Episode 60 – The Global Education Digital Disruption

In this episode of The PE Geek Podcast, we take a look at the emerging technologies which WILL impact education as we know it. This includes technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality & 3D printing and how they’re exponentially evolving and converging to disrupt entire industries. Education & therefore Physical Education will be NO different.

We back this up by what Peter Diamandis refers to as the 3 D’s, namely ‘Digitisation, Deception & Disruption’. Essentially, many emerging technologies that will impact education are still in the deceptive phase resulting in them being widely ignored by teachers & schools as nothing more than gimmicks.

Finally we talk about how the technologies will make our role as educators more meaningful, allowing us to focus on what we do best and ensure that the world gets equal access to high quality education. The future is bright.

Resources for this episode include

  1. Peter Diamandis Videos
  2. Exponential Wisdom Podcast 
    1. Episode 20 – VR & Technology Convergence
    2. Episode 19 – AI: A Tool not a Threat
    3. Episode 18 – The Trillion Sensor Economy
    4. Episode 13 – Transforming Healthcare & Education
  3. Bold Book 

Press Play to listen below. Alternatively, download a full episode transcript here


00:30 Jarrod Robinson: Hello everyone, and welcome to episode number 60 of the PE Geek podcast, and as always it’s an absolute pleasure to be here. Now, I often talk about time as being the ultimate commodity. It absolutely is, so that’s why I really do appreciate you stopping by and listening to these episodes. If it’s your first time here, then you can go back through 60 episodes, and piece out the things from those that you would like to introduce or explore in your PE classroom. And if you’re a regular listener, thank you. If you haven’t had a chance to leave a review yet, please do so, it does help other people find it. And if it’s useful to you, it may be useful to other people. Now today’s episode is really close to my heart, it pretty much is what fuels this podcast in many ways. I fundamentally believe that technology has a massive role in education, and we’re only seeing the really early percent of it’s impact in the classroom. You would probably agree that technology, at this stage, and I always talk about it as being only powerful when it’s in the hands of the right person.

01:40 JR: So the fundamental belief here, is that good teaching is absolutely what trumps any of the apps and tools and so on that we talk about. However, if you give a good teacher the good tools, then they can do a great job. So this is where we’re at now, but I want to lay down the foundations and back it up with examples from people who know what they’re talking about, in the futures perspective and talk about how technology is going to impact education. These are things that we’re gonna see eventuate in the next sorta 20 years, and as a result of it, then impacting education. And I mean disrupting education, not just impacting it, but fundamentally changing it for the better. Then it’s gonna also flow down into physical education. So, it’s gonna be an exciting episode, that’s for sure. And it traces right back to this whole idea that everything that’s ever happened in society, no matter what. If you look at any advancement of the species, of human species, and anything that’s ever come out… I’m talking about cars, and transport, and medicines, and whatever, they all come back to this idea of technology. So, assuming that education is not privy to this, is outrageous.

03:03 JR: Technology has already impacted classrooms. You look back in history, and education has been impacted in numerous different ways, from what tools people use to write with, and then into digital technologies which we’re gonna be diving into today. Because there’s some massive change that we’re about to see. We’re pretty much at the bottom of that change curve and for me, this is what gets me up. This is the… You can probably tell it in my voice, I love this stuff. And just being here at this particular point in time is extraordinary, ’cause we are going to see some absolute transformative changes in our society. And education is not immune to that, it’s gonna disrupt education for sure. Now the reason I love technology so much, basically is traced back to my days as a teenager. So I’d grown up being heavily obsessed with sport, track and field, and Australian rules football, but I was also interested in technology. And I would spend my own time learning how to program websites. And back in those days you didn’t have simple drag and drop tools, you had to learn HTML, and I thought that was a bit of a challenge, and I enjoyed it, and I would build things.

04:22 JR: And ironically, I would actually build websites about my favourite sport, so it’s interesting now that I have a website which is sort of on the same path. But that’s what I loved, I enjoyed this creation aspect. And I thought that I just loved all technology. I thought that this was something that would translate into every possible area. So when I got my first ever Walkman, and you can imagine how amazing they were, I thought that I could take it apart and put it back together. And I thought that that was because I was interested in all of technology. And rather than telling the whole story, I’ll tell you the outcome, and that was it never went back together. I dismantled this Walkman, and thought that I could get it back to working again, and I quickly learned that it wasn’t about… For me, the enjoyment here wasn’t about the nuts and bolts of how things worked, it absolutely wasn’t. I realized very quickly that I didn’t really know how those things worked, and how it brought to life music in this form. But what I actually loved, was what it made possible. And for me, that Walkman was… It changed my life. And I mean that, it opened up this whole idea of you can have music, and you can be walking with it.

05:39 JR: Music was a big part of my life at that stage. And the fact that you could take songs and put them onto this thing and you could walk with it, opened up my whole idea to just how amazing technology was. And once I realized that I wasn’t necessarily interested in the nuts and bolts of how things worked, but what it meant for humans, and what it meant for me, then I absolutely was obsessed to trying to find how other things like technology could play a role for the future. So at this particular stage in my teaching, I look at everything from this perspective. I don’t really care about what they do under the surface, and the technology, and the actual… What it does. I care about the results that they get. And for me, I value any sort of technological tool if it hits a couple of important points. If it helps me with my teacher learning, so connecting with other teachers and finding new information, then I value it. Examples of that would be the social networks, and a lot of the research tools and online search engine zone, I think it’s quite useful.

06:49 JR: The other area that I value technology these days in, in the classroom setting, is if it improves my effectiveness or efficiency. And by that, I mean if there was a way that I used to do something previously that didn’t have technology, and I introduced it, and it makes it faster or more efficient so that I can focus on the thing that I do best, then I support it. And a big example of that would be Team Shake, the app. Sure, it’s just a bit of an app that creates teams, but because of the attention that you put into it, you can really sort of make those teams and so on best suited. And it brings the best of your teaching experience into an application such as that. So that’s an example of the effectiveness scale. But the other thing that I really appreciate for technology at this stage, is if it can help my students showcase their learning in a different way. So, for example, rather than just explaining to me where they’ve gone and how they’ve improved, and so on, if they can show it in the form of a video, and have a voice over the top and how clearly communicate what they’ve done, then I start to value it.

08:00 JR: So, if it hits any of these three areas, it improves my learning, if it helps made me be more efficient and effective, or my students be more efficient and effective, or if it helps me showcase student learning, or my student showcase student learning, then I value it. And we’re only at the early days of this. This is really, really the one percent area of what we’re gonna see within the next 20 years. And you maybe thinking, “I know, okay Jarrod, we hear this stuff all the time. It’s technology, its coming around the corner. The next device is gonna come out and it’s gonna transform this, that or the other.” And true, for many years you have heard this, and this is true, we do get these inter-rations of things that come out one year, and they’re a little bit better. And they come out the next year, and “Oh this is the thing that’s gonna transform.” And for the most part, all we see is incremental change, we do. We see these tiny changes that, again, are really not that major in terms of their impact. But let me explain what’s actually happening behind the scenes. So, you may be familiar with this concept called “Moore’s Law.”

09:07 JR: Now, Moore’s Law is a law of computer pet science, and so on, which has been prevalent since the ’60s and the ’70s, and it continues today. And basically, Moore’s Law states that every so often, that’s two years, computational power doubles, and the price point of that technology minimises. So what were actually starting to see is, better technology becomes more affordable, and it can therefore go to more people. So we’re starting to see the early stages of real potential, and the smartphone was the biggest awakening to this actual reality. We had devices in our hands which were more capable than the computers which landed on the moon, the first ever spaceship that landed on the moon. So Moore’s Law is continuing into our current time, and it’s gonna continue, at least, for the next 30 years. And that means that things become more powerful, and cheaper, and the net result is that, in the smartphone example, everyone has smartphones, they can do things on them, like connect to one another and they’ve got access to the world’s information, all in the palm of their hand. And even with all of that playing field at our disposal, we are still in that early stage of the potential impact that this, a massive learning curve and growth curve, has for us.

10:43 JR: And you might be saying at this point that, “Okay. We’ve got these devices, we’ve got iPads, we’ve got tablets, and so on. What actual changes there’ve been in schools?” And you’ll be right in saying that you cannot just throw a device into a classroom, and all of sudden it’s transforming the way in which that person delivers. You need good teaching, and don’t get me wrong, that’s an absolute necessity. But this isn’t necessarily gonna be something that is as important as we move into the future. And there’s so many examples of this sort of taking shape behind the scenes. And, for the most part everyone’s ignoring it, everyone’s just going about their lives, sort of in the same way that they would just be going about their lives before smartphones appeared, and going about their lives before the internet appeared. There’s so many different behind the scenes that are happening right now, which are absolutely gonna transform education. And if you don’t believe it, then I just cannot wait to be on the right side of history when these things do. And the big part of this comes back to what Peter Diamandis refers to as the three D’s.

11:55 JR: Now, Peter Diamandis is a visionary, he is an entrepreneur who is continually bringing about new industries, and so forth, in doing things that are absolutely out of this world, like mining asteroids, setting up X Prize’s to promote innovation in new areas. And he calls the three D’s, the first thing that has to happen is, things become digital. So, something that wasn’t digital before, becomes digital. And for example, you could talk about text books. Once upon a time they were not digital, they were physical, and it meant that people around the planet had to have high amounts of money to get access to that knowledge. And it meant that the third world’s missed out. All of a sudden, the next “D” is, they become “Deceptive”. And the example in the textbook space again, would be textbooks appeared digital, and they were only available in certain areas, and they weren’t quite great and hard to distribute to people. They were there, but they were deceptive. And then the final “D” in the equation is, “Disruption”. And that’s when this deceptive sort of technology, which has been playing around for a while, becomes absolutely revolutionary. And if you look at the textbook example, the “Three D’s” have absolutely happened.

13:19 JR: The textbooks got digitized, they became deceptive, so they were available to a small handful of people who really didn’t understand the power. And as the Moore’s law continued, and you can see Moore’s law linking in here as well, the textbooks became more easy to distribute, they become easier to get to people. And then eventually disruption occurs. And if you look back at all of the things in the internet, and all the technology that’s appeared, they all follow these “Three D’s philosophy”. The best example of this is Kodak, and taking photos. And obviously photos play a space in phys-ed, and if you think back to the early 1980s, if you took a photo, you had to get them then produced, and it was a nightmare of a thing. You had just a limited amount of photos on an exposure, and I can’t even use the word probably ’cause it’s been so long, and I’ve barely ever have that experience with them. But you had to get them developed, it wasn’t great. But during that early stages, Kodak had the opportunity to purchase the sole rights to own digital photography.

14:25 JR: The people who had developed the algorithm, that made it possible, presented it to Kodak because obviously they were the leaders in the space. And Kodak said, “No, this is definitely not gonna be a thing, it’s too poor, the resolution’s not good enough. We’re just gonna continue making our prints, and we know that the people are gonna continue making our prints”. But the sad thing here in this story, is that Moore’s law just kept doing it’s thing, “More powerful, more powerful, more powerful. Cheaper, cheaper, cheaper”. And eventually, digital cameras exploded. All of a sudden you’ve got cameras in your phone, and photography became instant, cheap, accessible to everyone. And all of a sudden Kodak went bankrupt. So, the three D’s were in effect there as well. Now what I’m gonna say, is that we’re experiencing the three D’s in education. So we’ve gone through this phase where teaching used to be face-to-face, and still is. For the most part, we’re still delivering this face-to-face idea in classrooms, face-to-face, and eventually we had this digitization of teaching.

15:35 JR: So you look at something like YouTube, and CreativeLive, and lots of these spaces, where you can communicate with people on mass, digitally. And at the moment, I would say that for the most part, we’re literally in this deceptive phase. So all of the apps and all of the devices that are coming out, that are supporting classroom and teachers, and making things possible, and all the stuff I talk about in this podcast, is actually in a deceptive phase. There’s people using them. For the most part, it’s still really dependent upon the person. But in the background, you can see the theme here, in the background, Moore’s law is making these things even more powerful, cheaper, more accessible, and everything’s sort of coming together in this big convergence that’s just gonna shake up and disrupt education like we’ve never seen. So at this point you may be thinking, “Okay, well what are the deceptive technologies which are happening in the background of our lives, that we’re sort of ignoring, that are gonna make a bigger appearance in education circles over the coming years?”

16:45 JR: And I wanna go through all of them, and sort of talked about the implications they have, and why this is exciting for education, not necessarily something that you should be scared of, or afraid of, or feel threatened about. It’s ultimately gonna help us deliver, on the core promise of education, which is to reach everyone. And make sure that everyone has the opportunity to have a good education, which is something that, as a world, we really fail to be able to do. So the [17:15] ____ of technology is sort of, are very prevalent in our life at the moment. But they are in the form of sensors. Now, sensors I mean things like temperature reading devices, cameras are a sensor, microphones are sensors, etcetera, they’re all sensors. Accelerometers, they’re sensors, and we’re reaching a stage now where the ability to get access to these sensors is so simple. You can install them in devices for relatively low cost, and we’re gonna see an explosion of sensors in pretty much everything over the coming years. So there pretty much won’t be anything that is not self aware about itself, in the form of it being able to determine where it is in time and space, it’s temperature, how fast it’s moving, etcetera.

18:08 JR: And pretty much all the things that we have in our lives will have sensors. Now if you look at this trend across things that we own now, it’s pretty clear that we’ve gone from having very little sensors in our lives, onto heaps of them, you just think about your phone is the best example of it. But now sensors are everywhere, and they’re gonna continue to appear everywhere, and they’re gonna become even easier to integrate into things that we have. So the example here that leads into phys-ed is the ability to incorporate sensors into things, such as our clothing. And you might be thinking, “Why would you wanna do that?” Well it’s a pretty powerful possibility when you start to be able to have the ability to track, say heart rate, just by wearing the shirt that you currently have on your back, perspiration, etcetera. And because of the fact that we know that there are indicators physiologically about the way someone acts when they’re learning, and whether they understand certain dilation of pupils, etcetera. These sort of cues happen during the learning process, and if we have enough sensors, and then they’re discrete enough, and they’re powerful enough, we can start to use them to actually get objective data about understanding.

19:30 JR: And I think that’s quite profound, because it then leads into… Or because of all this information that we’re able to collect, we’re able to be proactive with health opportunities as well, we’re able to get data on things we couldn’t have imagined before. And because of that, then we can start to really see the value of something like artificial intelligence. Now for the most part, people laugh at this. When you look at Siri on your iPhone, it’s pretty deceptive. You know it’s there, it’s a bit of a gimmick, it’s not terribly powerful. But remember the three D’s, in the background these things are just becoming more and more powerful. And we’re reaching a point where artificial intelligence will be able to utilize the enormous amount of information that’s accessible to all of us, via the internet, and be able to organise and sort through all the sensory information that it receives from the sensors that we have. And as a result of that, be able to customise whatever experience we’re trying to provide with the AI, to the person who is basically interacting with it. So think about that in an educational context.

20:45 JR: Peter Diamandis talks about… When we’re talking to a student, there are very little cues as to sometimes them knowing whether they understand. And we’re teaching, and we tend to teach the same thing to all kids, and at the same pace, and at the same delivery, etcetera. But with something like artificial intelligence mapped to educational content, so let’s say videos or other sort of material, and the AI is sitting over the top of that and interacting with that content, then it makes it really easy to deliver scalable content and teaching in a way that is at the same pace as the student’s progression and in line with their own understanding. And he basically is pointing out the fact that you could have the best teaching delivered to everyone across the globe, in a platform such as the internet with video, etcetera, and the artificial intelligence delivers it. And you may be sitting there and think, “Well, that’s terrible, that’s what teachers do.” My argument is that teachers don’t do that very well anyway. We don’t deliver information as good as other mechanisms.

22:01 JR: The thing that we do that cannot be replaced, and will become more valuable, and therefore make our jobs even better, is the relationships. We will have more time to foster those relationships when we have tools, such as artificial intelligence delivering true self-direct, or true differentiation to students. So just think about it, with that possibility, if we could take ourselves out of that problem that we have of trying to deliver content, on scale, to kids and differentiate it, we really can’t do it that well. But with sensors and artificial intelligence, we will be able to do it well. Now again, if you’re sitting here in the Western world, it’s such a challenge to think that maybe this is how classrooms will run in the future? That’s right, it is a bit of a challenge and a bit of a change, but it has to happen, it absolutely has to happen. And the reason is, that it’s selfish to think that we can hold on to the classroom, and be the person at the front of the room, and teach this one way, because we’re really not reaching the global majority of people in this method. And that is because the practices that we have now, where teachers train and they go to universities, and then they end up in classrooms, is so unscalable it’s frightening.

23:26 JR: And it just does not serve the vast billions of people who have not got good schools in their countries, and who don’t have access to the best teachers. But with tools such as artificial intelligence mapped with content made by the best teachers, we could actually do that. We could provide good quality education to people everywhere, and that’s something that all teachers have an obligation to think about. You’re not just teaching the kids in your room, when they’re there. Think about it on a bigger scale than that. That’s why artificial intelligence and distributed content, through the internet, excites me. Because it will actually have the potential to impact everyone. And then the by product is it actually makes our job better, because we get to focus in on the thing that really matters that we can’t replace, and the thing we talk about all the time, which is relationships. So I see it as still playing a really important role, a way more important role, sitting in the room with kids, creating these situations where they can interact and be social. But the teaching element of the knowledge transfer, whatever that maybe, happens in different means.

24:38 JR: Now the next little exponential technology that is absolutely gonna play a role in education, and we’re starting to see it in this early days at the moment, is virtual reality. And you look at it and think, “Oh, come on you kidding me, Jarrod.” But no, I’m not, virtual reality has been around for a long time. It was a gimmick, and as we are looking at those three D’s again, it’s been in a deceptive phase. It got digitized, and then it became deceptive, and most people ignored it ’cause it was pretty junk. But now we’re starting to see some really tremendously powerful things appear with virtual reality. And what implications do that have on education? Well at a certain point, our eyes above 4k, so if you know what a HD Television is, it’s at 1080p, or 4k is 4000p. And the higher you go up, the clearer the images becomes. And at some point between 4K and 8K, is the actual human eye. So we cannot distinguish beyond whether what we’re looking at is real, because of it’s clarity, or whether it’s actually a simulated image. So if you think about that, that we’re very close to being able to produce images, or we can, but at 4k to 8K on all devices, for example.

26:02 JR: Then if you have a virtual reality headset on, you’re actually unable to tell the difference between a real and a simulated environment. Now that might sounds scary, but the opportunities for education are enormous. Rather than just sitting in a room learning about a historical event, you could have a virtual reality headset on, and you could be in the historical event. And it would look like you were actually there, because the simulation is life like, there is no distinguished difference between you being there. And it just being a simulation. And we’re reaching that point at a very rapid pace. So what does that look like for phys-ed? Well, a lot of the things that we do, our preparation for situations that sometimes occur, we could make those situations occur all the time. We could simulate the opportunities that we wanna prepare students to be able to self solve, and work within. So, the ability to frame and create the classroom environment that then teaches them, whatever we hope, would be quite transformative.

27:13 JR: It would also, in other subject areas such as people studying geography, etcetera, it’s gonna be out of control. The ability to put kids in a place, and there’s no distinguished difference to them actually being in that place or just being a simulation, is gonna be huge. And you couple this with Artificial Intelligence and the sensors, and all of a sudden the AI is being able to manipulate the virtual reality display. And the sensors are reacting to things that processes from your body, and you’ve got this convergence, which is the real trigger that is causing such a tremendous amount of opportunity in the world that we see coming along. But that’s just three of the disruptive technologies. The other one is 3D printing, and I did a whole podcast episode on 3D printing, and how it will impact phys-ed back earlier on. Go through your list and you’ll find it. But 3D printing is democratising a $10 trillion business, or venture, that basically exists in the world. So what that means is, that manufacturing which is $10 trillion entity, is being completely changed. You can now print objects, and that will appear. And previously you would had to have gone and purchase them, etcetera.

28:41 JR: So we’re gonna see tremendous opportunity here. 3D printing will reach the Phys ED classroom, in a way that means that you won’t order your equipment from a supplier, you’ll print your equipment, and it’s available on site, and it can be fully customised, and it can suit whatever your needs, which I think is tremendously powerful. And then if you look down at things such as Cloud computing. Well Cloud computing is another digital disruptive technology, that’s mostly deceptive. We use it a lot these days, it’s growing in popularity, but it’s still early days. The idea that all the computing power sits in the Cloud so that we’ve got access to be able to do all sorts of tremendously ridiculous processes, and so on. But you’re still looking at a very small and simple device that can run forever, but the processing is taking place in the Cloud. So the opportunities there are gonna be enormous. No longer will that mean that because you’ve only got access to a $100 laptop, you don’t get to do X. Well you will get to do X, because the processing will be done offsite. Cloud computing that’s made available for everyone for free.

29:52 JR: And then if you think about “Well, what are people doing to ensure that everyone gets internet access?” Well that’s happening as well. Things like Project Loon by Google, who are literally floating balloons into the stratosphere I think it is, and flying them over countries, which have for the most part, had governments that really have not provided internet to their people. But we’re now seeing, that by 2020, everyone on earth will have access to a free two megabit per second connection, provided anywhere on earth, completely circumvented by the government. So that even if you were the government of that country, it’s in the stratosphere, and is being provided to their people. So we’re seeing this tremendous bottom-up change, and it’s not gonna be a matter of whether you’re connected, you’ll have access to these things. Everyone will be connected, and everyone will have access to the Cloud computing, the Artificial Intelligence, videos, etcetera. And I think that’s tremendously powerful.

30:58 JR: So this whole episode is a little bit of a journey on what’s coming up. You’re not gonna escape this. I’m talking now from the fact that these are observed, these are things that we know are going to happen, in terms of their trajectory, because we can map it based on Moore’s Law. It’s not really fantasy. And the impact that they will have is going to be quite extreme, and it’s gonna challenge the way that we view the world, and the way that we, as teachers, think our job is, and that’s a good thing. We need that. Every other industry on Earth that’s being impacted by technology has had to rethink the way they work, and education should be no different. And the net goal here for me, is that we need a world where everyone gets access to the best education, and there is no other way to make that happen than without leveraging these technologies that exist in the upcoming world, in our world now, and I think that’s exciting.

32:01 JR: The thing that really drove this home for me, was my recent trip to Africa. And I got to spend some time with people who, for the most part, grew up in small villages in Kenya, really poor. And the guy who was my tour guide, told a story of him going to school, and they didn’t have any textbooks at all. And they just learnt from a chalkboard where the person taught them a little bit of English, and that was it. They didn’t have any books or anything. And he contrasts that to his five and six-year old kids now who have learn English from YouTube clips, and are now on to learning mathematics from Khan Academy, and it’s changed the game. They’ve seen how powerful this early technology that we have access to now is, and it’s absolutely changing for the better, the education of him, and for many people in similar situations around the globe. And that is an indication of why the previous model, and the model that we all use here in the western society, is completely broken and has elements in it that are really quite positive, but we don’t really get to really leverage those, because we spend time on all the broken parts.

33:17 JR: So, I’m excited. You can probably tell, I’ve spoken a lot longer than most episodes normally go for. But I think it’s an important topic, and it’s definitely gonna be something that you see appear over the next 10 years. And all of those technologies that we’ve laughed at and thought were a little bit gimmicky, like the ones I’ve mentioned in this last little bit, we’re gonna start to see come to fruition, and we’re gonna start to become and wonder how we ever lived without them. And ultimately, it’s all about making the world a better place. And if we can do that, which I think is absolutely possible with the tools that are being laid out, then we’re all gonna be better off. So on that note, I’m gonna leave it there. If you have any questions, get in touch with me on Twitter, social networks, Anchor, Facebook, wherever you happen to go. You’ll probably be able to find me, or send me an email at [email protected], or visit this page and get all the resources and links mentioned at thepegeek.com/60 as in for episode 60. Speak soon, and thanks for listening.



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