The year 2020 is only in four years, but in the teaching world that is seems like light years away. Think back four years ago. What did your classroom look like? What was your involvement with your students? Was there technology? If there was, how did you use that technology in the classroom? When I think back four years ago, I was teaching most of my math courses from the front of the classroom and my lesson seemed to be very teacher-centered. Don’t get me wrong, I would incorporate student involvement with having them come to the board and try problems, or work in small groups. But the moral of the story is technology and a student-centered classroom had not yet begun. Fast-forward to today. I currently use a flipped lesson approach with my geometry classes. My students watch videos and take lesson quizzes online at home, and then participate in a meaningful activity in class the next day that pertains to that topic. My students have access to iPads and computer carts on a daily basis and I use a learning management system (Schoology) to upload videos, links, worksheets, etc. to help students when necessary. If all that change happened in four years, I wonder what my classroom will look like in the next four years.
One of the first changes, I believe, that will be seen in the year 2020 is the lack of paper and textbooks. As seen in many states, there have been some serious state budget issues this past year, and education seems to be one what is being “attacked”. With the lack of money available, schools are cutting where they can. To help eliminate costs with the various budgetary issues across the country, many districts will head towards an all digital path. Teachers will no longer need to copy because everything will be online including textbooks, worksheets, tests, activities, etc. I believe this transition will be tough for everyone involved at first, including parents, teachers, students, and administration. However, I think by the year 2020 the transition will be complete and hard copies will seem like something as ancient as record players or floppy disks.
As we head towards a paperless educational society, I’m afraid we may see a decline of interpersonal skills. We are already starting to see this with students today. In my high school classroom, if I were to give my students 5 minutes of free time almost all of them would be on their phones and not talking with each other. Students are so connected to their phone that they forget to socialize and live in the world around them. If we head towards an education that encourages this all the time, what type of interpersonal skills will they learn? How will they know how to respond to others, or address someone of authority? Many of my students now have severe panic attacks when they have to speak in front of others, or to call someone on the telephone. In the year 2020, I’m afraid this will still be a problem. My hope is that as we continue towards a digital era, we as educators can address these student needs by having a course devoted to interpersonal skills. This course will teach and assess public speaking, communication skills, and basic social etiquette. Hopefully an interpersonal skill course will be a good balance between communication and technology.
Although we have made a lot of progress with technology in the last few years, I believe there is still more to come in the future. Web 2.0 skills, which is generally characterized as a stage of development that includes user-generated content and social media, started as web 1.0, and it is my belief that by the year 2020 we could even have web 3.0 (Web 2.0, n.d.). Do I know what the looks like? Of course not, but one can guess. I see touch screen and typing going “out of style”, and speak to text and intelligent assistants, like Siri, headlining the next “big thing”. Think about the iPhone 6s cookie monster commercial, no longer do we have to physically set a timer or put on a playlist, Siri will do it for us. In the year 2020 I see Siri being our classrooms. For a teacher, Siri could be very useful and helpful. She could save us time and energy in the classroom. But what about our students? Will Siri benefit them? My short answer is yes. The positives of having Siri in the classroom would be the accessibility to knowledge. Students can find information quicker and easier (which in turn means less frustration for the teacher).
Change is always a scary and exciting thing, especially in education. As we head towards 2020 I think it is important that we, as educators, remember that change can be good and we should embrace it. Try something new and you might be pleasantly surprised. As Walt Disney always says in his Carousel of Progress, “there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, and tomorrow is just a dream away”. So dream away and let’s make “tomorrow” great!
A. (2016, March 16). IPhone 6s – Timer. Retrieved April, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCbWyYr82BM
W. (2012). Carousel of Progress – There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow – Sherman Brothers Version. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqBkBxJy470
Web 2.0. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0