When I imagine the future, I think of automated machines everywhere, robots in practically every store, and of course, flying cars. I see a world where no one knows facts, where you just have to look at something to have tons of content, and resources, and answers to questions you didn’t even know you had, fly at you (most likely thanks to Google). But when I imagine the future of education as a result of the course we’re on now I see a world where students are still pressured into memorizing often pointless facts for no given reason, while outside the classroom, all these facts and more are at your fingertips.
If schools let at least some of the constantly adapting and improving technology into their classrooms, the opportunities would be endless. For example, my school recently switched to a 1:1 laptop program sponsored by Apple. The switch has affected different people in different ways. Personally, I am now able to access my notes for all classes at anytime on any wifi enabled device since they’re all typed up. I can add to a specific section when I learn new things and my notes can span pages without running out of room in a notebook or lead in a pencil. Now, the layout of our school newspaper paper (whose staff I am a part of) can be done remotely, each of us at home, on our own time, communicating via the multitude of “chat” devices (email, gchat, facebook etc) available thanks to the fact that we all have laptops. I can design my own stationary at home, without having to use a school sanctioned desktop that carried the software like before. And that’s just the changes I’ve experienced. All around me I see lives broadened and made more functional by having a laptop in school.
But moving to a 1:1 program isn’t the only way to infuse a school with the power of technology. A back to basics projector or a SmartBoard with a teacher’s computer attached, allow the entirety of the Internet to enter the classroom. Considering that this post is indeed on the Internet, I assume that the wonders of the worldwide web are well know to anyone who is reading this :). The beauty of our technologically savvy world is the immense interconnectivity it brings. No longer is learning limited to the classroom walls, but it has seeped out and spread farther than you may think.
In a school setting, there are all sorts of ways certain websites can be harnessed for an educational purpose and to best take advantage of this global network of learning. For example, lots of professional writers, scientists, artists, teachers, activists etc are more than willing to have a Skype with a class of students eager to learn about what they do. In addition, Twitter can be used as a back channel for a discussion or a conference. As a bonus, these discussions often don’t end when school does, prolonging the learning moment and extending the impact of the knowledge gained. Furthermore, blogging sites like WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger allow written work to be easily viewed by more than simply the teacher. This increases the amount of feedback and inevitably improves the quality of the work.
I believe schools should embrace technology because the students already have. If technology is not incorporated into schools and schools don’t adapt, students will eventually end up doing the bulk of their true learning elsewhere. I think the future is here. And it’s time all schools catch up, before the status quo moves on.