This is one of 20 predictions from the editors of the Futurist magazine.

‘Each year since 1985, the editors of THE FUTURIST have selected the most thought-provoking ideas and forecasts appearing in the magazine to go into our annual Outlook report. Over the years, Outlook has spotlighted the emergence of such epochal developments as the Internet, virtual reality, and the end of the Cold War. The forecasts are meant as conversation starters, not absolute predications about the future.’

On this particular ‘predication’ they write:

The Net generation uses technologies both for socializing and for working and learning, so their approach to tasks is less about competing and more about working as teams. In this way, social networking is already facilitating collaborative forms of learning outside of classrooms and beyond formal class schedules. Sure, the kids use Facebook during the lecture, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interacting with subject matter.

The next generation of college students will be living wherever they want and taking many (if not all) of their courses online. They will earn degrees that are accredited by international accrediting agencies. The era of hyperconnectivity will require most professionals to weave their careers and personal lives into a blended mosaic of activity. Work and leisure will be interlaced throughout waking hours every day of the week, and student life will reflect the same trend. In this way, self-directed learning will be the most important taught skill of the future.

Now we know this – but who will tell the faculty?


  1. Excellent. That’s a great quote. I am wondering a lot at the moment about why the higher education system doesn’t do more for auto-didacts. I suspect it has a vested interest in maintaining a highly didactic model of learning. I don’t expect anyone will tell the faculty until leaners start interacting with alternative agencies and HE finds itself in competition for acceditation.



  2. Tony Bates raises an interesting issue, but I feel that it goes further. In mainstream education we have accepted that part of our remuneration is for our ‘preparation time’ outside of normal class hours. For ages some faculty have put in many hours ‘over and above the call of duty’ often in creating additional on-line materials. I know that I have often put up materials that might be of some use in supporting extension activities or support materials, ‘just in case’.

    As we move more and more towards an on-line learning environment, I wonder if there will be any chance in the future for recognising the immense amount of work that many faculty do (some more and some less) outside of ‘class time’?

  3. I think faculty “get it” that learners crave seamless connections among their 3 learning environments; in-class, out-of-class, and online. So many archaic traditional structures and expectations around time, learning, and space get in the way. Until we offer learning environments that are in sync with our adut lives, the divide between what learners want/need and what we can provide will persist.


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