Well here we are… At the end of another course for another term. I have to say this one was a lot of work but I think I survived but we shall see when the grades come out.
This weeks Blog post is supposed to answer the question, “What will future learning environments look like?” and my short answer is… I haven’t the foggiest.
Actually that is not true, there is one thing I can be certain of. Learning environments of tomorrow won’t look anything like the learning environments of today.
There you have it, the sum of my collective wisdom but I suppose my prof might like a little more insight so I guess I have to give a long answer.
I think it is safe to say that future learning environments will be a lot messier than they are today. For better or worse, the regimented, orderly Victorian school model we were all brought up in is quickly going the way of the Dodo. The extinction of this 300 year old educational paradigm has caused a great deal of distress for many and for good reason. This is what we know, this is what has worked for 300 years and this is what brought us to this point in history. Why throw it out?
People genuinely feel that we are on the brink of a change that may lead the world to ruin and they may be right or they may be wrong. That is the thing with change, you can never predict the result with 100% accuracy. So where are we headed?
I think the biggest and most immediate changes will being at the top and move their way down to the lower grades and much of this will be driven by the economy not technology. We are already seeing kids question why they should bother going to University if becoming gainfully employed once they are done is a crapshoot at best. A university education is no longer a ticket to a prosperous existence. As a result, young adults are starting to assess their education needs rather than blindly heading to University because that is “just what you do.” The result of this is that the one size fits all on masse education system is crumbling from the top down.
Young adults are now faced with either going through the motions of a traditional university education or doing something that allows them to become gainfully employed without acquiring a mass of educational debt. It is here where you can begin to see the engine behind the personalized learning movement.
If a young adult can become educated in a field that interests them and provides them with gainful employment without 4, 5, 6+ years of university education, then why wouldn’t they take that opportunity? If we can start a young adult down that road when they are 16 and have them become a useful tax paying citizen before they are middle-aged, why wouldn’t we?
It doesn’t take much to see how starting from the top and working our way down the grades, personalized purpose driven education can begin to take hold. The problem is, how deep do we go? Don’t we need a common education by which we can build our society around? If we allow our children to specialize too soon, doesn’t that deprive our children from educational opportunities down the line as they get older?
These are good question that need to be considered but in the same breath, having our population of young adults warehoused indefinitely in post secondary institutions just because “that is the way it has always been done”, isn’t very good for them or society either.
In a world where university dropouts have proven to be just as capable of success as the long tortured university graduate, you begin to wonder if encouraging kids to go through the motions of a lengthy prescribed education program is really the best thing for everyone?
Don’t get me wrong… Education is good. Your odds of living a happy, healthy, productive life still go up if you attend a Post Secondary program but is there a better way?
So back to the original question. What will future learning environments look like? With the aforementioned in mind, here are my predictions.
- Learning will become ever more connected and dependent on the internet.
- If schools don’t deliver the curriculum they desire, students will develop their ares of interest outside of the school setting.
- If skills learned outside of the school setting begin to be recognized by employers as valuable and relevant we will begin to see an increase in High School Drop out and a decline in Post Secondary attendance.
- Organizations like Degreed will continue to recognize and give credence to work and learning done outside of the formal setting.
- In the digital world, programs like Mozilla Badges and Google’s Certification will continue to grow and allow learners to showcase their learning and skills outside of the formal educational setting.
- Hands on learning opportunities will become more in demand and traditional lecture style learning will decline significantly.
- Student will have to become more independent and self motivated as teachers stop dragging kids through the curriculum.
- Assessment will become more about show me rather than test me.
- Thousands of students will be left behind in this transition from old school to new school.
- The age of Free Agent Learning will become the order of the day.
For better or worse this is my prediction for the future of learning in the Western World.
There is one factor that may throw a monkey wrench into the who thing, which is probably worth a mention and that is the way we parent our children these days. Today’s parents have this strange compulsive need to engineer their children’s lives and this need for control fly’s in the face of what 21st First Century Learning is all about.
Parents these days won’t let their children be independent, experiment, inquire, free play or god forbid fail. Everything a child does these days has to be a carefully engineered exercise, maximized for optimum learning.
21st Century Learning is about independence and letting go of control over the child. 21 Century Parenting is all about complete control of every aspect of a child’s life. The two are completely incompatible.