In the month of July, I was in Boston to attend the Future of Learning 2016 held as part of Project Zero organised by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Over the years I have attended and spoken at innumerable conferences and summits, but this one stood because of the quality of researched topics that were deliberated. The conference design did not look at solutions to the future of education instead it focused on understanding the dynamics of the future that will in turn impact the process of learning. The theme of the conference revolved around nurturing global and digital citizenships. The topic seems urgent against the backdrop of rapid spread of digital technologies, growing calls for sustainable development as well as a rising xenophobia and a most troubling refugee crisis. The questions that guided the discussions at the conference were:
- Purpose of Learning? What are the reasons that guide our educational efforts; how are they being articulated by others and in my own work?
- How might we rethink learning? How do we need to rethink the what, who, and how of learning in our dynamic global and digital times?
- What should we do differently? What should I, and others, do differently in our teaching, learning and leadership to meet the new digital and global demands in practice?
- How might we prepare ourselves? What is our role as responsible professionals in Education in an increasingly digital and globally interdependent world?
Some of the interesting topics that were deliberated include:
- Millennials do not want to absorb content, they want to produce and participate in creation of content. This is the reality of our times, everyone has the ability to and feel the need to create content. Our social media activity, fascination for taking photos and videos, eagerness to reply and respond to messages and posts is all proof that we love to create content. Education originally was designed in a manner where students had to absorb content already created. How will we engage a generation which wants to create content not absorb content?
- Children need to learn to be curators of information and to remove the noise. There is so much content available that knowing or remembering content will not be necessary. The new skill required would be to analyze and sort relevant information from the abundance of information available.
- What will happen to truth in the era of Digital Truth? Everyone has an opinion and everyone is creating content. In this era of content and abundance of content what happens to the truth?
- We have to live with diversity. The pace at which migration is happening around the world has never been witnessed. In this fast changing demographics how do we teach boundaries, cultures and traditions to our children?
- Education should not be for something it should be a wonderful experience by itself. If we fail to create good experiences for children we will fail to engage them in the process of learning.
The future of learning is going to be very exciting yet very different from what it is today. Finding answers to these questions and many more that will come up over the years will take us on a journey of exploration that will lead us to how learning will happen in future!