Friday, October 9, 2015

Daring Greatly- The Classroom of 2030

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 or @Mr_Jays_Class 


  1. love this post. Not only can I relate to 2000, I remember the 1980s, when we were helping customers save precious disk space, since lead times on disk drives were 2 years! (at least I hope I didn't tell anyone to use 2-digit years to save space).
    Re: teaching, I feel like I'm becoming more of a curator and facilitator than a teacher. There is so much amazing stuff out there, and I love that my facebook AP teachers' group shares all the best resources!

  2. For me as a parent, my children’s access to technology has been an evolution. I first allowed my eldest to play educational games from a CD. After finding a box of Clifford the Big Red Dog books that had been delivered to my front porch, I realized that my Kindergartner had more access to technology than I wanted at her fingertips. When having to type a password to access the school computer became an obstacle for my third grade daughter, I realized that I had to provide more access to our personal computer to her for fear that she would fall behind her peers in her ability to use technology. This same reasoning led us to purchase a phone that would allow texting, when my eldest was a sophomore in High School.
    When YouTube came along, this powerful website changed everything. How could we keep our children from viewing all the wonderful videos from around the world yet keep them safe? I am certain that this generation of kids has been exposed to content for a “mature audience” earlier than any other generation. Finding the balance between allowing total access and safety has become futile. Many of us parents have learned of our kids opening Facebook accounts before their 13th birthday after they couldn’t refrain from commenting on a mutual friends post or, in some cases, when they decided to “Friend” us. My role as a parent became to warn my children about the kind of predators that they may encounter online, to teach them about being good digital citizens and hope for the best.