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The New Learners
Book Review: 'Society 3.0 How technology is reshaping education, work and society' by Tracey Wilen-Daugenti

By Laura Layton-James / November 2013

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In Society 3.0 Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, explores the changes in social trends over the past 50 years or so, which inevitably includes advances in technology. These changes have and will continue to influence how higher education institutions and the workplace cater to future populations. Included are references supported by studies and statistical data.

Wilen-Daugenti begins by reporting on changes to the traditional family structure. No longer does it consist of the husband as sole breadwinner and the stay-at-home wife rearing two or more biological children. Today we are witnessing significant demographic shifts and attitudinal changes toward marriage. This restructuring of the family unit—rising divorce rates and attitudes toward women in society and the workforce—is influencing changes in higher education in the United States. Universities have evolved to cater to the non-traditional student. "The majority of today's undergraduates are non-traditional students, who comprise a heterogeneous mix of working individuals, parents, stop-outs, veterans, the economically disenfranchised, and those who are financially independent from their parents," explains Wilen-Daugenti. To cater to such a diverse audience, a more flexible learning structure is required.

The book investigates work trends today compared with that of the 1950s, as well as the role of women in the workplace. The author explores the development of the global market and its effect, together with the ubiquitous use of technology in society and what impact this has had on workforce skills. The statistical information highlights the need for small businesses and individuals to be able to compete in an increasingly tech-savvy global marketplace.

Wilen-Daugenti provides valuable insight into the emerging trends in technology, which she describes as "indispensable to modern life" and "constantly changing." But, it is mobile technology that is her focus. She writes, "It is in mobile technology—both in hardware and the uses we find for it—where the biggest transformations have occurred." She shares the following data about mobile technology:

  • 70 percent of the world's population has a mobile phone.
  • 9 in 10 people in the US own a mobile phone.
  • 45 percent of all workers do some/all work at home or on mobile devices.
  • 80 percent of small businesses rely on mobility at some point.
  • Remote working in the U.S. increased by 63 percent between 2004 and 2006.

It is likely to be no surprise to readers that the use of email and mobile phones has altered the way we work and communicate, according to Wilen-Daugenti. Perhaps the biggest impact mobile technology has is on student collaboration and study. Wilen-Daugenti writes, "student use of mobile devices on college campuses has exploded in recent years," although only a small percentage of the institutions themselves have a mobile presence. It is becoming increasingly important for higher education establishments to put strategies in place to offer better mobile supported curricula and for tutors to accept mobile devices rather than consider them distractors.

Society 3.0 also touches on the use of technology for collaboration and social communication. Wilen-Daugenti highlights the influence video conferencing, telepresence, and social networking is having in the workplace and education. With the increased use of social technologies come security and privacy issues. She further elaborates, "although young internet users freely share information online, they are also far more active than older users in curating this information" And that young users are more likely to change their privacy settings than older users and trust websites even less. This seems to infer that those growing up with such technologies use them more effectively and more easily to critically appraise content.

Chapter 7 explores 3-D, virtual reality, augmented reality, immersion, gaming, and robotics. Such technologies have become important in providing safe and realistic environments for users to experience what may be dangerous activities in real life. For example, Wilen-Daugenti reports how virtual reality is implemented in the U.S. military where hands-on training would be too costly when using real equipment.

Throughout the book, we read reports evidencing significant changes that have taken place as a result of advances in technology. The concluding chapters further explore the implications for higher education and other learning environments. Wilen-Daugenti wraps up Society 3.0 by stressing the importance of providing individuals with a flexible learning environment where "physical barriers to learning and research no longer exist," whether this is in the workplace or in education. The reader is led to conclude if educational establishments are going to be able to prepare students for the future, they will need to change the learning infrastructure.

Although the book concentrates on U.S. statistical information, those of us who live, work, and learn outside of North America will see many similarities that will help us prepare our future workforce and, perhaps, provide valuable ammunition should you need to persuade stakeholders that change is vital for success. Technology is, after all, a global epidemic.

About the Author

Laura Layton-James is a full time Learning Consultant with in the UK. She works with many large organizations in the UK helping them develop and deliver effective learning solutions in the traditional classroom and online. She specializes in blended learning and eLearning, helping people adapt and enhance their classroom skills to effectively deliver in an online environment. Laura blogs at Purple Learning and can be found on Twitter as @purplelearning.

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