Rebuilding in Christchurch: Creating the Future of Learning

Topics: Future of Learning, Overcoming Challenges

The future is not a fixed point; it is ours to create.

Central to the approach we take the future of learning at KnowledgeWorks is the notion that the future is not a fixed point; it is ours to create. Sometimes life circumstances make that approach more tangible, which is the case in Christchurch, New Zealand.

When a 6.36 magnitude earthquake hit New Zealand in 2011, quickly followed by other smaller, but still serious earthquakes, the small country was devastated. Much of the damage was centralized to Christchurch and the city is still rebuilding.

After beginning to recover from the loss of life and the damage to physical and community infrastructure, community leaders started to look to longer terms issues, such as education. The future of learning in New Zealand was, and is, wide open. At a recent conference, the community in Christchurch – including government, business and community leaders, education stakeholders and students, as well as international experts – gathered together to create their future of learning.

Not a workshop to talk; a workshop to do

Leadership futurist Cheryl Doig of Think Beyond, and technology management strategist Hamish Duff of Recalibrate, were inspired at an international conference with a focus on exponential change. As stated in our 2014 forecast, The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code, “if education continues to advance one step at a time, it will fall exponentially behind the world for which it aims to prepare learners.”

For Doig and Duff, exponential change  reinforced their own sense of urgency for change at home in New Zealand, which was reiterated by New Zealand’s education minister’s call for education reform. In response, Doig and Duff conceptualized a conference in Christchurch that was dedicated to creating the future of learning … not talking about it, but creating it.

To kick off the four-day Future of Learning Experience, I spoke about the need for a new foundation for readiness. As we continue to experience exponential change in the world of technology, which directly impacts the future of work, we need to readdress how education is preparing our students.

Our paper, The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out, helps reinforce that that future of learning is an issue that transcends sectors – it’s is as important to business as community as education. Through a rich conference schedule featuring speakers representing different sectors, demographics, experiences and areas of expertise, participants at the Future of Learning Experience were able to engage in rich discussion.

The future starts now

The world needs deeper conversations about the future generally and the future of learning specifically. Christchurch has a long way to go to transform their education system, but it was inspiring to watch people all gathered under the same mission: the future is something we can help shape.

The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out explores how career readiness may be redefined to better prepare students for an uncertain future.