Issue Number 258 May 31, 2019

This free Information Age Education Newsletter is edited by Dave Moursund and produced by Ken Loge. The newsletter is one component of the Information Age Education (IAE) and Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) publications.

All back issues of the newsletter and subscription information are available online. In addition, seven free books based on the newsletters are available: Joy of Learning; Validity and Credibility of Information; Education for Students’ Futures; Understanding and Mastering Complexity; Consciousness and Morality: Recent Research Developments; Creating an Appropriate 21st Century Education; and Common Core State Standards for Education in America.

Dave Moursund’s newly revised and updated book, The Fourth R (Second Edition), is now available in both English and Spanish (Moursund, 2018, link). The unifying theme of the book is that the 4th R of Reasoning/Computational Thinking is fundamental to empowering today’s students and their teachers throughout the K-12 curriculum. The first edition was published in December, 2016, the second edition in August, 2018, and the Spanish translation of the second edition in September, 2018. The three books have now had a combined total of more than 42,000 page-views and downloads.

At the upcoming June 2019 annual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education, Dave Moursund will be honored for having been ISTE’s founder in 1979. This newsletter and several that will follow it are a short break in the current sequence of newsletters focusing on roles of computers and math in the history curriculum.

Planning for the Future of Education

David Moursund
Professor Emeritus, College of Education
University of Oregon

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." (Nelson Mandela; South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999; 1918-2013.)

"The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” (Carl Rogers; American psychologist; 1902-1987.)


Recently I was brainstorming with a friend about computers in education. One of us asked, “Do you think we will still have brick and mortar schools fifty years from now?” Hmmm, an interesting and challenging question. Certainly, children will still need to learn. But, what will they need to learn? Will schools like we have today still be a major vehicle for gaining their needed knowledge and skills?

In my childhood, I read lots of science fiction. I was particularly interested in books that portrayed humans in the future as they boldly went forth to explore new worlds. H.G. Wells was a science fiction authors who is now known both for his writing and for being the father of the discipline we call Future Studies (Wagar, 1/30/1983, link). A number of universities now have Future Studies departments in which students learn to make useful predictions about the future.

Many science fiction stories explore our possible futures. The Fun They Had by Isaac Asimov dips into the future of education (Asimov, 1954, link). Here is a brief summary of the Asimov story (Wikipedia, 2019b, link):

Set in the year 2157, when children learn individually at home using a mechanical teacher (robotic teacher), the story tells of eleven-year-old Margie Jones, whose neighbor Tommy finds a real book in the attic of his house. The book tells about a time when children used to learn in a group of same age of students in large schools that were not merely designated rooms in private houses as in the year 2157. Margie and Tommy discuss what it must have been like to study together with a real person as a teacher, and though at first Margie is skeptical about the notion, by the end of the story she daydreams while sitting on the chair before the mechanical teacher about what it must have been like for 'the fun they had!

This short story was first published in 1951, about the time that the first commercially produced computer in the United States was about to become available. Wow, am I impressed! It seems quite likely that we will have the technology within the next 50 years to fully implement Asimov’s idea of a computer-based education at home. Will we actually do this? Should we?

Although I have had no formal schooling as a futurist, I occasionally write about possible futures of computers in education (Moursund, 2007, link; Moursund & Sylwester, April, 2015, link). Certainly, I don’t hesitate to offer my opinions about possible ways to improve our schools and our overall informal and formal educational systems, both for today and into the future.

We Are All Historians and Futurists

You are a lifelong learner and a lifelong teacher. Your brain functions 24 hours a day, both when you are awake and when you are asleep. During this time, your brain is processing information it has stored, information from internal sensors, and information from the outside world—and, you are learning.

Every interaction one person has with another person is both a learning and teaching experience for both. Thus, we are all lifelong teachers and lifelong learners.

Also, we are all both historians and futurists. Each action that you take is based on your history, and on your plans for the future. Of course, some people spend more time studying the past than do others. We call them historians. Also, some people spend more time attempting to forecast the future than do others. We call them futurists. When you wake up and start a new day, you draw upon your own historical knowledge and experience as you plan for the day you are just beginning.

A Challenge to My Readers

In this IAE Newsletter, I am challenging each of you to do some careful thinking about possible futures of schools over the next 50 years. Imagine yourself as somehow magically becoming the Czar of Precollege Schools for your country or for the world. Would you continue schools much like they currently are? Or would you make changes that you believed would better prepare children for their adult lives in a rapidly changing world?

First, consider continuing the status quo. You know a great deal about your own past schooling, and you may currently be a school teacher. But, what about the future? Do you think that 50 years of continuing status quo will serve the needs of students well? As you ponder these questions, think about the changes that have occurred over the past 50 years, and especially just in the last 15 years, as today’s students are growing up with cellphones, social networking, the Internet, and increasingly addictive computer games.

Next, you might think about the history of schools. The first formal schools were established some 5,200 years ago. Historians have discovered clay tablets indicating the establishment of these schools soon after the development of reading and writing in Sumeria that occurred about 5,300 years ago (Chen, n.d., link).

Teachers in these first schools taught reading, writing, arithmetic, and history to a small number of relatively wealthy and well-placed children. The schools made use of classrooms with students seated in rows facing a teacher. I find it interesting that, in these first schools, it took about twelve years of schooling to master the content being presented (History on the net, n.d., link). Perhaps part of the reason it takes so long is that children need to gain a certainly level of maturity before they can gain a good understanding of the content being taught.

It took more than 5,000 years to produce something akin to today’s grade K-12 schooling systems that require attendance for huge numbers of children. Notice that we still teach reading, writing, arithmetic, and history (social studies), but have added other content areas. In terms of literacy, the world has made tremendous progress (Wikipedia, 2019a, link):

The global literacy rate for all people aged 15 and above is 86.3%. The global literacy rate for all males is 90.0% and the rate for all females is 82.7%. The rate varies throughout the world with developed nations having a rate of 99.2% (2013); Oceania having 71.3%; South and West Asia having 70.2% (2015) and sub-Saharan Africa at 64.0% (2015). Over 75% of the world's 781 million illiterate adults are found in South Asia, West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and women represent almost two-thirds of all illiterate adults globally.

We mainly still provide schooling today by bringing children together in schools that follow a lock-step curriculum. Schooling often starts at the K or PreK level, and many students take some post-high school education.

High school graduation is used as a major measure of student success in the United States, and we want as many students as possible to graduate from high school prepared for a career and/or college. The standards for graduation and the definitions of career and/or college-ready vary considerably from state to state, and even between school districts within a state.

I now return you to your Czar of Precollege Education challenge. Most likely you would decide to use your position as Czar to make some changes. You would first need to decide what constitutes a good education to prepare today’s PreK-12 students for their adult lives in a world that is likely to continue to change. This challenge is made especially difficult by the increasing pace of change in many aspects of technology. You must be an excellent futurist in order to redesign schools so they will better prepare students for their somewhat unforeseeable futures.

If you are waiting for me to provide you with easy solutions to your challenge, I strongly recommend that you don’t try to hold your breath until you see my recommendations. Here is one of my favorite quotations:

“There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.” (Henry Louis “H.L.” Mencken; American journalist, essayist, editor; 1880–1956.)

Final Remarks

What I want you to do is to think for yourself. I hope that you will use the Reader Comments section of this newsletter to share your ideas with a broad audience and some of these comments may appear in future newsletters. Or, you may email your comments to me directly at I will present a few of my own ideas in the next issue of the IAE Newsletter. In closing, here is a little more food for thought.

  1. Artificial Intelligence is making huge progress. In terms of education, it is a game changer.

  2. Online stores such as Amazon have greatly changed the retail (bricks and mortar) business model.

  3. The world is now producing about 1.5 billion smartphones a year. The world’s total population is about 7.8 billion people (Statista, 2019, link).

  4. We now have fairly good speech-to-text, real-time text language translation, and simultaneous text-to-speech computer systems, and these are steadily improving.

  5. More than 11,000 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were available at the end of 2018 (Class Central, 2019, link).

  6. My latest book, The Fourth R (Second Edition), has had more than 42,000 page-views/downloads (Moursund, 2018, link). It presents my ideas about thoroughly integrating the 4th R of Reasoning/Computational Thinking with the use of computers throughout the school curriculum.
References and Resources

Asimov, I. (1954). The fun they had. Retrieved 4/22/2019 from

Chen, K.Y. (n.d.). The five original writing systems. Retrieved 5/22/2019 from

Class Central (2019). MOOC report. Retrieved 4/22/2019 from

History on the Net (n.d.). Mesopotamian education and schools. Salem Media. Retrieved 5/23/2019 from

Moursund, D. (2018). The Fourth R (Second Edition). Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Retrieved 1/3/2019 from Download the Microsoft Word file from Download the PDF file from Download the Spanish edition from

Moursund, D. (2007). Planning, forecasting, and inventing your computers-in-education future. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Retrieved 4/22/2019 from

Moursund, D., & Sylwester, R., eds. (April, 2015). Education for students’ futures. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download the PDF File from Download the Microsoft Word File from

Statista (2019). Smartphone production volume worldwide from 2015 to 2021 (in million units). Retrieved 4/22/2019 from

Wagar, W. (1/30/1983). H.G. Wells and the genesis of Future Studies. Retrieved 5/22/2019 from

Wikipedia (2019a). List of countries by literacy rate. Retrieved /22/2019 from

Wikipedia (2019b). The fun they had. Retrieved /22/2019 from


David Moursund is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon, and editor of the IAE Newsletter. His professional career includes founding the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in 1979, serving as ISTE’s executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE’s flagship publication, Learning and Leading with Technology (now published by ISTE as Empowered Learner).He was the major professor or co-major professor for 82 doctoral students. He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds of articles. Many of these books are available free online. See .

In 2007, Moursund founded Information Age Education (IAE). IAE provides free online educational materials via its IAE-pedia, IAE Newsletter, IAE Blog, and IAE books. See . Information Age Education is now fully integrated into the 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) that was established in 2016. David Moursund is the Chief Executive Officer of AGATE.


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Information Age Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education for learners of all ages throughout the world. Current IAE activities and free materials include the IAE-pedia at, a Website containing free books and articles at, a Blog at, and the free newsletter you are now reading. See all back issues of the Blog at and all back issues of the Newsletter at