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A few proposals: education in 10 years time.

5 avril 2011

(The original and french version of that article by JP Jacquel is here.)

It is very difficult to guess the future of an activity as complex as education. One could bet that trends have little future. However, it can be challenging to try to project some trends that seem today marginal but still full of future.

Taiga is a group of U.S. academic librarians who want to push the traditional boundaries of their activity against the rapidly changing technology. On the occasion of their first meeting in 2006 they had proposed a series of 15 provocative statements to stimulate their thinking and develop new perspectives. You will find this text here.

At the time the problem was of course the extraordinary rise of search engines in general and Google in particular that was challenging the traditional cataloging, online catalogs and the very function of the librarian. Since that time, another version of "provocative statements" was published in 2009 for the Congress of ALA (American Librarian Association). In view of the upcoming forum of the same association a new series of provocative statements was conceived that you can find on the blog of Taiga.

The process is relatively simple: consider a trend still emergent but that seems dynamic and extrapolate it over the next 10 years.

In that spirit, I have decided to do the same thing starting with a few simple ideas, and clear trends. What is the result? The twelve proposals below:


In 10 years time :

 

  • 1. Social networks, Facebook, or its successors and their competitors will play a central role in education. First, by allowing the formation of interest groups, second, by offering structured courses, and third, by connecting a supply and demand for training;
  • 2. Some search engines will offer to present the results of a query in the form of structured information in a comparable way of a lesson. The difficulty levels will be variable and series of exercises or quizzes will help the user in learning;
  • 3. The concept of school discipline will have disappeared in favour of an acquisition and accreditation based on field of knowledge and skills;
  • 4. The best universities will not require anymore high school diplomas (baccalaureate), too focused on knowledge. They will set up entrance examinations in order to reveal the learning abilities and the creative potential of the candidates;
  • 5. The French “Education nationale” will be about to end peacefully its slow implosion;
  • 6. Most teachers will be freelancers. They’ll fit into various business models: some of them will intervene directly at home, others will join marketplaces such as Amazon mechanical turk, or will use distance training or will participate to training sessions organized by groups of learners;
  • 7. Future teachers will be trained by private or public bodies of international dimension (universities, vocational schools, …). The quality of training received will provide them access to a job, more or less easily. The starting salary will depend on qualifications, quality of training received and the scarcity of candidates for the position;
  • 8. The textbooks will have been replaced by computer assisted learning programs that will provide students of all ages with information and sources of information, with self-assessment exercises, and other resources.  In cooperation with tutors and teacher-advisers, those softwares will give consistency to the formation program of each individual;
  • 9. A dense network of assessment centers will allow everyone to evaluate at any time his own level of knowledge and expertise. The result of the assessment will be included in a portfolio in which each individual will maintain its training courses and certifications;
  • 10. Places, structures and styles of training will be varied: libraries, homes, specialized agencies, school startups, virtual worlds, online gaming … The same person may attend several of them according to his needs;
  • 11. New skills will be considered important and included in the assessment of national education systems: creativity, taking initiative, adaptability, etc.;
  • 12. Assessments, comparable to PISA, will be created for higher education, corporate training, networks of distance learning … These assessments will be considered in the rating of national economies.

You’ll perhaps find these proposals excessive and extravagant, and I’m not far from sharing your views. First, they are written by one person and are partial and biased. They call for criticism and comments. Other proposals are possible … Do not hesitate to suggest yours.

Are they improbable? If you look at the 10 years that have just passed, you will agree with me that it was impossible in 2000 to predict certain situations that we know today. In my view, one of the most significant thing is that the issue of education has rised slowly on the agenda of many international and national organizations, public or private.

In this context one may hesitate between two attitudes. Either try to preserve what can be preserved, and accept reluctantly the inevitable changes, or launch ourselves into the future by imagining what we want to do with school. This second approach requires imagination and pragmatism, it also implies pooling, team working, circulation of information, a process of sharing and listening. I think that a website like the bright new educavox could open a forum on the subject.

That said, Solution de continuité could also initiate a process, with its more modest means. This could even lead to an opportunity to meet us … after all, why not?

What do you think about it?

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