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Story | Research
21 November 2019

Predicting what education will look like in 2050


Moonshot Education session at WISE Summit 2019 brings experts to discuss the future of education

“We’re teaching children in 19th Century buildings, using 20th Century tools to teach them 21st Century skills,” Ana C. Rold, Founder and Publisher, Diplomatic Courier, told the audience at the WISE Summit 2019, in a discussion called Moonshot Education.

The talk explored what education will look like in 2050 through the lens of “moonshot”, which evokes a state of mind with no limitations to achievement. Panelists discussed topics such as how conventional education will evolve to meet and embrace massive global transformation and disruption; how education will appear to young people emerging from high school; and how technology can bridge gaps in access and opportunity.

To address the challenges of the future of education, Rold pointed out three aspects, saying: “First, we have outdated models of learning. We are not preparing students for the future.

“Second, there are major skills gaps in the market. We’re not churning out enough skilled employees for 21st Century jobs. One study states that 60 percent of the jobs of today are not going to exist by 2050.

“Lastly, inequality or inequity, and we need to find solutions for it.”

Hyper-personalized models of learning, quantifying the value of education, and removing bureaucratic practices were some of the solutions from the panelists. “How can we quantify the value of education?” said Chris Purifoy, CEO, Chief Architect, Learning Economy.

“When we can quantify something, we can get equity out of it. I see a future in education where we learn to quantify the value of learning.”

Jacksón Smith, CTO and Co-Founder, Learning Economy, pointed how with current systems of education, students are struggling to translate their credits into an upward direction. “Looking at 2050, I’d like to get rid of these bureaucratic practices,” he said.

With a reliable portfolio of learnings and skills, we need to be tearing down the borders of records and credentials. We shouldn’t be receiving education purely based on credits or report cards.

Jacksón SmithCTO and Co-Founder, Learning Economy

He also added that time is another important aspect to better the future of education. “When students are learning matters. Research shows that the time of the day that a student takes a test shows their learning skills – for example, students who take tests in the morning score better than those who take tests in the afternoon.”

Panelists agreed that the education models of today are not effective. “It will take 100 years to bring those who have been left behind to come to the current stage,” said Manjula Dissanayake, Founding Executive Director, Educate Lanka Foundation, Inc.

“This is not be the responsibility of one stakeholder. Collaboration is needed by governments, private sectors, and international communities.

“I envision a future where education becomes inclusive, equitable – regardless of where you’re from; and that education becomes relevant – not just a degree for work or job but for life. Experts predict, by 2030, 825 million children will reach adulthood without basic secondary skills. On the other hand, today, 250 million children aged between five and 12 cannot read, write, or count. We need to bring all these people into the education system.”

To solve some of the challenges, Purifoy talked about the supply chain in education, saying: “School systems don’t talk to each other, employees don’t talk to school systems, and everyone’s working in silos.

“There is a big gap, and this is where opportunity gaps come from. We are developing protocols for a supply chain for a unified structure – a centralized system. A good way to think about this is the Internet. Imagine an Internet for education – an infrastructure created for connectivity,” he said.

Suggesting solutions for the future of education, Janet Rafner, Director of Learning, ScienceAtHome, Center for Hybrid Intelligence, highlighted that most policies and technologies are based on data that comes from Western societies that are “industrialized, rich, and democratic”.

“This is not true for the rest of the world, but policies are still made based off of these factors,” she said. “Human behavior is different for people from different places in the world, and policies and practices need to reflect them.”

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