Learning, Innovation & Tech

Bombs & Breakthroughs

21 Things That Will Become Obsolete in Education by 2020

CJ Westerberg, August 2, 2013 12:23 PM

algebra.obsolete.jpg


"Within the decade, it will either become the norm to teach this course
(high school Algebra I) 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)."
                                   - Shelley Blake-Plock


21 Things That Will Become Obsolete in Education by 2020

by Shelley Blake-Plock

Last night I read and posted the clip on "21 Things That Became Obsolete in the Last Decade." Well, just for kicks, I put together my own list of "21 Things That Will Become Obsolete in Education by 2020."

1. Desks
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.

2. 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.

3. Computers
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.

4. Homework
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 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).

5. The Role of Standardized Tests in College Admissions
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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Paperbacks
Books were nice. In ten years' time, all reading will be via digital means. 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.

9. Attendance Offices
Bio scans. 'Nuff said.

10. Lockers
A coat-check, maybe.

11. IT Departments
Ok, so this is another trick answer. More subtly put: IT Departments as we currently know them. 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.

12. Centralized Institutions
School buildings are going to become 'homebases' 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.

13. Organization of Educational Services by Grade
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.

14. Education 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 modeled by the very professors who are supposed to be preparing our teachers.
(Ed. Note:  Check out Plock's 2010 nomination for best blog post:  "Why Teachers Should Blog")

15. Paid/Outsourced Professional Development
No one knows your school as well as you. With the power of a PLN in their backpockets, teachers will rise up to replace peripatetic professional development gurus as the source of schoolwide prof dev programs. This is already happening.

16. 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.

17. Parent-Teacher Conference Night
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. And parents will drive schools to become ever more tech integrated.

18. Typical Cafeteria Food
Nutrition information + handhelds + cost comparison = the end of $3.00 bowls of microwaved mac and cheese. At least, I so hope so.

19. Outsourced Graphic Design and Webmastering
You need a website/brochure/promo/etc.? Well, for goodness sake just let your kids do it. By the end of the decade -- in the best of schools -- they will be.

20. High School Algebra I
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).

21. Paper
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 itself will either adjust or perish.

### 
Editor's Note: A "classic" from the Teach Paperless blog and previously published December 2009,   Shelley Blake-Plock is a self-described "artist and teacher . . . an everyday instigator for progressive art, organization, and education. In addition to his work teaching high school Latin and Art History, Shelly is a member of both the experimental Red Room Collective and Baltimore's High Zero Foundation . . ."   It will be interesting to see how his predictions fare over the next few years . . . 
 
###

Posted by The Daily Riff December 10, 2010 - a TDR classic

Related articles and posts:

Visions of Mathematics:   A Radical View that Works - by Ben Daley from High Tech High

High School Stinks: One School that is Breaking the Mold - Science Leadership Academy -
Chris Lehmann

The Daily Riff:  Am I Teaching Students for My Age or Theirs? 
by  C.J. Westerberg 


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  • Hey nice compilation. While somethings would really change drastically, a few others would remain as they are now!! What ever happens it would only improve with time.. :)

    I have made a bucket list of 20 things that have become obsolete in past decade, please do go through it and leave behind your suggestions.

    http://gautamsawala.in/2014/02...

  • the boring professor

    Anybody who buys into this is blind and deaf to the politics of our age. These innovations will require large expenditures toward training, infrastructure, materials, and technology. All this in an age where politicians are elected, or defeated, according to how much they propose to save the taxpayer. I'm working in a district that is consistently placed into the top 20 school districts in the country based on average income of households, yet the schools are faced with deficits between one and two million dollars each year. Cracks run down the walls, allowing in subzero temperatures, but they cannot be fixed because we replaced the Building and Maintenance crew with an outsourced cleaning company. Every year sees more layoffs and larger class sizes. The textbooks keep getting older, and the younger teachers refuse to stick around for more than a year or so because the district administration has quite boldly stated that the money for increases in pay, for any reason, does not and will not exist. Your first year's pay will be what you need to retire on.
    Where in this model does any of the innovation above fit in?

    The average taxpayer in this district, for what it's worth, saves roughly 105 dollars in taxes thanks to all the cuts from the education budget.

  • joebeckmann

    Much of this has already happened in parts and places. Ten years is a generous time limit. The real challenge is whether there will also be colleges ten years from now.

  • WeActOnImpulse

    Computers being completely mobile is absolutely insane for anybody who actually makes anything on a computer. I am a professional 3D artist and if I am not using either Windows or Linux with a full keyboard and mouse for hotkeys and precise control, I don't know what I would do. Using a touch screen or stylus is absolutely absurd. Blender 3D has complex commands like: E+Y 30 = extrude along the y axis by thirty pixels. There is absolutely no way possible Blender could be used efficiently on a mobile device without a keyboard and mouse. Perhaps I am being closed minded and traditional. I am sure technology will change for consumers and maybe even for developers, but it won't be only mobiles.

  • simplicity778

    Research in screen versus paper reading has shown that people remember better when reading on paper. There is a physicality in learning that digital medium does not provide.

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