education contributing to the OER movement to evidence their commitment to open learning. At the same time this kind of commitment would ensure that institutes of higher education positioned themselves for an uncertain future.

Cronin pictureCatherine Cronin (@catherinecronin)  is Academic coordinator of online IT programmes and lecturer in Information Technology at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her work focuses on online and open education, digital literacies and social media in education. Her work also includes supporting and connecting women in STEM — see #ITwomen.


What would you consider the top 3 challenges that the Higher Education sector faces in your country or the country in which you currently work?

Ireland’s top 3 challenges, in my opinion:

1 – HE throughout Ireland faces a severe resource and staffing challenge due to the combination of rapidly rising student enrolments and reduced budgets. The myriad effects of this challenge can include pressure on staff to cope with growing workloads and teaching commitments; poorer student experience due to larger class sizes and fewer opportunities for formative feedback; and limited resources for spending on infrastructure (e.g. learning space development), staff development, etc. Creative solutions are being found to many of these challenges, but the pressures are great on both staff and students.

2 – Growing demand for flexible modes of education, primarily from those seeking to return to education (e.g. adults returning to education for upskilling or reskilling) but also from undergraduates seeking different and more flexible modes of learning.

3 – The challenge (and opportunities) which open education poses to the HE academy — challenging long-held assumptions about our purpose, our role in the community/society/culture, our identities.

 Do you see any  value of the OER movement in trying to address any  of the challenges?

Yes, I do. I saw Mary Robinson speak here in Galway recently. When “accused” of being an optimist, she quoted Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “I’m not an optimist, I am a prisoner of hope.” As an open educator, as well as an optimist/prisoner of hope, I see great potential for open education practices and the OER movement to address the challenges outlined above.

The first challenge which higher education must begin to address is to recast its identity and its role in the face of the growth of open, global education. Higher education will continue for the forseeable future, but what is the best way for it to move forward, for whom, in what form(s), in what spaces, with what models, with what partnerships? Creating possible models for this future, as many open educators are already doing, is critically important. The OER movement is vitally important to us in this respect.

Re: flexible modes of education, this cannot be addressed without considering open education. How can we make the best of what higher education and open education can offer students? Our students are already accessing open education and OERs in growing numbers. What will higher education institutions offer to students who choose to combine a traditional higher education with open education, e.g. awarding credits for prior learning obtained in MOOCS, for badges, etc.?

For open educators, higher education institutions are liminal spaces. We work on the boundaries; learning with and teaching our students in new ways, asking new questions, articulating new possibilities. This work is essential, I believe, in identifying possible paths forward for higher education. In that sense, the OER movement is not just valuable but an essential part of meeting the challenges of higher education.

dimitris vlachopoulosDr Dimitrios Vlachopoulos was born in Athens, Greece. He received his PhD in Education from the University of Barcelona (Department of Research Methods and Diagnosis in Education), specializing in the area of distance education. His current research interests also include Teaching Innovation, Research Methodology & Evaluation and Educational Technology.

Currently he is Assistant Professor at the Department of Education Sciences and Director of the Distance Education Unit at the European University of Cyprus (Laureate International Universities).

What would you consider the top 3 challenges that the Higher Education sector faces in your country?

According to the department of Higher and Tertiary Education of the Cypriot Government, Higher Education of Cyprus enters the second decade of the 21st century while aiming to promote excellence in teaching, to encourage quality assurance, and, at the same time, to safeguard diversity and university autonomy. It is believed that Higher Education should be accessible to all, encompassing both those who are already at work and those who did not have the means to pursue university education. The Cypriot Government intensifies its efforts to enhance mobility and thus to promote further the internalization of HE. It is believed that, abolishing boarders with regards to Higher Education will not only benefit the lives of Cypriot and international students, but it will also enrich Cyprus’ University system, its universities, its industries, and its culture in general.

Do you see any  value of the OER movement in trying to address any  of the challenges?

The accessibility issue is one of the Cypriot government’s main objectives for Higher Education. I believe that OER is an important element for addressing these challenges. Many faculty come together in common online spaces and share the materials they have produced aiming to ensure they can all be accessed without any costs of licensing. This Open Community of OER has also the potential to re‐consider education systems, identify and establish the core values of building and sharing knowledge and encourage collaboration and partnership.

JC cutProfessor John Cowan has been actively engaged in developing innovative schemes and activities for learner-directed learning for over 40 years in Scotland and across the UK. His experience ranges over discipline areas from engineering to mathematics, social sciences and business studies. In that time he has produced learning resource materials and activity structures in a variety of media. His particular interests at the present time are formative peer-assessment, reflective practice, the nurturing of communities of inquiry, and the identification and resolution of learners’ affective needs. Nowadays his main tutorial commitments are with graduate students working towards research degrees

What would you consider the top 3 challenges that the Higher Education sector faces in your country?

  • For various reasons, most students on most courses try to get by on considerably less than the notional hours of student effort which the credit ratings assume.
  •   The pedagogy for learner-directed and peer-assisted development of higher level cognitive and interpersonal abilities, has yet to be developed.
  • Younger staff are increasingly expected to devote an increasing proportion of their effort and priorities to research and consultancy.

Do you see any  value of the OER movement in trying to address any  of the challenges

  • Not really.  The solution is an issue for quality assurance and resistance ot economic pressures which demand higher student/staff rations, and less student/staff contact.
  •   Yes, if it can make deep progress in generic terms to pedagogically sound curricula plans and activities which can be put into general use.
  • Perhaps.  If curricula centre on learner-directed and managed development, they should be able to be both pedagogically effective and less demanding of staff resource.

Celia PopovicCelia Popovic is Director of the Teaching Commons at York University, Canada’s third largest University. She joined York in November 2011 after a 20 year career in the UK, most recently in Birmingham at BCU. An active member of SEDA, and the newly appointed Chair elect for the Council of Ontario Educational Developers she values service to the educational community as well as a commitment to enhancing teaching and learning in Higher Education.

What would you consider the top 3 challenges that the Higher Education sector faces in your country or the country in which you currently work?

I’ve not been in Canada long (14 months) so I suspect my view of the challenges may change over time. But from where I am now, I would say the top 3 challenges (there are so many perspectives to approach this from) are:

  1. dealing with increasing numbers of undergraduate students with the same or decreasing resources
  2. matching diverse expectations of key stakeholders – faculty, students, employers, government (and to an extent parents and high school teachers) – sometimes these are in direct conflict with each other especially the debate around what HE is for – to develop your brain or your earning potential.
  3. getting fully tenured faculty on board with innovatoins and developments (coming from untenured UK this has been the biggest difference  – we barely had any sticks in the UK, here in Canada there are NO sticks for tenured faculty, and the emphasis on rewarding research and ignoring teaching has huge implications).

Do you see any  value of the OER movement in trying to address any  of the challenges?

Yes I can certainly see a role of OERs in helping with these challenges.

Kostas DinasKostas Ntinas is a Professor at the University of Western Macedonia – Greece, School of Educational Studies. He is the president of the Department of Early Childhood Education. He has graduated from the School of Philosophy – Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of Linguistics. He holds a Ph.D. in Education in Linguistics.He has participated in many research projects in Greece and he has been in the scientific board of writing the textbooks of Greek language of secondary education, from the Greek Ministry of Education. His research work is related to the teaching of the Neo-Greek language with emphasis on new technologies and issues relevant to the Neo-Greek language (dialectology-onomatology) and the Balkan languages.

What Would You Consider The Top 3 Challenges That The Higher Education Sector Faces in Your Country?

  1.  The first challenge to which the Greek higher education must give an answer is how to manipulate the economic crisis, in which Greece is the last years.
  2. The second challenge is to be attractive for balkan students to show their interest to study in greek universities.
  3. The third challenge for the Higher Education is, in my opinion, to renew the university studies in order to be up to date in all disciplines and follow the most recent trends all over the world.

Do you see any  value of the OER (Open Educational Resources) movement in trying to address any  of the challenges

  1. Perhaps, because it seems to be cheaper for us and our students to access an Open Educational Resource and manage to function as ‘user as creator of content’ than to move far from our town or country in order to have access to more traditional resources.
  2. Of course, because an Open Educational Resource gives to Universities the possibility to be up to date and  be in real time in touch with the progress in every educational field all over the world.
  3. The same with 2. In this case our Universities will be able to renew their university studies.

2 Responses to Global Stories

  1. Fred M Beshears says:

    The top-three-challenges question didn’t set a time frame, but most of the respondents did seem to identify near-term challenges. If we extend the time frame to challenges that are fifteen to thirty years out, the most fundamental is whether education can keep pace with advancing technology. In other words: will education, as we now conceive it, make it possible for unenhanced humanity to keep pace with it’s race against the machine.

    Current economic thinking holds that as technology advances some jobs may be lost but, for the most part, workers can be retrained for new jobs that are beyond the scope of current technology. But this thinking assumes that humans will always maintain some cognitive edge over technology.

    But what happens if technology surpasses the all the cognitive abilities of unenhanced humans – by unenhanced I mean humans that can only interact with computers through the five senses and the use of overt movement. Enhanced humans, on the other hand, would have some form of direct brain-computer interface that would allow them to do “most of their thinking in the cloud” as Ray Kurzweil contends.

    Some who’ve read Kurzweil’s books such as The Singularity is Near or How to Create a Mind simply reject his prediction that computers will surpass unenhanced human abilities in the next thirty years. Similarly, many reject his assertion that humans who wish to will transcend biological evolution somewhere towards the end of that timeframe as well.

    Nevertheless, it does seem to be the case that since technological evolution is progressing faster than unenhanced human evolution, it will be harder and harder for education to keep pace with the race against the machine.

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