2020 Vision: Experts Forecast What the Digital Revolution Will Bring Next
From Mary McCaffrey, CEO of TH(i)NQ Ed
Q: What will be the next transformative step in tech-based education?
“I think we’re going to see the revolution from the students, if we can keep them engaged. We’ve separated the world of our students from their school world. When they go to school, the only thing they have is social—their friends they see. We block out the rest of the their life—their texting, their phones, their computers, for the most part their digital world. I don’t think the students are going to put up with that. The students will lead this revolution if we keep them engaged and give them hope that they can make use of these technologies that they love in their private lives and make use of them for learning. Teachers will come along with that because teachers’ role will change. In my 2020 vision, we’ll have teachers as facilitators and mentors, and the students will be directing, leading, and collaborating, even as early as elementary school. The relationship between students and teachers will be, on a whole, much different and more valuable.”
From Thomas Frey, futurist, executive director of the DaVinci Institute
Q: What barrier needs to be moved out of the way in the next 10 years to allow the education system to take advantage of the available technology?
“Who is the most famous school teacher in the world? I end up with a lot of blank stares when I ask that question. If I ask you who is the most famous radio talk-show host, you can probably name three or four. If I ask you who the most famous newspaper columnist is, you can probably name three or four of them. The difference is in one word: syndication. Teachers haven’t been able to syndicate their work because they’re owned by the institution they’re working for. We have fifth-grade math being taught by 10,000 teachers across the country every single day. Why do we have such a duplication of effort? Say there’s someone out there who is just exceptional at teaching fifth-grade math. Somehow they’ve mastered this like nobody else. We’re able to package it and deliver that course through some online medium that would enable students to learn from the best. They could sit at the feet of the true master, not the teacher who happens to have been hired for that job at their school. That teacher would become the most famous fifth-grade math teacher in the entire world. Teachers would become the celebrities of the students of that age.”
From Bailey Mitchell, CTO and CIO of Forsyth County Schools (GA)
Q: How will the role of the district technology leader change in the next decade?
“If you’re perceived as being the boxes-and-wires person, you’re not going to have a position. That’s the one thing you need to take note of if you’re in a technology position. Your being in charge of a server room and a network—all of that is moving off-site. It’s going to be hosted and supported by somebody else. Everything we do will be software as a service; we will be paying by the drink. The traditional technology staff structure that we’ve all grown accustomed is going to change drastically. To survive as a school district CTO you’re going to have to solidify the relationship with the teaching and learning leadership. What value do you bring to help with the main business of the district? That’s instruction. A very traditional teaching and learning group in a school district that based its instructional delivery model on textbooks—that’s changing. It’s going online. Well, who has the expertise in how to play in that online space? Typically, it’s the technology department. You’re going to have to get involved in the solutions for instruction and be embedded in that work. If you’re a boxes-and-wires person, you’re just not going to be relevant anymore. You’ll be obsolete.”