The Future of Learning and COVID-19

Topics: Future of Learning

Individuals from more than 20 countries joined us for a recent webinar exploring future tensions and uncertainties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The informal conversation centered discussions on eight main questions:

  • Did we see this coming?
  • What big critical uncertainties do we see?
  • What scenarios for learning might come about during and after COVID-19?
  • What assumptions might we benefit from challenging?
  • What questions should leaders be asking themselves?
  • What do we mean by transformation, and what might our preferences for the future be?
  • How might we define community in the future – learning community or broader community?
  • Are we seeing things that are giving us hope?

KnowledgeWorks futurists Katie King, Katherine Prince, Maria Romero and Jason Swanson shared their early thinking about what COVID-19 could mean for the future of learning. There was a consensus that despite the “very understandable and very human reaction to want to go back to life as we know it,” there is an opportunity for educators, parents and community members to ask something different of education when so many of the structures that have impeded change – like seat time and school buildings – are in flux. Swanson asked, “Can we overcome that very human want to go back to how things were, even if that’s no longer an option? Can we deepen, spread and sustain the amazing work to a point that it’s almost transformational the system?”

The webinar and live notes by Sara O’Keeffe, graphic recorder from the University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research, are below.

Orange and blue graphic notes taken from What COVID-19 could mean for the Future of Learning, titled. "Systems shock" with arrow pointing to "flaws more evident now" below it. To the right is: "Systems are more brittle than we thought". To the right is "Foresight for preparedness to be surprised." Beside that is a ribbon with "the future is not binary" over three items in order: "Take current practices that are working" leading to "make them better" leading to "abandon what isn't." To the left of this image group is a cloud with "What are some real, but invisible risks we can prepare for?" written in it. Below that is written "Critical uncertainties." Beside it is a t-shirt, saying "One size fits all ed" on it. An arrow points to a larger t-shirt saying, "Approach will be to scale up" and another arrow leading to a tank top, saying, "when we really need" with an arrow pointing to "transformation." Below is a line of note squares: "Resource sharing," "How do we invite others?" "What are the new priorities of our ed system," "inclusive decision-making," "where are learners going to be?" "How willing are we going to let 'this' change us?" "Long-term vs short term vision," Be willing to say we don't know what to do," "education revolution," "can we sustain?" "Interrogate old visions," "Tailor learning." Below that is "Prioritize Learner's needs, interests, goals" leading to 4 statements: 1) "What does this mean for parents? And their role?" 2) "And kids with online learning & no parent support?" 3) "Learning can happen anywhere." 4) "Teachers and service workers more appreciated." Across the page is written "How might we design future systems toward equity?" "Belonging" is below it. Below that is written, "Engage change differently." Above "differently" is written "think." Below "Change" is written "is constant." Below that is depcited "future of learning" connected to a network of three phrases: 1) "how does it feel?" 2) "be critical" 3) "how does it operate". Live graphic recording by Sara O'Keeffe, University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research
Live Graphic Notes by Sara O'Keeffe during webinar, University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research

Begin systems change today with the tools our futurists use in our “Futures Thinking Now” series, beginning with the cone of plausability.