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Mapping The Future Of Education Technology

If it’s true that 65% of today’s grade school students will work in jobs that don’t exist yet, then we better get ready for some drastically different learning environments.

Add this massive infographic to the recent discussion of futuristic dorms and what education will look like in 2020—and beyond. Designed by Michell Zappa’s Envisioning Technology (which also created that fantastic interactive infographic mapping the future of technology), this chart maps innovations in education technology for the next few decades.

Click to enlarge.

It illustrates a shift from a classroom-centered approach toward an increasingly virtual set of learning environments. Of course the most eye-popping statistic is the idea that 65% of today’s grade-school children will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet. Hence the need for looking forward to try to anticipate how technologies might evolve and how we should expect to incorporate them into our schools.

"Despite its inherently speculative nature," the graphic’s creators write, "the driving trends behind the technologies can already be observed, meaning it’s a matter of time before these scenarios start panning out in learning environments around the world."

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  • Singularity Utopia

    Or, looking a bit deeper into the future we see how 100% of kids will not have jobs, there will be no jobs for anyone, all jobs will be obsolete because everything will be free due to Post-Scarcity 

  • dagautier

    One more great infographic done by Michell Zappa.

    For sure "the idea that 65% of today’s grade-school children will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet" is quiet a challenge for the e-educationnal system in the years to come.

  • umbrarchist

    We keep talking about what jobs kids will have but don't talk about making double-entry accounting mandatory in our schools.  If accounting had been mandatory 50 years ago what would the economy be like today.

    NOBODY KNOWS!  Our economists have never even heard of planned obsolescence apparently.  What if teachers had been explaining that to high school kids in the 60s?

  • intlprofs

    We would like to circulate this throughout the developing world's HS and universities.

    Ron Krate International Professors Project

  • Christina Delouise

    It looks great.  Our school uses a lot technology.   The problem arises when there's you, 35 kids and none of the laptops are working, and your only IT person in the building (one person for both a P.S. and I.S. school) is unavailable.  There goes your lesson plan and it's you, and 90 minutes and you'd better have a back up plan.  What we need are the people to train, update, and manage the technology in classrooms, otherwise, as a teacher, I'm spending my conferring time with students as a tech trouble-shooter, as opposed to teaching them content. 

    Also.  Where's the parent part in all this.  As ever, it's all great, but parent involvement is imperative.

  • Stacy L. Carpenter


    We utilize a number, if not most of these tools in our "classrooms"  (though we have physical and virtual classrooms, many of our classrooms are actually outdoors) for environmental/natural resources professionals and when applied correctly are very useful in conveying information in a way that is both comfortable and personal. There is an undercurrent that often suggests that technology is better because it is technology, because it is mobile and because it is progressive. In working with college and older adult student professionals, the base needs for education are the same but the vehicles that are becoming available are allowing for students to self elect and personalize their education experience more than ever before. Online courses are often desired for older students with a current full time job, younger college students carrying courseload but have no access to certain niche courses and/or those that cannot travel to the classroom for specialized education. Some students want to be part of a virtual classroom with community in a structured online format (8 weeks, 8 lessons and done), some want to go it alone at a pace they set (I'll get there when I get there). Some students want a dedicated forum (we call it Alumni Center) after the coursework for longer term collaboration/external information sharing and others prefer not to collaborate. The surprise for us was that  many of the students that we expected would use tech option heavily (for example tablet/e-readers for texbooks) in fact tell us, "Thanks, but no thanks". Current college students are telling us they would rather keep it low tech. Paper textbooks (often for multiple source referencing ability), highlighter and instructor access so they can ask questions when they have them in a human manner, not in the form of a Twitter feed or chat box. Online video lessons and online classrooms are perfect, when there is a live instructor available. Otherwise it is pretty much a Youtube seminar. Informing but generally not transforming. The up side of including a heavy technology infrastructure in an educational institution is that we're able to capture and provide personalized education to more people that need/want it, on their terms, than was ever before possible. As long as we keep that goal in mind and get excited about the opportunities that technological tools offer instead of being excited about new technology for its own sake, education will continue to increase in value and benefit.


    Stacy Carpenter
    Blue Lion Training

  • Floris Koot

    This infographic has to be observed with a lot of scepticism. It doesn't define the future of education at all, nor all technology. It defines potential technical improvements within the current paradigm. It also only shows the (often false) promise of certified improvement through technological advancement. Cars and chain saws and industrial fishing are bringing about huge complex problems we can't solve with new techniques, but probably rather with restraint. The same goes for education, the change will have to come for new paradigms (admittingly some of which will be invoked by new techniques) like that students must be able to swim in a sea of info overload, rather than pile info in their heads, they must learn to create their own profession, learn that they not must meet targets, but contribute to a social and healthy planet first (as we all should). Face to face meeting will stay essential as it is to all humans, perhaps more so as balancer for the disconnected madness that all that tech is too. We do have bodies and science recently discovered we have a trainable heart brain too (which many of us already knew and worked with, whatever science claimed before). Stop blindly applauding technological promises and think first. If you start teaching that, there is some hope we'll not train robots ;-)

  • mrcampbellrocks

    Love the graphic. Generally, education as a whole, is reactionary. I would love if the mindset was changed to actionary. I know individual educators, and occasionally schools or districts use this mode of thinking, but generally we tend to wait and see if stuff will work. I think this piece helps us look at things in an actionary way. 

  • Lydia Dobyns


    is no secret that today’s jobs require tomorrow’s skills. And tomorrow’s jobs?
    As Patrick James notes, fully the forecast 65% of today’s grade-school children
    will have jobs that haven’t yet been invented. That means for a
    student to succeed in the global  economy, he/she needs to have highly
    developed critical thinking skills.  It’s not enough to score highly on
    standardized tests, obtain a degree, and expect that to be a secure career
    path.  Students need to learn to think creatively, communicate well,
    and collaborate. 

    smart use of web-based tools combined with rigorous  project based
    learning (PBL) emphasizes the skills necessary for achieving success beyond
    high school. Equipping students with the latest in collaborative learning
    technology empowers them to become self-directed learners.

    applying this system on a grand scale… and we could foster a
    generation of futuristic thinkers, pioneering entrepreneurs, and skilled
    communicators.  This inspirational education path exists today at New Tech
    Network Schools across the nation.

    Continue reading at

    Discover how at

  • Matt Maginley

    Some thoughts. To reform a "classroom-centered approach" and move towards "an increasingly virtual set of
    learning environments", we are transforming what we already have in place and creating start-ups with new business formation. The reason I say "business formation" is that we must consider how an individual learns as a combination of their uniqueness (DNA) and the environment.  Also if we continue to just focus on the K-12 educational system, we will be constantly creating a base of unemployed, and under-employed. We must include college and universities and adult and continuing education. I am looking forward to seeing how today's tools and resources bring us closer to understanding how human beings learn

  • jonathanbaldwin

    The view of gamification presented here is very limited and suggests whoever put the graphic together doesn't really know what it means. 
    Gamification is not "achievements and badges" but the use of participant engagement, storytelling, challenge, instant feedback, collaboration and emotion (among others). Badges and achievements are simply the means by which some of those things are recorded. Sadly, people who think just giving a badge for an achievement is "gamification" are diminishing the power of the concept.
    It is also not "virtual" - gamification can be applied in classroom and other physical contexts (indeed it often works best in those situations as students collaborate on problems in situ).For gamification to work, it needs to be understood and sadly this graphic does nothing to help that...

  • Michell Zappa

    Hi Jonathan -- I'm the author of the piece.

    I wholeheartedly agree that Gamification is as much a behavioral shift as it is a technological one. 

    Please keep in mind that the effort of the visualization is not to explore how educational institutions should react to said shifts, but rather to indicate the multitude of "hard" technologies that are likely to impact the teach scenario in the coming decades.

    Badges, achievements, self-paced learning, etc are simply implementable technological manifestations of a larger driver.

    I hope that clarifies the intent of the visualization.