The Education Technology of 2020
You know, whenever I think about the future I turn to Star Trek to tell me what to expect. In the mid-60s Gene Roddenberry based the set and technology of the original series on what his consultants knew the technology think tanks were working on (not the cafeteria chairs). So in 1967 we saw desktop computers where information was stored on square discs that the user pushed inside the desk. Twenty years later we were using the floppy discs in our first desktop computers. The communicators were flip top telephones that you could use anywhere and call anyone else who had one. (The person who redesigned the cell phone to become a flip top was a Trekker). Ohura had a peppershaker in her ear to represent the communication device that opened all hailing frequencies. We now have the BlueTooth earpiece. The laser guns are now in use as industrial tools and unknown military applications. Star Trek The Next Generation brought us the holodeck and upgraded the shuttlecraft. We continue to use our NASA space shuttle to deliver satellites and make repairs. Last year the world was introduced to the Wii. As far as our kids are concerned, by 2020 they will be entertaining themselves on Wii formatted holodecks. Instead of pointing a remote toward the TV, the user will be standing in the middle of the room swinging a sword at a hologram that is standing in front of them. This hologram will be transmitted from projectors in all eight corners of the room for a 360 degree landscape. They could be playing tennis or baseball with a crowd surrounding them, they could be flying an airplane or they could be learning from a virtual instructor. This will be integrated into giving students personal options for their physical education curriculum.
Deep Space Nine is a deep space station that used PADDs instead of paper. The NASA space shuttle regularly goes to our International Space Station and we now use our Blackberrys to write and keep track of our web interests. As far as Skype is concerned it will not stay in the realm of computer conferencing. It will be just like the Captains of Star Trek we will put our phone calls “on screen”.
Star Trek The Next Generation introduced us to the Borg while Star Trek Voyager brought nanotechnology to the forefront and showed several new applications as far as biotechnology is concerned. What I find disappointing is that there is no current Star Trek series being broadcast to inform my answer about the next fifty years! One thing I do know though is that what I see on the thoughtful science fiction shows will inform the next twenty plus years and what is going on now in Web 2.0 will inform the next ten years.
In the year 2020 the education industry will be paperless. The quartz crystals in Deep Space Nine that carried information will be reliable, shock resistant, terraquads plus of memory, nanotechnology “thumb” drives that people will constantly carry around. This may take the form of crystals or fiber optics. Our medical data will be on a microchip implanted subcutaneously (Currently my dog has one but it can only handle a reference code). Like the Star Trek doctors, school nurses will use hyposprays to administer flu shots. This makes injections from needles obsolete. Hyposprays are more like pressurized osmosis against the skin that delivers the dose directly into the muscle layers under the skin.
As far as educators are concerned we will continue learning beside our students because the variety of online products will grow exponentially. No one person will be able to know all of it. This is parallel to the turn of the nineteenth century when it was no longer possible for one person to read all of the knowledge available in books. Ethics aside, nanotechnology may supply an option for those who wish “instant” knowledge. Currently there is already a buzz about nanotechnology being used to instantaneously “know” a new language. Until then, language students will learn through interactive international classrooms through Skype distance learning.
Social networking on the web will reach a plateau because there are only so many platforms that can be sustained before the public gravitates to favorites and the lesser chosen will fall away. This same phenomenon occurred when computers began to carry more gigabytes of memory and the price came down and stabilized between computer competitors.
Home schooling will increase one hundred fold and students will visit community centers to take mandatory standardized tests. (This will reduce class size and take some pressure off inner city classroom teachers). The students will pass through metal detection style devices where their identity will be read from their subcutaneous information microchip.
Guidance counselors will be able to Skype with parents during the day so parents will not lose work time and counselors can assist with counseling concerns in a timely fashion. Students who have disciplinary problems will be required to complete missed lessons through online support services and will not be permitted to readmit to schools without the online work completed and a parental/guardian conference. If these students continue to be disruptive to the educational process they will attend class by a multi-framed classroom Skype monitor. If they are audibly disruptive the teacher will “mute” them. If they are visually disruptive, the teacher will turn them off/terminate their link for the rest of the day.
Libraries will be converted to conference rooms and private kiosks where students will work online. All needed information will be available and downloadable wirelessly. Many different videos, e-books and current news will be accessible simultaneously without freezing the computer monitor. The Newspapers in Education program (NIE) will be terminated because newspapers will no longer be distributed in paper form. Teachers will have a personal library of lesson Podcasts that they keep and use to give students information when they are absent, when the student returns from an absence or when a student asks the question that the teacher just answered two seconds before.
Teachers will create collaborative electronic working environments where students can share information with each other on one wiki page and use that page to create successive pages for individual interpretations of that information/data. Students will maintain their own blogs as a working opinion and discussion area and present their portfolio of work for teacher scoring and /or job interviews. All lessons will be interactive by the use of mini “whiteboards” where students will use their warm fingers to manipulate their research and create a final report or solve their math and engineering problems. They will submit their work electronically for grading. By the year 2020 our students will know what the little red or green squiggly lines in their Word documents mean. AND, they will learn how to make those color-coded squiggly lines disappear by the time they hand in their information fiber optic crystal for grading.
However, despite everything that Web 2.0 can assist humanity with it cannot supplant the teacher in our society. Children will always need to be socialized, they will always need a variety of role models, a place where they can grow with each other and feel like they belong. Children in our society need emotional support, mentorship in an area of personal interest and exposure to adults that will help them sort out what career/vocation they will pursue. Our society needs educators and we will always be available, in person, everyday. We show up!