Future scenarios - LLIDA
Introduction to the study describing terminology choices and the reasons behind the study.
digital literacy, learning literacy, learning, education, digital capabilities, skills
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Future scenarios

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Having examined current trends, this section scans the further horizon to consider possible future requirements for literacy, competence and learning. The resources reviewed here took different approaches to future thinking, and had different remits in terms of scope and coverage. While much of the work of these projects has been speculative, this review is limited to the trends identified as significant for future thinking by at least two studies.

For each trend identified as of interest to this review, possible implications for learners’ skills, literacies and dispositions are explored. This section, and the interpretations made of source documents, is intentionally speculative.

Resources reviewed for this section:

Trends

Skills/literacies/dispositions

Open University ‘Open thinking on HE’ seminar series

The knowledge society demands: broadening of curriculum (less discipline-bound); students’ approaches to learning being actively developed; learning how to (continue to) learn. The knowledge society likely to mean: legitimisation of knowledge as use-value rather than based on established protocols and methods, values of ‘truth’ etc; distributed sites of learning (including the workplace); rhetoric of high skill economy -may hide restratification of middle-class work, high-performance anxiety

Interdisciplinary thinking; Learning to learn; Eclectic methodologies; Persuasive and rhetorical skills; Capacity to make sense of experience in multiple contexts

Globalisation/internationalisation of HE: features Physical mobility (students and scholars); Recognition of prior study across national boundaries; Other modes of knowledge transfer (collaborative research, transnational education); Internationality of teaching, learning and research; International orientations and attitudes

Globally recognised qualifications: capacity to present achievements in globally recognised ways; ‘International’ orientation and attitude; Capacity to collaborate across national and cultural boundaries; Mobility (cultural, geographical)

Democracy and social justice: aspirations: OECD (2006): ‘promote democracy, tolerance and social cohesion’; IAU (2005): ‘instill …the critical thinking that underpins responsible citizenship’; CoE (2006): developing ‘democratic culture’, ‘active citizenship’ and ‘well-being of whole society’, ‘human rights and social dialogue’

Citizenship education; Social participation; Social innovation

Beyond Current Horizons pre-determined elements of future scenarios

Population ageing

Maintain good health throughout life; Maintain interest in learning throughout life

Climate changing

Assess and address environmental threats; Resilience

Ever greater facility to connect to knowledge, resources, people and tools, and to gather, store and examine data; Better systems/practices for working together at a distance, facilitating globalisation of economic and social life; More porous boundaries between working and learning, and between working and personal life; Decentralisation of technology with systems organised around individual rather than institution; More devolution of responsibility to machines and computer systems, with implications for ‘human’ work roles; Location increasingly important in terms of the technological systems available, governance of systems, and the way in which virtual and physical information is merged; Drugs which enhance cognitive functioning for limited periods of time will continue to be available – poss of other kinds of cognitive enhancement

Connect with knowledge, resources, people and tools as required; Gather, manage and analyse data (ubiquitous, epic scale); Work at a distance and across cultural/national boundaries; Manage work/life balance; Take personal responsibility for technology systems; Work in networks of expertise with other humans and ICT systems; Create and manage own virtual/physical spaces; Understand and manage own cognitive processes; Act to preserve health of the environment, the body, and society

E-Skills Technology Counts emerging trends

Industrialisation of technology delivery and business transformation through ICT; Security and data protection; Communications convergence; Innovation at a premium; Outsourcing, geo-sourcing, automation and commoditisation; Green IT; Convergence of home/work/college ICT systems; Peer-to-peer networks

Analyse, design and develop technology-enabled projects; Broad business skills e.g. analytics; Maintain personal and organisational data security and integrity; Manage voice, text, data, video, location information; Develop and deploy high level expertise: ongoing self-development and re-invention; Assess and address environmental concerns; Manage work/life balance; Be informed ICT consumer and user; Participate in and understand dynamics of social networks

European Project on Learning 2.0: opportunities/features of Learning 2.0

Building on distributed knowledge; Enabling peer learning; Supporting the development of interest groups, communities of practice, and learning communities; Creating innovative collaborative tools and dynamics; Allowing learners to generate new learning contexts (and not only content); Providing tools that enhance self-organisation and autonomy and ‘just-in–time’ learning; Undermining the importance of curricula and syllabi in favour of learning pathways; Enhancing the importance of identity construction within the learning path; Lowering the barriers between formal and informal/non-formal learning, school, home and work

Collaborative knowledge-building; Learn from others and support others’ learning; Group participation and facilitation; Generating new learning contexts and dynamics; Self-organisation, autonomy; Identify own learning needs and develop learning pathways; Construct and reflect identities; Manage work-life balance

Educause Connect Report 2008: Significant Trends

The way we work, collaborate, and communicate is evolving as boundaries become more fluid and globalization increases; Access to—and portability of—content is increasing as smaller, more powerful devices are introduced; Data mashups will transform the way we relate to and share information; Social operating systems will support whole new categories of applications that organize our work and our thinking around the people we know; Educational applications will make explicit and implicit use of collective intelligence; Mass amateurisation will change/challenge forms of scholarship; Megatrends (beyond 5 years): Collective generation of knowledge; Connecting people through the internet; Moving computing into 3 dimensions

Communicate and collaborate across boundaries; Marketable high-level skills for global knowledge networks; Digital scholarship, digital research; Access content anywhere, anyhow, and repurpose/reaggregate on the fly; Develop networks, project reputation, manage identity; Participate in networks of knowledge and expertise incorporating non-human actors

OECD Schools of the Future

2a ‘The focus of learning broadens with more explicit attention given to non-cognitive outcomes, values and citizenship.’; 2b ‘widespread development of specialisms … Flourishing research on pedagogy and the science of learning’; 3a ‘learning for different cultures and values through networks of community interests. Small group, home schooling and individualised arrangements become widespread’;3b ‘learning is importantly determined by choices and demands … strong focus on non-cognitive outcomes and values’

The OECD scenarios are intended as alternative future paradigms but it is interesting that non-cognitive outcomes, cultural awareness, values and citizenship are key attributes that emerge across several of them.

Both OECD and BCH envisage different literacies and learning practices being required in different political and social scenarios, e.g.: 1. Competitive, market-led education system (outcomes-led, economic models of accountability); 2. Personalised, humanist model of education (process-led, discourse of personal development); 3. Socialised, collective model of education (values-led, collective responsibility); It is easy to imagine that technologies as well as social practices would develop differently in these three scenarios.

Common capabilities that may be required to cope with a range of future scenarios:

  • Manage work/life balance, particularly as technologies erode the boundaries between work, leisure and learning, between home, school and workplace
  • Social entrepreneurialism – the capacity to understand how social systems work, innovate within systems, and adopt roles flexibly and strategically
  • Develop and project identities, manage reputation (cf Owens et al 2007)
  • Communicate and collaborate across national and cultural boundaries, using a variety of technologies and media
  • Contribute to knowledge and understanding in hybrid networks of people and non-human cognitive agents
  • Manage career path, learning path and professional development
  • Exercise judgement and expertise, bring knowledge to bear
  • Act safely, ethically and responsibly in environments where public and private are being redefined
  • Reflect, plan, seek support, learn from situations and from others
  • Assess and address threats to health and to the environment
  • Exercise multiple modes of meaning making (cf. Kress, 2003)

Some future scenarios may prove to be paradigm-breaking for literacy provision and formal education more generally. For example:

  • ‘Study skills’ and ‘academic practices’ acquired through formal learning may become (perceived to be) less and less relevant to the just-in-time, self-directed learning demanded in high-pressure working environments
  • Academic knowledge and ways of knowing, e.g. peer review, acknowledged authorship, and methods associated with specific disciplinary traditions, may also become (perceived to be) irrelevant in a society focused on the use-value of knowledge in immediate contexts
  • [+Ubiquitous digital image and voice capture devices, high quality voice recognition and means of analyzing sound and video files, may make the text-based practices of formal learning obsolete, and challenge the values of a largely text-based accreditation system
  • Online reputation may become more valuable to the individual than formal qualifications or accreditation+]
  • ICT skills may become so general in society, and digital tools so intuitive to use (highly wearable, interoperable, customizable) that the idea of ‘learning’ or accrediting such skills beyond the kindergarten becomes untenable
  • Like other cultural resources, digital resources may become so differentially available to individuals and families, at so early an age, that formal education can to little to redress the inequalities

None of the studies cited consider these paradigm breaking scenarios likely. They are included as tools for thinking about the directions education might or could take, in the area of digital literacies provision.


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Existing studies