Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Change Only Getting Faster

With your indulgence, I thought I might depart from my more traditional “nuts and bolts…what’s in it for you” remarks and share some observations about the impact of the changes in technology on our daily lives. Part of this is a reaction to some comments I get from readers. Many express a frustration on how quickly things are changing and how hard it is to keep up with even the simple things in life like watching TV. This got me to thinking and looking a bit more deeply into the topic.

Simply put, like it or not, our advanced technology has forced us and the rest of the world into a rate of change that is nothing short of exponential. We may not like it, we may not want it, but it is here and only going to get even more pronounced.

There are several examples. It took radio about 40 years to get to 50 million regular users. Television took just 14 years to reach this same level. The Internet went from 0 to 50 million users in just 4 years. In 1984 there were about 1000 devices connected to the Internet. In 2008 it is estimated that more than 1 billion devices were Internet based. This one must put a smile on Steve Jobs’ face: the iPod™ reached 50 million in just 2 years.Enough about sales of products and services. What does this mean for other parts of our society? While I should leave education to the pros at the Board of Education, I did come across some factoids that would surely keep me up at night if I was in a teacher's shoes. I read recently that one of the challenges facing educators is that they are charged with educating kids for jobs and careers that don’t yet exist using technology that has not yet been invented to solve problems that we haven’t yet identified.

Another education guru wrote that for college students in four year technical programs, 50% of what they learn as freshmen will be out of date by graduation.So what are we to do? Living in a society where 2 weeks of articles in the New York Times contains more information than a well educated 18th century scholar would know in a lifetime, can we ever hope to keep up?

Well, it seems to me that coupled with helping students and employees to embrace change, we need to make sure that they can think critically. There is a big difference between knowing the “innards” of a specific technology and knowing the appropriate application. The latter requires thinking skills beyond computational facility. This is not just a challenge to schools but workplace training as well. Just my observations…

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home