Pour Yourself a Stiff Drink and Read About ‘The Ledger’.
It’s hard to believe what you are about to read from Peter Green in Curmudgucation. He highlights a video called The Ledger, produced by Learning is Earning 2026 – A partnership between ACT Foundation & Institute for the Future (IFTF). This video, not a parody, shows a NGO vision of education in 2026. But before you watch the video, read Green’s interpretation and meaning of what this vision entails in The Ledger: Lab Rat America: It reads as a science fiction chapter in a dystopian novel but as Green writes,
I’m going to walk you through the video, embed it for your own viewing, and tell you about the people behind this. Hang on. This is stunning. And I’ll warn you right up front– this is not some hack job that looks like amateur hour video production (like, say, an in house USED video). This is slick and well-produced. Which somehow makes it more horrifying.
Now on to the video:
Data gathering and transfer is critical in this futurist vision. Green asks in his piece, Does ACT have a plan for getting not one, but several governments to sign off and join up on the Ledger, so that the program can have access to everything, every last bit of data? Because this whole plan would seem to require that a corporation and governments join together to provide a more user-friendly computer-based surveillance state. This global public/private surveillance plan may already exist according to Alison Hawver McDowell, quoted in Digital badges for total privatization of education:
So I had a back and forth online with someone recently who didn’t understand the significance of education/workforce badging programs and asked me to write something up. So my thoughts are below. Ultimately I think this is all going to be linked to the TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement) as they create a global market for digital education. https://www.ei-ie.org/en/news/news_…
Anne comments: [Pay attention to TiSA, because its ratchet function is designed to make sure there is no going back from privatization of services. “The TISA negotiations follow the corporate agenda of using “trade” agreements to make privatization non-reversible, and to promote mergers and acquisitions and deregulation, in order to ensure greater corporate control and profit making of national economies and the global economy.”Why TiSA is Dangerous]
They obviously plan to keep on line records. One of the things you pay for in an actual brick and mortar college is that the Records Office is run by skilled professionals, and there IS that room with actual records. Some 28 or so years after graduation, I wanted to transfer my teaching credits to another state. The evaluator at the new state had never seen my particular degree cover K-12. To her, it was either K-8 or 9-12. This information was not on my transcripts. I wrote to my college. The lady in the Records Office there went to the rows of filing cabinets (I think she said it was in the Library basement!) and was able to send the evaluator the course description for my Practicum / Student Teaching from the Course Catalog the year I took those courses, and I was given K-12 credentials.
I would be very surprised if the proponents of this idea have given any thought to how they will keep records for a long time, and securely. so I see this as being hacked, maybe regularly. Pow! …and the record of all your Blocks, Bit Coins, Hotels on Boardwalk, etc., is gone, along with your credit card information, of course.
But let’s assume the people doing this are able to provide absolute security. I see one of the “shadow imagination” (critical) comments on the Learning Is Earning website is that there would be “not enough proof you learned something or even payed (sic) attention to a lesson.”
How can we prove what someone claims to have learned? Maybe, um….Oh! (Light bulb appears above my head!) Maybe someone could come up with some tests! Oh no wait they have thought about that! Apparently to get your Blocks for teaching, the people you have taught will need to be tested. That’s the ticket! There could be a testing company and people could pay to be tested! Oh, wait…apparently YOU would pay for all your students to be tested before you got one dime, Block, Bit Coin, Pog, etc. So I think the only people assured of getting anything would be the testing company. Hmmm…isn’t there some sort of testing company involved in this somehow?
This comment from Jane McGonigal was meant to assuage concerns of those who pay for this system and yet, have no voice in how students are educated. Ms. McGonigal is a futurist, a gamer, and believes that playing games is the single most productive way to spend our time:
One of the highlights of all the sessions was keynote speaker Jane McGonigal’s presentation called ‘How to Think and Learn Like a Futurist.’ Best known for her work as a pioneering game designer and author of the bestselling books Reality is Broken and SuperBetter, Jane McGonigal, PhD, has also spent the past decade working as a futurist. In this playful one-hour master class, audience members learned the three most important techniques of future forecasting, while taking a tour of five of the most surprising potential futures for education in the next decade. The final 15 minutes of the session was devoted to playing a collaborative future forecasting game that Jane designed just for the SXSWedu community.
Combining blockchain technology, jelly beans, learning, and the idea that everyone has something valuable to share or teach is no easy feat, but with Jane’s explanation, world-record breaking game, and several delightfully thought-provoking slides; it all tied in easily together. To start with, the Institute for The Future and the American College Testing Foundation (yes, it’s that ACT) are combining future-think with the 50 years of data the the ACT has gathered “with the aim of helping to build and support a National Learning Economy that will cultivate the success of working learners, businesses, and America as a whole.”
Let’s begin with Blockchain – the technology behind Bitcoin. The idea of Blockchain for education includes the following –
- A shared public ledger open to all (McGonigal an the ACT Foundation call entries on this ledger ‘edublocks’)
- Tamper-proof data
- Cryptography which ensures integrity
- Technology that is resilient
- Technology which enables ‘smart contracts’
With Blockchain as the technology that underpins the entire learning economy, the Institute for the Future and the American College Testing Foundation challenge us all to imagine the future of learning in 2026. The reason 2026 was chosen is because for the Institute for the Future 10 years out seems to be a ‘sweet spot’ in terms of forecasting the future by using signals, forecasts, and creative thinking (play). They ask us all to imagine a future where ‘learning is more accessible, more affordable, more tied to our real life actions, more tied to our career.
That’s where the concept of ‘edublocks’ and ‘learn to earn’ comes into play (see minutes ___ thru ___ in video of keynote). The idea is that instead of earning a traditional degree, learning becomes more like an open ledger – where ‘each one can teach one’ and the more you are committed to your learning, the more you can grow in the world of work.
The critical question that remains to be asked, of us all, is ‘Is this a future that we actually want?’ I would argue that with the advent of so many online learning channels and the proliferation of immersive bootcamp type training structures – yes! Why saddle learners with immense amounts of debt – such as the current post-secondary, traditional model offers – and why not allow workers to ‘learn to earn’ and potentially have employers provide this learning or reward it in the workplace?
It was exciting to hear this empowering talk and to learn how blockchain technology and learning to earn can work. Audience members were very engaged and energized by Jane herself and the subject matter. However, the reality of the current state of post-secondary education seems to be a longer way away from implementing ‘edublocks’ or employers consistently providing immersive bootcamp experiences as a viable and easily accessible alternative to traditional post-secondary education.
From this conference report, the goal of implementing The Ledger for human capital won’t be realized by 2026 because of the current state of educational realities, and not because it is merely a conversation. Don’t be fooled. The education reformers’ goal is to disrupt and create The (National) Ledger. Quoting from the article,
To start with, the Institute for The Future and the American College Testing Foundation (yes, it’s that ACT) are combining future-think with the 50 years of data the the ACT has gathered “with the aim of helping to build and support a National Learning Economy that will cultivate the success of working learners, businesses, and America as a whole.”
McGonigal’s comments beginning at 16:00: The signals in this gamification and virtual reality makes users feel guilty about their meat consumption, their carbon impact on the planet, and a computer will send your home printer 3-D magical mystery foods every night that you should be eating. Once that level of guilt is attained, you will be eat those foods that are low carbon impact and as you are eating them, because of the virtual reality in which you live, you believe they actually taste good and like meat. You will be ‘tricked’ into thinking they taste delicious:
Here’s an idea her co-futurists how this virtual reality could be used in private business:
Around 18:00 Ms. McGonigle does say not all futures are desirable, but they (the futurists) study them and then they (the futurists) decide which should be made possible. We’ve seen how decision made by authorities turn out in a 1976 dystopian movie, Logan’s Run:
Logan’s Run is a 1976 American science fiction film directed by Michael Anderson and starring Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett and Peter Ustinov. The screenplay by David Zelag Goodman is based on Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. It depicts a utopian future society on the surface, which becomes a dystopian society where the population and the consumption of resources are maintained in equilibrium by killing everyone who reaches the age of thirty, preventing overpopulation. The story follows the actions of Logan 5, a “Sandman”, as he runs from society’s lethal demand.
That nudging of personal behavior evolving into authoritarianism (which is the intended outcome) doesn’t bode well for personal liberties, freedom and decision making. The futurists are creating foresight and forecasts to nudge personal behavior into whatever political/social issues they want people to believe and adopt. These NGO futurists’ intended goal is mold individuals’ attitudes, behaviors and beliefs.
Have you finished that stiff drink yet? Has it numbed the realization that NGOs who are creating/forecasting a new educational landscape are the current architects of education reform and that representative democracy is an antiquated idea? No? Just strap on virtual reality goggles, sit back and have another one. It’s all good! Think of it as a Magical Mystery Potion. The futurists will make you to believe this bitter brew is good for society, your children and your grandchildren. You’ll see. It’s all a game that turns the function of public education into an adventure and not the destruction of American political process.