3 Ways Learning Will Change

This is my periodic visit to the the question: What will learning look like in the future.

We will continue to see big changes in both learners and learning environments.  The key driver, The Digital Revolution.  With omnipresent internet access in most countries, learners people across the world have access to a near infinite amount of free learning materials.

As a result of this Digital Revolution learning is becoming more learner-centric, and educators are benefiting from improved working conditions and career opportunities.

With innovation and technology becoming an increasingly integral part of the overall learning experience, what can we predict for the future of the classroom?

1. Students will interact in more diverse and global ways.

In the fast-paced face of change, the question many learners are asking is: Why do so many classrooms look practically identical to those of thirty years ago?

Joe Williams, Executive Director of Democrats for Education Reform says: “With some exciting exceptions, public schools are one of the few institutions in modern life that have not seen radical changes spurred by technology.

“I’m not talking about having computers in classrooms, but rather a lack of any seismic shift in the way things are done because technology is making the work easier or more efficient.”

Williams predicts that technology in education will continue to push towards individualised instruction for students, and Hadley Ferguson, Director of the Edcamp Foundation, agrees. She says learners can “reach out beyond the walls of their classrooms to interact with other students, other teachers, and renowned authors, scientists and experts to enhance their learning.”

Some of these digitally-competent learners may go on to become teachers themselves, continuing to utilise, enhance and build upon their community of online learning.

2.  People will start to think differently about the value of a Degree.

As I talk to people it is becoming clear that a “Degree” is losing its preeminence as the driver of learning.

Jake Schwartz, CEO and Cofounder of General Assembly, claims that the pressure to keep tuition fees low, paired with an increasing population living with crippling debt, threatens the sustainability of institutions that are dependent on tuition.

“This will help to force an innovation drive with an unbundling of degree offerings,” he says. “The sector will see a shift towards more relevant competency-based programs and aggressive competition for students.”

The ever-expanding gap between education and employment will force innovation and creativity upon HE institutions, as they will need to consider how to offer attractive training to students for a workforce that desperately needs them.

Shannnon May, Cofounder of Bridge International Academies, agrees: “Today, diplomas granted by years in school are the dominant certification of ‘learning’. Yet, in almost all cases, these diplomas certify nothing other than the fact that the person in question spent x years in school.

“Competency-based certifications testing specific skills, and bundling individual skills into professional groupings will become a global currency for both employers and job seekers.”

3. Learning will continue to gradually globalise.

Many predict that while their shares of the global student market may continue to decrease, the demand for qualifications from the main higher education exporting nations will remain steady. If this is to be the case, many wonder why so many institutions from these countries are slipping in the World University Rankings, but the fact that more and more universities in regions such as Asia are making their way into the World’s Top 200 does not mean the others are getting worse, but rather that institutions, globally, are gradually getting better.

By the year 2100, more than 50 per cent of the world’s population will live in India, China or Africa. “Global policy leadership and sales of education goods and services will be shaped less by issues and needs in the U.S, and more by the issues and needs of Africa, South Asia, and China,” May says, “Market demand, and pressing policy issues related to urbanisation and population growth, will shift the centre of gravity of education provision.”

There are two reasons why the international growth in student mobility will not maintain pace with the worldwide demand for higher education: the increase of domestic HE capacity in some countries, and the increase of transnational education (TNE) in others- including online education. The provision of TNE is likely to grow much faster than the rate of student mobility.

Jake Schwartz concludes, “For schools of all types, content or curriculum will not be the core differentiator, but rather they will be judged on how well they coordinate complex offerings into a useful package for their students and graduates.”