Navigating the future is hard work. Charting a course forward is like aiming for a blurry horizon that shifts constantly as forces of change swirl together in different ways and people’s decisions and actions change the landscape along the way.
KnowledgeWorks’ recent “Shaping the Future of Learning: A Strategy Guide” serves as a navigation map for traveling between today’s current reality and strong future-facing visions for learning. While it details key opportunities and strategies to shape the future of learning, it also highlights broader change management principles for education. These change management principles apply whether you are in K-12 school-based education, informal and community-based learning, or higher education.
We can influence the trajectory of change. Despite the sense we sometimes have that change is happening to us, trends are not inevitabilities. We can shape, mitigate, and enable them.
Forming partnerships can create new possibilities. Every education sector has opportunities to reshape learning by building intentional partnerships rooted in common values – not necessarily in convenience – with other organizations and with communities and learners. Working across sectors can also create more coherent and meaningful opportunities for learners.
Coordination and matching services can help meet learners’ needs. Education stakeholders can leverage new forms of coordination and new platforms for connection to help match learners with personalized learning experiences and supports.
Emerging technologies can enable new solutions. Considering technological advancements with an open mind and critical thinking can help education stakeholders identify how to use them to catalyze change effectively and equitably. Cautions include focusing on flash over substance, using new technologies in old ways, and placing technology above relationships.
Taking a systemic perspective can maximize impact. Not every problem can be solved with a new program or tool. Considering the larger systems at work when evaluating solutions can enable leaders to intervene at the right level. Working across sectors can also help foster sustainable systems change.
Examining gridlock can identify leverage points. In education, the pace of change is slow and the forces of inertia are strong. Instead of accepting the intractability of current systems and organizational structures, leaders and innovators can investigate the causes of gridlock for leverage points to influence.
Every big change begins with a single step. Though large-scale change is incredibly difficult, every big idea has a smaller first step. Leaders at every level and in every sector can take action today to begin defining their role in shaping the future of learning.
Katherine Prince is the Senior Director of Strategic Foresight at KnowledgeWorks. She is excited about the future of learning, transformative leadership, and building resilient solutions for a sustainable world.