A number of the posts on this blog have talked about technology but whatever the technology is – iPhone 14? – there is no doubt that it will allow even more instantaneous access to a world of global information. As a university, we pride our self on the creation of new knowledge and rightly so but looking at the bigger picture there are roughly about 2.5 Exabytes of data produced on the web every day. Taking a byte of data to be a grain of rice this is enough rice to cover the UK 3 times.
Rather than asking students to learn a few cups of rice to recall in an examination, in 2026 and even before, might we need to be thinking about how we best provide them with the skills to find, evaluate and apply knowledge to practical situations to create a real-world impact. Will examinations fundamentally change? There is little point in asking someone to learn muscle attachments, chemical formulae, equations, key study findings etc. when by asking their mobile device (not typing – too slow in 2026) it is milliseconds away. As are some answers to questions involving these things through the growth of computational knowledge engines such as Wolfram Alpha. What is the point of assessing content knowledge if it is not necessary in a future world due to the speed at which it can be accessed? Might the examination become: here is a problem … find, evaluate and formulate a potential solution using all the resources available to you – not just those you can recall or that are in the room.