The classroom of tomorrow may not be a classroom.
As technology continues to revolutionize communication, the teacher-student dialogue is affected as much as any other.
It also has changed the way students communicate with each other and how they interact with information they used to have to go to school to receive.
That’s all available now at the swipe of a finger — provided it’s the screen of a tablet or mobile device one is swiping against.
“Textbooks are going by the wayside. Worksheets, more and more, are going by the wayside,” Hillsboro Superintendent Steve Noble said. “A classroom with desks in rows should be virtually eliminated.”
Everything about schools is changing. Even the type of education, Noble said.
“Our kids today have access to information unlike at any time in prior history. Schools are no longer just a place where students can get information from a teacher,” he said. “They’re a place where we can take that information and apply it to real life skills and college career readiness.”
That used to be something students were left to do on their own, after using all their time in the classroom to gather information, Noble said.
The Internet has information about virtually every subject. That knowledge will be even more portable in 15 years than it is now.
“The resources for anything that you’re learning about will be so readily available in the palm of your hand,” Marion Superintendent Lee Leiker said. “Ultimately in 10 or 15 years that’s where I think computers will be. They’ll be your phone. I think keyboards will be obsolete, and everything will be voice-activated.”
With so much information available through the Internet, students need to figure out how to use it well.
“The student needs as much access to computers per day as we can manage because we’ve figured out what to do with them,” Noble said.
Teachers, once seen as sources of knowledge, are now facilitators of understanding and application, Noble said.
“If we believe we’re the only way the student can get information, we’re sadly mistaken,” he said.
Leiker said educators’ roles could change even further.
“There will still be a social side of education that needs attention,” he said. “It may even need more attention because the lack of socialization you have because of technology. Teachers will play a critical role in students’ social development.”
Technology can’t change everything, though.
“I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point where we’re playing football games virtually,” Leiker said.
But athletics are changing in their own way, and it ties back to the Internet. With increased exposure from recruiting websites, college athletics are becoming more and more of a draw. That means preparation to compete at the college level, which means an uptick in the intensity of high school sports.
“Our students are so busy in the summer time,” Leiker said. “They’ve got to be in the weightroom, in the gym, at camps, in order to stay competitive.”
Leiker said that’s not necessarily a good thing.
“Higher expectations that are put on junior high and high school athletics takes away from one of the most valuable thing we have, and that’s family time,” he said.
Other extracurricular activities should continue, he said, trending more toward entertainment.
“That’s a continual growing trend,” Leiker said. “We’re becoming more an entertainment society. I think performing arts will still be an integral part of community entertainment.”
The only constant right now for educators is change.
“It’s not going to look like a seven-period day with a bell schedule,” Noble said. “It may not even look like a student is going to have to come to a brick-and-mortar building to get a quality education.”