‘The Future of Education’

As part of a strategic planning day tomorrow, we were invited to look at an article by Thomas Frey titled ‘The Future of Education’. The article came to us with some aspects highlighted, and we were asked for comments, so here are mine. Firstly, let me say that I have no issue with what was written in the article, and I think the main purpose was to get the group thinking. Most of my comments relate to the highlighted version we got, which you cannot see.

For what they are worth, my comments are:

    The article is ‘old’! It was written in March 2007, and while that isn’t that long ago, since then things have moved on. Indeed, some of the things ‘wished for’ in the article are now available, although perhaps not in the ideal way imagined. This does highlight an issue when planning, you need to make sure that the information is up to date – when discussing technology things can become out of date quite quickly.
    There are some constraints that you cannot change. I get the point about the Roman chariots and the impact on the Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters, but that is the way things are at this point. Yes, when planning, we need to ask what current systems/processes are holding us back, but in many cases we cannot do much about them. When planning, I think we need to recognise what these constraints are, and then use our influence to change these where we can. What you cannot change, work around, which is what the SRB engineers did.
    ‘The classroom touch point’. I agree that the ‘notion that learning can take place only in a classroom’ needs to be changed. There are so many additional ways in which learning happens. A related point is that often the learners feel that they need to be in a ‘classroom’ to learn, which can be a constraint. Eventually this will change. However, because some learners want to be ‘consumers’ instead of ‘producers’, perhaps an initial way of helping the learners (and some of the teachers) develop the new skills required is to use the classroom as the starting point for the journey into the future of education. This gives them a recognised base from which to begin. Peer learning may be a good place to start
    I wonder whether having a ’60 minute learning experience’ is still too long? Perhaps 20 minutes would be better – and it would be easy to break up content into shorter ‘chunks’. (This article on Wikipedia indicates that 20 minutes might be better)
    The main premise of the article seems to me to be that we need a ‘courseware builder’. We already have many different variations of this. And while it perhaps would be better if there was only one, that isn’t the way that it is at this point, and so decisions need to be made about which tools will be used (and often, this decision is made by others, another constraint we have to deal with!) I think he bigger issue is the content and how its broken down into suitable learning objects. As we have the courseware builders, as well as the ‘containers’ to hold the results of these tools, the emphasis needs to be moved to developing suitable processes to manage the content to meet the learners needs. This is a bigger challenge for educators.

The article is thought-provoking, and I look forward to seeing the discussion that results. To me, strategic planning is about three things; knowing where you are, knowing where you want to be, and then working out how you are going to get from where you are to where you want to be! And then starting the cycle again because things have changed.


One Response to ‘The Future of Education’

  1. Craig Halliday says:

    The article certainly started a chain of discussion which was by no means finite or difinitive but it did raise more questions than what it answered as did the day’s session. The Romans in the areas of maths and sciences were not as creative as some of their con quested neighbours but they were innovators and very effective at coming up with systems that improved the effectiveness of what other the cultures had presented. it at certain points had its limitations which then became part of the inefficiency of the system of bureaucracy they had created and led to stagnant or outdated practices. The article in that sense was to challenge the participants by pointing out that we need to move forward not by putting ‘faster wheels on a T model ford’ but to develop a new method altogether.

    Ourselves as educators responsible for curriculum design can ‘take the blinkers off’ and move away from the traditional classroom to become more learner centred and methods like the peer learning are great ideas to engage and inspire all with improved outcomes and retention amongst students.
    i agree totally with your position in that the management of the content is the bigger challenge for educators, as with the Romans, how to manage a system which over time becomes overloaded or antiquated. I wonder if the Roman empire was still around what the space shuttle would have looked like?? We do still have to get everyone to the starting point, as some are not their yet.

    Also the time spent on research is a difficult one with volumes of material now readily available since the arrival of the internet, and there needs to be much filtering done to reduce the overwhelming amounts of data. coupled with this, the need for clear strategy and continuous improvement is critical. Both are necessary and as you have pointed out “To me, strategic planning is about three things; knowing where you are, knowing where you want to be, and then working out how you are going to get from where you are to where you want to be! And then starting the cycle again because things have changed.”

    The discussion today was only scraping the surface, but hopefully it brings a deeper understanding of ‘why’ we are doing something and how that fits within the core business at hand. Lots of work still to do but exciting times ahead……

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