Four Scenarios on the Future of Credentials

Leila Meyer, Campus Technology, May 04, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I'm not really a fan of the 'scenario-building' approach to projecting future trends, but it's all the range these days and so not surprising to see employed in this report (which is overall a pretty good overview of the environment). Here are the four scenarios (quoted from the study (17 page PDF)):

  • “All Roads Lead to Rome,” imagines a future in which degrees awarded by the K-12 and post-secondary sectors still serve as the dominant form of credentials."
  • “The Dam Breaks,” explores a future in which the employment sector accepts new forms of credentials, such as micro-credentials, on a standalone basis.
  • Every Experience a Credential,” considers what credentials might look like if new technologies enabled every experience to be tracked and catalogued.
  • “My Mind Mapped,” imagines a future (with) breakthroughs in both the mapping and tracking of brain functions.

The universities are pursuing scenario 1, naturally. Most others are pursuing scenario 2. We are pursuing scenario 3. Nobody is really pursuing scenario 4, because it will be decades before the technology becomes practical, and would raise serious social and moral issues.

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