Literacy and Numeracy

Envisioning Future Education: 6 Exciting Predictions

From the minds of the greatest educators of the world. 

“Meet George Jetson!” My childhood Saturday mornings were spent imagining what the world would be like many years from then. Cities in the sky, automated rituals, robots working for us—it was the stuff of wonder. Countless humans have tried to predict what the future will be like.

Some predictions have come true. Look at smartphones, web conferencing, and holograms, just to scratch the surface. As we move forward, the “roads less traveled” will become well traveled. Shortcuts will be discovered, and more efficient and comprehensive “vehicles” will take us there.

We are, or have been, on the edge of a new horizon of the future.

As the world changes and national walls disintegrate, so does the way we retain and use information. 

Technology has a profound impact on present and future education, as revelations in scientific truth govern advancement in curriculum.

Knowledge of inner brain workings and rethinking teacher/learner relationships will (and currently is) changing the face of education. So can we imagine what future education will be like in, say, the year 2030? Well, some people already have.

Future Education: They Said What?

In 2007, The Millennium Project put together a survey of top educators (213 of them) using the Real-time Delphi Method. In the survey, a list of predictions for future education in the year 2030 was presented. The participants were asked to rank and elaborate upon their predictions. They were also allowed suggestions for additional predictions.

The following 6 future education predictions scored 70% or above as most likely to be widespread in the year 2030.

1. Web 17.0

"We are likely to leapfrog to Web 17.0 much sooner than solving much more radical problems or meeting much more crucial challenges." (quoted from Millennium Project report)

Currently, we're now in the age of Web 2.0., but imagine Web 17.0. To give you an idea, key components of Web 2.0 are:

  • Folksonomy (free public classification of information such as tagging)
  • Rich User Experience (responsive to user/dynamic content)
  • User Participation (reviewing, commenting)
  • Software as a service (automation of services)
  • Mass Participation (universal web access allows the web medium to change and grow as needed)

Can you imagine what kinds of capabilities the Web will have in iteration 17? The folks at Onward, Internet are daring to imagine. They've invited input from the online world community. Also, check out their YouTube channel—you can learn how to contribute to their “suggestion box” for improving the Internet.

2. Integrated Life-Long Learning Systems

Learning will not just be for K–12 and college.

According to the Millennium Project report, education will be tailored to users "across all age groups from pre-natal programs to programs for the elderly that provide knowledge, work, and leisure enjoyment."

This is because more people will have access to free public WiFi. That means information will be at everyone’s fingertips, no matter what their age.

3. Chemistry for Brain Enhancement

"More persons have realized that drugs and productions of health care can improve memory, increase attention span, etc. Progresses of science and technology would accelerate to come out more powerful drugs." (quoted from  the Millennium Project report)

We are discovering new things about how the brain works constantly. As such, the desire for advancing brain activity and alertness will drive the business of brain-enhancing drugs.

4. Just-in-Time Knowledge and Learning

"Just in time learning systems deliver training to workers when and where they need it. Rather than sitting through hours of traditional classroom training, users can tap into Web-based tutorials, interactive CD-ROMs and other tools to zero in on just the information they need to solve problems, perform specific tasks or quickly update their skills."

The above quote is from Monica Sambataro's article Just-In-Time Learning, featured on Computerworld. What she talks about here is already happening in a sense with flipped learning. Students view their pre-recorded lectures on their devices when they want to. They learn on their own time, and can also review at their leisure to reinforce whatever is necessary.

Having done the lecture portion outside the class, they come to the actual class ready to engage in higher-order thinking. E-learning also does this in that lessons are prerecorded, selected, and tailored for your needs.

5. Use of Public Communications for Pursuit of Knowledge

"In 2030, social marketing of learning concepts or memes is widespread. Some of the themes have been: Intelligence is Sexy; Knowledge is Cool; Knowledge Matters; and Ignorance Equals Poverty." (quoted from Millennium Project report)

Memes, life hacks, and Top 10 lists are just a few trends that seem to be catching learners’ web-clicks. When people want to know the best way to fold socks, they’ll turn to YouTube for a video.

6. Use of Simulations

"As the lines between games and learning grow thinner, this may emerge in industry in next generation 'Second Life'-type solutions…Facebook and MySpace will morph into avatar-based 3D synthetic worlds like Second Life but much more advanced." (quoted from Millennium Project report)

In the early days of Flight Simulator, I remember it being a breakthrough. Simulations are now used daily in military training, and most are unbelievably lifelike. They can also be used to provide a fertile learning environment for students.

The use of simulated activities in education is becoming recognized as an important tool in schools. According to the CreativeTeachingSite, educational simulations offer several benefits:

  • Simulations are often cheaper to create than their real-life counterparts. Installing flight simulation software is cheaper than buying a practice jet for each school.
  • They are easier to construct.
  • Simulations remove the element of danger from the situation. For example, you can "interact" with a Bengal tiger in a simulation quite safely.
  • Simulations can be paused, whereas real life cannot. Pausing allows more time for students to assess what's going on.

Other suggestions envisioned by the surveyees included:

  • Emphasis on teaching morals and wisdom as digital citizenship becomes imperative to ensure users safety.
  • How to learn becomes more important than what to learn. The process of knowledge and skill acquisition becomes more widely recognized as art.
  • Rational scientific thinking replaces religion.
  • Virtual reality brings simulation to the next level.
  • Learning is incorporated into entertainment media more prevalently.
  • Brain imaging results in learning breakthroughs.
  • Universal translators make global communication easier between learners and teachers.
  • Social simulations influence politics.
  • Global warming and population congestion prompt more telecommuting.
  • Teacher/student relationships rely more on cooperation.
  • Home education becomes the norm.

Our imaginations can run wild when it comes to future education. Our outlook on it is heavily influenced by science fiction books and movies. How close to reality is the image of bubble-shaped classrooms in the sky, and air cars transporting students to and from class? Who knows?

Regardless, one thing will not change: the drive to make more efficient and more comprehensive education for the betterment of society.