2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning (1 of 2)

As soon as you finish reading this, go to www.FutureOfEd.org and check out the 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning, a recently released landscape map produced by KnowledgeWorks and the Institute of the Future.

My friend Chad Wick flipped his foundation from a focus on schooling to a focus on learning.  He’s been thinking creatively about this for a decade and is producing some useful tools. 

The Forecast, while filled with Palo Alto hyperbole, points to some important trends

1.     Altered bodies: this combo category combines cognitive modification and eco-schools—all overhyped for a 2020 forecast.

2.     Amplified organizations: no question—social networking and open platforms allow amplification (maybe not ‘superheroes’) and advance meritocracy.

3.     Platforms for resilience: this section deals with failures of public systems and the need for schools to be connection points for kids/families.   This section points to the emerging learning ecosystem.

4.     A new civic discourse: while they note a few hopeful trends, the larger and more destructive trend is the eroding political problem solving ability.

5.     The maker economy: the discussion of the DIY economy is a little overwrought; more important to the global economy is the rise of India and China—and how the West participates.  

6.     Pattern recognition: the emerging ‘data picture’ of our lives makes me wonder about fragmented filters—newspapers and TV news used to create something close to a common filter; as we each create custom filters, do we create knowledge niches?

Change forces I wish they had considered more fully:

·          Culture Matters: as Huntington’s book title suggests, clan culture and the role that learning plays is a vital input into a youth learning motivation.  We attempt to combat a weak learning culture with engagement, relevance, and support, but culture has substantial influence on individual and group achievement. 

·          Geopolitics matter: while the learning ecosystem will emerge with some ubiquity, formal education will remain trapped in a web of local and national politics—some geographies will sprint ahead while others will remain trapped in 1950. 

·          Funding matters: there’s a global gap in access to quality secondary education—there will be continued cost pressure on learning systems as health benefits are extended globally to an aging world population. 

·          Investment matters: the lack of public and private investment in learning innovation contributed to the disastrously bad state we’re in.   It’s too weak to call a trend, but public/private partnerships that leverage the benefits of philanthropic, venture, and public investment will be key to the FutureofEd.  

More to come on implications of these trends. 

Tom - Speaking Engagements

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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