Eschatologyn. the branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world or of humankind.
Whatever our professed spiritual beliefs I reckon everyone has an eschatology. That is to say, we have a theory, either explicit or implicit, about how the world will end — and whether that will occur in our lifetime, our children’s lifetime, or neither.
Disruptive impacts from climate change are now inevitable. Geoengineering is likely to be ineffective or counter-productive… In assessing how our approaches could evolve, we need to appreciate what kind of adaptation is possible. Recent research suggests that human societies will experience disruptions to their basic functioning within less than ten years due to climate stress. Such disruptions include increased levels of malnutrition, starvation, disease, civil conflict and war – and will not avoid affluent nations. This situation makes redundant the reformist approach to sustainable development and related fields of corporate sustainability that has underpinned the approach of many professionals (Bendell et al, 2017). Instead, a new approach which explores how to reduce harm and not make matters worse is important to develop. In support of that challenging, and ultimately personal process, understanding a deep adaptation agenda may be useful.
For now, I just wanted to encourage anyone reading this to read the paper and to encourage myself to think about realigning my work around the 4R’s outlined by Bendell:
Resilience asks us “how do we keep what we really want to keep?”
Relinquishment asks us “what do we need to let go of in order to not make matters worse?”
Restoration asks us “what can we bring back to help us with the coming difficulties and tragedies?”
Reconciliation asks “with what and whom can we make peace with as we face our mutual mortality?”
One other thing that I note in terms of operationalising this work is that Bendell seems to have done a particularly useful job of employing what I would call productive ambiguity. As a result, people can take something practical, while being able to contextualise it for their own situation.
I’m currently doing some research with Sarah Horrocks from London CLC for their parent organisation, the Education Development Trust. As part of this work, I’m looking at all kinds of things related to technology-enhanced teacher professional development.
Happily, it’s given me an excuse to go through some of the work that Prof. Steve Higgins, my former thesis supervisor at Durham University, has published since I graduated from my Ed.D. in 2012. There’s some of his work in particular that really resonated with me and I wanted to share in a way that I could easily reference in future.
The ‘Future Facing’ Fallacy – “New technologies are being developed all the time, the past history of the impact of technology is irrelevant to what we have now or will be available tomorrow.
The ‘Different Learners’ Myth – “Today’s children are digital natives and the ‘net generation –they learn differently from older people”.
A Confusion of ‘Information’and ‘Knowledge’ – “Learning has changed now we have access to knowledge through the internet, today’s children don’t need to know stuff, they just need to know where to find it.”
The ‘Motivation Mistake’ – “Students are motivated by technology so they must learn better when they use it.”
The ‘Mount Everest’ Fallacy – “We must use technology because it is there!”
The ‘More is Better’ Mythology – “If some technology is a good thing, then more must be better.
It is rare for further studies to be conducted once a technology has become fully embedded in educational settings as interest tends to focus on the new and emerging, so the question of overall impact remains elusive.
If this is the situation, there may, of course, be different explanations. We know, for example, that it is difficult to scale-up innovation without a dilution of effect with expansion (Cronbach et al. 1980; Raudenbush, 2008). It may also be that early adopters (Rogers, 2003; Chan et al. 2006) tend to be tackling particular pedagogical issues in the early stages, but then the focus shifts to the adoption of the particular technology, without it being chosen as a solution to a specific teaching and learning issue (Rogers’‘early’ and ‘late majority’). At this point the technology may be the same, but the pedagogical aims and intentions are different, and this may explain a reduction in effectiveness.
The focus should be on pedagogy, not technology:
Overall, I think designing for effective use of digital technologies is complex. It is not just a case of trying a new piece of technology out and seeing what happens. We need to build on what is already know about effective teaching and learning… We also need to think about what the technology can do better than what already happens in schools. It is not as though there is a wealth of spare time for teachers and learners at any stage of education. In practice the introduction of technology will replace something that is already there for all kinds of reasons, the technology supported activity will squeeze some thing out of the existing ecology, so we should have good grounds for thinking that a new approach will be educationally better than what has gone before or we should design activities for situations where teachers and learners believe improvement is needed. Tackling such challenges will mean that technology will provide a solution to a problem and not just appear as an answer to a question that perhaps no-one has asked.
My gloss on this is that everything is ambiguous, and that attempts to completely remove this ambiguity and/or abstract away from a particular context are doomed to failure.
Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) is a pedagogical approach where in learning takes place via social interaction using a computer or through the Internet. This kind of learning is characterized by the sharing and construction of knowledge among participants using technology as their primary means of communication or as a common resource. CSCL can be implemented in online and classroom learning environments and can take place synchronously or asynchronously. (Wikipedia)
The particular image that grabbed me from Higgins’ presentation was this one:
This reminds me of the TPACK approach, but more focused on the kind of work that I do from home most weeks:
One of the most common approaches to CSCL is collaborative writing. Though the final product can be anything from a research paper, a Wikipedia entry, or a short story, the process of planning and writing together encourages students to express their ideas and develop a group understanding of the subject matter. Tools like blogs, interactive whiteboards, and custom spaces that combine free writing with communication tools can be used to share work, form ideas, and write synchronously. (Wikipedia)
CSCL activities seem like exactly the kind of things we should be encouraging to prepare both teachers and young people for the future:
Technology-mediated discourse refers to debates, discussions, and other social learning techniques involving the examination of a theme using technology. For example, wikis are a way to encourage discussion among learners, but other common tools include mind maps, survey systems, and simple message boards. Like collaborative writing, technology-mediated discourse allows participants that may be separated by time and distance to engage in conversations and build knowledge together. (Wikipedia)
Going through Higgins’ work reminds me how much I miss doing this kind of research!