What will education look like in 2030?

At Expanded Learning Horizon’s (ELH) Changerous Ideas Conference down in Lorne, Victoria, Stephen Harris, Principal at Northern Beaches Christian School, and Founder of the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning delivered the final keynote address exploring the question:

What will education look like in 2030?

Here are our 5 key take-outs from Stephen’s keynote:

1. Schools must be part of the real world

busy-street-nyc-2010 (1)

The phrase “wait until you get into the real world” is often heard around schools, but schools need to become part of the real world – as after all that’s exactly what schools are meant to be equipping students for. The irony is that to do this we remove young people from the real world and this divide that’s been allowed to continue is damaging.

2. Transition from teaching model to a learning model

innovation begins here

Stephen challenged the audience to consider the pace of change we’ve experienced in the last 15 years and how it’s transformed the way we live, learn and communicate.

Over the last 15 years we’ve seen the development of the internet, Google, Facebook, Amazon, iTunes, Smartphones, Google Glass, Virtual Reality and more!

And the pace of technological change is accelerating. What technology will be commonplace by 2030 and how will it once again transform our daily lives?

A student who starts pre-school next year (2015) will have 3 years of pre-school, 7 years of primary, 6 years of secondary, 4 years of tertiary and graduate into the real world in 2035 – as a result, our schools need to be educating students for the world of 2035… and are schools even effectively educating students for 2014?

According to Stephen Harris, the future of education lies in “transitioning from a teaching model to a learning model – teaching requires experts, learning only requires coaches. With increasing online assets in place, we are moving quickly into the new frontier of a teacher less education system.”

And what this means is that there is going to be disruptive change – the wave disruption that has swept through all other areas of the economy is fast approaching education.

This transition from teaching to a learning model therefore means that a number of jobs are going to disappear – teachers, trainers and professors, will transition into new role of coaches, course designers and learning mentors!

And this then begs the question – “What will schools have to offer in the future that no-one else can? How do schools stay relevant?”

3. 21st Century Learning is dead. What should we be teaching our students?

computer on desk

Stephen believes that we need to get rid of the idea and notion of teaching ‘21st century learning’ – we’re already 15 years into the century! We need to be thinking about educating our students for 2035!

What should schools be teaching?

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn” -Alvin Toffler

With this in mind, Stephen suggested that we teach our students the following 9 skills:

  1. Sense making
  2. Social intelligence
  3. Novel and adaptive thinking
  4. Cross cultural competency
  5. Computational thinking
  6. New media literacy
  7. Design mindset
  8. Cognitive load management
  9. Virtual collaboration

How do you rate on each of these skills yourself? Stephen got everyone in the audience to stand up for each skill if they felt they were competent at the skill…and too often there were too many (the majority) people seated.

4. Schools need to transition from a model of separation to collaboration


Are our schools adequately prep our kids for future? Are they equipped to survive into the future? Is our current schooling model broken?

The answer is Yes. Yes to all. And the divide between school and world is getting larger…

The heart of problem according to Stephen? Currently the whole mindset in schools is about doing everything separately – and this is a massive mindset that needs to be unlearned.

Separate rooms, separate desks, separate subjects – everything is separate.

How can we change this? The situation will no longer be improved by tweaking the usually methodology or adding turborcharges. That’s like trying to strap a rocket to an elephant.

We talk all the time at conferences and in professional learning that the ‘factory model’ of education is dead. But if so – what will then replace it?

If not a factory – what then? How can our new model encourage collaboration?

Is the future model of schools more like…

  1. A Community
  2. A Start Up
  3. An Incubator

Stephen’s challenge to educators: Write down what your vision of what the future of school looks like on the walls at your school. Live it and breathe it to make it happen!

5. You need technology that is like the air. Necessary, but invisible!


As education technology company driven by design thinking and co-creation with schools & educators, we were very excited to hear that Stephen’s perspective on technology aligned 100% with our own – that it needs to be like the air, necessary but invisible!

Stephen asked: If we all believe we need to engage in more collaborative team teaching, PBL, flipped learning, student driven learning and teachers becoming coaches and mentors – the questions we need to consider are:

Does this require a building?

If not, then why are we building them?

Technology has transformed the way we live, learn and communicate – and it’s going to continue to do so – we need to start as a collective thinking about how we invest in technology as part of our infrastructure to enable our schools to effectively educate students for the real world – for now, and for the future.

This is something the team at myEd believe in passionately – schools spend huge amounts of time thinking, designing, investing and building physical learning spaces, but fundamentally what has changed the landscape of education (and the world) the most has been technological change & advancement. The irony however is that this (digital infrastructure) is something that schools (comparatively to physical infrastructure) give little thought to – they work with architects to carefully design and build their physical infrastructure, but then outsource all of this to technology companies when it comes to the digital, purchasing products that haven’t been designed by educators.

That’s why our whole approach to working with schools has been one of partnership and co-creation – we believe that schools and educators need to play a central role in designing the digital infrastructure necessary for schools (for now and the future). myEd has been a product of this – designed by teachers, built by technologists.

We’re always looking to work with innovative schools who have a vision for what school needs to look like and want to design the digital infrastructure to make this possible.

Is this something you and your school are passionate about? Say hello 🙂