No more classrooms, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks…!!
Ring…..ring………ring…… !!!!! The alarm goes off at 10:30am, but the teenager snuggles back into bed, deciding to complete the majority of her school timetable from home today and link into the USA, as their school hours suit her body clock. Her guitar classes will be with her instructor, residing in Korea in one hour’s time, drama online with India, in two hour’s time. Ustreaming and virtual classroom software will be used from the plasma type screen in her lounge room. Students in the drama class include some from China, Bangkok and the Phillipines. They are about to act out a play and stream it to other interested students and community members around the world. As geography is currently studying Israel, she will delay that class until 6 pm tonight and logon to the online class with Israel, so that she can learn first hand from the students who live in the actual country. The rest of her classes will be with the USA.
Welcome to the school of 2020, where schools, classrooms and desks will no longer exist, as we know them today. Instead teenage students can choose to
- attend local learning resource centres
- stay home and learn online through virtual classroom software, videoconferencing, streaming, chat rooms, social networking software
- teleport to a ‘second life’ school
- work from home, for local industry solving some of their problems using gaming software
The school of 12-20 years time will be unrecognizable from the classroom today. Resource centres will take their place. These will have few walls, ample points for charging mobile gear and portable plasma screens for timetable offerings both locally and globally. Hot spots for internet access will be available outside for those who wish to work in groups in an outdoor setting. Students will be required to attend a learning centre for at least one day a week (a day of their choosing) in the transition phase. All work will be recorded on blogs or nings. Live blogs will allow group work from around the town, country or globe and enable the sharing of multimedia and participation in polling. Books no longer exist but are online and can be accessed by a reader or listened to via a podcast. Assessments may be textual, multi- media or aural via an interview.
Little furniture will be needed due to the high level of virtual learning, but what does exist will be portable, adjustable and modular, allowing placements that suit the learning needs for the day. Adjustable stools will convert to wii type controls. Small, private tutorial rooms will also allow for small group work, online learning or teaching. All desks will be interactive with multi-touch devices. (See Tom Barrett’s blog post)
Student personal learning spaces will exist primarily in their homes. Demands will be few, as students are able to access all their learning needs from their small, portable ultra mobile PC- a device which will dispaly all or some of the following features:-
- smart phone
- Smart pen
- Mp3 player/recorder or iPod or equivalent
- Digital and video camera
- Digital recorder
- Wii control
- Digital data logger and microscope
- detachable keyboard
Young people socialize and learn in open spaces becoming netizens. Several continents may be represented in the virtual world and classes. The changing concept of nationhood and current global problems may be resolved through student group cohorts.
Bells no longer exist, learning is available 24/7. Authentic audiences exist and student directed learning is evident. Teachers become facilitators and mentors for local, countrywide or global students. Physical desks have disappeared and are replaced with virtual desks in a ‘second life’ environment, a plasma top monitor for videoconferencing and streaming and the hand held mobile devices as for students above will be the only needs. Staff will have access to multi- directional whiteboards and will use virtual desks and virtual classroom software. Staff meetings will not be confined to their country but will comprise global counterparts. Lesson plans will be developed as part of a team that may be global in composition. Wireless internet access and hot spots will exist throughout all cities, towns and rural areas.
‘Yard’ duty will include supervising the virtual classroom worlds for an hour at a time. Other duties may include monitoring blog, twitter, nings and facebook/myspace updates and welfare duty – mentoring those who are suffering cyber bullying. Working hours are flexible and may be 24/7 Part of the facilitating role will involve setting quests for virtual worlds and arranging experts to speak ‘live’ and online to global student groups. Microblogging (eg twitter or plurk) will allow instant help and feedback from all manner of experts who are online.
In conclusion, schools as we know it, will change substantially, 24/7 learning and access to teachers will exist. Mobile technology will be in full use, and evident in one small, portable device. Online and on demand learning will increasingly exist and the use of virtual worlds means that learning spaces and furniture requirements will be completely different and possibly negligible.
(Note that this article was written for an online iNet conference back in September 2008. I found it as I was tidying up my folders, and wish to publish it for future reflection!) What do you think the classroom of 2020 will look like?
See a short video on what some of my colleagues think