What Isn’t Education?

Lately I’ve been thinking over issues of education – and that, namely, we need a lot more of it.  The world is more complex, the environment is changing on us (yes, manmade global warming, taste the science), there’s new inventions every day, education is big in some countries yet under attack here in the US, student loans are insane . . .


OK I’m back now.  Sorry.

Anyway, one thing that has come into my mind lately is that education is something that needs to be focused more on, more needs to be done, and more people need – and have to – be educated.  It’s a complex world out there and you need to know more and more just to function effectively.  It’s a global world out there and you have to be able to sell things to people in China, swap jokes with someone in India, and explain issues with a guy in Britain.  It’s a world where you need to know how stuff works and how to make things work.

As you may have guessed by my above rant, I’m not exactly happy with the state of formal education right now.  Actually I’m rather worried about the state of education because it affects our economy, it affects our quality of life, it affects my fellow citizens, and I don’t want to live in a society of uneducated people.

I don’t want to deal with people who wonder why the download elves haven’t gotten their files to them yet through the magic plastic tablet.*

So lately considering the dismal state of schools and  . . . well everything, I began asking myself the inevitable question: how can technology help education.

In fact this question is important for we progeeks as education is going to affect our careers directly, indirectly, and could even be our careers.  Some of my usual online gang knows that in my past job searches I was talking to several educational tech/service companies because . . . well it fits me.

It could well fit you.  The only thing is . . . where is education going with modern technology.

The problem is  . . . right now everything can be education.

We are in a very highly wired society.  If you told me ten years ago people would be watching films, reading books, and viewing pornography** on thin plastic tablets, I wouldn’t have believed you.  Now everything is about the internet, which means everything is about communication (even if that communication is trivial or B.S.)

Which means right now anything can be education.

Books can come in ebook form.

Classes can be done by video

Tutorials can be recorded and displayed.

Automated walkthrougs can be constructed

Right now we have so many ways to educate.  We’re just not using them – or finding the best way to use them.  Maybe the answer in many cases is just “here’s an online guide, now go buy the physical book and read the bloody thing,” but we still have to find the right answer.

That answer is going to be harder than people may realize.

So there’s a challenge for some of you progeeks.  Right now leveraging all this wonder to make education work in this modern age – for as many people as possible – is a big challenge.  As a teacher, developer, member of a startup, etc. you might just be one to figure out how the heck we use all this stuff to make people more informed and less dumb***.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.fantopro.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.

* Download elves would be a great band name.

** Hey you people in coffee shops, we can see you.  The screen resolution is better than you think.

*** A lot less, please.