Doireann O’Connor is a lecturer in Early Childhood Care and Education at The Institute of Technology, Sligo, Ireland. She has produced an Anthology of Traditional Irish Games, Songs and Rhymes as well as book chapters and journal articles on topics such as School Readiness and Education Policy. Doireann is a founding member of PLÉ– The Network of Early Childhood Care and Education Degree Courses in Ireland. Doireann spent 10 years working within the field of Early Childhood Care and Education, holding a number of key positions within Policy and Practice.
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Top 10 futuristic changes schools could make in the future of education.
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To suggest that technology has changed the way that we understand and experience education is already a huge understatement and will only become a greater one over time. The classroom of today is a changed one, albeit still familiar to generations of past students. A whiteboard has, for the most part, replaced the old blackboard and computers can be found on some desks and in school libraries. But the brick schoolhouse remains largely the same inside and out, featuring uncomfortable, forward-facing desks and heavy textbooks.
Make no mistake about it, though – change is coming. Ongoing technological developments are initiating a re-thinking of just what a contemporary scholastic experience needs to be for students today. The stagnant nature of education over the 20th century ignored changes in the sociological and behavioral make-up of students, failing to adapt and adjust to their evolving needs. Technological changes that have occurred have simply served as aids to reinforce the existing curriculum rather than transform it.
No parent wants their child to be a guinea pig, serving as the test subjects for a new, unproven trial project, particularly when it is their education that’s at stake. But soon, there will be little choice but to curb teaching methods and the very infrastructure of the classroom experience to accommodate this new tech-charged culture. Social media, personal devices, smartphones and other communication technologies have necessitated a shift to personalized, digitally-centered learning while also opening doors to unique teaching opportunities never previously available.
This digital era will shape every facet of the academic experience of the future. Professor Neil Selwyn, an Australian expert on education, believes that we will see a transformation that ranges from the tools used in a given lesson to the physical layout of the classroom. Meanwhile, educationalist and author Marc Prensky argues that a whole new core of subjects will be needed to cater more to getting today’s learners ready for the real world, including problem-solving, creative thinking and collaboration.
Learning is being taken online, meaning that the traditional model of teachers standing in front of a class full of cramped, uncomfortable students with textbook-littered desks who are scribbling down notes is fast becoming obsolete. While implementation of a fully digital curriculum will likely be slow and come with obstacles like financial and staff training concerns, it is difficult to foresee a future of education that isn’t online. After all, remote online classes have already grown commonplace as viable, convenient alternatives to the in-class model.
While some of the suggested future visions of what school will look like in the future are still pie in the sky concepts, a number of these ideas are more immediately forthcoming. Some are even in the process of being implemented right now. Whether these changes are coming now or a few years down the road, it appears safe to say that tomorrow’s students will grow up in a school system far different than the one that we experienced.
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