Peering into the Future: What will learning look like in 100 years?

Peering into the Future: What will learning look like in 100 years?

Posted in Blog on 12 May 2016

There’s a lot of conversation going on about how we need to improve the education system. We hear technology and techniques being discussed and dissected every day.

If the ultimate objective is to educate every learner, then what we really need is to find the right combination of systems that will enable each student to realize their potential.

In his article, 4 Ways the Future of Learning Is Changing, Dr. Randy Swearer explores ways in which the systems need to change to incorporate what a future society will need from its workforce. He believes that in the next 10 years, the shape of universities will change dramatically as the students will begin to learn virtually and collaboratively—anytime and anywhere.


A Journey Called Learning

Today, at Stanford University Biophysics Professor Steven Block expects his freshman students to learn to think like scientists. By shaping his class to meet the final objective – creating scientists – he has replicated a professional environment which the students need to learn to work with, in order to complete the class successfully.

It is this new approach to learning that makes the future of education so exciting. Every student’s education will become an exploration or a journey towards a career. In fact the term, ‘journeyman’ was used in this very context to define an individual who is fully educated in a trade or craft, but not yet a master.


Towards a Utopian Education System

So what if every teacher had only one student? Like the Royal Tutor or apprenticeship of yore? Imagine how personalized that kind of learning would be.

The educator would constantly be evaluating which subjects their student needed to improve on while researching new lessons to be taught in order to extend that learners progress into a viable career option. The educator would also take into account the aptitude of the student and interest with which some topics were tackled over others.

In an ideal future, students explore various fields till they find their aptitude and then grow in skill till they reach a Master-level of completion.


Can Technology Take Us There?

If we had an unlimited technology capability and unlimited budget, what could we do to bring this ideal learning scenario into play?

Let us imagine a futuristic educational environment scenario:

I’d enter my credentials and start my “life training”. Being interested in martial arts, my interface is currently themed with oriental landscapes while Master Choa ceremonially informs me that I have 10 exercises to complete today. But this theme could be changed to any game environment I choose – sports coach and team, guru in the Himalayan foothills, or even a buddy mentor in a post-apocalyptic world.

As I begin my exercises, the game senses I’m not “performing” as well as I’m expected, triggering Master Choa to intercede with a quick revision of the basics I’ve forgotten. After that it is smooth sailing till the 8th lesson where again, I receive an impromptu lesson to help me understand better.

10 lessons are completed and my teacher shows me my progress, and together we review how much I’ve achieved and new areas he recommends I explore.

Before I retire in the evening, Master Choa reminds me to do a few follow up exercises on my personal device (which I know will be from lessons 2 and 8 to ensure I don’t forget them again.)


Hybrid Learning Technologies


Hybrid Learning Technologies
By focusing on the ideal learning environment for every student, the future looks like a combination of online learning, with a gaming interface, controlled by an adaptive learning program with blended learning support. And in order to continue to evaluate and evolve itself to meet the student’s growth and progress, a level of AI technology would be involved.

And while the scenario is still far in the future, we are already beginning to see tiny glimpses into how this may work with new and exciting educational games that are trying to make learning all the more exciting and effective.

Imagine more sophisticated systems that could incorporate virtual reality and augmented technologies to take learning beyond your brain – teaching you to skate, row, climb. You could potentially carry it anywhere; the education program would be personal and small enough to be portable.


On the Path to Personalized Learning

The underlying point is that in the future education will revolve around what each child needs, not what the systems deems fit for all.

Sandy Speicher, in her article The Future of Learning, predicts seven fundamental changes in design for education, including personalized learning, teacher training, smart evaluation, and the reintegration of sports and arts with academics.

Her belief is that learning must center on each child’s needs. While she believes the terms blended, personalized or individualized learning will continue to evolve, what matters is that the focus is on the individual’s learning journey.

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