Smart learning

I spend most of my time in the future, but I do go home at weekends. At least, that is my explanation about why I am so fascinated with the future. I always have been, ever since I was a little boy and started reading science fiction novels. From Asimov to Heinlein, and Clark to Wells, I hungrily devoured them all and fed my mind on what was to come.

I'm in a dream job now, talking about technology and learning, and how we can optimise one from the other. Inevitably, people invite me to speak at events and ask me to give my ideas about what is just around the corner.

My recent involvement with the New Media Consortium Horizon Report committee was another outlet for thinking about the future. That came up in today's keynote at the 15th International Conference on Interactive and Collaborative Learning (#ICL2012), here deep in the Austrian Alps, in a little town called Villach. I spoke of Learning 3.0, and speculated on what learning might look like in a few years. I proposed that a great deal of learning will take place in the future through the use of mobile tools, and that tablets, phones and other handheld devices would be just the start of our new technology enhanced learning journey.

Augmented reality, intelligent filtering, 3D spatial interaction, enhanced vision and other seemingly exotic or out of reach technologies will one day merge to become our new reality. The technology is already there, but as William Gibson once said 'the future is not widely distributed'. Eventually, all widely adopted technologies tend to fade into the background and become mundane, as learning breaks through to take centre stage. When will this happen? We can't say for sure, because other random factors continually intervene. Pictures and quotes from the past, shown in the slide set above, demonstrate that we are not always very good at predicting accurately what our future will hold, but with current trends, we can see farther than we have ever been able to see before down the corridor of time. And we can see that technology is not slowing down, and neither is our thirst for small gadgets, smart objects and embedded technologies. Learning 3.0 will be the nexus, the meeting point of all these smart tools, where people will connect seamlessly with other people, objects and information and learn when they need to, what they need to, where they need to. We will then be tapping into the combined intelligence of the entire globe, and that will be powerful beyond measure. At least, that is my vision for the future.

I hope you enjoy looking at the slides. I certainly enjoyed presenting them today, and discussing my ideas with delegates at ICL2012 in Villach, Austria.

Photo by Joaquim F. Silva

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Smart learning by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at


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