Envisioning the 2020 school

Identifies and evaluates technology and non-technology trends that are creating the 2020 school... (dated c2000)

TREND - From a life-time's learning to a life-time learner

Responding to the rapid and ongoing change in both knowledge generally and in the specific technical skills sought by employers, there will be less emphasis on general content learning as an adequate basis for a life-time and greater emphasis on acquiring learning skills to enable the learner to pick up new content as and when needed. This involves the learners taking responsibility for their own learning and acquiring the information and technological comfort that allows them to initiate new learning and to evaluate learning material and options for themselves.

TREND - Differentiation of content, delivery style and pace using technology

Greater use of technology delivered learning may allow for greater differentiation of the learning experience offered to learners, with this able to be cost-effectively tailored to their learning needs and interests. Effective learning in one-to-one electronic learning environment can be assessed at the time allowing further reinforcement or the presentation of suitable related content before moving on to sequentially dependent material. The learning experiences can also be made more effective by tailoring them around the particular learning disabilities or learning style preferences of the student. With appropriate learner management and guidance from teachers and librarians, learners could experience much greater differentiation of content, delivery style and pace than a teacher could handle under the traditional teacher-class model. A critical issue is whether there are sufficient driving forces to ensure the realisation of this enabling differentiation rather than a continuation of the "class" model with a potentially less adaptable electronic teacher. Our provisional conclusion on this issue is that the change will occur slowly, following experience in employment related training and driven competitively by private schools seeking a marketing edge. The evolution will be in the educational software development industry as much as it will be in the school sector.

TREND - From authoritative content to multiple information sources

With electronic publishing allowing both the more timely and cheaper updating of content, and the searching and accessing of diverse information sources not previously accessible, one casualty will be "certainty" about a content area and closure on an investigative task. Research will always be out of date and conclusions generally provisional. This trend may even have social consequences with the conservatively minded and absolutists threatened by the impermanence of learning.

The ease and provisional nature of publishing to the internet, and its ready availability, is radically changing the way we regard information sources. A textbook or available expert in the past was seen as authorative. The multitude of available information, and its greater variability in quality, underlines the need for learners to be able to evaluate and synthesise the various available information sources into the solutions they seek.

TREND - From single to multi-layered human reference points

Technology is allowing other "experts" to be present along side the traditional class teacher. Learners can access not just "dead expertise" such as in a book or video and a single live teacher with their often limited content knowledge, but also a range of live experts (and other learners) with whom they can interact electronically. The spontaneity and variable value of these new sources of expertise may also remove a degree of control over the learning experience and outcome that was traditionally held by classroom teachers.

TREND - From face-to-face to electronic collaboration

Group learning and projects are expanding to include electronic collaboration across districts, regions and countries. This not only increases the range of viewpoints and experiences that can feed into a group learning experience and product, but also equips learners for the increasingly common similar electronic collaborative communications in a working environment.

TREND - Differentiation and evolution of teacher roles

Differentiation of learning and access to multiple reference points will allow for greater differentiation and specialisation of "teacher" roles, with more taking on explicit welfare and learning management roles at the expense or content expertise.

Some of the initial ideas were influenced by a number of trends identified by TeleLearning Network Inc (1998).