Thursday, 6 December 2007

Future forces affecting jobs in education

A while ago Richard invited me to guest blog here and I apologise that it’s taken me some time to decide what to do. I hope the following is of interest.

In November I was invited to the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto to talk about transliteracy, which they see as a 'disruptive innovation' coming out of DMU. The IFTF is an independent thinktank which reports on future trends (they work very closely with Howard Rheingold, which is how I got to know them) and in 2006 they did some very interesting research for the KnowledgeWorks Foundation on the forces likely to affect education in the future. The IFTF gave me a print copy of the map they produced and I was especially interested in the section on Educators and Learning, particularly the kinds of jobs people like ourselves might be doing in the future.

Interestingly for me in relation to transliteracy, they say that mobile geocoded technologies mean that learning will get increasingly physical, and this digital-physical fusion will enable the community to truly become the classroom, very much echoing my own belief that the separation of learning from life that happened in the late 19th century can now be remedied via technology.

They anticipate that learning will change massively. Urban communities will be become VUCA focal points (VUCA = Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) and that in VUCA communities young people will become the mentors for older members in new methods of urban survival such as urban computing, urban agriculture, and new literacies for building cooperative strategies (this last is their work with Rheingold). Public places will become personal spaces, which of course we are already seeing, and educational content will become context-specific, aligning personal learning needs with physical spaces. We can expect new forms of networks supporting the aggregation and remixing of knowledge and they are quite insistent, rightly I think, that brain research will soon be very instrumental in designing learning experiences based on individual needs.

And who will facilitate all of this in the education environment? Where will the e-learning jobs be?

IFTF say that the new approaches derived from these changes will challenge many teachers because they require ‘unlearning’. This process will cause disruption at all levels including trade unions, who will have to decide whether or not to support the diversification of educational roles. They write:

“As education is unbundled into a constellation of functions and roles to meet the needs of the emerging learning economy, the teaching profession will experience a creative breakout. New administrative, classroom and community roles will differentiate educational careers (providing new jobs) such as content experts, learning coaches, network navigators, cognitive specialists, resource managers and community liaisons”.

I’m curious to know how much of this is already recognizable at DMU, and whether the new roles described above are already happening here or in other HE institutions. Everyone reading this is involved in e-learning, a role that didn’t exist 10 years ago, but what kinds of ‘e-learning’ jobs do you expect to see at DMU in 10 years time, or even in 5?

Something to ponder on as you transit through the winter solstice this year.

Season's Greetings!

1 comment:

Steve Mackenzie said...

Hi Sue,

thanks for the post. a few thoughts on new roles. You would expect teacher training to expand, inductions for all employees should include web 2.0 training, the value of connectivism and the role of social 'learning' networks in the organisation.

The role of a social 'learning' network manager for the institution should be created.

much keener, personalised technical support for mobile phones, pda's, writing tablets and other hardware that could/should all be a part of a teacher and students learning arsenal :-)

The mind boggles and with the pace of change you would think that there should be drastic changes and many other new roles within 5 years. it will be interesting to see what does/ does not happen!