How might we design school for a world where children have “perfect knowledge?” Does having access to every fact change the role of the teacher?

As we begin to envision a future for schools that will undoubtedly include artificial intelligence, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality, we might also consider another, more curious reality – one where students could be coming to school with “perfect knowledge,” and where machines have surpassed biological humans in almost all areas, from critical thinking, decision making and even empathy. Futurist Ray Kurzweil calls this phenomenon “The Singularity.”

This conference session is a lively discussion and visioning session about what school might need to look like – from curriculum to pedagogy to space and time. We explore big questions like “What does knowing mean?” and “What is the value proposition of “school?” What will “technology” look like? Who/what will be instructing students? What will students still need to learn?

Using the habits, mindsets and skill sets of human centered designers, innovators and futurists, we explore the emerging needs and of students and teachers in this new world construct and prototype elements of a school of the future that meets those needs. Groups might prototype learning spaces, a course, an assessment tool, or a completely alternative learning experience.

Resources mentioned in the presentation:

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  • Nadine Hum

    Hello Bill,

    This topic of the “Age of Singularity,” is quite fascinating, and though still in its earliest stages, I can see how different kinds of technology are penetrating the classrooms. Even in my own class, I find that some of my students are having a difficult time keeping up with the technological advances, and they were born into the technological era. So I must ask the question–what do I do as an educator when technology trumps human intelligence, or when it will completely trump human intelligence all together? Do we continue teaching our students the ins and outs of computers, knowing that one day, computers will outlast our students? We are already seeing from our students’ frustrations that critical thinking is a tough enough concept to develop within children, and we are demanding them of this at such a young age.

    Our society has gotten a taste of what could possibly become of the future; for example, the year the first man landed on the moon was an unbelievable phenomenon. I know a few people whom still to this day, do not believe it to be true. Maybe the comfort in all of this is that technology stemmed from human intelligence–we would not have the simple, take-for-granted items such as the wheel, or electricity, or laptops–these are just a few of the many, many things humans have invented. It took human innovation and intelligence to create the things we use everyday. I do not think that continuous encouragement that I give my students to learn is going to keep us from entering the age of singularity. However, I do hope that we as educators can give our students the tools, capacity, and perseverance to work alongside the age of technology, rather than have it replace humans as well know it.

  • Nadine, that is the question! How does (or should) teaching and learning change? Not sure any of us know the answer, but I think it will completely change education sooner than we think.