Education Futures

Education Futures TrackFifty years ago, the Open University was forged in the “white heat of technology”. Addressing a clear need for wider access to university education in the nineteen sixties, Prime Minister Harold Wilson presented a completely new vision of higher education enabled by the then new technologies of radio, telephone, television, and sound and videotape recorders. The Open University showed that ‘distance education’ could be a great success, delivering a better-educated workforce and fulfilling individual dreams. Since then technology has progressed to enable completely new ways of designing and delivering education. In this session we invite original ideas across many ICT-enabled innovations in education, including

Personalised Education – conventional education offers most students an experience that will suit the ‘average’ or ‘representative’. It is ill-adapted to those with individual learning styles, and early or late developers. By using new data analytic techniques, can education be much more targeted on the individual?

MOOCs – massive open online courses have emerged over the five-decade and are potentially a game-changer in education. There are thousands of free courses available on the internet, but is this a blip or a trend. What are the business models behind MOOCs that can make them sustainable? What is the best way to design MOOCs? Can MOOCs be personalized? How can high-quality MOOCs be assessed and certified?

Remote Laboratories and Studios – can ICT provide the same experience as a hands-on laboratory or studio. Can virtual microscopes give the same experience as real microscopes, with students preparing specimens? Can virtual chemistry give the same understanding as handling real chemical reactions? Can virtual design studios give the same experience as the conventional design studio in architecture or product design?

Assessment – well designed educational programmes know their ‘learning outcomes’ and know how to test that student have achieved them. This requires establishing ways of testing that the learning outcomes have been achieved. Does the ‘gold standard’ of an expert professor assigning the ‘true’ mark really exist? Can novice students assess each other as peer markers. Can we go beyond multiple-choice questions? Can ‘machine intelligence’ give robust marking?

New Cognitive and Neural models of learning – there are many models of how people learn, and new ideas are emerging in the context of new understandings of neuroscience and cognition. Do new insights into cognitive and neurological processes suggest there are new ways of teaching better adapted to fundamental human biology? Is there any evidence to support this?