Future Creep

What happens when you learn a new skill? Does it become your skill, or does it automatically become a skill of the organisation? Are we aware of future creep? Does future creep generate busy work?

As we learn new skills and methods – or are put in situations where we are exposed to them, there feels like there is some expectation that those skills will be adopted and delivered. I am not talking about professional development, but the fact that we have to be very aware of this future creep. There is only so much you can deal with. I often think that I’d like to get stuck into Unity3D, but in order to really do it, I have to give up other things – things that are not really part of my job, but certainly are a part of my daily life.

According to the blog site 37 Signals, we have to be quite ruthless when it comes to selecting what we take on. They suggest “never implement more than you need to, never plan further than you can see and don’t be afraid of imaginary work.”

I like the idea. Especially when it comes to the often frenzy of Web2.0 applications that are placed in front of in-active technology users. These people are often very aware of their ‘job’ and see what is presented as future-creep, subconsciously ‘churning’ the use of any given new tool or method, favouring existing practices.

Another article worth reading deals with killing busy-work. I hate busy-work with a passion, and Web2.0 generates vast amounts of it – when teachers are unable to grasp the differences between cybergogy and pedagogy.

I like this strategy and it seems to work both ways. Many integrators and educational developers simply cannot ‘do’ all the the things that are creeping into daily life. We are long past a time where students are being offered text documents and reading lists. Supporting novices, no matter how highly qualified in their field – in social networks, virtual worlds, blogs and wikis generates new overheads. Even enabling GoogleDocs as a Gmail roll-out generates future creep and busy work for someone.

Developing strategies, as the ‘go to’ person is a reality if you want to survive. There is attrition that is not often adequately addressed by leaders. I am suspicious when current leaders talk about future leaders – with their new found skills. I don’t see many of those with creative, innovative ideas actually getting into positions where they become leaders. I wonder if the hype and hope makes it easy to co-opt passionate teachers – who often end up in support roles to those who either like the idea, or grandstand the achievement.

  • Why are you asking me?
  • Who else have you asked?
  • When you say this is urgent, what do you mean?
  • If I could only do part of this, what part would it be?
  • What part of this is something that only I could do?
  • What standard do you expect this to be done to?
  • Is this more urgent than X, Y and Z that are currently on my list?
  • Have you checked with [name] about me taking this on?
  • How does this contribute to [Great Work Project]?

These questions, as the article says – are designed to allow you to focus on Great Work, not just Busy Work. There are so many things we could do, it is often really hard to find time for the things we really want to explore. Given that 99% of people exploring educational technology are NOT being paid to do so, or supported – I think that being aware of future creep and establishing some borders is a very sensible idea.

Choosing Good Work, the kind that builds your own personal infrastructure in climates where the is isnt any official training, tinkering time or recognition now – prepares you for the future.

Deciding how much time and energy you want to spend tanking for your system is a personal choice. That role, challenging the status-quo, advocating for new professional standards, is time and energy consuming. It may also be at the expense of students — so be vigilant.