Scenario 4 Learner profile: Thomas Müller, born 1980

  • In 2026, Thomas Müller has just celebrated 40 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
  • Born in Eilenburg in then-East Germany, he trained as a car mechanic, then switched to a job as a taxi driver in 2013 in Milton Keynes after an industrial accident left him unable to walk far or lift heavy weights.
  • Now that 90% of the car market is dominated by self-driving cars (70% Google Self-Drive, 11% TATA Freedom, 2% BMW Green), demand for taxi services has fallen to its lowest level since 1934.
  • Thomas is passionate about craft beer and microbrewing, but lacks the formal education that would allow him to leave taxi driving behind and launch his own business.
  • Following the Newcastle Incident of 2019, when 34 people died after drinking craft beer that turned out to have been mixed with norephedrine, the Government restricted brewing to registered brewers with stringent certification (Brewers (Licensing) Act 2020).
  • Thomas would like to get this certification, but he lacks the 3D equipment at home that would allow him to follow and contribute to the interactive classes and microbrewing simulations.

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 4 Teacher profile: Erin McLeod, born 2001

  • In 2026, Erin McLeod has been developing virtual reality training programmes since she graduated with a first in 3D Computer Science from Nottingham University.
  • Her Brewers (Licensing) Act Phase 1-2 training and certification programme has received several awards, despite her yeast intolerance (and inability to drink beer).
  • Erin's employer, Inesperia plc, has asked her to take the lead on development of a new system for virtual reality midwifery (VRM-2030), as the NHS Systems Executive has identified that the failure to adapt their decade-old systems is a key factor in rising infant mortality rates.
  • Given the recent advances in medicine and cancer treatment following the remarkable discovery of T-cell immunisation by University College London in 2016, personalised medication and treatment options have radically transformed healthcare.
  • Erin has no expertise in nursing or general medicine, but her team is expected to deliver the prototype VRM-2030 in four months' time
  • The aim is to link the new system with the Nursing Fast-Track model. By 2030, the UK aims to have retrained 50% of its ex-taxi drivers as nurses, with 10% of those nurses moving straight on to complete the VRM-2030 module.

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?