These are my notes from Lee Crockett‘s keynote, “The Emerging & the Extreme,” on March 6, 2012, at the Heartland eLearning Conference at the University of Central Oklahoma. Lee’s website is “21st Century Fluency Project.” MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. The official conference description of Lee’s keynote was:

The world is no longer the stable and predictable place that it once was even just a few short years ago. There are many who say that the changes in the next five years will absolutely dwarf those of the last 50 years. What impact will this have on education? What will learning look like, and how will it be assessed? What skills in learners and educators will be most highly valued? And how can educators design effective learning environments in a world of accelerating change? This presentation takes you on a time machine 13 years into the future to explore the shift in curriculum and thinking that will be necessary to equip learners for success in the 21st century, and identifies what this signifies for education and educators. The Emerging and the Extreme will show you just how schools can prepare students to be effective learners, and educators to be more effective teachers, in a fundamentally different world than the one we grew up in. Based on the new book, Living on the Future Edge: Windows on Tomorrow from the 21st Century Fluency Project, this presentation examines what learning, teaching, and assessment will look like in the new digital landscape.

Lee Crockett presenting at the 2012 Heartland eLearning Conference

Book by Ian Jukes, Ted McCain & Lee Crockett: “Living on the Future Edge: Windows on Tomorrow

We are living in exponential times, which are beyond our ability to comprehend
– beyond our ability to process and understand
– overnight new tools and new processes
– constant, never-ending pressure to keep up

Ad: Technology moves fast / newer (“You bought the wrong TV, silly”) on YouTube

we are not exponential thinkers, we are linear thinkers
– when we think of what change is going to look like, we envision a steep line but it’s linear

Ray Kurtzweil: 30 linear steps gets you to 30
– 30 exponential steps get you to one billion

Students today, following the extrapolations
– billions or trillions of times more powerful

Wild ideas
– virtual infrared projector with keyboard
– keyboard not there physically, but you can do anything

Microsoft Skin-put, uses any flexible surface

Sony’s bendable screen / like etch-a-sketch
Credit card phones, fold upj
From Nokia, prototype phone you never plugin (listens to ambient radio waves and ocillates internal circuits to charge a battery)

As things require less power

Example: a nano-generator, power output same as two AA batteries
– turns mechanical energy into electrical energy
– this can be sewn into clothing
– applications for this both inside and outside the body

Bluetooth technology which connects to a bone in your head, so you can hear ambient sounds but it’s broadcast from the headset directly into your head
– you can roll it up and wear it as a ring when desired

Now Japanese engineers developing a real Harry Potter invisibility cloak

Now example of a car which you drive and brake with a joystick
– we are too old to drive this car

Opto-electronic contact lens
– this will replace the need for computer/video monitors in years to come

Wwe are headed to augmented reality
– overlaying digital information over real life

How many of you have bought a car or stock on incomplete information
– got married on incomplete information?

Example of GPS integrated smart ski Goggle
– also integrated to your phone for text messages
– all GPS enabled
– that’s augmented reality

YouTube video

How does this affect education?

word lens

Video “Introducing Word Lens”

What are the implications for education if technology allows us to see and understand in another language?

Does our focus become less on content and more on skills

We drop kids in kindergarten assuming the world will be the same when they come out the other end in 12 years…
– we need to put pressure on politicians so they understand this
– our priorities will change dramatically in the years to come for education

Photo of Eniac computer, used 120,000 volts of electricity
– over 10,000 manual switches
– was the size of a building
– could multiple a 10 digit number by another 10 digit number in 3 seconds
– this ran on vacuum tubes
– those reached a theoretical maximum and R&D gave us transistors
– when transistors maxed out, R&D gave us the silicon chip
– then 3D chips
– now we’re starting to move to carbon-based computing
– money goes into R&D because our desire to continue getting things faster and faster

What used to fit in a building now fit in your pocket
– soon it will fit into a blood cell: now we’re talking about nano-technology

Over 1000 nano products are on the market today
– nano coatings on trousers, knives, food, more
– nano-spiders actually exist, invented at Columbia Univ, half the size of a human blood cell
– made from human DNA molecules
– attracted attention because they can be in the body and deliver a killing agent to cancer cells specifically

Article: “Meet the nano-spiders: The DNA robots that could one day be walking through your body

What are the implications of these technologies for the skills our students need to survive and thrive?

I shared this presentation with high school students in New Zealand

Are we preparing students for their future or our past

I’m asking you to think, the same thing we should ask our students to do
– shift the responsibility for learning to the student, it shouldn’t be the teacher’s job
– the students need to own the problems and teach them to think

Disruptive innovation
– examples

What happened to the jobs of switchboard operators?
– story of mom realizing her phone was fordless….

Martin Cooper photo, inventor of MOtorola brick” cell phone

each of these devices replaced devices before it, and the jobs, distribution, etc.

Most phones today are more powerful than computers were 3 years ago
– this has resulted in the almost-disappearance of a pay phone

Tablets are signaling the end of the desktop PC era

How about recorders and reel-to-reel

Anyone have a pickup truck that still has an 8 track player
– got replaced with cassettes (How many of your remember making ‘that special mix’ on a cassette?!)
– replaced by CDs and DVDs
– replaced by iPods
– Apple controls 70% of the digital music market
– Sony has shut down it’s production facility in the NE USA for CDs and DVDs because of reduced demands
– it’s not personal, it’s just the fact that something better came along
– that’s what disruptive technology is about…

What just happened to Kodak, a cultural icon for 120 years
– because of their inability to adapt to disruptive innovation, they are now in bankruptcy

US post office announced plan to cut hundreds of stores and thousands of jobs
– it’s not personal, it’s just disruptive innovation

What is the purpose of education (besides being cheap babysitting)
1 acculturation of the individual (Pass on democracy to the next generation)
2- appreciation of social, aesthetic, esoteric, philosophical…
3- preparing students for their life beyond school

All new technologies are ways of dealing with new technologies: gadgets for processing information and dealing with it

Moved from paper newspapers to digital media
– from record stores and movie theaters to digital distribution which comes to us
– used to go to the bookstore

Used to go to meetings and attend conference

I started using Fuze Meeting, lets me spend more time with my wife

Now you can attend university in Second Life, other virtual learning environments that are free

You need to understand that the whole system of education has been primarily an information delivery system
– we can’t pretend today is ‘business as usual’ in schools

Too often technologies become a new way to reinforce old ways of teaching and learning (electronic whiteboards are an example, eLearning can be too)

If you are primarily an information delivery system, and a better system (like the Internet) comes along, then you’re out of business

The internet has globalized virtually everything
– made in CHina, sold in WalMart

Example of MAERSK LINE ship run by 13 people that can deliver almost anything around the world in 4 days

Routine cognitive jobs outside things you have to be physically present

oDesk and Freelancer
– you can put together a virtual team in minutes
– this is what savvy companies do today when needed

Anytime you use a piece of software to pay your taxes or

Richard Florda, 4 parts of the workforce
– Agriculture
– working class (traditional manufacturing jobs – peaked after WWII, in decline ever since)
– service class (stuff broken down to a set of instructions)jobs peaked in 1980
– creative class: this is what’s valued now in the economy, non-routine creative work

introduction of the computer shows how the service class is in decline, the creative class is on the rise
– app economy: 514,000 jobs Apple is claiming credit for through the App development kit

$4 billion paid to Apple app developers since it started
– gaming alone
– will swell to $16 billion alone in next few years
– that’s bigger globally than gambling

Jobs for agricultural world were designed for agricultural jobs, but the world has changed
– schools are now expected to respond to our market where 3/4 of the market need skills for abstraction and creativity

This means something significant has to change
– the traditional structure of education continues to

The economy has eradicated the standardized job, yet politicians force our schools to be driven by standardized assessment

Marzano: 85% of standardized tests are focused on fact recall and lower-level thinking

Time article: Dropout Nation

Kids who go onto university: our fixation on “no child left untested” are huge
– sampling of 19,000 US students, within 6 years of enrollment, only 50% had graduated because they don’t see the relevance of their education to the real world


It’s not the teacher’s fault that the system is failing
– we need to shift to ‘servicing clients’

My big focus is giving you the power of knowledge

Big points of this press:
1- these are disruptive times for education (just like publishers who don’t know what to do, because they are not longer in control of information and its distribution)

working with a design firm that isn’t sure of the lifespan of a technology in 6 months (HTML5 and CSS3)

2- the continued existence of the current system is not assured
– the US federal government is working very hard to make public education hard to exist

3- even good organizations with good people will disappear if they don’t understand the natural laws of disruptive innovation

4- It’s very difficult for existing successful organizations to become dominant players in the new environment

Jack Welch: “When the rate of change outside an organization is greater the the rate of change inside an organization, the end is in sight”

5- this is sneaking up on most schools

21st Century Fluency Project
– see this as opportunity, not “doom and gloom”

Eric Hoffer: “In times of radical change, the learners inherit the earth… while the learned find themselves perfectly equipped for a world that no longer exists.”

If we continue on the path of eliminating creativity out of our kids, then China and India will outsource their low level jobs to the USA

We need to hit the reset button on education, only way for the USA to modernize our education is to transform it NOW
– we need a reinvention of teaching and learning and assessment
– we need to completely renovate your role in education

Margaret Mead: “Never doubt a small group of people….”

– change starts with you and me, it starts here and now

YOU are educators, it comes from the Latin word “to lead out” of the intellectual wilderness

Regardless of whether you’ve been teaching 1 year or…

We must gain understanding at the political level, to change
– then the best is yet to come

It’s time for educators to be given the status as professionals you deserve
– you are the most important professionals in the process

educators are going to lead us into the 21st century
– educators were the knowledge givers in the knowledge age
– now in the innovation age, you will shift from the givers of knowledge to the facilitators of learning

It is your hard work which builds the bridge which allows our children cross the gap between the present and the future
– you are America’s greatest hope as educators

lee [at] fluency [dot] com

63 districts in the US are doing this well
– universities are slower to make this change
– I can email you that list

Book: “Literacy is not Enough” by Ian Jukes, Lee Crockett & Andrew Churches


problem solving is #1 takeaway today: start posing problems to teachers
– give them the questions and not the answers
– hard to make this shift
– as educators our desire is to tell
– that’s the biggest single shift to make
– challenge others to think for themselves
– we use the “6 D’s” on the website, match with scientific method
– teacher students and teachers how to develop a problem solving method
– creativity and critical thinking skills will develop in that context

Change readiness has to do with both mindsets and technology
– we recommend mapping out a process of where we are and where we want to go in 3 years
– we do experiential learning, not full-frontal learning like we’re doing today with this lecture
– it’s easy for us in education to say we understand this situation
– you have to experience failure to understand how to succeed
– we train learning coaches and have them experience problem solving and new assessment methods, then they take that out to the schools/classrooms
– within 2-3 years we become obsolete

Predominant metaphor in education is: stop making waves
– great deal of pressure on visionary educators who are doing this work
– many colleagues try to hamper those individuals
– many parents are fine for us to change education as long as it looks like the school they grew up in
– educators are the hardest group to present to and work with

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One Response to The Emerging & the Extreme by Lee Crockett

  1. Andrea Stone says:

    What a great summary, Wes! Thank you. BTW, there are no books on Amazon because we bought all the available copies for the conference bookstore. I am sure they will restock soon. If we have any left, I will see what I can do to get one to you. 

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