Learning for 2020

My journey to understand what life will be in year 2020 and how we should prepare our next generation to cope with life at 2020.

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Vision 2020

via Stephen Downes' OLDaily

According to the survey which asks students (as an open-ended question):
Today, you and your fellow students are important users of technology. In the future, you will be the inventors of new technologies. What would you like to see invented that you think will help kids learn in the future?

The profile of how students may wish to use technology for learning is:

Every student would use a small, handheld wireless computer that is voice activated. The computer would offer high-speed access to a kid-friendly Internet, populated with websites that are safe, designed specifically for use by students, with no pop-up ads. Using this device, students would complete most of their inschool work and homework, as well as take online classes both at school and at home. Students would use the small computer to play mathematics-learning games and read interactive e-textbooks. In completing their schoolwork, students would work closely and routinely with an intelligent digital tutor, and tap a knowledge utility to obtain factual answers to questions they pose. In their history studies, students could participate in 3-D virtual reality-based historic reenactments.

I do not believe the profile described there is anything near what will be in 2020. From this year to 2020, there are still another 15 years. If Moore's law continues to hold in these 15 years, there will be 15 doubling. In other words, the computing power, communication capability etc will be 32 thousands times more powerful than today. The form factor of a small hand held computer is most likely to be wrong.

On the other hand, I believe the students have under-estimated the slowness of social change. I don't believe that in 2020, there will be a separate Internet catering for the kids only. There may be better intelligence in sending the kind of suitable content to the students.

There is also an implicit assumption of the continuation of school in which there is finite block of in-school and out-of-school activities. Again, the students may be right at this (given the slowness of change to a large system like education). But, today, we have already identified a number of weakness of the "industrial" mode of structuring learning time, content and activities in rigid blocks. In 2020, I hope we can see a personalized education system whereby students are connected globally and working in groups on real projects which have real implications.