Education Speakers | The Future of Authority

May 22, 2019

Who we listen to and who we trust is changing, and this is having a massive impact on the education sector. We see attention spans shrinking, algorithms increasingly influencing information visibility, and mistruths masquerading as fact. At the rate society’s consumption habits are changing, how can educational institutions & teachers re-imagine the role they play?

The Future of Authority

As we engage with the new, the institutions that remain in the old era become even more visibly dated, and their roles become increasingly questioned. New actors and institutions are emerging and causing disruption. The education sector has seen new authorities emerge such as YouTube education channels, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) & more.

What relationship will the new authorities have with the existing ones? Can the existing authorities transition to become new authorities?

Jesse Hirsh: A Futurist’s Perspective

Our culture is accelerating. Society moves faster than we can comprehend. What we see as the present, is really the past. What we see as the future, is really the present. As a futurist, Jesse Hirsh keeps one eye on the big picture and another eye on the challenges we face in the now. His strength as a speaker is showing audiences how to address these challenges moving forward.

When it comes to technology, Jesse walks the fine line between understanding technology, being excited about future potential, while remaining critical about its impact, and skeptical of the promises made by vendors and tech companies.

So what does he think about the future of education? 

A Signal Amidst Noise

Jesse has observed a shift away from institutional authority and a move towards cognitive authority. An example here is who gets quoted and who gets to have a voice in our media. Not too long ago only people with institutional authority (those vetted by an institution and granted a senior position) would be the only names featured in the newspaper or heard on the radio. Today anyone with a Twitter account will be featured, and often is printed, published, and invited onto radio and television.

In a world of “alternative facts” where anyone can broadcast to a global audience, the ability to provide a signal amidst that noise directly influences who has authority and why. Think of it like turning on a television. At first, viewers face noise (a mass of channel options), but then they take the step of tuning into a signal (the channel or show they’d like to watch).

A cognitive authority can take the form of a celebrity, athlete, or twitter star who provides a consistent signal to their audience that earns their trust, maybe loyalty, and ongoing attention. They don’t have to necessarily be experts on the subject matter because authority relates directly to attention (eyeballs on their message, engagement…etc) and bring known as the subject expert.  

Rather than allow these new educational systems to gallop into the future, we need to recognize how to include elements of the new into the old, as a balanced means of upgrading the elder and moderating the younger.

This means that educators & institutions need to embrace the challenge and opportunity of becoming a cognitive authority. They can help society understand and succeed in this new era. Tools like social media services provide educators with the capacity for real-time knowledge curation.

Innovation & Education

Innovation is key to increasing our shared long-term prosperity. It’s necessary to equip students with the skills to be the drivers of innovation. In our current context innovation is a combination of critical thinking, creative ideas, and intellectual property.

A tangible manifestation of this is entrepreneurship. Many post-secondary institutions are already embracing things like incubators, accelerators, and hands-on learning that engages and empowers students and faculty alike. More can be done by institutions to foster these types of opportunities.

How do we approach both innovation and education, in a way that not only addresses the need to operate at the velocity of the global marketplace, but also the need to reflect and produce original critical research? 

With the rise of artificial intelligence, automation, and robots, Jesse believes these challenges are no longer just about disruptive technologies, but rather broader social and political issues that place innovation at the forefront of public policy. New innovation-focused public policies will result in more accessible education and increased opportunities for students moving forward.

Action can be taken now. Students & teachers should be focused on increasing their tech literacy and foster critical thinking skills. In doing so, we can infect a countless number of individuals with the joy of learning and the zeal for new knowledge.

The Keynote for Educators

Jesse’s keynote ‘The Future of Authority and the Role of Education in Innovation’ shows audiences:

• How to use open source technology for education and innovation. 
• A future-focused understanding of the impact of automation and AI on education.
• Engagement strategies for students and society.