Learning Matters

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Ian Jukes on Change

The last two days I have been attending a conference on closing the achievement gap sponsored by our state education agency. It has been a strong conference so far and I have been impressed by the state's succcess in planning the conference.

Today, we have Ian Jukes delivering keynotes at both ends of the day. He is also conducting a sectional. It has been quite some time since I've posted, so I'm going to try liveblogging Jukes. Ian Jukes has the notes to this presentation available online here.

I have seen Jukes before and read some fo his writing. He is an engaging speaker and is a good anchor when you want to help an audience consider things outside the proverbial "box." Early in the presentation, Jukes is highlighting four exponential trends. The first is Moore's Law, the observation that computing power doubles every 18 months or so. The second trend is the law of the photon, which is the rapidly increasing bandwidth trend. Jukes points out the 2400 baud modems were pretty good in the mid to late 1980's, but residences now have DSL, and the industry is rapidly increasing in the ability to pack wavelengths into fiberoptics and that we are quickly ascending the staircase from gigabit to 10 gig to 100 gig and beyond. Coupled with the exponential increase in wired speed, wireless bandwidth is rapidly increasing in capacity, with huge impacts on portability and ubiquity. An important impact of the the bandwidth revolution is how it facilitates globalization of economic activity. To the extent that work can be done at a distance, and that is an increasingly large segment of economic activity, jobs can be located anywhere. This is an important takeaway for those in the audience that haven't considered this before. If you are an American with marginal, or submarginal, employability, geography cannot be counted upon to help you acquire a job. Also, the Internet provides many new methods for communication that out students embrace more rapidly than we are doing.

His fourth trend was InfoWhelm. One point he suggests is that technical knowledge is somewhat less valuable because it is changing and growing so rapidly. Personally, I am optimistic that collaborative practices like blogs and wikis can help us filter InfoWhelm into a manageable understanding of the world we chose to live in.


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