I just posted my 50th podcast episode, a look at the future of education. As part of the program, I included some recordings that I did at three conferences and workshops in New York and Texas this month. I asked educators to pretend that they were walking into their classrooms in 2015, ten years from now, and to describe what they see that is different.
I was pleased with the answers, especially considering that they had only a couple of minutes to think about it — and considering that most teachers are struggling to get through the day.
I continue to be disturbed, however, by the number of educators who predict that the classroom will go away, that they will teach their students through the networks, each from their own homes or other places of preference. Certainly this is technologically feasible and certainly some teaching and learning happens very well through the digital lenses that are our computers and networks. But, is doing away with classrooms what we really want?
Technology works best when it is connecting, not when it separates. We have the potential today to put students into direct contact with a global library of information, and the power not only to access but to twist and turn, uncover, and discover with that information, to construct new knowledge and new information products, and share them with the world. This is the measure of the distances that can be spanned by technology.
However, believing that with technology, we can educate our children without bringing them together, uses technology to separate, not connect us.
I may just be old fashioned — a romantic. But the electricity that happens in the eye contact between teacher and student is what brings to life, a world of wonder and opportunity.
What do you think?