Education will play a bigger role in our lives in the future. Lifelong education will spread, ICT will be used more in education and many people will be self-educating using online resources. Also many new jobs are likely to require better education.
Here are some scenarios for the mid-range future of education (2015-2020):
- Schools Go High-Tech. Schools use laptops, computers, as learning aids for students in (more or less) recognizably traditional school environments. Not much change, they're just computers everywhere.
- Public School System collapses (more or less,) and parents enroll their children in Free Schools, self-directed schools (or home school) environments.
- Internet Education, Apprenticeship -- Students teach themselves what they need to know primarily by way of Internet. They prove themselves and work jobs by way of Internet.
- Adults join with Students -- Rainbow's End, by Vernor Vinge, explores the idea: If technology accelerates quickly enough, and if youth are the economic targets of adult retraining, why not just merge adult retraining classes and high school classes?
- Edit Hint: Please say something about more about what is at these links, especially the Russion ones JC 17:19, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
- Advanced Technologies for Education and Training, particularly the 85-page PDF report
- Robotic teachers, robotic teachers 2 (in Russian)
- Virtual teachers virtual teachers 2 (in Russian)
- Someone who is very enthusiastic about UnSchooling has dropped off a number of links (  )
- Reports on the future of educational technology from JISC. See also gUniversities in the Future foresight report.
- UK Foresight division published "Universities of the future", a collection of decent forecasts that can be ordered from their site.
- Synthetic Serendipity -- by Vernor Vinge -- takes place in and around a school ~2020-2030; see Rainbow's End for more on the school of the 2020's
- Anda's Game -- by Cory Doctorow -- only tangentially about school, but it does shed light on the social context for schools in the present through (say) 2015.
Possible future developments
The Public School System
The public school systems around the world propagate their rather liberal agenda to people ages 4-22. They attempt to teach their children that their parents are "wrong" and that the government is questionable. Spiritualism is stripped from the young open-minded students and is treated like an "extracurricular hobby." The propaganda is subtle in Kindergarten and becomes increasingly overt until the students reach the twelfth grade. Teachers of the public school system constantly push their oppressed students into college or university, although some students rather live on welfare or have a blue collar job than graduate from a post-secondary institution.
Although education is slowly becoming a frivolous luxury for the wealthy in the 21st century and beyond, many teachers and school counsellors still pressure young people to enroll in university and to become a chartered member of the Establishment--a term for those with a degree or certificate that enables their holders access to high-paying jobs--wearing a suit and tie, making at least forty thousand dollars per annum, while owning a home in the suburbs.
As the current trend in education proves, most schools are obtaining better and better technological equipment, mainly in the use of computers and electronic media. This trend will continue in the foreseeable future, as schools find better quality items to be more and more important in their curricula. The computers in the schools' media centers, for example, will be in greater and greater demand as teachers demand that work be done online. In addition, internet and computer usage will continue to increase, for the following reasons among others:
- Wikipedia and its sister projects will become more and more influential. Just a look at the exponential growth of all MediaWiki projects, and you can see why it is rapidly gaining influence in the educational system.
- Teachers are requiring students to turn in their essays and papers to online checking sites such as Turnitin.com, which checks for any instances of a student's copying text from other online sites into their works. As Turnitin and its derivatives become more and more widely accepted, its use will continue to increase and pervade all written assignments.
- As more and more assignments are transferred from paper-borne to electronic-borne, the students' need for computers will become ever more pressing.
- More students will become accustomed to such places as Myspace.com, which allows open flow of information and chat among "friends".
- Email becomes a means of storing homework and other information, and will therefore result in a greater need to use computers.
- The internet itself is expanding almost exponentially, and as thus the quality and amount of information on it will continue to increase, resulting in more students' using them.
- Online reference study guides such as cliffsnotes.com and sparknotes.com, which cover nearly every subject in a school's curricula, become more and more effective in their coverage of material learned in the classroom, leading to more reliability and therefore dependence by the student on this reference.
This too is not new. Many grade levels' curricula can now be taught online, though this is extremely disorganized except for sites such as Wikipedia and Sparknotes. The organization of this database will continue to improve. Meanwhile, some advertisers and entrepreneurs are already stressing the value of online education--in some cases, a college degree can be granted through online study. In the future, this will continue to develop.
In today's educational system, a remarkable inefficiency is immediately apparent. Teachers must teach the same material four to eight times in one day (depending on class period length) per one year, year after year, in all the classrooms teaching a particular material, in all classrooms teaching any material, in all the schools in the nation, and all nations in the world. The amount of labor that would be saved by introducing a standard education would be enormous, freeing all these teachers to do professor-level teaching or postgraduate-level work.
True, online education does have its drawbacks. One, it cannot be applied to only partially disciplined children who have not become accustomed to endlessly staring at a computer screen. This is a major difficulty for students grade three and under, and a less problematic issue up to fifth grade, ceasing afterward.
One major aspect in this regard is the social environment in which the children will be raised. Over the course of the next generation, an entire flip may occur in which studying by computer/internet will become increasingly more prevalent and a much more common sight. For these children who will grow up in the decades to come, such an environment will serve to propel them into the rigorous form of study that online education involves.
Discipline of young children is particularly hard to tackle. One way that this issue can be negated is the formation of computer-lab-classes, in which a single instructor can act as an overseer for hundreds of students working in the one lab. The more efficient way is to introduce a particular type of program that will start off easy to learn--seemingly like an educational game--and which gradually steeps its pupils into harder and less entertaining studies. For the purposes of this article, then, we will call that program and associated methods as the Fountain of Knowledge.
Without teachers and grades, the Fountain of Knowledge program will need a method of ensuring that students actually learn. Aside from a social change in the coming generation that will shift toward veneration of those who know material (as evidenced in honor for today's Doctors of Philosophy and Doctors of Medicine). This will be accomplished with a standardized test, akin to that currently espoused by the College Board (ACT, AP, SAT, SAT 2). The new standardized test would include every subject, each attached to a course based from the Fountain of Knowledge program. These tests would be administered regularly--once a week--and change problems each time.
In preparation for such standardized tests, students would "cram" or study very quickly in depth but in rather short-term memory. Therefore, while they will be able to ace the topics one after another (these tests do not have to be taken simultaneously; they can be taken as the student finds him/herself prepared for it), they will very likely forget this material.
Therefore, the standardized tests would have to be renewed annually until the person enters society by performing a set function (such as acting as a physician for medicine school, or performing basic laboratory research for biology school). In addition, the Fountain of Knowledge program's reliance on theoretics and mnemonics over rote memorization will also help to this regard.
Some believe that the situation is not as bad as it seems; they argue that as students become more focused on a particular subject area that interest them, and as they also have less homework to do and less material to study, that they will actually devote themselves to studying what they must and therefore be less likely to forget their curricula. This premise leads to the next step, the demise of the liberal arts.
Demise of Liberal Arts
Starting as early as the Renaissance, schools and universities have increasingly emphasized multidisciplinary education. Must of this curricula has nothing to do with one's career. While one might of course argue that a youngster would not know so early in life what one would wish to do for a living, and bring proof of this claim with the countless students who have started on one topic and then veered off on something entirely, one can also postulate that this change is due exactly to the liberal arts education given. In other words, without the liberal arts, students would have found what they are looking for. It is not that the liberal arts lets the student discover his/her heart's desire, but that it alters that desire totally.
This challenge to the standard concept of liberal arts education will eventually lead to its demise. This will become more and more predominant in the future, as a basic education in anything at all becomes increasingly useless as knowledge in a specific, high-level subject area becomes more and more valued by contrast. The other material--for example, learning calculus, history, and chemistry when one is set to become a doctor--will be struck off the curricula.
This change will come as a result of the Fountain of Knowledge program. With students able to choose any subject at will, they will also be able to decide on what their future career will be and therefore concentrate on its prerequisites rather than on anything else. Even though some may value breadth of education, in the future this will become less and less practical.
Advent of Robotics
Gradually, sometime between 2020 and 2040, robotics will become a definite part of our lives. Not only in everyday life, but in what work the members of the Establishment must do (i.e. those who "have an education"). This change means that much of what students once needed to learn no longer needs to be taught, except to a couple of Stewards should either the system fail/crash or if there is a debate on the nature of that knowledge (i.e. mathematical proofs, advancement of theoretics, etc.). The rest will have considerably less of the boring material to learn, allowing them to progress to harder, even more challenging but nevertheless more necessary material. All other functions will be handled by machine.
Demise of Education
Gradually, the increased influence of robotics and computers in everyday life will result in the eradication of much of education. Currently, ear jewels such as the telephone service provided by Bluetooth already allow communication between the subvocalizing person and the ear jewel. In addition, work is being performed on an eye jewel which will allow a person to tap into vast amounts of knowledge. With its application into the general populace, standardized testing will become obsolete as it will be impossible to ensure that a test taker not get an unfair advantage from the use of an eye jewel. This eye jewel will gradually supplant formal education as the next means of garnering knowledge for immediate application. However, the Stewards (as mentioned earlier) will remain the guardians of that knowledge that has not been removed from the standard person's curriculum.
The Human Mind Project
The Human Mind Project forecasts the end of the eye jewel as well, further sealing off education as the means of garnering knowledge is moved to the realm of the thought. Hermes--a nanotechnological fleet of attuned neural interdictors--will be able to immediately, efficiently, and safely alter a person's memory so that what one would normally have to learn through education would be directly present just through expressing the will to access such data.
The Human Mind Project is, in a sense, the millennium catalyst. When informatics becomes so widespread and easily accessible, people will be able to work together on formulating a thought. Therefore, theories and applications not otherwise possible will be achieved at last. Who knows what it may result in? The singularity is one possible result, after which education may finally be laid to rest in peace.