Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Art of Technology Anticipation

This past week, a news article entitled, "What Will A NY Classroom Look Like in 2020?" by Eric Holden hit the nail on the head - the technology that is available today will be an expectation in future classrooms.  It is my [obviously shared] belief that iPads (or iPad-like tablet devices) will, indeed replace 3-ring binders, textbooks, homework pads, marble notebooks, novels, and everything else that we associate with what ends up packed away in a book-bag   As a matter of fact, the future students of the world may not even know what a "book"-bag is.

Technology is (and will continue to be) something that changes and evolves faster than we can keep up with and technology use in education is certainly something that parents and teachers must adapt to - and always stay a step ahead to anticipate what will be.

Schools today need to start planning out how they may want to deal with a growing popular idea of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to their classroom.  Schools will also need to pay closer attention to budgets because technology (especially new technology) comes at a high cost.  Yet, how do you anticipate for something that isn't there? hasn't been invented? seems like a dream?  Is it really even possible to answer that question?  Probably not.  Just think back 10 years ago.  One decade ago who could anticipate that we would have the internet available to use in our pockets?  Who could foresee video chatting on a mobile device?  Besides Hollywood sci-fiction writers who were paid to dream big and far-fetched, not many of us saw it coming.  That's how hard it will be for school administrators and educators to determine what it will be like in 5 or 10 years from today.  

The Technology Transition 

One way to adapt is to make small changes here and there so that it's more of a slow walk into a cold pool, rather than a full cannon ball drop to intensify the shock and then get used to the water.  Seasoned educators need to take it slow compared to the younger, techno-savvy ones. Nevertheless, there are some tools that can help make the transition easier.

A fantastic web tool that has recently become available is Live Binders.  Live Binders creates a virtual 3-ring binder that allows you to combine all of your cloud documents, website links and upload your desktop documents for easy access, to share, and update your binders from anywhere.  So why take a real 3-ring binder with you when you can access a virtual binder from anywhere that has an internet connection?  Again, here is the future of education -- new to us in the present, but what will be expected in the not-so-distant future.  Another great idea has come from Sallie Severns, founder of Answer Underground, which allows students to create mobile study groups.  Finally, myHomework, a basic, free app for iPhone does what it sounds like it does -- allows students to organize assignments and projects by creating a color-coded calendar.  It's pure student organization on a phone.

Now, our future may not look exactly like it did in the Back to the Future trilogy, but it's hard to argue that the future will remain the same as it looks today - because it won't.  Again, it all comes down to the anticipation of what will be.  Eric Scheninger, a.k.a. "Principal Twitter" (@NMHS_Principal on Twitter) is the Principal at New Milford High School in Bergen County New Jersey.  Principal Scheninger is not only at the helm of his school, but at the helm of an educational renaissance with technology incorporation in education.  He not only is anticipating what will be, he is utilizing it now by allowing students at his high school to use the technology for the everyday.  Principal Scheninger is setting a great example by showing that the future is now - and he's made his mark by earning the respect over 38,000 Twitter followers.

The bottom line is that schools, districts, cities, and states need to start giving the future a good look.  Anticipation is everything.

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