Learning in Year 2111

TALK OF TOMORROW | by Ted Fujimoto

Imagine how kids might be learning 100 years from now. This exercise is not easy. To put this in perspective, 40 years ago, consumers didn’t have cell phones, smart phones, personal computers, internet, social networking, digital cameras, email, GPS, tablets, laptops, Skype, YouTube—and the list goes on and on. In fact, many of these items came into existence just in the past 10 years. It’s hard to imagine living today without these technologies. It’s also quite amazing how much these technologies have changed how we live our lives and society. I look back on my own experience hearing about the “world wide web” or about “Facebook” or “Twitter” and how long it took for me to understand what it was, why would anyone care, and why I would even care. Projecting what learning could look like 100 years from now will, in hindsight, probably be ridiculous—like flying cars that we were supposed to have in 2000—but it’s worth the exercise to stretch the imagination and dream! Here are some possibilities for a high school and college student:

1. No such thing as plagiarism in learning. All knowledge is open source—anyone can use and copy it. What students are evaluated on is being able to come up with the right solution to a problem in the most efficient way using all tools, resources, and knowledge available.

2. No standardized tests just demonstrations. There are standards, but students can decide how they want to show the world what they know and submit the evidence online. This evidence is rated on a five star scale by a combination of automated artificial intelligence systems as well as panels of content experts around the world. Kids earn badges, scholarships, special opportunities, and unlock access advanced tools when they earn more stars.

3. Anyone can be a teacher. No special training, just support for kids. However, there are content specialists, advisors, coaches from around the world who are available anytime 24×7 to help a kid out when they need information. Each specialist/advisory/coach gets star ratings from students about how helpful they were.  Kids get tokens that they can spend on a single session with a specialist, advisor, coach—and the government pays that person based on the number of tokens that were collected.

4. No classes—face-to-face time only for advisory with social media. Three times a week, kids get together as a support group…sharing what’s going on in their lives and providing support for each other. A facilitator helps them with their discussion and provides them motivation to dream big and succeed. Everyone stays connected through social media.

5. No classrooms—learning centers have opened up all across towns in old school buildings, libraries, business conference rooms—all available for kids to use. There is an adult host at each site that helps kids when needed, connects them to resources, inspires them, and chaperones.

6. Kids learn through challenges. Challenges are created by specialists and communities around the world to solve real world problems—mapped to learning standards. Kids can select which challenge they want to take on based on interest as well as what standards and badges they are working toward. Tokens are given to each challenge that gets used—so the most popular ones will earn the most money. All challenges come linked to advisors, mentors, and other resources that could be helpful.

7. Regional simulation centers—industries have made available simulators and simulation scenarios to kids to experiment hands-on.

8. Advanced programs (we call them Universities) have programs that performs nightly scans of  student portfolios, stars, badges and lets them know precisely what they need to qualify to work with them and how much scholarships and tokens they qualify for. Kids know exactly what they need to do at all times to advance to the next level.

9. Companies also have programs that perform nightly scans of student portfolios, stars, badges, and lets them know precisely what types of careers and jobs they could qualify for and what they could be earning.

10. Kids who are struggling are assigned a mentor coach who works with them virtually and face-to-face to connect them to resources, helps them stay on track, and doesn’t let them drown.

Today, we are seeing glimpses of the future with the emergence of hybrid learning and Khan Academy. What are the barriers in the way that need to be removed to let the learning environment of the future take place? What can you do as an educator to remove a barrier and create an innovation that will take us toward the future of learning?


Ted Fujimoto helps communities and school districts create and support 21st-century schools. As an entrepreneur and consultant, he has helped develop business strategies for Bay Area Coalition of Essential Schools, Big Picture Learning, Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, Partnership for Uplifting Communities, Linking Education & Economic Development, California Charter Schools Association and the New York Charter Schools Association. His work represents more than $150 million in funding. He was instrumental in designing and founding Napa New Technology High School and the New Technology Foundation that now comprises 62 schools nationwide, with dozens of new schools opening by Fall 2010. Contact him through Landmark Consulting Group, Inc.

  • Ian Harper


    This is a very interesting read, Ted….but we are not talking 100 years out. What you describe is just 10 years out.

    2021 and we will have 5+ billion internet connections. Everyone will be on-line all of the time. All knowledge-based activities will be on-line.

    In 100 years, there will be no education. There will be no need….

  • mercedes planas


    In my opinion, one of the biggest barriers is the believe traditional teachers seem to have that they are in a position of power, control and manipulation thinking that things must be done the way the see or teach them. Teachers should be guides and providers of information and tactics for problem solving at any level and in any subject.
    As an educator, I would follow and flow with the times. For example: the “requirement” of learning the tables and be able to recite them is no longer important per se. Now a days, kids will probably show you possibilities that you didn’t think of. They were born in a different world and time all together. I would be completely flexible and joy, productivity and learning will take place in its purest form.
    The tools they use today ( enet, BB’s, i phones, sat TV, computer programs, video games, chats in every device they own…) are no longer luxuries like they used to be for us at the beginning. They have become necessities in today’s world. If teachers intend to stop or ration when or how much they should use them, they have another thing coming! I watch my 14 year-old multitasking big time. He has the capability to do so and earn principal’s honors at the same time (he also acts as a happy, rounded, serene, even-tempered human being). Who am I to determine how much he can do at once? If I were to refrain him I would be putting him behind what ever is going on and, eventually, he will end up loosing the skills others are practicing every day. He will then become frustrated and sad by his own loving mother.
    I would create a complete “out of the box”/”state of the arts” classroom!!!

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: