What will school look like in the near future? If I had been asked this question a few months ago I would have given a totally different answer. One final assignment was to envision what technology will be in the future.
After taking a couple of online computer courses, I have realized that technology is happening faster than I can keep up. The technologies can become obsolete while it is being used.
I envision school being taught in a completely different format. Teachers will still be necessary but won’t be the source of knowledge but rather the liason to help students research and find answers. I see learning becoming more module based with mastery learning before students move to the next lesson. The teacher will help the students when they get stuck but programs such as Moodle will allow the teacher to easily keep students at their individual pace allowing differntiated learning.
Students will embrace online publishing. This has already begun with social sites such as Facebook but students are beginning to blog and an online portfolio of their writing will be easily accessible for future employers and evaluators. This will allow students to be self-expressive.
Another technology beginning to be used at my school and will become more pertinent is the wiki. The ability to have multiple people editing the same document will allow for students to collaborate and work together which is a job skill that will be invaluable as they get older and join the workforce.
I see Mobile technology also becoming a big player. No longer are cell phones going to be banned from my school but will be encouraged to be brought to school. These smart phones will become portals to learning. Students will be able to take a trip outside and still be connected to resources should the need arise to find out an answer. Nature will be able to be explored and the flora and fauna will be able to be researched in “real time”. The smart phones will also allow students to take pictures and short movies that can then be turned into podcasts or powerpoints and can be shared with others. The learning community will keep growing as more and more projects are added to the web.
Youtube.com and other video sites are going to be more and more used as they can quickly and easily demonstrate skills and show events that would take the teacher hours to research and find video the “old fashioned” way. Teachertube.com has already been geared toward supplementing teachers by offerning lessons and extensions to the lesson.
By using the RSS and other bookmarking pages geared toward the individual, students will be able to have interests and keep updated as often as wanted by subscribing to the “feed”. I see everyone having their own personal homepage with other website embedded in them. One example of this is protopage.com, but I think there will be advancements in this area.
Skype and other video chat programs are going to allow smaller schools, who don’t have a resident expert, to bring in an outside expert to give meaning and value to lessons for their students. An expert in physics, an author of a book read, or even a vocational expert. This will allow real time problem solving and question and answer sessions where students are engaged and excited to keep the momentum going for learning to take place.
Role playing websites will also become big time players in the future. Where users are able to load lessons and students are able to virtually take a 3-D field trip, these communities will be exciting and stimulating. There are some problems with these that need to be worked out such as how to keep the student on task and not just off browing on their own.
The web is beginning to take the place of the brick and mortar classroom. The school room isn’t going away but the papers collected, textbook, and pen and pad are disappearing as more and more space is alloted on the “cloud” for the school and students to save their work. Teachers are able to access all their student’s work there. This is saving money and is going green for the environment. The only downfall to this is accessibility.
The school itself will be more of a hub with the idea of grade level moved aside. With a curriculum with national and state standards, students move at their own pace and complete school when they do. This can allow for non-traditional students who didn’t graduate to reattend school to complete their requirements.
So how are students going to get access to the web? Right now not all students are able to afford a connecting device which causes the field to not be even for all students. Laptop computers are coming down in price and many student who five years ago would not be able to afford a computer now have one. Other devices such as tablets, Kindles, Ipads, notebooks, and phones are becoming more and more common. Schools are rethinking their policies on bringing these items to school. My school and a lot of other schools are replacing text book fees with fees for accessibility in the form of a “loaned” laptop or other device to allow the student to keep for the duration of attendance at the school. This gives the student responsibility and ownership. A pitfall to this is, “How to keep the equipment up and running?” Part of the budget is going to have to be allocated to maintaining the hardware.
Wireless connection is another thing that will be more and more important. Right now many schools aren’t wired for wireless. Bandwidth is another impedement. Schools need to purchase additional bandwidth since the use is growing quicker than it expands.
So there are many things to be excited about in the near future of education. I’m sure there are going to be some surprises out there that I cannot imagine. But right now, I am excited and a little anxious. I started college right when the internet started to be widespread accessible. Now we take it for granted. I hope I can keep up with advancements and not become a relic.