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As a child I fondly remember the memories of getting up early on Saturday mornings, quietly going into the family room and turning on the television to watch cartoons. It was the mid 1970’s and we had three main national and three local channels but the cartoons were awesome, especially for a seven year old. What always fascinated me were the special feature cartoons that were shown sparingly in which the future was described. Most of these were from 20 years prior, not politically correct and at times sexist. Watching some of them now I realize the messages provided were less for children and more for adult males. That being said I remember, with the naïve mind of a child, the future of the car, kitchen, house, and space travel (*). These were at times funny, tongue and cheek, and sometimes bold predictions on the power of invention and what we children had to look forward to as we grew up. However, I never, not once, ever remember a cartoon depicting the future of education.

So, in celebration of Connected Educator Month and  the call to blog for Leadership Day 2012 I feel it is my responsibility, as an educator, to predict the future of education for those cartoon watching, imaginative children who will enjoy the future of invention for the benefit of their learning. So sit back and read (use an infomercial voice in your head) while your imagination paints a picture of the future.

Ladies and gentleman be ready to be amazed as we look into how learning and schools will transform beyond your wildest dreams. Gone forever are those overstuffed, ripping at the seams backpacks filled with all of the knowledge available in print form. In the very near future we will replace these out of print behemoths with a device as thin as your sports magazine that holds all the books’ knowledge and more. This device will provide current information, continually adapt to students’ learning styles and needs and provide a one stop shop for knowledge, resources and references. Now won’t your children’s backs appreciate the break!

Come with me into the future of the classroom. You can see the teacher is discussing our solar system but not in front of the class. She is actually in the solar system and so are the students. Gone are the days of writing on the chalkboard, interactive projectors and boards. The room is now interactive, as a hologram, able to be manipulated and adjusted. Our students learning went from reading about and seeing pictures of their learning to interacting with knowledge. When she completes the lesson on the solar system the teacher will walk the students through Ellis Island as they learn about our ancestors and the path they took to America. This type of learning is experiential, interactive, visual and tactile. Students are not only interacting with their learning but are sharing their notes and questions with each other and the teacher through those tablet devices we discussed earlier. Imagine how much you would have learned if you could have interacted with your learning.

Unfortunately, Jessie was sick for the lesson and is home recovering. How will he make up all this work and get the experiences the others enjoyed during today’s lessons?  Not a problem. Each lesson is archived in the teacher’s instructional library of lessons that include voice, image, and notes of every lesson she taught this year and an archive of past lessons. It’s accessible to him twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. If he needs further assistance the teacher also maintains an interactive homework chat board to assist students. Feel better Jessie.

Don’t worry parents the fun and the changes are not exclusively for your children. You will see the transformations too. Forget those long lists of school supplies, the lines you had to wait in to buy them and then finding out there are no more green pens and blue marble notebooks. Parents only need to purchase the list of apps for your children’s new tablet devices. In less than 5 minutes, in the comfort of your home, your child will have her books, notebook, organizer, calendar and to-do list apps all loaded on the device. Have no fear these apps are not for a “limited time only”, they are available at any time.

In addition, Back to School Night is new. Enter the school and you will talk with a hologram hall monitor who will direct you to your child’s classroom. There you will talk to the teacher as you always have but then be given the option of taking a guided tour through QR codes or staying in the class and take a virtual tour of the building through a tablet device. At the end of the night the teacher will give you the option of meeting in person or virtually for parent teacher conferences. Either way you will always have the latest information about your child’s grades and progress through a real-time porthole linked to the school’s website.

I don’t know about you but as my kids get older I find it harder to assist them with homework and projects. That’s a problem of the past for parents of the future because they and their children can access the on-line resources, homework help and example lessons available twenty-four hours a day. Each school maintains its own professional library of information, lessons, examples and resources. Why struggle when an expert lesson or example is just a click away.

Finally, let’s enter the hub of the school, the media center. Encased in glass for students to see are those wonderful resources of the past called books. Each of them is available digitally along with millions of other resources. The media center is alive with great noise of students interacting, collaborating and learning. In other sections are quiet areas where students can study and focus. To the back end of the media center are several hologram areas where students are reviewing lessons from the day and studying art by looking at high resolution images of that art in real time.

The future of education is evolving and students will be the beneficiaries of this evolution. Our educations (teachers, librarians, administrators, etc.) will guide our students through their learning in ways we can not imagine but it is fun to predict and hope. As an educational leader, what do you imagine learning in the future to be like for our students and for us? We need to think, be creative and express our views in the hope that some of our ideas may come true one day.

(*) Video links to cartoons are for example purposes. Author of this blog takes no responsibility for the content of these videos or the fact that they may make inappropriate comments and generalizations.

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