The future of learning

What is the future of education? With the upsurge in ownership of smart mobile devices such as iPhones, Androids and Blackberries, the rapid social penetration of touchscreen computers such as iPads, and an increase in the purchase of Kindles and other e-reader devices, the future of learning is definitely smart mobile. 80 per cent or so of the learning that most of us engage in is of an informal nature. Informal learning is becoming an increasingly enriched experience with personal tools, and there is improved connectivity too, ensuring that anyone who has a mobile smart device is more likely to be able to connect to the Internet quickly and seamlessly. Social networking sites and online media sharing sites are also enjoying exponential increases in membership, leading to the supposition that this generation is a profoundly connected generation. Students will use Facebook when they want to, and their institutional managed learning environment when they have to.

It is clear that education will not share the same future as the state funded school, because education and school are not synonymous. It doesn't end at school either. Those who pursue formal learning to the level of further and higher education will experience a growing gulf between the capabilities of the technology they arrive with in their hands, and technology that is provided in the classroom. They are different tools, for different purposes. The Blackberry or iPhone will be used to connect to informal learning and friends, for fun, entertainment and social purposes. The institutional system will be used for connecting to formal learning, and activities that are more formalised and by their nature, less entertaining and engaging. The personal technologies will be sleek, attractive, must-have, rapid action and intuitive devices, while the institutional systems will be rule-bound, clunky, opaque and bland. It follows that many students will prefer to access learning resources, their tutors and peers through their own personal technologies. We will thus witness a gradual decline in on-campus learning, with an increasing number of blended programmes made available to meet the demand of an increasingly mobile student population. Because students will increasingly rely on smart mobile tools for learning, FE and HE institutions may agree special arrangements with telecommunications companies to offset the call cost for students, as a trade off to the money the save by reducing their on-campus operations.


The blended learning courses of the future will be those that combine formal and informal learning features. Formal learning will be undertaken mainly for the purpose of gaining accreditation, informal learning will be engaged with for the remainder of the waking hours. Unless we can harness the power, excitement and richness of the informal personalised learning experience and translate it into formalised settings, we will continue to see a widening rift between school and education. The slideshow above - a part of the keynote speech I gave at LearnTEC in Karlsruhe, Germany, earlier this month - illustrates these and other thoughts about what we might see in the future of learning.

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The future of learning by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Comments

mvallance1234 said…
re. The personal technologies will be sleek, attractive, must-have, rapid action and intuitive devices, while the institutional systems will be rule-bound, clunky, opaque and bland.
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Spot on! The academic staff on our university ICT committee recommended iPads for our new students. The admin. staff balked and suggested PC laptops.
Winners = bureaucrats.
Losers = students.
Looking at photos of students from 10 years ago, the recommended technology here has not changed. Depressing!
mvallance1234 said…
Tradition is a ball and chain around the ankle of progress :-(
Obraz said…
Dear Steeve! Please tell us what the term''information''and''knowledge''in your scheme? What's the difference? Give examples.
Obraz said…
Dear Steeve! Please tell us what the term''information''and''knowledge''in your scheme? What's the difference? Give examples.
shaun said…
Whilst I agree that all resources which support and stimulate a personal learning experience, the real challenge for educators will be in formalising the learning, as you indicate at the end of the article. Without clearly defined and measured outcomes, participants will often not gain one of the main benefits of education, ie: being able to demonstrate the outcomes in the pursuit of such activities as finding jobs.

Also, I agree that the continued development in resources is inevitable, as is the likely gulf between the resources commonly used by learners at home and those provided and used by the learning institutes.

I would also point out that keeping up with the resource revolution will present even greater challenges in state education and schools.

Many primary schools still lack sufficient access to such basic resources, as computers to meet their needs.

As such, with the possible reliance on resources in future, the rift is also likely to increase between the "haves" and the "have nots" - with poorer members of the community having less access to the personalised learning offered by such tools.
Nik Peachey said…
Hi Steve

I can't quite see the source of the quote about 80% of learning being informal. Could you let me know where that came from?

I'm also interested in your definition of Web 3.0 as being linked to the semantic web. I personally think it will go further than that and will also involve augmented reality and location specific learning enabled through mobile devices.I've written a little about this here: Augmented Reality and Web 3.0

http://www.deltapublishing.co.uk/uncategorized/augmented-reality-and-web-3-0

I'd be interested to hear what you think.

Best

Nik Peachey
Steve Wheeler said…
Nick - It's Cofer, D. (2000) Informal Workplace Learning. You can see similar statistics in Jay Cross's book on informal learning too.

On Web 3.0 - I have similar views to you, but perhaps they didn't come across in a slideshow very clearly - see my previous post on e-learning 3.0 for further elaboration.
Richard said…
I like Ivan Illich, he was a real visionary which is pouring into the minds of today - who would ever have thought of reading about youtube in a book from the 1970s :)

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