Yesterday, the Institute For The Future held an event that focused on some work they’d done for the Knowledge Works foundation last year, looking 10 years out on Forces Affecting Education. They mapped 6 “Drivers of Change” (grassroots economics, smart networking, strong opinions strongly held, sick herd, urban wilderness, and the end of cyberspace) across 5 categories (family & community, markets, institutions, educators & learning, and tools & practices). I won’t define them, because you can look at the map yourself. A small group of us representing educators, learning technologists, learning foundation folks, learners, and parents, all concerned and informed, reacted as part of their ongoing research.
Some of the premises were an embarrassment of riches in resources and changes in the market dynamics, and there were some interesting juxtapositions. For instance, there were potentials for both coming together and increasing divisiveness. The ability to view different opinions is broader, but so is the ability to find people of like views and form a hermetic group. A related concern is one that’s been appearing in the Serious Games discussion list, about how to strike a balance between a Second Life and a first life. Some may be happier in an alternate persona, and others completely reject it.
Another issue was learning to learn (not only by me :). That is, given this breadth of channels, how does one learn effectively? We talked about where the locus of that responsibility, and I suggested that’s the new role of schools. A concomitant concern is how to make these resources accessible in a manageable way. One point made was about the differences between textual literacy and new literacies around interactive worlds. Are they equivalent?
Similarly, we touched on curriculum and pedagogy: what should we teach, and how should we teach it? We didn’t get to service learning (which I picked up on from another’s scribbling), but I think there’s a lot to say for that approach as a pedagogical approach which integrates assisting community, building skills in an integrated and useful way, and allowing values to emerge (back to wisdom).
I pointed out as a side note that everyone’s view of context-sensitivity has to do with location, but we’re ignoring time as an alternate opportunity, it’s not only where you are, but what you’re doing there. If you’re at a school for classes versus a sporting event, you might want different information. If you’re in an important meeting, it might not matter where it is so much as this is one that is about negotiation and you could use some support.
I don’t think there’s an easy answer to one of the underlying questions: we know we need change, but where is it going to come from? It’s coming in lots of small ways, but the ‘school’ is so institutionalized not only in law but in culture that it’s almost impossible to replace, yet it’s also remarkably resistant to change. So can it happen incrementally, or will it have to be cataclysmic?
Overall, there’s some great fodder for thought in the map, and opportunities to discuss it as well. What do you think is in the future of learning?