STEM education provides many opportunities and challenges. How can our practice evolve to meet the needs of 21st-century learners?

The Future of Education


I've been asked to speak to a group concerning "the future of education." Given that I think future ed will be characterized by the use of technology and collaboration, it seems right to ask for thoughts in this forum. So, thoughts on "the future of education?" What it might be? What it should be?

I should note in advance that any ideas utilized in my presentation will be attributed to their source.

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From the Number of Comments Future Looks Pretty Bleak

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Thomas I think you are correct, technology sure isn't going away, hopefully solutions will be found for some of the negative aspects. There is some really good content on the Internet but schools must block much of it because of the negative issues.

Collaboration seems like a wonderful idea, but politics seems to get in the way. If things do not improve I am afraid education will become taken over more by private business and home schooling will continue to become more popular.

I try to remain optimistic, issues in education are now getting the attention of the leaders in business. Hopefully some new more effective educational models can be created and replicated across the nation.

There are many wonderful teachers that are working under some near impossible situations. I hope they do not give up before a turn around occurs.

Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

The Future of Education

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I think we're going to stop looking at computers and mobile devices as "technology" and instead, start treating them more like the pens and pencils they are- tools to help us create, tools to help us manage information, tools that allow us to communicate with each other. That's the long ball.

Teachers and mentors are always going to be critical. Students need a human touch, and need not to be treated as info widgets flowing down a growing-up conveyor belt; nor do they need to be treated like geese; stuffed full of knowledge until they want to puke, in hopes they will come up with something tasty (not child foie gras I hope!) on the other side.

I hope teachers stop looking at tech as toys or distractions, and instead look at it as tools to serve instruction and communication. Every time I read another article decrying the use of computers in schools, I think- do you really think they are going away?

I think things like the iPad and Jeff Han's multi-touch blackboard/screen will make learning even more interactive. I think being able to "touch" and manipulate information will be part of the new generation of ?manipulatives" so to speak.

But that's my dream, anyway.

Yes, I am retired after 35

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Yes, I am retired after 35 years in education, but I feel I have enough knowledge to comment. Where is our model? I believe it is Finland. We must do some of what they are doing. The following must be done: extend the school day, extend the school year, eliminate many of the half days and days for vacations and planning days for teachers. Technology of all kinds will be included, that is a given. The students can show the adults how to be most effective. Also advertising the importance of education above much else with effective communication such as the non-smoking ads. Society must be made to realize that without effective education at all levels, we as a country will continue to be on a downward swing in all societal levels.

Pat McKay
Retired elementary principal
Davis County Schools, Utah

An appropriate relation

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An appropriate relation between technology and collaboration is expressed in this delightful blog by a high school physics teacher. It won the 2010 Edublog Award this month. A few quotes are below.
The $2 Interactive Whiteboard
Posted on August 6, 2010 by Frank Noschese

Yes, you read that correctly. The TWO DOLLAR interactive whiteboard.
Before you jump to the conclusion that I am some technology-hating Luddite, I want you to know that I love technology. I train other teachers how to use technology effectively. In my physics lessons, I use technology with my students, but only when the pedagogy demands the technology. ... I have a SMART Board in my classroom. I’m a SMART Exemplary Educator...

The word “interactive” for the $2,000 electronic interactive white board (eIWB) means interaction with a piece of hardware to manipulate virtual objects on a screen. And most eIWBs only interact with one person at a time. ...
The word “interactive” for the $2 IWB means interaction among students. Students are working together to collectively construct knowledge, explain their reasoning processes, and get feedback from the teacher and each other. Students are interacting with each other in small groups when preparing the whiteboards. Then they interact with the whole class when they present and field questions from the class and the teacher. At all times, the teacher can see and hear student thinking and challenge them with questions. This process is called “whiteboarding.”
Districts spend tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars on electronic interactive whiteboards, plus thousands more for professional development to show teachers to use them in order to write, move, reveal, and resize virtual objects. How about taking all that money and spending it on professional development for learning how to engage students in Socratic dialogue, effective questioning, reformed science teaching methods like Modeling Instruction, and other inquiry learning methods? ...
Please, instead of thinking about how to get your students to interact with a $2,000 electronic whiteboard, think about how you can get your students to interact with each other using a $2 whiteboard.

"Precision Fluency" can broadly improve technical education.

"Precision Fluency" can broadly improve technical education

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Precision fluency is the ability to express precisely and fluently statements which include nested plural references to richly structured information. For example:
6 = count every state where populatn of some city of it > 1000000

That was executable as part of a general programming, data base, and modeling language 25 years ago at Digital Equipment Corp. Nothing comparable has ever been made public. Many people have incentives to make other people's lives complicated. The long delay in simplification has been a moral outrage.

Precise, readable models of most kinds of technical knowledge may be expressed in such language. See .

Grades 9-12/ Teacher Mentor/Coach

Instructional Staff/Teacher Coach

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The technology tools we use are rapidly becoming mainstream and second nature. Society demands that we use technology effectively in order to be informed and able to manage our daily lives. My hope is that students will have authentic experiences using technology tools to make real-world career connections across all content areas. Students in the future should spend signficantly more time applying what they learn in community and world settings rather than in a traditional classroom setting before post-secondary training. Such a shift can only support their ability to make more informed and satisfying career choices and motivate them to follow their gifts and passions to serve humanity. We are living in a more precision-based global society and how we educate students must reflect this. It is interesting to note that the 21st century student is ready to do this. The question is; are we?

We believe that technology is

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We believe that technology is going to play a very predominant role in education not only in terms of an effective enabler but also a large part in making quality education available to masses. One of the key shifts which we see in students and now teachers is around "On demand learning" like with most other things in life, today's generation is used to things on demand - somewhere education will need to factor that in too

Director, Health and Safety

the future will be complex and a surprise

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My usual caveat: I work for a teachers union (but not in pedagogy). That said, I would like to comment as a parent. The future of education will be complex and probably more than we can ever anticipate. I will list some of my hopes for the future: 1) technology will allow every child to have an individual education plan (IEP) that can be easily updated and revised to address the needs of the child - not every child learns the same way. 2) An IEP will allow teachers and parents to more effectively shape the curriculum/core standards for each student - some students will probably thrive in a "collaborative", on-line environment, maybe some will not.. 3) children will learn valuable skills for adapting to a hotter, less predictable/habitable and welcoming environment including living locally while at the same time using technology to share ideas/innovations with the globe. Our world will be so different, it is impossible to predict all the things students of today will need to thrive tomorrow. Hope that I will be around to witness some of the good innovation along with the innumerable challenges that will arise.

curriculum and projects learning centers

"Wikified Schools" by Stephanie Sandifer is a must-read...

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Dear Colleagues and Concerned Innovators:

The Future of Education is an imperative topic and I have read your postings with great interest...

Over the Christmas Holiday Vacation, with a request for assistance by
a HS Geometry Teacher to enliven her curriculum and classroom, I taught myself how to create a "Wiki" or "Wikispace" at

It is free and very easy to follow the brief video tutorial (I like to take outline notes for my reference). Within the next 30 minutes I had already created several pages of a fun high school geometry website/wikispace that included easily uploaded pictures and accompanying introductory texts.

And wikis are interactive for students and colleagues; you as the creator of the wikispace, get to invite your students and/or colleagues to contribute their assignments/projects/online exploration links/resources/images/videos/blogs, whatever...

Wikis are the simplest way to create an interactive classroom (local to your school or worldwide...)

You as a teacher CAN develop IEP's for every student and store them and update them on your classroom/school wiki; You control access and privacy to all the components and files of your wikispace.

You can create your own web-textbook(s), video archives, photo album links, etc. on your wikispace, and your students can do this as well: individually and/or collaboratively...

Check out an excellent Middle School "American History Class" wikispace created by our own award-winning teacher Anthony Armstrong at:

Check out my "High School Geometry Adventure" STEM wikispace at:

The Future of Education is Now... happening already with wikispaces in the Corporate World and in the Innovative Education World; I highly recommend reading Stephanie Sandifer's "Wikified Schools": an excellent concise practical strategic book for everyone...

Allen Berg

Director, Greylight Theatre Collective/Grindlebone Arts

Technology as opposed to what?

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I think my problem with "technology" is that considering it as a separate topic out of social context seems rather pointless. Making fire with a flint and steel is technology. Blacksmithing is a technology. The utility and implications of given techniques are easily as important as the techniques themselves.

My Ipod makes a lousy fish lure.

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