Saturday, 19 November 2016

SingularityU..Disruptions of Mind, Soul and Food.


The following is my summary of SingularityU and what it means to me as an educator in NZ.

After SinglarityUNZ it became apparent that we as a society are on the precipice of disruptive transformations The definition for this type of disruption is the development of new technologies that make previous technologies/systems obsolete.

Peter Diamandis perhaps best explains the driver for this disruption in this simple message.

           “It’s not about scarcity (lack of abundance) but about accessibility-..”



Accessibility is the key to a level of abundance beyond what many have never had. Abundance in energy, health care, prosperity and lifestyle. Moores law in relation to exponential growth is helping us to recognise patterns in the speed of tech advancements and make predictions in regards to price/performance and value.

How might we promote accessibility and value abundance within our learning programs?

An exciting and encouraging factor about disruptive technologies and the NZ education systems is the relevance our NZC has in regards to an uncertain future.

"Preparing our students to secure a sustainable social,cultural,economic and environmental future for our country. "


 Our curriculum document is the official policy relating to teaching and learning in english-medium schools in Aotearoa. Is principal function is to set the direction for student learning and to provide guidance for schools as they design and review their curriculum. With its vision, values and principles the NZC promotes the development of young people;

  • who will be creative, energetic, and enterprising
  • who will seize the opportunities offered by new knowledge and technologies to secure a sustainable social, cultural, economic, and environmental future for our country
  • who will work to create an Aotearoa New Zealand in which Māori and Pākehā recognise each other as full Treaty partners, and in which all cultures are valued for the contributions they bring
  • who, in their school years, will continue to develop the values, knowledge, and competencies that will enable them to live full and satisfying lives
  • who will be confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learn


Sue Sucklings mic dropping statements about the age of qualifications and NZQA about said it all. As we've all recently seen in "Most likely to Succeed," Education as we have known it is under fire. Her and the singularityU presenters were emphasising  the need for this powerful technology to be guided by
  • compassion, 
  • ethics, 
  • empathy, 
  • AQ Adaptability Quotient 
  • multi disciplinary thinking, 
  • initative 
  • communication fluency .
A goal of mine that I aimed for  through attending this summit was to capture the urgency required for this shift in education to occur. Based on Kotter's work in change management, Urgency is the first step and  provides an intrinsic origin for change to occur.


I think it is necessary to understand that the disruption that is expected to occur in the next 5 years is not a result of some new technology that is not yet on the market. This rarely effects a disruptive change., (often these innovative  new technologies are slow in effecting change in society.) The technology that will disrupt our society is already available. It is technology that is experiencing the reduction is barriers in relation to price/performance and converging with other technologies that is resulting in the 6 D's identified in Kaila Colburns presentation. Digitalization, Deception, Disruption, Demonetization, Dematerialization, and Democratization.

The Urgency is real:
When the qualifications authority claims that they themselves are outdated...we must act. When you see industries like Agriculture and Horticulture under serious threat from advancements in biotechnologies...we must get act. When opportunities like abundant energy and integrated technologies are easily accessible and blockchains are ensuring online security and verification of transactions...we must act.
Automation is going to have a huge impact on our region. 885,000 (46% ) jobs in NZ are expected to become automated in the next two decades. We must act.

As research often states we need to better prepare our youth of today with a set of skills that will best prepare them for an uncertain future. Beyond the point of singularity we do not know what society will be like. Dan Roberts said..

"If you are trying to guess what things will be like in 7-10 yrs time..FORGET IT.!  What we have done in the past will no longer prepare us for the future.."

But what  is a certainty is
that information is already ubiquitous and will likely to continue.
Technology will be a powerful presence available to all.

With this is mind what skills will you want your child and grandchildren to have?
(Somehow, the ability to memorise the periodic table doesn't seem to cut it....)

The great news is there is numerous research on pedagogies that show sound development in these key areas.. and we have a guiding policy that identifies the need for these factors to be valued and developed throughout the education system. It requires system wide changes that support such learning opportunities. Education is clearly a tangled web of systems and administration that will need to be rethought by us all. At a school level, we need  to research, select and implement systems that effectively support 21c pedagogies into our school wide curriculum. Re-think Data guided decision making recognising effective assessments of more than just standard criteria, raise tolerance for failure, promote reflective learning practices and transparent & collaborative practices that include everyone involved in the students learning.

In the NZC under effective pedagogies several guidelines emphasises how learning is most effective when ;
  • social and cultural contexts are included, 
  • objective thinking, 
  • when students learn not just the what but also the why they are learning and curiosity is used to drive their own learning.
  • when students engage in shared activities and engage in conversations with other people including whanau and people from the wider community.
  • when students can build new knowledge upon what they already understand
  • Are provided with sufficient opportunities to learn. Especially involving practice and new contexts to transfer new learning. This also means when curriculum coverage and student understanding is in competition the teacher may decide to cover less but to cover it in greater depth.
SingularityU have identified 12 points that they describe as Global Grand Challenges. They believe that leveraging the convergence of exponential technologies will set us on the path to solve our global grand challenges and shift from an era of scarcity to abundance.  In addressing each challenge, we solve for the following three perspectives:
  • Ensuring basic needs are met for all people
  • Sustaining and improving quality of life
  • Mitigating future risks 

I (both professionally and personally) am on board with this. I think these challenges are truly essential challenges and worthy of our time, technology and compassion.  I also believe we often don't give our Ss enough credit in regards to their own awareness of these issues... and their sense of powerlessness.  With optimism, abundance, vision and values I believe we can empower our learners to make amazing changes in tomorrows society. But we must act now.

AND the Food & Free espresso coffee Teachers dream! Yum :-))))

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