Clicks instead of bricks – the future of (higher) education

In a recent PEW research report (in collaboration with Elon university) more than 1000 educational stakeholders and experts were interviewed, and asked for their view on education in the year 2020. Will education remain the same or will technology change the face of education by 2020? 60% of the sample believed that education will be significantly different in 2020 thanks to technology, while 39% answered education will remain more or less the same.  The full PEW report can be read here.
Education in 2020 will off course be different from 2012, but my guess (and experience) is that in 2020 we will look back and talk about the evolution of education instead of the educational revolution (as many people saying nowadays). Although many people will argue that this will be a revolution, education in 2020 only will be more personal, individual and technology enhanced then in 2012.

Education will be personal

In 2020 education will be very personal. Instead of being cramped in big classrooms (which will still be part of everyday education in 2020) more teaching will be done in person with a single or small group of student(s).  Teaching will be more about coaching and less about transferring knowledge. Instead of teaching the same course to every student, students will have the chance to interact  and work with teachers or better coaches on daily basis (thanks to technology). This way a personal relationship can be established between tutor and student.  A personal learning path which fits the student personal learing environment will be a standard approach to an individualized learning program.

Education will be individualized

Since every single person has different interests and different learning goals/abilities, education will become a personalized and individual project fitted at every single student needs.  Education will need to organise in a way to service this individual needs. Individual learning programs will be standard, instead of group programs organised in a year system.  (This will be the biggest shift for education as we know it. This needs to be done at all educational levels, starting with primary school and ending when learing stops at 70?). Each student will take a program fitted to its needs (with respect for the logical structure of interdependent courses).
Although many people will argue that education is a social thing that doesn’t need to be individualized, education will become more social than nowadays. Collaboration will be the standard for every course, students need to collaborate to succeed. The challenge lays within the education itself to challenge our students, so they need to collaborate to succeed!

Education will be technologically enhanced

Collaboration has never been so easy thanks to technology. Social media and mobile devices make it easy for student to collaborate and stay in touch where and when the want. In 2020 virtual (and augmented) reality will enhance education even more. Collaboration worldwide will be easy, and education will bring students together from all over the world thanks to technology (not only on a screen but with 3D technology and hologram technology it will be like working in one room). The opportunities for collaboration will be endless (and not geographically limited as today).
Besides the easy collaboration, megatons of information will be available for all students thanks to technology. Technology will give access to information, but will also help you search for the information that you need.  Technology will be your (personal) assistant in learning to format information to the personal needs and helping you interpret and understand the information (at your personal level).  Technology will service the personal needs of every student.  (Although this seems scary, technology that is thinking with you – web 3.0 or semantic web –  will be a huge help in our learning process).

These shifts will facilitate life-long learning for everybody. Since time and place aren’t important anymore.  We don’t need any bricks anymore for teaching!

PEW Research – The Future of Higher education
Mashable – Adaptive Learning: Why your kids will be smarter than a you

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Posted in Flat Education
25 comments on “Clicks instead of bricks – the future of (higher) education
  1. Christophe Van Opstal says:

    This revolution is already happening in our school, as students crossmediamanagement we are encouraged to make use of the social networks in our dailly life and on an educational basis.

    The funny thing is that although we have less realtime conversations, we are much more socially engaged on our crossmedia fan pages and groups. Therefore there is much more (virtual) interaction between us, students.

    In other studies at our school, we see the complete opposite as they use BlackBoard as their primary platform. BlackBoard is in my opnion a bad platform to stimulate social activity.

  2. Sascha Boden says:

    I agree. I think we are in a revolution all the time, ergo you can name it the evolution of the learning process. You have a point with the guess that teaching will be more a certain type of coaching. I miss this understanding in my university in Germany. Although there is interaction and group work, it´s not that much. I aprreciate the fact that here in Antwerp, most teachers do some kind of goup works, challenging the students to work together and come up with ideas on their own, instead of just writing something down the teacher says. I think this is a much better way to prepare students for working life. Nowadays, most people are still shocked when they have their first job and see the differences between what university told you and how all this stuff works in real companies.

  3. Lina Chaoui says:

    I hope it will be more personal in the future. In highschool, I was with 26 in one class and I think it is to much. I didn’t pay attention and everyone was talking to his neighbor. But in one class, we were split in half. The good ones en the bad ones. And I found it awesome. The teacher know your name, you finally understand the subject, have good grades and I had actually fun during the lesson.
    I think it’s an awesome idea to individualize education. Students who are very smart are bored in class and students who aren’t that smart are also bored because they don’t get it.

  4. Adil Marbouh says:

    You can definatly add me to the 60% of those people that believe education will be different in 2020. As a digital native i am witnessing the revolution. i still remember the time when i was in primary school they started with encouraging this evolution by trying to teach us more and more on laptops, it was still pretty basic educational games and it was not that advanced as it is the day of today

    If i compare the stories that i heard about how they used to teach or still teach in college with the way i am getting teached, i can tell that there is a huge difference. I guess thats because i can conclude that Cross Media Management is a part of the revolution!

  5. Waia Polymeridis says:

    The education system of the 2020 sounds amazing. When this will become reality, I can feel happy that maybe my children can join such a system.

    In my point of view is personal support a key success factor for education. In my studies we are sometimes only seven students in courses and I enjoy this small group. It is much easier to get in contact with the lecturer and to ask questions. Due to this I am able to pick-up more knowledge in a smaller group than in a bigger one. We have to be aware that not only the size of the class is important but also the skills of the lecturer.

    Another great idea is the personalized education. When somebody has a specific talent it is necessary to nurture this as soon as possible. Nevertheless is it important for me that pupils also learn basics. Such skills were, are and will be very important for many parts in our lives.

    New technologies will make education more interesting as it is nowadays. When children can interact they will learn things faster and better than by reading.

    It would be really great when this prediction will be true as soon as possible.

  6. M.Kux says:

    I hope it will be more personalized and also more freedome in the choice of the subjects like our parents had before the bologna-system. Furthermore I realy happy to be a college student where the classes are smaller and the teaching system more interactive is then in universtity. But I hope the education will also improve more in the future.
    Iam not sure about the interaction between countries with hologram I think that people more willing in the future to leave their home to studie in a different country.

  7. Mª Teresa Poyo says:

    These kinds of changes in the education system are absolutely required nowadays. It does not make any sense that we live in a digital era but teachers do not include these elements in their lessons. However, I think is something progressive and not a “revolution”. We have already experienced some of these changes: Using laptops, online platforms…I had even a ” tutorials” via skype with one of my professors…

    There are also some educational online initiatives quite interesting right now that are focused in sharing knowledge, like Khan Academy or the TED lectures, where the world’s top experts talk about their specialty in less than 15 minutes

    Check them here:

    Khan Academy:

  8. Alexander De Winter says:

    I think they need to change the system and ask the employers what their expectations are from new employees. So you can get a new norm. The educational systems need to improve and get their students better prepared. Maybe it’s easier when you have a more personal and interactive touch with the students.

  9. Hans Francken says:

    Education will definitely be different in 2020, even when I look 3 years back, education has already changed significantly. ‘smartboards’ are introduced, dropbox file sharing has made working together easy as can be, facebook groups have been created. A class is not just people sitting in a room anymore; it has become a community of helping each other reaching their goals and to facilitate the work.

  10. petervankeer says:

    It will be different, no one can avoid that, but I’ll have to get used to the changes. As I previously said, I am a tech freak, but still, I not even used to the fact that primary schools are already using iPads e.g. for the students to study, read,.. I think the oldschool learning and teaching, like it was in ‘my good old day’s’ is more effective.. But who am I to prove it? In a few years scientists will be able to compare old-school learning vs the ‘digital’ learning (2020). It can be better, but I do not believe in it, yet…
    On the other side; the more individual education isn’t bad at all. From my personal experience I know that I do learn a lot more when being in class with just a couple of people..
    I’ve no problem with the digitisation at all, some people just have to get used to it!

  11. Mats Blankers says:

    I think it won’t be easy for every school to follow the changes in technology. I know that some primary and secondary school don’t have a budget to invest in this technlogy. Although I think it would be a solution for a lot of students to have a personal guide. You probably have fewer students who drop out.
    I think you can only achieve this by changing the whole school system, not only by investing in technology.

  12. alejandro navalon says:

    From my point of view, education of course will be different in 2020 and this can improve our way of studying because the pupil will have a personal teacher and this will make him be more focused in the lessons helping to his knowledge. Nevertheless, in my opinion a kid should have contact with the other kids of his class because humans need to be related with other people physically, and you have to learn to coexist with the rest of the humans and of course, make friends. For me this is as important as education by itself, because if we lose this, in the future kids will be more individual and this afects psichologycally. So i think the solution will be having a balance between the new methods and the old ones.

  13. yaboydennis says:

    Offcourse education will not be the same as we know it. Even though i expect 2020 will be little to early. Still, i am a person who would rather see the changes coming through as soon as possible but i don’t think in a country like Belgium this will be the case.

    If this system becomes real (which is only a matter of time), i will be a great supporter of it.
    It not only makes students more independant but will also early on create a work-like environment. This way they will be forced to learn to work as a real team with different interests and backgrounds which in return delivers more unexpected (good?) results and can only stimulate creativity.
    I only wonder what will happen with the children who have a difficult time studying. They often rely on things they have seen in the class. But than again they will get more individual attention.

    We’ll just have to wait and see.

  14. Bart Van Bosch says:

    5. Going to school has changed a lot in the last few years in my opinion. I’m sure of the educational evolution that is happening at the moment but I’m not that enthusiast about it. It’s pretty fine we can take notes on our notebooks and such but I always remember the most of a course by writing it by hand. I don’t know why, but it is what it is. So when we have an English or French course I prefer to write the words and sentences by hand, in that way I remember the most of it.

  15. Patricia Padrón says:

    The amount of time spent in classes is overwhelming. Most of us have been or are students and we know what happens in classrooms.
    Unfortunately, many days we left of classes and we realize that we have not paid attention and therefore we have learned nothing.
    We waste time and the opportunity to discover the exciting world of knowledge. So, as technology advances dramatically, we chose to scan classes. Therefore, everyone take the time what he wants and when he wants.
    All are advantages. As it’s well explained in the blog, education is more personalized; it’s focused on each student. In addition it’s more comfortable and you do not need to move to schools.

  16. Gabriela Dos Santos says:

    Education is definitely changing, evens the most traditional institutes, like universities, and is adapting their self. The use of online platforms like Toledo and PowerPoint presentations during the lecture are routine and it is just a matter of time until they realize that students needs more.

    The lack of information you can exchange online is way broader than what you find inside a book, I believe in the day that teachers won’t teach with books and less won’t be a monologue but a exchanging of knowledge.

    A personal and individualized education can be big motivators to students. I personally changed school exactly because of that. I was used to have class on very huge auditorium and at a certain point I felt like brain washed. I couldn’t give my opinion; it felt completely impersonal so I decide to change college. I I’m much happier now and fell that I am learning much more than before.

  17. Books in future will belong to the past i think and tablets will change the way we learn stuff.More and more schools are pushing technology into the classrooms.

  18. Jasmien Hendrickx says:

    I experienced it myself. A year ago I was studying to become a teacher in primary school. I had to teach with a SmartBoard. As additional activity, we used to draw but nowadays they watch Tom&Jerry videos on YouTube instead. We were encouraged to maximize media usage in the classroom. That’s why I agree with this article; future learning will certainly become digitized

  19. Andreas Bodenmüller says:

    Of course since technology influences and even changes the way we socialize, communicate and educate ourselves also education at higher schools will look different.
    Actually I would say that it already does. There already are many universities offering e-learning providing the content as well as the classes online.

    Nevertheless, we should not forget that education should prepare for business, and in 2020 dealing with colleagues and customers face-to-face will still be efficient and valued and therefore “necessary”. This means that social skills with direct human contact are required to being educated as well and this will require collaboration in teams sitting together physically.

  20. Alexander Seibel says:

    People, everthing in the world is changing and a human being fears of a change. A human being feels well when it adapted to his environment. So dont think negative of this kind of future related to education. Maybe its gonna change to a better education?!

  21. Benjamin Karl says:

    An individual/ personal teaching plane is indeed the right educational measure from which a student will profit the most. But in order to achceive that it’s necessary to have a one to one teaching programm an this is unthinkable in the current financial educational situation. The upcoming technologies (like might hold an opportunity to provide an individual teaching plan but this also means that the personal contact gets lost.
    So the idea of an individual teaching might seem far away but an open minded (to new technologies) society and politics can make this happen.

    • Carmen Epacher says:

      From my point of view teaching methods already changed thanks to the internet. As I can remember, within the last 10 years, there was a big change. Nowadays you get nearly all the stuff you need for studying online. And sometimes, like in the CRM course of FHV e.g., you don’t even have to give your prof a written examination, instead you send it online.
      So I thing there changed a lot in the past and I’m sure there will change a lot in future.

  22. Manuel Frey says:

    I personally agree to this article. The Higher Education 2020 is a fantastic system that allows schools to hold virtual classrooms for their students with teleconferencing and distance learning.

    But I think that only a few schools and universities can afford this big change. Most universities will still require in-person and on-campus attendance of students most of the time at courses. Therefore most universities will be about the same as they are today

  23. Juergen Fink says:

    Of course technology can support us in a lot of situations. I find it difficult where technology makes us idiots because we cannot do the simplest things without a calculator for instance. Especially with young children the focus should be on training their brains so that they can use them as powerful tool in the future. Computers, tablets and mobiles just support the brain. Thinking happens in the brain, not in a computer (at least till now). 😉

  24. Alexander Ceulemans says:

    Higher education is something that’s very important and I think we should focus more on the technological progression it makes. Our school (KdG) is doing a great job towards this. Communication works easily by using online platforms and we learn to handle right with tons of information on the internet.

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