Monday, November 27, 2006

2020 Vision

Many of the links are broken because my district changes its web server configuration. Here's a quick link to a wmv version. If you want any of the other files (source files, etc.), just contact me.

Update 4-14-07: For more thoughts about this, read 2020 Vision on DesignShare

This post - and resulting presentation - has been kicking around in my head for the last month or two. One of the difficulties I've encountered with our staff development efforts is being unable to define a specific vision for what the future is going to look like. While I have many ideas about the changes that are occurring - and are going to occur - and the general direction we should head, I can't nail down specifically what school - or the world - is going to look like 5 or 10 or 15 years out. The pace of change is so great that it's nearly impossible to predict what's going to happen. And, for teachers that are used to the seemingly endless pendulum swings in education, that makes them hesitant to commit.

So what I wanted to create was some kind of plausible "vision" of the future that they could ponder and discuss. As I write this, I realize that I've created a trilogy of sorts. The "What If" presentation was a look at the past, at the resistance to change in education. The "Did You Know" presentation was mainly a look at our present, at the incredible changes that are happening due to "flat world" factors and technological change (with a dash of prediction thrown in). And now "2020 Vision" is a look "back" at our future from the year 2020. (Ummm, yeah, sure, I planned to create a trilogy. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) Maybe by having one possible version of the future to consider we can get past the natural resistance to change. If nothing else, I hope it's another example of David Warlick's "telling the new story" to get those conversations started.

I've thought about this for a couple of months because I never felt like I had all the pieces of the story to create a really good "future." I still don't, but I decided I was never going to have enough time - or enough creativity - to get exactly what I wanted, and I didn't want to wait any longer because I think this conversation needs to take place now. (Plus, things kept happening - like Google buying YouTube - so I kept having to come up with new ideas!) So, the presentation includes some "predictions" about technology, and some "predictions" about changes in my school, as I speak at the graduation for the class of 2020 (hey, it's my future, I can pretend can't I?) - who will be starting Kindergarten next fall. But let me be clear that I am not predicting that these things will actually occur. While I think they are generally plausible, things are changing so quickly that it's next to impossible (for me, anyway) to predict with any kind of accuracy. And I think this is a case of where the truth will end up being stranger than fiction. Let me also be clear that this "future" is not necessarily what I would like to see happen, although there are pieces of it that I would certainly be in favor of. The goal is not to debate the plausibility of any specific predictions, but to envision a time in the not-too-distant future when the world is significantly different - and hopefully schools are as well. Then, based on what that could look like, what should we be doing now to help prepare for and transition to that future. Hopefully this "2020 Vision" will help get those conversations started.

This is intended for my staff development efforts but, of course, anyone is welcome to use it (or, better yet, create your own). While I don't have any sources for this (since it's made up), there were lots of influences. The three most prominent ones would be the EPIC video , Will Richardson's Morning at RSS-Blog-Furl High School Redux post as well as his book , and Ray Kurzweil's book.

Download 2020 Vision (Windows Media Player format - 17 MB) - the volume kicks in on the third slide.

Download 2020 Vision (Quicktime format - 97 MB).

Be forewarned, it's a little long, but that's a small price to pay to see the future . . .

Update 11-28-06: I had a request to post this to Google Video, so I did. That also allows me to embed it in this post. This is the first time I've tried this, so we'll see how it goes.

Now that Google Video is no more, here it is on YouTube:

Update 11-29-06: I added a Quicktime version since someone pointed out that the Windows Media Player version requires codecs that are only available on the Windows platform (although I believe the Google Video version embedded above - which is in Flash - should work on most platforms). Sorry about that.

Update 6-21-08: Here's the script I used (Word, PDF). No guarantees that I stuck to it exactly, but it should be close.


  1. Great job, Karl. The video offers a great deal to think about. Hopefully, we'll look back on this vision and nod our heads. "See that, Karl was right!" And, I hate you for that "2020 Vision" concept. Just too perfect. Thanks for your great work.


  2. Karl:

    Great job.... I will be showing this to our staff over the next few days as we start dealing with some of the professional development programs we need to implement.

    I am also one of the "Google Certified Teachers" that was trained earlier this month and I will be posting a link to your video as soon as I finish writing this comment.

  3. Structurally, socio-economically, connectivity will be the order of the day. Now, what will be the essential learnings for such an inter-connected world? If, indeed, technology brings us closer globally, what will we need to be proficient in?

    I'm somewhat transfixed by the idea that our educational schemas might have to shift even further towards ethical problem-solving in that critical thinking might have to be revised so that it takes into account the dilemmas that we cause others and the natural world as a result of this "spider web" of connectivity.

  4. Thanks for all your good work. I definitely see your idea going far.

  5. Karl -- Better late to the Fischbowl party than never arriving at all. How I've missed out on the quality of your work, provocations, ideas is beyond me...but today's a whole new day in the edu-blogosphere...and I'm quite pleased.

    I'm leading a back-to-back presentation next week in Austin, TX with school design professionals and educational leaders. The focus of the talk is to look at "dig:nats" and emerging tech (social networking, et al) trends as a future-think backdrop to designing educational facilities that will engage learning in the future.

    I had previously thought of using Epic 2014 but thought it too out-there for the purpose of this audience's goals, but when I watched 2020 Vision I knew that I MUST show it to this audience to set the tone for all that we'll do over the next 4+ hours.

    Your final statement about kids still coming to school (buildings) and campus for engagement and collaboration will be a great capper. What I need to do after that is figure out a way to help the audience wrestle with how to deal with today's brick-n-mortar/seat needs with tomorrow's rapid evolution of what learning.

    As my organization, DesignShare, says, it's about "Designing for the Future of Leanring." And what you did will be a powerful agent for our national and global audience.

    I'll also be sharing it with colleagues in Germany and Holland during separate speaking tours in Jan and Mar. Needless to say, I think it'll spark much dialogue on the other side of the Atlantic, too!

    Again, thanks for your provocation. I'll definitely be heading to Feedblitz to get my Fishbowl RSS feed subscription set up pronto!


  6. Ok, talk about the wonderful convergence of the web. I'm on a Vision committee on my campus who is looking at the future graduates, when I stumble across Will Richardson's post about your video.

    Then as I am reading the comments, I see a post that DesignShare(who I just discovered last week) is going to be in Austin, where I live and work NEXT week! I'm working with architects on redesigning our library, and was so excited when I ran across your work.

    So....thanks to Will, Thanks to Karl for your fascinating work, and I'm hoping I can connect with Design Share!

    I plan to post a link to your video for our vision committee to watch and discuss.

    Carolyn Foote
    Westlake HS
    Austin, Tx

  7. That was awesome. The predictions seem good, and it was really interesting where you went. I agree with Will. Hopefully we will look back and say that you were right.

    I think the video made me like school less. Why are we doing this? Why not what was in that video?

    Again, a great job. Really well done.

    And even better than these predictions, you are working towards them now, trying to help the school with technology. To me, that is the coolest part.

  8. That was truly the BEST 15 minutes and 45 seconds I have spent in a LONG Time and I thank you for your creativity and also your forward thinking.

    I was amused and then also amazed at what you presented and wrote much of it down to remember to check to see if things really do happen in the next 13 years. (I am hoping that the Amazon E-Bay buyout is a for sure!)

    There are a lot of things we all do with out time.....and I just wanted to say THANK YOU for taking your valuable time to put together something so vivid and usable and thought provoking for so many of us.

    I am new to your blog -- but now I am a subscriber.

    Thanks again -
    Jennifer Wagner

  9. Karl, this was so thought provoking that I am struggling to decide how and where to begin to comment other than to say … WOW. The obvious is to state that I think we must read very different books and magazines. Perhaps I should change that fact. Secondly, how do you sleep at night with that kind of stuff running through your mind? As I mentioned in passing, I would like to get your views on the impact of a, seemingly, more sedentary life style / work style on physical health, obesity (a crisis in American youth today) and longevity. Along with this, the impact of these societal changes on an already strained health care system.
    If, conservatively, only 10%-20% of your predictions are accurate then dramatic changes in the goals, structure and delivery of education must and will occur. I believe we can be catalysts for these changes or we can choose to be “reluctant passenger” on a train we have chosen to ride. I hope we collectively choose the catalyst role in LPS and specifically at AHS. Thanks for the mind expansion. JK

  10. Mr. Fisch,

    I'm not certain if you remember me (we've talked very briefly once or twice), but my name is Spencer Zepelin, and I'm a sophomore at AHS.

    After a glowing recommendation from Knafelc and having already seen and enjoyed your "Did you know?" video (esp. for the brilliant soundtrack) I determined myself to watch this, and I experienced a panorama of emotion. At once I was frightened; this vision of the not so distant future seemed foreign and unfamiliar. Yet, at the same time, this fear excited me, much as one feels excited when they reach the top of a roller coaster and anticipate the drop. Our world today seems to be this roller coaster, and we seem to be fast approaching the plunge. I would love to have the opportunity to discuss this with you at some point since many questions are currently flooding through my mind. One of my main concerns, not unlike those of Mr. Knafelc, is the loss of the human element in both school and society. Even today the older generation complains that "times aren't like they used to be, no one just sits and talks anymore." This may be hackneyed, but today this is becoming an increasingly valid and perhaps worrisome point. At the same time, your ideas would no doubt give way to increased youth voice and consequently youth rights (something I feel will be a large movement in the near future). Relating to your "stranger than fiction" comment, I remember reading in Ender's game years back that Ender's brother and sister were publishing online (not unlike blogging) and, even as children, became major, and ironically, opposing political voices. After watching your presentation I feel that this is within the realm of possibility. In addition, you seem remarkably optimistic about google's future, but what if they fail to stick to their adage "Don't be evil"?

    I would love to spend some time discussing this with you if you have an off-hour sometime or if you wouldn't mind spending some time after school.

    Though I know this is a tangent, I recently realized that you and Will Smith have a remarkable connection. If I'm not mistaken, both you and he had full ride scholarships to MIT! Pretty sweet right?

    Anyway, I hope to hear back from you soon. My e-mail is:
    Kind of ironic that it's google, isn't it?

    Until then, thanks Karl "Fresh Prince" Fisch! I'll talk to you soon!

    Spencer "Danger" Zepelin

  11. I am truly awed in all of your works Mr. Fisch. My world seems to shift everytime I encounter your predictions.

    My name is Dan Huh and I am currently a sophomore enrolled at Arapahoe High School. The world cannot stop spinning and technology must persist to accommodate for the ever so needy world. I can remember back in my late kindergarten days when my dad bought our first IBM computer that ran on windows 95. The megabyte was all very complex and the gigabyte was fairly new. Today, hand-held computers run significantly faster than block computers eleven years ago. After listening to your presentation, I absolutely agree that it is important to address our current technological state and prepare to face the next generation's wave of change. This generation of high school students may very well have to maintain the growth and stability of the technology predicted in "2020 Vision." We must all be technology wary, ready to take on the adventure. Like Spencer said, "Our world today seems to be this roller coaster, and we seem to be fast approaching the plunge."

    Thank you for creating the spark to open the vision for future technological innovations.

    Keep it up Mr. Fisch,
    Dan Huh

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  14. Spencer,

    Well, I don't know about Will Smith, but I - and my parents - only wish I had a full ride. I did get some scholarship money, but it was well short of a "full" ride. I'm only hoping that my fellow teachers don't read your comment or I'll have a new nickname.

    You're welcome to drop by and talk anytime, although don't expect too much wisdom. I'm mostly good at asking questions. As far as losing the human element, I think that is a valid concern, but somehow I'm not that worried about it. Up to this point technology has - for the most part - enhanced and expanded human communication, and I expect it to continue to do so. While us "older" folks tend to frown at IM and texting and MySpace, aren't they just another form of communication? Yes, they can be used inappropriately, but that's true about just about everything humans have invented. When I was young (ummm, younger), the older generation complained about the telephone. They viewed it as impersonal and only to be used for certain formal functions. While I agree that it's different than face to face communication, I would argue that most folks today don't feel like the telephone should only be used for certain formal functions. It shouldn't be used for everything, but I feel like I've had very meaningful human communication via the telephone. I think all these possible new technologies will continue to enhance that communication (when used appropriately). I think it will not only give a voice to the young, but also to many others that typically have not had a voice. And I think that's a very good thing.

    I think my presentation did have a little too much Google in it but, as I said in the post, I just decided I was never going to get the presentation quite how I wanted it, so I went with it as is. Part of the point of the presentation - much like the EPIC video I referenced - was to sound a small cautionary note about these or similar events. I think there's a possibility that Google will assume Microsoft's role as the not-very-well-liked and somewhat feared company that maybe knows a little too much about us. It's something to pay attention to over the next few years, but I'm cautiously optimistic that Google will manage to avoid becoming evil.

    As far as Ender's Game goes, I think we are seeing many of those ideas come to fruition today (minus the alien invasion). So, would you rather I be Demosthenes and you be Locke, or vice versa?

  15. I watched 2020 Vision about a week ago, but like Jerry, felt the need to process everything that was presented before adding a response.

    Let me start with a message to your former Biology teacher, I don't think you have to be concerned about anyone remembering you! What great comments...thought- provoking and well written.

    Like Spencer, I experienced a wave of emotions as I watched this presentation. There was definitely a bit of fear mixed in, especially after reading Ben H's comment that "the video made me like school less. Why are we doing this?" I can only guess that other teachers might worry about the same thing. If this really is a possibility for the future, where does that leave the teacher? We become less and less important as technology can provide the same things we do now in a faster, broader, and flashier way.

    But, I was struck by the idea that in spite of all of the changes taking place in the future, students still chose to come to school. For the human contact, the relationships, the social interaction.

    So, I think the best way to alleviate our fears about the future is to start evaluating our role as the teacher right now. If the information is already out there, what is our job as the teacher? I think our focus needs to shift away from the distribution of information and towards helping students process information and do something meaningful with what they've learned.

    In other words, we need to make our classrooms a place where students want to be. I think we've made small steps in this direction and I think we need to keep reminding ourselves that it's important. Because creating an learning environment that students choose and enjoy isn't scary, it's downright cool.

  16. Karl, your video is wonderful! Of course those of us who've watched technology for the past 10+ years know that whatever we dream of now won't come close to what will actually happen! The rate of change is too rapid and too dynamic to begin to project out 13 years.

    I'm utterly convinced that what we'll see in technology by 2020 will blow away your scenario. However, I'm frightened that schools will look the same as they do today, and that kids will be even more disconnected from the educational system. There are so many forces that promote "more of the same", and too few who are willing to look at our roles as educators and and the need to redefine ourselves. Keep up your good work as a force for positive change!

  17. In his blog of Monday, Nov. 27, 2006, entitled, "2020 Vision", Karl Fisch wrote about the difficulties he has encountered with staff development efforts to "define a specific vision of what the future is going to look like", and the problems of "nailing down specifically what school – or the world will look like 5 or 10 or 15 years out." May I suggest a valuable resource for Karl Fisch and other teachers to consider for their staff development at Arapahoe High School in the district of Littleton Public Schools? The 2006-20016 Map of Future Forces Affecting Education, developed by the Institute for the Future and KnowledgeWorks Foundation, is available online as an interactive resource at: . Based on expert opinion aggregation and ethnographic studies, the map is not a prediction, but it offers a plausible, internally consistent view of what might happen in the coming decade, based on prevailing trends. The forecast in the map raises key questions about education in this decade. If you consider the trends on the map that resonate with your group and imagine their implications, you will find that you can make better decisions in the present. The map is useful for planning for the future: from foresight, to insight, to action. Many education leaders who have used the map report that they have found it quite helpful for evoking useful discussions about the future. For group discussions, multiple hard copies of the map can be requested via the map website.

    Ama Shabazz, M.A. Ed.
    Program Officer –Education Strategy
    KnowledgeWorks Foundation
    One West Fourth Street, Suite 200
    Cincinnati, OH 45202-3634
    Telephone: 513-929-1342
    Electronic Mail:

  18. Karl, great job! That was fun, you gave something to think about. I hope we see a restructuring of our education system, the opening of classrooms, and the development of collaborative learning communities.
    Thanks for sharing your positive vision, now we can all focus our energies on making that vision materialize. I think I may go buy some google stock today!

    Teachers Using Technology

  19. Nice post. Your struggle to create a vision and strategy in an environment of accelerating change is one we all share... though we don't always recongize it! :-) I don't have any silver bullets, but thought the concept of scenario planning might be useful for you.

    Basically, scenario planning is a structured methodology to help you think about uncertain futures. Start by thinking about the 2 things that are most important and simultaneously most uncertain about the future. Create a continuum for each of these important and uncertain topics, and then plot them against each other to create four quadrants. For each of these quadrants, create a vision of what the future might look like that reflect the quadrant in terms of the two important and uncertain topics. Some of these stories will be happier, and some will be sadder -- but they should all be plausible (after all, they were chosen precisely because they were important and could not be "ruled out").

    The key insight is to then craft a strategy that will help you be successful in any of the four versions of the future you've envisioned! This frees the mind from the burden of having to correctly predict the future.

    One other thought: you may want to check out the Santa Fe Institute. It's a think tank focused on complexity science. There's a working paper there from 2004 that might be be helpful. It describes the case where even in the unlikely event you have enough understanding of your system to fully predict the intended and unintended consequences of actions, you still can't predict consquences because the system itself is changing to rapidly. The paper is a bit long and dense, but I've summarized the paper and tie-ins to scenario planning here:

  20. Nice post, nice vision.
    Do you have the transcript of this video?

    If you have, please, post a link that we can download. It would be easier to translate do other languages.

    Thanks in advance,
    Marconi (from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

  21. @marconipp - Transcript in Word and transcript in PDF format.

    No guarantee that I stuck to the script exactly, but it should be close.

  22. You said: "President Obama"... back in 2006???!!!
    Well, that should add tons of credibility to your projections!
    I just attended Shift Happens and 2020 Vision today. They are great. Congratulations.

  23. @Robby! - Thanks. Although, for the record, I didn't have him being President until 2018 or so. As I said in another post, the truth was much weirder than the fiction!

  24. I found this post, and linked back to the original. I'm interested in the technology aspects of using Keynote, PowerPoint, and other software, and this "180-day?" show seemed like an easy one to make.

    Easy to make.

    Not so easy to view. I think that it was an eye-opener for me. I wonder how the rest of my school will consider it, and what they will find admirable, unavoidable, or a crying shame...?

    Here's the link...

  25. Karl - It's the last day of 2009 and I saw your 2020 video this for the first time today. A masterful piece of work. I'm a parent in a school working to move ahead of the pack, technology speaking, so count me as one working toward making these scenarios come true. The video makes me wonder if we aren't thinking big enough!

    One problem we face is that few educators/board members are also trained in technology - so this kind of information has no basis in fact for them - it never rises above "science fiction". Has anyone taken a look at the technologies/milestones presented in your 2020 video and estimated how many years away we actually are from achieving them or what the main barriers are that exist? It always surprises me when I read Popular Science and see the technologies under development at universities or corporations, and realize that in many cases, the future is already here. I wonder if educators would have that same kind of reaction if, after watching your video, you had a list of where some of the technologies are in terms of their development and people can see that, with a little incentive, many of them are right around the corner. Thanks again for finishing my year with a boost and motivating me for what lies ahead in 2010.

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  27. Mr. Fisch,

    I loved the video you posted on the future of education and the world. I think that some of the things you said sounded a little far fetched, but never the less, possible. It will take a while but the future of education is bound to be similar to this. While it is impossible to accurately take into account the entire world and all its variables and make an accurate prediction, we do control our futures. We can make the educational system whatever we want it to be. We can say "why not" get rid of grades, "why not" make drastic changes for the better. We need to "Be the change we want to see in the world" as Gandhi stated. I sincerely hope that we will take advantage of the ever expanding world of technology to continue learning how to learn. I cant wait till I am older and look back to find out if the world was quite as amazing for the people who came after us.

  28. Mr. Fisch, you are definitely not alone on pondering about what the future will look like for not only us (Students and Staff at Arapahoe High School) but for the rest of the world. You provided a very intense example in your article, “2020 Vision”. It’d be hard to determine how fast technology may advance or what businesses will shut down or be bought out in all of the different places of the world. In addition to that Big Businesses may expand across the ocean, like Google. That would be simply amazing if every person in the world had access to Google or other places such as Amazon or even YouTube. Mainly because none of us are alike! Every single person differs from the rest, and every person could create their own safe haven of favorite videos. That would bring the world together so much more if we could communicate to all four corners of the Globe. The only downside prior to reading your article was that I found out that Google is buying nearly all the major Internet Companies i.e. YouTube, Amazon, TiVo, etc., by watching a video left in the links on your article. This reminded me of World War One because the major cause of WW1 was the craving for expansion, known as imperialism. We are just now reading books on where imperialism comes into play in WW1 in our text books. Google is almost becoming the Germany of the Web so to speak. Could this lead to major problems involving Google and the Internet? It’s almost hard to admit but I can understand how Google’s company is feeling, once you gain power you almost become insane with power and take use of it. I know how this feels because I used to fight my way into getting the best of toys when I was younger when I was with my friends. Once I got them I would trade until I had the most glorifying toys and the others had the worst toys. After all of these thoughts and re-reading your article for the fourth time I can see how you don’t know where the future may go at all. There are so many setbacks that are taking place and will continue to take place that there is no definite answer for where the world in the internet will be in 5,10 or even 15 years.

  29. AlexB2015 - Just to clarify, while Google did acquire YouTube, it hasn't purchased Amazon or Tivo (yet). That doesn't negate the very real concern that some people have that Google may be too powerful in our lives.

  30. Mr Fisch
    Can you provide alternate links for

    Digital kids. Analog schools. [short list of quotes compiled by Scott McLeod]
    Thought Sparkers [longer list of quotes compiled by Scott McLeod]

    1. Scott could only find one of them -

  31. I've been waiting over 13 years for this blog post! :)