Sunday, July 3, 2011

A lot Can Happen in Ten Years

Ten years ago in August 2001 I left Nanaimo School District to join Coquitlam School District as their manager of information services.  I remember the great disconnect between technology and learning that existed.  In our K-5 schools, there was a lot of “baby-sitting” in computer labs.  Students were often playing fun little games but not related to anything curricular.  Technology was used in other schools for specific subjects like business education, computer programming, drafting, etc.  Remember technology was fixed in place so schools had to pre-determine what it might be used for and program schedules and use around that.  Curiously, most of our schools did not curious lamb in springeven have network drops in classrooms or libraries.  I would say that 10 years ago, most technology in schools was programmed in specific subjects secondary schools, similar in some middle schools, and treated as a completely optional component at the elementary level.  Teachers for the most part did not use computers in general, for e-mail, or the Internet.  Students didn’t have their own technology and many didn’t have access at home.  If the network went down (local or Internet), it didn’t matter much.  Software was something expensive that came on a disk of some form and had to be installed by an expert.  Connecting to the network required knowledge of jumpers, ports, and other strange things.  Encyclopedias were still mainly a printed tomb of (out of date) knowledge. 

A lot has changed in 10 years…

  • there are LCD projectors, Smart Boards, laptops, tablets, online learning tools, web cams, video cameras, digital cameras
  • we use services and tools (mostly for free) that didn’t exist 10 years ago… Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Prezi, Sharepoint, Wikispace, Blogger, Wordpress, EduBlogs, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, iPod, Windows Phone
  • software comes from the Internet or an App store somewhere ‘in the cloud’
  • every learning space has pervasive wired or wireless access to the network
  • 1000’s of students bring their own technology to school, mostly in the form of hand-held mobile devices
  • nearly all teachers use technology in some form to support their practice
  • more and more, technology is not fixed in place or purpose – it is mobile and used to accomplish a variety of educational needs such as research, writing, media capture and editing, presenting, collaborating, communicating, etc.
  • if the network (including Internet) goes down, more often than not, learning halts

I wonder what the next 10 years might bring us…  Well, it is the year I will probably retire…  so, that’s something. 


Seriously though, what might learning and teaching look like, in 2021?  Let’s peer into the future a bit… Will students still come to school, a physical building, to learn?  Will ‘class size’ still be some iStock_000010628192XSmallfixed number or will the notion of class as we know it, still exist?  Will learning and teaching be inseparable from technology?  Might students be in blended classes: virtual and physical?  Will their classes cross country and continent boundaries?  Will student learning experiences look like what I described in Tyler’s Loving School in 2016 or Stephanie’s First Day of School in 2020.  Will classrooms be equipped with ‘learning windows’, interactive 2-way touch/touch-less video windows for connecting students virtually?

Here’s how I see things might unfold…

  • schools (buildings) are still important to bring students and their “teachers” together to learn face 2 face – I think it is inherently human for us to have physical contact – the physical layout and utility of the school spaces will evolve to support small and large groups, projects, problem solving, self-directed learning teams, etc.
  • teachers roles will evolve to one of coach, guide, and mentor from one who is the director of learning and imparter of knowledge
  • 3D immersive learning will be embedded for all students and teachers – all learning will be a blend of physical interactions and manipulations with full immersive virtual experiences and interactions – the lines will be blurred between reality and virtual reality
  • students and teachers will have access to all the knowledge available from anywhere all the time – immersive simulations will be standard tools for applying knowledge and honing skills – students can experience and put into practice everything they learn – learning comes to life (virtually) and fully engages the participants
  • paper is a rare tool for learning and teaching – digital forms of sustainable ‘paper’ have replaced the need for ‘real’ paper

The Sky's the LimitI could go on speculating but would rather hear from others.  What might you add to this list?  What aspects would you disagree with me about?  Have fun with this, pondering the future is not an exact science…