World Changes at Exponential Rate; Will Education Keep up with the Times?

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KnowledgeWorks releases new future forecast exploring education in 2025

KnowledgeWorks releases its fourth future forecast, exploring what education could look like in 2025.

The key challenge of the next decade will be to define how people relate to increasingly intelligent machines and use them to elevate the skills and talents that people bring to the workforce and other settings.

Technology is becoming a more integral part of daily lives. Smart phones are never out of reach; wearable devices track individual fitness and count daily steps; driverless cars are hitting the roads; and robots are working alongside humans in many fields, including healthcare and hospitality.

As technologies continue to advance at an exponential rate during the next 10 years and become even more closely integrated with daily lives, the education system could change dramatically. Far beyond providing iPads for classroom learning, people will need to figure out how to foster productive relationships with smart technology, while also considering how those relationships could impact learning in the future.

Today, KnowledgeWorks released its fourth highly anticipated future forecast, "The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code." This forecast explores possibilities for the future of education, drawing upon present-day observations to analyze what current trends could mean for learning in 2025.

“Exponential innovations in digital technologies are changing our world at an unprecedented pace,” said KnowledgeWorks Senior Director of Strategic Foresight Katherine Prince, who co-authored the forecast with KnowledgeWorks Director of Strategic Foresight Jason Swanson and Andrea Saveri. “The key challenge of the next decade will be to define how people relate to increasingly intelligent machines and use them to elevate the skills and talents that people bring to the workforce and other settings.”

In examining how current developments could affect education in the next 10 years, the forecast suggests 15 provocations that could impact how, when and where students learn.

These provocations consider not only technological developments, but many kinds of shifts. For example, changing belief systems and societal trends, such as a growing open culture movement and an increasing desire for meaningful engagement, could lead to new possibilities for learning. And a growing interest in locally grown and handmade goods could inspire future artisanal education options.

At the same time, as technology adapts and is able to take over more cognitive tasks, 47 percent of American jobs could be lost during the next two decades. These new economic realities and the changing nature of work could change current ideas of college and career readiness. The need to adapt to rapidly changing conditions could require students to develop innovation and problem-solving skills by actively shaping the world as part of their education.

“Such trends could impact learning at multiple levels,” Prince said. “Through our research, we examine how major drivers of change could affect education at the levels of people, structures and society as a whole. We invite readers to grapple with future possibilities and consider what they can and want to create.”

The forecast also explores issues that stakeholders will need to address in shaping the future of education, such as ensuring equity amid growing income disparity and uneven adoption of new technologies.

“As our country deals with growing achievement gaps, it’s crucial to consider how we can close those gaps in the future,” KnowledgeWorks President and CEO Judy Peppler said. “If we don’t move toward the future of learning with this in mind, we will see growing inequities throughout the United States.”

KnowledgeWorks has been forecasting the future of education since 2006, when it released its first-ever future forecast, the “2006-2016 Map of Future Forces Affecting Education.” The organization then released the “2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning” in 2009 and “Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem” in 2012.

As one of the only organizations focusing on strategic foresight for education, KnowledgeWorks’ forecasts and related publications have seen interest around the world, with over 308,000 copies distributed. “The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code” is the most recent addition to the organization’s publicly available education foresight resources.

“We need to develop and pursue strong future-oriented visions for learning,” Prince said. “Otherwise, technology and society will continue to progress at an exponential rate, leaving our education systems struggling to adapt and too many children ill-prepared for emerging realities.”

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Mary Kenkel
KnowledgeWorks
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