It’s customary at this time of year to make predictions about what’s ahead especially if you are in tech. 2022 was a very odd year for me personally as I left a role I had loved for over a quarter of a century and rebuilt my life as a freelancer. It was a year filled with the ripple effects of the pandemic and Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. I watched in pain and disbelief as the UK and the US continued their drift towards polarisation and perhaps irrelevance and continued to marvel at many of the things that continue to work well in my chosen home, Singapore.
Instead of trying to guess what will happen in the next twelve months, I decided I would select a few ideas that I think will deserve some of my time.
Generative AI (and designing learning with it)
Together with most of the people who will read this, I experimented with both MidJourney and ChatGPT last year and was delighted by the former and surprised by the latter. MidJourney (and all the similar image generators) give me a new way to be creative and to bring to life ideas in my head. I feel in the driving seat and it brings me joy. ChatGPT is amazing but a bit bland. It will probably be more disruptive to my professional life as students auto-generate essays and reports but I will just double down on getting people to apply their learning to specific problems rather than asking them to just summarise which is what ChatGPT does rather well. Generative AI will have so many other applications (from generating ad copy, animation, music and data) that I expect to be talking about it a lot and getting learners experimenting and making with the whole range of GEN tools in the workshops and sessions I design this year. I’m will also find great ways to explain adversarial networks!
Balancing data and gut feelings
The pendulum may be swinging away from Big Data. Over the last ten years it has been customary to encourage everything to be measured, instrumented, visualised and analysed to death. Did this improve the quality of our lives? Of course it did in some ways but it also caused huge problems such as over targeting, surveillance, horrible customer service automation, endless satisfaction surveys, algorithmic polarisation, biased machine learning. Many organisations can’t take decisions without A/B testing and optimising (for growth) without considering the humans in their systems. I know that I will be designing courses and workshops about data this year but I will weave in deciding with your gut and balancing stakeholder needs as well as watching the machine tell you what to do. Let’s demand more explanations for the reasons behind these recommendations too.
Turning my past into a usable future
I’ve spent some time over the last few months writing elements of what I hope will become a book in 2023. With Hyper Island behind me, I’m keen to provide ideas and tools to a wider audience and the book will be a “what do I do next” for the thousands of people I have taught and worked with since 1996 (and earlier). It will be based on describing a series of workshops that can be run by anyone and will blend tools together from a wide variety of disciplines. I’m enjoying the first steps in making it!
Delighting, surprising and challenging learners
We all instinctively understand what makes a great movie, a great video game or even a great shopping experience and we can see how technology is changing both the tools and audience expectations. When it comes to education, many experiences are still stuck in the 1900s with a reliance on content transmission and if we are lucky a good “sage on the stage”. This is true in universities and especially in corporate training where read, watch and quiz to see if you have learned remains the standard. And technology threatens to make things worse with the push towards personalised micro learning, Zoom doom or lonely solitary experiences. I’ve committed my professional career to creating better social engaging learning and training and will continue to do so. Indeed in my new roles for government, B2C and higher education clients I will spend a majority of my time designing new formats, creating scalable resources and mentoring other educators in how to raise the bar on the experiences we can create.