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The Future of Learning: New Ways to Learn New Skills for Future Jobs. Results from an online expert consultation

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This report synthesizes the findings of a series of four online consultations which were conducted as part of the study “The Future of Learning: New Ways to Learn New Skills for Future Jobs”. The findings suggest that, while the existing physical and formal structures of education and training will remain intact, schools and universities will change significantly with respect to pedagogical strategies. Learning and teaching processes will be more flexible in addressing and implementing individual needs and preferences. Teachers will become mentors and guides in self-regulated, personalised and collaborative learning processes. Schools as institutions will open up to society by integrating external learning resources and practical learning opportunities. Technology will assist learning institutions in facilitating both, personalisation and institutional flexibility. Furthermore, all citizens will have to continuously update and develop their skills; assume responsibility for their qualifications and pro-actively develop their professional career. While attaining formal qualifications will remain key for grasping new employment opportunities, informally acquired skills will be better recognised and mechanisms will be put in place that will allow people to obtain formal recognition for their professional expertise, by upgrading their skills with adequate and targeted training.
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The Future of Learning: New Ways to Learn
New Skills for Future Jobs
Results from an online expert consultation
Christine Redecker, Miriam Leis, Matthijs Leendertse, Yves Punie, Govert Gijsbers,
Paul Kirschner, Slavi Stoyanov and Bert Hoogveld
JRC 60869 - 2010
The mission of the JRC-IPTS is to provide customer-driven support to the EU policy-making
process by developing science-based responses to policy challenges that have both a socio-
economic as well as a scientific/technological dimension.
European Commission
Joint Research Centre
Institute for Prospective Technological Studies
Contact information
Address: Edificio Expo. c/ Inca Garcilaso, 3. E-41092 Seville (Spain)
E-mail: jrc-ipts-secretariat@ec.europa.eu
Tel.: +34 954488318
Fax: +34 954488300
http://ipts.jrc.ec.europa.eu/
http://www.jrc.ec.europa.eu/
Legal Notice
Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission is
responsible for the use which might be made of this publication.
A great deal of additional information on the European Union is available on the Internet.
It can be accessed through the Europa server http://europa.eu/
JRC 60869
Technical Note
Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union
© European Communities, 2010
Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged
1
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This report could not have been written without the input of the people who contributed to the
four online consultation rounds on which this report is based. We would therefore like to
thank all stakeholders who participated in the consultations for their valuable contributions.
We would also like to thank our collaborators at Atticmedia for the beautiful visualisations
and our colleagues Lieve van den Brande (DG EAC) and Clara Centeno (DG JRC IPTS) for
their valuable comments and feedback, both in shaping the project and in revising its results.
We are, as always, most indebted to Patricia Farrer who edited and proofread successive
versions of this report to prepare it for publication.
However, as ever, the views and conclusions expressed in the report, together with any errors
or omissions, are the responsibility of the authors.
The Future of Learning
New Ways to Learn
New Skills for Future Jobs
2
PREFACE
The Europe 2020 strategy acknowledges that a fundamental transformation of education and
training is needed to address the new skills and competences required if Europe is to remain
competitive, overcome the current economic crisis and grasp new opportunities. However, to
determine how education and training policy can adequately prepare learners for life in the
future society, there is a need to envisage what competences will be relevant and how these
will be acquired in 2020-2030.
To contribute to this vision-building process on ways of addressing emerging competence
needs, JRC-IPTS
1
in collaboration with DG Education and Culture launched a foresight study
on “The Future of Learning: New Ways to Learn New Skills for Future Jobs”, in 2009. This
study continues and extends work done in 2006-2008 on “Future Learning Spaces” (Punie et
al., 2006, Punie & Ala-Mutka, 2007, Miller et al., 2008). It is made up of different modules
which will be completed during 2010 and 2011. The modules will include a series of
stakeholder consultations, involving different target groups ranging from policy makers, and
scientists to educators and learners.
A consortium, led by TNO of the Netherlands with partners at the Open University of the
Netherlands and Atticmedia UK, was commissioned to carry out a first series of expert
consultation. These comprised a targeted vision building process employing the Group
Concept Mapping methodology with a view to mapping future changes (cf. Stoyanov et al.,
2010) and a series of online and face-to-face stakeholder consultations.
This report presents and discusses the findings of the online stakeholder consultations. It
synthesizes the insights collected and arranges the findings according to emerging themes into
a range of nine future scenarios.
1
The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) is one of the 7 research institutes that make up the
European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).
3
EXCEUTIVE SUMMARY
Figure 1: Selection of Key Message from the Persona Consultation
Emma (16): Improving school education
62% of experts think that, by 2025, standardised degrees and testing procedures will
not have disappeared (only 14% subscribe to this assumption).
78% maintain that, by 2025, schools will have implemented personalised learning plans
that take into account individual needs and preferences (5% contest).
Bruno (14): Combating early school leaving
Future strategies to fight early school leaving include:
Personalising school education to better meet individual needs and interests (78%
approve; 11% disapprove)
Opening up educational institutions to society; embedding learning in the community;
integrated work experiences (81% in favour; 7% oppose).
Chanta (8): Promoting inclusion
71% think that, in the future, multicultural classrooms will become the norm, thus
requiring new strategies for teaching and learning (10% disbelieve).
74% highlight that, to become inclusive, education needs political leadership and
greater openness and flexibility amongst educators (16% disagree).
Ingrid (32): Re-skilling workers with low qualifications
Only 56% think that, by 2025, informal learning experiences will have been recognised
as a valuable asset for a new job (14% contest this supposition).
84% believe that Ingrid should aspire to upgrading her (formal) qualifications, for
example by following a university course (only 5% do not favour this option).
Martina (59): Re-qualifying for a new job later in life
78% think that an increasing number of today’s jobs will become obsolete and an
increasing number of totally new jobs will be created (only 3% disagree).
Only 42% believe that practical skills training without degrees or qualifications is a
viable re-skilling option (23% reject this idea).
Sven (42): Re-entering the labour market
76% believe that it will be common for citizens to change their professional profiles
completely, even repeatedly, during their lives (11% oppose).
87% point out that people will need to become increasingly responsible for their own
qualifications (3% disagree).
86% argue that skills and competences obtained in non-formal ways need to be better
recognised and accepted as formal qualification criteria (6% contest).
Joshua (23): Transition from higher education to the labour market
87% believe that it will be normal that people will need to supplement their official
qualifications with extra on the job training (2% disagree).
67% argue that more attention should be paid to general competences and transversal
skills, because special skills are quickly outdated (17% oppose).
Slavi (55): Professional development and up-skilling
87% expect that, in the future, an open exchange between older and younger workers
will become important (4% disagree).
70% suggest that, to improve team management, a collaborative training exercise
which identifies the optimal interaction mode is a viable option (11% disagree).
Frank (75): Teachers’ roles and training strategies
71% envisage that teachers will be guides, mentors, friends and partners in self-
regulated, personalised and collaborative learning processes (13% oppose).
86% doubt that, in 2025, online resources and digital tools will be so powerful as
learning sources that teachers are no longer needed (only 4% agree).
83% believe that teacher networks fostering the exchange of good practice will become
an important source for pedagogical innovation (2% disagree).
4
This report synthesizes the findings of a series of four online consultations which were
conducted as part of the study “The Future of Learning: New Ways to Learn New Skills for
Future Jobs”. The aim of this foresight activity was to develop visions and scenarios on the
ways in which people acquire, retain and update the necessary competences for successful and
prosperous lives in a fast changing world, with a view towards addressing, in particular,
emerging competence needs and ways to increase individual employment opportunities. For
the consultations, nine different “personas” were created as illustrations of future challenges
to Lifelong Learning (Figure 1). The consultations each involved between 90 and 150 experts
and took place from April to June 2010. The following main trends and key messages
emerged.
Formal Education and Training in 2020-2030
Future School Education: In 2025, schools will remain the main providers of learning
opportunities for the young generation. The existing, physical and formal structures of school
education, including standardised degrees and testing procedures, are expected to remain
intact. However, schools will have changed significantly with respect to pedagogical
strategies. On the one hand, learning and teaching processes will have become more flexible
in addressing and implementing individual needs and preferences. On the other hand, schools
as institutions will have started to integrate external learning resources and practical learning
opportunities. Technology is considered to be a facilitator for both of these strands, driving
change.
Teachers and Trainers: Personalised learning strategies and increased institutional flexibility,
transparency and openness will go hand in hand with a change in teaching practice. There is
strong consensus among experts that the teacher role is changing and in the future teacher will
be mentors and guides, while learning processes will become self-regulated, personalised and
collaborative. However, it is underlined that teachers will actively engage in learning
processes and will remain vital actors. They will not be replaced by ICT, nor will they
become external observers or coordinators of the learning process.
Early School Leaving: Experts believe that early school leaving can most effectively be
prevented by following personalised learning strategies and integrating real life experiences in
school education. For those who do drop out, there will be more learning opportunities than
today, possibly supported by technological innovation and by mechanisms supporting the
recognition of informally acquired skills.
Inclusion and social intergration of migrant children: On the whole, experts are optimistic as
concerns the capacity of school education to integrate migrant children, to implement
multicultural learning and teaching strategies and to better assist migrant children in the
acquisition of the language of the host country. Technology is seen as a key factor in
facilitating language acquisition and helping children develop their identity at the crossroads
of two languages and cultures.
Future Training Strategies for Employment and Career Development
Entering the labour market: Experts coincide that, in the future, the current gap between
formally acquired skills and competences and labour market needs will not disappear – on the
contrary, it will widen. However, they expect that both education and training institutions and
the labour market will have started reacting to the increasing discrepancies. Education and
training institutions will have to enter into dialogue with industry and adapt curricula and
syllabi accordingly, and the labour market will consider implementing its own testing and
5
training schemes. However, given the increasing dynamics of international markets, neither
strategy will manage to completely close the gap.
Re-entering the labour market: Experts believe that, in the future more and more often people
will want to (or need to) enter job fields without possessing relevant formal qualifications.
They emphasize that, to respond to this trend, informally acquired skills and non-professional
experiences will have to be recognised. While formal qualifications will remain important,
practical skills training, whether or not connected to a degree, will be more important to
prepare people for a entering into a new job field.
Re-skilling those who have low qualifications: Experts agree that people with low
qualifications will continue to face difficulties in finding and maintaining employment. While
attaining formal qualifications will remain vital for grasping new employment opportunities,
informally acquired skills will be better recognised and mechanisms will be put in place that
will allow people to obtain formal recognition for their professional expertise.
Re-skilling later in life: Experts expect that, in the future, all European citizens, including
those with high skills, will have to face up to the fact that their expertise could become
obsolete and that they might have to start a completely new career late in their professional
lives. It is similarly uncontroversial that, in reaction to the increased flexibility of industry and
labour market, there will be a variety of opportunities for re-skilling and changing
professional profiles. However, opinions diverge on whether practical training alone, without
formal qualifications, will be a viable option. Experts are equally divided on the question of
whether older workers will face difficulties in re-qualifying for a new job, although a very
high minority objects to this supposition.
Career development and professional relationships: What stands out from the expert
feedback is the strong belief and expectation that, in the future, professional relationships will
change: hierarchies will flatten, an open approach between older and younger workers will
prevail and training needs will be openly and collaboratively addressed. In parallel to this
process, privileges and benefits currently associated with seniority and experience will be
challenged. Competences will become a more important criterion for promotion than
seniority.
7
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.......................................................................................... 1
PREFACE .................................................................................................................. 2
EXCEUTIVE SUMMARY............................................................................................ 3
1. INTRODUCTION................................................................................................. 9
2. METHODOLOGY
.............................................................................................. 11
3. SCENARI
O DEVELOPMENT........................................................................... 15
4. RESULTS OF THE STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION.................................. 17
4.1 Emma: Personalising School Education............................................................17
4.1.1 Results of the online consultation (survey IV).................................................17
4.1.2 Results of the pilot online consultation (survey I) ...........................................18
4.1.3 Key questions and themes .............................................................................18
4.1.4 Key findings....................................................................................................18
4.2 Bruno: Preventing Early School Leaving...........................................................20
4.2.1 Results of the online consultation...................................................................20
4.2.2 Key questions and themes .............................................................................21
4.2.3 Key findings....................................................................................................21
4.3 Chanta: Inclusion and Equity in School Education...........................................23
4.3.1 Results of the online consultation (survey IV).................................................23
4.3.2 Results of the pilot online consultation (survey I) ...........................................24
4.3.3 Key questions and themes .............................................................................24
4.3.4 Key findings....................................................................................................24
4.4 Ingrid: People with Low Qualifications...............................................................26
4.4.1 Key questions and themes .............................................................................27
4.4.2 Key findings....................................................................................................27
4.5 Martina: Re-skilling the highly qualified.............................................................29
4.5.1 Overview of the results of the online consultation ..........................................29
4.5.2 Key questions and themes .............................................................................30
4.5.3 Key findings....................................................................................................30
4.6 Sven: Reintegration into the Labour Market......................................................31
4.6.1 Overview of the results of the online consultation ..........................................31
4.6.2 Key questions and themes .............................................................................31
4.6.3 Key findings....................................................................................................32
4.7 Joshua: Transition from Higher Education to the Workplace..........................33
4.7.1 Overview of the results of the online consultation ..........................................33
4.7.2 Key questions and themes .............................................................................34
4.7.3 Key findings....................................................................................................34
4.8 Slavi: Up-skilling...................................................................................................36
4.8.1 Overview of the results of the online consultation ..........................................36
4.8.2 Key questions and themes .............................................................................37
4.8.3 Key findings....................................................................................................37
4.9 Frank: Teachers....................................................................................................38
4.9.1 Overview of the results of the online consultation (survey IV)........................38
4.9.2 Overview of the results of the pilot online consultation (survey I)...................39
4.9.3 Key questions and themes .............................................................................39
4.9.4 Key findings....................................................................................................39
5. CONCLUSIONS
................................................................................................ 41
6. BIBLIOGRAPHY
............................................................................................... 45
8
ANNEX I: ONLINE CONSULTATION SET UP........................................................ 47
A. Initial Approach: Qualitative Online Discussion.......................................................47
B. Survey I: Reflection and Consolidation of Initial Findings......................................52
C. Survey II: Lifelong Learning .......................................................................................54
D. Survey III: Tackling Challenges..................................................................................57
E. Survey IV: The Future of School Education in Europe.............................................60
ANNEX II: RESULTS............................................................................................... 63
A. Qualitative Online Discussion....................................................................................63
B. Survey I: Reflection and Consolidation of Initial Findings......................................74
1. The role of teachers...................................................................................................74
2. Institutional change....................................................................................................90
3. Inclusion ....................................................................................................................99
C. Survey II: Lifelong Learning .....................................................................................117
D. Survey III: Tackling Challenges................................................................................126
E. Survey IV: The Future of School Education in Europe...........................................133
9
1. INTRODUCTION
We are living in an era of accelerating change, not only as regards technology development,
but also on the economic and social level, and with respect to the ensuing demands on
European citizens. In the future, labour markets and job profiles will change more frequently,
forcing people to continuously adapt and flexibly respond to new requirements. At the same
time, we are witnessing profound changes on the social and demographic level of European
societies, which pose additional challenges for social cohesion and for the sustainability of
European social systems, requiring policy makers to take measures to ensure that all citizens
can actively participate in society. Furthermore, to remain competitive and innovative in a
globalised world with changing power structures, Europe will have to intensify its efforts in
developing the competences and exploiting the creative potential of all its citizens throughout
their lives.
The Europe 2020 strategy acknowledges that, to remain competitive, overcome the current
economic crisis and grasp new opportunities, Europe has to concentrate on smart, sustainable
and inclusive growth. It has to develop a resource efficient, green and competitive economy,
based on knowledge and innovation, with a high level of employment fostering economic,
social and territorial cohesion. One key to achieving these overall goals is developing and
investing in citizens’ skills and competences. Consequently, one of the five targets for
measuring the success of the Europe 2020 strategy is the modernisation of European
Education and Training systems and institutions by reducing early school leaving and
increasing tertiary education attainment. Also to meet other targets, such as increasing the
overall employment rate and the share of women, older workers and migrants in the work
force, and to reduce poverty, it is of paramount importance to develop citizens’ occupational
skills and relevant competences. The importance of competence development, in all areas of
life, for all job profiles and over the whole course of a lifetime, is emphasized by the fact that
six of the seven flagship initiatives, in one way or another, address the importance of
appropriate and adequate skills training and competence development.
However, if we are living in an era of accelerating change, how do we know what to prepare
people for? How can we make people today fit for a future that is unknown to all of us, but
that we expect to be significantly different from today? How can we implement mechanisms
today that will enable the learners of the future to acquire skills for jobs that do not even exist
yet?
Thus, to determine how education and training policy can adequately prepare learners for life
in the future society, there is a need to envisage what competences will be relevant and how
these will be acquired in 2020-2030. To contribute to this vision-building, in 2009, JRC-IPTS
in collaboration with DG Education and Culture launched a foresight study on “The Future of
Learning: New Ways to Learn New Skills for Future Jobs” (http://is.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pages
/EAP/ForCiel.html). This study aims to provide evidence on how competences and
occupational skills will and can be acquired in the future, in order to support priority setting
for education, training and skilling policies. It does not intend to correctly predict or model
the future. Rather, it employs a number and variety of stakeholder consultation exercises to
come up with imaginative visions and scenarios of the future of learning, which provide
valuable insights into current trends and their possible development in the future.
A consortium led by TNO of the Netherlands, with partners at the Open University of the
Netherlands and Atticmedia, UK was commissioned to carry out a first series of expert
consultations. These comprised a targeted vision building process employing the Group
Concept Mapping methodology with the objective to map future changes (cf. Stoyanov et al.,
2010) and a series of online and face-to-face stakeholder consultations.
10
This report presents and discusses the findings of the online stakeholder consultations. It
synthesizes the insights collected and arranges the findings according to emerging themes in
nine future learning scenarios. In the following chapters, after a brief description of the
methodology employed and an explanation of the persona development, these nine scenarios
will be presented and analysed. Finally, some common traits will be emphasized, leading to
the formulation of conclusions and recommendations for policy action.
11
2. METHODOLOGY
This research project employs a foresight methodology, based on the consultation of experts,
with the aim to develop imaginative visions and scenarios of the future of learning. In a
structured approach, focus groups, open consultation and discussion, online surveys and
foresight workshops are interwoven, to ensure that insights and findings are thoroughly
scrutinised and validated.
Foresight is a systematic, participatory, future-intelligence-gathering and medium-to-long-
term vision-building process which aims to support present-day decisions and mobilise joint
actions.
2
Future-oriented thinking is vital for any forward planning or policy activity to be
able to meet future challenges proactively. Foresight enhances such thinking by gathering
anticipatory intelligence from a wide range of knowledge sources in a systematic way and
linking it to today's decision making.
3
The foresight methodology employed in this study is not used to predict the future, but rather
to elaborate and understand different, plausible futures. The aim of this particular foresight
activity is to develop visions and scenarios on the ways in which people will acquire, retain
and update the necessary competences for successful and prosperous lives in a fast changing
world, with a view to addressing, in particular, emerging competence needs and ways to
increase individual employment opportunities.
The scenarios, as they are conceptually employed in the research, are “stories” illustrating
visions of a possible future or aspects of a possible future, as manifested in an archetypical
situation. Scenarios are not predictions of the future but more like simulations of some
possible futures.
4
They are used both as an exploratory method, enquiring into possible future
developments and, at the same time, as a tool for decision-making, which aims to highlight
the discontinuities from the present and to reveal the choices available and their potential
consequences.
In this research project, it was decided to follow an open approach to expert consultation and
to make extensive use of the internet as a medium for knowledge exchange and networking.
In particular, groups were set up on web 2.0 platforms, such as LinkedIn,
5
Facebook
6
and
YouTube
7
to set up networks of experts, initiate discussions and consultations and
disseminate results. While online and face-to-face discussion contributed to the scenario
development and refinement, the core work of the scenario development was implemented
using a series of targeted surveys.
All the surveys and the other expert input provided online in the different stages of the project
can be found in Annex I. The results of the online consultations, together with a transcript of
the complete qualitative input can be found in Annex II. The methodological framework
included the following steps:
Phase 1: Preparation and Conceptualisation
In a first phase, a network of experts and stakeholders interested in the research was set up on
different online platforms: i.e. on LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. The LinkedIn group on
“The Future of Learning” with its over 550 members proved by far to be the most valuable
resource for expert input. In parallel to the setting up of this network of experts, a literature
2
http://forlearn.jrc.ec.europa.eu/index.htm.
3
http://forlearn.jrc.ec.europa.eu/guide/0_home/index.htm.
4
http://forlearn.jrc.ec.europa.eu/guide/4_methodology/meth_scenario.htm.
5
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=2266966.
6
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=176371588344.
7
http://www.youtube.com/user/FutureofLearning2030.
12
review was undertaken to identify the most salient changes and challenges for Europe over
the course of the next 10 to 20 years which will affect, in one way or another, education and
training or employment. Based on this literature review and on consultations with European
Commission staff, nine characters, or ‘personas’, were developed, each representing a
prototypical situation which describes a challenge or problem for education and employment
policies in the future.
Phase 2: Experimentation
In the course of setting up the groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, attempts were made to
initiate discussions on the topics relevant for the future of learning and thus collect expert
input on dedicated discussion threats. While the discussions were interesting, it was felt that
the structure available on the platforms did not allow for more targeted discussion of the
personas, leading to a scenario development. To develop more vivid representations, comics
were developed, visualising the problem or challenge represented by the persona. These were
posted on the project page (www.futureoflearning.eu
) and members of the LinkedIn and
Facebook groups were provided with the corresponding links via “announcements” published
in these groups. Starting in March 2010, a new persona description was made available every
week and announcements were posted on LinkedIn and Facebook: on 19 March ("Frank": the
future role of teachers), on 26 March ("Emma": institutional change) and on 9 April
("Chanta": inclusion).
Initially, it had been planned that the scenario development would rely entirely on the open
persona discussions on the project page. However, after three personas had been launched the
project team came to the conclusion that this approach was still not targeted enough to
support the development of scenarios. While expert input was interesting and insightful,
communication was one-directional. Only in a very few cases did experts respond to each
others’ posts, so it was impossible for the project team to detect agreement or see how a
thought was developed and refined by the input of several experts. At the same time, each
respondent tended to pick out an aspect that had not been mentioned before, so that many
different aspects were highlighted, without, however, becoming connected or weighted.
Moreover, the approach followed, as an open discussion, does not invite the participation of a
vast number of people. Consequently each discussion group consisted of less than 20 people.
Had there been an intensive exchange of opinions between these people, this open discussion
could have replicated insights gained, for example, at expert workshops and could have
proven a valuable source of input for a foresight exercise. Given the lack of interaction
between participants, the scenario development would have had to be based on an ex-post
structuring of the insights provided, for which, from a scientific point of view, far more input
would have been needed.
The project team came to the conclusion that a completely open discussion proved difficult to
handle and to use for the scenario development. It was therefore decided to employ a more
structured approach, using a survey format, while maintaining, as far as possible, the open
character of consultations and following a qualitative rather than a quantitative approach
Phase 3: Piloting
In the previous stage of consultations, expert insights had already been collected on three
different personas and corresponding themes. To consolidate and validate these findings,
three statements per persona were selected among those provided by the experts in the initial
open online consultation. A survey was set up, asking respondents to express their agreement
or disagreement to each statement (from 1=strongly disagree to 5=strongly agree) and
encouraging them, for each statement, to justify and explain their agreement or disagreement.
Again, announcements were published on LinkedIn and Facebook encouraging group
13
members to contribute to the survey. The survey was launched on 20 April and closed on 20
June, generating responses from 111 stakeholders.
Within a day, more than 40 stakeholders had contributed to this first survey, indicating that
this approach was fruitful and far more promising, from a scientific point of view, than the
open consultation previously experimented with. The research team therefore decided to
follow this approach for developing scenarios for the remaining six personas.
However, reflecting on the survey set-up and the input received, several modifications were
conceived necessary. First of all, it was felt that the statements used as a basis for consultation
should be more carefully formulated and selected. While the pilot survey succeeded in
validating the findings collected in the previous rounds of open consultations, it was felt that
the whole sphere of problems at stake had not been fully covered. Secondly, while the aim
had been attained to collect enough (disconnected) qualitative input to justify any
classification or clustering of input, the research team was overwhelmed by the sheer quantity
of input and found it very difficult to handle the amount of unstructured qualitative data. It
was therefore decided, for subsequent surveys, to increase the number of statements for rating
and to completely discard open questions inviting free text input, while allowing for
qualitative feedback to be supplied on a voluntary basis.
Thirdly, the pilot survey had followed a thematic, rather than a persona approach, in an
attempt not to overburden the participant with lengthy persona descriptions. However, to re-
focus the consultation on the scenario development and to show how the different aspects are
thematically linked, when considered from the perspective of a person with certain common
employment and training needs, it was decided to re-focus the consultations on persona
descriptions.
Phase 4: Implementation
Based on the reflection of the pilot survey, a series of three surveys, following a common
approach, was developed, each consulting stakeholders on three personas grouped according
to a common theme. Whereas the pilot survey employed a mixture of open and closed
questions, these surveys were conceptualised in a quantitative way by asking respondents how
far they agree or disagree with certain key statements, which were structured and arranged by
subtopics. In the majority of cases, for each persona, at least two statements addressed general
trends, such as labour market developments; at least two statements assessed the
consequences of these trends for the particular persona; and a further set of two to three
statements encouraged stakeholders to envisage future solutions to facilitate the persona’s
competence development and employability.
Initially, it had been planned to use this format only for the six personas which had not been
addressed in the pilot survey. However, to ensure a methodologically sound and uniform
approach for all nine scenarios, and given that the pilot survey had not followed a persona
approach, it was decided to repeat the consultation on the first three personas using the
common survey format.
The first survey with the new format (i.e. the second survey in total) addressed issues of
continuous professional development, as exemplified by Sven (re-integration into the labour
market), Martina (re-skilling) and Slavi (up-skilling) was launched on 5 May, again by
publishing the link on LinkedIn and Facebook and contacting stakeholders by e-mail. Within
less than a week, more than 80 experts had contributed to the survey and feedback by
participants confirmed the soundness of the new format employed. The third survey, launched
on 17 May, targeted particular challenges in the future, such as early school leaving (Bruno),
transition from higher education to the workplace (Joshua) and enhancing the employability
of people with low qualifications (Ingrid). The fourth and final format, complementing the
14
findings of the pilot survey, launched on 4 June, addressed the future role of teachers (Frank),
personalisation strategies for formal education (Emma) and inclusion (Chanta).
All surveys were closed on 20 June. The pilot survey generated 111 responses in total; the
first survey in the common format, i.e. online consultation part II, received 151 responses
from stakeholders, part III generated 101 and part IV 94 responses.
Participation in the consultations was not restricted; all four surveys were openly accessible
online. Invitations to participate were sent out to all members of the Future of Learning
groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, who were encouraged to widely distribute the invitation to
other experts who might be interested in the research. Furthermore, existing networks were
used to invite researchers, educators and policy makers all over Europe. Based on the
information voluntarily provided by about half of the participants, respondents’ profiles range
from academics, researchers, consultants and practitioners, most of them with expertise in
education and training, pedagogy, technology, foresight and/or innovation, to educational
policymakers and advisors. The majority of respondents come from Europe, covering at least
15 different European countries.
Phase 4: Validation
To validate initial findings from the online stakeholder discussion and also from other
modules of the research project, a workshop with 16 external experts and four European
Commission members of staff, involved in the research, and six further project members was
organised and it took place in Amsterdam on 15-16 May 2010. Furthermore, initial results
were discussed in a workshop with European Commission staff from different Directorate
Generals at a project workshop on 27 May, 2010, in Brussels.
Reflection
The overall approach was quite successful and response rates to all surveys – including the
pilot survey – were high for a foresight exercise. The establishment of online groups on
platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook was key to raising participation rates. However,
these platforms, while allowing for the establishment of loose networks of contacts, proved
less suitable for online discussion and consultation in an open format. The traditional survey
approach to stakeholder consultation was conceived as being more useful, by the researchers
and also by the participants themselves.
To further consolidate findings and to expand the methodological approach, it could be
considered to subject the findings of the three main consultation rounds, as they are developed
and discussed in this report, again to stakeholder consultation.
15
3. SCENARIO DEVELOPMENT
The online stakeholder consultations and the ensuing scenarios are conditioned by the
methodological framework, which is based on nine persona descriptions, i.e. nine prototypical
biographies which illustrate envisaged learning and training needs in Europe in 2025. These
persona descriptions have been developed on the basis of a systematic review of existing
foresight studies on the future of learning combined with discussions with policy makers.
The personas were conceptualised according to three key research questions, namely:
1. How can formal education and training, and in particular school education, prepare
students for future challenges and job requirements and implement learning and
teaching strategies that will enable all students to optimally develop their talents and
to actively participate in society?
2. How can citizens be enabled to respond to disruptive changes to their professional
careers, by re-qualifying for new job profiles and emerging employment
opportunities, thus improving the overall match of skills supply and demand?
3. How can people continue to develop and update their skills and competences over
the course of a lifetime, not only in view of their personal career development, but
also as a contribution to driving innovation and progress?
These three horizontal lines of thought were complemented by several overlapping vertical
thematic layers, relevant for grasping a complete picture of the future of learning. It was
considered important, in particular, to address the following aspects, in one way or another, in
the scenario development:
Life stages, differentiating between initial training and job preparation; professional
development; and retaining and developing the skills of older people, enabling them to
stay employed for as long as possible;
Qualification levels, differentiating between those who are highly qualified and
extremely specialised, those who have a good level of skills, and those who have low
qualifications;
Socio-economic backgrounds, considering in particular population groups who will
find it more difficult to find employment and actively participate in society, such as
immigrants; people who have been out of work for a long time, for example to look
after children or care for parents; older workers; disabled people; economically
disadvantaged groups and those with low qualifications.
Learning strategies, differentiating between formal education and training courses that
lead to a recognized and certified degree or qualification; non-formal learning
strategies, i.e. structured and targeted strategies to obtain knowledge and skills,
without, however, (necessarily) leading to a degree; and informal learning that takes
place in an unstructured and unguided way, often as a by-product of other activities
and interactions.
Current challenges, which will continue to be relevant for education, training and
employment in the future. These include early school leaving, tertiary education
attainment, integration of migrants, increasing employment.
For each of the key questions, three scenarios were developed, on the basis of variations in
these additional themes (see Figure 2). The nine learning situations were shaped along two
different axes, corresponding to:
16
Learning situations, where we distinguish between (1) initial learning and training, i.e.
students under the age of 25; (2) competence development with a view to taking up a
new job or re-qualifying for a different career and (3) professional development
strategies to develop a career, improve performance or adapt to the changing
requirements within a particular work field.
Learning strategies, where we differentiate between (A) formal education and training
courses that lead to a recognized and certified degree or qualification; (B) non-formal
learning strategies, i.e. structured and targeted strategies to obtain knowledge and
skills, without, however, (necessarily) leading to a degree; and (C) informal learning,
that takes place in an unstructured and unguided way, often as a by-product of other
activities and interactions.
Each row in this matrix broadly reflects one of the key questions and each column reflects the
focus of the envisaged learning strategy.
It has to be noted that there are important cross-references and relations between the different
personas and the themes they illustrate. For example, the teacher persona Frank exemplifies
professional development strategies for one professional group, but, at the same time,
illustrates challenges for future school education. Similarly, the persona of Joshua crosses all
three horizontal themes, by questioning the quality of tertiary education, by addressing
shortcomings in matching the demand and supply of skills and by posing the question of how
he can improve and develop his skills. Also, none of the scenarios exclusively relies on either
formal or informal or non-formal learning strategies. Rather the two dimensional matrix
offers a conceptual framework for modification and variation, which indicates the variety and
scope of issues that are relevant for the scenario development.
Figure 2: Persona Matrix
17
4. RESULTS OF THE STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION
4.1 EMMA: PERSONALISING SCHOOL EDUCATION
Persona description
Emma is 16 and a good student who generally enjoys learning. However, school
bores her. There are so many things she wants to know, to say and to do and
no room to express herself. She can’t wait to get to university where she hopes
to be finally treated like an adult.
4.1.1 Results of the online consultation (survey IV)
0%
0%
23%
8%
2%
2%
3%
1%
0%
0%
1%
0%
0%
5%
4%
38%
14%
1%
3%
9%
2%
2%
0%
5%
1%
8%
16%
11%
24%
29%
9%
13%
22%
7%
14%
8%
17%
10%
20%
51%
52%
11%
34%
41%
45%
35%
38%
39%
37%
46%
46%
33%
27%
33%
3%
15%
47%
37%
31%
52%
45%
55%
30%
43%
40%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
By 2025, schools will have implemented personalised learning plans
that take into account individual needs, interests and preferences.
Technology will allow schools and educators to create tailor-made
learning experiences which increase learning outcomes.
By 2025, standardised degrees and testing procedures will have
disappeared.
In the future, students will not be enrolled at a single school, but combine
courses and resources from different educational institutions and decide
themselves which local and virtual learning communities to join.
Education and training institutions have to implement better monitoring
and assessment mechanisms which detect individual learning needs.
Curricula need to take into account students’ interests.
Learning needs to become competence based, rather than knowledge
based.
Schools have to increase their efforts to open up to society and
integrate real life experiences into their teaching practices.
Schools need to cooperate closer with university and enterprises to help
students in their career choice.
The advantages of technologies need to be better exploited for
personalising school education.
A range of technological tools will help Emma to design her own
(accredited) learning trajectory, combining face-to-face tuition at school
with online university courses and online learning communities.
Emma should be encouraged to engage in extra-curricular activities,
e.g. in workshops or (online) communities, where she can learn what
she wants and how she wants to learn it, in collaboration with other
learners.
Emma should be encouraged to participate in a volunteering activity
where she learns to help other people and is encouraged to build up
knowledge in a practical field.
strongly disagree disagree not inclined either way agree strongly agree
1. The school of the future
2. To better address future learning needs...
3. Future strategies for Emma
EMMA Formal
Non-
formal
Informal
Schools
X X X
Qualifying
Developing
Figure 3: Results of online consultation (part IV) on the persona of Emma (in %, 91-92 responses)
N=
92
91
91
91
92
92
91
92
92
92
92
92
92
18
4.1.2 Results of the pilot online consultation (survey I)
8%
4%
12%
26%
7%
21%
25%
17%
30%
28%
43%
19%
12%
30%
17%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
In 2025, existing structures of formal education and
training have remained intact.
In 2025, many different societal stakeholders will be
involved in education if w e are to achieve the
transformation we need in formal education.
In 2025, educational institutions w ill be replaced by
community knowledge centers serving both
geographically closely communities and w idely dispersed
topic-communities.
strongly disagree disagree not inclined either w ay agree strongly agree
2.1
2.2
2.3
4.1.3 Key Questions and Themes
The persona of Emma is representative of a normal teenager, who is talented and genuinely
interested in learning, but who loses interest in what is offered by schools. The main question
underlying the conception of Emma was: If we abstract from individual problems adolescents
have at high school and assume that we have a perfect student who could easily perform well
at school, would it not still be normal that, with increasing independence around the age of
15-18, this student loses interest in a standardised learning pathway that does not allow her to
express her individuality? If that is the case, how can the school of the future respond to
individual preferences and interests? How can it ensure that the creative potential of its
students is fully developed? How can it, at the same time, make learning efficient and
effective?
Thus, the main theme for the scenario development was personalisation and the main
question: How can schools implement personalised learning strategies?
4.1.4 Key Findings
According to the experts consulted, personalisation is not a distant dream. Quite the contrary:
78% believe that by 2025, schools will have implemented personalised learning plans that
take into account individual needs, interests and preferences. An even higher share of 85%
believe that technology will allow schools and educators to create tailor-made learning
experiences which increase learning outcomes. Hence, according to expert opinion,
technology can facilitate the implementation of personalised learning strategies in school
education.
However, there is no general consensus on the changes needed on the broader institutional
and policy level. A high proportion of 62% of the experts consider it unlikely that
standardised degrees and testing procedures will disappear. Also, opinions are divided on how
far institutional barriers will be overcome. 49% of respondents consider it likely that, in the
future, students will not enroll at a single school, but will combine courses and resources from
Figure 4: Results of online consultation (part I) on institutional change (in %, 107-110 responses)
N=
110
107
109
19
different educational institutions and decide themselves which local and virtual learning
communities to join. However, a significant 22% reject this supposition.
There is more unity as concerns the concrete policy measures that should be taken to promote
personalisation. 88% of respondents think that education and training institutions have to
implement better monitoring and assessment mechanisms which detect individual learning
needs; 82% advocate that curricula need to take into account students’ interests; and 66%
maintain that learning needs to become competence based, rather than knowledge based.
There is a high agreement that on the local level, a lot can be done to foster change. 84%
argue that schools need to cooperate closer with university and enterprises to help students in
their career choice and 90% of respondents assert that schools have to increase their efforts to
open up to society and integrate real life experiences into their teaching practices.
The importance of integrating real life experiences into school education and of opening up
schools to society is also underlined by the high agreement of experts on the idea, that extra-
curricular activities (89%) and volunteering (73%) are ways of keeping Emma interested in
learning and responding to her interests and preferences.
While technologies are considered a key tool for personalisation, a vast majority of experts
(92%) insist that the advantages of technologies need to be better exploited for personalising
school education. 76% envisage that in 2025 there will be a range of technological tools
available that will help Emma to design her own learning trajectory, combining face-to-face
tuition at school with online university courses and online learning communities.
In conclusion, the scenario that emerges is that, in 2025, schools will remain the main
provider of learning opportunities for the young generation. As confirmed by the first (pilot)
survey on the theme of institutional change, it is unlikely that, by 2025, schools will have
been replaced by virtual networks or local community centres. Thus, the existing, physical
and formal structures of school education will have remained intact. In particular,
standardised degrees and testing procedures are not expected to disappear. However, at the
same time, schools will have changed significantly with respect to pedagogical strategies. On
the one hand, learning and teaching processes will have become more flexible in addressing
and implementing individual needs and preferences. On the other hand, schools as institutions
will have started to integrate external learning resources and practical learning opportunities.
Technology is considered to be a facilitator for both of these means of driving change.
20
4.2 BRUNO: PREVENTING EARLY SCHOOL LEAVING
Persona description
Bruno is 14 years old and really not interested in school anymore. He spends
his days hanging around with friends and playing computer games instead of
going to school.
4.2.1 Results of the online consultation
7%
11%
12%
9%
11%
5%
9%
44%
2%
7%
2%
24%
21%
23%
27%
26%
9%
19%
28%
9%
16%
5%
35%
26%
27%
21%
31%
16%
28%
13%
11%
35%
12%
21%
28%
33%
33%
27%
46%
29%
11%
41%
35%
38%
12%
14%
5%
9%
5%
23%
14%
3%
36%
7%
43%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
In 2025, early school leaving will be a greater problem.
...young people will learn informally, like in social networks, and will thus
be even less interested in formal E&T.
...an increasing number of pupils will not be able to cope with the rising
expectations.
...social divides will increase, unemployment will spread, more and more
young people will be left behind by society.
In 2025, early school leaving will be less of a problem
...there will be a variety of ways in which degrees can be obtained and
students with different needs and interests will more easily find a
learning option that suits them.
...informal learning will have become recognised and practical
experiences are more important than degrees and qualifications.
...schools will have disappeared altogether and be replaced by learning
opportunities that are integrated in life and society.
Personalising school education to better meet individual needs and
interests.
3D virtual worlds and computer games to encourage and motivate
students.
Opening up educational institution to society; embedding learning in the
social life of a community; integrated work experiences.
strongly disagree disagree not inclined either way agree strongly agree
...because:
...because:
Future strategies to fight early school leaving include:
BRUNO Formal
Non-
formal
Informal
Schools
X X X
Qualifying
Developing
Figure 5: Results of online consultation (part III) on the persona of Bruno (in %, 88-100 responses)
N=
98
96
92
95
88
98
95
97
99
98
100
21
4.2.2 Key questions and themes
The persona of Bruno addresses one of the key policy challenges and policy targets in
Europe: reducing the school drop-out rate from the current 15% to less than 10% by 2020
(Europe 2020; European Council 2010). There is no single cause for early school leaving,
and, on the individual’s side, a number of detrimental factors often coincide. There are a
various small-scale initiatives, including a number of projects successfully employing ICT
(cf. Haché & Cullen, 2010; Cullen et al., 2009), which succeed in re-engaging youth at risk.
However, on the whole, the current mechanisms currently for avoiding early school leaving,
detecting disengagement early enough and re-engaging students at risk in learning activities,
are not effective enough to prevent 15% of young people leaving secondary education pre-
maturely without qualifications.
In a future, where many jobs will require higher qualifications than today and where all
citizens will have to engage in up-skilling or re-skilling activities during their lives, the ability
and propensity to learn in a lifelong learning continuum are an indispensible pre-requisite for
active participation in society. Early school leavers are ill prepared for life in a knowledge-
based society, not only because of their lack of qualifications, but also and in particular
because they have not experienced learning as a positive and enriching endeavour, but rather
as a wasted effort associated with failure and boredom.
Therefore, the scenario development for Bruno concentrated on identifying trends that might
favour or hinder early school leaving in the future and on envisaging future strategies for
counteracting school drop out.
4.2.3 Key findings
Experts are divided on the question of whether early school leaving will be a greater problem
in 2025 or whether it will be less significant. Roughly one third of respondents think this
problem will grow, one third is undecided and one third presumes that early school leaving
will be less of a problem.
Experts also disagree on the assessment of potential factors that could have an impact on the
phenomenon. 42% believe that young people will learn informally, like in social networks,
and will thus be even less interested in formal E&T, whereas 32% oppose this statement; 38%
think that an increasing number of pupils will not be able to cope with the rising expectations,
while 35% disagree; and 42% expect that social divides will increase, unemployment will
spread, and more and more young people will be left behind by society – while 37% consider
this unlikely.
There is more consensus on the options available in the future that might contribute to
reducing early school leaving. 69% of respondents believe that, in 2025, there will be a
variety of ways in which degrees can be obtained and students with different needs and
interests will more easily find a learning option that suits them (only 14% oppose this
statement). A vast majority of 81% (with 7% opposing) believes that strategies for preventing
early school leaving include opening up educational institutions to society, thus embedding
learning in the social life of a community and integrating work experiences. A similarly high
majority (78% with 11% opposing) maintains that personalising school education to better
meet individual needs and interests will contribute to reducing the number of early school
leavers.
However, experts do not expect drastic changes. Only 43% (compared to 28% opposing)
envisage that informal learning will have become recognised and that practical experiences
will have become more important than degrees and qualifications. A vast majority of 72%
(compared to 14% opposing) is of the opinion that schools will not have disappeared
altogether to be replaced by learning opportunities that are integrated in life and society. Also,
22
the power of 3D virtual worlds and computer games to encourage and motivate students, is
recognised as being a key to fighting early school leaving by 42% of respondents, while 23%
do not believe in this solution.
Thus, in conclusion, experts believe that, in the future, early school leaving can most
effectively be prevented by following personalised learning strategies and integrating real life
experiences in school education. These are exactly the same strategies that were highlighted
in the case of Emma, i.e. for students who are not at risk of being left behind. This
concurrence is interesting and important, in particular when considering that the two persona