What If? Exploring Possible Futures

By 2030, the equity policies of the early 2020s became entrenched in educational policy. COVID was the catalyst that proved change was possible and it positioned technology as the tool to make this change happen. COVID allowed for educational think tanks, academics, and stakeholders to dream of a better, more inclusive future, propelled by the Black Lives Matter and Idle No More movements. The next triggering event, or crisis, would be much easier to manage because systems of education would have learned from the past. In this future, learning would be boundaryless because it crossed geopolitical borders as satellites gave school systems unfettered access to the internet for any place any time learning, while policy regulated dangers such as data-driven learning analytics that infringed on human rights and student-well being. Education would become a cyclical process of give-and-take, a balancing of student-centred customizable learning filtered through international standards of holistic equity policy governed by non-partisan councils. Learning would benefit the student, no matter their socioeconomic background or geographical location. Land-based learning in one remote blended learning environment was live-streamed to a densely populated smart school in a country on the other side of the planet to bring students closer together, toward empathy, one of the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 


Bozkurt (2020), through a systematic review of educational technology research patterns, notes that every innovation triggers socio-economic change (Bozkurt, 2020). These findings reveal critical research of concerns such as: datafication, justice and equality (Macgilchrist, 2019), ethics and privacy (Ifenthaler & Tracey, 2016; Regan, & Jesse, 2018) ongoing optimistic predictions and hypes (Cuban, & Jandrić, 2015). Bozkurt contends a shift is taking place from technological determinism to centre issues of ethics and equity (Bozkurt, 2020).


Davidson (2021) relies on W.E.B. Du Bois’s ugly progress to highlight the twisted journey that discourses travel throughout history, or “a looping conception of time that involves shuffling between the disappointments of the past and utopian hopes for the future” (Davidson, 2021). We can examine our recent history and reactionary policy as examples of the narrative failing the discourse of equity. It’s time to envision a predictive education system rather than a reactionary one.

HOW? (a few ideas)

  • A critical look at the expansionist mindset (Selwyn et al., 2020) where we can theorize a subversion of the ‘any place, any time’ assumptions of virtual education to consider digital tech allowing ‘space’ to infinitely expand to the sharing of learning and experiences on a global scale.
  • Naming the tensions that exist, highlighting broader issues in contemporary society, and questioning data practices and datafication. (Macgilchrist, 2019)
  • Consider Alternative Pathways to Education (2020 Horizon report, p.11) and Flexible Entry Points through Blended/Hybrid Modes of Education (2021 Horizon Report, p.42)
  • Use of technology from a holistic perspective to develop student competencies: Becoming a Smart School: A Holistic View of Technology Integration
  • In Digital Education after COVID Symposium, Selwyn notes a few predictions of the aftermath of COVID, while in the midst of it; while Macgilchrist describes a design justice agenda: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmvN7V9dqCg


Bozkurt, A., 2020. Educational Technology Research Patterns in the Realm of the Digital Knowledge Age. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2020(1), p.18. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jime.570

Davidson, J. P. L. (2021). Ugly progress: W. E. B. Du Bois’s sociology of the future. The Sociological Review, 69(2), 382–395. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038026120954330

Selwyn, N. (2021). Ed-Tech Within Limits: Anticipating educational technology in times of environmental crisis. E-Learning and Digital Media, 18(5), 496–510. https://doi.org/10.1177/20427530211022951

Selwyn, N., Pangrazio, L., Nemorin, S., & Perrotta, C. (2020). What might the school of 2030 be like? An exercise in social science fiction. Learning, Media and Technology, 45(1), 90-106.

Macgilchrist, F. 2019. Cruel optimism in edtech: When the digital data practices of educational technology providers inadvertently hinder educational equity. Learning, Media and Technology, 44(1): 77–86.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2018.1556217