Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Neuroscience Meets Education and Technology

Conceptual Map of the FLOSS (Free/Libre Open S...Image via Wikipedia

Trends in Education include:    Changes in the role of the professor, content arrangements, learning activities, learning activities, institutional arrangements, student behavior, and technology.  The role of the professor will change from that of an authoritarian figure to that of an orchestrator of learning and resources.   Due to legal changes in licensing such as Creative Commons licenses, Open Source Education, Software, ontologies and other content initiatives will decrease the cost of creating curriculum and sharing knowledge to a fraction of current cost. 
Harvard is considering posting its scholastic research directly online. Students will be more involved in creating their own curriculum. In many cases, learning activities will change from being classroom focused to field trips using augmented reality techniques to display geocoded data directly onto neighborhoods.  Learning will take place across borders: work/university, local/global, and students/alumni.  There will be more and more research on methods of obtaining the personal best from a student using techniques such as positive psychology and learning modalities.   Student behavior will shift from being passive to an active, strong sense of ownership of own education, and co-creation of resources and opportunities.  Technology will be used to enhance distance learning and will finally be designed with educative principles in mind.   To cope with accelerating trends, Universities will shift from a bureaucracy to an “Ad-hocracy”, from permanence to transience, and from a concern with the present to a focus on the future.
Dilemmas posed include education gap, institutional inertia, and a narrow vocational focus for an unpredictable future.    There is a widening educational gap between African American and Hispanics on the one hand, and Asians and Whites on the other.  In 2015, California will have African Americans and Hispanics comprise the majority of the high school dropouts (75%) and Whites and Hispanics comprise the majority of the college graduates (89%).    Inherent inertia in universities is bolstered by national policies that often were invented to speed up adjustment.


Technological Trends will include computer technology,  biotechnology and nanotechnology and cognition and the convergence of these technologies (NBIC) .  The Web will evolve along two axes:  1) increasing connections between people (Web 2.0 Facebook), and 2) increasing connections between knowledge (Web 3.0 semantic technologies) and will combine to connect intelligences (Web 4.0 Global Brain of connections of people, knowledge and logic structures).    The U.S. military and the UK government are studying psychopharmacology for increased attention and cognition, and personalized genetic mapping and enhancement.  The Human Cognome Project is seeking to map the brain like the Human Genome Project has done for the geneAdditionally, Nanotechnology is producing new drugs that treat cancer, engineer materials to replace diseased organs, repair nerve damage, and improve prosthetic limbs, among many other medical breakthroughs. The National Nanotechnology Initiative has identified other areas of focus in enhancing group creativity and cognitive engineering..   A “Virtual You” is being constructed at Sandia Laboratory to model human consciousness and cognitive abilities.  Dr. Candace Pert has identified an information network within the human body where peptide messages triggered by emotions regulate body chemical processes.

New Technologies provide the following opportunities:  the backbone for the communications necessary for globalization, the ability to “leapfrog” current technology where there are no old infrastructure  or mentalities to be uprooted, the creation of new online societies and training environments and the simulation of current social problems.   Technology has been a key enabler of technology.  Changes in technology provide the ability to  leapfrog technologies.   Just as Africa is currently implementing wireless 3G infrastructure that, in certain cases, is more advanced than some networks in the US, so can targeted investment in leading edge technologies provide  African American students technological leadership.  Virtual reality (3D simulations)/ augmented reality will provide training environments that can substitute PCs/mobile devices for expensive industrial equipment and provide new modalities for learning.    Virtual Worlds can be used to create new societies with new rules; or to allow students to model the effects of strategies used to combat racism.  Nanotechnology has been described as a change as profound as the Industrial Revolution.    Described as the “Next Industrial Revolution”, Nanotechnology has been incorporated into billions of dollars worth of manufactured goods:  nearly 400 manufacturer-identified, nanotechnology-based consumer products already on the market.
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