21 Things that will become obsolete in education by 2020
by Elaine Gallagher DESKS The 21st century does not fit neatly into rows. Neither should your students. Allow the network-based concepts of flow, collaboration, […]
The 21st century does not fit neatly into rows. Neither should your students. Allow the network-based concepts of flow, collaboration, and dynamism help you rearrange your room for authentic 21st century learning. Teachers and students need eye-contact, interaction, and collaboration. Rows of students’ desks were designed since the 1900’s precisely to prevent teacher-student interaction, preparing students to be obedient, quiet, recognizing the power and authority of their «superiors, thus being ready to work in factories.
Now, we still want students to be respectful of others, but in a positive environment, interaction, collaboration, critical thinking, and active class participation in a cordial atmosphere are all part of a 21st century school.
- LANGUAGE LABS
Foreign language acquisition is only a smartphone away. Get rid of those clunky desktops and monitors and do something fun with that room.
- COMPUTERS / COMPUTER LABS
Ok, so this is a trick answer. More precisely this one should read: ‘Our concept of what a computer is’. Because computing is going mobile and over the next decade we’re going to see the full fury of individualized computing via handhelds come to the fore. Can’t wait.
Also, student computers and i-Pads will be inside each classroom, not grouped in one room for «computer classes» once or twice a week. Kids are now being born already knowing how to use a computer. They don’t need «lessons». Check out the research in India with groundbreaking work in the 1990’s of Sugata Mitra.
The 21st century is a 24/7 environment. And the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear. And despite whatever Secretary Duncan in the USA might say, we don’t need kids to ‘go to school’ more; we need them to ‘learn’ more. And this will be done 24/7 and on the move (see #3). ‘
A teacher who has to give written homework for work not completed in class («not enough time»), or «to teach responsibility and a work ethic», is a dinosaur….Sorry, but this attitude is left over from the Industrial Revolution. Get with it, teachers! (Read research of Alfie Kohn: «The Myth of Homework».).
- THE ROLE OF STANDARDIZED TESTS IN COLLEGE ADMISSIONS OR TO ASSESS 2nd or 3rd LANGUAGES
The AP Exam is on its last legs. The SAT isn’t far behind. Over the next ten years, we will see Digital Portfolios replace test scores as the #1 factor in college admissions.
In second or third languages, ORAL FLUENCY will be the most important factor to prove and to provide evidence that one knows a language. If you can think it to say it, you can write it, too.
Multiple-choice exams to rate someone’s language ability (or any ability, in fact) favor kids who are lucky in Las Vegas. Students don’t have to know much to pass. They just have to be lucky or good-guessers. A student with oral fluency, however, obviously knows a language, exhibiting his or her oral skills…not memorized passages, but speaking from the brain….that’s fluency.
One-on-one oral exams, given by a native speaker, such as the GESE (Graded Exam of Spoken English), is a good example of a valid language exam. Non-profit Trinity College London has been around for 110 years, providing English exams in music, drama, oral skills, as well as exams in reading comprehension, writing, and listening! Exam results are given in equivalents of the CEFR. (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages)
- DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION AS THE SIGN OF A DISTINGUISHED TEACHER
The 21st century is customizable. In ten years, the teacher who hasn’t yet figured out how to use tech to personalize learning will be the teacher out of a job. Differentiation won’t make you ‘distinguished’; it’ll just be a natural part of your work. Heterogeneous grouping gets the best results for students of all abilities. «FAILING» a course will be obsolete, because students will repair, correct, fix their errors…thus learning through their mistakes, gradually improving. No one learns everything the first time, so why penalize students who don’t «get it» on the first exam attempt?
- FEAR OF WIKIPEDIA
Wikipedia is the greatest democratizing force in the world right now. If you are afraid of letting your students peruse it, it’s time you get over yourself.
- PAPER BOOKS
Books were nice. In ten years’ time, all reading will be via digital means. Right now, look at how many people on a plane or train are already reading digital books. And yes, I know, you like the ‘feel’ of paper. Well, in ten years’ time you’ll hardly tell the difference as ‘paper’ itself becomes digitized.
- ATTENDANCE OFFICES
Bio scans. Enough said. Some schools or events already scan people’s ID’s as they enter, registered on a data base on the office computer.
A coat-check, maybe. No books, no backpacks…Students arrive with an i-Pad. The school supplies laptops.
- IT DEPARTMENTS
Ok, so this is another trick answer. More subtly put: IT Departments, as we currently know them, will be obsolete. Cloud computing and a decade’s worth of increased wifi and satellite access will make some of the traditional roles of IT — software, security, and connectivity — a thing of the past. What will IT professionals do with all their free time? Innovate. Look to tech departments to instigate real change in the function of schools over the next twenty years.
- CENTRALIZED INSTITUTIONS
School buildings are going to become ‘home-bases’ of learning, not the institutions where all learning happens. Buildings will get smaller and greener, student and teacher schedules will change to allow less people on campus at any one time, and more teachers and students will be going out into their communities to engage in experiential learning.
- ORGANIZATION OF EDUCATIONAL SERVICES BY GRADES
OR ACHIEVEMENT LEVELS
Education over the next ten years will become more individualized, leaving the bulk of grade-based learning in the past. Students will form peer groups by interest and these interest groups will petition for specialized learning. The structure of K-12 will be fundamentally altered.
(This is not really so new. The idea is being recycled. …Check out Salmon Falls Education Center, Hollis, Maine, USA, or Crosby School, Biddeford, Maine….Founded in 1972, with no grade levels, kids grouped loosely by ages (pre-school/Kinder Unit, Primary Unit, Intermediate Unit, Middle School Unit, High school unit). Also, there were no desks….round tables for 4-6 students were in all classrooms.
There were no marks….except on individual assignments…Parents received a narrative report each trimester based on collaboration, critical thinking, empathy, self-esteem, initiative, inquisitiveness. Everyone took music or art every day. Sports were life-long activities, such as skiing, soccer, hiking, bowling, tennis, etc.)
Levels, too, are disappearing, as educators with a brain are noticing that «beginning’, «intermediate», «advanced» levels mean nothing, simply perpetuating an educational caste system, where progress to a higher level rarely happens, except in «commercial» language schools where one has the privilege of paying money to get into a higher level. Smart educators realize that we learn and grow by being with peers who know more than we do. (MKO= Most Knowledgeable Other: Vygotsky, etc.)
- EDUCATIONAL SCHOOL CLASSES THAT FAIL TO INTEGRATE SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY
This is actually one that could occur over the next five years. Education Schools have to realize that if they are to remain relevant, they are going to have to demand that 21st century tech integration be modelled by the very professors who are supposed to be preparing our teachers. Universities, notoriously, are usually the very slowest educational entity to change! Grow..or go!
- PAID / OUTSOURCED PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
No one knows your school as well as you. With power in their back-pockets, teachers will rise up to replace peripatetic professional development as the source of school-wide professional development programs. This is already happening. (Mike Schmoker: «Results Now!» in 2008 included a chapter: «The Experts Are Among You.»)
- CURRENT CURRICULAR NORMS
There is no reason why every student needs to take however many credits in the same course of study as every other student. The root of curricular change will be the shift in middle schools to a role as foundational content providers and high schools as places for specialized learning.
- PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCE NIGHT/ PUBLIC CLASSES
Ongoing parent-teacher relations in virtual reality will make parent-teacher conference nights seem quaint. Over the next ten years, parents and teachers will become closer than ever as a result of virtual communication opportunities. Parents will drop into school to observe a class whenever they want, not the «dog-and-pony-show» we now offer as «public classes».
And parents will drive schools to become ever more tech integrated.
- TYPICAL SCHOOL CAFETERIA FOOD
Nutrition information + handhelds + cost comparison = the end of $3.00 bowls of microwaved mac and cheese. At least, I so hope so.
- OUTSOURCED GRAPHIC DESIGN AND WEBMASTERING
You need a website/brochure/promo/etc.? Well, for goodness sake, just let your students do it. By the end of the decade — in the best of schools — they will be.
- HIGH SCHOOL ALGEBRA I for EVERYONE
Within the decade, it will either become the norm to teach this course in middle school, or we’ll have finally woken up to the fact that there’s no reason to give algebra weight over statistics and IT in high school for non-math majors (and they will have all taken it in middle school anyway).
In ten years’ time, schools will decrease their paper consumption by no less than 90%. And the printing industry and the copier industry and the paper industry and the book publishing industry itself will either adjust or perish.
Can you add other areas of future change?