Recently my brother-in-law and his co-worker put together a display at the University of Regina called 100 Years of Technology. My daughter and I drove in for the afternoon to check it out. It was very interesting to see how far technology has come. He created a video to showcase everything that was on display.
He also had some books on display. I found a book called Coping with Computers in the Elementary and Middle Schools (Riedesel, C. and Clements, D., 1985). I started reading the book and it put a smile on my face. Chapter 20, What’s in the Future? was particularly interesting. I always like to read what people thought the technological world would be like down the road.
In this chapter Reidesel and Clements (1985, pgs. 286-289) suggest five possible scenarios of how the future of education and computers may look.
Scenario 1: Computers were a big hit but then people stopped using them and they sat gathering dust. One or two teachers use them but the programs have not been updated.
Scenario 2: Schools benefited from the use of computer technology. Some educators insist that if computers are used innovatively it will make a huge difference in teaching and learning. Computers have not made a large impact in most schools.
Scenario 3: “Schools are controlled mainly by curriculum writers, educational psychologists, programmers and administrators, in that order” (p. 287). There have been advances in cognitive psychology and computer science that have allowed the creation of ‘intelligent systems’ (p.287) that can “test, prescribe, teach, and retest students” (p.287) and keeps track of all their studies.
Designers are working to create systems where students are tutored by a computerized person. Students will learn more at home than at school and the school is there to provide the social and physical aspects of a student’s life. Teachers influence has lessened because educational computing has grown. Students learned about computers from all aspects of their lives and outside institutions step in to pick up where the school is falling behind.
Scenario 4: Students will learn almost everything at home. Cables connect every home and institution together, which have made schools unnecessary. There are huge communication networks and a shrinking supply of energy which allows/forces people to work and learn at home. Contact between children and teachers happens via telecommunication. Physical needs are met through children playing with other children in their neighbourhood. More children are being taught by computer only or in a few schools with computerized teaching.
Scenario 5: The school has become the centre for learning and communicating for the entire neighbourhood. Computer enhanced facilities are used by all people. Classes still exist but attendance is not mandatory. Children are allowed to explore and learn through a variety of experiences that may or may not be technological. “Computers are used to drill, instruct, solve problems, simulate, and stimulate. Each student has a work station where he or she can put in and receive information, solve problems and ‘play’ (p. 287). Virtually no children fail as every child can find something they excel at.
I loved reading this…we all have ideas of what the future will hold. I remember thinking that in the year 2011 we would have flying cars…
Which scenario do I think is the closest to today? I could say scenario 2 has some relevance today. I would say there are some schools that computers have not made a huge difference. For the most part I think that computers have made a huge impact in most schools today.
What do you believe schools will look like in 25 years? Will there still be teachers? Will the school as a building still exist?