What do mega-trends mean for schooling?

I had the pleasure of speaking at the 2017 Edutech conference in Sydney recently. The conference is a ‘finger on the pulse’ on what is happening in schooling and the trends that are shaping the educational landscape.

Interesting isn’t it that we live at a time where we have moved on from talking about trends and data to ‘mega-trends’ and ‘big-data’. Connectivity, scaleability and mobility have been massive game-changers in that we no longer see business dictating trends. Instead we have technology delivering greater power to clients, customers and learners.

This leads to the development of new business models. The point is, that schooling is not immune from the global trends influencing our work, our lives and our future. Being responsive to these social changes requires us to continually develop new models for delivering learning and teaching just as Amazon is in retail and Netflix is in entertainment.

If you’re interested, Frost and Sullivan released its Global Mega Trend Matrix to 2025. It’s interesting to see how these ‘transformative, global forces’ are predicted to impact on all aspects of society.  So what do the Mega-Trends mean for schooling? My thoughts are below:

  1. Connectivity and convergence: Futurist Thomas Frey recently predicted that by 2030, education will be delivered by ‘bots….smart enough to personalise each lesson plan to the child sitting in front of the screen.’ Frey says the old model of twenty kids in a classroom vying for the attention of the teacher will be replaced by a more efficient model allowing learning to happen much faster. New technologies will be discarded on the basis of whether they add value to the user or not.
  2. Smart is the new green. Best articulated by Linda Darling-Hammond in her 2010 book ‘The Flat World and Education’ – we need to ‘establish a purposeful, equitable education system that will prepare all our children for success in a knowledge-based society.’
  3. Health, wellness and well-being. PISA released its first report on student well-being this year. There is a growing body of evidence on the link between wellness and educational outcomes. As Dylan Wiliam said our thinking on this has been upside down – the emotional is as important as the cognitive in learning.
  4. Future of mobility. Anywhere, anytime learning that is physical and virtual. The learner dictates when where and how they want to learn.
  5. New business models for many. As Facebook and Amazon have shown, the new business model takes personalisation to scale. And that is what we in schools are challenged to do – take the personalisation of learning to scale.
  6. Innovation to zero. When Nokia developed the mobile phone it cost $2000. We started with the phone and ended up with free apps. Like the Nokia phone, we are moving away from the costly physical buildings to a blend of physical and virtual learning environments.

The overwhelming conclusion we can draw from these Mega-Trends is the hubris of believing schools can and must control learning and teaching in today’s world. It ignores that the fact that society has moved on and learners will shape models of schooling. The cold hard truth is adapt or risk oblivion.



One thought on “What do mega-trends mean for schooling?

  1. Greg, I read the post with interest and note the following points:
    – relationships are a key in learning and wellness (and in schools). No longer is it just about the teacher and the student role – we are all people just younger or older, experienced or less experienced etc.. – so getting to know younger people as people who are students (YES), also keen musicians or sportspeople, have families, have been to shared places so make the connections transparent – it builds trust and I believe accelerates learning. Bot’s cannot do this, people can.
    – if you care as a teacher you will troll through the various data sets (note I didn’t just say assessment sets) to determine the next learning points for the student and whether your instruction is having an effect (some data sets can be as simple as a thumbs up or down at the end of a lesson or student self assessment of whether they got the understanding or not by simply putting you book or task into a T chart of got it yes or no with sticky notes if applicable). That’s personalisation. Caring enough to seek and receive feedback from the learner!

    I could go on but its definitely about making continuous adjustments to our relationships and instruction that are part of the future.

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