Global Connections 2025 global_classroom_logo_j.JPG


Introduction

Our collective belief that “the classroom” as we now know it will be defunct by 2025 has set in motion our research and foundation for a global, innovative learning environment. This environment will be supported by teachers, parents, businesses, etc. for maximum benefits. As a team, we believe in the public school as an institution with the ability to disrupt the predictive power of demographics, and as we continue to be change agents for public education, our goal is to envision the most productive learning environment for students who will continue to be influenced and engaged by technology. So as technology continues to revolutionize the world of education, the familiar classroom will be no more.

In addition, and particularly due to the fact that one of our members teaches in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we are interested in using our research to predict ways in which technology and innovation will affect and be affected by people all over the world. As the “flat world” promotes integration and collaboration across traditional country borders, so too will the “flat classroom” promote collaboration and collective construction of knowledge. Will citizens of poorer countries be accelerated in their development or be left behind?

As Sandy Speicher wrote in "The School Day of the Future, "By designing the day around discovery of information, connections to real world challenges, and discussions enriched with our experiences with the world, we will convey human-centered thinking to systemic challenges in education. We will aid educators in using design tools and methods to work in innovative ways, to prepare for future challenges, and to transform organizations and communities." Please join us on a brief, visionary tour of what we foresee as American pre-K-16 education-building, making, imagining, interacting, investigating, reflecting, connecting, shaping, and participating.

Rationale

Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'
- Bob Dylan

A contradiction

Public schools have been in the process of reform almost since they were first created, and in the US the reform movement took on new urgency with the publication of "A Nation at Risk" (see the Assessment as Learning page for more details). While reform "fads" have led schools on funding and systemic changes, the current body of research in schools is pointing toward simplicity and focus. In his current meta-analysis of research, Mike Schmoker (2011) points out three things that are "essential" for schools to close the achievement gap and experience success with all students: "Reasonably coherent curriculum (what we teach); sound lessons (how we teach); and far more purposeful reading and writing in every discipline, or authentic literacy (integral to both what we teach and how we teach)."

Simultaneous to the education research community pointing to a focus on the basics of curriculum and authentic literacy comes reporting on the fact that the infusion of technology into schools has not led to significant gains in student achievement. In The New York Times, series "Grading the Digital High School: The High Tech Gamble," Matt Richtel (2011) reports on Kyrene School District No. 28 in Arizona. Although the District has invested over $33 million in technologies to create digital schools, the test scores have remained relatively flat.

While education research points to more focus on traditional schooling, publications such as the 2011 Horizon Report show that trends in technology are continuing to affect ways in which people teach, learn and interact with each other. The current report highlights four key trends that will "be key drivers of educational technology adoptions for the period 2011 - 2015 (ranked according to the advisory board):"
  • The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators in sense-making, coaching and credentialing.
  • People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want.
  • The world of work is increasingly collaborative, giving rise to reflection about the way student projects are structured.
  • The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based, and our notions of IT support are decentralized.

In addition to these trends, the report recognized that these changes come with challenges:
  • Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.
  • Appropriate metrics of evaluation lag behind the emergence of new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching.
  • Economic pressures and new models of education are presenting unprecedented competition to traditional models of the university.
  • Keeping pace with the rapid proliferation of information, software tools, and devices is challenging for students and teachers alike.

International competition

Confounding this contradiction is the belief that the United States' education system is lagging behind the rest of the world. The provocative 2007 documentary "Two Million Minutes," highlighted the different experiences high school students have in the US, China and India as it follows the experiences six students have in high school (approximately two million minutes in a four-year school).
The trailer highlights the concerns of the American denial of the impending competition we will face as the world and the workplace become flat. As the narrator notes, we will be "in competition for great minds and capital of the world." While not directly linked to technology, the documentary points out that with technological advances, and with the increasing interconnectedness of the people of the world, it is in our interest to keep up.

A synthesis

So the education research points simultaneously to a need to focus and a need to adapt and adopt to the rapid changes in the ways in which we learn and connect with technology. And that is the foundation of the work in this wiki. We will not chase down the rabbit hole looking for the next coolest technology simply for the sake of cool. We will look at technology first as a tool to strengthen our focus on good teaching and learning. And secondly, we will look at technologies of the future and how they will change what we know about teaching and learning.

Stanford University recently hosted a Roundtable on the future of education, "Education Nation 2.0: Redefining Education Before it Redefines Us." In an article describing the event in Stanford University's //News// , Cynthia Haven (2011) points out that the panelists mostly had optimism, describing education as being at an "inflection point" where the curve changes direction. Panel member Claude Steele, dean of Stanford's College of Education, points out that the inflection point is "the recognition of our interdependence." See the video below for the full discussion.



The year 2025 is not very far away. Most likely schools will still exist as physical spaces, but we will see a transformation both in how those spaces will change and be used, and how and when students and teachers will learn outside of traditional classrooms. As classroom walls are breaking down metaphorically, so are national borders. This is important because our increasing interdependence means that we need students all over the world to have access to a good education. We will investigate ways in which technology will help citizens of the world connect and learn from and with each other as well.

Next: Curriculum and Pedagogy