A person who studies the future and makes predictions about it based on current trends.
When i was young, i remember reading articles in the weekly magazines that we would read at school that predicted our future. Colonies on the moon and underwater cars. I remember waiting in line for the JetCars in Tomorrow Land at Disney and seeing videos of Walt Disney's predictions of automated cars and the home of the future.
Even though I have never been, i've always wanted to visit Walt Disney World's EPCOT. EPCOT, standing for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, is itself a giant Bucky Ball: a geodesic dome based on the design of Buckminster Fuller.
Since my youth, i have become aware of others bearing the title "futurist" through various documentaries on their work: Raymond Kurzweil ('Transcendent Man') and Jaque Fresco ('Future By Design'), Michio Kaku, Syd Mead and even Frank Lloyd Wright ('Frank Lloyd Wright'). I am amazed at this category of people who used creativity to suggest what the future could look like. I find that they were/are the 20th Century's version of Renaissance artists, philosophers, and scientists. But i thought this title something that was from a by-gone era and no longer bestowed upon those of us who were born and raised in the last half century.
It was seeing an update on Facebook from StarTalk Radio of their new episode featuring futurists Jason Silva and Melissa Sterry. This blew my mind a little. Jason is only four days older than myself.
I began to internalize the qualities I admire about the term "futurist". While i have grand ideas about the future of mankind and society as a whole, they vary quite greatly from self sustainable ultra efficient and integrated units like a city out of Star Trek to a post apocalyptic wasteland rendered back into the dark ages. But i made a connection between the aspirations of futurists to project the potential of various aspects of society to a simple cliche, "Think Globally. Act Locally."
The truly great in the educational technology field do exactly that. Because of the constraints we all feel in budgets and timelines; the limited amount of time we can devote to professional development, and the rapidly changing pace of technology, technologists in the education sector either have to constantly be deploying newer versions of last years software, hardware, or service. Or they standardize and then make large leaps from version to version at once when all can be brought up another rung on the ladder. But again, i say, that a truly great ed tech professional has a vision beyond that which anyone else has yet reached. They see the target they desire to achieve and begin laying the ground work incrementally to get there.
It is this vision of the future from which i derive my commentary on the outmoded state of any space that is called a "computer lab" and believe whole heartedly that the majority of technology in education should be in support of collaborative learning, even if it is the simple adjustment of the space in which the technology is utilized. We've seen it in the workplace, where the standard cubicle has been redesigned into team workspaces that harness the best performance by forcing group work. We have seen people's comfort level at using technology in their everyday lives increase and yet still using presentation tools and web based assessment in the same way it's been done for over a decade. Why can't we flip these things on their head and instruct the student in a more engaging fashion, using their best strengths to seamlessly integrate it as part of the curriculum without taking away from the strengths of standard manipulatives and physical tools, while assessing how well it is being understood?
It is in this that i think my next business card will contain the two lines: