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Breaking the walls: Digital Learning and the Future of Education

Publié le 17 juillet 2019 Mis à jour le 17 juillet 2019

A speech delivered by Yvon Englert, Rector of the Université libre de Bruxelles, at the Academic conference on how technology shapes the new ways of learning in academic and professional environments. Tokyo, 3 July 2019 Yvon Englert (1) & Eric Uyttebrouck (2) Université libre de Bruxelles (1) Rectorat (2) Dépt. Enseignement / PRAC-TICE & PODCAST

In 1994, a report sent by a group of experts to French Prime Minister Édouard Balladur (Théry, 1994) claimed that the internet was too limited to serve as the backbone for the future information highways. The following year, American astronomer Clifford Stoll expressed the same scepticism about the internet’s potential, declaring: ‘The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.’ (Stoll, 1995a).

Twenty-five years later, such statements are lost in a long history of misguided prophecies about technological development, confirming Steven Pinker’s beautiful maxim: ‘The one prediction coming out of futurology that is undoubtedly correct is that in the future today’s futurologists will look silly.’ (Pinker, 1997, p. 83).

After such an introduction, I shall have to be very careful about what I say next about the changes brought to education by digital technology, just in case one of you decides to dig up this speech twenty years from now! And so, rather than make claims about some more or less distant future, rather than speculating about the dematerialization of universities, I shall discuss changes that are already taking place in higher education today, but whose long-term implications we can only speculate about.

I shall discuss five major areas of change: space, time, personalization, teaching methods, and roles.

See below to read more or download the speech in pdf.

Digital learning