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Home > News > July 2006 > 11 July 2006

Research project to look at future of learning

Envisioning how we will learn in the future is one of the long term research projects proposed by UK academics at a conference held to consider how computing will evolve over the next 15 years.

The proposal was made at the Grand Challenges 2006 conference sponsored by the UK Computing Research Committee (UKCRC) with the backing of the British Computer Society, the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), IET and the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC).

The purpose of the grand challenges is to pursue goals recognised one or two decades in advance of their application.

The learning for life challenge researchers want to find out how learning environments and opportunities will manifest in the future, how people will engage with learning events, and what learning for life will be like.

They explain: "With the emergence of mobile and ubiquitous computing, the semantic web and the development of an e-Research infrastructure, new possibilities are opening up for e-learning and learning for life that take us beyond what has been conceived in this area before.

"These new possibilities need to be understood in the context of our developing understanding of the co-evolutionary nature of learning and computing systems, so we ensure that the full potential of learning for life is realised."

A second challenge of bringing the past to life was also proposed. The proposers of the challenge have a vision to explore how man can interact and understand the past through technology.

The two proposals have subsequently been added to the current Grand Challenges.

A third new challenge of finding how to engage and excite young people about IT was also proposed and won approval as a meta-grand challenge bridging both research and education fields.

For the proposers the need to engage young people in the IT discipline is key for the future of the profession.

The researchers want to discover what will excite the 12-14 year age range, an age that generally is information hungry, but appears to see the progress already made in IT such as radio technology, laptops and mobile technology and believe that everything has already been achieved.

"At this age, youngsters are looking to make choices which will affect their future careers, we need to challenge their perception of IT and we hope to do it by articulating research based grand challenges in simple terms to capture their imagination and excite them about future possibilities in IT."

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