Last month I had the pleasure of attending the Houston Foresight spring gathering, where I learned about developing research on the future of student needs in 2025 and beyond that the Lumina Foundation has commissioned from the program. The Student Needs 2025+ research project is forecasting baseline and alternate scenarios for six domains:
- Learning – Will institutional pressures keep education basically as it is today, or will learning move so far beyond institutions that it is all contextualized and on demand?
- Participating – Will technology and activism converge in a “nationcraft” scenario in which we re-engage and rebuild toward an ideal society, or will we hack our way toward multiple co-existing societies and increasing pitfalls around privacy and security?
- Working – Will we continue on a trajectory toward rapid career changes that require broad skill sets and interaction with both people and computers, or will the middle class face a tight squeeze the rise of artificial intelligence and the need for continual re-skilling make put many people out of work?
- Playing – Will play be bundled, scheduled, and justified by a productive agenda, or will gaming specifically, and play in general, come to pervade daily life?
- Connecting – Will we continue to use technology to find more ways to connect, or will we move beyond connecting through technologies to immersing ourselves in them?
- Living – Will we continue to look for most things in life to be easier (even if they aren’t better for us) and to focus on instant gratification, or will we make a big shift toward collaborative consumption, with social capital and group orientation outstripping individual gain?
Each of these scenarios could have very different implications for students of higher education, as well as for students of other levels of the learning ecosystem. The project’s next step will be to explore those implications for four categories of students: traditional students, first-generation students, adult learners, and independent learners.
I’m excited to follow the developments. In the meantime, you can check out the presentations and ongoing reflections via Houston Foresight or follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Vine at @houstonfutures and join the conversation at #studentneeds2025.