Jul 25th, 2011
When we think of school, most of us imagine classrooms filled with desks, single-file lines to go to the water fountain, and playgrounds teeming with kids trying to get all their energy out before they have to go back to class and sit still. But our ideas of traditional education could change, some as early as the next five or 10 years, according to education experts. We may not be sending our kids off to school in a spaceship just yet, but some of the projections for education don’t seem too far off of an episode of The Jetsons. Here are 10 predictions that may surprise you.
No more paper textbooks
As e-books become increasingly popular and physical books seem more and more inconvenient, it’s only logical that the bulkiest and most expensive of books, the textbook, would be replaced by technology. Many colleges already offer electronic options for cash-strapped students, and with education budget cuts in effect, more K-12 schools are bound to adopt the technology. Some already have; various high schools and even elementary schools across the country are having their students use Kindles or iPads in the classroom rather than books. South Korea has plans to get rid of all textbooks and convert to digital by 2015. U.S. adoption of e-textbooks is predicted to be much slower; by 2014, digital textbooks are expected to make up just under 19% of higher education textbook sales.
No more middle school
The idea behind K-8 schools is that moving middle-school-age children to a new environment is disruptive to their learning, backed up with statistics showing that a kid’s performance in school declines once he reaches middle school. The transition to middle school is thought to have a negative effect on pubescent tweens. Rather than shuttling kids between three, sometimes four, different schools by the time they graduate, the K-8 option allows them to go to only two: the lower school through eighth grade and high school for the rest. Across the country, more schools are turning to this model, leaving behind the idea of junior high and integrating older children with younger ones. Many education experts believe this could be becoming the standard model for grade structure. And a few think that grade-based learning will be left behind altogether in favor of a school organized by interest groups and capabilities.
Robot teachers may seem decades out of reach, but they, or at least robot teaching assistants, aren’t too far from being a realistic addition to our classrooms, according to some education scholars. In fact, robots have already been added to some classrooms in South Korea and Japan in the past couple of years. In South Korea, the egg-shaped robot with an LCD screen that shows a human face teaches elementary students English, reducing the need for thousands of foreign English teachers. In Japan, the robot teaching assistant helps with basic classroom tasks, like taking roll and scolding misbehaving students. Using this technology as a springboard, the U.S. could be following in the footsteps of these innovative nations in fewer than 10 years, according to some experts.Though the robots may not be ready to teach full lessons and interact with students at length, they’re expected to be quickly advanced enough to provide teachers with user-friendly aid.
Online classes will replace traditional schools
Online learning is on the rise, in college settings and in K-12 schools. The number of students receiving higher education through the Internet is astonishing; in 2009, 30% of all college students were enrolled in at least one online course. The demand is still growing, and 75% of public colleges say online education is a component of their long-term strategies. And online course work is becoming more accepted in primary and secondary school, as well. Thirty states have a virtual school program, and half the districts in the U.S. offer online courses. Though the trend right now is to have a blended learning approach, using both online and face-to-face classes, some in the education field predict that all learning in the U.S. will someday be done on the Internet.
User-generated content will become an essential education tool
Instead of learning from textbooks created by corporations or from teachers with limited ways of explaining ideas, students will begin to learn from peers and other users of a service, according to some scholars. Borrowing from the ideas of YouTube, where you can find tutorials for thousands of skills, and the Khan Academy, which offers free videos explaining math and science concepts, education in the future will provide students with lessons from people who talk and think like them and allow them to share their own explanations with others. Whether this will be a service offered through a traditional classroom or part of an online-only strategy is to be decided, but education authorities say user-generated content is going to rise in popularity. This also means Wikipedia — despised by teachers in the past — could finally become an acceptable learning tool.
Colleges will go bankrupt and close
Even during the worst of the recession, traditional college tuitions were rising to new highs. Since 2005, private four-year universities have hiked tuition 5.6%. Many experts say they’ve gotten away with it this long because people affected by layoffs or pay cuts have turned to higher education as the solution to their worries. But after graduating, those same people are finding they can’t land jobs even after shelling out thousands of dollars for a degree. Now, more and more students are turning to online colleges, which are less expensive and often suit their needs better. Others are forgoing higher education altogether, hoping that work experience right out of high school will give them an advantage. Without the income, many brick-and-mortar universities are losing money and eventually will have to find a way to provide education more efficiently or close their doors for good. This first steps will likely include layoffs of staff and even tenured professors and less money spent on new, unnecessary facilities that don’t contribute to education.
The average age of higher-ed students will rise drastically
As the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age and the number of younger students entering college grows at a slower pace, it is expected that adult education will become prevalent. Though students under 25 are still enrolling in larger numbers every year, the rate is slowing and is expected to drop in the next few years. Between 1997 and 2007, enrollment for those 25 and older had only grown by 13% while the younger students saw an increase of 33%. But by 2017, the trend is likely going to shift, with the older group growing at a rate of 19% and the under-25 group slowing to 10%. As time goes on, education probably won’t be dominated by retired people, but lifelong learning is going to catch on, according to predictions, and the average age of the students is going to keep increasing.
No more homework
Teachers will probably miss hearing the creative excuses from students for why they can’t turn their homework in on time, but authorities on the subject say that getting rid of homework will benefit everyone in the education system. Some schools have already implemented the no-homework policy and found that it makes kids like going to school more, causes them to watch less TV at home and decreases conflicts with their parents. Proponents of the movement say that if teaching is done effectively, all the learning will take place at school and there will be no need to send work home with students. The brain will retain information better if classes go over the things they learned in the morning once again in the afternoon. Other scholars who predict that homework will soon be a thing of the past believe it’s due more to the changing role of technology. The boundaries between school and home may become blurred with the rise of online education, so students will manage their own time and work at their own pace, eliminating the need for traditional homework. But then, what will your dog eat?
Standardized test scores won’t keep you from getting into college
For decades, getting a low SAT or ACT score in the mail meant that you were destined for community college or trade school, even if you had your heart set on a four-year university. These tests have roots dating back to 1901, and they are starting to show their age. Hundreds of schools across the country have dropped the tests as requirements for admission after studies revealed that the test favors wealthier students and that the scores don’t reflect whether a student will be successful in college. Others still require the SAT or ACT as one component of admission, but it won’t be long before the tests have disappeared completely. One potential replacement for test scores in admission decisions is a digital portfolio where students showcase their best work from high school.
A new "Manhattan Project" will save education
The original Manhattan Project was a research project during the 1940s that pooled all the great minds and essential resources from the U.S. and its allies in order to win World War II. It resulted in the creation of the atomic bomb. The new Manhattan Project, being championed by many education supporters, would bring together the great thinkers of our time to solve the problems with education today. Some believe it should focus on closing the racial achievement gap that has plagued our system; others think it should address the weaknesses in our systems in general, the most pressing of which are the cuts being made in school funding across the country. As teachers continue to get fired and schools remain short on staff and equipment, there’s no doubt that educators and parents across the country will demand that our education system receive the resources and attention given to winning a war.
Taken From Online Degrees Hub