Three decouplings may drive the future of education across the world.
Each decoupling is somewhat connected to the others, though they all are, to some extent, forces upon to themselves.
Decoupling #1: The Decoupling of Government and School Operation
Some call this relinquishment. It is the trend to separate the duties of public school regulation and public school operation. With the charter sector growing at 14% this year, this decoupling is in full swing.
Overtime, I think this decoupling with lead to increased equity (via better regulation), more innovation (via entrepreneurship), and increased academic outcomes (via the scaling of the best school organizations).
Decoupling #2: The Decoupling Between School and Learning
Right now, schools are the main vehicles for student learning. This will likely change. In the future, physical textbooks and human teachers will be less important for academic learning. Computer programs and tutors will likely play a much bigger role. Computer programs and tutors need not be attached to schools, especially in the typical 8AM-3PM lecture based school day.
The combination of adaptive assessments, instructional playlists, and Uber for tutors will position parents and children, rather than schools, in the driver-seat of learning.
This will especially be true for the wealthy families and students over the age of 12 or so.
This transition will likely lead to significant gains in student achievement (nothing increases student achievement like targeted tutoring), the reinvention of the role of teacher (to more of a quasi-contractor role), and potentially, increases in achievement gaps (if wealthier and better educated families are able to better harness the advances in technology).
Decoupling #3: The Decoupling of Body and Mind
At some point, we will likely transition our minds out of our brains and onto computers. This could come from advances in programming or emulation.
I don’t think we’ll really be human anymore, so perhaps this decoupling should not be included, but the decoupling will have a profound effect on learning.
The biggest change will likely be the speed at which learning occurs. It takes humans a long-time to learn things. Our future selves will be able to learn much quicker.
What we learn over a lifetime, they will be able to learn in, perhaps, a few minutes.
The Relationship Between the Decouplings
Decoupling #1 will likely increase the speed at which Decoupling #2 is realized. A more entrepreneurial and innovative education system will restructure itself at a greater speed.
The technology advances behind Decoupling #2 will ultimately lead to Decoupling #3. Artificial intelligence will eventually evolve from adaptive assessments to consciousness.
The Race Between the Decouplings
The pace of technological change will determine whether Decoupling #2 happens before Decoupling #1 is complete, as well as whether Decoupling #3 happens before Decoupling #2 is complete.
The years 2015 to 2035 will see major advances in Decoupling #1.
The years 2025 to 2055 will see major advances in Decoupling #2.
The years 2275 to 2375 will see major advances in Decoupling #3.