What future are we aiming at? This series of 6 posts, Future Vision 2025, describes some of my personal education mission milestones. These are not predictions, they are aspirational. They are framed as significant differences one could see or make by 2025. What’s noticeably different in 2025 when one examines students, parents, teachers, learning, assessment, media & society? How and when these milestones are reached are not addressed. Some milestones are indicated by the emergence of something ‘new’ (at least at robust scale), others by the fading away of something familiar and comfortable.
The Learning Revolution, it turns out, was about the Learners themselves. It was about their purpose and what they expect while learning. Yes, 21st Century tech was needed to catalyze and scale the Learning Revolution. But the revolution wasn’t about the delivery mechanisms; not about devices or Web X.0. It was about the process of learning not “feeling” the same. A student from 2015, if dropped into a 2025 learning situation, would likely be far out of their comfort zone.
What’s different for the Learner during the actual learning moments?
Learners expect that what they are learning should make sense to them. They have confidence in their ability to learn material, even if it seems incomprehensible at first. They’ve gained this confidence through personal experience of multiple successful learning breakthroughs, gained through 21st Century learning environments. So, they expect to be able to tell the difference between true, evidence-supported knowledge and unsupported conjecture or false conclusions.
Learning is consciously Learner-directed. Learners understand there are different depths of understanding. Learners decide to what depth they choose to learn any given item or area, based on their own, personal individual purposes. Learner purposes range from immediate problem-resolution, to eager curiosity, to a desire for a professional, life-long “ownership” of the content. Learners understand transferability and seek it: the agility to re-apply any bit of newly gained knowledge or skill to a different, non-routine scenario. Learners crave fluent and precise communication of knowledge. Learners can distinguish in themselves how well or deeply they have learned – and make adjustments, consciously trading off depth and speed.
Yet there is still a familiar, strong, formal educational structure and framework. It’s not just you 1:1 with Wikipedia, Khan, Google, Siri, Alexa, or Cortana. The support structure needed and sought varies with the learner’s desired depth, but it ensures appropriate range, breadth, comprehension, and connectedness. And crucially provides a social mode. “School” is of course still required to lead 5 to 18 year olds to an appropriately broad range and depth of domain literacies.
Learning has gone experiential (learning by doing). In every content area, learners are able to leverage their built-in sensory perception-action cycle. They test hypotheses, sometimes organically, sometimes consciously, via real-time, rigorously accurate feedback. The provision of this multitude of specific, experiential learning environments is where 21st Century tech has been crucial: enabling design of and access to animated simulations and informative feedback. Experiential learning environments provide concrete scenarios first, in every field and at every level. Every learning modality includes as much visually-presented information as publishers can figure out how to provide. Abstract symbolic representations follow in the wake of concrete conceptual grasp.
Learners expect deeper learning to be a lifelong, fun & satisfying, activity. The pleasure of achieving deeper, accurate understanding has become evident to “the masses.”
To many of those still hanging onto positions of power through demagoguery, confusion, lies, distractions, and fear-mongering, this gradual enlightenment of the masses is the ultimate subversive disruption.
“Visualization of Einstein’s special relativity,” udiprod
So how will a 2025 learner come to appreciate that two 10lb weights feel a heavy as one 20lb weight ?
…feel as heavy….
Grab the weights 🙂
Well that’s one almost-literally-concrete example where no tech is required and there’s no change from 2015 to 2025. Just grab two 10 lb. plates in one hand and one 20 lb. plate in the other; compare to less or more in the other. The trick is going to be, how to get the same kind of perception-action feedback to a much less tangible concept. For example, how to get a “feeling” for “elasticity” vs “inelasticity” in a supply-demand curve, when learning economics.
Well I was pushing it out a bit. If everything is done by playing with computer simulations there are going to be some serious gaps in the education process. I am aware that there are some things where this may be the only way, for example DNA replication.
I see your point. Yes there are many things which can be literally concrete and should be as much as possible. And there are many more things that can’t be hands-on in real-life but could be interactive in a simulation. But right now so many parts of the current education process are just labeling exercises – hardly any visuals, no animations, nothing dynamic, no interaction, no prediction, no results, no informative feedback. Even so-called “hands-on activities, even at world-class childrens’ museums, can all too easily be just follow-the-recipe. I am saying that computer simulated learning environments are a game-changing improvement, compared to that sad starting point.
But is there the talent to develop this? I have my doubts.