Elon University

The 2016 Survey: The Future of Jobs Training (Credited Responses)

Credited responses by those who wrote to explain their response

Internet experts and highly engaged netizens participated in answering a five-question canvassing fielded by the Imagining the Internet Center and the Pew Internet Project from July 1 through August 12, 2016. One of the questions asked respondents to share their answer to the following query:

In the next ten years, do you think we will see the emergence of new educational and training programs that can successfully train large numbers of workers in the skills they will need to perform the jobs of the future? Yes or No? Please elaborate, considering: 1) What are the most important skills needed to succeed in the workforce of the future? 2) Which of these skills can be taught effectively via online systems – especially those that are self-directed – and other non-traditional settings? 3) Which skills will be most difficult to teach at scale? 4) Will employers be accepting of applicants who rely on new types of credentialing systems, or will they be viewed as less-qualified than those who have attended traditional four-year and graduate programs?

Among the key themes emerging from 1,302 respondents’ answers were: – The training ecosystem will evolve positively, with a mix of innovation in all education formats. – More elements will migrate online. – Workers will be expected to learn continuously. – Online courses will get a big boost from advances in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI). – Universities still have special roles to play in preparing people for life but some are likely to diversify and differentiate. – Learners must be motivated to cultivate 21st century skills, capabilities, and attributes. – Tough-to-teach intangibles such as emotional intelligence, curiosity, creativity, adaptability, resilience, and critical thinking will be most highly valued. – Pracitical experiential learning via apprenticeships and mentoring will advance. – A mix of traditional and new credentialing systems and quality measures is expected. – While the traditional college degree will still hold sway, more employers may accept alternate credentialing systems as self-directed learning options and their measures evolve. – The proof may be in the real-world work portfolios. – Training and learning systems will not meet 21st century needs by 2026. – In the next decade, education systems will not be up to the task of adapting to train or retrain people for future jobs. – Many doubts hinge upon lack of political will and necessary funding. – Some people are incapable of or uninterested in self-directed learning. – Jobs? What jobs? Technological forces will fundamentally change work and the economic landscape. – There will be many millions more people and possibly millions fewer jobs globally in the future. – Capitalism itself is in real trouble.

The non-scientific canvassing found that 70% of these particular respondents generally agreed that, yes, we will see successful new educational and training programs by 2026 that can train large numbers of workers in the skills they need to perform the jobs of the future, while 30% disagreed for various reasons.

If you wish to read the full survey report with analysis, click here.

To read anonymous survey participants’ responses with no analysis, click here.

Written elaborations by for-credit respondents

Following are the full responses by study participants who chose to take credit for their remarks in the survey – only including those who included a written elaboration. Some of these are the longer versions of expert responses that are contained in shorter form in the official survey report. About half of respondents chose to take credit for their elaboration on the question (anonymous responses are published on a separate page).

These responses were collected in an “opt in” invitation to several thousand people who have been identified by researching those who are widely quoted as technology builders and analysts and those who have made insightful predictions to our previous queries about the future of the Internet.

Cory Doctorow, activist-in-residence at MIT Media Lab and co-owner of Boing Boing (boingboing.net), responded, “It’s an article of faith that automation begets more jobs that in displaces (in the long run); but this is a ‘theory-free’ observation based on previous automation booms. The current automation is based on ‘general purpose’ technologies—machine learning, Turing complete computers, a universal network architecture that is equally optimized for all applications—and there’s good reason to believe that this will be more disruptive, and create fewer new jobs, than those that came before. There is, for the immediate and medium term, a huge shortage of IT talent, of course—especially security researchers and professionals. In part, this is driven by the legal and educational framework that takes a zero tolerance approach to the ‘hacking’ that kids historically engaged in on their way to becoming security researchers. If a kid today hacks her school’s censoring firewall to look at a blocked site, she is expelled (and possibly arrested), not streamed into an AP computer science class. We also have a poorly constituted math curriculum for understanding ‘algorithms’ (which is really understanding the statistics of machine learning models). An earlier and more enduring focus on stats and statistical literacy—which can readily be taught using current affairs, for example, analyzing the poll numbers from elections, the claims made by climate change scientists, or even the excellent oral arguments in the Supreme Court Texas abortion law case—would impart skills that transferred well into IT, programming, and, especially, security.”

David Weinberger, a senior researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, said, “Judging from what we’re seeing happening now on the Web, it seems likely that many of them will be peer-to-peer. Sites like StackOverflow for software engineers demonstrate a new moral sense that learning in private is selfish. Public learning is becoming the norm.”

Vint Cerf, vice president and chief internet evangelist at Google and an Internet Hall of Fame member, said, “Internet can support remote training and learning. These need not be MOOCs. Even mobiles can be sources of education. I hope we will see more opportunities arising for sharing this kind of knowledge.”

Amy Webb, futurist and CEO at the Future Today Institute, commented, “Gill Pratt, a former program manager of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), recently warned of a Cambrian Explosion of robotics. About 500,000 years ago, Earth experienced its first Cambrian Explosion––a period of rapid cellular evolution and diversification that resulted in the foundation of life as we know it today. We are clearly in the dawn of a new age, one that is marked not just by advanced machines––but rather, machines that are starting to learn how to think. Soon, those machines that can think will augment humankind, helping to unlock our creative and industrial potential. Some of the workforce will find itself displaced by automation. That includes anyone whose primary job functions are transactional (bank tellers, drivers, mortgage brokers). However there are many fields that will begin to work alongside smart machines: doctors, journalists, teachers. The most important skill of any future worker will be adaptability. This current Cambrian Explosion of machines will mean diversification in our systems, our interfaces, our code. Workers who have the temperament and fortitude to quickly learn new menu screens, who can find information quickly, and the like will fare well. I do not see the wide-scale emergence of training programs during the next 10 years due to the emergence of smart machines alone. If there are unanticipated external events––environmental disasters, new pandemics and the like––that could devastate a country’s economy and significantly impact its workforce, which might catalyze the development of online learning opportunities.”

Mike Roberts, Internet Hall of Fame member and first president and CEO of ICANN, responded, “MOOC’s and related efforts are in their infancy, so yes, there will considerable expansion as more is learned about what works and what doesn’t work. These developments are contributing to a crisis of self-confidence in higher ed, where traditional scholarship is being challenged on many fronts, including the basic definition of ‘education.’ Human brains are complex and it becomes tiresome to see simplistic approaches to education issues. Generally, an ‘educated’ person possesses a level of knowledge about the world that allows him or her to use analytical skills—induction, deduction, probability, etc.—to arrive at conclusions that guide behavior. The jury is very much out on the extent to which acquisition of knowledge and reasoning skills requires human interaction. We now have empirical evidence that a substantial percentage—half or more—can be gained through self-study using computer assisted techniques. The path forward for society as a whole is strewn with obstacles of self-interest, ignorance, flawed economics, etc. If one believes in ‘the singularity,’ it doesn’t matter, because human-machine symbiosis will bury the problem!”

Jason Hong, associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote, “There are two major components needed for a new kind of training program at this scale: political will and a proven technology platform. Even assuming that the political will (and budget) existed, there’s no platform today that can successfully train large numbers of people. MOOCs have a high drop out rate and have serious questions about quality of instruction. They are also struggling with basic issues like identification of individuals taking the courses. So in short, we can train small numbers of individuals (tens of thousands) per year using today’s community colleges and university systems, but probably not more.”

Michael Dyer, a computer science professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, said, “Most difficult to scale are those skills that require human interaction (e.g. medical skills involving patients) but within 20 years robust Virtual Reality and AI software agents will make even these kinds of skills easily scaled up for online learning. During next 10 years, university education will still dominate but within next 20 years credentialing will be more common than 4-5 degree programs, in terms of the number of people using credentialing.”

Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker and founder at The Webby Awards, wrote, “The skills needed to succeed in today’s world and the future are curiosity, creativity, taking initiative, multi-disciplinary thinking and empathy. These skills, interestingly, are the skills specific to human beings that machines and robots cannot do, and you can be taught to strengthen these skills through education. I look forward to seeing innovative live and online programs that can teach these at scale.”

Stowe Boyd, chief researcher at Gigaom, commented, “While we may see the creation and rollout of new training programs, it’s unclear whether they will be able to retrain those displaced from traditional sorts of work to fit into the workforce of the near future. Many of the ‘skills’ that will be needed are more like personality characteristics, like curiosity, or social skills that require enculturation to take hold. Individual training—like programming or learning how to cook—may not be what will be needed. And employers may play less of a role, especially as AI- and bot-augmented independent contracting may be the best path for many, rather than ‘a job.’ Homesteading in exurbia may be the answer for many, with “‘forty acres and a ‘bot’ as a political campaign slogan of 2024.”

Rick Dudley, a survey respondent who did not share additional identifying details, replied, “Obviously, humans are social animals and we need to be matriculated into society somehow; I expect physical interactions will be required for that, but virtual worlds will help. Pretty much everything else can be trained into people with computers/machines. Which skills will be most difficult to teach at scale? With the proper algorithms, nothing is difficult to teach at scale. The most-effective teaching is one-on-one but there is no reason we can’t automate that. Automation will cause a huge net loss in jobs. Training can’t offset that. I’m a strong proponent of Universal Basic Income. What are the most important skills needed to succeed in the workforce of the future? I don’t think the skills will be fundamentally different than they are now. But the shift in the West will continue to more specialized services, and the reality is that, eventually, we just hit limit of average ability and huge percentages of people become effectively unemployable. Which of these skills can be taught effectively via online systems—especially those that are self-directed—and other non-traditional settings? Nearly all of them.”

Frank Pasquale, professor of law at the University of Maryland, said, “The biggest danger for the United States educational system is premature vocationalism. Rigorous science and humanities courses help students learn how to learn. Skills training all too often does not. Of course, it can complement core academic courses, and is likely to be part of a lifetime of learning for those switching occupations. But turning high school and college into narrow vocational education programs would make their graduates more vulnerable to robotic replacement, not less. We need to invest in higher education, shoring up support for traditional universities and colleges, lest they eventually become bastions for reproduction of an elite, leaving the rest of society to untested experiments or online programs. Online-only programs emphasize the upside of high-tech approaches, but rarely grapple with the downside. Big data surveillance will track the work students do, ostensibly in order to customize learning. Get stuck on a lesson? Just keep interfacing with a keyboard, camera, and perhaps haptic sensors. Or perhaps IM some reserve army of tutorial labor via digital labor platforms like Mechanical Turk or TaskRabbit. Want to prove you aren’t faking exams? Just let cameras record your every move and keystroke—perhaps your eye movements and facial expressions, too. With new platforms, Silicon Valley has lured some universities into giving away lectures for free. The colleges think they’re establishing good karma with the public, but disrupters hope for a more chaotic endgame: students deciding to watch free courses, then proving their credentials to certifiers who give out ‘badges’ to signify competence in a skill set. The certifiers most likely won’t be burdened with any of the teaching, research, community service, counseling (career or otherwise), recreation, social events, extracurriculars, or other long-standing features of residential university communities. They will just verify that student X can do task Y. It could be a very profitable business. If students pay less for actual instruction by experts, they have more money to spend on badges. This is the for-profit model—shift money away from instruction and amenities and toward administrator salaries and marketing. Unburdened by legacy staff and faculty, ‘ed tech’ firms could muster a just-in-time workforce to develop new educational technologies. Investors could continue ‘unbundling’ the university into least-cost providers of content units, student surveillance, and badge-granting. That vision may draw capital, but it probably won’t be attractive to many students. There are serious worries about rapid centralization and reuse of student data by under-regulated firms. For instance, black-boxed instructional technology is often run by algorithms that can’t be accessed by the students it is assessing. “

Edward Friedman, emeritus professor of technology management at the Stevens Institute of Technology, wrote, “Already, today there are quite-effective online training and education systems but they are not being implemented to their full potential. These applications will become more widely used with familiarity that is gained during the next decade. Also, populations will be more tech-savvy and be able to make use of these systems with greater personal ease. In addition, the development of virtual reality, MOOCs, AI assistants, and other technological advances will add to the effectiveness of these systems. There will be a greater need for such systems as the needs for new expertise in the workforce increases and the capacity of traditional education systems proves that it is not capable of meeting the need in a cost-effective manner.”

David Golumbia, associate professor of digital studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, commented, “As an educator, I am completely unconvinced by the current rhetoric that says our educational system is unable to meet the needs of current or future workforces. This whole argument is a sham meant to attack the fundamental purpose and basis of education. Most empirical evidence shows that the premises of this question are incorrect: most ‘high-skilled” jobs of the sort implied here have an oversupply of qualified talent. We need more of an emphasis on the fundamental purpose of education, not on ‘skills.'”

Tawny Schlieski, research director at Intel and president of the Oregon Story Board, wrote, “New technologies of human/computer interaction like augmented and virtual reality, offer the possibility of entirely new mechanisms of education. If we look historically, movable type remade education. Texts and treatises, previously available only in rarified collections, would ultimately become broadly available. The traditions of Socratic dialog would become augmented with increasing opportunities for independent study. The cultural expectations of who should be a student would evolve to include children from every part of society. Augmented and virtual reality tools have the same kind of revolutionary potential. They make learning more experiential, they engage students with physical movement, and they enable interactive and responsive instructional assets. As these tools evolve over the next decade, the academics we work with expect to see radical change in training and workforce development, which will roll into (although probably against a longer timeline) more traditional institutions of higher learning.”

David Sarokin, author of Missed Information: Better Information for Building a Wealthier, More Sustainable Future (MIT Press), observed, “Online learning is rapidly evolving and the jury is still out in terms of its overall effectiveness. While new styles of programs will certainly emerge, the ability to engage and successfully train ‘large numbers’ of workers seems unlikely to me. For a longer time horizon, perhaps this will emerge as an important avenue of training.”

Justin Reich, executive director at the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, observed, “Educators have always found new ways of training the next generation of students for the jobs of the future, and this generation will be no different. Our established systems of job training, primarily community colleges and state universities, will continue to play a crucial role, though catastrophically declining public support for these institutions will raise serious challenges. There will continue to be for-profit actors in the sector, and while some may offer choice and opportunity for students, many others will be exploitative, with a great focus on extracting federal grants and burdening students with debt than actually educating students and creating new opportunities. New forms of for-profit certification, like programming boot camps and code academy will present themselves as new and revolutionary, though they continue in a tradition of IT certification that goes back to Microsoft certificate programs and further back. New forms of certificates and credentialing will be accepted by employers in limited circumstances, especially those in which employers are involved in developing the certificate. The most important skills for the future will be the kinds of things that computers cannot readily do, places where human workers have a comparative advantage over computers. Two important domains of human comparative advantage are ill-structured problem solving and complex, persuasive communication. (Frank Levy and Richard Murnane’s Dancing with Robots offers a nice summary of the research informing this position). Ironically, computers are most effective at teaching and assessing routine tasks, the kinds of things that we no longer need human beings to do. Large-scale learning, which generally depends on automated assessment, is most effective at teaching the kinds of skills and routine tasks that no longer command a living wage in the labor market.”

Luis Miron, a distinguished university professor and director of the Institute for Quality and Equity in Education at Loyola University in New Orleans, wrote, “Bluntly speaking, I have little confidence in the educational sector, K-16, having the capacity and vision to offer high-quality online educational programs capable of transforming the training needs of the wider society, The most important skills are advanced critical thinking and knowledge of globalization affecting diverse societies—culturally, religiously, and politically.”

Jerry Michalski, founder at REX, commented, “Today’s educational and training institutions are a shambles. They take too long to teach impractical skills and knowledge not connected to the real world, and when they try to tackle critical thinking for a longer time scale, they mostly fail. The sprouts of the next generation of learning tools are already visible. Within the decade, the new shoots will overtake the wilting vines and we will see all sorts of new initiatives, mostly outside the schooling, academic and training institutions, which are mostly beyond repair. People will shift to them because they work, because they are far less expensive and because they are always available.”

danah boyd, founder of Data & Society, commented, “I have complete faith in the ability to identify job gaps and develop educational tools to address those gaps. I have zero confidence in us having the political will to address the socio-economic factors that are underpinning skill training. For example, companies won’t pay for reskilling—and we don’t have the political power to tax them at the level needed for public investment in reskilling. Furthermore, we have serious geographic mismatches, underlying discriminatory attitudes, and limited opportunities for lower-mid-level career advancement. What’s at stake are not simply skills gaps—it’s about how we want to architect labor, benefits, and social safety nets. And right now, we talk about needing to increase skills, but that’s not what employers care about. It just sounds nice. When computer science graduates from CUNY and Howard University can’t get a job, what’s at stake is not skills training.”

Nigel Cameron, president and CEO of the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies, “Huge. No question, next-gen MOOCs using VR will move to center-stage delivering zero marginal cost training/education in many sectors, including the lower and middle components of post-secondary education (perhaps a break-out will come from the community college sector). Problems include the current fixation with STEM, which also covers more readily MOOCable disciplines (lower-end STEM qualifications are not going to be much in demand—cf. the scandal of for-profit schools churning out unemployable and poorer grads—and even mid-level ones will be far more susceptible to roboticization than non-STEM or STEM+ jobs). The STEAM acronym better captures likely opportunities, though it’s not just the centrality of the arts (to my mind, better the humanities), it’s STEM:interpersonal collaboration/communication/entrepreneurship that may well offer the best surviving jobs (I almost said careers, but that’s a concept that is withering). Employers may well take the lead. Some years back a group of us were discussing whether, for example, the US Chamber might ally with 2 or 3 radical state governors in offering a rival accreditation system for job-preparing quals. While I would personally find this a distressing downgrade of the post-sec education effort, it offers a practical breakout route from the overweening high costs and generally Fordist character of the present set-up.”

Karl Grindal, executive director at Cyber Conflict Studies Association, replied, “Will people be employed in the future, yes. Will globalization and AI undermine the ability of workers in developed countries to acquire jobs that provide the same quality of life and security as their parents, also yes.”

Paul Jones, clinical professor and director at the University of North Carolina, replied, “We learn more today by training and information sipping than in the past. Training is useful but not the end of education–only a kind of education. As for sipping: you need not know the name of every bear to know you should avoid bears. Yet the continual construction of knowledge and cultures requires more from us. So far, training formally as in Kahn Academy and Lynda.com are unarguably effective for continual updates for basic skills. No programmer or developer could keep up without the informal training of Stackoverflow. Wikipedia hasn’t destroyed bar trivia, but it has made a dent in our conversational expertise. Who played guitar lead on All or Nothing? No need for debate. A little information sip will let us know. We’re fine and informed—but not educated or learned. But what is left out? Collaborative construction of knowledge in new areas, deeper investigation into known areas, and the discovery of entirely new areas of knowledge. This is our challenge: How to create wisdom from knowledge, not just jobs from training and information.”

Henning Schulzrinne, a professor at Columbia University and Internet Hall of Fame member, wrote, “Training programs have had the problem that short-duration generic programs are often not very effective except as a way to incrementally add very specific skills (‘learn how to operate the new industry-specific tool X in a week’) to the existing repertoire. The subject-matter-specific part of a BS degree in a technical or scientific field takes at least two years, often more, and these are high-intensity, full-time years, often without other responsibilities such as family, mostly for students at an age where learning is still natural and easy. A large part of this time is spent not in a classroom, but becoming fluent through monitored practice, including group work, internships and other high-intensity, high-interaction apprentice-like programs. It is hard to see how workers can afford to spend two years without income support, while still fulfilling their ‘adult’ responsibilities such as taking care of their family or elderly parents. There are possibilities for adding limited skill sets to otherwise qualified workers, e.g., the ability to program in Python for somebody who already has an economics degree, increasing their ability to get their work done. The MOOC-style programs have shown themselves to be most effective for this ‘delta’ learning for practicing professionals, not turning a high-school graduate into somebody who can compete with a college graduate.”

Devin Fidler, research director at the Institute for the Future, wrote, “As basic automation and machine learning move toward becoming commodities, uniquely human skills will become more valuable. There will be an increasing economic incentive to develop mass training that better unlocks this value.”

Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher at Microsoft, commented, “People will create the jobs of the future, not simply train for them, and technology is already central. It will undoubtedly play a greater role in the years ahead.”

Thomas Claburn, editor-at-large at Information Week, wrote, “I’m skeptical that educational and training programs can keep pace with technology, particular in the context of writing code. There’s a difference between knowing how to write code in a particular programming language and deep understanding of computer science concepts. But there’s a larger socio-economic problem that needs to be addressed if traditional education paths have become too expensive for most people.”

Richard Stallman, the president of the Free Software Foundation and an Internet Hall of Fame member, commented, “I think this question has no answer. I think there won’t be jobs for most people, a few decades from now, and that’s what really matters. As for the skills for the employed fraction of advanced countries, I think they will be difficult to teach. You could get better at them by practice, but you couldn’t study them much.”

John Paine, a business analyst, commented, “’Yes, but’ is my answer. The competing desires 1) to make educational activity available to all; and 2) to monetize the bejeezus out of anything related to the Internet will limit the effectiveness of any online learning systems in a more widespread context.”

John Howard, creative director at LOOOK, a mixed-reality design and development studio, wrote, “MOOCs, and the availability of training materials, tutorials, user groups and easy access to experts already provides the tools necessary to acquire and build proficiency with a variety of skills. More or more we will see credentials diminish in value as workers can show a track record of accomplishment in the amateur-gig full-time economic spectrum. This is already happening across a number of creative fields as the cost of access to tools has put them within the reach of almost everyone.”

Andrew Walls, managing vice president at Gartner, wrote, “Barring a neuroscience advance that enables us to embed knowledge and skills directly into brain tissue and muscle formation, there will be no quantum leap in our ability to ‘up skill’ people. Learning takes time and practice, which means it require money, lots of money, to significantly change the skill set of a large cohort.”

Stewart Dickson, a digital sculpture pioneer, wrote, “The idea of WORK needs to fundamentally change. We need to convert from the Kapitalist Pyramid to the Post-Scarcity, Post-Industrial society that we are fact living in. Basic Income; convert from wage slavery to Buckminster-Fullerian ‘Livingry,’ It requires a global revolution now to do this. It is going to require generations for it to come about. 3D printing is failing because of the failure to recognize that Technology is only a tool, Creativity is what ultimately drives an economy. But, Creativity does not follow a business plan. Creativity is a luxury.”

Jeffery Reynolds, IT manager, “Too often any system that is created for training and job development has one of two inherent flaws: 1) it’s run by an underfunded agency and never updated over time, quickly falling behind the needs of its customers; 2) it’s run by a for-profit organization whose goal is to make cash, not actually improve society. We need more low-cost and free educational opportunities to allow our country to flourish. The days of driving people into debt in the hopes they can get a better job and get out of their debt needs to end. Until we take the profit margin out of inherent necessities like education and training, we will continue to struggle to provide quality opportunities for all Americans.”

Cristóbal Palmer, technical director at ibiblio.org, wrote, “Higher education has been struggling for over a decade to respond and shift to the Internet. Large institutions with high brand awareness are making significant shifts in fits and starts, but few new platforms (quick! name three MOOC brands that are still growing!) have gained traction. It is likely that more shifts and changes will occur, but it is also likely that they will only gain traction either through or in partnership with major established educational institutions.”

Charlie Firestone, communications and society program executive director and vice president at The Aspen Institute, replied, “There will be a move toward more precise and better credentialing for skills and competencies, e.g., badging and similar techniques. Employers will accept these more as they prove probative. And online learning will be more prevalent, even as an adjunct to formal classroom learning. New industries such as green energy and telemedicine will increase new employment opportunities. Despite all of these measures, the loss of jobs from artificial intelligence and robotics will exceed any retraining program, at least in the short run.”

Timothy C. Mack, managing principal at AAI Foresight, said, “In the area of skill-building, the wild card is the degree to which machine learning begins to supplant social, creative, and emotive skill sets. While by necessity the traditional post=secondary structures will have to adapt to changes in its cultural and economic environment, the credibility and effectiveness of credentialing systems will always be in question, especially where they become vulnerable to ‘gaming’ by participants. In many settings, skill building will continue to be an experiential rather than a scholastic process.”

Michael Rogers, author and futurist at Practical Futurist, commented, “Ten years is a very short time to reshape the enormous institutions that comprise the education infrastructure. We will, of course, see the rise of more online training systems that create work-ready, credentialed employees. But there’s a difference between trailing and education. In a rapidly changing work environment populated by many intelligent machines, we will need to train people from an early age in communication skills, problem-solving, collaboration and basic scientific literacy. Without those basics in place, occupational training is insufficient.”

Miles Fidelman, systems architect and policy analyst at the Protocol Technologies Group, wrote, “We will see more training programs. But the trend is pretty clear. We will need less ‘workers’ in the future. For a long time, science fiction presented us with visions of a world where machines did all the work, and people enjoyed leisure, artistic pursuits, etc. These days, a more dystopian reality is emerging—where a few party, a few more do a lot of work, and growing numbers search for work. We’re going to need a fundamental reshaping of our economy, not training people for jobs that are simply not going to be there.”

Kjartan Ólafsson, head of the department of social sciences at the University of Akureyri, Iceland, “I am ambivalent between saying yes or no here but tend toward saying no as educational institutions in general tend to be conservative and slow in developing in new directions.”

Richard Adler, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future, “AI, voice-response, telepresence VR, and gamification techniques will come together to create powerful new learning environments capable of personalizing and accelerating learning across a broad range of fields.”

Brad Templeton, chair for computing at Singularity University, wrote, “We will see the start of these technologies, but they will not be widespread at the hard problem of adult retraining in 10 years. Instead, most focus will be on childhood education for the poorer sectors of the world. The most important skill, flexibility, won’t be taught easily this way, but must become a focus of K-12 education.”

Christine Maxwell, entrepreneur and program manager of learning technologies at the University of Texas-Dallas, said, “The most important skills are the ability to ask good questions, the ability to be flexible and work well with others—soft skills will be just as important as hard skills. Learning how to ask good questions can be taught online—but having a teacher who is not afraid to let his or her students follow their own curiosity will help greatly! Badging is already here—and employers will very definitely be accepting of these new credentialing systems, thank goodness.”

Elisabeth Gee, professor at Arizona State University and author of What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, commented, “First, many jobs of the future won’t require workers with a lot of training. Of course, a considerable proportion of these jobs can be automatized, but the rest won’t (or shouldn’t) need many credentials. Second, we’ve already seen that degrees and credentials have been increasingly promoted by institutions that are more driven by profit than an interest in preparing students in any meaningful way for employment. If the government doesn’t step in to restrict such institutions, we’ll continue to see students graduate with huge debt and little prospect of decent employment. Lastly, we don’t need large-scale training of workers—we need real education (not job-focused) and opportunities for people to pursue diverse pathways for career development and lifelong learning.”

Joan Noguera, professor at the University of Valencia Institute for Local Development, Spain, replied, “Yes, with some difficulties of adaptation to the necessary speed and the changing nature of potential and emergent jobs. A Lifelong Learning approach will be definitively needed to accompany workers in the process of gaining the new skills that they will need to gain continuously as technology and the Information Society quickly evolve.”

Ken Koedinger, professor of human-computer interaction and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, responded, “We will increasingly have technology support for ‘expertise transfer.’ Experts will be able to teach computers their skills. And these computers will act as intelligent tutoring systems to help others acquire these skills.”

John Markoff, senior writer at the New York Times, said, “We have now passed through the first generation of MOOCs and a new generation of online learning technology is beginning to emerge. Udacity is a good example of the trajectory. Sebastian Thrun was one of the inventors of the MOOC concept. After starting a company to pursue the idea, he pivoted, focusing specifically on skill-oriented education that is coupled directly to the job market.”

Robert Matney, COO at Polycot Associates, wrote, “Self-paced and asynchronous Learning Management Systems (LMS) will not replace ‘meatspace’ educational and occupational instruction, but it will grow to significantly supplement it.”

Baratunde Thurston, a director’s fellow at MIT Media Lab, Fast Company columnist, and former digital director of The Onion, replied, “Online training and certification will grow significantly in part due to the high expense of formal higher education along with its declining payoffs for certain occupations. Why go $100,000 in debt for a four-year university, when you can take a more-targeted course with more-guaranteed income generation potential at the end? From the employer perspective this type of learning will only grow. We are creating a system of on-demand labor akin to ‘cloud-based labor’ where companies ‘provision’ labor resources at will and release them at will, not by the year or month but by the job, labor-unit, or small-time unit including minutes. The automation of human labor will grow significantly. And having a workforce trained in discrete and atomizable bits of skills will be seen as a benefit by employers. This of course is a terrible, soulless, insecure life for the workers, but since when did that really change anything? There will also be a parallel call for benefits, professional development, and compensation that smooths out the rough patches in this on-demand labor life, but such efforts will lag behind the exploitation of said labor because big business has more resources and big tech moves too fast for human-scale responses of accountability and responsibility. To quote Donald Trump, ‘sad!'”

Jeff Jarvis, professor at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, wrote, “As an educator, I welcome the distribution of our industrial-age institutions. Schools today turn out widget makers who can make widgets all the same. They are built on producing single right answers rather than creative solutions. They are built on an outmoded attention economy: pay us for 45 hours of your attention and we will certify your knowledge. I believe that many—not all—areas of instruction should shift to competency-based education in which the outcomes needed are made clear and students are given multiple paths to achieve those outcomes and they are certified not based on tests and grades but instead on portfolios of their work demonstrating their knowledge. That is what I am working on in a journalism school. At a roundtable on the future convened by Union Square Ventures a few years ago, I heard this economic goal presented: We need to see the marginal cost of teaching another student fall to zero to see true innovation come to education, allowing change to occur outside the tax-based (and thus safe) confines of public education. I don’t think we’ll ever reach zero; MOOCs are not the solution! But we will likely see a radical economic disruption in education—using new tools and means to learn and certify learning—and that is the way by which we will manage to train many more people in many new skills.”

Patrick Tucker, technology editor at Defense One and author of The Naked Future, observed, “As I originally wrote in The Naked Future: ‘Online education offers the opportunity to gather data on student performance continuously, or rather, telemetrically, as opposed to at regular (and arbitrary) testing intervals.’ Telemetrically gathered scores aren’t a perfect indication of future performance, so an inherent danger exists in relying too much on them. But what telemetric education offers is the opportunity to continuously and constantly evaluate a student to gain a much more comprehensive understanding of ability, retention of information, even how other behaviors and factors such as time of day, other calendar items, nutrition, amount of time on Pokemon Go, influence learning. It offers a more true moving score. A moving score, in the form of a continuously updating education profile, is probably a better indication of your potential than a static one that reflects who you were or what you could do when you were 16, or where you completed four years of schooling when you were in your late teens and early twenties. Learning will become easier and much more of it will happen outside of school settings, all of which will diminish the importance of schools and teachers as we know them today. But platforms like Coursera can amplify the talents of gifted and effective instructors and reduce the cost of education in the coming decade for all. Some schools and colleges will thrive and prosper at a level not seen in their history. But they will do so only by transitioning away from today’s classroom model toward something else, like data-driven skills workshops at the high school level and startup incubators or problem solving workshops at the college level. The later transition may be the hardest but it is also the most essential for the survival of higher education. Many less intellectually fecund colleges will find it hard to convince young people to go into debt in order to get a credential that is increasing in cost and diminishing in value. We may be conflicted about replacing classes with platforms, but if we are to be honest with ourselves, we know that we can’t prepare coming generations for the challenges of a technological and globalized economy the same way we prepared previous generations to be factory workers. The greatest thinker of the 21st century, whomever he or she is, will understand more about how she thinks and learns then any student in any previous generation, and all before ever stepping foot inside a school house. imagine for a moment the power of knowing beforehand how well you would perform on a test. Laura Matzen of Sandia National Laboratory and some of her colleagues have demonstrated that the brain’s electrical activity, detectable via electroencephalogram (EEG), predicts how well studied material has been incorporated into memory, and, thus, how well a subject will perform on memory tests. The researchers asked 23 people to attempt to memorize a list of words while undergoing a brain scan. The average subject recalled 45% of the words on the list. The EEG data correctly predicted which five of the 23 subjects would remember 72% of the words, beating the average. Telemetric education also offers the opportunity for everyone to raise his or her hand and be heard. That opportunity doesn’t come easily in a crowded classroom—especially not for women or minority students, many of whom feel that if they ask the wrong question or display ignorance, they’ll confirm some unflattering, broadly held perception about their social group.”

Ed Dodds, digital strategist at Conmergence, replied, “VR and virtual world 3D object-based training will allow simulation-based education to be more effective. Some employers will be accepting of applicants who rely on these new types of credentialing systems, and those that do not will be shamed on Glassdoor and similar sites. Also, the global startup ecosystem and makerspace ecosystem will both be intersecting and growing in parallel with these developments. More intentional formal mentorship networks (guilds) are likely to proliferate.”

Chris Kutarna, fellow at the Oxford Martin School and author of Age of Discovery, wrote, “It makes sense to assume that, as new jobs emerge, new educational and training programs will appear to help people fill them. The larger questions are whether, as large segments of the service industry are automated, sufficient new jobs will appear to maintain full employment; and whether workers whose jobs are destroyed by this wrenching retooling are able to shift mid-career. If instead it takes a generation to accomplish the labor market’s shift into new industries, society will bear heavy adjustment costs. A transition beyond traditional credentialing systems is already well underway. Startups, and many small and medium businesses, are already finding that an applicant’s online reputation (for example in the coding community) is a more precise indicator of the roles and tasks he/she can successfully perform than formal degrees held. At the same time, complex organizations are going to rediscover the importance of broad intellectual development to enable good management-level decision-making and coping skills in increasingly complex and uncertain environments.”

Daniel Berleant, author of The Human Race to the Future, wrote, “Educational technology using computers for distance and self-paced instruction will continue to thrive and advance. The high cost of instruction will continue to exert pressure to reduce costs using computer technology, resulting in steady advances in that direction. Ultimately, the teaching profession will face progressively decreasing job opportunities as automation continues to encroach.”

Bart Knijnenburg, assistant professor in human-centered computing at Clemson University, commented, “A lot of people will work in the gig economy with little or no official training. I imagine 3D printer operators running small-batch, highly specialized production lines. Service jobs will also become less-well-regulated, opening them to self-taught workers, but also making them into gig-like jobs. Companies will continue to require degrees for workers in regular 9-to-5 jobs. Such jobs will become a luxury.”

Amy Zalman, principal owner at the Strategic Narrative Institute and professor at Georgetown University, wrote, “Yes, new educational and training programs will emerge. But in the next ten years, it seems unlikely that the expedience with which we typically treat education of all sorts (in the United States) will go away. It will take a long time and a meaningful period of adjustment to align work, workers and employers, even as incremental changes—like employers accepting the differently credentialed and even instituting credentialing systems of their own—are made.”

Dan McGarry, media director at the Vanuatu Daily Post, “Most of the most powerful tools will be crowd-sourced. People will begin to come to terms with the limits of their own predictive capabilities and will learn to design and improve learning systems iteratively.”

Alf Rehn, professor and chair of management and organization at Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland, responded, “The key thing to realize about skills and the future is that there is no one set of skills that we can identify as core or important. The future of skills is going to be one of continuous change and renewal, and any one special skill we can identify now will almost certainly be outdated in not too long. Creativity and critical thinking will be as important in the future as it is today, but beyond this we should be very careful not to arrogantly assume too much. And this is precisely why new programs, online and off, will be so crucial. Innovative, faster and more agile training systems will not only be helpful, they’ll be critical.”

David Karger, a professor of computer science at MIT, wrote, “As with online discourse, we are just beginning to discover what can be done with online learning. Most of what we now call online learning is little more than glorified textbooks, but the future is very promising. Education research has been generating evidence that the very best way to learn is through interaction with other people (teaching each other by talking about the material). The Web offers a powerful new medium for online discussion, which I expect can provide a channel for just that kind of discussion-based learning. The most interesting component of today’s MOOCs (massive open online courses) is the student discussion forums; they will evolve to become much richer and more central to the learning process. An irony of online learning is that the work that we can most easily enable computers to *teach* is also the work that we can most easily enable computers to *do*, making it unimportant for people to learn. Computers can currently do a pretty good job of teaching calculation (by giving and checking lots of calculation exercises) or facts (with automated flash cards) or language (by giving and checking lots of translation exercises) but computers can or will soon be able to calculate, remember, and translate for us. It’s much harder for computers to engage in abstract thinking, design a new product, compose a convincing argument on a topic, or make art, but those are also things we haven’t yet figured out how to *teach* using computers. But as I mentioned above, these are all things that people can teach each other, and the Web provides a powerful medium to connect teachers to learners. No matter how good our online teaching systems become, I think that the current 4-year college model will remain dominant for quite some time. Partly because of credentialing, but also because 4-year colleges involve far more than teaching. College has encouraged us to stretch our notion of adolescence, thus 22 is the new 18. Those four years are a time when our coddled children are slowly eased into adulthood in an environment that gives them more independence than true children but far more support than adults have historically needed. We aren’t going to take that away. Even if we do away with the teachers and physical courses, this age group will continue to migrate to large residential blocks full of people just like them so they can build social bonds and learn how to be adults away from their parents. I’m not sure what is going to happen with credentialing. I am perhaps complacent but think that at least the top tier universities will continue to produce the elite workers who get the best jobs. Further down I’m not sure. Online teaching will increase the reach of the top universities, which will put pressure on lesser universities to demonstrate value. One potential future would be for those universities to abandon the idea that they have faculty teaching their own courses and instead consist entirely of a cadre of (less well paid) teaching assistants who provide support for the students who are taking courses online.”

Marcus Foth, professor of interactive and visual design at Queensland University of Technology, wrote, “I suspect that the mass educational approach of MOOCs will be tempered with more sophisticated peer-to-peer connected learning that traverses online and physical realms. The trend in new types of spaces (maker spaces, incubation spaces, co-working spaces, etc.) seems to give rise to a new form of Bauhaus. Maybe Bauhaus 2.0? We have written about this here: Bilandzic, M., & Foth, M. (2017, in press) Designing Hubs for Connected Learning: Social, Spatial and Technological Insights from Coworking, Hackerpaces and Meetup Groups. In L. Carvalho, P. Goodyear, & M. de Laat (Eds.), Place-based Spaces for Networked Learning.”

Valerie Bock, VCB Consulting, former Technical Services Lead at Q2 Learning, replied, “We are at the very beginning of some interesting experiments with online training. Most of it, for now, is of extremely low quality. To paraphrase my friend Bill Bruck, we’ve taken the very worst elements of the classroom experience and put them online. Talking heads interspersed with PowerPoint slides, evaluated via multiple-choice quizzes on what’s covered are OK if all you need to do is to raise awareness, but in order to develop skillfulness humans need to practice new skills in an environment where failure will not be catastrophic, preferably under the tutelage of other humans. To develop proficiency, we seem to need exposure to war stories of others who were there when the usual rules didn’t apply. MIT’s online programming classes are an exception—their EdX platform has a code checker built in, which means well-structured classes can be created with automatically graded exercises. Supplemented by discussion forums where students can ask their questions and move past places where they are stuck, these courses actually provide the coaching learners need to become skillful. So yeah, coding is probably a skill that can be taught and credentialed effectively via a self-directed online course. In the meantime, a lot of coders learn their craft informally, by examining code written by others and asking questions about it. To me, the most promising application of the internet is the way it increases the number of potential mentors. Global organizations are already leveraging the asynchronous properties of online venues to put their subject matter experts in touch with mentees half the world away, spanning time and distance obstacles. Credentialing is a tough nut to crack, especially when hiring for jobs that require judgment and proficiency. The reality is that most employers want to know that the people they hire have the capacity to learn what the org needs to teach them. The undergraduate degree has been a proxy for the ability to pass through an admissions screen and a level of perseverance. It’s not yet clear that doing a course of study online serves that purpose, and outside of the technical majors where industry sets the curriculum, the point has never been exactly what courses where taken, it’s been ‘can you learn a new framework for thinking and apply it effectively to a situation you’ve never seen before?’ In the meantime, people use the internet every day, informally, to learn bits and pieces that help them be more effective in the work (paid and unpaid) they do, sometimes by accessing content, but often by contacting other people. The value added to human welfare by parenting forums, elder care discussions, recipe exchanges, addiction recovery communities, and even stain-removal resources is deeply underestimated.”

Jim Hendler, professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, commented, “The nature of education will change to a mix of models. College education will need to be more focused on teaching students to be lifelong learners (which will still favor multi-year, residential education) followed by more online content, in situ training, and other such to increase skills in a rapidly changing information world. As automation puts increasing numbers of low and middle skill workers out of work, these models will also provide for certifications and training needs to function in an increasingly automated service sector.”

Marshall Kirkpatrick, co-founder of Little Bird, previously with ReadWriteWeb and TechCrunch, replied, “No, the future will require more soft skills, self-awareness, empathy, networked thinking, and lifelong learning. Creating programs that can effectively teach large numbers of people those skills will take more than ten years.”

Bryan Alexander, president of Bryan Alexander Consulting and an expert on how technology can transform education, wrote, “I picked ‘yes’ because there are plenty of forces coming together to make this happen. Businesses continue to demand more training of new employees, and charge the education system with making it happen. Governments are frantic to boost training in what they often see as a knowledge economy, often seeking to spark their own version of Silicon Valley. New alternatives to traditional education keep appearing, from coding academies to MOOCs (still happening, especially beyond the US) to automated tutors (think Duolingo). Depressed salaries and wages combine with anxieties about students’ loans to drive students into focusing like lasers on economic payoffs from learning. Countervailing forces are not strong enough to oppose these drivers. Some educators argue for the vitality of education instead of training, but lack much power to keep training from rising, and also have a hard time making appealing arguments in the current economy. Technical challenges are falling, especially as mobile devices continue to grow and the populace is increasingly comfortable with distance learning as one part of online life. We should watch for new forms of online learning at scale.”

Bob Frankston, Internet pioneer and software innovator, commented, “This is another nuanced question. We trained generations of people to be “phone operators” by making it easy to operate the phone (AKA, dialing). Today programming is increasingly become a trade. The problem with many websites is not so much the training of the programmers as much as getting managers and C-level people who understand the new concepts of a world being redefined by software. And that’s even more true for policymakers. We need to think about co-evolving work and workers. And, as always, critical thinking will remain the biggest challenge.”

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, wrote, “We can anticipate more effective and immersive techniques for online training and education. Credentialing will remain important but there will also be new forms of evaluation to assist employers.”

Jamais Cascio, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future, responded, “We will certainly see attempts to devise training and education to match workers to new jobs, but for the most part they’re likely to fall victim to two related problems. 1) The difficulty of projecting what will be the “jobs of the future” in a world where the targets keep shifting faster and faster. Jobs that seem viable may fall victim to a surprising development in automation (see, for example, filmmaking); new categories of work may not last long enough to support large numbers of employees. 2) We’re in an era of general-purpose computing, which means that our systems are not physically or procedurally limited to a narrow type of work. Automation and semi-automation (e.g., self-checkout stands) don’t need to completely eliminate a job to make it unable to support large numbers of workers. As learning systems improve, we will soon (if we’re not already) be at a point where adaptive algorithms can learn new jobs faster than humans.”

Simon Gottschalk, a professor in the department of sociology at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, replied, “The most important skills needed to succeed in the workplace of the future depends on the sectors of workplace you have in mind. Yes, coding, big data analysis capacities, efficient management of resources, abstract and logical thinking, rapid response, the ability to think across information systems, etc. will be necessary skills in one of the sectors of this new workplace. In another, the necessary skills will include obedience, rapid response, efficient management of customers/simple services/machines, ability to maintain order, security, to confront emergencies, etc. The skills necessary at the higher echelons will include especially the ability to efficiently network, manage public relation, display intercultural sensitivity, marketing, and generally what [author Dan] Goleman would call ‘social’ and ‘emotional’ intelligence. But also creativity, and just enough critical thinking to move outside the box. While online education bestows competence in a particular topic, mastery necessitates face-to-face education and learning with/from someone. Mastery is in turn perhaps necessary for evolutionary creativity. Hence different sectors of the workforce will get different types of education—depending on the functions they are to fulfill in it. The preference of four-year college graduates over online students depends on the workplace in question and the position they are applying for. In any case, this preference will also probably fade over time.”

Thornton May, futurist at FutureScapes, replied, “We are living in a moment Jefferson dreamed of—when knowledge is accessible and affordable.”

Paul Davis, a director based in Australia, predicted, “Whilst such programmes will be developed and rolled out on a large scale I question their overall effectiveness. Algorithms, automation, and robotics, will result in Capital no longer needing Labour to progress the economic agenda. Labour becomes, in many ways, surplus to economic requirements. This will shift will dramatically transform the notion of economic growth and significantly disrupt social contracts; Labour’s bargaining position will be dramatically weakened. The nature of this change may require the world to shift to a ‘Post Economic Growth’ model to avoid societal dislocation and disruption.”

Giacomo Mazzone, head of institutional and members relations at the European Broadcasting Union, wrote, “Yes, but these trainings will provide know-how always lasting less and less, because the skills requested by digital economy will become obsolete in a shorter span of time than ever before. Only new holistic approach to a lifelong learning process that will focus more on creating mental attitudes than specific know-how will be useful and successful.”

Evan Selinger, professor of philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, replied, “I do believe new educational and training programs will emerge that can successfully train large numbers of workers in the skills they will need to perform the jobs of the future. But there are many obstacles that make this outcome difficult to achieve. For example, in university settings, there needs to be a more pervasive offerings of genuinely interdisciplinary classes. While the word interdisciplinary is touted frequently in educational contexts, it is unfortunately deployed less often than you might expect. Perhaps the main reason for this is that there are robust technical requirements in engineering and science curricula. Often being subject to this constraint results in very little systematic possibilities for interrupting what’s perceived as the must-have flow of cutting-edge and high-tech instruction. Now, online courses may be able to make up for this loss. Imagine an engineering ethics MOOC taught by professors from both fields who want to clarify similarities and differences between how each disciplines considers a problem effectively framed, studied, discussed, and solved. This might make for exceptional supplemental material. But as such, it would only be attractive to highly motivated students who are capable of excelling in their current coursework and still can find the time to take on more responsibility.”

Julie Gomoll, CEO at Julie Gomoll Inc., “Should these programs emerge? Absolutely. But I have no confidence that necessary educational programs will be funded any time soon.”

Nick Tredennick, technology analyst, “Online learning can be cheap, self-paced, and skill-oriented. It should be preferable to indoctrination at socialism-dominated universities.”

Seti Gershberg, executive producer and creative director at Arizona Studios, “Education will vastly accelerate on the Web, making current forms of education obsolete. Unfortunately, robots and AI will dominate the labor force and it is unlikely there will be a need for human labor in 50-75 years.”

Scott Amyx, CEO of Amyx+, responded, “The education system is at an inflection point. Many ambitious federal and state programs have fizzled to produce dismal to no statistical change in the caliber of K-12 education. New methods such as Khan Academy and online educational platforms (K12.com, online universities, YouTube DIY videos, Scratch MIT) are setting the pace and tone for a new era of learning for children and adults. We have witnessed a wide spectrum of subjects being taught via online systems, from core curriculum to advanced AI and machine learning courses. The ability to train one-to-many in a distributed scale will become more critical as new technologies displace humans in certain industries and job functions. It’s those less-educated and less-skilled who are most sensitive to technological displacement. Online mediums and self-directed approaches may be limited in effectiveness with certain labor segments unless supplemented by human coaching and support system. Institutional mindset and biases will continue to favor traditional degrees from established offline academic institutions over online programs. However, in certain fields (IT support, technicians, medical aids), the bias will be statistically less. “

Oscar Gandy, emeritus professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote, “While this question is clearly about education and employment links, it also unavoidably implicates what we might see as likely developments within the marketplace. As I see it, more and more opportunities for employment will be eliminated by automation [recent stories about the growth in ‘demand’ for all sorts of counseling, from health to economic investments, is increasing]. More and more presumably ‘safe’ occupations are being faced with a serious challenge from intelligent systems capable of doing more and more. Therefore, I don’t see the problem entirely, or even primarily as one of continuing education. As to online education, my reading suggests that these programs are ‘not ready for primetime,’ in that the more demanding kinds of technologically oriented coursework seems to have an incredibly high dropout rate. I can imagine that employers will, for many of these skill sets that are readily and reliably testable online, be willing to accept such employees, even as they are being recommended to them by algorithmic analysis.”

Fredric Litto, an emeritus professor of communications and longtime distance-learning expert from the University of São Paulo, replied, “There is no field of work that cannot be learned, totally or in great part, in well-organized and administered online programs, either in traditional “course” formats, or in self-directed, independent learning opportunities, supplemented, when appropriate, by face-to-face, hands-on, practice situations. I have directed doctoral dissertations that conclusively demonstrated the success of teaching of percussion-instrument practice. Certain medical practices would require face-to-face practice and evaluation by mentors, while all the theoretical aspects of the practices could/should be carried out on the more flexible, and socially inclusive, form of distance learning. We are now in the transitional stage of employers gradually reducing their prejudice in the hiring of those who studied at a distance, and moving in favor of such ‘graduates’ who, in the workplace, demonstrate greater pro-activeness, initiative, discipline, collaborativeness—because they studied online. The ‘less-qualified’ label will gradually fade away, as experience reveals the truth—much as always occurred with the introduction of new technologies and forms of work. It took a generation for health workers to realize they had to wash their hands before touching a new patient, so as to avoid passing on the previous patient’s problems.”

Susan Price, a digital architect at Continuum Analytics, commented, “Increasingly, machines will perform tasks that they are better suited to perform than humans, such as computation, data analysis, and logic. Functions requiring emotional intelligence, empathy, compassion, and creative judgment and discernment will expand and be increasingly valued in our culture. People will continue to prefer and increasingly value human nurses, teachers, writers, artists, counselors, ethicists, and philosophers. This shift has been apparent over the past 20 years or so. As we have come to prefer ATMs over tellers and travel apps over travel agents, our patronage of other ’human contact’ specialists such as counselors and therapists, personal trainers, manicurists and massage therapists has increased. Example: People skills in user-interface and experience design will be increasingly in demand, but will greatly benefit from artificial intelligence and machine learning for usability evaluations and testing. Another example: The role of truck drivers will need to evolve as they are replaced with self-driving transports. There will remain the need for humans to manage transportation tracking and auditing, perform problem-solving and occupy stakeholder contact roles such as sales and customer-support communication. Artificial intelligence makes it inevitable that we’ll continue to ‘lose’ jobs to technology in the near term. Online training and credentialing systems will become more popular and through performance and innovation, will overtake traditional universities, over time.”

Doc Searls, journalist, speaker, and director of Project VRM at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, wrote, “I don’t expect the evolution of work in the connected world to require ‘new educational and training programs.’ Instead I expect we’ll see much more adaptive forms of education, especially of the self-made kind. Look at Linux and open source development. The world runs on both now, and they employ millions of human beings. Many, or most, of the new open source programmers building and running our world today are self-taught, or teach each other, to a higher degree than they are educated by formal schooling. Look at Khan Academy, and the home-schooling movement, both of which in many ways outperform formal institutional education. The main qualification for programming work isn’t a degree. It’s proven capability. This model for employment of self and others will also spread to other professions. (By the way, I don’t like the term ‘job.’ It demeans work, and reduces the worker to a position in an org chart.) The great educator John Taylor Gatto, who won many awards for his teaching and rarely obeyed curricular requirements, says nearly all attempts to reform education make it worse. We are by nature learning animals. We are each also very different: both from each other and from who we were yesterday. As a society we need to take advantage of that, and nurture our natural hunger for knowledge and productive work while respecting and encouraging our diversity, a fundamental balancing feature of all nature, human and otherwise. By the way (and even though we’re not talking about it here) artificial intelligence is overrated as a replacement for human beings. Of course we will find ways to put AI to work—and that itself will be a form of work, for people. But only humans can be human. And there is no substitute for the simple ingenuity that humans have always had.”

Avery Holton, an assistant professor and humanities scholar at the University of Utah, said, “These already exist in fairly open formats (think Udemy and Khan Academy), and they will continue to grow. While MOOCs have largely failed to keep individuals engaged, often struggling to find ways to get everyone to a stage of completion, these platforms are geared toward making individuals feel empowered by completing training and projects on their own. MOOCs that can engage at the individual level can have huge payoffs, as we have seen with academic incubators such as the Social News Network. Why not apply similar structures to those seeking skills in data, algorithms, robotics, and beyond?”

Barry Chudakov, founder and principal at Sertain Research and StreamFuzion Corp., replied, “Large numbers of workers trained or retrained? No, there simply aren’t the university-business structures in place to do this. Yes, corporations and entrepreneurs will instigate considerable retraining because we have no other choice. Our technology-mediated world demands that we create better ways to enter and train for the world we have created. One serious drawback to fast-tracking needed educational and training programs: the people who are creating the jobs of the future have so little time to reflect and gain perspective on the people they will need—and how adding these people to their corporate culture changes that culture. These entrepreneurs are so busy building technology infrastructures, filing patents, testing beta incarnations of ideas and processes—not to mention navigating the thicket of regulations and restrictions that surround many emerging technologies and industries—that they simply don’t have time to look around and see the implications of the changes their companies are creating. They know what they need at the moment or perhaps a year or two out; but there is no overarching view of what training protocols may be needed broadly in industries and the country as a whole. When executives disrupt an existing industry, or when those same execs fire teams of people because they need to make their company leaner or satisfy shareholders, rarely if ever do these executives think beyond the final compensation given to a fired or outsourced employee.  Said simply: who else besides President Obama, Peter Diamandis, Richard Branson, and a few others is minding the retraining store? And who is in a position to make broad retraining a reality? At the core of retraining and skill development is the paradigm of education. In the near future we will explode the notion of education as a rite of passage for youth happening within the walls of an institution. Educational institutions will not disappear, but they will change in ways that make them almost unrecognizable by today’s models. The key to education in the next ten years will be the understanding that we now live in a world without walls—and so the walls of the school—physical and conceptual—need to shatter and never go up again. In the (hopefully near) future, we will not segregate schooling from work and real-world thinking and development. They will seamlessly weave into a braid of learning, realization, exposure, hands-on experience, and integration into students’ own lives. And, again, the experience of being a student, now confined to grade school, secondary school, and university, will expand to include workers, those looking for work, and those who want or need to retrain—as well as what we now think of as conventional education. One way we will break down these walls, we are already doing so, will be to create digital learning spaces to rival classrooms as ‘places’ where learning happen. Via simulation, gaming, digital presentations—combined with hands-on, real-world experience—learning and re-education will move out of books and into the world. The more likely enhancement will be to take digital enhancements out into the world—again, breaking down the walls of the classroom and school—to inform and enhance experience. Just as Pokemon Go lifts people out of their chairs into real-world environments to explore imaginary captures, we will change learning from a passive to an active, dynamic experience. Three dynamics that will affect all learning and retraining efforts: 1) Newer tools are changing our sense of identity. 2) We are moving from the fixed point of view that the book gave us to a multiple, simultaneous narrative of flow in a networked environment. 3) Again, since what we think is what we think through, we are applying that logic of visual presentation to our presentation (and sense) of self. What are the most important skills needed to succeed in the workforce of the future? The first skill needed to succeed in the workforce of the future will be the ability to understand, manage and manipulate data. Everyone in a technology-based profession will need to be a quant or keep up with the quants. Because all human processes and activities can now be quantified, and there is considerable exploration and technology development in the application of quantification to everything from our sleep patterns and shopping habits to our emotions and online behaviors, many new and important business models are emerging from quantification and the learning algorithms that drive it. But they are not enough. The second, and much more important, skill needed to succeed in the workforce of the future will be the ability to find meaning and value in data combined with the problem, condition, or opportunity the data is outlining. Said simply, the greatest skill will be the ability to think through the cloud of facts, data, experience and strategic direction that products and services require. Design thinking or visual thinking will be a critical part of managing a data-driven world. Data mining and management can be taught effectively. Thinking, problem-solving, reflection, and visioning are difficult to teach at scale. Will employers be accepting of applicants who rely on these new types of credentialing systems? There will be those who continue to see traditional four-year and graduate programs as both prestigious and essential for creating a certain corporate culture. But new types of credentialing, and especially self-training in emerging fields, for example programming or penetration testing done by ethical hackers, will become exceptionally valuable in the next decade. IBM Corp.’s Chairman, CEO and President, Ginni Rometty, recently said that cyber crime may be the greatest threat to every company in the world. Juniper research recently predicted that the rapid digitization of consumers’ lives and enterprise records will increase the cost of data breaches to $2.1 trillion globally by 2019, increasing to almost four times the estimated cost of breaches in 2015. So applicants will combine traditional credentialing systems—for example a four or six-year degree—with ongoing self-training. The degree will give them the basic foundation, but it will not be enough; technological realities are changing too quickly, and problems are evolving into greater complexities, so degrees, where necessary, are a beginning but not an end in themselves.”

Dave Burstein, editor at fastnet.news, responded, “Millions more will be trained, a ‘large number.’ Unfortunately, a much larger number will be displaced. Many, including older workers, will pay heavy prices.”

David Cohn, senior director at Advance Digital, wrote, “We have moved from the industrial age to the information age. Any industries that dealt with the flow of information are therefore ready to be completely rethought. The news industry, in this sense, is just a canary in the coalmine. Education also literally deals with the flow of information, but as an institution is organized in a very industrial fashion.”

Anil Dash, entrepreneur, technologist, and advocate @AnilDash, predicted, “These credentials will start to become widespread, but acceptance and quality of the training programs will map to the existing systemic biases that inform current educational and career programs.”

Dana Klisanin, psychologist/futurist at Evolutionary Guidance Media R&D, wrote, “Yes, the next ten years will see the emergence of new online educational and training programs capable of training large numbers of individuals with the skills they need to perform the jobs of the future. Educational institutions that succeed will use the tools of social media and game design to grant students’ access to teachers from all over the world and increase their motivation to succeed. Students will be tested through traditional methods as well as real life missions and game-based scenarios. Cognitive and analytical skills will continue to be important, but we will see a rise in emphasis on the capacity to collaborate and communicate. By the end of the decade, employers will be as accepting of applicants with these credentialing systems as they are of those from traditional institutions, however they will not surpass the prestige of traditional campus experience. Online educational programs will influence the credentialing systems of traditional institutions, and online institutions will increasingly offer meet-ups and mingles such that a true hybrid educational approach emerges.”

Garth Graham, board member at Telecommunities Canada, “Does this question have any meaning in a world where workers disappear and there’s nothing left but contractors?”

Louisa Heinrich, founder at Superhuman Limited, commented, “We will have to launch massive re-education initiatives as technology continues to advance; if we do not, the strain on our social safety nets and even our social. There are those who envision a post-work utopian society, but I don’t think we (as society) are culturally prepared for that. A large proportion of traditionally working-class jobs will be taken by robots or AIs, and that workforce will need to be re-trained. E-learning would be an ideal means of doing this at the trade and intermediate levels, enabled by widespread free broadband internet access and increasingly natural technology interfaces (VR/AR, voice input, natural language processing, etc.). Equally urgent is the need for our universities to stop behaving like factory farms churning out degrees mapped to job specs—as the business and technology landscape changes more and more rapidly, studying toward a specific job title and fixed skill set will become more and more untenable. Lateral and system thinking skills are increasingly critical for success in an ever-changing global landscape, and these will need to be re-prioritised at all levels of education.”

Marcel Bullinga, trendwatcher and keynote speaker @futurecheck, replied, “The future is cheap, and so is the future of education. I saw an ad already for $1,000 bachelor training—with an app, of course. Schools and universities will transform in the same way as shops have done in the past 10 years from analog / human first to digital / mobile / AI first. New online credential systems will first complement, then gradually replace the old ones. The skills of the future? Those are the skills a robot cannot master (yet). Leadership, design, human meta communication, critical thinking. Motivating, cooperating, innovating. In my black and white moments I say: skip all knowledge training in high schools. Main teaching goal: ‘We enable you to survive in an ever-changing world with ever-changing skills and not-yet-existing jobs of the future. We make you better than a robot. We let you cooperate with robots. We build your self-trust. We turn you into a decent, polite social person. And most importantly, we do not mix education with religion—never.’”

Terry Langendoen, an expert on Information and Intelligent Systems based at the US National Science Foundation, wrote, “Such programs will certainly continue to emerge. However the real question is whether they ‘will’ (not ‘can’) succeed. The most important skills are computational and inferential, and at this level of abstraction these are the same types of skills that have been needed since the start of the industrial revolution. The current educational and training frameworks have largely been developed in response to this need, not only in science and engineering, but also in humanities and the arts. It’s fair to say that no single type of program has been shown to be adequate; many types of programs have been and will continue to be needed because of the wide variation in people’s abilities and inclinations to develop the requisite skills, and the really hard problem is to match individual learners to the programs that will be most effective in developing their skills.”

D. Yvette Wohn, assistant professor of information systems at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, wrote, “Knowledge can be acquired through massive online means, but skills will still require a small-group, personalized approach with much individual feedback. In the future, the technology will be advanced such that the modality—online or offline—is not the issue, rather it is the size and intimacy of the learning environment that will matter. Formalized apprenticeships that require both technical skills and interpersonal interaction will become more important. As more people get degrees, university degrees will matter less, but that does not mean that higher education does not have its place. Schools that are able to provide a more holistic learning experience that does not focus on a specific skill but is able to provide students with an interdisciplinary and social experience will become more valuable.”

Frank Elavsky, data and policy analyst at Acumen, LLC, responded, “Case in point: Coursera (this is just one example among many). I believe STEM+ jobs are trainable through online resources that require very little cost to maintain. Self-directing is also quite possible as the automation of these systems becomes more intelligent. However, the most important skills to have in life are gained through interpersonal experiences and the liberal arts. The liberal arts help to expand the minds and paradigms of people, and these learning experiences are very difficult to replicate in a virtual/digital setting. The reason for this? Human bodies in close proximity to other human bodies stimulate real compassion, empathy, vulnerability, and social-emotional intelligence. These skills are imperative to focus on, as the future is in danger of losing these skillsets from the workforce. Many people have gained these skills throughout history without any kind of formal schooling, but with the growing emphasis on virtual and digital mediums of production, education, and commerce, people will have less and less exposure to other human in person and other human perspectives. As far as employers and credentials are concerned, industry and demand will reflect the shift in education to some degree. Of course, businesses always value skilled persons who also possess interpersonal skills, but I do not think formal or informal credentialing will be a factor in these decisions (quite to the degree that academic hegemony has played in the past). Again (to drive this home) digital mediums (especially self-directed ones) lend to more and more opportunities for confirmation bias to keep people from broadening their paradigms and compassion.”

Mary Chayko, a professor of communication and information at Rutgers University, responded, “We are already seeing the rapidly growing popularity of such nontraditional training programs as professional certifications, post-baccalaureate certificates, coding bootcamps, etc. They are becoming indispensable in training a workforce whose technical skills must be almost constantly updated. While non-traditional curricula are most easily kept current and relevant, traditional four-year and graduate programs will continue to excel at providing broader context and deeper understandings regarding technology and its consequences. Employers will value applicants trained in diverse settings—traditional and non-traditional, face-to-face and digital—who can respond nimbly to constant change.”

Kevin Novak, CEO of 2040 Digital and previously chief digital officer for the US Library of Congress, replied, “The internet has created many opportunities for education and skill enhancement outside of our traditional education systems. A majority of knowledge gain is now self-directed. Higher Education Institutions continue to expand their online offerings towards self-direction while attempting to retain some form of the older models. The younger generations and their aptitude for technology will continue to expand their use of self-direction and individual knowledge gain. Organizations seeking to increase or improve staff skills should recognize the trends in the marketplace and adapt.”

Scott McLeod, associate professor of educational leadership at University of Colorado, Denver, wrote, “Some of the key skills needed for the workforce of the future include the abilities to be a critical thinker, a problem-solver, and an effective communicator and collaborator, often across global contexts and within technology-infused environments. Many of the subskills necessary to do these things well can be taught through various online mechanisms. These subskills preparation environments will be particularly effective if, while they are being learned, the subskills are immediately put to use by being combined with opportunities to make a difference in the real world rather than remaining relegated to artificial, ‘classroom’-limited assignments.”

Adam Gismondi, Ph.D., visiting scholar at Boston College, suggested, “This question was answered by Zeynep Tufekci in such a compelling fashion that the best I can do is to recommend the audience read her piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/opinion/sunday/the-machines-are-coming.html”

Marti Hearst, a professor in the School of Information at University of California-Berkeley, wrote, “The range of free learning materials available today are breath-taking; anyone who can read and has an internet connection can learn about just about any imaginable topic free of charge from excellent teachers for the first time in human history. There are some drawbacks from the current technologies, however. They require learners to be self-motivated and able to work on their own. Most of the work is virtual. The feedback is not personalized to the student. There is great excitement and energy in the research community at the intersection of computer science and learning science. The existence of enormous communities of online learners makes it possible to experiment with new technologies and teaching methods, and measure their effects, in a scale never before possible. Top researchers are innovating with new methods of helping make online learning more social, helping blend the online with the in-person classroom, with teachers on the ground working with material in the cloud, personalizing the feedback, and integrating physical activities with the virtual instruction. This will lead to at least two revolutions in learning. The first will be an unprecedented understanding of how people learn and how to teach well. The second will be the opportunity for people around the world to get the education they need at an affordable price. In ten years the issues around credentials and proof of learning will be worked out, and that there will be seamless blends between online and in-person learning. In today’s complex world, people want to be continually learning, and being able to take short courses when needed to fill in gaps, or longer sets of courses to learn a new topic or skill, without interrupting one’s life, will become a regular part of life.”

Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois, Springfield, commented, “It is projected that those entering the workforce today will pursue four or five different careers (not just jobs) over their lifetime. These career changes will require re-tooling, training and education. The adult learners will not be able to visit physical campuses to access this learning; they will learn online. I expect that we will see the further development of artificially-intelligent teaching specialists such as ‘Jill Watson’ at Georgia Tech, the virtual graduate assistant who was thought to be human by an entire class of computer science students. I anticipate the further development and distribution of holoportation technologies such as those developed by Microsoft using HoloLens for real-time, three-dimensional augmented reality. These teaching tools will enable highly-sophisticated interactions and engagement with students at a distance. They will further fuel the scaling of learning to reach even more massive online classes.”

Vance S. Martin, instructional designer at Parkland College, wrote, “If we think of it as ‘training’ then yes I believe this is achievable at scale and online. With greater bandwidth and VR and AR it will be possible to train people in Alaska and Texas how to install and repair Tesla Powerwalls or work on self-driving electric vehicles. Studies from Roy Pea at Stanford or Robb Lindgren at UIUC have shown how simulations can improve ‘training.’ If we think about the ‘skills’ people will need in the future this could refer to soft skills like communication, interpersonal relations, or public speaking. These are more difficult to train using asynchronous or synchronous online classes, MOOCs or presumably coming versions with AR/VR. So we may have technically capable employees who need on-the-job training in how to operate in the workplace.”

Daniel Wendel, research associate at the MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program, replied, “The rapid evolution of technology is quickly outpacing our ability to teach it within the constructs of traditional educational systems. However, human needs and cognition and the ways in which people learn have not changed and will not change nearly as quickly. We, as a society, will certainly be forced into new models of education in which stale knowledge is quickly expunged and methods of thinking and doing displace facts as the primary focus of instruction and testing. However, the massive online systems of today (and even the next decade) lack many of the features of school that are necessary for normal cognitive development. Over time, I believe such online resources will become ‘modules’ that can be ‘plugged in’ to a new education system that keeps in place many of social constructs of current schools. What advocates of the MOOC movement miss is that education is much more complicated than knowledge transfer, and has implications for social development, family life, childcare, community formation, and more. Only when those other aspects are considered will the overall ‘feel’ of education begin to noticeably change.”

Jennifer Zickerman, an entrepreneur commented, “The current trends in online education will continue over the next ten years. More resources will be available via online sources and mechanisms, and certification programs will consolidate and gain legitimacy. However, ‘self-directed education’ is a bit of a pipedream. Our economy and society are increasingly stratified, with many highly paid ‘knowledge workers’ at the top and many lowly paid workers at the bottom. The problem of future jobs is not one of skills training—it is one of diminishing jobs. How will we cope with a workforce that is simply irrelevant?”

Nathaniel Borenstein, chief scientist at Mimecast, replied, “I challenge the premise of this question. The ‘jobs of the future’ are likely to be performed by robots. The question isn’t how to train people for nonexistent jobs, it’s how to share the wealth in a world where we don’t need most people to work.”

James McCarthy, a manager, said, “I wish there were a ‘maybe’ option. Maybe, if it’s possible to design an educational program that is effective with learners of varying stripes. Maybe, if it’s possible to have multiple programs with specialized pedagogies. Maybe, if it’s possible to develop educational programs that cross disciplines and allow students to explore different worldviews, experiences, and modes of thinking about things. Maybe, if humans don’t get replaced by machines. Maybe, if the workers you’re talking about *are* machines. In the end, I don’t see how such programs can help create thinkers, problem-solvers, and innovators if the whole emphasis is on teaching ‘skills.’ At scale, critical thinking is tricky to pin down; if you apply a test to students in those programs, and the pass/fail rate is within the mean, meaning that they can think critically according to parameters set by the designers of the program, how do you cope with a student who passes by cheating? Cheating is a type of critical thinking, after all.”

Janet Salmons, PhD, independent scholar, writer, and educator at Vision2Lead, “You got me at the ‘large numbers.” I don’t think people learn anything but step-by-step mechanistic tasks ‘in large numbers.’ The intimate Internet, where we can have real e-learning based on thoughtful exchange, will be the way we help workers move ahead or change careers.”

Tse-Sung Wu, a project portfolio manager at Genentech, “We are already seeing the proliferation of traditional teaching systems into the internet, with MOOC courses offered by leading American universities. The peril is that this may create a two-tiered educational system: one for the masses, online only; and one of the elite, at higher price, in-person. Not surprisingly, the skills that are most difficult to teach using these technologies are anything that is hands-on, requires face-to-face non-verbal communication, or otherwise is related to the provision of in-person services. These so-called soft skills are culturally and geographically specific, and, using current technology, probably aren’t easily taught except in person. Secondly, in a sophisticated, post-industrial economy such as the US, EU, and other wealthy economies, the role of marketing, customer service, user-experience design, and delivery is increasingly important. Think of how you can find a piece of home furnishing at Restoration Hardware and be inspired of its provenance and manufacture: ‘This birdhouse is made one by one by a group of fisherfolk on the Andaman Sea who have been passing this craft mother to daughter for generations.’ Compare it to the same exact item at Target for a tenth of the price. Like design, these will be the high-value tasks, while engineering and manufacturing continues to be commoditized. So it depends on the application: I can imagine a multinational corporation willing to employ a poor Bangladeshi educated only in a MOOC offered by MIT if she’s only going to code. But if you want this person to design and oversee the retail experience of upper-middle-class Shanghai, you’ll end up with someone from an elite school, who had in-person interactions, and, more importantly, the face-to-face relationships that led them to you.”

Judith Donath of Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society replied, “A lot has been written about the need for STEM education. Here I want to focus on other areas. 1) Teaching and healing: As computers, robots and other machines take over many jobs, we need to re-position the social status of jobs that involve interpersonal care: daycare, teachers, nurse, elderly, coach. The issue is not just training but cultural reevaluation of teaching and healing as highly respected skills. While technology can assist with this work, we mustn’t lose sight of the importance of human connections as an end in and of themselves. 2) Craft and repair: For the benefit of both the individual and the environment, we need to strongly support learning design, craft, building, repair. Few of us make anything we use—from the building we live in to the objects we own—and these things are mostly manufactured as cheaply as possible, to be easily bought, discarded, and bought again, in a process of relentless acquisition that often brings little happiness. Education here should be integrated into everyday life, not just for when one is ‘in school.’ E.g., much rental housing is in bad repair, with tenants waiting weeks, months, years for even simple fixes—a running toilet, broken lights, a hole in a wall. Very easily accessible learning for how to fix these things themselves (and making it economically rewarding, in the case of a common good)—is a simple, basic example of the kind of ubiquitous craft learning that at scale would be enormously valuable. Some of this can be taught online—a key component is also online coordination. 3) An informed citizen: What should people know, what skills should they have, to be informed participants in a democracy? Certainly science and technology are important, but we need to refocus liberal education, not ignore it. History, in all its complexity. Critical thinking—how to debate, how to recognize persuasive techniques, how to understand multiple perspectives, how to mediate between different viewpoints. Key skill: how to research, how to evaluate what you see and read.”

Alexander Halavais, director of the master of arts in social technologies program at Arizona State University, commented, “The key word here is ‘training.’ There will continue to be a differentiation between learning that happens best individually (and can therefore be scaled in an interactive/broadcast model), and those that are best learned in a community. The latter is also scalable, but the technologies for scaling learning communities are trailing technologies that allow for training. The growth of those online learning communities is going to be the more interesting story of the next ten years. The success of these system will rely on credentials that are transparent and demonstrate authentic learning. To the extent that such credentials emerge, they will complement (and sometimes replace) university degrees.”

Bernardo A. Huberman, senior fellow and director of the Mechanisms and Design Lab at HPE Labs, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, wrote, “Instructional videos, online documentation, and the ability to ask questions via texting will lead to better training of large numbers of workers in all sorts of jobs.”

Larry Gallagher, organizational insight analyst at Stanford University, commented, “The skills that are cited as most important—creative problem-solving, collaboration, skilled communication—are not easily taught in isolation via on-line methods. There will always be a need for collaborative, face-to-face interactions as an integral part of learning. Yes, online courses can help with particular technical skills (e.g., learning how to code in HTML, diagnosing network problems, etc.), and it’s possible if not likely that additional certification programs will emerge for technical knowledge (Microsoft and Cisco already have such programs). Right now the four-year degree is being used as a gross filter, essentially signaling to an employer that this applicant has had the resources and self-management skills to get themselves through four years of higher education (wake up on time, manage large assignments, pass classes). Many jobs simply do not require the higher order learning and thinking that a four-year degree can confer. But I do believe that the deeper learning (again, collaboration, skilled communication, and the like) can enhance the performance of almost any worker, and opens up the possibility of creative improvements within the workplace itself. That is, a business can benefit from having a thoughtful, agile workforce, one that is constantly on the lookout for how to do things better. These are attitudes that are best inculcated beginning in Kindergarten and nurtured through continuous modeling in the K-12 and higher-education systems.”

Garland McCoy, president of the Technology Education Institute, wrote, “The internet is uniquely suited for individualizing education so that you can successfully move significant numbers through educational programs.”

Tom Ryan, CEO of eLearn Institute, Inc., responded, “The degree and perhaps the prestige of the institution gets you the first interview, but it is your ability to do good work that keeps the job and move you to the next level. How individuals develop the skills will be less important the having the skills. As mastery learning evolves, so will our performance-based assessment systems, providing universities and businesses a greater set of evidence and qualifications then is currently available. Our traditional educational systems are burdened by ‘legacy’ bureaucratic practices that don’t contribute to mastery of learning and distract from great teaching and learning. People in rural areas don’t have physical access to higher education campus’ or highly skilled trainers. Current job responsibilities don’t allow flexible work schedules to seek skills to improve their position. K-12 teachers are constantly pulled from class-time with students for professional development or during class are required to take attendance, grade assessments, fill out grade checks, practice fire drills all degrading quality teaching time. If online systems just removed these barriers they would be a great benefit, but there is so much more these system can offer. Many of the new skills necessary for jobs of the future require digital skills to be successful. Too often education leaders and politicians make unilateral decisions about the interaction between teacher and learner instead of building and maintaining an environment for great teaching and learning to take place. Large school systems can’t scale major improvements in current systems without leveraging the tools that society and industry are using to transform their practice.”

Stephen Downes, researcher at National Research Council Canada, replied, “We will see educational and training programs that can successfully train large numbers of workers because for the most part mechanisms will be in place that enable them to train themselves. Within ten years, we should be beginning to see that the idea of ‘providing’ training education or training is misguided, because it’s overly expensive and less effective than self-managed learning. I find it interesting, even, that the question itself presumes that stills must be ‘taught.’ ‘Which of these skills can be taught effectively via online systems?’ It’s not that the skills are taught, per se, but rather than the skills are learned. A wide range of activities may enable skills to be learned—especially multidisciplinary skills, such as critical thinking or social interaction—without specifically teaching those skills. There are very few skills that require specific and personal instruction from an expert to learn—frankly, I can’t think of any—which means that within ten years we should at least be able to countenance the possibility that all, or nearly all, educational programs may be automated. Or course, they will continue to require the time and participation of the individual learner, and in many cases, social interaction with other learners, but the labour-intensive learning industry we have developed to this point will not be required. I see to major objectives to this argument: 1) It may be argued that personal interaction is required in order to get to know a student, and therefore anticipate what they need. However, in ten years it will be arguable (and probably demonstrable) that your own computer networks will know you better than any individual instructor could, even an instructor who worked with you your entire life. Sure, there are disasters like the Facebook news stream, but people are already amazed at how much Google knows about them. And we know that with enough data analytics can outperform humans even in complex tasks 2) It may be argued that personal interaction is required in order to evaluate a student’s level of achievement. Most actual assessment (not to be confused with multiple-choice tests) in school or professional programs is based on expert recognition. The submitted behaviour (an essay, performance in surgery, piloting an aircraft in a simulation) is not assessed according to whether a set of indicators is achieved (this would possibly be a necessary, but never a sufficient, condition). The expert looks at the overall behaviour and assesses whether that competency has been met. The expert is serving as a proxy for the community at large. With modern communications technology, this proxy is no longer required. Through the course of any given day, as a person goes through various activities, they interact with dozens of other people, either in person, or through online interaction. Each person responds to them in some way, not by testing them, but by (for example) engaging them in conversation, asking questions, following advice, etc. These responses, over time, form a comprehensive (and constantly changing) assessment of the person.”

Randy Bush, research fellow at Internet Initiative Japan and an Internet Hall of Fame member, wrote, “The payoff of education is too long-term for politics to favor it. The results are horrifying, but inevitable in our current system of exceeding short-term and short-sided decision making.”

Jim Warren, longtime technology entrepreneur and activist, responded, “We have already seen some of those kinds of programs … both legitimate ones and costly legal scams of questionable (at best!) value. We will see much more of both of these—probably (hopefully) including some amount of legal oversight/control of those that have little (or no!) value; sort of like the minimal nutritional information that has (finally!) been forced on Big Foods. However, there are—and will continue to be—major areas of education/learning/teaching where skills and competency can be taught/shared online only in very limited ways (if at all).”

Shannon Tucker, an assistant dean of instructional design and technology at the University of Maryland, commented, “President Obama’s initiative ‘CS for All’ is an important first step in educating a generation on the technology skills necessary to participate in a technology-centric society. Funding and supporting this initiative provides an opportunity for industry and non-profit organizations to support training of our K-12 students, but also educators, parents, and others involved in the educational pipeline to develop technology skills to support this initiative. However, encouraging sustained participation, supporting a wide range of educational needs and learning preferences will be a significant problem. Credentialing systems like badging is still met with skepticism within the business community generally. Leveraging trusted organization with a respected reputation will help combat the negative connotation with badging, training, and other large scale training initiatives (like MOOCs). The reputation of respected providers may be the only way to bridge the gap between traditionally accepted education and more flexible forms of education that tackle specific skills and abilities necessary to participate in our technology-driven world.”

Ed Lyell, online education pioneer and professor of business and economics at Adams State University, wrote, “These emerging new education and training systems are expanding. Khan Academy, MOOCs and other technologies at near zero marginal cost make delivery of such learning available to all. More people will move to these alternatives especially as the ‘badges’ type projects expand giving acceptable and transferable credit and accountability for competency achievement. It is unfortunate that most of these new opportunities are outside of formal public or higher education but those bureaucracies are more interested in protecting their status quo wasteful system then using new tools to make learning more effective and efficient. Shifting funding for K-12 and higher education to focus on competency obtained could incentivize formal education to use existing and emerging tools, especially fun based simulation and role playing learning models. The 18,000 school boards would have to change and put children’s learning ahead of adult job protection, and that is not likely without a governance change away from local control. Thus a replacement education system is more likely than reform of the current schools and universities. “

Ben Shneiderman, professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, responded, “Students can be trained to be more innovative, creative, and active initiators of novel ideas. Skills of writing, speaking, and making videos are important, but fundamental skills of critical thinking, community building, teamwork, deliberation/dialog, and conflict resolution will be powerful. A mindset of persistence and the necessary passion to succeed are also critical.”

Erhardt Graeff, PhD researcher at the MIT Center for Civic Media, wrote, “New jobs will demand increasingly sophisticated technical skills combined with creative problem-solving and adept teamwork. Some technical skills can likely be gained using MOOCs, personalized learning, or future versions of these. However, not all learners will excel in self-directed, computer-based classrooms. Furthermore, creative thinking, especially in teams, will be hard to develop at scale without new physical and digital infrastructures that create problem-solving contexts analogous to real world cases. Learning how to learn and how to lead in online and offline contexts and how to translate those ideas to practical problems must be placed at the core of new programs. Success will require huge public investment and a reimagining what we value in education. This is hard: the problem and our responses cannot be reduced to pushing STEM or vocational training at scale. We can’t throw out the important societal and civic role played by liberal education by chasing technical skills that might be obsolete in a few years. I don’t believe the political will or sense of impending catastrophe is in place to make significant changes in the next ten years. We will likely see companies take on a larger role of teaching technical skills to workers—workers who were hired because they were able to develop creative problem-solving and teamwork skills through (or in spite of) existing educational systems and personal experience.”

Mary Chayko, communications and information professor at Rutgers University, replied, “We are already seeing the emergence of such nontraditional training programs as coding boot camps, professional certifications, post-baccalaureate certificates, etc. They are becoming indispensable in training a workforce whose technical skills must be almost constantly updated. While non-traditional curricula can more easily remain nimble and up to date, traditional four-year and graduate programs continue to excel at providing broader context and deeper understandings regarding technology and social change. Modern workers will be best served by near-continual training in a variety of diverse settings, traditional and non-traditional, face-to-face, and digital.”

Deborah Elizabeth Finn, senior strategist at Tech Networks of Boston, replied, “I am involved in a workforce development initiative to train, educate, and place the nonprofit data analysts of the future. I am very optimistic about its success.”

Stuart Shulman, CEO of Texifter, responded, “These changes are already happening, though I’m not certain alternate credentialing systems will be fully accepted anytime soon, with some notable exceptions. Hackers and programmers in general come to mind.”

Isto Huvila, professor at Uppsala University, replied, “It is not possible to set up ‘new educational and training programs that can successfully train large numbers of workers in the skills they will need to perform the jobs of the future.’ We can educate people to perform the jobs of the today (which is important) and we can and have to educate people to think critically in order to educate themselves and to create (not perform) the jobs of the future, and the future itself, for themselves and others. There is no way of educating someone to ‘perform’ something that does not exist. The difference between educating to perform and educating to make the future is the difference between vocational educational and higher (university) education. Even if it might be tempting to bypass traditional graduate programs the problem of moving to skills training and short courses is twofold. We would lose a very useful proxy of a certain level of competence (degree) and would need to engage in very laborious assessment of individuals in cases when it would be unnecessary. Secondly, we are losing again something in that is common to a larger group of people. Spending four years at a university if not only about learning skills but about bildung (self-cultivation) and socialising in a group that is capable to fostering collaboration much better than an ad hoc group of people. But this does not mean that alternative means and paths of learning and accreditation would not be useful as a complementary to the traditional system that has limitations as well.”

Calton Pu, professor and junior chair in software at the Georgia Institute of Technology, wrote, “The most important skill is a meta-skill: the ability to adapt to changes. This ability to adapt is what distinguished homo sapiens from other species through natural selection. As the rate of technological innovation intensifies, the workforce of the future will need to adapt to new technology and new markets. The people who can adapt the best (and fastest) will win. This view means that any given set of skills will become obsolete quickly as innovations change the various economic sectors: precision agriculture, manufacturing 4.0, precision medicine, just to name a few. Therefore, the challenge is not only to teach skills, but also how to adapt and learn new skills. Whether the traditional programs or new programs will be better at teaching adaptive learning remains to be seen.”

Christopher Wilkinson, retired senior European Union official, replied, “It is not just a matter of training workers to do their jobs. Training is required for the general public in digital literacy and internet safety. The analogy is the driving license, the first aid course and fire drills.”

Cory Salveson, learning systems and analytics lead at RSM US, responded, “We are beginning to see the models for how to do massive online education with especially Udacity, which recently celebrated 5 years doing business. The reason why we will see this is because we will have to: the nature of work today, and in future, is such that if people want to keep increasingly scarce well-paying jobs, they will *need* to educate themselves in an ongoing manner for their whole lives. I think there will be a big market for this: more self-directed or coached/mentored, project-based, online learning options that coexist with traditional brick-and-mortar university degree credentialing to make the labor market more agile, whether it wants to be or not.”

David Durant, business analyst at UK Government Digital Service, wrote, “While there are many excellent online training opportunities I do not believe that they will enable large numbers of people to attain the skills they need in order to gain future employment. Partly this is due to the fact the overall number of jobs that need to be undertaken by people will continue to fall (although perhaps not to become highly significant within the next 10 years). It is also because many of these jobs, such as those related to design, software or finance can be undertaken anywhere via online mechanisms. This will lead to a continued process of those roles moving to where the work can be completed cheapest. Finally, for the subset of skills that can be acquired online we will see a situation where an increasing number of people will be competing for limited roles. It is the offline roles that cannot easily be performed by machines that will see the highest job security.”

Luis Lach, president of the Sociedad Mexicana de Computación en la Educación, A.C., wrote, “Tools for virtual education, (face-to-face and online versions) already exists. Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC), Open Educational Resources (OER), Internet of Things, Augmented Reality (AR), Big Data and especially Moodle and Learning Management systems (LMS) have started a ramp of intensive presence in both educational worlds. Quality and social impact will depend, of course, on the quality and certification of each offering. Students and teachers need—now and in the future—strong adaptation skills to new environments, to be ready for change and a for a more competitive world than they knew when born. I believe there will be two models for education: 1) Face-to-face, but with a huge amount of digital environments (LMS, Moodle, etc.); 2) Virtual (from 50% to 100%). People in the current world have the chance to study in their home cities in a face-to-face model, but also have and will have the chance to study everywhere with virtual tools and with enough credentials to succeed and compete.”

Polina Kolozaridi, researcher at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow, “The most important skills needed to succeed in the workforce of the future are: process-oriented + system-oriented thinking, coding, etc. (I mean all about AI communication, but this particularly); 3D-modelling; understanding contemporary physics; basic and advanced critical thinking; history (especially work with different types of documents and evidences, partly journalistic skills); information management. Which of these skills can be taught effectively via online systems—especially those that are self-directed—and other non-traditional settings? I am sure that there will be a renaissance of old-school training systems, like reading groups, apprenticeship etc. It will be an expensive and effective educational strategy for the top universities. The others will follow partly with online courses. I also hope that there will be colleges teaching coding and 3D modeling etc. Which skills will be most difficult to teach at scale? Physics and all the humanities.”

Grant Blank, a sociologist and survey research fellow for the Oxford Internet Institute, replied, “Technical skills, like auto mechanics or computer languages, can be taught at scale and they can be effectively taught online. This will continue and expand. Skills that are harder to define, like how to interact in professional settings or how to organize an effective argument, are much harder to teach without face-to-face interaction. I am explicitly ordering skills and the highest levels will not be taught online.”

Katharina Anna Zweig, a professor at Kaiserslautern University of Technology, Germany, wrote, “Yes, many groups are currently working on blending the real environment with a virtual environment in which information and learning instructions will be blended in whenever it is meaningful and useful for the person to learn it. We will need to be careful, that those machines support learning of the individual and do not replace it by their omnipresence. However, I am optimistic that we will be able to design teaching environments that will optimally motivate everyone to learn more.”

Dan York, senior content strategist at the Internet Society, replied, “The main skills people need today are the ability to be creative and to be interested in continually learning. Any job that *can* be automated *will* be automated. And even jobs today that we don’t think can be automated may be automated in the future. The trick will be to be able to be flexible and agile. I think new educational programs will have to emerge—and ultimately employers will have to rely on those new systems to get the employees they need.”

Marc Brenman, managing partner at IDARE, replied, “Online learning is relatively ineffective. Specific skills need to be identified and practiced. Self-direction only works for a small percent of people. It is very difficult to teach critical thinking, logic, and evidence. Employers will accept some of the new credentials because they won’t have a choice.”

Fred Baker, fellow at Cisco Systems and longtime Internet Engineering Task Force leader, wrote, “The skills needed in the workforce constantly change, and our preparation of the workforce constantly changes. My youngest son is already on his fourth career, if “student” is a career. And yes, education changes to meet those changing demands; if it doesn’t, people don’t build those skills, and the future cannot be in that direction. So I expect education and training to change.”

Mary Griffiths, an associate professor in media at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, observed, “Any future worker should have, at the very least, an understanding of big data’s potential to make an impact in every aspect of our lives. Because, although the Internet of Things is nascent, it will rapidly develop into an all-encompassing framework which shapes relations of power and opportunities for full participation in societies. Its development will require less technocratic hype, and more consideration of what end-users need and want. The challenge is to prove to employers that an applicant has those skills. It is not just a question of easy to understand credentialing by known agencies, such as tertiary graduate organisations. These technical and soft skills could be taught effectively by online by other agencies if the content was effectively matched to sector or disciplinary knowledge. MOOCs already offer largely non-accredited knowledge. The problem that I see as someone who spends time on transition-to-work is that HR departments currently (and often badly) use algorithmic scans for keywords and key credentials in CVs. In a pioneering field or a start up environment, that lockdown militates against innovative or different candidates. Employers are losing out by abrogating the reading of CVs to HR. I’ve known students qualified for particular employment who have lost out because HR staff members who program CV scanners are not abreast of current research, interdisciplinary research or successful relevant experience which speaks to, but does not directly match ‘essential’ selection criteria. Either the credentialing systems need to improve the descriptive nature of testamurs [certificate of successful completion of an examination], or employers need to have more confidence about making employment choices independent of the time-saving pre-interview culling systems.”

Sam Punnett, research officer at TableRock Media, wrote, “This is a qualified ‘yes.’ I believe there will be advances in interactive online learning if that is what is meant by programs that are successfully able to train large numbers of workers. The qualification I would add is that ‘the jobs of the future’ are likely to be more typically knowledge-based and involve complex tasks. As such I still believe that student interaction with a live instructor is a superior learning method over computer-based learning modules—particularly for complex topics involving analysis and problem solving. The most requisite skill for future workers will be the ability to continually adapt and learn new skills. I suspect that employers will recognize the new credentialing systems. Particularly those certificates awarded for studies in emerging disciplines (currently data science appears ‘all the rage’) and those that reflect an upgrade of previously acquired skills. Traditional credentials will continue to hold value but I believe they will be considered in light of a candidates perceived ability in ‘learning how to learn.’ The four-year degree and subsequent graduate studies will continue to be less of a guaranty towards employment without work experience. Credentials from colleges (Canada) conferring certificates are being viewed more favourably than in the past and, I believe, many universities are lagging in their connection between their pedagogies and working world requirements. This refers specifically to their ability to provide guidance towards innovative thinking and learning how to learn and is not a comment on non-STEM degree programs.”

Laurent Schüpbach, a neuropsychologist at University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, responded, “There is a vast amount of teaching materials online. If most of it so far is either beginners level or very niche, there’s an emergence of complete teaching programmes even given by universities. If not much companies will trust somebody just because he watched a few YouTube videos, I think more will trust somebody who followed a programme on Coursera. But it will depend a lot on the profession. There are still many jobs where a proper diploma from an accredited institution is necessary. This will take more than 10 years to change.”

Nicholas V. Macek, digital director at an Ohio-based political firm, replied, “The past decade of testing of MOOCs and other educational programs will provide the insight needed to provide these services to millions more. VR will become a necessary tool in education for technical and skilled tech jobs.”

Kate Crawford, a well-known internet researcher studying how people engage with networked technologies, wrote, “We clearly need new educational and training programs to address the deepening precarity of the labor market. But to make it ‘successful’, in that the right training could be developed to make it possible that everyone will have jobs, is very unlikely.”

Matt Hamblen, senior editor at Computerworld, said, “Coding will become an important skill for future workers. Many parts of learning coding can be done online, but interactions will still be essential at short events like development conferences, which are more like competitions. The interpersonal skills needed by managers will be almost impossible to teach and learn online, meaning the value of in-person experiences will continue. Credentials for online training will gain value and more young people will grow more and more skeptical of traditional four-year and grad programs, definitely.”

Marina Gorbis, executive director at the Institute for the Future, replied, “It will be easy to learn specific skills with the help of various tools (including virtual reality) that could guide workers in-situ to understand how to use machinery or design things. As we embed information into physical spaces and objects, potentially the whole world becomes a classroom. You can point to a plant and learn its genus, origin, etc. Point to a building to learn its history or demographics of the place. Pokemon Go is an early signal of what is possible when we overlay context-specific information in physical places. I imagine similar applications will emerge for educational purposes. While specific skills will be relatively easy to learn, the skills for critical thinking and sense-making—which are essential to success—will be harder to learn, as these require deeper understanding, reflection, and thinking that is not skill-specific and beyond particular disciplines.”

Dave Howell, a senior program manager in the telecommunications industry, wrote, “Yes, the key word is ’emergence,’ and a relevant word is ‘successful.’ Not every skills training program will work well in the decade, not every trainee (or certifying organization) will be desirable. It pains me as a MBA from a ‘real school,’ but I can see the writing on the wall: employers will go low-cost, and live with operational expense incurred by lower-quality training. High-quality training will cost the individual. I can see an industry in advising workers whose course and what subject for the next technologically-driven career shift. Fast learners and self-starters, the bright, who are ahead or early on the hype curve will overcome deficiency in training courses. Improvements in training suggested by this group will have to be incentivized as it’s not in their interest to lower barriers to their competition. Non-IT Project/Program management, organizational process design, and softer leadership skills will be hardest to get across: some things remain true regardless of the technological level of society.”

Peter Levine, Lincoln Filene professor and associate dean for research at Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University, responded, “I am not assuming that new programs will be digital or remote in format. They may be traditional, face-to-face trainings. I do expect that within 10 years, educational institutions and other providers of training will adjust to market needs.”

Meryl Krieger, career specialist at Indiana University-Bloomington’s Jacobs School, replied, “The most important skills in the workforce of the future are (1) transferrable skills and (2) training in how to contextualize and actual transfer them. These are really hard to teach at scale, but then the workforce of the future is something we are barely coming to have the dimmest perceptions about. Credentialing systems will involve portfolios as much as resumes—resumes simply are too two-dimensional to properly communicate someone’s skillset. Three-dimensional materials—in essence, job reels—that demonstrate expertise will be the ultimate demonstration of an individual worker’s skills. I see credentialing as a piece of a very complex set of criteria; these will also incorporate an individual’s ability to communicate and work with teams (huge in employer requests for new employees), which can more readily be documented and tracked through online portfolio tools than through traditional resume formats. Thus, the educational and training programs of the future will become (in their best incarnations) sophisticated combinations of classroom and hands-on training programs. The specific models will necessarily be responding to individual industry requirements.”

Dave Robertson, a professor of political science at University of Missouri, St. Louis, wrote, “Experience with the delivery of education and training will bring innovations that improve delivery and outcomes. The ability to improve group interaction would be an important improvement. Online learning seems to have limited ability to improve face-to-face contact in a group, a skill important to develop. Employers may have to develop alternative ways to certify skills, and in some areas (such as language), this could itself create a marketable skill.”

Robert Bell, a co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, said, “In the US, the public conversation has become intense around this topic. Our understanding of inequality both economic and ethnic is rising to painfully personal levels, whether we on the positive or negative side of it. There is little real intellectual debate about what needs to be done—the issue is gathering the political will for change, and that process appears to be underway. The liberal ideals-driven candidacy of [2016 US presidential candidate] Bernie Sanders is one sign that a new dialogue has begun.”

T. Rob Wyatt, an independent network security consultant, wrote, “This is actually a yes-and-no answer. We will see the emergence of new educational and training programs that can successfully train large numbers of workers in the skills they will need to perform the jobs of the future, however, I am less confident that we will use them to their potential. The emergence of an agile yet deeply skilled workforce requires power structures and wealth feedback loops that thrive on change. Extended lifespans have produced an older ruling elite whose strategy to maintain power and wealth lies in ruthless preservation of the status quo. Meanwhile, the reigning Technorati lack both the temperament to govern and the political power to displace the gerontocracy. Finally, almost nobody gets that the shift from atoms to bits is a game changer, and those who do are exploiting it to grab as much power as possible. These are the group who most benefit from a deeply skilled and agile workforce but whose success depends most on flying under the radar.”

Michael Whitaker, vice president of emerging solutions at ICF International, replied, “The emergence of new educational and training programs over the next decade is inevitable. While high-quality university educations will not be replaced or substantially de-valued, the credibility and diversity of alternative education paths (both for undergraduate equivalents and for the equivalent of going back mid-career for a master’s degree) will increase. Many of these programs will be virtualized and self-paced. The risk with this alternative approach is developing a workforce that is technically skilled but socially lacking with challenges nurturing healthy human-to-human interactions. The best programs will develop not only technical skills but also social skills.”

Glenn Ricart, Internet Hall of Fame member and founder and CTO of US Ignite, said, “Up to the present time, automation largely has been replacing physical drudgery and repetitive motion—things that can and should improve the quality of peoples’ work lives. But in the next decade or two, there is likely to be a significant amount of technological innovation in machine intelligence and personal assistants that takes a real swipe out of the jobs we want humans to have in education, healthcare, transportation, agriculture, and public safety. What are the ‘new jobs’ we want these people to have? If we haven’t been able to invent them in response to international trade pacts, why are we sure we will be able to create them in the future?”

Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, wrote, “Current educational and training systems do fit the fundamental needs of the changing work environment. The cost of traditional education is prohibitive and access limited–the population is growing much faster than the number of seats at traditional universities, no matter what the cost. However, a more critical problem is that the core assumptions driving educational content are not adapting as fast as the world is changing. Traditional models train people to equate what they do with who they are (i.e., what do you want to be when you grow up) rather than acquire critical thinking and flexible skills and attitudes that fit a rapidly changing world. We have traditional institutions invested in learning as a supply-side model rather demand-side that would create proactive, self-directed learners. This bias impacts the entire process, from educators to employers. It is changing, but beliefs are sticky and institutions are cumbersome bureaucracies that are slow to adapt. New delivery systems for skills related to technology will be more readily accepted than traditional ones because they avoid much of the embedded bias. Continued evolution of AR, VR, and mixed realities will create rich learning environments that will help leverage content and achieve much of the social influence that encourages learnings (peer-to-peer and instructor-to-student). Successful education models will begin developing ‘mixed methods’ to leverage technology with traditional delivery and rewrite certification processes with practice-relevant standards.”

Trevor Owens, senior program officer at the Institute of Museum and Library Services, said, “It is possible for new educational and training programs to successfully train large numbers of workers in the skills they will need to perform the jobs of the future. The potential for movements like open educational resources to be transformation here is very strong. With that noted, increasing movement of venture capital into a push to ‘disrupt’ education is problematic. Equity in education and learning has long been grounded in the missions of public institutions (schools, libraries, universities, museums). That is, public education is not the taxi industry and there should be far more caution about educational technology start-ups moving into this space to identify Uber-like opportunities. If changes in educational technology are led by Silicon Valley instead of the longstanding public and civic institutions we have established I fear that we will see the work toward equity these institutions are committed to being eroded. We need a future where these tools are leveraged by our institutions.”

Joe Mandese, editor in chief of the MediaPost, said, “We’re already seeing them (Khan Academy, etc.). Digital technology will continue to create greater access and efficiency to all forms of education and training, including professional development.”

Demian Perry, director of mobile at NPR, commented, “We’re already beginning to see that the most-active contributors to our teams are those who have some level of fluency with coding and the ability to discern the comparative merits of various technical approaches. Eventually, coding will become basic literacy. Maintaining relevance in the modern workplace will require continuing education, not as a replacement, but as a supplement to the more foundational learning (in logic, philosophy, and organized thought) that comes with a traditional four-year or graduate program.”

Lee McKnight, associate professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, observed, “The ‘future’ is the present for the cloud industry. Amazon makes more profit from its cloud offerings than the entire rest of the business—and of course offers plentiful online tools for students/prospective customers of any age and location to train themselves up. The wide availability of free education and training tools from all major cloud vendors for those seeking to join the growing numbers of workers with those advanced skills shows this future is here. Especially since university offerings of courses on distributed and cloud computing are narrowly focused in computer science departments, workers and industry have had to train themselves. However, more intensive faculty-interaction whether online or off will still help researchers and advanced students, and hence future workers learn the more broad-based critical analytic skills cloud industry leaders need. I fully expect many more universities to offer cloud management and cloud architecture courses as we do at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, to meet the needs for hundreds of thousands of professionals with such training.”

Vin Crosbie, adjunct professor of multimedia, photography, and design at Syracuse University, wrote, “In the next ten years, we will see the emergence of new educational and training software and applications to train large numbers of workers in skills they need to perform the jobs of the future. But most, if not virtually all of these new educational and training software and applicatoins will gain little usage or traction because neither corporate nor government willingness to fund such programs will develop. Corporate won’t fund retraining of the workers it lets go. Meanwhile, the political gridlock at the legislative level will stymie governmental funding of such programs.”

Jesse Drew, a cinema and digital media professor at the University of California-Davis, commented, “There is a stampede of institutions joining the social media fray, which will result in an enlarging pool of cheap labor. Meanwhile, face-to-face will gain adherents for those looking for real interaction.”

M.E. Kabay, professor of computer information systems at Norwich University, wrote, “We already have the technology in place to reach a significant portion of the globe’s population even in developing countries—smartphones. Asynchronous online education at simple levels of awareness and training can support massive improvements in technical competence and in creativity. At a basic level, everyone needs to be able to learn new concepts, vocabulary and skills to continue contributing to a changing world—changing demographically, culturally, and physically (think global warming and overpopulation). Clearly reading is one of the most important skills, and online courses can help people learn this essential skill. Similarly, increasing technical vocabularies is achievable using simple online training tools. Effective online examination of acquired skills will support the effort to improve individuals and organizations. The most difficult skills include critical thinking and evaluation of multiple sources of information, some of them contradictory, in the absence of a known correct result. The acceptance of online training and education will evolve as evidence accumulates of correlations between such processes and metrics rooted in real-world evaluations.”

Uta Russmann, communications/marketing/sales professor at the FHWien University of Applied Sciences in Vienna, Austria, said, “We will see the emergence of new (online) educational and training programs, but these will not be able to successfully train large numbers of workers in the skills they will need to perform the jobs of the future. (But there will be—partly already is—a rather big industry which tries to make profit here.) In the future, more and more jobs will require highly sophisticated people whose skills cannot be trained in ‘mass’ online programs. Traditional four-year and graduate programs will better prepare people for jobs in the future, as such an education gives people a general understanding and knowledge about their field and here people learn how to approach new things, ask questions and find answers, deal with new situations, etc.—all this is needed to adjust to ongoing changes in work life. Special skills for a particular job will be learned on the job.”

Axel Bruns, professor in the Digital Media Research Center at Queensland University of Technology, wrote, “This is already happening. Over the past decade there has been a substantial growth in generic digital literacies training, and this is now being replaced or enhanced by literacies training in specific areas and for particular purposes (social media literacy for communication professionals, data literacy for journalists, etc., to name just two particularly obvious fields). There has also been the emergence of a range of specialist positions that address the cutting edge of such literacies—under job titles such as data scientist or computational journalist, for instance. Across the creative industries, and beyond, the possession of such skills will increasingly serve as a differentiator between job applicants, and within organisational hierarchies in the workplace. Those who possess these skills are also more likely to branch out beyond their core disciplines and industries, as many such skills are inherently interdisciplinary and enable the worker to engage in a wider range of activities. Beyond generic digital literacies, some of the key areas I see as important are: 1) platform-specific literacies, e.g., social media literacies; 2) data science, i.e., the ability to gather, process, combine, and analyse ‘big data’ from a range of sources; 3) data visualisation. Until the accreditation schemes for workers with these skills are standardised, which eventually they will be, we will continue to see leading workers in these areas to be able to enter the workplace on the basis of their demonstrated expertise and track record rather than on the basis of formal accreditation. While there are many MOOCs and other online courses now purporting to teach these skills, it is important to point out that there is a substantial qualitative component to these skills—somewhat paradoxically perhaps especially where they deal with ‘big data’: the engagement with such large datasets is less about simply generating robust quantitative metrics, and more about developing a qualitative understanding of what such metrics actually mean. Such an understanding is difficult to teach through semi-automated online courseware; direct teacher/learner interaction remains crucial here.”

Karen Blackmore, lecturer in information technology at the University of Newcastle, commented, “While online educational and vocational training exists and increases, the capacity to communicate using a multi-channel approach, to engage and work effectively in teams, and interpersonal skills, remain key skills for our future workforce. Indeed as we move to a global workforce, the ability to communicate within and across cultural boundaries is critical. While intrinsical skills are required, the holistic approach currently afforded by traditional undergraduate programs is difficult to teach at scale.”

Naomi Baron, a professor of linguistics at American University, observed, “A cluster of factors all lead to the same conclusion that online education will grow: the high cost of higher education, desire to make education available to a broader number of people, development of increasingly sophisticated online courses. Since so many traditional (and respected) institutions of higher learning already incorporate online learning into their curricula, either as individual courses or entire certificate or degree programs, I don’t worry that such credentials will be viewed as somehow less legitimate. (Online programs from for-profit organizations are sometimes a different story.) The biggest challenge will be to figure out what kind of learning best takes place face-to-face, what kind is suited to online contexts, and what kind benefits from a hybrid model. The answer can’t simply be that of convenience. We need to think about both intellectual content and what our educational goals are. There is a growing tendency in higher education to focus on skills and jobs. Too many institutions are tending to forget that a major purpose of higher education (at least of the liberal arts variety) is to prepare people for living, not to make a living.”

Peter Morville, president of Semantic Studios, said, ” I’ve been a skeptic of ‘distance education’ for a long time, but we’re finally starting to see online learning approaches that work. Our teenage daughter learned to code a responsive website (HTML and CSS) using Code Academy, and she’s now using Khan Academy to study for the new SAT. These learning tools really work, and they will disrupt traditional education.”

Aaron Chia Yuan Hung, assistant professor of educational technology at Adelphi University, replied, “More educational and training programs will emerge, not just to cover new literacy needs but traditional ones like critical thinking and writing. Distance-learning programs will have to fill in the niche that can’t be filled in other ways, and more people may opt for their flexibility.”

K.G. Schneider, a university administrator, commented, “There will be some good efforts, but the US public needs to be reminded of the power of education for ensuring a free, open, prosperous, and innovative society.”

Raymond Plzak, former CEO of a regional internet governance organization, observed, “Yes, failure to do so will weaken the economy and will exacerbate the rich-poor divide.”

David Morar, doctoral student and George Mason University Google policy fellow at the Internet Education Foundation, replied, “With the advent of societal beliefs like those that emphasize that college should not be considered a luxury, and more and more people should benefit from it, we will see less and less unqualified laborers. Maybe this trend will not be as fast as the automatization of certain types of jobs that don’t require college degrees, but the trends are moving towards the same direction, even if the speed is different. The real concern is when robots, androids, or whatever we want to call automated machines with a certain level of artificial intelligence, begin to slowly move into areas that have always necessitated a higher level of education. However, the booming economies of alternative educational models will adapt rapidly (much faster than the actual national educational system) and fill the need for training and re-training programs for those that have or are in danger of losing their jobs to automated systems. Smart companies will realize that a fully-automated workforce taps out at a lower level of productivity, if maintaining the quality of their products is important, than a hybrid human-robot workforce. One case in point is Amazon, whose heavily modernized and highly efficient fulfillment centers run on a hybrid workforce, with machines and algorithms making the job of the human workers a lot more effective. In fact Amazon has humans tape up the boxes rather than robots because they’ve discovered that humans are actually better at it than machines. It is highly egotistical to believe that the generations alive today are the ones that are going to buck the trends of history and not survive a major technological revolution. While the revolution is greater and more daunting than those that came before it, we, as humans, are more evolved and have more tools at our disposal.”

Laurie Orlov, principal analyst at Aging in Place Technology Watch, replied, “The new training will be online—and filled with video—likely for licensing of work that includes serving an older population—see Penrose Senior Care Auditors for example: https://penroseseniorcareauditors.com/”

Irina Shklovski, an associate professor at the IT University of Copenhagen, commented, “The neoliberal project is about developing educational systems that focus on practical skills training of the workforce without the more critical thought training that university education offers. Certainly there are many technical innovations that are working toward new and creative ways of unlocking skill training into something quicker. The fact is that given the rapid technical evolution the ability to add and train skills quickly for the workforce will become increasingly important in order to be able to maintain current corporate practices and to do so as cheaply as possible (and as much on the employee’s own time as possible). The question in itself is problematic because what do we mean by ‘successfully’ here? Successfully minimizing costs while improving practical skills necessary for performing jobs for companies or successfully increasing competency and educational level of workers? I don’t believe that teaching critical thinking can be made more effective by new programs, but teaching practical and technical skills efficiently—absolutely.”

Dmitry Strakovsky, a professor at the University of Kentucky, wrote, “Nano-degrees are already a part of our vocabulary. They will thrive in the future job environment. These will be taught primarily online by for-profit certificate granting institutions aligned with specific business or technology interests. The big losers in terms of a number of students participating are going to be liberal arts institutions, although the upper management echelons will be primarily filled with people who completed four-year non-technical degrees. Critical thinking skills and media analysis are nearly impossible to teach at scale and these allow future workers to imagine new jobs and new cultural paradigms.”

Musiliu Lawal, a senior engineer at the University of Ilorin, replied, “Internet technology know-how is needed for successful workplace in future. The skills like Internet networking, and routing protocols can be taught in the online systems. Professional training knowledge like CCNA and CCNP certifications would be difficult to teach in the on large scale. The credential systems may be recognised and viewed in the near future and more people may be willing to go for it.”

David Krieger, director of the Institute for Communication & Leadership IKF, wrote, “Labor is a creature of the industrial age and will disappear with automation of production in all areas. Humans will no longer be divided into capitalists and workers, but will need to find a new self-definition based on creativity and meaning instead of labor and management. This will transform the purpose, position, and forms of education. OER (Open Educational Resources), PLE (personal learning environments), learning analytics, etc., point in this direction. Data-driven personalization of services will make economies of scale irrelevant. Credentials from institutions will no longer be needed to guarantee knowledge and skills.”

John Anderson, director of journalism and media studies at Brooklyn College, wrote, “The gearing of education toward the wholly vocational is a slippery slope, since such programs must adhere to what is popularly called ‘market forces’—a clever catch-phrase for ‘whatever corporate America thinks is educationally best.’ Considering that we have seen vast transformations across nearly every industrial sector over the last three decades, who’s to say that the ‘educational training programs’ set up today to ‘successfully train large numbers of workers in the skills they need’ will be even relevant in ten years?”

Kirsten Drotner, a professor at the University of Southern Denmark, replied, “Concrete job-related skills, which enable reproduction of existing knowledge, are likely to be taught successfully online. Creative and production-oriented competences, which innovate existing knowledge or create new knowledge, are not likely to increase in scale or scope online. These competences are the most important to succeed not merely in the workforce, but in society at large, including civil society.”

Klaus Æ. Mogensen, senior futurist at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, wrote, “The most important skills in the future will be creativity, innovation, empathy, aesthetics, storytelling, and the ability to do non-routine work.”

Jon Lebkowsky, CEO of Polycot Associates, replied, “We’re evolving and perfecting tools for training and education that can be enhanced by technology, and in some cases can be completely online. We can see signs of emergent innovation in educational systems and technology. We can also foresee a demand for more and better training, which implies the probability of a robust marketplace outside the traditional academic paths.”

Itir Akdogan, research communication director at Istanbul Bilgi University / TESEV, based in Turkey, responded, “Yes, new skills will include teaching and learning online. Without these skills, new/digital training might fail for both sides.”

Jannick B. Pedersen, futurist and impact investor at DareDisrupt, commented, “AI/neural networks will result in the emergence of learning systems resembling those of one-teacher-one-student. Additionally, use of ‘gamified’ learning approaches will improve learning impact and skill absorption.”

Dariusz Jemielniak, professor of management at Kozminski University and Wikimedia Foundation Trustee, wrote, “While there will be more and more really good online educational platforms, the number of jobs will drop dramatically in the same time.”

Laura Stockwell, digital strategy consultant and owner of Strat School, replied, “We are already seeing the emergence of online training and education systems that are training people, and people are choosing these approaches over traditional schooling options. That is not to say universities will go away, but they will transform, as they already have begun to do. Research also points to a majority of the workforce being freelance in the next 10 years and there being less stigma around job-changing. That means that people will rely less on employers for training and advancement and will take training and job advancement into their own hands. As for qualifications, the best universities teach people to think, but many do not leave with the skills they need for the workplace. It may be that degrees are still valuable for teaching ‘how’ to think while training programs teach more skills-based programs. Or—in an ideal world—learning how to think and analyze occurs in high school. Being able to think and analyze will be critical with so may jobs being taken over by computers.”

David Wuertele, a software engineer at Tesla Motors, replied, “Most of what I know I learned on the internet. The structured and unstructured resources available to me have only increased over time, and I expect that trend to continue.”

Paula Salter, freelance editor at the Florida Virtual School, responded, “Online education will continue to evolve, and online offerings will become more accessible and easier to track and complete. I still think traditional four-year programs will continue to carry more weight with employers, maybe even more so as online courses become more common and easier to access and complete.”

Ian O’Byrne, an assistant professor of literacy education at the College of Charleston, replied, “In the future we’ll see more opportunities for online, personalized learning. This will include open, online learning experiences (e.g., MOOCs) where individuals can lurk and build up capacity or quench interests. I also believe that we’ll see a rise in the offering of premium, or pay content that creates a space where one to one learning and interaction will allow mentors to guide learners while providing critical feedback. We will identify opportunities to build a digital version of the apprenticeship learning models that have existed in the past. Alternative credentials and digital badges will provide more granular opportunities to document and archive learning over time from traditional and non-traditional learning sources. Through evolving technologies (e.g., blockchain) this may provide opportunities for learners to document and frame their own learning pathways.”

Eleni Panagou, cultural informatics professional and information systems researcher analyst at CulturePolis, wrote, “Yes, robotics are becoming more user-friendly and they will be seen probably as an ‘eruption’ on the mass usage field.”

Emmanuel Edet, legal adviser at the National Information Technology Development Agency of Nigeria, replied, “The most important skill for workers of the future is the ability to apply information technology in performing their duties. The skills that can be taught effectively in a large scale are basic self-taught courses that do not require practicals. Employers will accept these kinds of credentialing systems as they do today except where the issue affects practical applications such as engineering.”

William J. Ward, a university communications professor, @DR4WARD, commented, “Higher Education is doing a poor job of preparing students with the skills they need to succeed in the workforce. Online and credentialing systems are more transparent and do a better job on delivering skills. People with new types of credentialing systems are seen as more-qualified than traditional four-year and graduate programs.”

Karl M. van Meter, sociological researcher and director of the Bulletin of Methodological Sociology, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris, replied, “Of course there will be ‘new educational and training programs’ but they already exist and are training and educating large numbers of people. New and different programs will continue to be developed, and hopefully will reach larger and more varied publics. This however will not change the difference between the US system, in which education and training are a commodity to make money on and to be paid for by individuals or their families, and the system in many other countries where education and training are considered national patrimony and paid for at least in part by the state. ‘Traditional’ education in this context then means human teachers, which like human intelligence methods above, are more expensive, more time-consuming, and far less ‘profit-making’ than Internet or other technical means of education or training.”

Hume Winzar, an associate professor in business at Macquarie University, Sydney Australia, responded, “There are two questions here: Will there be new educational and training programs? Yes! Will they be successful? Some will be fabulously successful, but many will not. The Google legacy of “information on demand” does not easily translate to ‘knowledge on demand’ and certainly not to ‘wisdom on demand.’”

Mike O’Connor, now retired, wrote, “Online classrooms have advanced a lot since the early days. And the good ones can do a great job of developing crucial online collaboration and learning skills. Self-directed online learning is still pretty thin soup compared to collaborating with others (students and teachers). Shallow/rote/memorized skills may lend themselves to self-directed study, but deep/conceptual/intellectual skills are better done in a collaborative space, with other humans. Employers who only accept traditionally-credentialed applicants are stupid. Speaking as an entrepreneur with several successes (and many failures) under his belt, I can testify that we hardly ever looked at traditional credentials when making key hires.”

Dave Kissoondoyal, CEO of KMP Global Ltd., replied, “The jobs of the future will be technology driven. Training will be important as this will allow workers to realign their skills with technology.”

Sam Ladner, a Toronto-based sociologist, commented, “The primary reason online education has not taken off thus far is not at all technical, but social. Elite education has not yet become online in the truest sense. Students are actually pursuing cultural capital, not actual training, and this capital is still exclusively offered face-to-face at certain institutions.”

Shawn Otto, organizational executive, speaker, and writer with ScienceDebate.org, commented, “We will see the emergence of new training programs, particularly an increase in virtual reality gaming-based training, and especially in coding. But this will be tempered by the emergence of AI/robotics moving into the knowledge sector, which has the potential to lead to the wholesale elimination of professional class non-managerial white-collar jobs. At the same time, robotics will move aggressively into sensor-based world-navigation jobs like transportation—including taxis and trucking—and into other similar jobs, making the vision of what jobs there will be—or rather what form they will take—less certain.”

Janice R. Lachance, interim president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Institute for Marketplace Trust, responded, “Online learning is a welcome and useful tool for today and tomorrow’s workforce. It may never replace the traditional in-person university experience but, more and more, online learning, degree programs, and certifications are opening the doors to higher/continuing education for those who cannot access a more traditional learning experience. It is also becoming more accepted in the workplace by employers who appreciate online learners’ motivation and discipline. Further, online learning is critical for just-in-time skills or continuing professional development. In this day and age, no one can stop learning and new competencies and knowledge will always be required. Online learning is the key to career progression and simply keeping up. I believe employers are willing to accept online certificates and degrees, especially from reputable sources. Employers don’t always know how to hire for today’s workplace demands and a certificate in a particular subject can be the difference between getting a job offer and being a runner-up. This acceptance by employers will pressure online educators to better their offerings. Competition in the online learning environment, along with pressure from employers, will require educational outlets to up their game and offer quality courses.”

John Sniadowski, a systems architect, replied, “The skill sets which could have been taught will be superseded by AI and other robotic technology. By the time the training programmes are widely available the required skills will no longer be required. The whole emphasis of training must now be directed towards personal life skills development rather than the traditional working career based approach. There is also the massive sociological economic impact of general automation and AI that must be addressed to re-distribute wealth and focus life skills at lifelong learning. “

Noah Grand, statistics lecturer in a social science department, wrote, “Some coding can be learned at scale and with self-direction. There’s a practical limit to how much students retain in a lecture anyway. They’ll need to code for themselves and learn from the bugs. Of course, live instructors are very important to help students through the bugs. I taught classes where students would be doing their first real programming and data analysis. I designed the class so some students could go ahead and be more self-directed. That way I would have enough time to work 1-on-1 with the students who needed personal attention. Some students get incredibly frustrated at the first bug and they really can’t learn from their mistakes without a guiding hand. Statistics professors are known for saying ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ You can still get published in a lot of academic journals with garbage in. It’s so hard to recognize good data collection and all the subtle choices that people make when analyzing data sets. Most traditional textbooks don’t address these issues. I doubt online courses would. It’s hard to scale. Even if everything works smoothly, some employers will not accept new credentials. A university degree is a status symbol. It’s a heuristic for employers to say ‘I’m hiring smart people.’ In occupations that rely on status the new credential will be second-rate.”

Adrian Schofield, an applied research manager, commented, “From schools to universities, from agriculture to manufacturing, more of the learning techniques will be delivered through personal devices, with the technology able to measure the level of understanding and to deliver the content appropriately. Assessment systems will keep pace, so that employers will be able to evaluate applicants’ abilities at the interview stage (or even before then).”

Megan Browndorf, on the staff at Towson University, wrote, “The difficulty in online educational and training programs is information retention. By having an individual teaching we are prioritizing student interest and focusing on individual student needs. We cannot yet do this using online training tools. But I can envision changes that would allow this.”

Magy Seif El-Nasr, an associate professor at Northeastern University, replied, “It is already happening, we are seeing an increase in academic outlets, massive online classes, paid online classes, free online classes, hybrid classes, etc. on educational topics that are important for today’s work force, such as computer science, engineering, data science, etc.”

David Bernstein, a former research director, wrote, “Not everyone is going to be an information worker. We will still need mechanics, construction works, and so on. And if you say those functions will be performed by robots, then who is going to repair the robots when they fail or ‘break’ in some way? We will likely see some manner of training individuals in remote locations (as has always been the case) for those hands-on tasks because I believe there will not be enough trainers left as they are aging out. The most important skills needed to succeed in the workplace will be flexibility and the ability to adapt and continuously lean. Technology has not slowed down and I imagine, the mechanics working on self-driving cars will have to keep up with the changes in the technology (fuel cells, microprocessors, and still keep up with the actual auto mechanisms). After all, even a self-driving car has to have its tires changed every now and then. The millennial generation seems to want what they want now and however they want it. I can’t imagine the next generation is going to more backwards in these desires. So too with education. Teach me what I want or need to know how and when I want it. Perhaps 3D technology will make the virtual classroom more effective that the current webinar-style lecture—whether live or not. My biggest concern with self-directed learning, is that it requires a great deal of internal motivation. And I am not confident that individuals will find their way just as those who enter college today don’t know what they want to be when they grow up; often until after they graduate. So everyone will still need some basic skills (interpersonal communications, basic arithmetic, along with some general culture awareness) to they can have that flexibility I mentioned earlier. Frankly, I do not worry about young ones being able to adapt to new technology with comfort. Any 3-year-old can use their parent’s smartphone or tablet without reading the manual. What I worry about is how well they will adapt when they are 35 or 55 and get a new personal device. My old fingers and brain are having a harder time these days.”

Lilly Irani, assistant professor at the University of California-San Diego, predicted, “We will see such programs because private companies will continue to seek profit for people’s aspirations and governments may seek political gains from outsourcing education. However, the case of Amazon Mechanical Turk teaches us that these programs expand the labor supply of skilled workers but do nothing for wages. AMT workers are more educated than the US workforce (58% have bachelor’s degrees) and yet most cannot even approach the federal minimum wage for their work.”

John Laprise, founder of the Association of Internet Users, said, “Yes, but the jobs of the future aren’t even known at this time. The innovation event horizon approaches much faster than job support. It’s more likely that people will shift, for instance, early systems administrators were not IT people.”

Joshua S. Freeman, the IT director for Pine Point School, responded, “The future will see a niche in the world, in certain fields, for people who have been trained and certified almost exclusively online.”

Joshua Segall, software engineer, replied, “We will see new methods of learning driven by increased cost of university tuition. They will be better at focused skill training and self-taught tactical skills. They will be poor at teaching critical thinking, strategy, and social skills such as communications skills and good management.”

Eric Marshall, systems architect, commented, “We are already seeing change. My children learned math online. I have taken online training. Given the ability to scale (hence available and cheap) and to fit different time lines/time tables makes this a natural next step. In my line of work, if you pass the technical interview, you pass—no one second-guesses your schooling.”

Dudley Irish, a software engineer, wrote, “There are two issues. First the most important skills required in the workplace are communication skills. So far, computer mediated training does not seem to deliver on improvements in personal communication skills. I have not read of any techniques or technologies that suggest this is going to change soon. Second, the kind of skills that most people think are important (analytical, STEM-related skills) can be learned via computer mediated training, but not by a large enough segment of the population. The segment of the population who can acquire these skills via computer-mediated training is already learning the skills, but this segment is not (according to the economists) big enough to meet the demand. Attracting more people into STEM fields is going to mean creating training and work environments that are more attractive. No one seems to know how to do this.”

Matt Bates, programmer and concept artist at Jambeeno Ltd., commented, “In the very short term, probably. In the longer term, no (my longer-term views on the very notion of ‘jobs’ are fairly pessimistic and dystopian, but this mainly because I think capitalism has eroded the Western man’s desire to implement e.g. a living wage, which I think will become an absolute requirement quicker than people think). There’s a fairly hard limit to the breadth of expertise any one human can attain in a lifetime. In short order (with a generation or two, totally speculatively) the ‘jobs of the future’ will be so specialized and require so much adjunct training and experience that older people will die before they can become effective in another field. Over the same time, automation will increase and will encroach ever-deeper into territory which was previously seen to be the exclusive domain of trained humans. For example: driving one’s own automobile will go away in my own lifetime at least in non-icing environments and airplane flight can be entirely automated (the bulk of commercial flight is autonomous but semi-actively-monitored already) but also I expect healthcare and financial planning and other such white-collar jobs to be increasingly automated as well, and it’s not obvious that new occupations will always spring up to replace them. What are the most important skills needed to succeed in the future workforce? A good STEM background will be more valuable than ever, of course. Competence with multiple human languages will be very valuable as globalization intensifies, ditto, interpersonal skills. Fluency with computer programming would be a boon to most people (since at least understanding the principles by which our most important tools function would give one greater ability to predict and adapt to social change). Human language is perhaps easiest to teach online assuming the availability of videoconferencing-type software, and (with appropriate acculturation) STEM and most abstract conceptualization isn’t any harder online than in-person. Teaching at scale will have the same problems it always had, i.e. the value of direct one-to-one communication increases with the abstractness of the subject being taught. New types of credentials and degrees will be most highly discriminated against by the most traditional of employers and vice-versa. I can’t say with any specificity how quickly the acceptability of such new training will permeate modern society, but we are adaptable creatures, especially when young, and I don’t see it taking more than a few generations.”

Masha Falkov, an artist and glassblower who sells her work on Etsy, wrote, “This is a mixed question because it’s so hard to tell what skills will be needed for the future. It’s so mercurial. Presently, there’s a lot of advocacy to teach children how to code so that they can have skills for future jobs. It seems like a good thing at first, until you look at the nature of how programming is being taught to them. The programs that attempt to teach the children coding are just as watered-down, boring, and ineffective as any other classroom education program. It teaches the imaginative, clever art of coding like it’s menial labor. But what about adults? There are all kinds of classes and YouTube videos online for almost any skill you would like to learn. But while someone can learn that skill, can it help them perform the job in real life? Can it teach them the social skills involved with interacting with a team? Employers may still see individuals who have attended college as preferable, because they may correlate college with affluence, affluence with other qualities (even if it’s not accurate). They may even view those people as more intelligent, because they went to a school with requirements for more than just the trade of choice. It can be easy to learn a program and basic skills online and with practice. But working on a project with other people, with deadlines and situations where you may be accountable for the time and resources of other people is a whole other animal. There will be stress and pressure that one doesn’t experience on their own in a home environment. This may be hard to teach. This is a complex question to which I don’t have many answers of my own.”

Francisco Javier Juarez Serdio, a product specialist, replied, “Yes, this trend will grow and benefit users and customers offering better approaches not only for learning but for understanding products and coming technology.”

Steven White, a network administrator, wrote, “It is already apparent to me that the role I fill will almost entirely be taken over by software in the near future. My 7-year-old daughter will not be able to do what I do and make a living. But for her this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For me, at age 54, I walk an ever-increasingly shorter line of being able to earn a living in my current field, unless I decide to move into management of people.”

Chris Zwemke, a Web developer, said, “The skills needed in the next decade will not be different than the skills needed today: understanding of systems and complex machinery and a artisanal hand work for manufacturing higher and higher quality goods. Perhaps the best (if not only) use for virtual reality outside of children’s games. Virtual Reality stands to add a tactile mode of large group learning to join visual and audio. The teaching of these skills will be effectively the same, except rather than expensive physical classrooms with limited real world application (due to cost) virtual reality will be able to simulate the best, worst and standard case scenarios at much less cost. The remove learning over an internet connection rather than at a center of education but will make it easier for educators to evaluate and assist more student equally.”

Travis Allison, business owner and consultant at CampHacker, commented, “The most important skill will be the ability to continuously learn—that will be very easy to encourage online as we take the lessons of attention-driving behaviour from Facebook and other successful social networks and apply them to education.”

Ida Brandão, a professional educator, responded, “Online learning has a great potential, namely MOOCs, to gather people from many parts of the world with different skills and experiences that may share among peers their expertise. A big number of reputable institutions are engaged in this movement which is a great opportunity for many people to access quality learning. So, I wouldn’t restrict online learning to job training—it has a far broader scope.”

Walter Minkel, a public librarian, wrote, “Lots of institutions will try to create these programs, but only some will succeed. Will there be sufficient numbers of well-paying jobs that won’t be outsourced? A lot of this question hinges on the USA’s political evolution. I hope that we can get more people trained in skilled jobs that don’t require a college degree. Bring back apprenticeships, big time! “

Malcolm Pell, an IT consultant, responded, “This is one of the principle benefits of wider Internet availability—making it easier to access free / low-cost educational and training materials. This will need vetting though to reduce false, bad, biased and inaccurate materials.”

Shreedeep Rayamajhi, an activist and blogger from outside the US, replied, “As online training and education systems are growing the results are also phenomenal. The experimental online system of awareness and information sharing has grown and spread so much. More or less with limitations of resources and height results there is a great opportunity of further expansion and development “

Richard Lachmann, professor of sociology at the University at Albany, said, “Government spending is declining in most of the world. Until neoliberalism is reversed we shouldn’t expect new programs that have a significant effect.”

Ben Railton, professor of English and American studies at Fitchburg State University, wrote, “What choice do we have? Without such programs, supported by every level of government, linked to educational institutions, and widely available, I don’t see how our society moves forward successfully.”

Steven Polunsky of www.spin-salad.com commented, “Increasing interactivity, 3D, and virtual reality will expand the number of jobs susceptible to computer-based learning. Universities and private startups will compete for this audience.”

Mike Warot, a machinist at Allied Gear, replied, “Automation is getting good enough that the number of jobs to be done by humans will fall, transportation alone employs 3 million people, most of whom will be made surplus, this will have knock-on effects on all the businesses that support them, like truck stops, etc. The ‘train to get job’ industry turns out to be a good way to create a new class of wage slaves, thanks to the trap of student loan debt, I don’t think older works would fall for it, even if there were enough jobs to be created, which there won’t be. We’re going to have to end up with a Basic Income, or revolution.”

Chris Strauber, an academic librarian, commented, “New technology doesn’t meaningfully change how education works for most people, and most ed tech isn’t especially new—similar claims were made for the transformative power of radio and television. The people who learn best from online instruction tend to be the people who would also learn well from books. Elite schools will continue to have small class sizes (paraphrasing Audrey Watters).”

Glen Thomas, head of computing for an organization, wrote, “Face-to-face social interaction is essential for conceptual development and most skills.”

Lindsay Kenzig, a senior design researcher, commented, “There is certainly the demand for new training. My hope is that there would be more apprentice type situations, as computer science, for example, relies a lot on learning from others, not just a degree, and in that way shares more in common with trades than it does as a science. I see already that designers who attend a credential school are less qualified. They know how to do the mechanics of the job but lack the theory, which is essential.”

Paula Hooper Mayhew, professor of English and humanities at Fairleigh Dickinson University, commented, “The most important skill needed in the workforce of the future is reading literacy, followed closely by mathematical and information literacy skills, as well.. As the global population grows and lives longer, women continue to lag behind men in literacy, although women’s lives are longer. Online programs that teach literacy skills are even now highly successful, but their use by men exceeds use by women, many of whom do not have access to a computer at home. Special programs are needed to put computers in areas largely restricted to women, areas like churches and synagogues, as well as in places where Muslim women congregate. The idea that graduates of online programs are less-qualified than those who have had face-to-face instruction is still current, but will eventually be proved wrong. Over time, online higher educational programs and degrees will become distinguished from one another in terms of their proven value in the workplace. Needless to say, not all online instruction is good or even adequate, but the market will inevitably react by vying to hire those with proven skills in higher educational areas of mastery.”

Will Kent, e-resources librarian at Loyola University-Chicago, replied, “The most important skill to succeed in the workforce of the future will be translating things workers learn online into their physical environments. Connecting the virtual to the physical will change everything. Anyone can learn anything online now. With the right kind of career or social positioning/privilege/luck/connections users can side step traditional degree processes. For those in industries that still demand degrees as currency, the requirements for degrees will change, continuing education will become more embedded in the work place, or new types of evaluation will become more popular (deliverable-based time constraints rather than 9-5, asynchronous offices/projects will be common place, and employers will have to make time for employees to self-educate or else they will fall behind. New credentialing systems will complement, not compete with older iterations. One will not be favored above the other in practice (i.e. if you can do your work, no one will question how you learned what you learned). In name recognition and prestige, older systems will remain superior.”

Leah Stokes, an assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, responded, “Universities are quite capable of training students, including in new skills such as computer programming.”

Rob McKenna, librarian and lecturer at Griffith College in Dublin, Ireland, wrote, “Yes, however the focus on scaling online education is not driven by this but rather by the desire to replace labour with capital in education. As such any mass success of online education as a free, open, inclusive movement by and for the people will be emergent rather than by design.”

James Hinton, truck driver and writer, predicted, “The next decade will see positive growth in terms of educational opportunities and education thanks to the Internet. I previously worked as a writer for a search engine optimization company whose largest client was a consortium of famous traditional colleges (for example, the University of California-Davis) who were breaking into offering advanced degrees in 100% online settings. The thing that impressed me about this was that a pharmacist in a remote location such as Salmon, Idaho, could achieve a doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D) without having to quit her job and move away. While the effect of this may be relatively minor for urban centers, for rural, less-developed areas this could be an injection of life-saving blood, reversing the trend of young, ambitious people leaving for lack of educational opportunity. It’s quite the exciting development.”

Theo Armour, a self-described coder, wrote, “New programs will use both apps and humans to educate both the apps and the humans to perform the jobs of the future.”

Richard Oswald, farmer and writer, said, “Online tutorials will help train people to do specific jobs bypassing other educational aspects of gaining specific degrees. Those needed to do specific jobs, especially when they have a specific aptitude for them can be taught in a fraction of the time it takes for a full degree. In other words they need not know what makes it go, only how to start and stop much the way most of us drive a car. But computers at least to this point cannot offer interaction and caring comments that sometimes allow one person to help another succeed. And we should not seek to eliminate those interactions because they lie at the root of humanity itself. All things should offer aid without replacing us totally. Therein lies the future of tolerance and respect that is what really makes our world safe.”

David Lankes, professor and director at The University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science, wrote, “I suppose I should say ‘no, sort of.’ The move to online education is at this point inevitable. With sufficient bandwidth online venues can at the very least re-create traditional education models with video. This will be increasingly supplemented with online tools and affordances. That said, we are all still trying to get past the most-effective model of education: small project-based groups working with experts and facilitators in a fluid environment. The problem isn’t with online, it’s that since the time of Socrates we haven’t figured out to have an effective educational dialog with more than 10-20 people at a time. What I do see evolving in the next decade is an increased separation between the ‘haves’ who can afford personalized highly interactive learning, and ‘have nots’ who will be pushed to increasingly standardized drill and kill-style training.”

Jessica Vitak, assistant professor at the University of Maryland, commented, “At this point, we have no choice but to develop and implement training programs that can prepare workers for the jobs of the future. That said, there are still many unknowns. Will the federal focus on community colleges become more skills-based (like trade schools) to help bear the burden of training the upcoming generation? Will current workers get training on the job and will that training become a ‘survival of the fittest,’ forcing out those who are older, non-digital natives, and/or too slow to pick up the skills? As much as people like to imagine the future being heavily reliant on robots and high-tech gadgets, I don’t see too much of the workforce shifting dramatically in terms of the skills required to complete tasks. “

Peter Brantley, director of online strategy at the University of California-Davis, observed, “There will be a greater ability to reach people who are seeking training and learning through video tools, particularly immersive technologies, such as AR and VR. However, these will be expensive to produce and difficult to evaluate the outcomes in, particularly in terms of retained learning. Some hybrid forms will continue to be seen as essential as learning evolves.”

Trevor Hughes, CEO at the International Association of Privacy Professionals, replied, “Training will indeed be an important part of preparing the workforce for our digital future, but it won’t be easy. Many of the skills of the future are hybrid skills—requiring expertise or fluency across some of our traditional domains. Take privacy as an example. Any digital economy professional needs to understand privacy and how it creates risk for organizations. But that means grasping law and policy, business management, and technology. Modern professionals will need to bridge all of these fields.”

Paul Lehto, author, replied, “Paul Lehto: As jobs become more complex and tech-based, on the job training by employers themselves will increasingly be the only way qualified workers can be created.”

Randy Albelda, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, commented, “Expansion of training programs that work require funding. State and local governments are having a very hard time meeting the demands of the programs they already fund and in fact funding for post-secondary education of any forms have mostly been cut. It is increasingly clear that MOOCs and other internet-based classes do not work that well. Unless there is real funding for real training, I do not see this happening. For-profits tend to have the funds to start these things up and can successfully find the right candidates, but we also know that these for-profits bilk students terribly and do not provide training that works. I teach in a classroom—real students, in a real college. I am happy to use technology (and do), but it does not replace face-to-face interactions in the classroom (and outside of it). Off-loading (or up-loading) education and training onto the Web will not work unless it is complemented with brick-and-mortar classrooms and in-person (qualified and decently paid) instructors. Some employers will be happy to run through employees from anywhere. But in jobs that are worth having employers do care about the quality of training. Elite institutions become shorthand for them. It is the public institutions that will be producing students that employers are uncertain about.”

Sunil Paul, entrepreneur, investor, and activist at Spring Ventures, observed, “Yes, it’s obviously already happening with Khan, Coursera, Lynda, Udacity, and the avalanche of other edtech companies. Silicon Valley sees that the mass production education of high school and college is broken. At Sidecar, we hired one of the top performers from a code academy. He had an undergraduate degree in international relations that took four years. But after three months in a code academy and a few year’s mentorship by senior developers, he became one of our top software engineers.”

John Bell, software developer, data artist, and teacher at Dartmouth College, replied, “Even today, access to information is not the limiting factor in skills education for anyone who can go online. While I do believe that alternative credentialing systems will be more accepted by employers ten years from now than today, and I also believe that future students will be better equipped to learn from online material, there are limits to an online experience. Much of the value of a traditional higher education program has nothing to do with the course material and is more about passing on disciplinary norms, networking, and socialization. While there have been generational gains in the developments of online communities, a large-scale educational experience (either MOOC or on-demand broadcasts) will not be able to duplicate that.”

David Banks, co-editor of Cyborgology / The Society Pages, commented, “Well-capitalized institutions and organizations will most likely offer certificate programs and other forms of credentialization as roles like social media manager and content developer become more standardized and social media companies become further entrenched in information gate-keeping systems. These will most likely supercede traditional universities that move too slowly for the interests of capital. This process will majorly follow Max Weber’s classic descriptions of bureaucracies and rationalized professional roles. Training will most likely be in-house (Facebook offering certified brand management courses) over the internet.”

Jon Hudson, futurist and principal engineer, replied, “We will teach large numbers of people by teaching one person at a time, giving each person a personal instructor and tutor and a community of others to learn from. If 20+ years has shown me anything, it’s that degrees from existing institutions are only good for the professions that have been around for the same or more time. Lawyers, doctors, chemists, they all benefit from the structure. However in fields like high tech and other emerging new industries, new methods are needed. I now find myself at 40, and all the people I admire, that I get inspired by, are college dropouts.”

Ryan Sweeney, director of analytics at Ignite Social Media, said, “The most crucial skills to succeed in the future are going to be the following: 1) critical thinking 2) human engagement (people skills). Many technical skills can be taught or learned online. There is a decreasing need to memorize information since it’s at our fingertips. Being able to learn how to learn and having the ability to problem solve will guide a successful workforce in the future. Human engagement is just as important and increasingly more so as we shut ourselves off from others and engage digitally. I wager empathy is harder to learn without physical interaction; however, continued discourse surrounding social issues around race, gender, etc. will help strengthen empathy. With that said, I think we would see benefit from physical schools focusing on human interaction and critical thinking with more trade school type offerings. Most everything else could be through online systems and could make higher education even more affordable and accessible. Additionally, with virtual reality having a comeback moment, the technology for a more interactive class will be more present.”

Manoj, an engineer working in Singapore, commented, “Online communication skills should be developed for better use and followed. But companies should refocus on face-to-face customer communication for better satisfaction.”

Mary K. Pratt, a freelance journalist who covers enterprise technologies, said, “We’ve already witnessed new online educational and training platforms, such as MOOCs and online-only certification and training companies. Today’s school-age students already receive pieces of their education via computers and the internet, and I expect that as they enter the workforce they’ll be comfortable with and expect that kind of experience for any adulthood education and training. It seems than nearly any topic can have at least portions taught online; only hands-on skills would need something more. The growth in virtual and augmented reality could create more virtual hands-on educational opportunities, however; we already see such uses in the medical space where computers and 3D printing help train doctors or help them prepare for complex procedures. This kind of approach will likely move into other disciplines.”

Eelco Herder, senior researcher at the L3S Researcher Center, based in Germany, wrote, “In formal education, online educational and training programs are increasingly used to complement traditional, face-to-face teaching. After some decades of research on technology-enhanced learning and personalized learning technologies, particularly MOOCs have proven to be an effective medium for online lectures. Video-recorded lectures are apparently more appealing than text-based lectures. Learning management systems, online learning resources and collaborative learning environments are more or less commonplace, at least in the Western world. Schools and universities will definitely not disappear, but teachers will be able to focus more on more on mentoring and personal guidance instead of teaching a lecture that someone else already effectively taught before. In informal learning situations, online learning has become commonplace as well. Apart from language-learning, MOOCs, and other resources on practical skills—like programming—are increasingly popular. TED talks and other presentations bring research and science to the public. In most cases, however, the courses are not accredited—or users do not participate in the examination (for various reasons). I expect that this will change gradually, together with employers asking (and accepting) proofs of skills-based on online education and/or examination.”

Michael Wollowski, an associate professor of computer science at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, commented, “This is a multi-faceted problem. We will definitely see a vast increase in educational and training programs. We will also see what might be called on-demand or on-the-job kind of training programs. (We kind of have to, as with continued automation, we will need to retrain a large portion of the workforce.) I strongly believe employers will subscribe to this idea wholeheartedly; it increases the overall education of their workforce, which benefits their bottom line. Nevertheless, I am a big believer in the college experience, which I see as a way to learn what you are all about, as a person and in your field of study. The confidence in your own self and your abilities cannot be learned in a short course. It takes life experience, or 4 years at a tough college. At a good college, you are challenged to be your best—this is very resource-intensive and cannot be scaled at this time.”

Dave McAllister, director at Philosophy Talk, observed, “While online may give a start towards learning the vocabulary and semi-basics, I expect to see a need to enhance that with mentoring to make people into successful workplace members.”

Joanna Bryson, senior associate professor at the University of Bath, replied, “We’re already seeing this and innovation will continue. I wouldn’t expect it would be sufficient training for all aspects of all jobs, but it’s probably already sufficient for all aspects of a few jobs (e.g., Mechanical Turk). Any job involving direct work with other humans and other skilled activity would still benefit from human tutoring.”

Karen Mulberry, a director, said, “Training and higher education are already using online tools to provide training and educational opportunities to many who are not able to attend in-person. The cost for this type of education is less expensive than the bricks-and-mortar approach. I see this as a very viable alternative to the high cost of education/training. It will also potentially reduce the debit burden of students when the graduate. However the approach for online training needs to be balanced against the quality of the education and the real ability of the students to learn and retain the knowledge so it can be applied. There will need to be a balance of in-person and online just to validate retention and usability for the workplace.”

Susan Mernit, CEO and co-founder at Hack the Hood, wrote, “At Hack the Hood, the tech-inclusion non-profit I lead, the most valuable skill we teach low-income young people of color, ages 16-25, is that they have the ability and the discipline to learn harder and harder things—the most critical skill for the emerging workplace. Research shows that for our cohorts a blend of online and real-world learniing is an effective mix.”

Peter Eckart, a survey respondent who did not share additional identifying details, commented, “I don’t know what shape this will take, but I do know that the current higher-education system is economically unsustainable. New training models will start at the lower end of the scale (activities/work that take less time to train) and then scale up as we figure out what works. There will also be a rise in internships or probationary models of training and tryout, as employers take less and less responsibility for screening applicants and use the work itself as a final evaluative process.”

Christian Dawson, a survey respondent who did not share additional identifying details, said, “The forthcoming workforce is going to be complex, based partially on what’s been called the ‘gig economy’ and partially on continuing innovations in technology, renewable energy, medical and defense. We continue to leverage the Internet to hone new ways to teach our workforce, and the next generation will further perfect our skills by leveraging new technologies such as VR to do so more efficiently and effectively than ever before.”

Frank Odasz, president of Lone Eagle Consulting, wrote, “Everyone is both learner and teacher, consumer and producer, all the time. Your life is a gift from the Creator, what you do with it is your gift back to the Creator. For the last 18 years I’ve lived in a remote ranch house in Southwest Montana specializing in rural, remote, and indigenous internet learning. This is my ideal lifestyle made possible by my learning to teach teachers online with measurable outcomes based on copious encouragement and personalized interaction. Mining raw human potential is the new Gold Rush. Teaching the innovation process as open-mindedness, watching and learning from the booming socioeconomic innovations globally online, is the key skill, so that everyone functions as both learner and teacher, consumer and producer, all the time. The competitive GNP of nations will be determined by algorithms to maximize the latent potential of all citizens; (paraphrasing Obama’s final State of the Union speech) to “unleash the creativity of all Americans to lead the world with unarmed truth and unconditional love.” Learning to effectively use online systems requires ‘learning by doing’ online. Specifically, teaching the benefits of effective online collaboration must be hands-on, as well as growing one’s ability to be self-directed, which is a self-esteem and self-confidence issue. Learning how we can grow our own self-esteem and contribute to such growth in others is a fundamental dynamic for successful mutual-support networks, as well as individual success. Teaching open-mindedness online is a challenge as everyone is different, and personalized learning requires individualized tweaks in the learning dynamics. This is where innovation in what best motivates individuals is a key variable. Example: Having taught teachers online for 30 years, Winston Churchill’s quote rings true, “We’re always ready to learn, never to be taught.” Eighteen years ago I created ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies’ for online delivery to remote Alaska Native villages and rural Idaho communities, funded by the USDA; and Idaho State University. Those without a predilection toward self-directed learning won’t engage freely in self-directed online lessons or actively explore global innovations for what’s already working for others like them. So, we start with teaching the love of learning hands-on with lots of encouragement and tangible digital creation and collaborative-sharing outcomes. In a world where everything changes, how we can all keep up to the same instant of progress is the challenge, made possible once we’re all online. Example: Airbnb.org quickly created millions of new home-based income streams without overt entrepreneurial risk-taking or requisite abilities for innovation. As millions of jobs will be replaced with smarter technologies, the need for ongoing peer support will increase, begging the creation of new metrics to mirror back what’s working best. An economic measure of the impacts once everyone becomes both learner and teacher, smarter consumer, and active produce, all the time, will inevitably evolve. The 1997 mission statement of Lone Eagle Consulting might be of interest. My whitepaper on indigenous community best practices is at http://lone-eagles.com/village-sustainability.htm Four-year and other degrees are obsolete as soon as they are awarded. The world is in a state of accelerating change, making alternative short-term accreditation programs more viable; whether as badges or other assessments. We’ll evolve new ways of teaching and assessing skills for expansive imaginations. FYI, my Big Sky Telegraph launched in 1988 with a MOOC offering 10 two-hour self-directed lessons, and a diploma and embroidered patch ‘for those forging the online trail that others might follow.’ We connected 100 one-room schools to share online resources. In an automated world—IoT, algorithms, etc.—what can all individuals contribute as value to create a sustainable income for survival? The short answer is encouraging themselves, and others, to grow their abilities for positive local and global socioeconomic impacts as the global learning society begins to understand social quantum theory, leveraging exponential potentials of increasingly effective collaborative innovations. The overall question is whether good, or bad, behaviors will predominate globally. And the answer is what motivational training is presented and toward what ends? There are many ‘platforms for innovation’—ISIS is using social media effectively to market hate and violence. Where is the American counterpart marketing effort? I’m working this summer on a MOOC on a Native Values-based positive reframing of the potential of the internet. As stewards of the Earth and our one human family, we each now can have a global voice, and the choice as to whether and how best to use it.”

Beth Corzo-Duchardt, an assistant professor at Muhlenberg College, replied, “The fast pace of technological innovation means that any educational program that successfully trains workers to succeed in future jobs must focus on fundamentals like critical thinking, self-directed learning, basic computer literacy, and in some fields, basic math, science, and writing skills. In my opinion, the question prompt ‘Which of these skills can be taught effectively via online systems’ incorrectly equates online teaching with large-scale teaching. Self-directed study is yet another variable that changes the alchemy of teaching and learning. It is true that most online courses require self-direction, (indeed, when I advise students, I don’t recommend that students take online courses unless they have demonstrated an aptitude for self-direction). But in-person courses may also be self-directed. This works well for some students but not others. Students who are self-directed often have had a very good foundational education and supportive parents. They have been taught to think critically and they know that the most important thing you can learn is how to learn. And they are also are more likely to come from economic privilege. So, not only does the self-direction factor pose a problem for teaching at scale, the fact that a high degree of self-direction may be required for successful completion of coursework towards the new workforce means that existing structures of inequality will be replicated in the future if we rely on these large-scale programs. Smaller-scale vocational schooling (online and/or in person) would be a better avenue. Fundamental critical thinking skills can be successfully taught online. They cannot be taught at scale whether online or in a big lecture taught by one professor because the assignments and assessment strategies for such skills must be flexible to be effective, and that is impossible at scale. Many STEM basics can be taught effectively via large-scale online (or offline) systems. Others need to provide for hands-on experience. It is difficult to scale-up physics or chemistry labs, but a blended model involving smaller labs could be successful. If I were advising employers about what to look for in credentialing systems, I would tell them that whether the programs are traditional or non-traditional employers should look into whether they are teaching the fundamental critical-thinking skills that will enable their employees to learn new skills as their profession evolves. Online platforms like Lynda.com are very useful for training large groups students on particular computer programs, or how to use particular audio visual devices, so workers using these tools can constantly go back to these services to maintain their edge in the field. Employers would be smart to be open to hiring employees with general, rather than specialized skills, and to provide them with (and pay them for) participation in periodic large-scale online training. The jobs of the future, like the jobs of today, will require dynamic learners, ready and able to learn new skills periodically.”

Jan Schaffer, executive director at J-Lab, commented, “There are jobs to be done in this country, and not all of them require new skills, but there is a lack of imagination in how to make them a priority and an unwillingness to pay for them. Clearly, today we lose jobs to much-cheaper but not more-skilled workers overseas.”

George McKee, a retiree, observed, “No amount of training or education will qualify untalented workers for the engineering and programming jobs that will remain after robotics and AI have automated most material production. Even in creative fields, the tournament properties of stardom will make the “starving artist” the norm rather than the exception. The wealthy will continue to disdain the mass market consumer, and work to ensure that the redistribution of income that the lower and formerly middle classes require will not occur. For the highly talented minority, self-directed education from online sources will become the norm. High-quality, free education sources such as Coursera and MIT’s Open CourseWare already allow anyone to acquire as much knowledge as they are capable of assimilating. Top-rank colleges will remain important, not for their direct educational value, but for the personal relationships that they enable among the managing and governing classes. As always, the most important skills will be the ability to learn and organize new things, and to discriminate sense from nonsense. Public schools will continue to fall behind in their ability to foster these skills in large populations.”

Joel Barker, futurist and author at Infinity Limited, replied, “I give this a qualified ‘yes’ because it has to begin in elementary school and have a coherent curriculum K-through-Competence. See ‘EFG curriculum’ and Mondragon, a cooperative that solved this problem 30 years ago with a model that still works today!”

Daniel Menasce, a professor of computer science at George Mason University, said, “The workforce of the future will be mostly service-oriented. To be successful, workers will have to be competent in their technical areas and must have good people skills, time-management skills, and basic management skills. Some of the technical skills, such as learning about a specific product, can be taught effectively via online systems at larger scales. But, I still believe teaching fundamental concepts is better suited for classroom environments in which the instructor can have a close interaction with students and tailor the explanation to the needs of specific students. My opinion is informed by more than four decades of teaching experience and by my experience of having taught online and in classroom settings. The non-technical skills I mentioned above are even less suited for being taught via online systems. Employers recognize that most employees have to be trained on the job. Therefore, they want employees who can learn as opposed to employees that have been taught a canned set of skills but have a harder time learning new ideas and concepts. In that respect, I believe that traditional four-year and graduate programs will still be preferred over new types of credentialling systems. In summary, online systems can be used for training, while traditional university programs are better suited for education.”

Micah Altman, director of research at MIT Libraries, wrote, ” Over the last 15 years we have seen increasing success in making open course content available, followed by success teaching classes on-line at scale (e.g., Coursera, edX). The next part of this progression will be online credentialing. Last year, Starbucks’s partnership with Arizona State University to provide large numbers of its employees with the opportunity to earn a full degree online is indicative of this shift. Progress in online credentialing will be slower than progress in online delivery, because of the need to comply with or modify regulation, establish reputation, and overcome entrenched institutional interests in residential education. Notwithstanding, I am optimistic we will see substantial progress in the next decade—including more rigorous and widely accepted competency-based credentialing. Given the increased rate of technical change, and the regular disruptions this creates in established industries—the most important skills for workforces in developed countries are those that support adaptability, and which enable workers to engage with new technologies (and especially information and communication technologies) and to effectively collaborate in different organizational structures. While specific technical skills are well-fitted to a self-directed experience, some important skills—particularly metacognition, collaboration, and ‘soft’ (emotional/social intelligences) skills—which are particularly important for long-term success, require individualized guidance, (currently) a human instructor in the loop, and the opportunity to interact richly with other learners.”

Laurence Cuffe, a teacher at the Kildare Wicklow Education and Training Board, commented, “We will see more and more collaborative spaces where learning is an externalized shared artifact. Such tools will be deployed more and more as part of the 21st century working environment.”

Helmut Krcmar, professor of information systems at the Technical University of Munich, observed, “It will be more than MOOCs: it will be the use of individualized tutoring for learners and personalized learning journeys that can be thought that way beyond purely technical skills. Using audio instead of typing for interaction will also help, However, the classical universities (at least the top ones and the cheap ones) will stay, since they serve additional purposes other the learning (other purposes are networking, socialization, etc.)”

Richard Forno, senior lecturer of computer science and electrical engineering at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, replied, “We already see a trend toward online procurement of technical and task-oriented training to fill critical jobs in many fields, such as IT. That’s fine, but if such narrowly-tailored efforts do not foster the development of other competencies (i.e., teamwork, critical thinking, writing well, understanding contexts) needed to be a capable professional—what most two- and four-year universities provide—this process will provide trained technicians to fill the many immediate ‘job’ opportunities but not necessarily the well-rounded foundation needed for a cohesive long-term career path. There is so much more to being a competent working professional than just ‘technical skills’ you know!”

Antero Garcia, an assistant professor at Colorado State University, said, “Yes, digital tools will sustain labor markets in the future. However, I don’t see these digital tools developing powerful outcomes for leadership and creativity in and of themselves. That is, training programs will be developed for rote forms of labor that simply reinforce class-based stratification of individuals in society. On the other hand, rather than looking to new kinds of tools, the ways individuals are collaborating, socializing, and innovating in online spaces like gaming communities, virtual worlds, and via social activism on Twitter highlight training and skills development that are robust and could re-shape what work and recruitment look like.”

Ansgar Koene, senior research fellow at the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, wrote, “The skills required for the workplace are currently undergoing rapid change. The education system is struggling to keep up with this. There is a general sense that the traditional model in which people go to school/university at the start of their life and then apply this learning throughout the rest of their life is no longer applicable. Instead society has to move towards a model of life-long learning. Online non-traditional settings will be an important part of this and are likely to become something that employers will encourage their workforce to engage with. This will stimulate acceptance of non-traditional credentials. Some of the most successful online courses that are already beginning to gain acceptance as in areas such as programming skills, especially the acquisition of new programming languages by people who already have programming experience. We might think of this as a ‘top-up’ course to bring people up to date with new developments in an area that they already have training in. These kinds of skills are likely to be most amenable for self-directed learning. Learning of fundamentals of areas of expertise will likely remain difficult to transfer to setting where there is no direct interaction between teachers and learners or peer groups of learners. The key skill will be ‘learning how to learn’ and this itself is different depending on the topic area. One thing that is already happening is a decline in sharp discipline boundaries with employers, and research projects, increasingly looking for interdisciplinary people or teams. This trend will also strengthen the move towards non-traditional training.”

Ryan Hayes, owner of Fit to Tweet, commented, “Where technology and education are coming together is the space I’m most excited about. I see the relationship between learning and working as becoming a lifelong process vs. the system we have today where we learn in an environment separate from work for many years and then we work in an environment separate from learning for many years. I wear a lot of hats as an entrepreneur but one of the areas that I spend considerable time is in using technology to train my team to pivot quickly to new processes as our business and industry (social media) changes rapidly. It’s not just onboarding new employees, it’s ensuring that our whole team is constantly growing and adapting, and that will become necessary in more industries as the rate of change picks up. The biggest areas of value that universities will continue to provide are networking (the relationships you develop there can lead to any number of opportunities) and the time and space to focus on the tougher skillsets (yes, you can learn to be a programmer or an engineer or speak Mandarin in your free time while juggling your day job but it’s not easy and it will take considerably longer than focusing on it full-time in school). There are already great resources online today for learning just about any skill but it still involves staring a screen, which isn’t an ideal way for many people to learn. My daughter is three right now and I imagine when she’s ready to work her first job she’ll have a visual equivalent of Siri that she sees through augmented reality that will be a 1×1 trainer to teach her everything she needs to know for that job. And the rest of us will, too; we’ll need that constant development to remain valuable as robots and software replace more roles.”

Aidan Hall, head of UX for TomTom Sports, wrote, “Ten years is too small a window for significant change—however people’s expectations and lifestyles are moving toward making this a real pattern in the longer term.”

B. Remy Cross, assistant professor of sociology, Webster University, commented, “I chose ‘no,’ although it is a qualified no. At this time, lacking a significant breakthrough in machine learning that could lead to further breakthroughs in adaptive responses by a fully online system, it is too hard to adequately instruct large numbers of people in the kinds of soft skills that are anticipated as being in most demand. As manufacturing and many labor-intensive jobs move overseas or are fully mechanized we will see a bulge in service jobs. These require good people skills, something that is often hard to train online.”

Maria Pranzo, director of development at The Alpha Workshops, replied, “Online learning can certainly be useful. But the people I know who have gotten credentials or college credits online are still heavily guided by a human being. Learning is, in part, about sharing experiences. Even coding and programming. While certain basic skills can be learned online, human interaction will remain important. The skills of the future will still require interaction and relationship. Additionally, as someone who’s worked in nonprofit workforce development for 20 years, programs that teach employment skills are notoriously difficult to scale up.”

Mark Richmond, a systems engineer and educator, said, “While the availability of self-directed and self-paced training will continue to expand, the acceptance of such training as evidence of skill will become increasingly dependent on testing and demonstrated ability. The proliferation of certificates and online courses in general makes it difficult or anyone to assess their validity. Verifiable skills and work history will have an increased importance in making hiring decisions.”

Tom Sommerville, agile coach, wrote, “Our greatest economic challenges over the next decade will be climate change and the wholesale loss of most jobs to automation. We urgently need to explore how to distribute the increasing wealth of complex goods and services our civilization produces to a populace that will be increasingly jobless in the traditional sense. The current trend of concentrating wealth in the hands of a diminishing number of ultra-rich individuals is unsustainable. All of this while dealing with the destabilizing effects of climate change and the adaptations necessary to mitigate its worst impacts.”

John Perrino, a digital and creative communications associate at The George Washington University, wrote, “If we expect to increase diversity in the Silicon Valley, non-traditional programs will need to play an important part. Expect more bootcamp-style programming training programs and corporate sponsorship to build feeder programs of specially trained students from all walks of life. Online courses are great for building and reinforcing new skills, but do not expect them to be as valued as specially created and selective bootcamp programs.”

John B. Keller, director of elearning at the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township, Indiana, wrote, “Online training will continue to improve and that any skills or knowledge updating that can reasonably be delivered online will be. That said, there will still be a need in many areas for verifiable performance of complex skills and behaviors that may not be possible to be accomplished algorithmically. Skills demanded in the future will include analysis of big data sets, interpretation of trends within historic contexts, clear and effective intercultural communication, design and systems thinking, as well as the ability to advance and advocate for distinctly human contributions to progress and the advance of culture. As more and more skills are broken down into repeatable processes, they will be handed off to technology and video as key transfer platforms. The demand for skills that cannot be easily transferred via online systems will ensure that experience, mentorship, coaching, apprenticeship, and demonstrated proficiency all have prominent roles to play against a backdrop of online learning.”

Rob Smith, software developer and privacy activist, responded, “This is a difficult question to answer with yes or no. On the one hand, I’m fairly certain that we’ll see a rise in online training and organisations evolving to provide standards for credential-giving. On the other, I’m skeptical that this will entirely or even substantially replace more traditional learning methods such as university degrees. Clearly there are many skills that require practice and direct feedback to learn successfully and it’s obvious that these will be less-well-suited to an online environment than some others. I suspect my definition of such skills might include ones that many others wouldn’t. For example, I’d include the core skills of software development as ones that can benefit greatly from practice in a closely supervised environment. Staying within the field of software development for a moment, I suspect we’ll see universities focusing more on these foundational skills with options for specifics such as individual programming languages or development environments being moved online. This would increase choice for students, form the basis of a life-long career of learning and could perhaps differentiate the more committed and able students from the rest. It might also help employers to become more accepting of online training. A job candidate with a good foundational degree from a good university and lots of additional credits for online learning might be expected to rate more highly (in terms of qualifications if not actual ability) than one with just online qualifications but is lacking the foundations. Or perhaps vice versa, depending on what the job is. In summary, I think online courses are here to stay and will proliferate. Companies and universities will make more use of them. And this is generally a good thing because it would help people to tailor their education more closely to their abilities, interests and the type of job they want (ditto for employers). Perhaps it would go some way to solving some of the problems we face with the university system particularly in places like the US and (increasingly) the UK.”

If you wish to read the full survey report with analysis, click here.

To read anonymous survey participants’ responses with no analysis, click here.