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Black Swans and Ed Tech in 2011
January 2, 2011 - 8:45pm

All of us love to think about the future. What ed tech trends will emerge in 2011? What new technologies will be introduced? What tech companies will merge? What new ed tech businesses will form?

Some good ones:

--Top 10 Ed Tech predictions for 2011 By Christopher Dawson
--Ed Tech Forecasts for 2011 by Robert French
--2011: My Predictions for Ed-Tech by Audrey Watters

Can you add some more?

My 2011 ed tech predictions come courtesy of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. CIO's of the world - please buy a copy of the The Black Swan for your direct reports, and schedule an hour over breakfast some time to bookclub. Ask everyone to come with the following two questions for discussion:

  1. What are some low probability but high impact events that could conceivably disrupt operations in your unit?
  2. What steps have you and your staff taken to plan for and recover from these low probability / high impact events?

I don't know what the big ed tech story of 2011 will turn out to be. But I do know that the big story in your life and mine will be some event that is not even on our radar today. It will be an event that will not feel like the continuation of a trend or the maturation of a technology. It will be a black swan.

Our black swan may cause a break down in our technology infrastructure. Or our black swan may make it impossible for campus-based operations to continue as normal. Our black swan might be an unexpected change in leadership at our institutions or departments, a change that results in a wholesale re-alignment of people, resources and priorities.

Our black swan might be as personal as a health or family issue. The start of a new job, or the ending of an existing one. Our black swan might be a new opportunity that changes almost everything in our day-to-day work, but one we did not see coming on 1/3/11.

One year from now, when we look back on 2011, the most significant ed tech story will the one we are not anticipating today.

Are you thinking about black swans?


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