Even if you get excited about the changes on the horizon for learning, it can be hard to make the leap between future vision and current action. Some things that we would like to see for the future can seem daunting or impossible from today’s perspective. Other possibilities for the future can seem so huge that it can be hard to see where to start. Yet today’s systems, institutions, and organizations need to consider how best to respond to a rapidly changing and increasingly complex external environment that will impact operations, give rise to new organizational structures and business models, and shift learners’ expectations.
Shaping the future of learning – especially while managing education today – is hard but necessary work. As one K-12 leader who participated in a recent workshop emphasized, “Ignoring trends shaping the future of education will not stop change from happening. It’s important to have a voice in shaping it.”
To help education stakeholders own their voices in shaping the future of learning, KnowledgeWorks recently released “Shaping the Future of Learning: A Strategy Guide.” Reflecting the insights of over sixty leaders and innovators from K-12 school-based education, informal and community-based learning, and higher education, this strategy guide aims to help people in those education sectors grapple with five foundational issues on the horizon and consider specific strategies for responding to them.
These foundational issues, which present rich opportunities to lead the future of learning in light of KnowledgeWorks’ latest comprehensive future forecast, are depicted below.
Big picture, each of the education sectors featured in the strategy guide has particular opportunities to address these issues.
K-12 School-Based Education faces unique challenges relating to student needs, equity, regulatory requirements, and funding but is in a strong position to build upon its current leadership in personalized learning in creating more equitable and learner-centered ecosystems.
Informal and Community-Based Learning can draw upon its unique offerings of free-choice learning experiences and its relative freedom to help lead the way for more personalized and relevant learning for people of all ages. Despite capacity constraints, this sector can help lead the way toward more interconnected learning ecosystems.
Higher Education can broaden and diversify learning experiences and supports while incentivizing new practices and innovation amid cultures and structures that tend to well established and slow to change. Clarifying or redefining purpose and outcomes could help both current institutions and new entrants strengthen market niches and meet learners’ needs.
The strategies presented in the guide provide starting points for identifying how your sector and organization might leverage the key opportunities on the horizon. We invite you to explore which ones seem most accessible or most impactful and what tactics might enable you to bring these strategies to life in your context.
As a higher education leader asserted, “We can make the future happen now.” It’s not just that we can; it’s that we must. In the words of one community-based learning leader, “We must stop talking about changing education and start doing it. The world is different – just look around.”
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.