Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Cheerful New Year Post #1

fail I'd really like to write an optimistic, forward-looking post for the New Year - but it isn't easy.

You thought the Millennium happened 10 years ago? You were too early. The real millennial change is coming in the next decade. I've refrained from writing about COP15 because I didn't have anything insightful to say. It was all too obvious what would happen, a sub-Kyoto failure, then it did. What is there to say? Although I don't believe social collapse is inevitable, I do believe there is a real risk of political and economic collapse beyond anything we have seen in the West for centuries. What can we learn from the depression of the 1930s? Only that it won't be the same this time. It could be better, or worse, there's no way to tell. History is descriptive, not inferential. The only thing that is sure is that big changes are coming in the next decade, wiping away the memory of the time-marking noughties in the same way 1910-20 eclipsed 1900-10.

How will all this affect education? Well I don't know, obviously. Everything depends on how bad it gets. Some things are obvious. Far too expensive (in every sense - money, CO2, time) conferences will be largely history. (Yeah, I'm aware this is an ironic comment from an ALT-C 2010 Web Participation Coordinator :-) There will be much less travel, much more online activity. Skype,, etc are already part of our day to day working environment at Leicester. Apart from financial and environmental imperatives, this will vastly improve the value of rarer face to face meetings from booze-consumption sessions to genuine social events where bonds are reinforced. (See, I'm getting more cheerful.) And maybe 21st Century assessment will finally begin to surface, moving away from training 19th Century scribes towards personal profiles?

So what do I know for sure? There has been one highlight for me from the last decade. Blogging (in all it's varied forms) has given me a voice which has always been there but never been heard. So I plan to carry on (tomorrow).