Decade Of Learning: The World At Large (Society, Economics, Politics)

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2010 was the beginning of another decade. So why does it feel so mid-sentence?

I know I’m not alone in this. Looking back, 2010, the European Year for Combating Poverty and Exclusion, caught us still under a bit of suspense. The world was recovering from a recent global financial crisis whose burden was yet to be materialized (and might still be). Many were still waiting for the right time to ask underlying questions on democracy and corruption at the core of our public and private institutions.

In the U.S. the January, 2010 landmark Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court opened a new playing field for speech and political participation. Corporations are people —my friend—, and they can have culture too. Arguably, a defining question this decade is whether they also have “souls” and if so, could they be saved? As we sunk deep into the internet, institutions are more brands than anything else, and frequent episodes would suggest they can be swayed . Then along would come Wikileaks, only one in the several events that cemented a general distrust towards long-standing institutions, perhaps one another too. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Fun fact: 2010 was the year were “Gamification” was recognized as a word.

If the co-opting of civil institutions by economic interests aims to be the defining theme of the decade, natural disasters, terrorism, economic inequality, astronomical breakthroughs and the Arab Spring might stand to say, “Not so fast.”

It might strike arbitrary or even pointless to try and define the themes of the 2010s. It’s a necessarily capricious effort, and doubts about its relevancy for the LMS, elearning and open source are not without merit.

But we thought important to take a look around, stop and consider the world’s developments in society, politics and economics during the decade that ends. We try to

We find that our concerns as people, citizens and educational technologists haven’t changed all that much in the last decade. The debate, of course, has evolved, and at this point I must clarify that evolution isn’t always “forward.” Some global concerns are widespread while other critical issues remain but are forgotten or out of fashion. In general, none of them spontaneously appeared in the void of the decade, and the most incisive ones will follow us in the 2020s.

So which social events happened in the 2010s, to some relevance to your educational technology practice, and how did it affect you? Please share with us key events, developments and ways that led us to a new normal, and we’ll be sure to update them in our “Decade of Learning” series.

Questions for elearning professionals

  • How has the context of your practice changed? How has modern history influenced your learning?
  • How have students mindsets, assumptions and cultural baggage evolved?
  • What are brand new challenges for which history has no reliable answers?
  • What stayed the same?

2010: Tik Tok


  • Burj Khalifa officially opens, dominating the skies for the whole decade.
  • Haiti Earthquake‘s death tolls reaches 316,000
  • The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill is the costliest disaster to date
  • Arab Spring
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed. Dodd-Frank passed
  • Wildfires in Russia break out, following a heat wave. The worst on record to date, it burns 300,000 hectares and claims more than 55 thousand lives
  • New phrases: Arab Spring, Filter bubble, App

Many of the types of news that would become common occurrence throughout the decade were already happening before, albeit timidly. Social unrest and protest, along with the inseparable police crackdown; heightened natural disasters with fires one upping each other year after year; weird plane crashes and lots of meetings about climate warning. All of that happened in 2010 but the year would hold few of these records.

2011: We found love (and Bin Laden)


  • Occupy Wall Street
  • Global population reaches 7 billion people
  • The largest and costliest tornado outbreak in the US brings 3 days with more than 360 tornadoes and losses on the order of $12 billion USD
  • Fifty Shades of Grey
  • The Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami takes nearly 16,000 lives
  • New word: Blockchain, Burqini, Fracking

The motivations behind most of the most significant conflicts of the decade were already there the previous one. The Syrian war enters its “Civil Uprising” stage while the Arab Spring goes in full swing, and the aftermaths of the aftermaths become the normal. (And I’m not talking just about Hollywood.)

2012: Somebody that I used to call me maybe


  • Antimatter atom trapped for the first time
  • New words: Escape room, Inspo, Flerovium, Livermorium, Hot take, Hashtag
  • The 10 deadliest airplane crash in history so far takes place in Nigeria

2013: Royal blurred lines

Sky News

  • NSA global surveillance disclosure
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Refugees in Europe reach 1.4 million this decade
  • A 2-year old in Guinea is believed to be the trigger of a 3-year global ebola epidemic
  • The Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa begins
  • The Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is the deadliest on record, claiming 6,300 lives and affecting areas of Vietnam and Taiwan
  • New words: Binge watching, Selfie

The seeds for a brand new relationship with institutions has been planted. Corruption has been part of human history, but it is now suspected to act in such a scale that grow more powerful than democratic institutions. Impunity is not just rampant, it’s arbitrary in who it affects the most.

2014: Shake it off

  • 4th deadliest school massacre takes place in Peshawar, Pakistan
  • One of the worst wildfires in Canada takes place in Northwest Territories
  • Daesh (ISIS) kills over 1,600 in what is called the Camp Speicher massacre, in the Iraqi Air Academy
  • New words: ICO (Initial Coin Offering), Mansplain, Aro, Photobomb, Vape

2015: Blank space

  • Zika virus
  • Homo Naledi
  • The Gorkha earthquake in Nepal is one of the worst natural disasters of the decade, claiming nearly 9,000 lives
  • The Metrojet Flight 9268 from Sharm El Sheikh to Saint Petersburg explodes, becoming the deadliest air disaster in Egypt and Russia’s history
  • The fifth deadliest school massacre takes place in Garissa, Kenya
  • New words: Aphantasia, Aquafaba, singular They, 😂

2016: Love yourself


  • Black swans: Brexit, Trump, the Cubs
  • Second deadliest mass shooting so far (Orlando nightclub)
  • The Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa officially ends
  • New words: Moscovium, Nihonium, Oganesson, Tennessine

2017: Despacito

  • First and fifth deadliest mass shooting in US history thus far (Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs)
  • Hurricanes Irma and Maria are the worst natural disasters to ever happen to Puerto Rico and Dominica
  • Hurricane Harvey, a category 4, lands on Texas, with matching record-breaking costs
  • A magnitude 7.1, 20-second earthquake hits 55 kilometers south of Puebla, Mexico, following one on Chiapas 12 days earlier, the strongest on record for the country
  • A mosque in Sinai, Egypt, the al-Rawda mosque, is attacked, killing 305. A similar attack on Mogadishu, Somalia claims 587, becoming one of the deadliest and the worst in Africa’s history
  • New words: Youthquake, Fake news

2018: Thank u, next

  • The Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest so far in California, burns 1.8 square kilometers and 280 buildings
  • New words: Hangry, Mansplaining, Snowflake

2019: Old town road

  • Impeachment
  • New words: Deep state

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