A series of recent activities, events and discussions have seen me imagining a range of future education scenarios. So, this post is an attempt to write up a few possible scenarios. What could education look like in the future?
I have always been a large advocate of listening to what teachers have to say about education. I much prefer to read books by teachers or those who are working closely in/with schools over those who have lots to say but lack the authenticity of recent work on school grounds. The same with blogs – I’m a big ol’ nerd, who loves to read blogs of what teachers are thinking about and doing in their classrooms.
Teachers, though, have a very vested interest in the future of schools. Will those of us whose jobs depend on the system staying fairly much the same way it is now, really investigate all possible options for the system could shift? Teachers on the inside of the education system can create change but essentially this change can only result in optimizing the current system.
Our current education system was set up for a very different society than exists now though. Does this mean that we need external people to transform our education system?
This external disruption could take a variety of forms.
A well known disruption is Netflix. Anyone been to a Video store lately? Instead of choosing what you want to watch, you would be choosing what you want to learn next. A Netflix style disruption to education would see a collection of educational standards and units in the cloud. Choose which one you want next and receive the course material to learn that, this could take place through online or in a school. In fact, this one is entirely possible in the near future as National Standards in NZ or the Common Core in the US meet the “flipped classroom”. It’s definitely a scenario that many edtech companies seem to be working towards already.
Another obvious disruption model to think about is Uber. It has certainly disrupted the taxi market. An Uber style disruption is really about putting the power in the hand of the consumer. They know their current position and where they want to go. So for education, this could look like people entering the skills/knowledge they have and what they want to learn next into a platform. This then pairs them up with someone to help them get there. This could be like an apprenticeship or you may be directed to a class happening at a school. It might be a study group or hackerspace that helps you learn that specific thing. When you are ready to move on, you enter the info again and off you go.
What if the disruption comes in the form of a climate shift?
A dystopian future may see the benefits of technology unable to be utilised, what then? Perhaps a return to more of the personal, local community, Vygotsky theory education. Learning what is necessary for your community to survive/thrive. Gaining knowledge and skills as needed, from those who live close by and can help you to learn. Perhaps this is the most disruptive of all? As it could redefine what knowledge is actually worth having.
And maybe this is where any disruption of the education system needs to begin. What knowledge and skills are worth having? If we had a deeper understanding of this question across our society, then maybe any disruption will be for transformational good, rather than just individual satisfaction or profit.
p.s Along dystopian future lines, I also can’t help picturing Ready Player One style education through Virtual Reality – maybe because I just want to try out the OASIS myself!