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!


Of the options that I just explored in this assignment I think that I would suggest Picnik to my students.  The reason is because photo editing is not one of the applications that are offered in the standard mix available at our school.  Although paint is available it is not as friendly as Picnik seems to be.  An example of when I would suggest this application to my secondary general science student is when they find pictures of animals in flickr and want to create a collage for a poster to represent animals that live in a particular biome. Another possibility is when is to download pictures they have taken and need to edit.  Students can also use a scanner to input photos and edit them as needed.  The main point though is that they would need an online photo editor that is not readily available to them otherwise.  Picnik seems to fit the need nicely…especially because it is free.

The role of a teacher would not change in a paperless class.  The reason I say this is because the most current trend in classroom teaching is student engagement lessons.  That is, the concept that students need to be actively engaged in activities that facilitate learning.  The teacher is the guide on the side.  The role of the teacher only changes in the respect that assignments are graded electronically.

Learning would change in a paperless classroom in the respect that students MUST be able to handle their computers and thumb drives with extreme care.  It adds a layer of responsibility to the student and a validity concern for the teacher.  That is to say, will the teacher be grading the extent to which the student accomplished the lesson or the ability of the student to protect their work in relation to their ability to not lose, drop or mutilate their laptop or thumb drive.  At the higher education, above average or average high school student level this is not an issue.  However, it is a reasonable concern for the below average and special education students.

The measurement of learning should be based on a predetermined rubric for each lesson.  Learning can also be measured in the improvement of managing the electronic formats.  These would include the creation and use of data charts, graphs, grammar, blogs, wikis, etc.

A paperless space would make it easier to build a learning network because it gives each student the ability to see other students’ work simultaneously.  It would make it more difficult because students would be able to see other students’ answers before they create their own.

How has this shift affected your teaching practice so far?

Web 2.0 (open content) has helped me to create more differentiated lessons.  With the use of the Internet I have been able to allow students to have many more choices when I assign projects.  For example, they can do a biography of one of the Titanic passengers and follow their journey.  They can choose their own astronaut, scientist, or animal.

How do you expect it might affect you in the future?

In the future I would like to be able to have my students respond to my blog prompts (Teaching is conversation) and get a discussion going about a current event in science or respond to an online science and technology article.  Also, I may want to create a scavenger hunt (“Where” learning).

Have your views changed since you started this course?

My view has definitely changed over the course of this course.  I have to give out a long sigh of conciliation because after so many years I must, yet again, retool.  This course has made this “shift” much more manageable for me.

How can you use technology to facilitate this shift in your own classroom?

I am hopeful that when all the construction dust settles in our building there will be enough computers that I can have my class use them a heck of a lot more often than I can now.  I may get in the computer lab or use laptops about once a year right now. Because of this course I am more aware of and have the ability to facilitate web platforms. Besides everything I learned in this course and plan to use, there are a lot of interactive science websites that I would love to show my students.

Do you agree or disagree with the statements made? Why?

“We also have stored information in non-human devices that are part of our human knowledge base because of our ability to acquire this information by being linked electronically.”

This statement is an idea based in the definition of connectivism.   I think it is an accurate statement and is at the heart of the definition of connectivism.  This is also the source of a lot of the confusion surrounding this concept.  To me, connectivism is like the electricity in a wire.  We stick our finger (download node) into a socket (computer) and the zap we get is the knowledge we acquire and download into our brain.  We stick an insulated pen (input node) back into the wire and we can add to the electric current.  In any case, I feel that all this just an “ivory tower looking through binoculars” discussion about: 1. exactly what connectivism is and 2., the level to which it is a new theory of learning.  I am just a classroom teacher who is “on the lower battle field” actually trying to apply any method necessary to get my students to be motivated enough to stick their finger into the socket.

I would like to use Skype to create cyber field trips.  Our District has no money for transportation.  Anytime a teacher wants to go somewhere they must create the lesson, raise the money or charge our students (this limits opportunities for the low income students), make arrangements for the bus, do all the paperwork (District forms, Board approval, parent approval etc.), make substitute plans (sometimes they must also raise the money for the substitute), administrate the day and be ready for the return days lessons.  I have always refused to do this.  I have taken students on day trips with the school van on weekends for the science club because that is a reasonable workload for a volunteer service.

Anyway, what Skype can do is use my collegial network to bring valuable lessons to my students.  In particular, I was thinking of a colleague who interned for NASA on the Chandra space probe development and since has moved to Florida and has joined NASA.  I believe I could get a Skype session going with her and let her show us around her job site and introduce us to some of the astronauts.  I am sure we could create a Q and A session.  That would be cool!

Since I teach earth science to secondary students NASA is a great website to work with on many levels.  At NASA’s current events website: This Week @ NASA there are audiocasts as well as videocasts.  I created an rss feed for this site because it will go well with entrance activities to start classwork.  For example, for this lesson I would create an entrance ticket with the following questions:

1) NASA spent millions of dollars to send a rocket to the moon so it can crash into a crater at the moon’s south pole.  Why is it considered to be a low cost project?

2) The rocket is supposed to crash into the moon so that it can spray out lunar material.  A second rocket has a satellite following it to collect data and transmit the data back to earth.  It will then crash too.  The entire mission is to find water on the moon.

a) Won’t the crash destroy the water if it is there?  Why or why not.

b) Why shoulod we care if there is water on the moon?

The LCROSS mission to the moon is October 9th’s video podcast.

While the podcast is going on the students can continue answering the questions.  Also, at the end of the video they can write three things that they learned from the video.

The rationale for this lesson is to get them seated and focused ASAP.  Also, it is a way to teach them that technology literacy is important and as taxpayers they need to understand what is going on at NASA.  Regular lessons on the use of technology increases the expectation that the must learn it.  Also, it is a good avenue to show what careers in science are available.


Bobol. (2009, October 12). IMG_0761. Bobol’s Photostream. Retrieved October 12, 2009, from


Using Flickr as a classroom tool is a viable option.  I see it being used in my secondary science classroom as a motivational tool to help create a feeling of community.  As my students work on their projects I can take digital pictures.   After creating a class Photostream account, the students, their friends and/or parents can visit the site on the web and upload their “Flicks”.  A second use can be as a source of usable photos to enrich student class reports, PowerPoint presentations and poster projects.  In addition, learning and using Flickr gives the students another skill to develop and use.

For my faculty development projects I intend to use Flickr to enhance my productions by using it as a media library source.  Also, I can add it to my toolkit to teach other educators to use by demonstrating how to search and upload Flickr pictures for their classroom needs.

The wiki concept that I would find useful is to choose a scenario that is full of gender inequities in a classroom setting. This would come from Sadker & Sadker’s text: Sex Equity Handbook for Schools, 1982. Each participant would change parts of the scenario that they deemed gender inequitable and make it equitable. By the end of the process, the scenario should represent a gender-neutral classroom environment.

The most challenging aspect of collaborating on the Activity in 4-C-1 was that we were each editing at different times. Every time you visit the site you have to get back into that wiki’s particular energy.   Also, each of us prefers different fonts and terms for synonyms…educator or teacher/ Book Mark of Bookmark. In addition, when we were editing at the same time it got a little weird.   The site tried to put the edits together the best it could…I had to go back into the history to see if the other person saw my message.

I learned that working with professions is comfortable for me. We give and take in a respectful manner and I can be confident that we are all producing a good product. My opinion did change this week about wikis in the sense that I would not mind using it with other professionals. I have also seen some good uses for this teaching and learning platform. However, I did not like the editing toolbar, it was not sufficient for my needs as far as fonts etc. goes. I did not like the idea of having to go to other places to pick colors etc. It should be a more user-friendly design.

I cannot answer the last question because my classroom is not set up for wikis and most other interactive electronic platforms. This is my first experience using these collaborative environments. I am a newbie! When I do offer it up to the class I will get resistance. I always get resistance. I will handle it by plugging along and demonstrating how I want the work done. Just like me this week. My mind changed about wikis, although I am not a big fan, I am at least more open to its potential.

Outline a plan for using social bookmarking as a professional tool yourself, either for your own continuing professional development or to collaborate with colleagues.

Based on what I have learned so far, I think I will be utilizing the social bookmarks for the professional development of my colleagues.  My plan is to get the Science Curriculum Coordinator position in our District.  Well, that’s my plan anyway.  I would like to eventually introduce my colleagues to the social bookmarks that I learned this week. 

I would demonstrate how to set up the Google Reader in the first session.  Once that is done I would assist the students in adding their resources to that page and brainstorming uses of the Google Reader to achieve their goals in the classroom.  The rest of the faculty development session could be used for sharing their resources with each other.  The second session I will follow the same format using PageFlakes.  The third session I will use Delicious.

The one thing that I want to emphasize from my years of being in the learning seat is that these professionals come with their own knowledge base and life experience.  I want to be sure that they are treated with respect and I will make it a priority to allow them their voice.  Therefore, I would begin each session with KWL; What do you know?  What do you want to know?  Where can you learn new information.  This will inform me as to what level of knowledge they are at and where I should begin my instruction.