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Five Attributes of the Future of Learning

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Topics: Education Policy, Emerging Trends, ESSA, Future of Learning

In creating approaches to education that are both flexible and grounded and which incorporate these attributes, we need to be guided by clear visions.As we enter the emerging era of partners in code described in KnowledgeWorks’ fourth comprehensive forecast on the future of learning, we are just beginning to develop new uses for and new relationships with machines that are increasingly wearable, connected, and smart. If you use a Fitbit to monitor your health or use your car’s smart safety system to help avert accidents, you’ll have a flavor of what these new partnerships mean today.

Looking ahead ten years, education faces some critical questions:

  • How might education help people prepare for an increasingly automated and taskified world of work – and prepare over and over again over their lifetimes?
  • How might educational structures diversify to help achieve resilience and provide more learner-centered education?
  • Might we use new tools and understandings of human performance to create greater focus on individual development in education?
  • How might education support individuals and communities in responding to volatile conditions in positive ways?

The graphic recording below illustrates these and other possibilities for the future of education raised during a conversation that Tom Vander Ark and I led at the National Council of State Legislators’ September gathering of education committee chairs, “Innovation in an ESSA Era.”

This graphic recording illustrates these and other possibilities for the future of education raised during a conversation that Tom Vander Ark and I led at the National Council of State Legislators’ September gathering of education committee chairs, “Innovation in an ESSA Era.”
View a larger version of the image.

Key among them, the conversation highlighted five attributes for the future of learning. It needs to be:

  1. Personalized
  2. Competency-based
  3. Project- and place-based
  4. Focused on both soft skills and work-specific skills
  5. Oriented around whole person development across a lifetime

In creating approaches to education that are both flexible and grounded and which incorporate these attributes, the conversation emphasized, we need to be guided by clear visions. Otherwise, we won’t know what success looks like at an individual, school, or systems level, and we risk letting ourselves be so buffeted by change that we end up somewhere other than we intended.

What do you want the future of education to look like? Do these attributes resonate? Would you add to this list or take anything away?

For more on the convening, see Tom Vander Ark’s recap, “Leading Personalized Learning: State Policy Advice & Successes.”