The five drivers that will influence the future of education, according to KnowledgeWorks

student looking at the future

Climate change, algorithms, success metrics and progress in neuroscience are some of the factors that will alter, for better or for worse, the future of education.

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Navigating the Future of Learning report, developed by KnowledgeWorks, a nonprofit educational initiative, describes the challenges education will face over the next decade; five forces that will interact to transform teaching and learning.

This forecast warns that climate change, algorithms, success metrics and progress in neuroscience are some of the factors that will alter, for better or for worse, the future of education.

  1. Migration and climate

    The migration caused by climatic volatility (extreme temperatures, fires and floods), together with the change of residence due to economic needs, will lead to the educational spaces that we know today to relocate or to become remote or mixed experiences.

  2. Automated Decisions

    Algorithms and AI are automating many of our experiences, services and interactions in order to achieve efficiency and personalization. In educational terms, these advances can create personalized and adaptive paths; however, they can also undermine student confidence with remote monitoring, impartiality and accentuation of prejudices.

  3. Optimization metrics

    Current metrics of success in education and business often treat people as assets or data that must be optimized. This environment of achievement based on metrics is affecting the health of workers and students, generating diseases and disorders such as hypertension, diabetes, fatigue, anxiety and depression.

  4. Advances in neuroscience and technology

    The technology and neuroscience developers are reconfiguring the way we associate with digital tools, with humans and with our environment. However, the ubiquitous presence of digital media is creating an ecosystem full of alerts, notifications and automatic movements that distract and shape the behavior of users in a desired and accidental way.

  5. Civic empowerment through technology

    Dissatisfied with their governments, committed citizens are using digital channels to raise awareness, mobilize actions and build relationships. Such tools have the power to supercharge the influence of the civil sector. However, the failure to develop inclusive ecosystems will maintain an imbalance of power and an opening for the corporate sector to continue shaping conversations and solutions.

Possible educational scenarios

Educational experience will have to adapt faced with these five drivers of change. KnowledgeWorks analysts point out that there are four possible scenarios to achieve a healthy development of young people, allowing effective lifelong learning and contributing to the vitality of the community.

  • Place learning in spaces where it is integrated with technology, culture and the community. For example, in museums, parks, science or business centers where educational experiences are intentionally designed with mentors or community members in virtual reality or mixed reality environments.

  • Reorient teaching to topics focused on human development. Educators could emphasize their work in promoting creative expression, self-discovery and social belonging. Specialists and educators could integrate knowledge of neuroscience, learning science and cognitive technologies into learning experiences that support brain health that improve cognitive function and student well-being.

  • Implement effective data strategies and adopt emerging technologies to support students. Flexible schools, place-based learning, networks of mentors and coaches, as well as digital resources to support students facing different problems.

  • Reconfigure communication channels and educational models to reinforce individual capacity and increase impact on the community. For example, to promote in teachers the use of Machine Learning tools to create and promote open resources and applications in order to meet specific needs of students. Likewise, empower students to exercise their voice and civic influence through the ethical and responsible use of digital tools.

As this report suggests, it will be necessary to reconfigure the educational ecosystem within ten years. Responsibility and decision-making will be required from stakeholders in education to respond today to the challenges that technological and climatic transformations already impose.