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Blurring boundaries in the future of education

The education landscape will be very different in 2050 compared with what we see now. In fact, it will be characterized by a “blurring of boundaries” between:

  • Levels of education (i.e. high school and university), particularly if we are to move to a culture of life-long learning (because not everyone peaks at the age of 18 years old and one dose of higher education will not suffice).
  • Higher education and industry, whereby the latter will be much more involved in contributing to training (i.e. education) and collaborating in the research space.
  • Geographies, with the increase of globally delivered education and accreditation. More specifically, there will be a breakdown of the mandate which universities currently have over offering credentials as accreditation is moved to a global register. The rise of MOOCs and the influence of industry will contribute to this breakdown.
  • Education spaces, as online learning will become the main mode of delivery for courses through which people will acquire accreditation, there will only be some face-to-face interaction between students and the academics/teachers.  
  • Teacher and Student, all will be the same; with inter-changing roles, depending on the subject, it will be difficult to differentiate between a student and a teacher.

As a result of the blurring effect, academics will witness a change in their role, which will become radically disaggregated compared with what it is now. Today’s professors are expected to contribute to research, education and to the overall university community. In the future, the role of the academic will be broken down into specializations: "star" academics will be the presenters recorded for broadcasting of lectures. There will then be others focusing solely on research activities. Finally, there will be the curriculum designers, combined with others who will be responsible for translating the syllabi into formats suitable for the online learning environment.

Challenges: 
  • Continuing to ensure that quality education is delivered;
  • Ensuring new education platforms are accessible to the less advantaged;
  • Monitoring student progress and achievements remotely, including issues of integrity, in view of awarding the final accreditation;
  • Managing different languages for the delivery of education and ensuring that local languages are not completely over-shadowed by English;
  • Needing to ensure that there is a balance between the virtual exchanges and the human ones – skills like team work and personal relationships still need to be fostered; &
  • Controlling the global validation of credentials. 
Opportunities: 
  • Greater opportunities for international experiences and exchanges for students (engagement with a much wider community of learners through the online space);
  • Greater synergy between industry and education may result in better employment pathways for graduates;
  • Facilitated access to proof of accreditation for employers during the hiring process;
  • Potential for better quality of education, due to the specialisation of those delivering it (i.e. more time and expertise devoted to each element by single specialists).
  • Multiple channels to gain knowledge and build skill-sets.
Timeframe: 
2050
Desirability: 

Likelihood: 

Curators: 

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