As an educational consultant, I try to predict the future and make sure that we design our schools and prepare our students for this future. As said by others, it is a future that we have no idea what it is going to be like. So, how can one effectively predict and prepare without accurate knowledge? Work with what we know. We are not in a factory era; we are in an information era. We need to teach students how to answer questions, not content. The information age presents way too much information to try to learn it all. Students need to be equipped with skills that will allow them to find the answers to anything they want to know.
There are twelve points every educational institution and educator must understand to continue to be effective in the future.
The five and six point is:
Removing the walls
Collaborative work with other schools, community members, and countries will help bring the world into the modern classroom. The technology effectively removes the barrier of distance. Pain free connection with other educational sources can greatly enhance motivation in the modern classroom. Communication technology can remove some of the limitation created when a school is a silo protected from the outside world. This connection with others will require the tools, and spaces which easily and effectively allow for the necessary communication to occur.
The smart boards within the classrooms are a tool which can be used to facilitate collaboration via Skype or Google Hangouts. Professional development will be necessary to help the staff effectively use the technology and connect to others in distant educational institutions. The internet is a powerful communication, collaborative tool which when used effectively can bring the world into the classroom. Content experts, other schools, teachers, students and people from around the world can easily be brought into the classroom using the available tools. Sharing of school created materials with others around the world can also be used as a powerful motivational tool.
Elders, guests, and school trips are used to enhance classroom learning, and this practice should be expanded.
Emphasis and De-emphasis
Research has shown that much of the learning that occurs in schools happens outside the classroom. Some research states that less than 25% of the learning happens within the formal classroom. This research emphasizes the development of less formal learning space in the modern school. Informal learning occurs in the flexible non traditional learning space found in a school. The creation of these spaces can and should be considered when developing the modern day facilities for learning. The de-emphasis of the formal classroom requires the development of self-learning and collaborative workspaces. Spaces need not be furnished with the formal class desks in rows but with more creative, flexible workstations. Many traditionalist educators find this trend challenging as it requires a change from the lecture style of teaching. A supportive training program for teachers will help in the effective use of new spaces, nooks, and corners.