Futuring: a look to the future

New technologies like AI, XR, edge and quantum are enabling impactful applications. What does this mean for education and research institutions? With futuring, we look ahead and respond to developments faster and more efficiently. In this way, we jointly make better strategic choices for the future.

Futuring at SURF

Next Gen Programme results "Let's talk about the future"

Children want more stimulating and motivating education when they imagine the future. They especially see opportunities with XR to achieve this: one of the outcomes of the "Next Gen" programme organised by SURF in the first half of 2023.

A group of more than thirty 13-16-year-olds shared their ideas on what they think the future of education should look like at the SURF office in Utrecht. The focus was on exploring how the next generation of students (life-long learners) see education in the future. And what new technologies they would like to use more of to improve their educational experience.

Structure of the Next Gen programme

SURF collaborated with various experts to put together an interesting programme. The programme for the young people was divided into three parts: first an explanation of the content, including a challenge to generate some initial fresh ideas about the future of education. Followed by workshops on various technologies, including AI, XR and public values. There was also room for the Futures by Chance | Futures by Choice game to imagine a world 30 years from now. Finally, there was a group mission to work out a preferred scenario for the future of education, using personal experiences, own creativity and imagination. Using a framework of social values to consider the equity and sustainability of the ideas.

The future of education according to young people

Wishes for the future of education mainly focused on the following:

- More technology in education

For example: integration of AI, Robotics, VR and/or AR in classrooms.

- Improvements related to pedagogy and learning activities

In particular: more interaction, more fun experiences, no or less homework, more freedom and personalised education that allows students to choose their own courses and/or work at their own pace.

- Improvements in learning content

With the desire for more content to deepen knowledge on the one hand and suggestions for better quality content on the other.

Explorations of XR in education: 8 ideas

In a final exploration of the possibilities of different new technologies, all groups unanimously chose XR. Herewith 8 interesting ideas from the young people on how to integrate XR into the future field of education:

1. Transfer all education to classrooms in the Metaverse.

2. Use Virtual Reality to create immersive learning experiences, such as exploring the Middle Ages or participating in physical education classes.

3. Using holograms as replacements for teachers, citing benefits such as reducing teacher shortages.

4. Protecting animals: special suits allow students to feel the presence of animals in virtual reality.

5. Alternate between traditional education and virtual reality.

6. Eliminate/minimise physical textbooks in favour of digital content.

7. Integrate social values through personalised lessons based on individual learning levels, facilitated by AI.

8. Improving classroom furniture, such as better chairs and even eliminating traditional smart boards.


Gül Akcaova, Lead Futurist SURF: "The results of the day exceeded our expectations, as we did not know what to expect -except fun. The next generation is very good at seeing the bigger picture, is up to date with current events and likes to challenge. They were happy to participate in the conversation, but also wanted to get their hands dirty and start building/coding things. We had a nice mix of gender and background, and there is definitely something we can do when it comes to more diversity in IT."