As humans, we tend to think of change as slow and plodding within a historic context. We can look back at our history and see the culmination of events over time and from that infer systemic cultural change. Pick a topic, it doesn’t matter which, history will show us the inevitable change that marks it path. This is certainly true in education as the pendulum swings, the winds of change make their mark on educational mandates over time. That has never been truer than in the current political climate.
My contention is that in today’s world of technology and its exponential growth, the change that educational researchers are seeing in our teachers and their students is happening in real time. How we gather information, interact with that knowledge, and learn from it is changing at an ever-increasing rate. I used to say we could not imagine what education would be like 20 years into the future. Now I feel that the time frame in which we cannot comprehend the implication of educational technology has been shortened to 5 to 7 years. How old do you think the iPhone is? What about the iPad? Do you remember when there were only 4 channels on TV? Do you remember not having access to the internet?
Our students don’t. They do not remember a time without the internet, dozens of TV channels, and modern cell phones. They have grown up in an era with instant access to global information. They are constantly bombarded with information regardless of their socio-economic status. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, technology has changed the way students focus, learn, and process information. Has our educational instruction kept up with this change? Are our educational models responsive to the exponential growth of technology and our students changing needs?
The future of education is unwritten, but what is known without a doubt is that students in the future will learn differently than they did 20 years ago or than they do today. It is worth spending some time looking forward, trying to understand how our educational models and methods should change to respond to this inevitable change.