Half an hour into Jason Ohler’s latest book, Four Big Ideas for the Future, I went onto Amazon and ordered four more copies. I know exactly who I am going to give them to. It’s an absolute Must Read for any teacher or educational administrator, but also inspirational and insightful for parents and grandparents seeking to understand our kids’ learning journey and where the digital age is taking our schools.
I’ve known Jason well since I took him around New Zealand for three weeks in the mid 2000s, as an exceptionally popular keynote speaker in the heyday of the annual TUANZ Education Conference. He’s stayed in my home in Auckland and I’ve visited his in Juneau. I’ve watched with admiration his influence as one of the world’s top experts in digital education, with horror his affliction with what appeared to be a dreadful terminal illness, and with immense relief his full recovery after a double lung transplant.
This book deals with 4 distinct themes. “Writing Techxt” is where he expands on the theme of art as the Fourth “R” to be taught in schools. Digital citizenship is where he delves into the ethical issues around the Internet and an on-line lifestyle. “Trends that bend” covers the future of wearable devices, the Internet of Things, and many more. And then there’s the “Art of the Story” which takes Jason neatly back to the topic around which I first met him – digital story telling.
As Jason acknowledges, conventional wisdom is to develop a limited number of ideas and make sure the audience, be it readership or in person, understands them. But none of that for Jason – his technique is to bombard us with challenging ideas in the knowledge that each of us will take away the ones most pertinent to our own needs.
In that he has no peer. It works. The sheer wealth of inspiration in the 250 pages is mind-blowing. My brain went into overload. His thinking is clearly and engagingly articulated. He makes things blindingly simple. I hope someone will lure him back to New Zealand one day soon.
An absolute Must Read for all. “Four Big Ideas” is a ten out of ten read. Copies on line at amazon.com