Changing instructional methods and materials

“When schools think systematically about how to transition to digital, what does that classroom environment look like?” asked Scott Kinney, senior vice president for policy and professional development for Discovery Education. “Whatever that environment is, professional development will play such a huge factor. How do we get everyone comfortable in using these tools?”

Instruction will become more inquiry-based, Kinney said. “You’re going to see this shift to a true inquiry-based environment, in which students really are deriving meaning and understanding…that’s a huge shift for us as a country, and that means we have to double down on professional development,” he said.

Kinney said that schools will likely continue to focus on systemic and organizational change before they dive into beginning device initiatives without strongly-defined implementation plans.

“We’ll really start to empower teachers,” Kinney said. “Teachers, in 10 years, are still an integral part of the learning experience. We’ll start to empower them with the greatest tools and learning resources and examine how best to equip them.” He added that educators will experience a “merging of formative assessment and instructional content.”

“I think we’ll continue to get smarter and smarter with our instructional materials,” Kinney said. Instead of remaining in a “static textbook environment,” instructional materials are morphing into digital tools that offering engaging and interactive models with built-in assessments. “We’ll continue to learn from every interaction a student has with instructional material.”

Teachers should become comfortable loosening their grip on classroom control, said Michelle Selinger, formerly of Cisco and now CEO of ConsultEdu, which focuses on educational transformation. “We’ve got to get kids to take back ownership of their learning, and we’ve got to get teachers to give it back.”

Teachers, then, will become not just co-learners, but curators of learning environments.

“Teachers have a really important role—they have to help direct and steer the kids,” Selinger said.

Mobile technologies and new physical spaces

Selinger predicts that classrooms will use fewer books and more technology, including LCD displays where students can plug in their own mobile devices to share their work or solve problems in groups. Collaborative technologies, such as interactive whiteboards or interactive whiteboard tables, will encourage a natural learning progression as students work together to solve challenges.

“We talk about one-to-one, and it should be about one-to-one learning, which is really very much about kids having a personalized learning experience,” Selinger said. “It isn’t just about what kids are learning, it’s about how they’re learning.”

“Learning is changing,” said Jeff Vredevoogd, director of Herman Miller Education. “Students want personalized learning, more control of their learning, and want to be more engaged. The more you can engage in the content, the better off you are from a learning perspective.”

This leads to a discussion of classroom learning spaces, and educators can expect learning spaces to change in the coming years as students seek more collaborative learning experiences.