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What’s the future of learning?

 

Let’s take a look into the future. Based on what we see happening right now, we can predict that it will be globalized, complex, and driven by information technology—and that the future will belong to those who can readily adapt to change.

Reinvention as a way of life
Facebook (2004) replaced MySpace, Twitter (2006) now has 109 million unique users, the iPad™ (2012) has already sold 26 million units, and the Blackberry that started the smartphone revolution in 2002 has already come and (is almost) gone. Invention, change, and continuous improvement are the way the world works now. It also needs to be the way we think about learning.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor 65% of today’s grade-school children will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet.  A recent blog by Tony Wagner, author of “Would You Hire Your own Kids? 7 Skills Schools Should be Teaching Them,” points out that all present and future workers must be ‘knowledge workers’ and have the ability to access, analyze and act on astronomical amounts of information to succeed.  Inventor and Futurist Ray Kurzweil in his Ted Talks and books makes  a strong case  for the exponential growth of data, information technology and change —regardless of economic booms or busts—that will impact us and our children. For example, Kurzweil’s research published in 2008 showed that ‘Every form of communications technology is doubling price-performance, bandwidth, and capacity every 12 months.” That is still true.

Adapting teaching and learning to the new paradigm  
The present and future boom in information and technological capability is an exciting and challenging prospect. What can we change now to prepare  learners for all the possibilities that their 21st century workplace will hold?

Provide timely professional development
Ensuring that our children are well prepared to meet the future means that teachers must be well-versed in the use of the latest tech tools. A recent survey had 46 percent of teachers reporting that they lack the training needed to effectively use technology with their students. That’s a learning gap that must be addressed.

Teach learners how to learn

The most important thing we can do is cultivate thinkers who can evolve their skills and capabilities because they’ve developed an ability to think deeply and critically.  These new learners will be able to adapt to new circumstances, stimuli, and challenges. We want to develop students who possess a flexible and versatile intelligence. We want to develop adaptive thinkers. They will be the ones who will drive- not survive- the future.

Let’s start the future of learning right now and unlock the learning potential of every child.

Jessie Woolley-Wilson