The future of learning is already here

Nieuws | de redactie
22 mei 2014 | “The future of education is all around us, we just have to uncover the best practices and make them happen,” said Larry Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium at the eLearning conference of Inholland University of Applied Sciences. “However, I worry that our strategic thinking is based on a world that no longer exists.”

“William Gibson, the writer of the dystopian novel ‘Neuromancer’ and the inventor of the word ‘Cyberspace’ was asked a few years after the publication of the book in 1984, ‘What do you think the future is all about?’ He answered: ‘The future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed’. That is the reality behind the future of education, it is all around us, we just have to uncover the best practices and make them happen,” Johnson inspired his transatlantic colleagues of Inholland University of Applied Sciences at the conference ‘IT and Education Now’ of the eLearning department.

Europe as the world’s learning laboratory

“When we were writing the Horizon report that focusses on the influence of upcoming technologies on education around the globe, we discovered that Europe is the world’s learning laboratory. The different educational experiments and the large scale of thinking set Europe apart from the rest of the world.”

“In the Horizon report educational trends are grouped in three different categories based on the speed in which the educational trend moves. A good example are MOOCs, they came on like a freight train. Other trends like data driven learning move more like a glacier, slow but unstoppable.”

Johnson also distinguishes three different kinds of educational challenges: the solvable ones, the difficult and the wicked. “The solvable challenges we understand and we know how to solve them. The question is however, why don’t we do it already? A good example is the integration of ICT into teacher education. One could also think about the low digital competence of students: they aren’t all digital natives. That you know how to turn on a radio doesn’t mean you can build one.”

“The most important difficult challenges – challenges we understand but don’t know how to solve – are how to make learning authentic and how to blend formal and informal learning effectively.  On top of that there are wicked educational challenges we neither understand nor know how to solve, for example understanding complex thinking and communication or co-designing learning with students.”

Developments that make your head spin

Like the popular saying states: ‘predictions are very difficult, especially about the future’. “When you do this kind of work while constantly looking at everything that is going on, it makes my head spin. The impact of Moore’s Law on society and education is enormous, next year it will be fifty years since the paper was published. Computers have come from far and where will it take us the next 50 years? I don’t dare to predict.”

“What does it mean for us educators? The mission of the university hasn’t changed much since the first universities were established more than a thousand years ago. Universities were institution to conserve, create and pass on knowledge, so that academics always stood on the shoulders of the generations before them.”

The world has changed a lot since then. “The way things look are often not the entire story, there is often more below the surface. And I worry that our strategic thinking about the university and education is based on a world that no longer exists.”

“Modern children think that global interconnectivity is the norm, a completely different world I grew up in. That is the world we live in, and that is why we can’t fall back on our experiences. The question is will be developing courses and universities for people that are connected with the entire world or for fictitious students that live in the world of our parents when the radio was still high-tech?”


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