Future of Learning: A Remix of All of the Above

Education will be deconstructed and reconstructed through an “all of the above” learning remix that better aligns with the needs of learners, employers and society.

The drivers of change forcing us to deconstruct our industrial age model of education are numerous: the exponential growth of knowledge; new technological capabilities like advances in artificial intelligence and improvements in virtual and online learning experiences; and deep frustration that current approaches deny equity and opportunity to many learners and fail to equip them to address future economic, environmental and societal challenges.

At the Association of Professional Futurists annual gathering Oct. 15-17 in Atlanta, futurists and educators did not dwell any longer than necessary in these well-understood failures before moving into a learning remix to assemble what we do need for a preferred future.

In that reconstruction, learning is individualized, adaptive and modular and builds on a foundation of core learning competencies and shared processes that can support interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary solutions for our future.  Here are some of the glimpses the APF annual gathering offered into this learning remix:

  • Philadelphia University’s Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce draws business, engineering, design and textiles and fashion into an interdisciplinary experience.
  •  Wageningen University, a globally ranked school in the Netherlands focuses on the future of food and healthy living throughout the world. Wageningen recognizes that handling ambiguity is an essential core competency and prepares students to use intuition and mindfulness to create resilience and sustainability.
  • Georgia State University’s pioneering curriculum redesign will make the most of its upcoming merger with Georgia Perimeter College and close relationships with business. GSU doesn’t expect students or employers to wait four years to complete a degree to be work ready; it will offer online micro-courses that crack apart its traditional curriculum and support a more dynamic form of competency-based education.
  • The Center for the Future of Museums is attempting to place museums and museum educators in the midst of an evolving learning ecology that will give learners of all ages greater access to great collections of human knowledge and creativity.
  • The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Adaptive Digital Media Lab is using artificial intelligence as a creative partner to encourage young people to explore the arts and computational skills in fun and engaging ways. In three initiatives showcased at the gathering, students could create music, dance or draw with AI as buddy and tutor.

A learning remix can only come about through open and innovative minds; otherwise today’s education systems will stay locked into the patterns of the past.  The APF participants tried several methodologies that could help facilitate an “all of the above” future.

Coached by Melissa Wade and students and alumni from her debate education program at Emory University, participants used critical listening and thinking to answer questions about how much change we might see within the next two decades. The conclusion: schools and traditional campuses are likely to exist within a more expansive and dynamic ecology of learning options. Physical spaces and teachers are just as necessary for effective learning experiences as artificial intelligence and virtual learning are. The answer to what we will see in higher education or K-12 education is all of the above.

Jake Dunagan, director of design futures for verynice.co, guided five teams through a design thinking exercise. The teams investigated failures in a quick yet deep analysis, then agreed to design constraints to focus thinking before choosing design mechanisms. To varying degrees, all five teams designed to the needs of the individual learner, while recognizing learning is social and collaborative.  The teams designed artifacts that helped their alternative visions come to life in convincing ways.

And in the last innovation exercise of the gathering, the five teams regrouped to rethink how foresight could be taught in the future. In a great synthesis of the learning remix turned back onto foresight education, the teams proposed ways to make futures thinking as vital and relevant to all ages as APF envisions.