Monday, March 18, 2013

Keeping It Real

There is nothing more powerful as an idea whose time has come – Victor Hugo

Steeped in history and tradition, many of our core institutions have struggled to maintain their relevancy in the modern world. Libraries that haven’t embraced the digital world have struggled, so too have small shop keepers who find it hard to compete against the scale, speed, economies and reach of larger retailers.

A common thread among failing institutions that leads to their unravelling is an inability to meet the needs of everyday people in a contemporary way. Without changing with the times and offering new, innovative services, institutions will simply cease to be relevant.

One of our greatest institutions, the Postal Service is making some hard decisions about mail delivery. The US Postal Service recently announced that it is looking to cut down its mail service from six to five days a week and so too is the equivalent in New Zealand, which is considering cutting down its mail delivery service to just three days a week. If the demand is not there, then the service needs to shift.

Another example showing the need for relevance is our schools. Dust-bound books and black boards are ‘old-school’ and are quickly being replaced by tablets and screen-based communications. Gen Y parents certainly expect kids to be prepared for the Screen Age. One school forging ahead is Avenues in New York, which equips its students with iPads from the age of seven and aims for students to be trilingual by the time they leave school.


Leilani Tamu said...

I am 100% in agreement with you Kevin. My biggest concern is that our educational institutions are based on an outdated model (from the industrial revolution) and that the needs of my daughter - who is now 2 years old - wont be adequately addressed to prepare her to be the innovative, creative leader we need for the 21st century.

chris simon said...

There are, at last, changes happening like F4S:Founders4Schools just launched in the UK linking teachers with entrepreneurs. Closer to home, Australian Julian Cole runs great slideshares out of NYC teaching digital strategy that is very school kid friendly. Lastly and significantly, when I was invited to Peter Gabriel’s UK Real World Studios twenty eight years ago, there were predictions for the future of interactive education or ‘edutainment’ as we called it then. Only last weekend, Real World held ‘Hack Day 2013’ as part of the Bath Digital Festival. It highlighted Peter’s new visual language app called Gabble. Some investments were made in new code developers and designers. Some school children or school leavers are self taught at developing apps more worthwhile than a lot being promoted at today’s tech conferences for grownups;)