Students entering Kindergarten for the 2016-2017 school year will be on target to graduate in 2029. In their senior year of high school, school will look different that it does for graduating seniors in 2016. Predicting the future of education can be tough because there are so many variables in play. New and improved technology, evolving student demographics and abilities, politics, and the economy are just a few of the variables that will determine the future of education. Still, several generalizations about what school will look like in 2029 can be made, including; an increased focus on trade/technical schools, a greater need for technology classes, continued growth of the BYOD and 1:1 movement, a decrease in the use of textbooks, increased student work completed online with more online and cyber courses offered, and an increased need for psychological services.
According to Bill Gates, We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. This may be an understatement when it comes to education though. The educational system is very much driven by politics and the economy which are extremely difficult to predict. While there are frequently new and incredibly hyped initiatives, many are never get completed due to financial and political roadblocks. For that reason, growth in education may not occur as rapidly as it would in the technology or business world.
By 2029, students will be choosing vocational and technical schools at record levels. As technology continues to evolve, the need for skilled workers will increase. School districts will begin offering more technology courses and at earlier ages. Students will begin taking courses on repairing and maintaining technology, not just using technology. The need for skills in the technology field will grow rapidly as advanced technology becomes more common in homes, cars, and other parts of everyday life. Technology may replace some of the skilled jobs that currently exist but in doing so will create a need for a new type of skilled worker.
According to Jim Daly in “These 14 BYOD Statistics Tell a Story of Opportunity and Danger” institutions are embracing the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement even though there is not a consensus on how to make it work. Many districts like the perception of having students bring their own devices to school to utilize them to learn. After all, this is supposed to be changing the way in which students learn. Unfortunately, as of 2016, there does not seem to be consistency of how these programs are implemented. In education, perception can be more important than reality so, even with the lack of a clear plan, the BYOD movement will continue to grow as we approach 2029 but will never become a universally accepted model.
As the BYOD movement and 1:1 initiatives (devices for every student) become more widespread, the need for textbooks will decrease. Textbook companies will switch their attention to producing digital instructional tools to engage 21st century learners. Growing competition to produce digital instructional tools will benefit education as the digital instructional tools improve and become more user friendly. Competition and lack of overhead for the companies will drive the prices down and make the digital instructional tools more affordable for K-12 schools.
Students in 2029, will be more comfortable learning on a computer through instructional videos than they are learning from a person in a face-to-face environment. This will lead school districts to offer online course options for more and more courses. Lack of teacher training will be an issue and districts will look to hire new teachers with a background in online teaching. Districts will need to determine the proper mix of face-to-face courses and online courses.
Depression, anxiety, drug use, and suicide will continue to be a problem and may become worse as students become less comfortable talking to their elders. This will be an increasing strain on school districts that will need to hire more workers for their psychological departments. As teenagers become more engaged with technology, they will attempt to find comfort in technology instead of seeking help from those close to them. Teenagers that are unable to determine what is and is not reliable on the Internet may end up in a more severe situation without anyone noticing. According to Kayleigh Lewis in “Heavy social media users ‘trapped in endless cycle of depression”, the more time that teens spend on social media, the more likely they are to become depressed. Mental health issues will become a primary concern of schools, local, and state governments and significantly impact the experience in schools in 2029.
When discussing the future of education, it is important to acknowledge the political and economic impact on educational trends. Public schools are largely driven by funding through taxes and state initiatives. Any new trend that involves technology will require money. Districts need to carefully evaluate not only the initial cost of technology and software but also the cost to maintain the technology and software. Districts looking to increase course offerings in technology classes will need to determine if they will be able to fund the courses and that includes money to purchase and maintain the technology and potentially to increase the number of teachers in the technology department. Any district looking to implement a 1:1 initiative or BYOD initiative needs to determine costs of initial purchase and maintenance as well, which may include hiring more individuals for their IT department.
Any changes to course offerings, such as offering more online courses or increasing technology classes also need to be approved by the school board. In that case, politics and the general beliefs of the school board may act as a roadblock for change. The school board must weigh the value of each new initiative against the potential for raising taxes and angering the tax base.
For several reasons, change in education does not occur rapidly. Whether it is politically or economically motivated, there are often roadblocks to change. Unfortunately, while change is slow to occur in education, the business and technology world continue to evolve. The question is whether school districts will be able to evolve enough to provide students with the skills they will need to succeed in the real world. Schools will look different in 2029 but probably not as different as most people might think they would.
Cummings, David. “Overestimate the Next Two Years and Underestimate the Next Ten.” David Cummings on Startups. N.p., 27 Dec. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.
Daly, Jimmy. “These 14 BYOD Statistics Tell a Story of Opportunity and Danger.” EdTech. EdTech, 05 June 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.
Lewis, Kayleigh. “Heavy Social Media Users ‘trapped in Endless Cycle of Depression'” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 24 Mar. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.