Social effectiveness. In the future, student products will

Social Groupings, Collaboration, and IdentityAt present, social groupings depend on co-presence in physical space (roommates, classmates). Collaboration depends on shared physical presence or cumbersome virtual mechanisms. In the future, students will participate in far-flung, loosely bounded virtual communities (independent of cohabitation, common course schedules, or enrollment at a particular campus). Interoperability, open content, and open source will enable seamless information sharing, collaborative virtual manipulation of tools and media, facile shared authoring and design, and collective critiquing. Virtual identity will be unfettered by physical attributes such as gender, race, or disabilities.Instruction and AssessmentHow might these shifts affect instruction and assessment? At present, too often instructors design and deliver “one size fits all” content, pedagogy, and assessment, with students serving as passive recipients. Student products are generally tests or papers; grading centers on individual performance; and learners provide only summative feedback on instructional effectiveness. In the future, student products will often involve products based on new forms of media (authoring a simulation and a Web page to express understanding of an internship, for example, rather than authoring a paper that synthesizes expert opinions). Peer-developed and peer-rated forms of assessment will complement faculty grading and will often be based on individual accomplishment in a team performance context. Frequent learner-initiated assessments will provide formative feedback on instructional effectiveness.Coming SoonThese ideas are admittedly speculative rather than based on extensive evidence. The technologies discussed are emerging rather than mature, so their final form and their influences on users are not fully understood. However, anticipating the effects of shifts in students’ learning styles is important, and the ideas above may serve to begin a dialogue about implications.Next StepsIf one accepts much of the analysis above, four implications are apparent for investments in physical and technological infrastructure: