Newsweek asked 11 leaders in education and technology to describe the K-12 learning experience 25 years in the future. Here are summaries of their predictions:
• Steve Jobs, chief executive, Apple Computer: Both still and video images will be integrated into the classroom, enabling students to express themselves in more powerful ways than solely through print. • Linda Darling-Hammond, professor, Stanford University: All students will have laptop computers and wireless connections to the internet, providing them with greater access to information about the world around them. Teachers will become guides as students explore the world of technology. Reading will remain a core skill.
• Bill Gates, chairman, Microsoft Corp.: Laptops and super-fast connections will enable true real-time communications inside and outside the classroom, improving collaboration among students and between students and outside experts. With online access to material, parents will be able to play a more pronounced role in education.
• John Doerr, internet venture capitalist: Centralized classrooms will still be important, but those classrooms will be smaller than today, fully wired, and filled with seating that can be rearranged for different needs. Computer literacy will be integrated into the curriculum, to the same degree algebra or reading is today.
• Maria Cantwell, United States senator: Technology will enable a more interactive approach to getting and sharing information, and this will help improve students’ retention. Laptops and internet access will allow students to choose when they learn certain subjects during the school day or week. Education will become more globalized, so students can learn about the world around them.
• Brandon Lloyd, teacher and dean of students at a Washington, D.C., charter school: The sharing of information via the internet will break down geographic barriers. Each student will have a laptop or portable computer of some type.
• Danny Hillis, technology inventor: Education will shift from “preloading you with information” to helping people find information when and where they need it. As software gets smarter, it might be able to anticipate related or new subjects that a student might be interested in, based on his or her prior work.
• Herb Allen, technology investor: Some type of portable device and super-fast technology will make information available instantaneously. Students will seek short, intensive courses and projects on subjects they want to explore. Schools won’t dictate who works with whom; instead, courses will be dictated by who is interested in what.
• Seymour Papert, artificial intelligence researcher and visionary: Education today arbitrarily divides information into “subjects” which are presented to students of a certain age group. With the internet, these subjects can be splintered and reshaped into different units and presented to interested students in a more fluid way. Voice recognition software might someday undermine the notion that writing is the most important form of communication.
• Deborah Meier, education reformer: Education should be making students into better citizens, informed about their society and the world around them and committed to participating in this world. Technology can contribute to this goal, but it should be the means, not the end.
• Newt Gingrich, Stanford University fellow and former congressman: Online experiences will bring a new immediacy to the classroom. Instead of teaching from a stale book, a teacher can take his or her students on a virtual trip to information about a subject, whether it’s to an animal’s habitat or a past time in history.