A “Welcome Back!” and a Look Ahead!

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Well, folks, The “Traditional Classroom” is officially back! After a hiatus from the blogging for a few months and summer vacation, I find myself back at Luther College in Decorah, IA, with more to share! Not only am I spending two mornings a week in a local middle school working with students and observing their learning tendencies (which will provide plenty of ‘fodder’ in and of itself), I am also blogging my observations and opinions surrounding Language Arts Methods coursework. A new year has begun, and I couldn’t be happier to be back at it sharing some anecdotes, ideas, and observations with you. This brings us to today…more specifically tomorrow.

This week I was assigned an article entitled “21 Things That Will Be Obsolete by 2020.” (By Shelly Blake-Plock)
http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/03/21-things-that-will-be-obsolete-by-2020/

The title alone is daunting. Obsolete is a term thrown around far too often in education, and one I try to avoid; in fact just today I was touring a school in which I was taken in to the “ICN Room” (I was quickly told how little it has been used since the ability to video chat, webinar, and Skype). Yet, the more I dug into this article, the more I found it “right up my alley.” Deeming ‘obsoletism’ is less about discontent and more about progress. Much like my last January’s research, this article is making me consider the way technology is largely causing many classroom elements to seem ‘obsolete.’

All 21 of these elements are very interesting, but a few on this list really stood out to me: Computers, Differentiated Instruction as a Sign of a Distinguished Teacher, and Homework.

Computers: The list calls this a ‘trick answer.’ It’s not so much computers that will be obsolete, rather our understanding of what computers are. As my January research found even in 2012-13, handheld devices are taking the forefront in many schools. With companies like Google releasing “GoogleGlass” (computer eyeglasses) and Samsung releasing “GalaxyGear” (computer watch) just this year, the perception of computers and computer labs in schools is bound to revolutionize in the years ahead.

Differentiated Instruction as a Sign of a Distinguished Teacher: I simply love how the article itself describes this one:

The 21st century is customizable. In ten years, the teacher who hasn’t yet figured out how to use tech topersonalize learning will be the teacher out of a job. Differentiation won’t make you ‘distinguished’; it’ll just be a natural part of your work.

The idea that it will be very possible, with the implementation of technology, to almost entirely customize and individualize education is exciting. It is wonderful to think of the impact this can have on our students someday. Wow.

Homework: As a college student, I’m smiling at this thought. But, seriously, technology creates an environment that doesn’t deem homework a necessity! Students have the ability to attend school essentially 24/7, in fact, technically not even needing to ever physically set foot in the building. This topic alone could be an entire blog in itself, as this raises more issues with social skills, peer interaction, and life skills, yet what we see, nonetheless, is a change in the conceptual idea of “home”work. It really is intriguing to consider.

In all, this really was a very well-written piece that brings up some valid and interesting points. Will these 21 things truly become obsolete in the next seven years? In my opinion, probably not. Is this transition a real and prevalent possibility and likelihood? Undoubtedly. This idea of obsoletism in education, largely perpetuated by technology, is prevalent, pressing, and extremely important to consider as we move forward in the current educational system.

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2 thoughts on “A “Welcome Back!” and a Look Ahead!

    Eric Stover said:
    September 6, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Interesting column! As for computers being obsolete in 7 years, I think the jury is still out, and here’s why. Tablets are more like a phone than a computer. They are consumption devices for media, and do little else. The Chromebook is like the PC, but is Internet dependent. They are both wonderful, affordable, easy to use devices. Neither one of them can touch what a computer can do for the same cost. A computer offers a stand-alone operating system, a keyboard, ability to read, do apps, search the Internet, etc. The aforementioned devices do all of those things to some degree, but not as well as a PC or Mac. Computers are here to say. They may not be desktop machines, but I think we’ll always have laptops at least. For my money; I still like my big desktop machine with 2 monitors. It allows me to do a lot more work, a lot faster.

    Great post!

      awith16 responded:
      September 7, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      Thanks for your reply, Mr. Stover! I really like your angle on this…it’s definitely something to think about. I actually agree with you that, for the money, a laptop or desktop is far more affordable and practical. I still agree with the author that our “conception of computers” will be obsolete by 2020, which you alluded to. A change will take place between now and then that, in my opinion, will likely change how we think about “personal computers,” but their existence and practicality/efficiency is here to stay! I’m glad you like the post!

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