What will future schools look like in 100 years? One might start with ideas gathered from science fiction. Consider productions like Wall-E, Star Trek, Battlestar GalacticaEnder’s Game and Firefly. In many of these scenarios, the authors issue us a bleak warning.

The Birth of Artificial Intelligence

They predict that undue reliance on technology may well be the downfall of humanity. Technology is seen as the antithesis of what it means to be human. All this can be kind of scary. Let’s take a step back and imagine another scenario. In this one, we really embrace technology for the better.

Used wisely, technology is a valuable tool to allow us to get the job done.

The best piece of classroom technology available is, and always will be, a teacher. All other technology in our future schools augment powerful human connections. These are so much a part of great teaching and effective learning.

Let’s Dream Brighter

Imagine future schools in which students are totally engaged in a class They are immersed in working together to solve real world problems. They are self-driven and are coming up with amazing ideas on the spot. They are concerned with each other’s well-being as part of a team. Their concerns reach far beyond the classroom to others all over the globe.

The school of the future will be an amazing melting pot of diverse peoples coming together to solve real-world problems.

The truth is, some of these things are already happening. The 21st Century Fluencies are being used by schools all over the world. You can explore some case studies about their incredible work. Everywhere in schools, it seems the future is now.

looking forward

Will they even be called ‘schools’ in the future?

The teacher/student relationship is changing. Teachers are acting more as facilitators rather than keepers of all knowledge. Students are driving their own education to the path that they feel best fits them. In the future, employers may not be as concerned with a diploma. They’ll look more at portfolios and examples of how students contributed to solving real-world problems. They’ll want to know how well they worked in a team. Solution Fluency encompasses all the other Fluencies. Les t’s the 21st Century Fluencies as a tool to continue imagining our ideal future classroom.

tree heads

What would problem solving look like in the future?

Information from the Internet is accessible everywhere and at unimaginable speeds. Kids are connected to news around the world in real time. Imagine someone could put out a request to the global community to help solve an issue in their own community! Classes can adopt an issue and work with other classes around the world in real time to create solutions. Here are some great examples:

future schools global information

What would information look like in the future?

It’s already everywhere. Users can get overwhelmed by the constant flow of information. The need to understand what is true and what is not is crucial. The flipped classroom has already turned lecture-based lessons on their head. It presents engaging content to students before they even come to class. They can access the Internet as many times as they want to review the lessons. Can we imagine even brain implants to access information from the cloud?

creative genius

What would creativity look like in the future?

The world is now our canvas. 3D simulators and equipment used for brain scans help us see new worlds. They allow us to experience things that weren’t viewable in the natural world. The music world is also experimenting with synthetic sounds and computer-aided graphics. Precision is now possible and imagination must to reach higher and farther. We now have the power to artfully wrap solutions into aesthetically pleasing packages. Apple’s first iMac which took the world by storm is a good example of this.

future schools touch media

What would media look like in the future?

There will always be aural and visual stimuli, especially in the digital age. These appeal to our most basic senses. You see this in holograms, 3D printers, and printers that allow you to smell. Personal computers are thinner and smaller. Power is more portable in the form of tablets and smartphones. Now we are witnessing the emergence of Google Glass and smart watches. In the classrooms of future schools, you might not even see pens and paper.

collaboration table

What would collaboration look like in the future?

Basecamp, Wrike, Trello, and Asana and more are visionary for teamwork. These are tools that will allow future schools to collaborate in real time with all corners of the world.  Musicians can now play together from around the world in real time.  The ease-of-use factor for many digital media allows collaborations like Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir to be a joyful reality.

collaborating kids

What would citizenship look like in the future?

All students would be concerned about the world as a whole. Students are already experiencing mystery Skypes, a game created by educators. It allows classrooms to link with other classrooms around the world. Using geographical and informational clues, they can guess where their Skype partner is located in the world. (Imagine “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” taken to the next level.)

With such unlimited access to the Web, students of future will be savvy with protecting themselves from harm.

They will know how to troubleshoot technical glitches. Their expertise in the use of technology will allow them to collaborate seamlessly. They will master creating practical solutions to benefit their communities and the world.


8. What does Assessment look like in the future?

In all the 21st Century Fluencies is incorporated the component of Assessment. Assessment drives progress. How are students to analyze that progress and strive to improve? There are several possibilities besides high-stakes testing being reviewed. According to this NPR story, testing may occur in ‘stealth’ mode. As students work their way through math problems on a terminal, a program is keeping track of everything. It monitors their answers and speed and determines the effectiveness of certain questions. Testing may be more comprehensive, as well. It could include assessing emotional well-being and content retention through using ‘game’ devices. It could also involve assessing student portfolios and bodies of work.

Future Schools Evolving Today

As we can see, the school of tomorrow is happening today. This is a very exciting time for our students. In fact, it’s exciting for the entire field of education as a whole. Certainly there are obstacles to overcome. Fear, lack of knowledge, cost vs. benefits, and more are prevalent. They shouldn’t prevent us from experimenting and meeting students where they are now.

This is an increasingly tech-cantered world. Technology as a tool can help us appreciate the natural world and all its inhabitants. As long as we go forth from here wisely, we’ll overcome these challenges together. The students of today and the future will be glad we did. We all will.

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