GRAD 5114

Grad 5114 – What Should Learning Look like in 2051?

A common element in science fiction / speculative fiction is an advanced form of learning – the matrix has its super fast virtual reality programs and 2001 has a similar accelerated information transfer system which allows David Bowman to have the knowledge of three “modern” (re. 1968) specialists. These advances all speak to what is treated in our readings (look under 9/5) as an obsolete concept of what learning is – per “New Culture”‘s second chapter, “A tale of two cultures”:

“The ultimate endpoint of a mechanistic perspective is efficiency:
The goal is to learn as much as you can, as fast as you can.” – Thomas & Brown

If this is obsolete, what is the new form of advanced learning? If any of the authors we’re reading this week were to write an idealistic novella, novel, short story, &c. set in the future, how would their characters be learning?

The year is 2051. Zawadi Bowman (obviously, the future is female but it still has to be as American as possible, so we’re keeping Bowman) is embarking on an Odyssey and she has the experience of . . . what?

The focus of our readings is essentially on massive cooperative chatrooms – technologically facilitated places for conversation. Does Zawadi literally have the experiences of 3 or even 3,000 specialists at her neural fingertips? Perhaps she hosts the consciousnesses of a massive diverse team of highly experienced individuals in her bionically modified super-mind. Her strength and general physical rigor along with her own exceptionally varied life experiences and personal perspectives have contributed to her designation as Captain of this cloud. She can delegate subsets of her team of consciousnesses to very dexterous robots when more “hands” are needed on her vessel. The access is what matters. Her education is instantaneous and also the result of many lifetimes of experiences. Oh, and no-longer-baby-Dave is somewhere out there detonating warheads at will and floofing about as a cloud. Is this the future?


ps. Did anyone notice how WoW took heat from Carnes as essentially beer pong but its concept was widely celebrated or it was explicitly celebrated elsewhere in the readings?


5 thoughts on “Grad 5114 – What Should Learning Look like in 2051?”

  1. Maybe, but I hope not. My greater fear is that Zawadi will be compelled to develop gills because the hive mind will not come to its senses in time to stave off the ecological catastrophe, leaving the newly superior and waterproof HAL to lord his creepy, artificial intelligence and guardian powers over a horde of mutant amphibians.


      1. I think the authors we read this week are focusing on process rather than and ideal or goal. The theme is gamification and interactive learning modalities, as well as leveraging the connectivity of the digital age to filter forward high value material (taking advantage of the hive mind). The point of the readings was to suggest that different learning modalities might be better suited for many classroom / learning settings than lecturing or other “content delivery” approaches. AI is, of course, important to the future trajectory of how we learn (and how we live for that matter), but I didn’t see that as a key focus here. Does that make sense? We can definitely talk more about this tonight. Thanks for the awesome post!


  2. Hi Dana!

    I was interested in your questions about what’s important and/or obsolete about teaching pedagogy. I thought about your question about how characters would be learning–that Bowman of the future sounds wild! I suppose there is learning happening there; mass brains! I am more curious about the leaps that got her there in the first place! Do you think Bowman’s scenario is an environment more for innovation or for checking “truths”?


    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment. I’m not sure I understand what you mean about innovation and truth checking, but what I was trying to get at with the post was that I don’t know what great teaching or success are supposed to look like in the minds of the authors we’ve been reading. To my reading of it, this would be a good thing or ideal scenario to the authors.


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