Scenario 2 Learner profile: Jack Hicks, born 2001

  • In 2026, Jack is 25 years old, studying engineering, and all his educational data since 2018 is publically available in one massive, open access environment (JISC-DCTM).
  • According to DCTM, Jack is an engaged, smart, creative and entrepreneurial student, making 3.4% (SD = 1.8) learning gains per year since 2016.
  • Most of Jack's learning activities are tracked by digital tools. Smart furniture, pens, and writing pads are fitted with sensors; all classrooms and local workshops are fitted with streaming cameras using facial recognition.
  • These cameras and sensors monitor Jack's movements, record exactly how he works, and send automatic notifications to his tutors each time he is bored, confused, or deviates from the task.
  • Jack has multiple disabilities and is a heavy user of assistive technology, using his direct brain-computer link to access a cognitive prosthesis and several mobility aids.
  • Jack aims to join the successful Alonso F1 team in the summer of 2026, but is afraid that his learning gain scores are 0.1% below the top 5% in engineering (according to DCTM).
  • In particular his half-year internship at RedBull F5 in Milton Keynes (a SME which does not work with DCTM) may have compromised his overall ranking, so he wonders whether he should focus more on grades.

Discussion: How could we apply digital innovation at the OU to improve learning and teaching in this scenario, or using ideas inspired by this scenario?

Scenario 2 Manager profile: Marianne Hernandez, born 1976

  • In 2026, Marianne is Vice-Chancellor of the Open University UK. According to the single educational data environment (JISC-DCTM), her institution is delivering the highest learning gains in the UK.
  • The real-time predictions of OU's learning analytics tools provide accurate, minute-per-minute predictions of which student is learning what/where/when.
  • The open source analytics4advice tool provides automatic, personalised feedback to each student and member of staff in real time, based on an extensive national network of sensors and cameras.
  • More importantly, her 3,400 online coaches from China & India (all on zero-hour contracts) constantly provide personalised feedback to the 421,000 students (20% traditional, 45% online, 3% senior management from Eastern Europe) via free, open access communication tools.
  • Satisfaction of OU students and professionals has never been so high (99.97% students are happy, 99.34% of alumni would recommend the OU).
  • One major concern to Marianne is that almost all other institutions are now copying the OU's approach. Is this becoming a cost-driven race to the bottom, and what other options could the OU pursue?

Discussion: How could we apply digital innovation at the OU to improve learning and teaching in this scenario, or using ideas inspired by this scenario?