I believe that technology has the capacity to achieve exponential growth by 2020. I foresee several constraints that may limit the rapid expansion of technology. First, the human factor of a person involves the willingness to learn and re-learn new technological advances on a weekly or monthly basis. This will be exhaustive and unrealistic. There of course will always be those people on the cutting edge of technology that will do this but it is probably their full time job. It will become a full time endeavor to keep abreast of the explosion in technology. Secondly, and probably the most important factor is economic or financial constraints. Large companies like Goggle and Microsoft and others will need to spend millions of dollars to build computers, pay peoples’ salaries for writing software, research and design, marketing, etc. that goes into new technology. Will the public be willing to invest their money on new products of technology if the sales cycle is so rapid and a product that is quicker, and more advanced becomes available in the amount of time that the person has just learned the new technology and then needs to spend more money and relearn another new technology? I think people will wait and see what happens before they make the initial investment for new technology especially if it becomes obsolete by the time they learned it or paid off their credit card bill. We’re already seen this happen with computers. The difference would be if you could build upon existing technology and add onto the product or if it is free.
So the question is, will the investment in technology be useless if people/businesses do not purchase it? Without a market demand for it, growth will be controlled. Why does Microsoft and others space out their new technological advances every several years? It seems to be a strategy so that the consumer can afford to pay for them and also have the time to master it. Perhaps the government will fund new technology primarily for fighting terrorism but its side effects will trickle down into the education sector. Government will play a larger role with funding of new technology to schools.
We will come to a point of information overload. Many people are experiencing it already with being wired 24/7, with cell phones, laptops, iPods, etc. Privacy and downtime will become obsolete. There will come a time when technology will be too much for humans to assimilate. We will all need a program or person to manage all of our own personal information.
What will education look like in 2020? In high school and colleges, the overwhelming majority of learning could take place anywhere, anytime as long as the student has a connection to the internet. Learning would be more open and collaborative with other schools in other districts or around the world through blogging, vodcasts, wikis, and other technology. The norm would be that teachers collaborate more with other teachers outside their district or college via blogs, vodcasts, Skype, and other technologies, and incorporate or team up with them regarding new ideas and innovations. The circle of knowledge will be much more expansive than it is now for any one curriculum. The majority of learning would take place online with infrequent class meetings with the instructor during the course. Eventually, I envision “schools without walls” to replace the traditional classroom. All course work would be online- assignments, tests, discussions. The teacher would perform online grading. Routine students’ tools include a laptop, iPod, and goggle notebook.
Teachers will display more of a facilitator role rather than lecturer of new content. Textbooks will gradually be phased out because information will be more up-to-date on the internet or curriculum materials will be online. Students will need to develop skills in prioritizing, time management and organization. Students at an earlier age will become independent learners and assume more responsibility for what they learn. This will require discipline and determination on their part.
For younger students in elementary and middle school, the structure, routine, and socialization of a structured classroom environment would still be evident and necessary. Students will utilize technology such as blogs, wikis, WebQuests, podcasts, etc. at a much younger age than ever before. They will become proficient with these by the time they reach higher level grades. They will routinely use computers for assignments, testing, and research projects. Opportunities for students to learn based upon their learning styles will be accomplished with the various modes of technology.
Changes in education will have a global effect on the world. Professors, scientists, physicians, and other professionals will have the opportunity to share in a global collaborative network. Who knows we may be able to solve many unanswered problems and questions of the human race much faster by bringing together the great minds of the world. Their goal needs to be on serving mankind and not focused on their own accomplishments and pride. This could be an issue because many people want recognition for their work first and the results are actually secondary in nature. The focus of attention needs to shift from “it’s not about me” to it’s about all of us. Great strides can take place if we all put our heads together and work on a common goal.
There will be much more discourse, critical thinking, and creativity at an earlier age. Children may be able to identify their passions for a career sooner in life after exposure to many new ideas and technologies. Children will be teaching their parents about new technology and questioning things more. I also believe that children will be made more accountable and responsible at a younger age because of all the information and knowledge that they will be subjected to. Parents will need to communicate with their children more about what new technologies have been introduced to them in school. If this does not happen, there will be a wide generation gap and very little communication.
How will being a teacher be different in 2020 than it is today? Technology has been paving the way for many years but now it is much faster. For those teachers that are resistant, they will be left in the dust and forced to use new technology. Teachers will need to learn, master and then teach or troubleshoot new technologies that they utilize for their lessons at a faster rate than ever before. There will be less paper and more digitalized work. Many teachers will have to adjust their teaching style to incorporate the new technologies. Greater information technology support will be needed for teachers since they will not be experts at it. The physical load of bringing texts and papers back and forth to class will decrease significantly or be nonexistent due to digitalization. Teachers will have more opportunities to connect with students and parents. Will teachers be preparing students better for the real world? I hope so. It’s important to remember, it’s not about us but it’s about our students and what do they need to be a successful citizen.