As Jason Palmer from Microsoft stated at our 2015 Future Learning 2020 Summit at Stanford University in 2015: "The future of education is online". The vision behind our establishing the Future Lerarning Lab five years earlier, is a different but also complementary one: The digital future of education institutions, including universities, is both social and interdisciplinary. While we seem to spend an increasing amount of time as educators and researchers reflecting on social changes brought about by new knowledge technologies, the "social" is an aspect of history, culture, language, social relations and everyday practice. Our vision is to bring the social, the critical and the cultural into more clear focus in debates concerning education´s digital and online future.
Whereas we began planning the Future Learning Lab in 2009, the University of Agder itself was established only in 2007, on the foundations of a long-standing university college tradition. Part of that tradition is a heritage of global outreach through shipping and missionary work dating back to the 19th century and more recently a world-leading offshore industry -- together shaping this region in a time of intensified globalization through technology advances in specialized work areas and also everyday life through social media.
In short: The future of of education is online, but "shaping the online" future is an aspect of social relations, organizational cultures of adaptation, cultural materials at hand, history and histories, people and visions.
Activities at the Future Learning Lab center on ongoing research activities by members, a variety of workshops, our annual World Learning Summit, and publication collaboration. Our local team comprises advanced researchers, PhD-students, some Master students, and developers. Our international team are with us a minimum of once every year, to plan, execute, and evaluate ongoing projects and events.
Added to the general inquiry concerning technology´s past, current and future impact on formal education and societal learning, Future Learning Lab has an expressed commitment to North-South dialog and the pursuit of networked educational projects with our partners in the Global South.
Timeline in brief
- 2010: Our first workshops
- 2011: Our first Nordic project collaboration
- 2012: Our first workshop at Stanford University
- 2013: Our first Nordic conference
- 2014: Our first international conference, beyond the Nordic regio
- 2015: Our first Learning Summit, this time at Stanford University
- 20125: New partnership with EdCast, Palo Alto
- 2016: Our first World Learning Summit -- read more about it here:
Our collaboration agenda
An important part of the learning of tomorrow will happen at the workplace, inviting a more complex life-long learning and workplace understanding -- in the private as well as in the public sector. Accordingly, our ambition is to also service the dialogue between academics and private/public enterprise. And why not -- given the immensely internationalized and globalized region that we are?
In 2012 we ran a workshop at SCANCOR and SBI in an around Stanford University, with the presence of the University of Agder President, Vice President, three deans, a number of professors in the field, as well as industrial leaders in Southern Norway.
At our 3rd conference, in the spring of 2013, Martha Russell and Eilif Trondsen were joined by Keith Devlin who co-founded and still heads the HStar Institute at Stanford University. Professor Devlin is well versed with the Nordic and Baltic countries. We asked him to bring us up to date on the so-called MOOCS or Open Massive Online Courses. This has been a theme at our conferences since 2011. Professor Devlin gave as convincing presentation, which in turn led to our establishment of a MOOC-focus, now resulting in several such projects coming under way.
At our 4th conference, in June 2014, the speakers list was expanded to 7 keynoters, spanning the Nordic Region, South Africa and the United States. We began setting up our run for a EU Horizon 2020 partnership-identification process. And we also began preparing for an intensive period of internationalization. Our 2015 conference gathered 200 mostly US attendees, in a tri-part collaboration with the HStar Institute at Stanford University and the online education company EdCast.
As for the development beyond 2015, our ambition has to provide a meeting space for what we consider to be an academic and societal challenge in need of one: A summit not too big, and not to small – an arena for dialog and the development of new ideas into joint projects.