Decoding Tomorrow:
Futurism and Foresights Today

Foresights and ideas that expand minds and inspire a change of heart.

Future Focus: 2020 Education

05 Jul 2012

Recently, I was invited to give my futurist take on the future of education. Currently, education is at a creative intersection between technology and tradition, between the digital and the analogue, the high tech and high touch. Yet at that intersection between the analogue (tradition, high touch, face2face, tangible) and the digital (change, high tech, computer interface2interface, intangible) lies creative opportunity for future-minded educational institutions - both at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.

I firmly believe that the more some things change for real (think globalisation, social media, the rise of the BRICs, cloud computing), the more other things stay the same (our need for the personal, the high touch, the connection to educational mentors).

In many ways, while our minds might now be largely digital, our hearts are still analogue.

This provides a great opportunity for educational institutions to do 2 things in order to attract, engage and educate students:

  • provide value to digital minds
  • connect with analogue hearts


This is the reason why people still attend institutions like MIT. Even though large parts of its curriculum can now be digitally downloaded, people still crave the analogue experience of physically engaging in stimulating intellectual conversations.

TED ED Anders Sorman-Nilsson

Another great example of an educational institution that does this extremely well, and is disrupting traditional notions of education is TED (, which I am an active member of. TED has shown that the role of the professor and the institution is shifting away from pure research and course delivery, and is instead focussing on facilitated conversation and new styles of adult learning. Thus, aspects like brand history, pastoral care, creating context and not just content, innovation, and efficient use of face2face interactions is becoming increasingly important for tertiary institutions.

In an age where every piece of content is just a Google click away, when the best lecturers and thought leaders are accessible via iTunes University wherever you happen to be, and online modules by leading universities can be whitelabelled, what does this mean for the local educator?

Future of Education Anders Sorman-Nilsson

Well, while we all like to think global, we still need to act local. Creating a learning and application context during critical, local, face2face interactions will thus be key for educators and the education brands that they build.

The consumer will need to be sold on why they should geo-locate themselves at an educational institution in the future. Global opportunities abound, and without a great digilogue brand, which embraces both technology and tradition, your educational institution won't be able to compete with national or global competitors.


  • What do you think?
  • How do educational institutions best position themselves in the hearts and minds of learners tomorrow?
  • What do you think are the main disruptors of the traditional delivery of education?


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