Daring Greatly – the Classroom of 2030
This summer a tweet came across my feed that set me back “We are now closer to 2030 than we are to 2000.” For this Gen X teacher that concept simultaneously inspired shock and reflection. I distinctly remember growing up to Prince’s words of wisdom “tonight we're gonna party like it's 1999” and celebrating the new millennium pondering the nature of the undiscovered country that would be the 21st century.
Here are a few details that may take you back to the year 2000. The Nokia 3310 was the best-selling phone of the year. Yahoo! was the leading search engine. Windows 2000 was released, and society did NOT come to a screeching halt over Y2K concerns. A fringe computer company sold iMacs in 13 flavors and iPods were a year away from being introduced. Napster allowed unparalleled access to a library of music and violation of copyright laws, and DVD was a new medium for videos. Young actors Russell Crow and Kate Hudson were on the big screen. Faith Hill taught us how to “Breathe” and Rob Thomas (with Santana) sang about “Smooth.” YouTube was five years away from conception, and a “social network” consisted of ZIP codes and seven-digit phone dialing.
Fast forward to today. The fourteen year old high school freshman has never known a world without iPods or Google. Facebook stormed the college scene when (s)he was going through Terrible Twos. By the time our freshman was taking his/her first TAKS test iPhones (and competitors), App Store, and iPads were on the scene. The days of “oh wow, you have a tablet” have transitioned to “Miss, can I charge my iPad?”
Today, Google searches access 40% of the world’s accumulated knowledge every day. In Katy ISD, 76% of our students (including the elementary kiddos) claim to carry some internet-capable device (according to BrightBytes survey 2015) and according to Google, more searches occur on mobile devices now than on desktop computers. That means as a teacher we are no longer the gatekeeper of knowledge. Information is cheap and readily obtained. Student participation in global conversations via social media are a reality. Our role as classroom leaders is no longer an algorithm of impart knowledge plus student homework plus periodic assessment equals education.
If we are to dare greatly, we need to migrate our classroom to 2015 and beyond. We need to impart skills and practices that will lead our students to success in the 21st century. Our students know that information is ubiquitous; our students need to understand how to process information, and how to use that information. A successful 21st century adult needs to be a good digital citizen, and should know to draw on a global network of colleagues. That may mean we fail – Wi-Fi may go down or a particular app may not work that day or bandwidth may be slow—but the tried and true methods by which we learned are not necessarily developing skills that are necessary for success in the 21st century.
If students are not exposed to and immersed in a digitally charged environment, they are participating in an artificial, foreign bubble that separates them from the world in which they live, and in which they are expected to someday work, pay taxes, and lead. The greatest dare I can conceive is making our classrooms ready for 2030, but the effort to do so will enable our students to impact the world in which they live.
Jay Jackson is a Classroom Technology Designer for Katy ISD. He has ten years of classroom experience and is certified as a secondary math and science teacher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @Mr_Jays_Class