THE NEW DIGITAL AGE; Our Future Selves

June 25, 2013

First, the good news from Schmidt and Cohen:  before long “everyone on Earth will be connected”.   As we progress from 2 billion to 7 billion people experiencing digital connectivity, we all will see the benefits in “productivity, health, education, quality of life for everyone.”

But that connectivity will mean different things to different people -depending upon point of view and problems to be solved.  Everyone will benefit but not equally, and those differences become the focus of Chapter One of this thought-provoking book.

The authors take us through the positives improvements: increased efficiency, effective uses of time, more innovation, more opportunity, growth of globalization, new levels of collaborations and cross pollination, growth of the open-source movement, a better quality of life, advances in health and medicine, and- a personal interest of mine-the positive changes in education.

Schools are and will continue to integrate technology into lesson plans and in some cases, replace traditional lectures with interactive workshops.  Education will become a more flexible experience “adapting” to children’s learning styles and pace instead of the other way around.”  There will be more use of on-line short videos as the “flipping“ trend continues.  Homework means watching a video – no need for parents help with that; the classroom focuses on applications of what was learned.

Those who follow my blog or have listened to me talk about adult learning applications in today’s world certainly recognize much of this.  However, a key difference evolving in schools is that “critical thinking and problem-solving skills” will be the focus as memorized learning will decrease.  After all, we have the knowledge of the world at our fingertips with our smart mobile devices, so why fill the brain with things you may never need to know?

Although connectivity benefits us all, it does not benefit us equally.  “Those who have none, will benefit some and those who have a lot will have even more”.  The authors’ description of a day in the life of a young urban professional living in an American city in a couple decades created a lot of conflict for me.  I hope I live to see some of it; and at the same time, I hope I don’t live to witness all – as I am not so sure I will make a good adjustment!

But the advance of connectivity will have impacts far beyond a personal level and the authors’ position that how the physical worlds coexist, collide and complement each other will strongly impact how citizens and states behave.

“Each individual, state, and organization will have to discover its own formula, and those that can best navigate this multidimensional world will find themselves ahead in the future.”

The first 21st century reality of that may already be playing out before us as the almost 250 year old quest to find balance and to reconcile differences between individual freedoms and security of the whole is front and center right now – thanks to Snowden.


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