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Crowd sourcing the European foresight study: your chance to be an expert

January 20th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Here is a bit of fun. I have been invited as an ‘expert’ “to participate as an expert in a vision-building process on the future of learning aimed at assisting European policy-makers in addressing the challenges that lie ahead. This is a great opportunity for you to have an impact on European policy making and actively shaping the Future of Learning.”

The invitation continues: “Before giving you instructions on what we are asking you to do, we would like to briefly introduce the context and methodology of the study.

The context of this study
The European Commission has recently launched a foresight study on “The Future of Learning: New ways to learn new skills for future jobs”. This study intends to develop visions and scenarios on the ways in which new skills and competences will be learned in Europe in 2020-2030. The study addresses the following dimensions:
(1) Emergent skills and competences associated with future jobs
(2) New ways and practices of acquiring knowledge, skills and competences
(3) Associated changes in the roles of the participants in the learning process, i.e. learners and teachers
(4) Implications for existing Education and Training institutions, systems and policy frameworks
(5) The role of information and communication technologies in transforming and supporting creative and innovative learning
(6) Changes and challenges to assessment, certification and accreditation
(7) Implications of the envisaged changes for present policy action and support

The project team is made up of researchers from the European Commission Institute for Prospective Technology Studies (IPTS) in Seville; TNO, the applied research and technology organisation of the Netherlands; the Open University of the Netherlands; and AtticMedia, a specialist learning communications agency from London. This team will, over the next 12 months, develop a number of visions and scenarios on the future of learning and review their implications for policy making.

Your contribution to the study
As a first step in this project we would like to invite you as an expert to contribute to a vision building process using the group concept mapping method (GCM). As communicated in the invitation, you will be involved online (using e-mail) in two stages of the methodology, namely (a) individual brainstorming of ideas and (b) individual sorting and rating of ideas. In the brainstorming phase you will be asked to generate ideas about specific aspects of education of the future. This phase will typically take between 10 and 15 minutes. A week later, you will receive an aggregated list of ideas generated by all experts involved to, first, sort the statements in groups of similarity and then rate them on some scales (e.g. importance and feasibility). If you would like to know more about the GCM methodology, a short description with examples from various projects is attached to this e-mail (Concept System Introduction). Those of you familiar with the classical concept mapping approach, will probably notice substantial differences with the GCM methodology.

Please read the following instruction for the brainstorming phase of the study carefully.

Instruction to the first phase of the study
We all have the feeling that education in 20 years will have to be different from education today. Education then will possibly deal with a new set of skills and competences, new curriculums or types of curriculums, innovative ways of learning and assessment, different roles for teachers and educational institutions, different impacts of technology, just to mention a few.

1.       We ask you to generate statements about your thoughts about education in 20 years, and to do this using the following format:

One specific change of Education in 20 years will be that:”

I am not sure about my qualifications as an expert in this study, nor indeed that experts are the answers to such a study.

Anyway my somewhat esoteric list is posted below. But what do you think. Post your ideas in a reply – who knows, we might do better than the “experts”, and if enough reply I will find a way to move to stage 2 which involves the sorting and rating  of proposed changes

My ideas

  • We will recognise people for what they do rather than what qualifications they have
  • Open learning through the internet will become common
  • Learners will be expected to take control of their own learning
  • Formal learning  will become more episodic with people entering and leaving education at various points in their career path
  • Digital identities (and portfolios) will replace traditional CVs
  • Management of digital identities will become a crucial competence
  • The workplace will become a major context for learning
  • Mobile internet enabled devices will become the major tool for learning
  • Practice will become a focus for learning and will be captured through mobile devices and integrated with cloud based portfolios
  • Augmented reality applications will be a major tool for learning
  • Schooling will become a less important focus for learning as learning moves into the workplace, community and home
  • Higher education will return to its traditional core purpose of research
  • Vocational education and training become the major organisational form of learning
  • Systems and services will be developed to allow mutual peer group learning between groups of interested learners
  • Text books will be replaced by electronic multi media publications
  • Blogs and other internet based multi media will be recognised as legitimate publications for researchers
  • Multi User Virtual Environments will render physical attendance in school and university unnecessary
  • The financial crisis will lead to the increasing privatisation of universities
  • High course fees will deter many working class students from attending higher education
  • Open Educational Resources will become widely adopted
  • Virtual mobility will break down barriers between national education systems
  • There will be a lowering of the school leaving age as it is recognised that other contexts for learning may be more effective and more motivating than school
  • We will cease to rely on experts as the source of knowledge and curriculum and move towards quality based on use and endorsement through internet systems
  • Context specific learning materials and tasks will lead to more localised learning
  • Personal Learning Environments will replace institutional Virtual Learning environments
  • Occupational profiles will become broader incorporating elements of what are now seen as individual occupations
  • It will become common for people to move between occupations with learning key to supporting such moves
  • Traditional disciplinary boundaries will break down with learners pursuing individual learning programmes based on multi and inter disciplinary learning
  • Educational institutions will be reinvented as community knowledge centres serving both geographical communities and wider dispersed communities
  • Inter sector and inter subject networks of institutions will combine to form networks based on purpose and interest

One Response to “Crowd sourcing the European foresight study: your chance to be an expert”

  1. Sigi Jakob says:

    Hi Graham,
    there isn’t really much that could be added to your list. I trust this is not only a wish list but that certain developments will become an inevitable fact just by the pressure of the future needs in society that depends on creative, self-responsible people. If learning doesn’t change the future of our society will certainly be at stake. I am rather surprised, that politicians seem to wake up only now asking for perspectives for the next 20 years! In 20 years this will certainly be too late to jump on the train of education. We’ve been waiting on the platforms far too long, watching trains passing by…
    As for your pessimistic prediction concerning the costs of universities I do not share your opinion. Won’t it rather be possible to reduce costs a lot by having lectures online, giving students the possibility to follow even from remote places . Even today we already have these methods, many renowned universities in the US are offering lectures online and you can follow anytime anywhere…. I am convinced that this will be part of future learning scenarios- as it will be for school. There is no way to replace presence of students and teachers altogether- or at least not at early stages by many activities and projects can well be done or at least supported online and without any national or school borders.
    What has to change first place is the MENTALITY of people how learning should happen!
    Tell these people they are late with their survey and that they’d better speed up! We do not need change in 20 years, we need it NOW!

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