collaboration 2

With the year 2020 just around the corner, I don’t see any wide sweeping changes in education as we currently know it.  So if we extend the range another ten years to 2030, this will make my scenario a true prediction.

Because my school district is very pro-Google, I expect that Google products will take on an increasingly important role in the delivery of education.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Google Classroom is implemented as an Educational Management System, possibly in tandem with our current PowerSchool.  The reason that I feel that PowerSchool will still be around in the future of my school district is because we’ve had it for over a decade, and district IT personnel have customized it for the needs of our schools.  Getting rid of PowerSchool would be like throwing out a ten-year investment, and since we haven’t discarded it yet for other options, I believe that it will survive additional transformations.

With free training through Google for Education, I foresee that my school and many others might look to Google (and other big tech entities) for professional development.  This would allay the rising costs of creating professional development modules, and ideally, the big tech companies would also offer incentives for free/reasonable hardware, software, and upgrades.  Of all of the big tech conglomerates, Google seems to me to be the one that is making the biggest strides to win over schools and young people.  Their user-friendly, highly functional products are ubiquitous and oversaturate the current landscape in educational institutions.  We currently use Google Drive and Google Docs, and some educators are incorporating Google Classroom into their daily routine.  Whether Google Classroom will become mandated or remain a matter of personal preference remains to be seen, however, I predict everyone will be using Google Classroom (or some future version of this) by 2030.

Much like Karl Fisch predicted, I believe education and business will partner more and more closely to shape how learners are prepared for the future.  Like that of Germany and many highly successful European countries, a dual system of apprenticeships and classroom education will bring business and education together (Wikipedia).  Currently, companies complain that graduates lack essential skills to enter the working world.  If private firms team up with schools, future employees will have the training and education needed to move seamlessly from school to the workforce.  Universities will be reserved for specific majors that require longer sequences of study, such as medicine and law, while subjects such as engineering and finance will be better served with a dual system of apprenticeship at a company and theoretical study at a technical school/community college.

In addition, secondary schools will redirect focus towards basic life skills that previous generations acquired naturally, but that Net Gen learners lack.  In a recent blog post, Annie Holmquist enumerates eight abilities that Stanford dean Julie Lythcott-Haims has identified which no young person should be without.  “Managing assignments, workloads, and deadlines” (Holmquist, 2016) is a common item in many classroom rubrics, and certainly something which educational institutions can continue to help students master.  As technology continues to depersonalize connections between people, schools will need to pay special attention to items 1 and 5 in the list: “ the ability to talk to strangers and the ability to handle interpersonal problems” (Holmquist, 2016).

Schools of the future will also offer more and more support online, especially by placing key materials such as screencasts, tutorial videos, study guides, syllabi, and worksheets on a school server.  This shift towards Open Content will make learning accessible 24/7.   What schools must make a priority, though, is to teach students to construct meaning from these materials in ways that might not be the fastest or most high tech.  In a study conducted by researchers from Princeton University and the University of California in 2013, “taking notes by hand is better than taking notes on a laptop for remembering conceptual information over the long term” (Mueller and Oppenheimer, 2014).  These findings illustrate a key truism that schools of the future must incorporate, namely, that technology in and of itself does not ensure that students will internalize and make meaning of information received.  In fact, schools must guard against the ability of technology to mask or obscure an general lack of understanding.

Furthermore, writing skills will need to be sharpened so that writers of the future do not simply copy and paste what they find online.  Instead, young writers must learn to compare and contrast source material to support their own suppositions.  Managing the massive amount of material online will require different skills than those of precious generations, and young people must learn how to argue effectively using factual evidence and not personal derision like they see among current politicians (Garza, 2016).  Failure to effectively defend a point of view leaves students grasping for schoolyard tactics such as name-calling and personal slights which garner little respect in arenas outside of reality TV and political debates.

I don’t believe, however, as so many skeptics claim, that the youth of today is less kind or more ill-mannered than their predecessors.  If anything, through numerous initiatives and programs to promote tolerance and eliminate bullying, young people might be less overtly cruel than prior generations.  What may need more focus, however, in schools of the future, is accountability when using technology as a means of communication or publication.  As we infuse education with technology, we must also make these 21st century tools transparent.  Future generations must learn to develop an online presence that displays thoughtfulness, responsibility, and discernment.  I foresee that this task will become a major focus of schools of the future.

Overall, education in the next two decades will mirror a great deal of what we currently espouse.  Character education and personal accountability will remain central themes.  Text books and pencil and paper exams will make way for open content and products that display mastery.  Managing information through modern and traditional means will be crucial.  Face-to-face learning will not be replaced, but it may be supplemented with blended learning opportunities.  Students will continue to recognize and seek out experts in a given field, especially if these experts combine subject-area knowledge with tech savviness.  The private sector will dialogue and partner with educational institutions to better prepare students to enter a global workforce.  Practical experiences will gain more importance.  And hopefully we’ll be able to balance the privileges that this fast-paced world offers with commensurate maturity and responsibility.

Dual Education System, last modified 12 Apr. 2016, Wikipedia.  Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_education_system on 18 Apr. 2016.

Garza, Cynthia Leonor.  09 Mar. 2016.  The Presidential Campaign and Its Lessons on Bullying.  The Atlantic.  Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/03/presidential-campaign-bullying/472860/ on 18 Apr. 2016.

Holmquist, Annie.  18 Apr. 2016.  Stanford Dean: 8 Basic Skills We’re Failing to Teach Young People.  Intellectual Takeout.  Retrieved from http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/stanford-dean-8-basic-skills-were-failing-teach-young-people on 18 Apr. 2016.

May, Cindi.  03 Jun. 2014.  A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop.  Scientific American.  Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-learning-secret-don-t-take-notes-with-a-laptop/ on 18 Apr. 2016.

Mueller, Pam and Oppenheimer, Daniel.  16 Jan. 2014.  The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard.  Psychological Science.  Retrieved from http://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/6/1159 on 18 Apr. 2016.

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