Alvin Toffler’s 1970 book, Future Shock is credited with numerous quotables in the realm of education technology. One of his most famous quotes is “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Forgive me if my interpretation strays from his original quote because, this is not an actual direct quote. While developing my final research paper on the integration of Web 2.0 technologies within Hackathons, I came across some of Toffler’s many educational quotes, which would compliment my research. The above quote seemed appropriate for one of my chapter introductions, so I purchased a paperback copy of Future Shock from Amazon and skimmed through the book trying to locate the quote and ensure that I would not use it out of context. After a few hours, I had no luck finding this quote in its entirety. However, I found many fragmented instances of the quote throughout Chapter 18: Education in Future Tense.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
I searched online to find out if anyone else cited this quote in hopes of finding a reference to its page number or chapter. I came across an article by Darcy Moore from 2009, which addressed the same issue I was facing. He also could not locate the direct quote in Toffler’s book. I quickly thought of the irony to this situation. Toffler spoke in length within his book about teaching the students of the future how to collect, analyze and interpret large sets of data in order to identify and clarify conflicts (Toffler, 1970). With so much information available on the Internet, it has become common to accept misinformation as fact. In short, I ended up reading the entire book and found the “quote”. Ok, it wasn’t the exact quote but the crux of it fit my introduction and context of my research. “By instructing students how to learn, unlearn and relearn, a powerful new dimension can be added to education” (Toffler, 1970, p. 211). It was perfect! As you can see, this quote has pieces of the altered requote that has been attributed to Toffler.
The fact is, Alvin Toffler’s “quote” is actually a requote from Psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy of the Human Resources research Organization who he credits in the paragraph below as saying,
“The new education must teach the individual how to classify and reclassify information, how to evaluate its veracity, how to change categories when necessary, how to move from the concrete to the abstract and back, how to look at problems from a new direction—how to teach himself. Tomorrow’s illiterate will not be the man who can’t read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn.”
Segments of Toffler’s actual quotes are actually paraphrased and have been collected, merged and adapted over time. What’s the moral of this story? If you ever come across a quote that you intend on requoting, be sure to check your sources. You might have to unquote that requote of the quote you cited. 😉
Toffler, A. (1970). Future Shock. New York, N.Y.: Random House, Inc.
Grab some popcorn and get comfortable, this is a pretty lengthy reply 😉
I recently posted an article about My role as an educator in the digital age. I received some really great questions from my classmates and faculty regarding my use of technology in the classroom and the technical skills required to put those technologies into practice.
Before I begin answering the questions below, let me start by saying that I believe the degree of technology used by teachers in the classroom should be relative to their profession and or subject(s) that they teach. I do not suggest that all teachers should be up-to-speed with all forms of educational technology. However, I would suggest that being aware, knowledgeable and skilled in the technologies that aid successful development of a students academic achievement should be utilized and put into practice. In this post, I will try to answer the following questions that were asked in reply to my original article:
How do you keep up with technology?
In my field of study and profession as a digital designer, it is my job—and a requirement—to keep current and skilled in technology that affects my industry in order to provide my students with the best learning experience. That’s what my students expect when they enter my design program. They want to be taught the latest trends and developments in web design. In order for me to deliver these expectations, I have to keep current with the latest trends in design, application software, development languages etc… In order to keep up with technology that pertains to my field of study and profession, I am involved in various meetups once a month, instruct project-based workshops and programs such as Techsdale and volunteer at WordCamp conferences to keep my skills sharpened and stay active in the design community. Being a member of a community that shares knowledge with future designers and developers helps me stay in touch with design trends and the latest developments in technology within my field of practice. I learn a great deal from my peers within these spaces and take those lessons back into my classroom to share the experiences with my students. These experiences also allow my students to gain an edge within the job market once they graduate. Employers in the design industry are always looking for talented designers who are knowledgable of the latest technologies and languages to stay competitive. By keeping up with technology, I can transfer what I learn to my students in a rich learning environment that is filled with current information, discussion and creative ideas.
Do you have enough time to develop the skills that will allow you to be an effective teacher?
When I was 17 years old my father passed away. My father was an auto mechanic for the greater part of his life and would always read about the newest innovations in the auto industry, even after his retirement. He had stacks of auto manuals, auto magazines and whatever else he could get his hands on to keep up with his passion for automobiles. After he retired, he couldn’t stand the fact of being unable to work. When I was 11 years old, he moved back to the Caribbean (Dominica) to help his nephews manage their mechanic shop. Six years passed, and I had planned to visit him in Dominica a couple weeks before his passing. A year later, my sister—who also lives in Dominica—visited me and gave me a book that my father had planned on giving me for my 18th birthday. Apparently, he gave a copy of this book to all of my brothers and sisters when they turned 18. The book my father kept for me was called ‘The Prophet’ by Khalil Gibran. The book is about a man who lived abroad for several years and was on his way home aboard a ship. During his travels, he began to discuss various topics about life and the human condition with a group of passengers on the ship. When the groups of passengers ask the man on the ship about the topic of ‘Work’ the man replied, “You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth. For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons…” (Gibran, 1926). This quote always stuck with me as my father used to emphasize the importance of work. In the digital age, this quote holds even more value to me today than it did in the past. When asked if I have enough time to develop my skills in order to be an effective designer and teacher, my reply to that question is “I make time.” If I want to be an effective designer and teacher to a generation that depends heavily on the use of technology then I must make time to develop my skills and keep pace with technology or else I will become a stranger to it and unable to keep pace with the world of design. I can’t imagine teaching students graphic design using the same techniques as I did when I was a student. I can’t imagine teaching students how to develop photos in a dark room rather than teaching them digital prepress or teaching typography using metal type instead of digital typesetting applications. I probably wouldn’t be considered as a designer in the digital age if I still used old technology. A great woman once told me “Mark, if you love to do something you should make time for it, not wish you had time for it” (My Wife, 2015).
Do you think all teachers should have technical skills?
I personally think that all teachers should have technical skills, regardless of the grade level they teach. My daughter’s first grade teacher used her iPad to help students learn how to read and practice arithmetic. My daughter’s first grade teacher also kept track of each student’s progress using the Evernote app on her iPad. When we met my daughter’s teacher for our parent-teacher meeting, the teacher showed us pictures of my daughter’s progress and feedback that she had made throughout the term. When it was time to end the meeting, I had asked if we could have a copy of the pictures she took of our daughter so that we could have them printed. The teacher replied (with confusion) that she didn’t know how to extract the photographs from Evernote. My daughter quickly interrupted and suggested to her teacher that she tap and hold her finger on the images so that she could save them to her iPad. My daughter then showed her teacher how to create a photo album for each student using her iPad so that her teacher could easily send photos to each parent via email. It was great that the teacher used technology to help her students learn in a way that was intuitive, engaging and fun for the class. The technology also allowed the instructor to keep all of her reports in one place while helping her stay organized and sustainable, as per the school’s policy. However, there were some things that my daughter’s teacher was not aware of about the technology that she was using. Granted, the teacher took it upon herself to include the use of technology in the classroom as a learning tool but what if she was better supported and learned how the technology she was using could be utilized to it’s full potential?
I see many teachers at the elementary level on both ends of the spectrum in adopting technology. How should they be supported? Should there be a certain mandatory level of technology use in the classroom?
In 2015, I would hope that technology in the classroom would be mandated. Today, there are digital classrooms being created and implemented across various school districts and provinces within Canada. Amplify uses Google’s Android-based tablets and Samsung have already started initiatives to deliver affordable mobile devices to educators and their students. With the increasing need for qualified people in tech, companies are taking it upon themselves to educate the next generation of tech leaders. I agree that the use of technology in the classroom should also include mandatory training for instructors. The post-secondary institution where I teach offers workshops and training seminars for teachers every month. The school also has a department dedicated to professional development, which offers workshops on how to utilize technology in the classroom.
I have also taught a few ‘lunch and learn’ sessions in the past. A lunch and learn is where a faculty member or guest speaker instructs faculty on how to use or implement a specific application or resource that may be useful to them during their lunch hour. I recently taught a lesson on how to create a subscription-based Google calendar for instructors who wanted to send push notifications to students about assignment due dates, important events and access to one-on-one meeting signups. Since the majority of our students have a computer or mobile device with their own personal email account, students preferred having reminders sent directly to their device rather than accessing reminders through a third party email account. Using this simple form of technology allowed my students to stay organized and punctual with their assignments throughout the semester.
When writing my earlier post on my role of an educator in the digital age, I should have defined the word ‘technology’ as it pertains to my profession and teaching. I don’t believe that teachers need to be up-to-date with all technologies, because I agree that it is an impossible task. However, within the scope of a teacher’s expertise or subject, teachers should become more knowledgeable of the available technologies that affect their subject of expertise to suit the needs of their students. I understand that my perspectives may be different from others in my profession as a teacher. I am a designer first and a teacher second. I became a teacher because I wanted to share my knowledge with others in hopes that they would become as passionate about design as I am. My passion for design allows me to be passionate about teaching design. My personal belief is that students come to me as a teacher of design because they consider me to be an expert in the field that I teach. Therefore, they expect me to answer any questions based on design and the technology that compliments design. Sure, I help guide my students to find their own understanding of what good design is and how to achieve their own academic goals. However, to do so I must also help them become better designers by staying current with the technology and information that they need to achieve their academic and professional goals. In addition, I still see value in teaching the traditional aspects of design that will help them build a solid foundation for their career. Thus, making them better prepared for any future advancements that they may experience.
Over the past few years, I have blogged in a variety of platforms for various subjects. I’ve blogged about technology and clothing, education in design and even health and fitness. This is the first time I’ve blogged about Academia and to tell you the truth, it’s a bit intimidating. Previously, I’ve blogged about subjects that some consider me an expert in or areas in which I am comfortable having a conversation and being mindful about. However, blogging about subjects like theoretical frameworks, cultures of inquiry and phenomenology initially felt out of my comfort zone. As I read and learn more about academic research and learning theories, it is inevitable that I will only get better… hopefully. As I become more knowledgable and familiar with discussing or sharing my opinions on different subject matters, I can use this space to think and discuss topics surrounding education and technology that invite informal conversation (Estes, 2012).
Since 2004—I would estimate—I began blogging. Not in the formal sense of writing and sharing critiques but in a simpler more casual form. I’ve used social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to create open forums and discussions about prevalent design-culture topics with my peers, colleagues and students. Posting things like design trends, advances in technology and even my own personal updates were all forms of blogging. Because of social media, others like myself used social media as a blogging springboard to share our experiences with others. In the article Blogging: The remediation of academic and business communications byAselin, K. (2011) the author notes thatOregon State University students found that creating a blog for class communications, colleagues; and publishing up-to-date research findings were favourable and well supported among staff and students. Today, my own personal portfolio website is managed on a blogging platform (WordPress) and I use it to enter posts about the design industry, tutorials and online learning resources for my students. I also use it as a form of sharing my opinions on various design related topics and personal posts about my work and life.
sharing your thoughts online can be a scary thing but that’s what blogging does. It helps you share your thoughts, good or bad, right or wrong with others in hopes of gaining views and perspectives of others.”
For now, it is obvious that I have a lot more learning to do and I look forward to progressing in my field of study. Blogging about academia has allowed me to reflect and process what I have learned and how I could apply what I’ve learned to my experiences throughout my academic career and work. Blogging can be therapeutic for me in the sense that I can express myself freely and share my perspectives with a diverse amount of people. Yes, sharing your thoughts online can be a scary thing but that’s what blogging does. It helps you share your thoughts, good or bad, right or wrong with others in hopes of gaining views and perspectives of others. Nackerud and Scaletta (2008) state that undergraduate bloggers tend to lock down their blogs from the public eye by password-protecting most of their entries.
During our LRNT 501 and 502 course, I have enjoyed reading, reflecting and sharing the blogs of my classmates and learning more about them. I can learn a lot about the ways in which they see the world, which would not be possible without blogging. Being a part of the blended cohort, I can now hear some of my classmates’ voices and tones through their blog posts, which means that their view points and experiences are coming from an honest and open place. I think we will all become comfortable with sharing our thoughts and learning experiences online with the world; at some point. If technology is the key that helps us communicate in the future, then blogging may be the door that grants us access.
Aselin, K. (2011). Blogging: The remediation of academic and business communications. Ann Arbor, Michigan:ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing.
Estes, H. (2012). Blogging and academic identity. Literature Compass, 9(12), 974-982. doi:10.1111/lic3.12017
Nackerud, S., & Scaletta, K. (2008). Blogging in the academy. New Directions for Student Services(124), 71-87. doi:10.1002/ss.296