Read the rest of this two-part series and other thought leadership like it in the #EducationNow series.
What is the “Digital Vortex?”
A vortex refers to a rotating flow around a center of rotation. It is a whirlpool that draws, absorbs, and transforms. The digital vortex reflects the attractive centrality that digital technologies represent in the contemporary world. Everyone, whether they have done so already or are facing it down today, will go through this process.
In that sequence of change, there are extremely rare cases, such as the current moment, associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, where the best characterization is of extremely rapid change. These are extraordinary episodes, singularities, where we experience changes that, in general, would last for years or a decade. Now, we are seeing them occur in a few weeks or a few months. What we are witnessing today, at this very moment, will affect all sectors and aspects of society – especially education and, in particular, the hybridization of learning and the classroom.
As digital technologies reconfigure society, the economy, habits, and customs, education is being engulfed to the center of the vortex.
The path to today
From ancient history to today, a unique set of conditions gave birth to each new iteration of education. The evolution of the vortex slowed and sped: with moments like the schools of Athens, the Bubonic Plague, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the twentieth century giving jolts to the way humans educated, questioned, and learned.
Education at the center of the vortex
Digital technologies have historically been tools to enable traditional teaching and learning processes. Now is the time to expand the potential of these technologies. Educational changes, infused with digital technologies, are radical, rapid, and profound.
Last century, education aimed to provide mastery of a single set of techniques and skills. In this century, although such vocational training remains necessary, it is insufficient. We are moving toward a new aim: the ability to continuously learn and awareness about how we learn. This will be key in a future where information and knowledge will be fully accessible and instantaneous.
We are entering a world of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Leveraging data created and provided by students and instructors will allow learning analytics to propose and enable individualized educational paths.
We each have unique educational DNA. It is up to the learning environment to provide multiple educational trails, reflecting different modalities (such as distance and hybrid learning), and diverse approaches.
Building a digital future
Today, in 2020, the future is digital. This change will be even more pronounced in the post-pandemic world.
We are currently subject to a kind of catalytic effect, a fantastic acceleration, represented symbolically by the digital vortex, with profound consequences in all sectors and in ourselves.
We are building the future of education right now. We are learning from yesterday and taking bold steps today. And while tomorrow’s details are unclear, this digital future can be a good and promising thing. It is enormously complex, but it is the future we need to build to capitalize on the momentum of today’s vortex.