Written in response to this article: http://incare-k12.com/what-will-the-classroom-be-like-in-100-years/ (and others like it.)
Let’s start with this: 100 years is an absurdly long time to try and predict anything. For one thing, human population may well be in excess of 12 billion, and non-renewable natural resources will be all but used up. If we’re still around, we might have many, many other pressing issues to worry about.
Or else we might have sorted ourselves out and be living in a prosperous, sustainable, peaceful world.
Either way, 100 years is much too far away to predict anything, especially when it’s hard to suss out how technology in particular will change in just three years from now.
So let’s pick a more realistic number. How about 20 years? A generation. An entirely new set of kids. What will technology in schools look like in 2037?
Here are my predictions:
Technology will challenge students to create and conduct their own individual learning journey, while connecting them with other students and mentors on similar (or even very different paths) so that they can work collaboratively to exchange and compare their learning. Benchmarking and assessing will also be more individually focused and much less standardized.
Teacher Roles Rewritten
Teachers and schools will have to rethink their roles in education. If students can learn almost anything, anywhere, on differentiated paths, driven by their own interests and focused on independent learning, schools and teachers will need to become more like diagnosticians, emotional guides, character coaches, and partners in the learning journey. I do not think, however, that schools and teachers will become redundant. Exactly the opposite: kids need other kids, and they need an environment in which they can receive support, in which they can be challenged, and from whence they can draw inspiration.
Internet connectivity will be so cheap and easy that almost anyone, regardless of socio-economic circumstance, will be able to connect. Online and blended learning opportunities will become widespread, cheaper, and as easy as drawing with chalk.
We are only just beginning the war on misinformation. In a generation, the fight will largely be won – in the sense that there will be very reliable fact-checking tools and filters, and young people will know how to evaluate information more effectively.
Class, subject, school and inter-school wikis will largely replace static textbooks. Students will be generating their own collaborative, fact-checked, inter-connected and constantly revised notes rather than having content handed down to them. Syllabi will be more customizable and more differentiable.
We already have texture-simulating haptic technology. In a decade or two, kids will be able to use their devices to feel things like a tortoise shell, elephant skin, the surface of the moon, hardened lava, and space shuttle porcelain. Add these to gyro-weighting and feedback systems in devices, and we open up a whole new world to our vision-impaired students. Now mix in high-speed, cost-effective 3D printing, and kids become more design and creation focused, while working on real-world problems.
Many apps and programs do not play well with one another. (Most often on purpose.) In a generation, all hardware and software will work together in any conceivable configuration. And those who insist on having a closed ecosystem will be left behind. (And perhaps by then, we will have had an international convention and decided on universal charging cable and adaptor designs.)
One of the major headaches today with using technology in the classroom is ensuring that batteries are always sufficiently charged. Quick-charging, long-life batteries will largely solve this problem – especially if twinned with kinetic or solar chargers.
Privacy and Safety
Students’ personal information will be extremely closely guarded. Schools around the world will form a cooperative which will unanimously leave those vendors who violate our trust out in the cold.
Software will adapt to the interests and needs and personalities of individual students. Operating systems will become more like personal assistants.
Intuitivity and AI
The best software out there is already trying to anticipate our needs. In the future, software will become more intelligent, working hard to anticipate what we want – sometimes before we know what we need.
Learning technologies will connect young people around the world.
Hardware will become more and more inexpensive, more and more robust, and more and more user-friendly. Devices will become light-weight, malleable, foldable and wearable.
Mixed-Interactive (MI) Reality
The problem with holographic, virtual, and augmented reality in education is that they are largely passive. In a decade or two, students will be able to be fully immersed and fully active in simulated reality. They will be able to build, change and interact in their own worlds.
The World of Work
Deeper connections to what employers need will be made with learning centers. Students will get to experience and learn what it is like to work as a scientist, lawyer or entrepreneur through simulated experimental learning.
Having an educational assistant (i.e.: a smart electronic device) will no longer be noticeable – just like having pen and paper in a classroom today is taken for-granted.
Devices will be configurable to reduce eye strain, and to turn themselves off if kids have been using them for too long. Teachers will need to plan around this and ensure that kids get enough non-screen learning time.
Most ‘educational’ apps out there are focused on shoveling out content. A few even target skills. But very few explicitly nurture twenty-first century dispositions like curiosity, collaboration, creativity, independent learning and critical thinking. In the twenty-thirties and forties, apps which encourage independent and collaborative thinking and problem-solving will become the norm.
Because learning can happen anywhere, and because education will be so customizable, schools will have to radically rethink timetables, lesson times, and the arrangement of classrooms. Modular and shiftable spaces and schedules arranged around the needs of our students will become the norm.
The future of education is going to an exciting place to be. I will be on the cusp of retirement, no doubt fighting to stay on!