(This article was originally published in the Dare to Learn blog.)

A moment ago the global education technology community gathered in London for Bett Show 2018. Bett Show is probably world’s largest trade show or exhibition on educational technology in the number of attendees and exhibitors. Dare to Learn team was at Bett Show to see what is up and coming in the field of edtech. Not all trends are technological, but tech will definitely be a driver for many changes.

Here are my insights formulated during the past year through numerous discussions with experts, background research and observations at Bett Show.

1. Learning – a global megatrend

1. Learning – a global megatrendLooking ahead to the future of learning & education, one has to look into a wide range of domains. Learning happens everywhere and everybody talks about education. Learning itself has become a global megatrend.

One evidence of learning as a megatrend is that many well-known global institutions focus more and more on it. OECD’s Pisa has been a global hot topic for some 10 years now. World Bank’s annual World development report 2018 is focused on learning. Education and learning is in the news everyday everywhere. Learning being a hot topic means that everything related to it will gain importance and finally investments into the field.

2. Robots, robots everywhere

The shockwave of robots coming to schools was particularly evident at Bett. There are hundreds of products already available aimed especially for educational purposes: DIY kits to learn how to build a robot, open source programmable robots to learn coding,  ready-to-use friendly robots to enable telepresence (robot representing a human in eg. classroom), and social robots to tutor learning of social skills and soon virtually anything. This huge increase in availability has also reduced prices, so robots will most probably be in many classrooms this year. 

There are DIY kits to learn how to build a robot, open source programmable robots to learn coding,  ready-to-use friendly robots, and social robots to tutor learning of social skills and soon virtually anything.

3. AI will make everyday learning adaptive

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a hyped phenomenon for a couple of years now. Now some seriously interesting learning solutions taking advantage of AI are appearing. One of them is Finnish Claned.

What AI can do in learning?  AI chatbots can tutor an individual learner where ever, when ever.  AI powered chatbots will most probably replace some Learning Management System (LMS) -based learning environments. This is connected to personalized learning, as an AI-powered learning environment can adapt and personalize learning more and more. AI will be such an advantage for a learning environment that only LMS’s with an AI can survive in the long run. Building an AI has by far been too expensive to be interesting for the leading platforms, but 2018 will probably see the first approaches – forcing others to quit or build one themselves.

4. More social learning in communities

As the technological development points towards a more personalized and solitary learning experience, a counterforce is rising.

More and more learning solutions are taking a social side learning into account. Tel Aviv and California based learning startup Jolt for example connects its users into learning groups led by global top experts and makes use of physical ”microcampuses” located at coworking spaces. LMS platforms are developing better social features. AltMBA and Minerva University offer online higher education with high level of social interaction. As AI opens up possibilities for more personalized learning, we humans need the social connectedness to learn, perhaps even more than before.

5. Precision learning instead of degrees

Many economies are struggling with the lack of competent employees. New solutions appear to lower the threshold of changing profession. Instead of doing another degree at a university, a career changer can take an intensive precision training focusing on the key competences of the new career, such as product development, marketing, a certain programming language, service design et cetera. 

Globally, 8 to 12 week coding bootcamps are a fastly growing phenomenon, helping a paying attendee to quickly learn a new skill set in coding.

6. Content curation instead of fixed material

The era of fixed learning content such as textbook is slowly coming to an end. But what happens after textbooks? The internet is a vast ocean of information and misinformation, and learners have a limited time. This is where content curation steps in.

Teachers, HRD and other learning facilitators need to follow their field and provide up to date content picks constantly for the learners. This might also move learning from fixed LMS’s to social platforms such as Slack, when a feed of content and discussion replaces premade material. 

7. Learning as a service

In Finland and other Nordic countries, learning has been seen as something the state takes care of through formal education system. If there is need for re-skilling, that has been a problem of either the employee or taken care by public administration through liberal adult education (vapaa sivistystyö in Finnish).

Now companies are starting to see learning as a service that both makes employees more loyal and helps the company to gain an advantage in competition. Learning new things through microlearning, peer learning or more traditional courses is offered as a service or like an employee benefit.

8. Open source learning

Sharing economy has spread to various fields in recent years, and we have seen Uber, AirBnB and many more. 2018 could be the year of sharing economy of learning. As fixed learning material obsoletes ever faster and global platform giants gain strength in education, open source learning will provide a counter movement.

Open source learning means peer-created learning content, shared and updated for free for everyone, from anyone. This could be open online courses, open source wikibooks, peer-to-peer tutoring, self-organized meetings and much more. In Finland, “Wikiloikka”, the world’s first initiative of creating all primary and secondary textbooks as open source online material on Wikibooks has taken significant steps.

+ Other things bubbling under

  • X RealityVirtual (VR), augmented (AR), mixed (MR) and cinematic (CR) reality will take their place on actual use for learning.
  • Formative assessment methods: Right now there is a big shift going on, moving from summative (examination after learning) to formative assessment (continuous (self-)assessment).
  • Analytics: All major LMS’s have by now built some kind of learning analytics tools, and we are starting to really see what it’s worth.
  • Immersion rooms: Moving from VR glasses to whole rooms to create shared virtual experience, containing image projection on walls, light and sound effects, even smoke, wind and trembling floor.
  • An anti-technological movementHow non-digital learning can motivate learners and keep up with the pace of the world around in digital age?


As author William Gibson has famously said, “the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed”. 

This applies to changes in learning too. There are many things, that have already saturated learning in Finland and some other countries, that still loom in the future horizon in many countries. These already happened changes in learning in Nordic countries include mobile learning, the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) principle and gamification. Hyped maker spaces resemble a Finnish crafts classroom a lot. These have still big potential globally, even as they are part of everyday learning in some countries.

Where will the path take us in the more distant future then? 

By 2040 learning will move more and more out of the classroom to genuine environments, microlearning will spread, adaptive learning will become a commonplace, some kind of purchaser-producer models in financing education will probably replace at least some public schooling in Northern Europe, and the importance of learning communities will grow. AI and robots will reshape work life so dramatically that it will influence the funding, structures, locations, distribution and production of learning hugely. Early signs of all of this are already here – just not very evenly distributed

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