My next job title: Learning Coach

I am looking into my crystal ball…. what is the future of education?

In five years, there will be little outward change in the school structure.  There might be small pockets of innovation but nothing that will cause a paradigm shift.  The state of Maine has provided laptops to all of its students in 6th through 8th grade.  And they saw enough success that they are expanding the program to higher grades.  Yet, with this unprecedented access to technology, schools and instruction there look remarkably similar before the laptops were available.  However, it is a positive step forward and some teachers are able to take full advantage of this resource but I think administrators are a bit flummoxed as to what is acceptable in terms of innovation.  Change is happening but it is slow.  In the near future, after about 10 years, I am seeing that the title of ‘teacher’ and the verb ‘teaching’ will transform and educators will more and more often use the term ‘learning coach.’  This is due to the nature of education changing and morphing as more technology is embedded in the classroom.  The schools that are embracing technology and moving full steam ahead are having to evaluate what it means to deliver a quality education.

I personally feel that in about 10 to 20 years gone will be the days that the ‘empty vessel’ student has a ‘sage on the stage’ teacher.  This old model of teaching and learning will be transformed into something more dynamic.  In the near term, 5 or so years, education and schools will still look and feel very similar to what we currently have.  However, the schools that are pioneering a new paradigm of true tech integration will have their own following of copycat schools and there will be a slow progression to a more digital approach to education.  These pioneers and followers will then reach a critical mass and more schools will look and feel different to the point that the traditional school system and organization will work differently, at least for the students aged 11 and up.  I have feeling that the elementary structure might stick around in its current manifestation for a decade or two longer than the secondary brethren.

All of this change will come about with perturbations at the small scale- school by school, mostly in the private school arena.  Then a few districts in public schools in pockets around the world will try some new things and get some traction.  Then a large school district will pioneer something with no bell schedules, choice in curriculum and diploma programs, synchronous and asynchronous learning.  This will be the watershed moment and more schools will take on the technology full force and teachers will be ready to implement it and it will only be some old school administrators that hold their schools back, but by then teachers, students and parents will be expecting the full technology integration and BYOD will be education du jour.  However, I do think that there will be some schools, maybe 5%, which will eschew technology and will hold fast to a strong philosophy of experiential and outdoor education.  These will be the counter balance to schools that are fully saturated with technology and will be another choice for students that need this different connection.

The Education Departments at universities, however, will most likely slow the pace of change, down.  These places are notoriously slow to change but with the younger generation of teachers coming in, hopefully they will be pushing this agenda faster and teacher training at universities will be forced to submit to accepting the true integration of technology.  If the teacher training programs could become the pioneers, the change will happen faster.

In my scenario I am talking about schools in first world countries that already have the infrastructure for digital learning.  Unfortunately, I think the digital divide will get wider and wider for at least the next 2 decades after which, aid agencies will be trying to address this divide by offering massive education programs to entire countries.

Perhaps in 40 years I will come across this blog, or my grandchildren will see it and we can have a lively discussion about what was and wasn’t foreseen in the crystal ball.

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