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Foreseeing 2015 - it's all about you

I see lots of new approaches. I see lots of exciting new technology being used in innovative new ways.

I was recently asked to post an article on what the near future holds in education. What kinds of approaches, technologies and innovations we might see in 2015.

There are many resources that can guide us if we want to look into the near future - crystal balls including the New Media Consortium's Horizon Report, and the Open University's recently released Innovating Pedagogy 2014. They give a pretty good roadmap for how things look likely to evolve, featuring technologies such as 3D printing, Wearable Technologies and Augmented Reality, to name a few.

But what really sticks out for me (and this is the good news) is that it's all about you.

Just you.

The use of digital technologies provides a level of data on how individual students are learning. This is turn allows the dream of personalised learning to become a reality. Imagine having a teacher engaging with you one-on-one, tailoring the course and the assessments to your individual needs.

Data analytics refers to the science of analysing massive amounts of data around learning. For example, if students are watching a video, it's possible to see who watched it, how long they spent watching it, where they paused, and even deduce at what points they were confused.

Similarly, online programs can tell what keys you're pressing, how long you're taking to press them, and even identify who's doing the typing (the science of keystroke biometrics is being used by online MOOC provider Coursera to verify the identity of users based on the characteristics of their typing.

All of this may seem like Big Brother is watching, but the big advantage is that your learning can be delivered based more precisely on what your needs are. This means tailored to you personally, not to a class or cohort with a wide range of skills, knowledge and abilities.

This doesn't mean that learners will stop being social, sitting alone at their computers whilst some remote robotic teacher delivers them the ideal course. Universities, for example, are investing billions in their campuses to create inviting learning spaces for students. UTS recently spent $1.2 billion on three landmark buildings featuring collaboration spaces and studios (and with only one traditional lecture theatre). The idea being more about you as a learner having more choices.

Open Education proponent Jim Devine talks about personalised learning together, taking advantage of both individualised course material and social interaction, usually in a shared space.

This means that the learner will be able to collaborate with others while undertaking a course of study that suits them personally. You might find yourself in a group of people studying the same course but with different assessments and material, appropriately targeted at each individual student.

Hopefully this will help you achieve the skills that will make you work-ready sooner. Studies have identified the four properties that industry is seeking in graduates (in order of priority):

  • The ability to work collaboratively in teams and communicate effectively
  • Passion and drive for your chosen field
  • Analytical skills
  • Qualifications – note that this is the lowest priority
  • So in the year to come, what does my own crystal ball tell me?

    I see lots of new approaches. I see lots of exciting new technology being used in innovative new ways. But most of all, it's all about you.