What is the Future of Education?

I have no real idea … just some notions, but I am lucky enough to be attending a neat retreat focused on just this question.

I am attending a retreat hosted by the New Media Consortium, which publishes the Horizon Report annually.  With well over one million downloads and 27 translations in the past ten years, the NMC Horizon Report series annually charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning, research, creative inquiry, and information management.  I was on the Board of Advisors for last year’s K-12 report, and found the experience rewarding and enriching.  Some forty of us from around the world examined a range of technologies and focused in on those we felt collectively would emerge in the next year, two to three years and five years down the road.

This year will be the tenth year for the Horizon Project, so Larry Johnson, CEO of the NMC, and Lev Gonick, VP and CIO at Case Western Reserve University and Board Chair Emeritus of the NMC, have invited one hundred of us from current and past boards of advisors to come together January 24-26, 2012 in Austin to reflect on what technology will mean to educational institutions in the next decade.  The are calling this retreat “The Future of Education.”

Their goal as stated at the above retreat website is to “…produce a 30-page-ish report that does two things:  One is to capture meta-learnings drawn from our research of ten years into the uptake of technology, which technologies seem to be “sticky” and persist, which are generative (in the sense of shaping perceptions that allow subsequent technologies to take traction) — and how to know one from the other. The second is to use those meta-learnings to frame a set of recommendations for strategic technology planning to inform the next decade of decision making across all sectors of education.”

One of those “sticky” persisitent uses of technology in education is the online education movement.  This past week, my colleagues and I at the VCU Center for Teaching Excellence launched our first totally online faculty development initiative for faculty who want to teach online.  Eighteen of our colleagues are in the first pilot of this online “course”…though course is not quite the right word.  We have crafted a learning environment and have 18 fellow faculty along for the ride.  They have done well this first week getting to know one another, researching the pedagogy behind online teaching, and in some cases, struggling with learning in an asynchronous environment.

But while I do believe “online” is a part of the future of education at both K-12 and higher education levels, I am not as sure about other aspects, such as terms like:

  • course
  • degree
  • discipline
  • professor
  • class
  • semester
  • …the list could go on

Bill Gates and Salman Khan certainly are interjecting some radical ideas about the future of education and the use of online learning…as are others.

So, while I am enjoying the launch of our online faculty development initiative – it follows established models of online course design.  I am looking forward to having my thinking pushed the next three days as we grapple with the future of education and the role technology might play in that future.

{Photo Credit: Mark Chapman, Steve Jervetson}



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3 thoughts on “What is the Future of Education?

  1. I think your link to Salman Khan is incorrect. At least if you are looking for the Khan of Khan’s Academy…backed by Bill Gates. The link above takes us to the model/actor Khan…

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