Futurium is the name of a series of online debates on Europe in 2050. One of the eleven emerging themes is Learning, an all-encompassing topic with as yet only one comment – it takes courage to be the first, but anyone who registers can post an opinion or contribution and vote on topics.
I found the overview piece interesting and fresh, and challenging. It is suggested for example that technology will support ‘full immersion in learning settings not achievable otherwise, including powerful simulations, intelligent conversational agents, and brain-to-machine or even brain-to-brain interfaces.’ There is no doubt that technology will continue to surprise and maybe challenge fundamental human values: where is privacy if we have brain implants and are always connected? For every benefit there are downsides for sure.
It could be argued that many of the developments are already happening in Europe’s schools, albeit in the margins (e.g. games, Big Data), and that 2050 is so far in the future (as 1976 in the past – pre-Walkman, pre-Internet, pre-Excel…) that uncertainty is the only sure prediction – that and seemingly enduring issues related to inequality and inclusion. There are some similarities with work in the Horizon K-12 projects (one for Europe is in preparation) which aim to look a mere five years ahead.
The value of exercises like Futurium in education is to help us take a step outside our day-to-day habits and mindsets, consider how things may change, but crucially how we can own some of these changes and make them work for the benefit of young people and a better world. The scenario building approach in projects like iTEC go some way in this direction as well – helping teachers to design learning experiences that are fit for the future, not simply ‘business as usual’ or ‘more of the same’.