Last night I ran across a fascinating article by Thomas Frey, “The Future of Education.”

I'm interested in hearing others thoughts on his predictions. Personally, I believe he's right on the mark. And if he is correct what does that mean for our profession?
A few of my thoughts can be found here on my blog.

Feel free to post either place. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Tags: Education, Future

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I just got done teaching an introduction to education class about this exact topic. Most of them where afraid that teachers would not be necessary anymore but the ones who can adapt will be needed more than ever. I am currently trying to use some of these concepts in my own classroom but the lack of equipment is the biggest hurdle I have to overcome.
I think many people have seen this transformation coming. I know I did - delivering a presentation on the subject about seven years ago. I first read about it in Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave when he discussed the "electronic cottage." As an educator, and a fan of evolving technologies, I favor some of the opportunities that are available to create learning environments that are student-centered. One of the biggest problems that I think the public school systems in the U.S. will face is the equity litigation. If access becomes the key component to the new courseware, then who will be responsible for ensuring that access. When everything is contained within the brick and mortar, there is accountability. Where I teach, we already supplement our "b & m" with Virtual High School and now Virtual Middle School. However, it is a supplement.

Also, the "b & m" institutions will be retained to offset the conditions of those who lack the discipline or ability to develop fundamental skills. Many factors are influencing the degree of motivation and self-discipline that, in my opinion, real learning requires of young people. Again, it becomes an issue of accountability and, ultimately, equity.

Another issue that concerns me as an educator is the loss of the aspect of education that is the most inspirational to me as an educator - engaging in relationship with learners that results in a mutual development of knowledge. I conduct my classes using models based on inquiry. I use very little "indoctrination" and quite a lot of "questioning." I think teachers, in order to be effective, need to be inspired by their students and their subject as much, if not more than, the students are themselves. How do we avoid replacing the vacuum experienced by the students with one experienced by the teachers?
The vacuum experienced by teachers would only happen if teachers became instantly irrelevant, but I doubt that will happen. As others have posted in this discussion, there will always be a social aspect of education that will shape how learning is achieved. The interactive role of the teacher as coach rather than lecturer is something that Mr. Frey mentions and I think he's right on. If I can get a class to the point where they are chasing down information like mad because they want to, I get a lot out of being around them. The conversations become deeper and more meaningful with me in the background. To that end, I think many of us here are looking for ways to step back and become the coach rather than the lecturer. I hope that some of these evolving courseware resources can allow that to happen, whatever they are/will be.
I hope you all attended Thomas Frey's webinar last night. Overall, I thought it was good, although not as in-depth as I had hopped. I posted my thoughts here on my blog.
I think what's missing is the idea of 'community'.

I love the idea of horizons (intellectual and geographical) being widened by any technology but I think our species will remain a communal one for many more years. Parents LIKE the school as a community institution. Students LIKE the school as the place where their core community (friends) actually exist. Voters OWN the school both in a financial and REPRESENTATIONAL sense.

Our schools - the bricks, staff and students represent us.

When we talk about liberating ourselves from designs (curriculum, architectural, operational etc) we need to bear in mind that the thing we are talking about has a huge emotional value to people.

1. Transition from Teaching to Learning - It is probably the ego-maniac in me, but teachers are not repositories of content nor experts in pedagogy. They are not even digital natives/conquistadors. They are human. We teach children how to be people in ways ICT and curriculum is yet to manage.
2. Exponential Growth of Information - We tend to live 80 years give or take a bit. The areas of enterprise we can engage in are limited by the dark-robed bloke with the sythe. Frey makes it sound as though we are being denied something - the choice of change. I think it is more appropriate to face the truth that we must specialise in order to gain deep understanding. We might have 3 career changes....maybe 6...7? But one thing we can't change at an exponential rate is the life expectancy.
3. Courseware Vacuum - two factors working agains the Frey vision here. Politians and individuality. Politicians need to defend the state curriculum because it represents what we voters think is important. Creating content on wikipedia or anywhere other than wherever the hell I live will always struggle to beat a politician's need to resist perceived cultural imperialism. Secondly, as teachers we always subtly alter the curriculum to suit the needs of the individuals we get allocated each year. Again, even if the content is available online somewhere - I doubt it will be perfect for my nervous teenage menagerie.
4.) Expanding Gulf Between Literates and Super-Literates- Agree but, words exist in cultural ecosystems. Some will not live beyond the border of their native environment.
5.) Our “Touch Points” for Interfacing with Society are Changing - Touching the world is great (assuming everyone is consenting) but the skill of concentration - the application of intellect - needs to be taught. Teachers try to control the classroom environment to allow kids the mental space to focus on a concept and examine it in depth free of distractions. The rest of us should be so lucky!
6.) Learning Drivers - agreed
7.) The Age of Hyper-Individuality - I see where he is coming from but I reckon that the individuality needs to be seen in context. Did people in the 70s (ancient history) express more or less shock at another human being's choices? I think the choices are fabulously broader for all of us now to be individuals in a liberal society but when I think about students I think of the quote "I am different just like all my friends"
8.) Transition from Consumers to Producers - This is the best bit. We all want IN. The cool thing is seeing the shift from children who see themselves as students between 9 and 3 to being students their whole lives.

Rant over.
Interesting read and yes mostly I agree with it. The only way global critical mass can be achieved for open online learning is to provide free tools and resources. What would create a mass move towards open online education is a system similar to Moodle but as accessible as Wikipedia and as universally recognisable as Google. So at a stretch it would be a Global Moodle hosted at no expense to the users or course creators; who is going to pay for this and who is going to support this is another argument all together. As a teacher and Moodle user one thing I find frustrating is being unable to set up a Moodle classroom for anyone to use. I would ideally like to create some of my Moodle content in a space for all teachers and students to use with the hope that other teachers would return the favour... greater and greater base of courses is created and so on... Yes there are some services that so this but they are very slow ... that’s my two cents worth.
Do you think that if the tools and resources were free, but a student then pays a teacher for their services and a percentage of the service fee would then go to support the tools would work?
This sounds like a private tutor service model which I guess could work, but I think that may only work in a situation where the teacher is assisting the student with work covered in class. But I think that it would be too expensive because a student would rightly expect direct and detailed feedback and this would take time and not scale well from a financial point of view.
Thanks for your thoughts!
Good point on depression being linked to archaic systems, you just might be on to something there. And on the point of hyper-individualism, I personally foresee education partially-reverting back to individualized study. Think how a governess or tutor would have been used about 100-150 years ago. Due to emerging disruptive software via the internet, and a renewed sense of individualism, education must change.

I recommend reading Disrupting Class, it was recommended in the very first response to this discussion by jrsowash. It's a great read and fits fairly well where I believe things might be headed.

Once again thanks for your thoughts :)



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