New technology and the future of learning

Below is my invited presentation at the Learning Skills Group Conference in Olympia, London. There were around 450 delegates for this free event, and Don Taylor and his team are to be congratulated on putting together such a great line up of speakers, that also included Craig Taylor, Cathy Moore, Laura Overton, Nic Laycock, Alicia Sanchez and Charles Jennings

My own session, entitled 'New Technology and the Future of Learning' attempted to gaze (tentatively) into the near future, and to ask questions such as 'what will be the new roles of trainers and developers in the next few years?' and 'what new literacies will learners need to capitalise on new technologies?' I started with a personal journey of over 35 years working in learning technology, and made the point that as each new technology is introduced, there always seems to be opposition and objections. I counselled however, that technology for technology sake is often a mistake. 

New tech should only be introduced if there is a good reason - for enrichment, extension or enhancement of learning, when it can't be achieved using existing methods. It's very dangerous to try to predict anything, because we are often wide of the mark. But we can trace the trends and see the strong possibilities. I therefore made several broad brushstroke predictions that the future of learning will be: open, personal; social; mobile; augmented; and visual. I spoke about some of the new and emerging technologies such as augmented reality, magic symbol technology and infographics, as well as some of the already established technologies such as gestural interfaces, social media and smart mobile devices. There was an excellent discussion around the questions posed, and I daresay discussion will continue. Below is the slide show (with some additional annotations), to prompt you to join in with the discussion if you weren't able to personally attend the event.

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


Plurilock said…
Cool presentation Steve.

I noticed a point near the end of your presentation about identity management. Was there any discussion about this point at the event?

I am curious because we have worked with NTT in Japan to develop an innovative authentication application for students at e-learning institutions. The application, called Key Touch Pass, is able to continuously authenticate students during online exams and exercises based on the way they use a keyboard. More information about Key Touch Pass can be found here:


rip said…
I'm really, really impressed. Very good slides, and great statements.
I hope it's okay that I embedded your slide show in a blogpost of mine which I happened to write about almost the same topic, it's here: "The Future of Learning".
If you'd prefer me to remove it, just tell me. I'm @vilsrip on Twitter.
kumudrao said…
Excellent slide show. Including AR (Augmented Reality) and Infographics along with the others is very apt. Thanks for sharing the information.
Steve Wheeler said…
Hi Plurilock (if that is your real name) ;-)

We did touch on digital identity in the discussion, but not in the sense of authentication. We were more focused on how students represent themselves online and the implications for e-safety and privacy.
Steve Wheeler said…
Hi Rip. Thanks for letting me know, and I'm delighted that you feel that my slides are useful in your own context. All my content is licenced under creative commons share alike, attribution, non-commercial, so under these conditions, you are free to use them.
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks for your comments Kumudrao. If my name was half as exotic as yours I would probably be a famous actor by now :-)
Lejon said…
Honestly, one of the best presentations I have seen because it is both "visual" and well-functioning without your commentary (even if I'´d loved to hear it)
mvallance1234 said…
Just how do you find the time to create such an image rich presentation? My previous boss got her grad students to make her Powerpoints and they took weeks. I too would like to embed in my website for colleagues at my university. They need to see this. Thank you for sharing.
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks Lejon and Mike. Many of the images have been 'found' on the web and used or repurposed appropriately under CC. Some of the images are mine or are embellished by my own hand. Glad you appreciate the effort that has been put into them, and yes, feel free to use them. :-)
andypowe11 said…
There is a danger that the quote on slide 59 can be interpreted as saying that "connected computers are always a useful and effective part of the solution". Surely, a valid and important part of being "digitally literate" is understanding when digital media should not be used?
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks for your comment Andy, and I agree, part of the digital literacy set is discernment, including when and when not to use or choose any given device or software. Indeed, at my presentation we discussed the ability to choose and use, and I made the statement that new technologies should only be used if they bring something extra to the table. Old technologies, methods and approaches, I pointed out, are fine if they get the results, and should not be replaced just because there is a shiny new tool available. I hope that clarifies my position.
Steve Wheeler said…
I'm posting the following comments from John Putt:

I tried to add this as a comment on the blog but to no avail.

I really enjoyed your presentation & sense somehow that I would have
enjoyed it more had I been at the conference.

A great deal of what you presented really resonates with me although I
still need to work on some aspects e.g. augmented reality etc.. As an
'older' educator the images of the reel to reel tape recorder [a younger
colleague didn't know about them] and the banda machine were very part of
my technological learning journey as well.

I see myself as an emerging connected school leader & the biggest challenge
that faces me is to grow out of the restrictive 19th & 20th century
educational imaginaries into an open, social & ever shifting 21st century
imaginary [not sure if imaginary is the right word though].

At my school we need to re-write the ICT policy & make more open. As school
leaders we need to influence policy makers and politicians locally,
nationally and internationally to embrace the new imaginaries.

Equity, sustainability and security also spring to mind for me. Firstly we
need to reduce and then eliminate the digital divide both in this country,
in the west also and throughout the world. I worry somewhat about our
natural resources and the implications of our continued and at times
insatiable demand for newer and even more sophisticated 'machines of loving
grace'. The third occasional pre-occupation is security but related to
sustainability as well is the reliability of the systems to keep all of the
data securely and also to ensure that it isn't lost or corrupted.

Well just a few thoughts from a leader striving to be more connected but
also someone who believes that learning is on the brink of a golden age and
with improved learning comes greater understanding and wisdom that will, in
turn, ensure a safer, more peaceful, more equitable and more sustainable
world …or is that just wishful thinking?

John Putt
Holywell High School
davidmiller_uk said…
What great comments. They add so significantly to what is already a fascinating presentation. I particularly liked John Putt's honest observations. Sounds like a very enlightened Head Teacher.

I enjoyed all the presentation very much. I thought the juxtaposed slides of Churchill and Zuckerberg most interesting, and reminded me of a book I was recommended recently - 'The Thank You Economy' by Gary Vaynerchuk. It's so interesting, in this brave new social world, seeing the merging of what it means to learn and what it means to live profitably, usefully, independently and interdependently in society ... To live and learn - to live and earn!

Link to Vaynerchuck's book here -

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