Trends Impacting on Education

Key drivers of change are forcing us to deconstruct our industrial model of education and remix it to meet the needs for a vastly different world. Some of the key drivers influencing this remix are the exponential growth of knowledge; the explosion of technologies such as artificial intelligence and the increased capabilities of virtual and online experience; a growing concern with the equity gap; and the frustration that current approaches are failing to provide learners with the skills and attributes they will need to address future economic, environmental and societal challenges.

The debates rage about what needs to change, driven by personal experiences, context and assumptions. What is the difference between education, schooling and learning? What is the role of the teacher? How involved should learners be in deciding their learning pathways? How might parents be part of the journey? Dialogue is healthy.

There are some key trends that I believe are important in this dialogue. They are trends affecting all organisations, not just schools. But for the purposes of this post I will place them in an educational context. There are eight trends I would like to explore in more detail, as shown in the diagram below:


Increasingly, there is a connection between schools and businesses; and schools are linking the ‘curriculum’ to real life learning. Transversal skills are key competencies and skills that are relevant across a broad range of occupations and industries. For example, taking initiative is a transversal skill that will help people cope with unpredictable career paths in an increasingly complex world.


In a world of increasing technological capability, there are more diverse opportunities to meet the needs of learners. Great teachers know their learners and use this knowledge to co-create learning playlists for students. They do this intentionally. Personalisation with the human touch helps to keep the social fabric of learning alive.


Learning is increasingly available 24/7 as technology becomes more pervasive. Educators are linking with others globally, sharing ideas and undertaking global projects. This outwards mindset is increasingly important. Foresight, including the ability to scan the environment, increasingly involves crowd sourcing – and technology is the enabler.


Teacher practice is being deprivatised. Teachers are co-teaching and working with others across curriculum areas and year levels. They are making learning much more transparent to students, parents and whanau. There is an increasing expectation that learning is visible, reporting systems are ongoing and that there is a greater connection between home and school.


People are more likely to be attracted to organisations that behave in principled ways, and that work for the greater good. Inequity of access to education, safety and health are increasing global tensions. Sustainability, and service to others, are demonstrated in organisational values. For example, the Singularity University is focused on addressing humanity’s grand challenges.


In a complex, non-linear and dynamical world leaders, teachers, parents and students (well, yes everyone…) need to be able to think from multiple perspectives. Many of the issues facing us have no solutions and sometimes the problem itself is unknown, let alone the solution. Learning is becoming more agile and flexible and less mechanistic in design.


The power is with the people. Globally, people are wanting to be part of decision making and have a role in creating their environment. In schools students are wanting to play a greater role in what, how and when they learn. This trend is not just about student voice but also about growing learner agency – the skills for students to be self regulated and to take some responsibility for their own lives, while contributing to society.


Schools are systems within systems. While schools have often worked in teams, many have not interacted beyond those teams. Collaboration requires an outwards mindset and sense of curiosity. There is increasing collaboration between disciplines, within clusters of schools and across industries. There is a greater level of dialogue about pathways and transitions within education and beyond.

Of course these trends are interwoven and vary from context to context. Combined, they are having a profound impact on schools. What is your vision for school? Have you extended your thinking?

The drivers of change are powerful and influence these trends in significant ways. We really do live in times of exponential change. Please send us your stretch examples of these trends so we can share them with others.

Give young people more choice, more access to technology, more varied opportunities, especially for independent learning while keeping each school’s character and motivating us to learn. Just don’t allow today’s reality to limit tomorrow’s possibilities.                       Greater Christchurch Secondary Students forum, March 5 2013.

About Cheryl Doig

Cheryl Doig is a leadership futurist who works internationally and virtually with organisations, leadership teams and business leaders. She has the unique ability to weave the latest leadership trends with practical strategies and tools, based on her experience in learning, leadership and governance. Her company, Think Beyond Ltd, focuses on challenging and supporting leaders to create outstanding futures.

4 Responses to Trends Impacting on Education

  1. Neil Wilkinson says:

    Some big words here Cheryl but a lot of truth and realism of what’s happening and whats important. I read it!!

    • Cheryl Doig says:

      Thanks Neil. I am glad you read it! Watch out for another post in the new year, using the same organisational change headings. That post will not be education specific, but will explore the trends from a leadership point of view. If these are the organisational trends, so what for leaders in 2016 and beyond? It’s time to sharpen those competencies and be prepared to shake, rattle and roll! Watch this space…

  2. Pingback: Trends Affecting Education – Dr Cheryl Doig – sciencelearning.Journal

  3. Pingback: Trends influencing education in New Zealand and internationally. | Petesposts

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