by Terry Heick
Technology is changing at a rapid pace, so much so that it’s challenging to grasp.
While there is little uniformity in technology, there are some trends worth noting that have spurred tangent innovation, including speed (a shift from dial-up top broad band), size (from huge computers to small handheld devices), and connectivity (through always-on apps and social media).
In fact, we have some to expect nearly instant obsolescence—smartphone contracts that last a mere 24 months seem like ages. Whether this is a matter of trend or function is a matter of perspective, but it’s true that technology is changing—and not just as a matter of power, but tone.
In 2013, technology has become not just a tool, but a standard and matter of credibility. While learning by no means requires technology, to design learning without technology is an exercise in spite—proving a point at the cost of potential. And it’s difficult to forget how new this is.
Fifteen years ago, a current high school sophomore was born.
So was Google.
It’s hard to recall what life was life before Google. In that 15 years, it has gone from a way to search the mess of web pages with your Netscape browser, to a ubiquitous digital brand that powers Android smartphones, hosts not just videos but full-on learning channels, stores all of your personal communication in the cloud, has leap-frogged Skype with Google+ Hangouts, and autocompletes your searches for you in an eerie kind of hive-mind. Oh, and Google Street View, virtual museum tours, and the most powerful way to find information known to man.
In 15 years.
What happens to technology in the next 15 years may not simply impact learning in a typical cause-effect relationship. Rather, it might be the case that one absorbs the other, where information access, socializing ideas, and creative collaboration may be organic and completely invisible.
Smarter MOOCs slowly correct the crude whenever, wherever models of the past, beginning to improve the credibility of eLearning.
Improved blended learning models provide schools struggling to justify themselves in light of modern access to information with new options—and a new purpose.
Adaptive computer-based testing slowly begins to replace one-size-fits-all assessment of academic proficiency.
Learning simulations begin to replace direct instruction in some pilot programs.
Game-Based Learning continues to be sparsely adopted, primarily used in project-based learning units and occurring on mobile devices with limited interactive inputs and screenspace that compromise game-based learning’s potential.
Apps will continue to supplement textbooks in some districts, replace them in others.
Technology to promote early literacy habits is seeded by venture capitalists. This is the start of new government programs that start farming out literacy and educational programs to start-ups, entrepreneurs, app developers, and other private sector innovators.
Digital literacy begins to outpace academic literacy in some fringe classrooms.
Custom multimedia content is available as the private sectors create custom iTunesU courses, YouTube channels, and other holding areas for content that accurately responds to learner needs.
Improved tools for measuring text complexity emerge, available through the camera feature of a mobile device, among other possibilities.
Open Source learning models will grow faster than those closed, serving as a hotbed for innovation in learning.
Purely academic standards, such as the Common Core movement in the United States, will begin to decline. As educators seek curriculum based not on content, but on the ability to interact, self-direct, and learn, institutionally-centered artifacts of old-age academia will lose credibility.
Visual data will replace numerical data as schools struggle to communicate learning results to disenfranchised family and community members.
Cloud-Based Education will be the rule, not the exception. This will start simply, with better aggregation of student metrics, more efficient data sharing, and more visual assessment results.
Seamless peer-to-peer and school-to-school collaboration begins to appear in some districts.
Schools function as think-tanks to address local and global challenges such as clean water, broadband access, human trafficking, and religious intolerance.
Diverse learning forms begin to supplement school—both inside , including entrepreneurial learning, invisible learning, question-based learning, and open source learning.
Self-Directed Learning studios and other alternative methods of formal education for families.
‘Culture’ will no longer be ‘integrated into units,’ but embedded into social learning experiences, including poverty, social justice, race, language, and other trademarks of what it means to be human.
Dialogic learning through digital media will have learners responding to peers, mentors, families, and experts in a socially-embraced collaborative pattern.
Learning simulations begin to replace teachers in some eLearning-based learning environments.
Truly mobile learning will support not just moving from one side of the classroom to another, but from a learning studio to a community, whether physically or through, social media, audio, or live video streaming technology.
Personalized learning algorithms will be the de facto standard in schools that continue the traditional academic learning approach.
The daily transition from eLearning and face-to-face learning will more elegant, but still a challenge for many districts and states, especially those with considerable economic deficits. Among other changes, this will create minor ‘migratory ripples’ as families move in response to educational disparity.
Learning simulations begin to supplement K-12 curriculum and even teachers at the higher ed level.
Diverse learning forms begin to replace school just as the old-model of content–>curriculum–>data–>personalized academic learning is honed to perfection.
Schools as we know them will now be outnumbered, no longer just supplemented by eLearning, blended learning, and self-directed learning platforms, but (in specialized applications) incredible learning simulations and full-on virtual worlds.
Remaining schools/states/districts that refuse to adapt to new technology and cultural trends will cause splintering in some communities as the significant cost of technology integration increases socio-economic gaps.
New certificates of achievement and performance that are social, portfolio-based, and self-selected will begin to replace institutional certificates, including college degrees.