The Future of Schooling

I have been thinking a lot about what the future of schooling looks like and how schooling has changed even in the short years since I attended. Here we are, in 2016. We are in the midst of a time where technology is rapidly changing and is changing the way we do things (including schooling). Things are changing at an exponential rate – if you need proof, just check out this video. It is from a few years ago so may be a little outdated now (or extremely based on how quickly things change) but I always think about this when I think about how quickly things are changing.

I think most of us are aware that things have changed over the years and will continue to change, but I don’t think a lot of us know how to deal with the change. How do we prepare our students to become active members in society when they graduate from school? How do we prepare them for jobs that might not even exist at this point in time? In his Ted talk, Michael Wesch, tells us that we should be teaching students to become knowledge-able as opposed to simply knowledgeable. What is the difference between knowledge-able and knowledgeable? Well it’s quite simple. Knowledgeable can be described as simply knowing random facts and knowledge-able is being able to think critically and analyze situations or information. He describes knowledge-ability as a practice and provides three ways we can encourage this in our students:

  1. Embrace real problems
  2. Bring students together
  3. Use relevant tools.

We have to convince students to create meaning rather than seek meaning.

With technology use on the rise we must ask ourselves how does this affect our classrooms and the way we do schooling? In the article Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Trail and Learning 2.o John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler take a look at the direction education is headed. Social learning, open education and learning to be are key factors in this shift. Technology has allowed us to communicate like never before. We are able to seek information that interests us which makes the opportunity to learn something new more accessible. By connecting with others online we are able to learn with them and from them. Distance learning allows individuals in remote locations to connect and learn from someone they may not have the opportunity to learn from in person.

We know that technology will continue to change the way that we do schooling, but what else do we need in order to prepare our students for the future? What skills do our students need to be prepared? The National Education Association describes Four C’s that we should be focusing on to prepare our students for the 21st century. In the publication “Preparing 21st Century Students for a Global Society” it describes each of the Four C’s in detail. I won’t go into detail about each of them but the Four C’s are:

  1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  2. Communication
  3. Collaboration
  4. Creativity and Innovation

If you are wondering whether or not you are doing a good job of promoting these skills in your daily lessons, take a look here to see how prepared your students are for the 21st century.  It provides some good questions and ideas for each of the Four C’s that you can use and reflect on. I think these are great skills to be developing in students. I know that a lot of my students like me to walk them through everything and want a simple answer or solution to every problem. They simply do not like to think. In some ways I think technology has taught them not to think. Students often reach for a calculator or a device to find an answer. A lot of answers for students today have always been accessible through their fingertips using a device. But finding the answers through a search engine requires no thought. It makes students knowledgeable not knowledge-ABLE. We need to move students away from basic web searches and calculators to problems that require critical thinking and analyzing.

Photo Credit: TomConger via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: TomConger via Compfight cc

Forbes published a list of the top 10 skills for the future.  The list includes skills that have been around for some time but are now adapting and changing into something bigger. Social intelligence might have been once called social skills. These new “social skills” go beyond simply being able to talk to another person. Social intelligence is the ability to connect with someone on a deeper level and ask the right questions. Computational thinking is the ability to take vast amounts of information and translate it into something meaningful that you and/or others can understand. With the amount of data and information being created daily this is a very important skill to have. In terms of technology use we will need to keep up to date with new media literacy and collaborate with others virtually. The top 10 skills are meaningful and relevant now, but how long will it be before they change and become outdated?

In terms of the future of learning…well Edutopia has gone ahead and described three key tenets in the future of it.

  1. Flexible Customized Learning – students play a large role in how they learn, what they learn and were they learn.
  2. Ubiquitous, Embedded, Invisible Technology – learning will be completely supported and infused with technology
  3. Ongoing Diagnostics and Feedback – implementing daily diagnostics to develop curriculums and learning plans that will be individualized for students.

I am not sure which of these key tenets I believe is most realistic. I can agree with the flexible learning and technology playing a larger role in student learning, but I struggle to think about the daily diagnostics being done to make individualized learning plans. I know that adaptations are a good thing and they are an expectation, but as Edutopia describes it, it seems more rigid and structured.

The future is definitely uncertain in terms of what exactly it will look like. We know that things are changing at an exponential rate and therefore we must do our best to prepare our students for participating in the future. Even though we don’t know the exact skills our students will need 20 years down the road it’s important to stay on top of the new skills that make students employable so that we can develop these skills within our classrooms.


One thought on “The Future of Schooling

  1. Thank you for sharing these videos about flexible learning spaces, Ashley.
    You have inspired me to share some pictures of the school I teach at and to do some more research about ways we could be using our learning spaces more flexibly. We are still experimenting. I got some great ideas from watching these videos.
    And I really want those rolling desks in my school!! (Dang budget cuts!)


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