Future Artifacts Come to Life

Guest post by Jillian Darwish

As part of our work exploring and documenting future trends, we have created numerous “artifacts of the future.”  One short video from our 2006 work included a mobile device that was your “remote control for life” and included inanimate objects that could track and be tracked, along with digital social maps that made it possible to locate friends and family.  This was all before the first iPhone was sold (not to mention the subsequent 1.75 billion), an unimaginable 75 billion apps were downloaded, RFID tags and QR codes became common, Green Goose was released, or more than 2 million people “checked-in” every day using FourSquare.  In these last six years, we have literally seen what we had imagined as “future artifacts” come to life.

In the next few weeks, we will be releasing KnowledgeWorks’ third future forecast.  (Look for it in your inbox or mail box, or check back here to request a copy!)  In past publications, we described the emergence of a learning economy and amplified organization, which have begun to dissolve the tightly bound relationships and resource flows that used to deliver instruction, develop curriculum, perform assessment, grant credentials, and provide professional development.  (See Udacity and Degreed as signals of these changes.)   What we begin to see with this year’s publication is that those of us who are willing to experiment with the novel recombination of resources, talent, and technology will be able to design new and increasingly powerful learning opportunities to meet the needs of all learners in a more and more demanding world.

Given this opportunity, it is exactly the right time to pick up on a scenario that we created in 2010 in which we described possibilities for learning oases.  We saw the potential for learning oases to emerge as communities freed themselves from thinking of school as a singular place and instead reimagined a “learning landscape” extending well-beyond the brick and mortar and integrating distributed  talent, community assets, and global resources in one robust learning-scape.   Once held only in our creative imaginations, this scenario is now also coming to life.

Education Elements, Reynoldsburg City Schools in Ohio, and KnowledgeWorks are making the oasis concept a reality.  The partners aim to create a “blended community” by fusing two extraordinarily successful efforts, Strive’s civic infrastructure framework and Education Elements’ blended learning model.  Recently, Lisa Duty shared the concept for this work on Tom Vander Ark’s blog in Education Week.

I wonder if in 2020 our future forecast will be describing the vast proliferation of learning oases across the nation.  That would be an exciting future indeed!

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