Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Looking globally: the future of education
Looking globally: the future of education

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

3 Issues facing education

In this section, you are going to read and watch a range of stimuli to help you think about issues facing education in the future.

Activity 4 A dystopian (but possible) future?

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes
The book cover of 'The Healer' by Anti Tuomainen.
Figure 5 The Healer by Anti Tuomainen

Can you imagine what the world might look like if society fails to meet some of the global challenges we have been considering? Read the following extract from a novel entitled The Healer which is set in Finland in the near future in which a narrator reports his journey into the City of Helsinki:

The metro tunnel was closed from Sörnäinen to Keilaniemi because of flooding. … I went back to watching the news on the screen attached to the back of the driver’s bulletproof glass compartment. The southern regions of Spain and Italy had been officially left to their own devices. Bangladesh, sinking into the sea, had erupted in a plague that threatened to spread to the rest of Asia. The dispute between India and China over Himalayan water supplies was driving the two countries to war. … The forest fires in the Amazon had not been extinguished even by blasting new river channels to surround the blaze.

Estimated number of climate refugees planet-wide: 650–800 million people.

Pandemic warnings: H3N3, malaria, tuberculosis, ebola, plague.

I turned my gaze back to the rain which had been falling for months, a continuous flow of water that had started in September and paused only momentarily since. At least five waterfront neighbourhoods [named] had been continuously flooded, and many residents had finally given up and abandoned their homes.

Their apartments didn’t stay empty for long. Even damp, mouldy and partially underwater, they were good enough for the hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving in the country. In the evenings, cooking fires and campfires shone from flooded neighbourhoods where the power was out.

(Tuomainen, 2014, pp. 4–5)

Think about:

  • Do you feel we are on an inexorable journey towards this situation, or do you think such outcomes will be averted?
  • What would education need to be like to prepare the next generation for this, or to prevent such environmental, and associated social, change?

Now you will imagine what it means to migrate as a child to a new country. How do you get to understand what is important in this new environment?

Activity 5 Experiences of an exiled child

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes

Look at some photographs from the Exile Voices [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] project. You can find a slideshow on this National Geographic article. The pictures were taken by refugee children.

Think about:

  • What do these pictures tell you about the experiences of refugee children?
  • The pictures are likely to show experiences that the children value within the camp – can you articulate those experiences?
  • What would education be like if it was designed for these children?

And what will the world be like a decade from now? Here you will look at how some of the trends in today's world might be used to predict what lies ahead.

Activity 6 How the world will change

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes

Watch this video from the Centre for Research Innovation and Future Development, Did you know, in 2028… (2014)

Download this video clip.Video player: ee830_2017j_vwr012-320x176.mp4
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript|Hide transcript
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

The changes seem dramatic, but are they more dramatic than the changes we have seen in the previous ten years?

Think about:

  • What will be the main opportunities and challenges in the year 2028?
  • Do you agree with those identified in the video?
  • How will the challenges and opportunities that you identified affect education?