In 2050 children will live in a world with no separation between the virtual and physical life. They will be empowered by 21st century technologies, which have been deeply integrated into teaching. Learning will likewise be integrated into their daily lives and will take place in many places – not only in class rooms directed by teachers.
On top of traditional teaching methods – pupils will interact with their study topics. They will interview Napoleon Bonaparte, they will travel virtually on earth and in the galaxy, while studying history, geography and astronomy. Pupils will also learn many languages, including coding in order to be able to understand and work with the technology around them. Curricula will be more flexible. The focus will shift from memorising learning materials to critical thinking and analysis. If you need information, then you can search for it.
The wide range of educational innovations and experiments occurring today, many of them linked to the new physical technologies now becoming widely available, will shape this future. New technical platforms (augmented reality, pervasive mobile computing, adaptive learning platforms, and gamification) and new approaches to teaching (place-based learning, connected learning, and blended learning) will all contribute to this significant transformation in learning.
Across the US 43% of school district administrators now offer online courses for their students, according to the 2013 Trends in Online Learning report. Among those educators experimenting with new models of teaching, 60% of those in flipped learning classes think that online learning generates more motivation students than traditional settings. Among the parents of today’s youth, 89% want their children in classes that incorporate mobile devices in some fashion. As the Millennial generation matures and comes to make up a greater percentage of the parenting population, this expectation and demand is likely to increase.
In 2050 life-long learning will be central and the boundaries between school, university and work will be blurred. Higher education will be to a big extent delivered online and new ways of reaching learners will constantly appear. Also, more people will be reached as learning places are accessible to all.
The roles of current universities and academics will have changed. Students will not necessarily be geographically close to their centre of teaching. Traditional, physical lectures and tutoring will still happen, but will to a large extent take place online. Professors will also specialise. Those who are brilliant in presentations will deliver lectures, others specialise in research or curriculum design.
Thanks to the advances in technology and change in society, education will be accessible to everyone all throughout their lives. Working and studying will happen in parallel and at many different stages of a person's life.
The growth in online learning options has been rapid and pronounced. According to a 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning almost 2/3 of for-profit educational institutions in the United States say that online learning options are very important to their long term strategies. Additionally, the growth rate for online student enrollments in 2010 was 21%, and The Sloan Consortium report Changing Course shows that 32% of higher education students were taking at least one online course as of 2011, up from 11.7% in 2003.
The expected continued growth in mobile access to information will further enable and speed these developments. According to Google’s report Digital & the New College Experience, 74% of college students now own smartphones and 42% own a tablet or e-reader. Some 86% of college students now supplement their campus-based physical courses with free online resources.
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The results of all brainstormings that took place at the "Ground-breaking Policies for Future Societies" workshop, including this very vision, can be found here.