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Ten Years Ago

Donald G. Perrin

Professionally, what were you doing ten years ago? And what relationship does that have with what you are doing today?

Ten years ago I was immersed in the Silicon Valley, the hub of creativity and innovation in computer hardware and software. I directed the Alquist Center for Innovative Learning at San Jose State University and taught Instructional Design, Interactive Video, and Theory of Instructional Technology for the Graduate Program in Instructional Technology. Our students included leaders in instructional design, training and education, seeking new ideas and academic qualifications. They shared their expertise and learning was exciting. Together we attended meetings of the International Society for Performance and Instruction (ISPI) and the International Interactive Communication Society (IICS) at Hewlett Packard, Apple Computer, and the Exploratorium. I served as instructional design consultant and trainer for business, industry and government.

My wife Elizabeth managed programs in Total Quality Management and ISO 9000 for industries in the Silicon Valley as part of the School of Business and the Television Education Network at San Jose State. Courses were taught live on ITFS television to local industries and regional centers. They were also available on videotape. Patrick Portway, founder of the TeleCon series of International Conferences, offered us managing editor positions with ED at a Distance Magazine and ED Journal starting in January 1995. (We continued in this role to 2003. In the late 1990s these publications became USDLA Journal, a hybrid of print and web, and a totally online journal in the year 2000.)

Another activity in the Silicon Valley was with incubators and startup companies. I collaborated with Vital Pathways of Mountain View California on a proposal for ISDN lines from the telephone company for San Jose State University. We quickly discovered we were not telephone engineers, but a byproduct of our research was a plan for a new kind of University, the University of the Future. We published this paper in our second issue of ED Journal in February 1995. It received a large mail response and was published in its entirety on the front page of The Nation newspaper in Bangkok, Thailand. Andrew Crilly was sent from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore to engage us for three weeks of consultation. UNESCO brought me to Bangkok three months later to keynote their conference New Knowledge Society and Higher Education.

Ten years later basic ideas from the University of the Future are part of almost every institution of higher education in the industrial nations and in the third world and is increasingly a part of K-12 and home schools. This is not to say I invented it. The paper was a fusion of many different ideas that were developing in the mid 1990s that were developed independently.

To answer my own question: September 1994 was a very exciting period in my professional development. Today is an extension of that past into a future even more exciting and challenging than ten years ago. The landscape is greatly changed. In ten years the technology is greatly refined, inexpensive and ubiquitous. The focus has moved from television to interactive web, and from communication technology to curriculum, learning objects, and customized (individualized) education programs. We are poised for a whole new era of creative development in education and training and I am ready to play my part.

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