Since we are now well established in the 21st century, and we have collectively done plenty to explain what 21st century education is and how we can implement it, we shouldn’t forget that the 22nd century is just a few short decades away. Considering it took almost 30 years for education to start implementing 21st century skills in earnest, it is probably not too early to begin thinking of where education will be in 2100. I am not planning to be here to see it exactly, but I think I will have grandchildren who might be interested in knowing that their education wasn’t thrown together last-minute.
Some bold predictions for 22nd century education:
- Computers are largely light-based and portable, so they can be used in any situation, in any size. A small projecting device will be added to glasses, wristbands, or embedded in the skin.
- Students are still monitored by a central agency, but control education themselves. For instance, they can log hours at a veterinary clinic, do virtual human dissection, or create hybrid grapes for a biology credit. Experiences are logged into a cloud-based database, and audited by educators who help students evaluate the quality of their learning.
- It is assumed that all basic factual data is accessible in multiple ways, so direct instruction is no longer done in any fashion. If a student is learning architecture and needs to understand more about friction coefficients, the student simply finds the relevant information and learns it.
- Universities have all moved onto the campuses of businesses and corporations, allowing experts to create on-the-career instruction as people work.
- Virtual reality is used in myriad situations to evaluate a person’s health, physical ability, and problem-solving abilities. These environments train people for skill jobs, and allow for the safe and effective manipulation of dangerous substances.
- Nanobots work to keep our brains free from plaque and decay, lengthening our years of cognitive aptitude.
- Social media has evolved into community media, a system by which people have different access points to various communities of people interested in any field. Since this is all 100% collaborative, virtual environments allow people in diverse areas of the world to engage in face-to-face dialogue for any reason. Virtual cafes allow for people to meet others in virtual environments at any time. Children play and learn languages from other students all over the world.
- Brick-and-mortar buildings for office spaces no longer exist, but families often have 2-3 office spaces in each home, allowing for virtual communication and data work. Most people compute via voice or by neuro-transmission.
It is interesting to imagine where education and society will be in 85 years, but I have a feeling that we are already seeing the very infantile stages of a few of these already. In truth, we can no more imagine 22nd century life than depression-era folks could imagine the age of the iPod. But without looking forward, we get stuck in the present. And unfortunately, in education at least, the present is already past. If innovation lags any more in education, the world will see the 22nd Century before education fully implements the best of 21st century thinking.