Future scenarios

The Next 25 Years?: Future Scenarios and Future Directions for Education and Technology.
K. Facer and R. Sandford.
Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26, 74–93. February 2010.

The educational technology research field has been at the heart of debates about the future of education for the last quarter century. This paper explores the socio-technical developments that the next 25 years might bring and the implications of such developments for educators and for educational technology research. The paper begins by outlining the diverse approaches to educational futures that are currently visible in the field, and suggests four principles to underpin future thinking in educational technology. It then describes the methods used to inquire into long-term socio-technical futures in the 2-year Beyond Current Horizons Programme. These included a foresight and scenario development process bringing together evidence reviews and insights from over 100 researchers from disciplines as diverse as computer science, demography and sociology of childhood, as well as consultation with over 130 organizations and individuals from industry, practice and educational beneficiary groups. The outcomes of this programme are then presented, including a set of future scenarios for education and a set of socio-technical developments that might underpin such scenarios. The scenarios emerge from three future worlds (“Trust Yourself”, “Loyalty Points” and “Only Connect”), and from projections including: changing demography, new human-machine relations and a weakening of institutional boundaries. The paper then argues that the next 25 years will challenge our current organization of education around the unit of the individual child, the school and the discourses of the knowledge economy; and will require the development of new approaches to curriculum, cross-institutional relationships, workforce development and decision-making in education. Finally, the paper argues that these developments challenge educational technology research to move beyond pedagogy to curriculum; beyond the school to the community, home and workplace; and beyond social sciences to collaborations with medical and bio-ethics fields.

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