‘The past is always tense, the future perfect’ (Zadie Smith)

I’ve been thinking about the future a lot recently. Specifically about the future of education, and how it will be affected (or not) by technology. These musings were prompted by preparing a 20-minute ‘Insights’ session for last week’s online Reform Symposium Conference (RSCON 2013), combined with recently seeing the movie Elysium (see trailer). ‘The future’ often conjures up science-fiction images of technology, and dystopian – or utopian – societies. Elysium neatly captures this dystopian/utopian dichotomy, and the images in the film of a dystopian earth have impact. Not least because they are filmed in a part of the world that already exists, and then digitally enhanced with some scary-looking skyscrapers.

Source: http://goo.gl/DxlMnK

Source: http://goo.gl/DxlMnK

The title of this year’s RSCON was ‘The future of education’, and as a 20-minute curtain raiser for world-famous educator Sugata Mitra (yup, scary!), I wanted to come up with something connected to the theme. The dystopia image in Elysium kept coming back to me, so I decided to create a talk that included that. This led to remembering images from other futuristic Hollywood movies… and how education in the future might be related to those… and how many of the ‘futuristic’ technologies we see in these movies are in fact already present and being used in education today… and hence the title of my talk ‘Future Present’. Irresistible for a language teacher like me, as is Zadie Smith’s quote at the top of this post. Well, if you want to find out more about the talk, take look at the slides, and/or to listen to the talk recording.

  • The videos and articles/books mentioned in my talk are here

You’ll also find a number of ‘education and the future’ related resources below:

  • Sugata Mitra’s RSCON opening plenary ‘The future of education’ in which he describes several of his past projects and his current ‘school in the cloud’ initiative: recording
  • An excellent series of four blog posts from Steve Wheeler on the future of learning and technology
  • A blog post by Tony Wheeler discussing how online learning could affect classroom design
  • An interview with Stephen Downes on the future of mobile and online learning
  • An interview by the European Commission Futurium initiative with myself and my colleague Gavin Dudeney, with our thoughts on education – in 2050! (you need to register for free on the Futurium site here to access a number of ‘future’ interviews)
  • A video on the future of wearable technology (including some freaky-looking clothes)

Finally, I’d be interested to know what you think will be the future of education… Will technology change classrooms, change teachers’ roles, change assessment, and indeed change learning itself? Feel free to leave a comment in the section below.

Nicky Hockly
The Consultants-E
October 2013