Our upcoming graduate seminar looking at ways professionals can prepare personally and professionally for a workplace transformed by technology has made the William and Mary News.

Instead of focusing on specific skills, Roche is looking at the bigger picture — how can we design learning experiences that prepare future generations to work together and become problem solvers? This question is among those Roche will explore in his seminar course this fall on Educational Technology Planning.

As the prospectus suggests, we’ll approach that bigger question by answering three smaller questions.

First, how might the dramatic changes in core technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence and deep learning, “big data”, robotics and “the Internet of Things” shape the workplace of the next generation? If those changes come about, what might it mean to be “college and career ready”?

We’re not going to pretend to be able to predict the future here. As I wrote about in my first post to our Academic Technology blog prediction is a tough business. However, the core process of educational planning includes understanding the complexity of our current environment and then envisioning what the future might become—even when today is complicated and the future is murky.

Second, how can educational institutions at all levels design the technological infrastructures to support learning and effective administration?

The path from the complicated present to the possible future is paved with concrete decisions. Administrators have to decide how to invest in the staff, hardware and software that will prepare their students to navigate the workplace of the future. Those investments are expensive and, once you make the, it’s hard to change directions. We’ll try to find ways during this class to think about how we evaluate and purchase products and service that enhance flexibility and the freedom to learn, while avoiding career-limiting decisions.

Finally, how can individuals become better self-directed learners so that they can thrive personally and professionally in these new work environments?

Even if we can’t predict the jobs of the future or the exact types of education that the next generation of workers will need, it seems pretty likely that the central skill of the future will involve “learning how to learn”. Generations of adult education researchers have identified some of the key components of self-directed learning, and we’ll spend some time in this class looking at how to apply their insights into our own learning.