2020? It used to sound like that year was incredibly far in the future! Now it is just around the corner! As I look back at my teaching career, which started before…..years before….the advent of home computers and definitely before the World Wide Read Web (let alone the Read / Write Web, it is mind boggling to think about all the changes in the world. I’d like to say that we’ve had the same mind boggling changes in Education. Unfortunately, Education has only been undergoing significant changes in the last 10 to 15 years. On the positive side those changes are now starting to multiply and grow at a good pace.
My vision of what the world could be like in 2020 includes the world continuing to shrink as more and more technology allows us to connect seamlessly with people around the world. As we are able to easily connect with people who have like interests, maybe many of the issues that plague our world can also begin to shrink. Getting to know people and cultures from around the world will shrink our prejudices against what in reality is the unknown. The shrinking world will allow us to see for ourselves what other areas of the world are really like without the influence of the media or governments. Kids will become friends with kids from places that are only a spot on the map today. If these kids are able to connect, it could create understanding of different cultures. As they grow to become the adults of the world, this knowledge and understanding will create a world where wars are fewer simply because the unknown becomes known. Technology is the key to that.
2020 is so close that my vision for that year is still just the beginning of what will be in the future beyond that year. For the sake of this narrative, let’s just look at 3 years from now based on what is happening today in 2017. Today, schools are slowly finding the funds to provide a 1:1 initiative in more and more schools. In my vision of 2020, all schools will provide laptops or iPads or some other mobile device for their students. (To make it easy, let’s call those devices laptops.) Once that occurs, the world can come right into the classroom and true learning can take place. Gone are the days where I stand in front of the class and lecture for an hour. What happens now, is that I will give students just enough information to grab their attention and engage them in the real-world activities that they will be participating in. Students will collaborate, not only with other students in the class but with students around the world. If they are trying to understand the culture of Israel, they will be able to contact and talk, in a f2f situation via Facetime or Skype, with students in Israel. Making those connections leads to a greater understanding of each other and their cultures.
Students will become better learners because they can choose the method by which to learn. They can do research using various sources but they can also write about what they are learning and publish it on the Read / Write Web. Experts on those subjects will respond and discussion will result. Students will be able to gain knowledge, not from me (because in reality I’m not an expert but just a student), but from true experts in various fields. Learning becomes interactive. Experts will no longer be out of reach but instead will be touchable and willing to talk to future experts in their field of study. Students who struggle with writing are able to present their knowledge by publishing podcasts, vlogcasts or screencasts with similar discussions or connections that are being made through blogging.
In three years, I think that schools will still be brick and mortar but there will also be more and more online and blended schools. Today, more and more teachers are being trained to teach via the Internet. In 2020, these online schools will as normal as physical schools. Students who can’t for whatever reason get to a physical school will have choices of how to go to school. They will be able to choose between fully online or going to a physical school via Skype or some other visual feed. They will make friends that become lifetime friends just as if they were in the same room. They will not feel isolated.
Tools will continue to evolve. During the course of this class, we’ve learned how to use and integrate so many tools: blogs, RSS feeds, social bookmarking, and many more. All of these tools (and more that have not yet emerged) will continue to make it easier and easier for students to find primary sources in a shorter amount of time. They will make collaboration the standard instead of just for special projects. Social networking sites will become more a part of the classroom instead of just a place to cyberbully or to read the latest piece of gossip about what happened in the lunchroom. Again, true discussion about educational subjects will take place. Group work will take place on social networks spaces that will attract experts in the fields of those discussions.
The choices I make today (and honestly, ones that I have been making for the last 10 years) about what and how to integrate, not only technology but also teaching the way students learn, will create engaged students who realize that learning doesn’t have to be boring. Learning is the goal of those choices. I, as a teacher, also need to continue to learn. That learning is not necessarily about a specific subject but about how to teach my students. What engages them? What are they doing outside of my four walls that I can harness? Students won’t need me to give them knowledge. Students will need me to teach them how to find knowledge. Students will need me to teach them how to reach that wider body of experts who will help them create their own knowledge. Students will need me to teach them how to be safe in their search for knowledge.
The final part of my vision of education in 2020, is that All teachers will share my vision. All teachers will finally understand that the students in 2020, whether they are in kindergarten or seniors in high school, learn differently than generations of students before them. They will finally all be on board with the fact that technology is not going away and that they need to teach students the way they learn.
2020? It’s almost here! We need to get busy!