Mary Meeker, an analyst at Kleiner Perkins, does what is commonly regarded as an annual tour-de-force presentation on internet trends at Code Conference. The data give a dynamic picture of where the world is and where it seems to be heading. Why should educators be reading this? Two reasons: it’s a way to introduce your students to forecasting, and it’s a way for you to see how your teaching environment may change with technology.
Meeker’s latest is available here, and we highly recommend you read it. All 213 slides of it! (Keep a browser window open while you read — if you don’t speak finance, you’re going to want to do some googling. There’s a video of her presentation as well, but being able to research while you read will help more.)
First, this is a pretty good preview of what the world holds in store for your students. Use it to spark debate and discussion — can they dream up ways in which these trends will manifest in their own lives? What alternate futures can they envision?
One way to envision the future is to tell stories suggested by the data. The National Intelligence Council has been doing this for several years, and the publications in their Global Trends archive are available to the public. In the report imagining the year 2030, the following scenarios were made into stories, each written in the style of and from the point of view of a different person:
Your students can either examine the data presented and evaluate the conclusions, as this commenter did on Twitter recently for Meeker’s Internet Trends 2016 report:
You and your students can take a turn at generating data and telling their own stories of how they think things might turn out. And remember, it doesn’t have to be global data — it could be data about their school or city, for example.
A terrific example of this type of analysis is Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 document, which will be used as a blueprint to determine their political and economic future. The reformation includes diversifying their economy away from oil dependence, opening their culture (marginally) to women and expatriate labor, and their politics away from dependence on the biggest buyers of oil, particularly the United States. “Saudi is basically diversifying away from the dependency on one revenue source, one country source, and one market to many markets,” according to one expert.
The second reason to read Meeker’s presentation is because it gives some insight into how the edtech environment is changing, and in what directions. For example, when she talks about ‘hyper-targeted marketing’ she’s talking about what data can be collected and analyzed to better serve your audience — the same thing can be done for students.
What will be done with the resulting data that will be collected, aggregated, correlated, and interpreted from everything in or around your classroom? Aside from the privacy issues, what will it mean for teaching and learning? What does this mean for the way you assess a student’s grasp of a concept? How will test design change? How will classroom management change?
Or consider how the growth in video — use of which is one of the defining features of “Generation Z” — will impact your teaching process. It’s not a question of if you’ll be incorporating video, but how.
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