Days of Glass and Productivity Vision | Advertising Blah

I am massively behind on my #edcmooc course – we’re at the chronological end of week 2 and I’m just getting to the content start of week 2. I’m still interested in what my resistance is (see earlier post) but in the spirit of getting on, here’s a quick summary of my thoughts on the first couple of videos. For those of you not on the course, here they are:


These are advertorial films and as such must be taken with a pinch of salt. I found it amusing (sorry) that the second one (Productivity) was developed by Microsoft: in their future, nothing ever seems to need restarting or suffers from the ‘blue screen of death’. As if.

Our course masters asked us three questions about the content, and in the interests of speed, I’ll use these to structure this post.

how is education being visualised here? what is being learned and taught?

In Glass I don’t think we’re seeing anything new. If the technological determinist argument is that these tools are changing the way we learn, then the future vision presented is not praying at that altar. Lessons still happen in class. The class sizes are small. The kids interact with each other (not via social networking) the teacher uses (albeit a snazzy version) a whiteboard to present materials. Lots of what is ‘envisioned’ in this film is already happening in schools. I have seen the ‘flicking’ of information to iPads from a whiteboard in classrooms in Turkey. In short, I don’t think this film is a vision of the future at all: it’s merely dressing the present up in special effects.

In Productivity, there is no overt ‘education’ being presented, but I’d have to say the same. An awful lot of what is shown is simply what happens today but with better special effects.

In both, what is being ‘learned and taught’ is what I would expect. I don’t see any ‘new learning’ going on at all. Am I missing something, I wonder? If these are visions of the future, then I have to say I’m disappointed. They may be utopian (after all, everything works all the time) but they’re not very interesting.

Why aren’t we seeing more asynchronous teaching and learning? Why are there even ‘physical’ classes to go to? How come interaction isn’t online/over social media only? – that seems to be happening already, why would it not continue?

what is the nature of communication in these future worlds?

In short, no different from now. The tools are different, I’ll grant you, but the way of communicating is the same. The reasons for communicating are the same. In Productivity the lady needs to check in online (can do that now), make a phone call (can do that now), communicate via video link and share screens (can do that now) etc etc.

Again, I have to ask, am I missing something in these ‘visions’? I don’t see that the technology is determining any kind of change. I see what we are doing now with slicker tools.

I suppose that if these are adverts then it’s obvious that this would be the case. After all, you have to resonate with where the customer is to be able to sell the new product/idea/direction. A true visionary presentation of the future might be unpalatable.

Amorphous human blobs unable to move from their chairs, no personal contact, only speech via online tools or using their over-developed thumbs to text colleagues. Surely, the outcome of Glass and Productivity were those tools to be invented would be the loss of any driving need to communicate IRF – what would be the point? And indeed, what would be the point of travelling anywhere: it can all be done through your glass tablet or glass wall…

Sorry, bit of tangent there, but you see my point I hope.

are these utopian or a dystopian visions to you? In what way(s)?

I think they pretend to be utopian, but hide dystopia underneath. These adverts aren’t giving us a true view of where we are currently going, I feel. Extrapolate the overuse of social media, the ubiquity of connectivity and tools to aid it and you might see that we will become ever more recluse.

Connected but alone.


2 thoughts on “Days of Glass and Productivity Vision | Advertising Blah

  1. I liked your post very much, because it gives detailed analysis of this two videos, and it’s a very rare thing to find so well-structured text. Wat do you think, can people invent a technology that will change the society, the way how people study and communicate? Or will they always remain the same, just with “better special effects”?

    • Thanks – especially for the ‘detailed analysis’ comment: I have to admit I just blurted my reactions on digital paper, as it were!

      I tend to think that it won’t be a technology that changes the way we learn, but that we will stop using technology in ‘old ways’. The jury’s out on whether I am a technological determinist, but I tend to think it’ll be us inventing newer, more effective ways to use the tech that will revolutionise learning. Week 3 is about the human element, so we’ll see what thoughts that brings.

      Thanks again

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