Hold on and see what will happen

TODAY I am facilitating a strategic planning session and while   I am sitting here, I realise how difficult it is to really plan ahead in today’s ever changing, technology-driven environment.

We are planning ahead for the next five to ten years, but we   also   know that with new innovative products being pushed to market many of the things we are envisioning will be different at the time it would have come to fruition.

Let us take an example If you planned ahead ten years ago, you would not have predicted the enormous uptake of mobile phones, mobile internet connectivity or even the incredible size of services like Facebook or Skype. Ten years ago there was only a small uptake of mobile phones and now we cannot imagine anybody not having a mobile phone.

What are the services that we will not expect to be main­stream in five to ten yearsω

Did you really envision that there will be a game console that interacts with or without you even holding any controlsω A game console like the kinect that sees you enter a room and then identifies your hands, legs and body as the controlsω Or even this game being able to identify your face and add you to the players of the game in progressω

When I think of the way we plan for the future, I know that the exercise of planning strategically years in advance is not only a very difficult thing to do, but also very brave.

I   am willing to say that in five years’ time we will all be reading eBooks and we will have devices on which we read ClickKliek each week.

The way in which we communicate, play and interact with devices will change dramatically.

At present most of our strategic planning is nothing more than guesses and the way I see technology is changing, they are short-term guesses. I think we should just hold on and see what will happen as things change.
.  Nico Baird is an Instructional Designer: Media at the Central University of Technology, Free State, and New Media and Educational Technology enthusiast and can be contacted at nico@clicksa.co.za.

The war has just begun

IT feels as if I am often writing about the fact that the prices we are paying for our connectivity will be going down soon.
Two years ago I started saying this and at that stage we were paying about R2 500 for uncapped ADSL, we were paying about R80 for dial-up and we were paying more than R100 for each gig that we downloaded.
Every two or three months we would see these prices coming down. I believe that we would see about R5 per gig by the end of this year and I must say that if you have uncapped ADSL you are paying even less than that if you are actively using your connection. The best news I can give you today is that the battle for low prices have just begun. Yes, first the ADSL providers started lowering prices forcing each other to come up with better offers and now finally we see that the mobile market will also start to challenge each other.
A few weeks ago CellC started their annual subscription where you can get 5 GB of data each month at lightning speeds for an unbelievable price. Now Telkom has also come into the market and I am sure that the newcomer will also want a piece of the pie. You can be quite sure that in the next few months there will be loads of promotions.
Remember, speed, price, coverage and data are all vital components for a painless surfing experience. Make sure that you get the best of each of these before you subscribe to a service. Remember that today you can even get a free gig from some of the ADSL service providers and paying for that first gig just does not make sense anymore if you are on ADSL.

Let’s start with upliftment

AS I said last week, I am currently in Barcelona, Spain, where I   have delivered a paper   at   the   OpenEd Conference. During the three days I have heard amazing ideas and concepts and many of them are a reality, but I am sad to say very few are implemented in South Africa.
Making it possible for anybody   to have access to an education   without   any cost is something that would change our country in ways that I cannot begin to think. Having education reach further than a classroom and making it accessible both online or in libraries and community centres is something that is achievable in South Africa. Getting the best lecturer or teacher to present a class, recording it and then making it available to all students or learners is something that could enhance their learning experience tremendously.
If the best teacher or lecturer in the country can, through video, present the classes for thousands of students in the country, current teachers could facilitate discussion and guide students through the work. This can easily be achieved.
The idea of extending the classroom to reach more students without increasing the workload of teachers is one that I think most teachers will support.
Audio   and   video technology is really changing the way we teach and the way we can increase   the   reach   of education.
A strong theme at the conference is the upliftment of communities in Africa.
I   think   we can do it ourselves and we really do not need the rest of the world to take pity on us and try to help us. We can do it ourselves. Let us start by creating content in all the official languages and make it available to all students.

Traveling the eRoute

AS you read this I am probably on my way to Barcelona, Spain.
I am off to deliver a paper at the OpenEd Conference at the beginning of November.
As I am busy preparing for the conference and also the trip, I realise how things have changed since the last time I’ve travelled overseas. Or rather the way in which we plan our trips and the way we explore before we explore.
We now explore online and then we explore in the real world. The last time I travelled overseas I just looked at the travel brochure and off I went. Now it is a whole online expedition. I firstly take a very good look at the hotel. I watched a number of videos posted about the hotel and then I read hundreds of reviews that visitors posted.
I read all about the culture online in Wikipedia and found loads of travel tips about Barcelona.
I then went to Google earth and worked out the route we will take from the airport to the hotel. As bonus I was able to use Google StreetView to see exactly what the streets will look like where we have to walk to get from the train to the hotel. Yes, indeed, things have changed since the last time I went on a trip, but most importantly we have changed in the way that we make use of technology to make our lives easier and to ensure that we know where to go and what to do when we get there. Now when we go on a trip we actually go twice.
Once when we plan and get information online and a second time when we actually experience it in the real world.
Next week I will write my column from Barcelona. I hope to share many insights with you from the OpenEd Conference.