At the Schools of the Future Conference: The Future of Learning

I’m at the Fourth Annual Schools of the Future Conference this week being held at the Hawaii Convention Center. The conference brings together leaders in education and technology to address the need for a paradigm shift in education. Over this two-day event, among many topics, we will explore how to create a 21st century learning environment; explore new roles for education publishers, teachers, and librarians; and how to blend, flip, and mobilize the classroom.

Yesterday morning I attended Dr. Mark David Milliron’s keynote, “Emerging Insights on Learning, Technology, and the Road Ahead in Education.” In his speech, Milliron outlined a few trends that we are seeing as education and technology converge in the classroom, and as more research is available on the pros and cons of the digital classroom:

1. Learning must be augmented, game based, contextualized, and simulate real situations. The digital classroom demands that education publishers catch-up to the changing classroom and offer students assessments that show their achievement. Instead of memorizing facts, students are learning skills and concepts in a context that can easily be applied to the real world.

2. Educators are building, buying, and sharing. Technology hasn’t only changed the classroom, it’s changed the role of the teacher. Websites like Teachers Pay Teachers allows teachers to share their best lessons and make money off of them. With the advent of more data tracking tools and software, we also have more possibilities for tracking the value of mobile, blended, and interactive learning and using it to improve the classroom. In the digital classroom, “resources” stretch beyond books and other traditional learning tools, and the act of everyday learning and creating — when recorded and analyzed — becomes a resource in and of itself.

3. There is no one size fits all. Technology is not a single answer. In the digital age, there is a vast “ecosystem of learning” that will draw from a variety of learning methods. Different schools have different student populations, challenges, and environments. Within each classroom, students have different needs, teachers have different backgrounds, and the classroom has its own limitations. Because education is not one-size-fits-all, there are many different learning options emerging, such as: School of One,  Florida Virtual School, and P2PU.

4. What students learn and do in the classroom will change. Teachers will help students curate their credentials, focus on liberal arts, and learn socially and courageously. School will be a place where students aren’t taught to take a test, but to prepare for the rest of their lives by being introduced to college courses, social networking, and interpersonal competence skills. Most importantly, for any real change in learning to take place, the student will be an active participant. Milliron goes into more depth of the key learning responsibilities students have in his article “An Open Letter to Students: You’re the Game Changer in Next-Generation Learning.”

This is a pivotal time for education and we can expect to see many changes as demands shift in the workforce, technology and innovation grow, and tech savvy students and teachers enter the classroom. Technology can open learning opportunities to learners all over the world.

For more examples of how technology is changing the world, watch the short film, “The Future of Learning,” released this week.

“Teach kids to solve interesting problems, not to memorize answers to problems we’ve already solved,” Seth Godin, The Future of Learning.

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