What is formal Education in 2022?
1. Introduction to formal Education
In the past, we’ve written about various topics related to education, including how we’re planning to use the Global Artificial Intelligence Lab to train future AI researchers, how we think about Big Data, and how the tech industry is going to change formal education. This post is different in that it focuses specifically on what formal education in 2022 might look like.
It’s a bit of a departure from our usual type of writeup and may not be as easy to follow. But it will offer some interesting insights into where we are headed and why it matters.
2. The Future of Education
In the pursuit of a deeper understanding of the world, we have turned to many different sources. We have looked at numbers and we have looked at charts. We have read books and we have listened to podcasts. But what if those sources were not enough? What if they were not enough because they did not get deep enough? What if they could not get deep enough even though they were the right source?
What if instead of looking for vague metaphors and general ideas, we asked people in the field what was true about their field? What if instead of searching for analogies, we asked people what is the opposite of an analogy? And what if instead of looking for common ground, we asked people what was most different about their fields?
What would happen then? What would you do with that knowledge?
3. A New Definition of Education
I wrote a great post on the digital education landscape in 2007, and then again in 2009. For many people, it was the first time they heard about “digital education”, and for some of us it was still just “education”.
I’m pleased to see that many of you have been keeping up with my posts over the years and I hope that you are interested in learning more about what I have been up to since then. While this is not a new idea (the Internet was invented around 1999), the world seems to be changing faster than ever before:
Here is a list of the technologies that have changed the way we learn, learn together, learn online or offline, and how they will continue to change education over the next decade:
1. The Internet & Social Media — These technologies will transform how we learn and communicate throughout our lives. No longer will there be an endpoint or a place where you can go to read a book or watch television; these new forms of learning will allow us to move from one environment/medium to another at any given moment – from work (a classroom), college (small group meetings) or home (a couch).
2. Augmented Reality — AR will change how students perceive information through technology. It will take advantage of all kinds of devices through which we can interact with text, images, and videos; teachers will no longer need bulky whiteboards as tablets/smartphones become more common in classrooms around the world; schools/colleges/universities must adopt AR-based instructional strategies if they want their students to succeed in an increasingly mobile world – live demonstrations may not be enough! 3. Social Media & Mobile Apps — Mobile apps are being used more and more frequently at school, university, work, and home – augmented reality tools like Snapchat should take off particularly well among young people who are not yet accustomed to using computers at all levels.
4. Artificial Intelligence (AI) — There is nothing new with AI; it’s been around for decades, but perhaps now our brains are ready for AI as it promises to make better decisions faster than humans do now – maybe we should all simply ask Siri what time it is before going out? 5. Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality — We’ve had VR for decades now but augmented reality could be even more transformative – imagine being able to wear VR goggles in order for your classroom teacher to walk you through live demonstrations on how things work! 6. D
4. How to understand the real value of formal education?
In the past few years, I have been asked several times what the future of education is. Two recurring questions:
• “What is formal education?”
• “How do you see the impact of formal education on society?”
I think that, by now, it is pretty clear that formal education has a real impact on society. It doesn’t matter if you take a year off between high school and college or go straight from college to graduate school, it has always been this way. We don’t live in a time when people only learn through books — or at least not as much as they used to (in fact most of us now read more than we do). We read blogs, we watch TV (yes, even the news) and we follow the news online and via social media.
Beyond that, what does it matter whether you are reading an academic text or a novel — both are important for your understanding of life and for your decision-making? The same couldn’t be said about computers: once you have them at home, they will consume most of your time. And when it comes to pure software engineering and programming skills (which are at heart very different from teaching), they will only get you so far.
Most importantly, we should not be fooled by these two specific questions. They are quite different: one asks about how things were in 2022 — how did society look then and how will it look then (in other words: what is formal education in 2022?). The other asks about how things will look in 2022 — how did things look then (and thus about how people thought about themselves) and what should we do with those conclusions so that our descendants can better define their role in society today.
Going back to our example from today, if I am writing a post on what I think formal education in 2022 should be like (and/or writing an article on why my vision differs from yours), I need to consider all considerations made by both sides of this conversation: the side of “how did people see themselves?” versus the side of “how do I want people to see themselves?”
That is why this question is tricky because there isn’t just one answer; there are many answers possible depending on who both sides are asking. You could write a reply like this – but let me illustrate with another example:
What do millennials think about retirement planning
5. What is the real purpose of formal education?
We are a pretty new startup (though we’ll be celebrating our one-year anniversary soon). At the moment, we’re taking on a portfolio of clients including some of the biggest names in strategy and planning.
We want to help them think more systematically about the future of their organizations, what they need to change, how their workplaces can become more productive, and then how they can engage with those changes. We have a good idea about what that looks like but we need your help to get there.
We have a few ideas for this post (which you can read here) but for now, let me share with you some of the things we’ve learned so far.
1. Think about what is happening in your organization now and then ask yourself: “What could go wrong?” If you don’t have an answer, you probably don’t need to worry about it.
2. What will happen in 5 years?
3. What could go wrong?
4. What things need attention right now?
5. How will people perceive a change in the future?
In the last few years, there has been a lot of discussion about the future of education and how it will be shaped. Most of this talk is focused on what to do with the tools that are already being used: MOOCs (massive open online courses), edX (free online courses), and so forth. But what about what happens after those tools become obsolete or simply stop being relevant?
Many people believe that formal education is just a matter of putting students into classes, assigning them homework, and leaving them to it. And while that may have some degree of truth to it, many formative experiences are done outside of formal education — which is why I’d like to discuss an alternative way by which we can teach our students more effectively.
First, I’ll start with a question: What if we could get more out of formal education than just having an actual class? Most people think this sounds impossible but it’s not; I am someone who thinks we can do it and here’s why:
What if we could get more out of formal education than just having an actual class?
The first thing you need is for students to want to learn — but actually sit down in front of a computer and do nothing except stare at their screens for hours on end isn’t going to happen very often. So instead, we need them to want to be present in class. This means giving them an opportunity for engagement — talking about real things with other people, building friendships around shared interests, or driving home how important it is for us all that our children are prepared for life beyond high school graduation. And when they achieve this goal, they are automatically ready for more rigorous learning outside the college (which they will be in no time anyway).
This brings us back full circle: What if we could get more out of formal education than just having an actual class?
Of course, you would still need teachers who are knowledgeable in subject matter and can offer structured instruction. But here’s another idea: use technology! Virtual reality allows you to create immersive environments where all students are present at once as well as time-lapse visuals showing how they progress through their learning tasks both inside and outside the classroom environment. This creates a sense that everyone is learning together whether or not they were able to physically attend the same class session at the same time next week, and helps develop critical thinking skills as well as long-term planning skills over multiple subjects.