Media and Learning 2010

The Future of Learning and the role of media and ICT. How is the learning sector changing and how can/should media and ICT be integrated in the future?

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ICT and media provide ample opportunities for making learning in the future more relevant, inclusive, interesting and rewarding, amongst others. What are the major changes to learning, and to education and training in the next 10-15 years and how can/should media and ICT be integrated in the future?

Join the panelists:

Moderator: Yves Punie, IPTS, Spain


Yves Punie

Do you agree that schools will remain the dominant place for formal learning in the future? What about standard assessment, will it remain the prevailing practice? How will more personalised learning be realised? Will the role of teachers change significantly? Join our discussion and have your say!

Steven Malliet

I think these contexts of learning are already changing, given the increased focus of universities on practice-based courses such as internships workshops and seminars... From my own experience the use of rich media (such as presentations over skype, videorecordings of lectures, use of google docs etc...) has already begun to take its place in these evolutions. So I can see these aspects only become more important in the future.

Philip Penny

The issue of assessment raised by Yves I believe is one of the biggest challenges facing educators in the very near future. Getting consensus among policy makers in this context will be slow. 'New Media' in education in all its guises is already influencing how young people interact with modern educational increasingly blended learning environments students will demand appropriate assessment policy.

Yves Punie

A recent JRC IPTS online survey on future learning revealed that
• 72% of the circa 100 experts consulted agree that schools will not have disappeared in 2025 (14% oppose);
• 62% think that standardised degrees and testing procedures will not disappear either (only 14% subscribe to this assumption)
See for the full report:

Do you agree with these expert opinions?

Séamus Cannon

Looked at another way, does it matter what the experts think? The development of social media for instance is not the outcome of the considerations of experts, it is what happens when media tools are put at the disposal of young people, and the outcomes are unpredictable (see the movie 'Social Networks' for example, and like many innovators the key protagonist didn't appear to graduate with a standard degree). If we have user created content in so many areas of our lives, why not in education? I confess that recent developments have caused me to go searching for a dog-eared copy of Ivan Illich's seminal work from the 70s on de-schooling. At the very least are be seeing the beginning of the end of national curricula? I imagine the experts would say no, but who's listening?

Jack Koumi

Experts become experts through many years of learning and teaching. They often disagree with one another because education is such a complex topic (but apparently not so much on the topic of schools' continued existence or on standardised degrees). But one thing that most will agree about is that learners do not know what they don't know - so schooling is necessary

Séamus Cannon

I guess that experts don't necessarily know what they don't know either, but to go back to the original question posed by Yves:
Do you agree that schools will remain the dominant place for formal learning in the future?
What occurs to me is that while schools may well remain dominant, they will not have the appearance of today's schools. The meaning of words like 'community' and 'friend' for instance have changed through the use of mobile media. A school community will not exist in time and space in the way we are accustomed to thinking of it. It could be international and culturally diverse in a way which will call into question the need for national assessment standards and national curricula. A student may not 'go' to school any more. It will be a huge challenge to national identity as we think of it given the role of schools in promoting a sense of the state.

Stefania Aceto

I strongly agree, schools will remain the dominant place for formal learning. Their architecture will change though to align with a more collaborative way of learning style. I think the issue is not to remove schools as an institution and physical setting, rather to change the way learning happens in schools. New subjects are emerging will emerge to endow individuals with up-to-date skills, and collaborative learning will raise (through project work, for instance). The tension between top-down policy and bottom-up practice is going to reach its peak soon. I think when the teens of today grow up and become (some of the) decision makers of tomorrow change will happen.

Will Ellis

I feel there are two things to consider in this question, the first is about the need for schools in the future. The answer here is more related to how society will change rather than education. If we assume that people will still work in the future and that this work will require them to leave their homes on a regular basis then their children will need to be looked after somewhere and by someone. Even if people work from home increasingly then the traditional role of a school as a way of socialising children whilst parents focus on other things will still be of value.
The question about formal learning is something separate I feel. If I conveniently ignore the word "formal" for a moment I would wonder how much real learning takes place within the school compared to that which already takes place outside of school. Most of what I have learnt about history, culture and the natural world did not come from formal learning in school, and the skills I value the most are concerned with social interaction and management (skills I'm still learning) and again I have had no formal lessons in these subjects. So I can see why schools will continue to play a role in society, and why the blend of informal and formal learning we already have will persist. What I would like to understand more are the drivers that will necessitate a radical change in the next 10-20 years?

Andrew Watt

I agree with Will that the future shape of society will have an influence, probably a strong influemce, on the purpose and function of schools (and I am using the word school to mean the place where children from 3-18 are educated.) But as a teacher I would want strongly to contest the notion that a school is a place to put (dump?) children so their parents can go out to work. Unfortunately, an excellent universal compulsory education system combined with strong economic pressures has resulted in the present situation when in an increasing number of homes there is normally no adult present during the day as they are at work. Sometimes this is from absolute economic necessity which is quite understandable, but often it is just to maintain an aspirational lifestyle or climb a career ladder for their own personal fulfillment. But I deviate from the main topic of this discussion!
If we take it as given that a school is the place where children are educated, the real question is 'What does it mean for a child/young person to be educated in the early 21st century?' Sadly, in the eyes of many, it means how well they fare in a 200+ year old system of assessment. An assessment system that drives what happens in schools, because league tables are published which judge schools so head teachers use them to judge subject departments so heads of department use them to judge the classroom teachers who therefore are going to do whatever it takes to get a good results regardless of the education or educational experience the young person receives. But as Will has pointed out, there is a whole lot more to 'being educated' today. Yes, we want young people to leave school able to do the 3 R's and knowing 'facts' - historical, geographical scientific etc but in an age where access to information is so much easier, do they still need to carry in their heads as much as in the past? I would argue not. But as well as showing they can be successful learners, there are other qualities I think schools should be developing such as how to be a responsible citizen, how to communicate effectively and how to become a confident individual and member of society. And if society values these qualities then schools wuill remain the central place for developing them.

Philip Penny

The Future of Learning and the role of media (Technology) - 'Serendipic Learning' is a concept espoused by Teemu Arina - I first encountered Teemu when he delivered his keynote at EDEN in Naples 2007, here is the link He puts forward the concept of 'serendipic learning' “We move from static and pre-defined learning environments to dynamic and self-organizing third-places of learning where technologically facilitated serendipity is central for organizing learning around accidental but beneficial encounters” does this concept resonate with you Will? – learning more outside the narrow confines of the classroom in an 'informal' accidental manner! Here is a link to Teemu's blog well worth a peek for anyone interested in this topic.

Rosanna de Rosa

The question posed by Will is a crucial one. It involve the role of schools in the near future starting from an epistemological perspective. In other words, in this fast changing society where the information is at fingertips and everybody can use it with a “just in time“ approach, do we still need schools? My answer is yes, as never before. Abandoning any normative considerations, we need to think seriously to what kind of schools would better fit for the new learning environments and behaviours. Schools are in fact social institutions for the trasmission of knowledge, values and identity as well as for supporting cognitive development, critical thinking and rationality. In political terms, schools ensure equality and respect for civils rights, public opinion formation and political skills which are necessary for democracy and social life. In the future I can see a new and stronger role for teachers and schools in trying to preserve knowledge from a self-service approach, in structuring and guiding students towards a new kind of global awareness.

Ingrid Bruynse

In contexts where schooling is working, and the nature of learning is shifting the structures, I can see the argument for the site of learning to be a "school".
There are other contexts - where the place called "school" does not promote learning, safety is not guaranteed, and hunger is a reality. Learning and teaching has occurred in some of these places, but there may be a possibility of developing learning plans that are not based in a "school" site that is not conducive to learning. This is the same opportunity that exists in Africa - where mobile phones have taken off, where landline infrastructure does not exist.

New media can be a place of opportunity to bridge some divides, to leapfrog over the places where "school" is a functioning institution, to a place-less learning plan, that bridges the learning divide.

I would appreciate comments on this assumption, and look forward to collaborating in a model for learning in resource-poor contexts, what use media for access and development.

Yves Punie

Thank you all for your great contributions! Very relevant issues have been raised. It is clear that there are no simple answers on the question if schools will remain the dominant place for formal learning in the future. I guess all will agree that whatever format it will take in the future, traditional classroom teaching as we know it today needs to be adapted to the 21st century digital society: manu things have to change: curricula, assessment, teacher training, learning objectives, objectives of schools, incentives for change, innovation and creativity, the involvement of parents, and of the world of work. The agenda for educational transformation is HUGE, and should be tackeled in a holistic way.

Anyway, many see PERSONALISED LEARNING STRATEGIES as a necessary objetive for learning, today and in the future. Do you agree? What do we mean with personalised learning strategies? What is the role of the teacher and of E&T institutions in such a scenario?

Séamus Cannon

It seems to me that a key issue to take account of is that the 'locus of initiative' has changed. 'School' as we have known it is designed by adults for children - the environment, the curriculum, the assessment, and for purposes devised by adults. Digital media are distinguished by how the user exercises initiative in respect of who they collaborate with, on what subject and when they choose to do it. This will have a profound effect on what and how learning takes place and with whom. I suggest that the notion of 'personalised learning strategies' would have to take account of this. It is not something that can be prescribed as in the past and the learner will be much more involved in deciding what their learning strategies will be: what they will learn, with whom and when. How might this then be certified?

25 - 26 November 2010 Flemish Ministry of Education Headquarters, Brussels
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