Information is increasingly accessible, requiring associations and other information curators to develop new approaches to content and learning. But with so much information out there, even the nature of expertise is being challenged. The drivers of change below identify shifts in the knowledge dissemination landscape that will affect how people will learn, network, and gain new information in the future.
Higher Education 3.0
Traditional educational models are under tremendous pressure as changes in work, technology, and student expectations demand both new curricula and new modes of instruction. Higher education is facing new threats of disintermediation by online education and alternative credentialing systems. While the knowledge economy places a premium on analysis and thinking, it is also creating new alternatives to the university that threaten to transform how students receive postsecondary instruction.
Mentoring, even as it takes new forms, remains a central way to share organizational knowledge. Millennials are especially enthusiastic about using mentoring as a path to learning. Increasingly, technical advances are affording the opportunity to make more informed mentoring assignments and to use mentoring to capture institutional wisdom.
Workers will need to continually learn, but many want small, specific bursts of information tied to immediate job demands, available at a time of their choosing. New media forms will enable modules that are small, timely, and focused. Certification will need to change to allow microlearning modules to be assembled in innovative combinations for new forms of certification.
New Journal Models
The traditional model of academic publishing is facing disintermediation by new, technology-enabled forms of scholarly communication. Open-access journals, preprint archives, and research data aggregators make it increasingly easy for researchers to bypass traditional publishing. Both traditional and nontraditional journals need to develop sustainable business models and rethink how to maintain editorial quality standards in a changing publishing environment.
Rejection of Expertise
Public skepticism toward well-credentialed experts is growing, in part because of a perception that they have failed to recognize or address persistent sociopolitical problems. Expert pronouncements are having less impact on public perception, with the public turning instead to noncredentialed and “unofficial” sources for guidance and information. At the same time, information is increasingly able to route around gatekeepers, diminishing their influence and ability to shape discussion and debate.
A Shifting Environment for Content
Content producers face an increasingly challenging environment. Audiences are fragmented and distracted, and they expect to be entertained and informed for free. Delivery channels are shifting rapidly for both economic and technological reasons, a trend likely to accelerate over the medium-term future.
Ubiquitous broadband, the mainstreaming of virtual reality, and robotics are accelerating the capabilities of telepresence technologies. These technologies could enable the telepresence of both speakers and participants at meetings. Or meetings could take place entirely in a shared digital reality. While these technologies can broaden participation and generate novel experiences, the social and experiential benefits of “real life” may prove challenging to replicate.