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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

The Future of Education

The Future of Education

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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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Edward S. Lowry's picture
Edward S. Lowry
"Precision Fluency" can broadly improve technical education.

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 http://users.rcn.com/eslowry .

Sandra Jewett - 20497's picture
Sandra Jewett - 20497
Grades 9-12/ Teacher Mentor/Coach

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?

Dan Sherman's picture

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

Darryl Alexander's picture
Darryl Alexander
Director, Health and Safety

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.

Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

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 wikispaces.com.

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 Edutopia.org award-winning teacher Anthony Armstrong at: http://delmarhistory8.wikispaces.com/

Check out my "High School Geometry Adventure" STEM wikispace at:
https://hsgeometryadventure.wikispaces.com/

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

Don Elwell's picture
Don Elwell
Director, Greylight Theatre Collective/Grindlebone Arts

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.

Marshall Barnes's picture
Marshall Barnes
Founder, Director of SuperScience for High School Physics

From a pragmatic point of view I think a number of questions have to be addressed about this "future" everyone is talking about. One thing that appears to have been ignored is the economics of this future. Longer school days and less vacation time? Who's going to pay for this? Sure, in some school systems that will fly, but in others - not a chance. When school levies fail as it is, there are cut backs and teacher lay-offs. I'm not a teacher and I don't have any kids in school, so I'm just an observer, but what I see is a potentially dramatic shift in how education is produced and for whom.

The stark reality is that the technology and materials exist now that will enable school days to be reduced and for fewer full time teachers to be required. Distance learning is be a major part of this equation. I experienced a similar model for this when in the 70s a major winter storm system forced our schools to be open only three days a week and we got most of our lessons from watching special programming on the local public broadcasting channel. For students like myself, it was a strange and almost futuristic adventure, but one that I was familiar with in concept as I had seen how children in the Australian outback got much of their schooling from TV, some years before that.

With the Internet, this becomes even easier. Imagine two days a week, the students are busy doing the online studies and doing things that don't actually require a degreed teacher, and then the other three days, they have "regular" classes. The driver for this will be economics and pressure to raise performance. I'm not saying that it will end this way, but in some school systems, the probability of such a scenario is not far from reality. The public is not a fan of the way things are running now and I have enough contacts in government and politics to know that the time is fast approaching where there will be a tipping point. Once that point is reached, things could tip in any number of directions, making the "future" totally indeterminate.

Bill Kuhl's picture

Speaking of the economics of education, I was just reading an article today that in some test schools a large amount of money had been invested by wealthy people and it had not improved scores at all. That seems hard to believe, but I guess if some core negative issues still exist, money probably will not fix those problems.

I have to agree we must be close to a tipping point but then it seems that way with many things.

Marshall Barnes's picture
Marshall Barnes
Founder, Director of SuperScience for High School Physics

Bill:

I've been looking at this situation for a long time (decades) as I've watched how many schools have declined and I'm convinced that money is not the sole problem. However, in the situations I was thinking of, the question is not more money to improve education but having enough to even continue providing an education and what shape will that education take.

I can see that if you throw a lot of money at a school but don't use it in innovative ways to inspire learning, that test sores wouldn't improve much. But then again, if the schools were in wealthy neighborhoods to begin with, the scores probably weren't that bad to anyway. However, if these "wealthy people" were investing in schools with a lower class population, you've got a whole separate set of problems that would complicate that scenario. The first and foremost one is that the culture that is dominant in those areas does not value education and in fact much of pop culture promotes values that are counter to it. It may not affect some kid in a wealthy suburb as much whose parents are telling him he has to maintain his A+ grade average, but in a poorer neighborhood where there may be no father and and the mother expects the school to handle the entire educational load, then just dumping money in the school isn't going to make that much difference. Thus, the core negative issues you implied...

The biggest problem with education is not the schools. It's the home environment and the culture it's steeped in. Change the culture, and the schools will change to an extent, as well.

Bill Kuhl's picture

I see that most things are much more complicated than it would appear. Last week I was watching the PBS program about the decline of the salmon, mainly because of the dams in the rivers. So many things were tried to fix the problem, but nothing really fixed the problems because the chain of life is so complex.

Back to education, watching "Waiting for Superman" I thought the kids and the parents were probably not that typical, they appeared motivated to change. What do you do for kids and parents that show little motivation?

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