School systems need to prepare our education system for the future. And what does the future hold, we can never know. However, there are useful speculations that can help us come up with solutions for upcoming things that might happen in our civilization. According to OECD Scenarios for the Future of Schooling, here are some alternatives that might come up.
The first scenario to examine includes extended participation in formal education. The education we get during the early years will expand for most individuals and grow into lifelong learning. Education has always been recognized as the foundation of economic growth and most successful countries are focusing on efforts to provide better access to formal learning throughout all levels of education. In this scenario, formal certificates remain the best tool for economic and social success. The dark side of this scenario is the fact that certificates also start to become insufficient. Individuals will continue to pile on credentials and work on their work experience just to become better candidates for the labor market.
This possible scenario allows us to imagine the emergence of private and community-based initiatives as opposed to traditional schooling. Thanks to flexible work hours and various forms of work arrangements, parents can be more involved in education. Plus, parents are pressuring for the privatization of the public system. The key element here is choice—buying the educational system and paying for specific learning routes.
This also includes a lot of experimentation and mixing when it comes to organization, such as hybrid learning, home-schooling, tutoring, online learning, community-based learning, etc. In some countries, public and private educational facilities and providers will continue to work together and compete to improve the learning experience, while in others, public providers will become a “remedial solution”. Public providers will be there for low-income families to provide child care and education for their kids for free or for very low prices.
With the rapid advancement of technology and the need for online learning (the COVID-19 pandemic showed us all just how important and effective online learning can be), we have seen many new opportunities for education outside of schools. Today, with excellent online program management software, it’s possible to get all your education online from home, from your favorite bar, on your commute, etc. Plus, these programs use collected data to create education programs that deliver useful and accurate information relevant to users’ future careers. Those without online learning skills will be forced to adapt in the future, with more and more of these crisis situations coming up, putting our lives on hold.
Learning on the go
All forms of technology are predicted to advance in the future, so online learning won’t be the most advanced thing in education. With artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality advancements, as well as the rise of the Internet of Things, we can expect better connectivity boosted by the rich digital infrastructure. Even today, we can find an abundance of useful educational sources for free, which already gives an opportunity for smart humans to dismiss the curriculum structures of today and ditch the entire school system. With digitalization, it’s possible to assess and certify knowledge online and instantaneously, so there might be no future need for third parties to give out certification. Learning will happen on the go and at the pace that humans need it.
Schools as learning hubs
This future scenario involves just a slight bit of change in the system. Schools with an established past will retain their function and will continue to provide care for children and be a place where they can have fun, enjoy various activities and practice their social skills. This is all very important for cognitive, social and emotional education and development. However, thanks to “sophisticated and diverse forms of competence recognition in the labor market”, schools might not be so forced to focus on credentialism. This scenario puts more power into the decentralization of the education system. People can come up with their own ways of achieving success and gaining values they need or consider important. The schools remain relevant due to the connection with the community and other social services they provide.
Does the future of education seem bright or bleak? With these scenarios, we have time to prepare for whatever comes our way so our future generations can get the best education for their needs.