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Four Scenarios for Future Learning

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The Delphi survey made a point to view future higher education from a students’ perspective and envisioned future learning experiences. Four scenarios for future higher education can be described as gravitation centers of organizational development: (1) the future skill university scenario, (2) the networked mulit-institutional study scenario, (3) the my-university scenario, (4) the lifelong higher learning scenario. Three out of four scenarios score with a time of adoption of more than 10 years from today with the majority experts. Only the lifelong higher learning scenario scored for a time for adoption within the next 5 years with the majority of experts.

1 – The ‘future skill’ university: The ‘future skill’ scenario suggests that higher education institutions would leave the current model that focusses on knowledge acquisition. Instead, new profiles would be developed that emphasize graduates’ future skill development. In this scenario, HE would mainly be organized around one key objective: to enable the development of graduates’ future skills, i.e. complex problem solving, dealing with uncertainty or developing a sense of responsibility, etc. This would not replace but go beyond the current emphasis of knowledge acquisition and studying based on defined curricula for fixed professions.

2 – The networked, university: This scenario views higher education as a networked study experience. It will not be down to a single institution providing a student with a certain program, but that this role would be split among multiple institutions. This means that ‘digital import’ and ‘digital export’ of parts of the curriculum would play a significant role. The standard HE study structure and experience would shift from a “one-institution” model to a “multi-institutional” model.

3 – The “My-University” scenario: This scenario describes HEIs as spaces where the elements of choices enlarge, and students can build their own curricula based on their personal interests. The curriculum of academic programs in this scenario would move from a fully predefined and ‘up-front’ given structure to a more flexible, personalized and participatory model in which students actively cooperate with professors/ teachers/ advisors in curriculum building of HE programs.

4 – The lifelong higher learning scenario: In this scenario, seamless lifelong higher learning would be as important as initial higher education. Learners in the workplace would be the main type of student, choosing their portfolio of modules according to their personal skill needs and competence demands with high autonomy throughout their lifetime. Institutions thus would offer micro-credentials, which students assemble individually based on their own interests. Recognition of prior study achievements and practical experience would enable permeable shifting between different providers, which offer to bundle prior learning experience into larger certifications.