When we think about the history of education over the past few hundred years, there have not been a huge amount of changes or advancements in technology … until recently. Today, the situation is very different than it was 200 years ago, or even just 20 years ago. In today’s educational world, technology is all around us; and it seems to change so quickly, that we have trouble keeping up with the latest state of the art prototype/version. As we continue to look into the future, the field of education will continue to change at an astonishing rate as a result of advances in technology. If fact, this rate of change is so fast, that many of the standard norms of the current day, will look drastically different in 2020, just 5.5 years from today. In the year 2020, I imagine the world to be a very different place than we know it today. Advances in technology will affect every field and discipline, and changes in these fields will lead to transformations within education.
One of the easiest changes that will soon take place within the next few years is the advancement of medical technology. These changes will probably be the easiest because they will prolong the quality of life for human beings. Some of these changes have already taken place, and I myself have already personally experienced an example state of the art medical technology when I received a pacemaker seven years ago (at the ripe age of 25 years old). At the time, the pacemaker that was chosen by my cardiologist was “top of the line”, in terms of pacing, size, and battery life.
While I am still amazed at the capabilities that this “silver dollar sized” 2007 pacemaker can perform (24 hour EKG, filling in beats within a fraction of a second, transmitting data over the phone, etc.), I’m about to be blown away with the latest innovations in pacemaker technology. Advances in technology have already led to a prototype pacemaker that is extremely small (about the size of a large pill), and operates wirelessly (without implanting wires/leads into the heart) with your body’s electrical signals (The Next Web, 2014)! The best part about this technology is that it is not limited to just the heart. This type of wireless pacemaker also has the potential to set the stage for advances in brain technologies. One type of artificial intelligence called neuromorphic computing uses computer software within the pacemaker to send electrical signals to the brain, and the brain then sends a desired signal to a different part of the human body (The Next Web, n.d.). This type of innovation may have the ability to treat brain disorders such as: headaches, fainting, stuttering, epilepsy, etc.!
In the year 2020, advanced computer technology will no longer be a privilege for middle – upper class citizens, but a necessity for individuals of every country to survive. In fact, by the year 2020, I don’t think the term “offline” will mean anything, because the entire world will be online, all the time.
The fact that all humans of the world will have access to the read/write web, will thus change the way we think about our jobs and employment. I think the job market will become more competitive for a few reasons. The first reason why employment will become more competitive is already happening in today’s world. The versatility of digital computing and read/write web technologies has already changed the way employers choose to hire a particular candidate for a job. Today, many employers hire people who do not live in the same location as their company. In fact, some of these people live thousands of miles away from each other, and use web-based technologies to perform their occupation. This has led to companies being able to hire the best candidates in the world for a particular job, which thereby makes the job market more competitive for individuals who assume they will get a job because they are “local” to a particular area.
When employees hire the best candidates possible for a job, the concept of work will soon change. Some of the work that human beings currently carry out will be taken over by machines such as robots, because these technological devices will perform tasks faster and with more consistent efficiency. The tasks and expectations of human work will then also change. By 2020, employees will solely be evaluated (hired or fired) on their creative abilities to generate a desired product. Essentially, this means work is about money, and the ability to produce this commodity. These two factors just mentioned will lead to a more competitive job market, but they will also lead to a change in the way the entire world views money/currency.
In 2020, electronic transactions will be a necessity, personal checks will be obsolete, and cash money will be rare. Although I never think that cash money will completely disappear, I do think its rarity will enable it to act like a “back up system”, similar to the way that we view gold as our back-up system today.
I also believe that there will soon be a struggle for a few common world currencies, rather than having thousands of different world currencies like we do today. This consolidation of world currencies will result from the fact that some parts of the world have more money, superior technologies, and better resources to create a product that is valued by the human race and the world. I envision the world currency holders being those countries/nations/continents who currently have leading roles in the G20 summit, such as: United States, Great Britain, Europe (euro), Russia, China, and Japan.
In the future, I think the U.S. dollar will continue to be a strong contender for world power because in 2020 the countries of the world will still be fighting over money that is associated with limited commodities (oil, fuel), and illegal commodities (drugs, guns, etc.); both of which are currently exchanged in values of U.S. dollars.
By the year 2020, all of these world changes will drastically revolutionize the field of education and the ways we teach students how to learn. One change that has already started to take place is that every student (K – 12) in public education will be provided with a tablet and access to the Internet by a child’s school district. By 2020, these mobile technology devices will no longer be a extra perk, but instead be an absolute necessity because all curriculum and textbooks will then be in a digital format (such as an e-book).
Another change in education that will take place in the future is the role of the teacher. While I do not believe that teachers/educators will become obsolete, I do think their role as a “physical person” within the “physical classroom” will decrease. I believe that in the near future, teachers will be required to create two equivalent versions of the course(s) they teach; a “classroom version” and an “online version”. While it may be more difficult for certain subjects (such as my own, chemistry) to create an equivalent online version of their class, I do believe the necessary software is currently available on today Internet; it’s just a matter of making all of these educational technologies more affordable. For my own classroom, I assume it will be possible someday to create a valid online laboratory experiment, where students will experience an event that is very similar to physically conducting an experiment in the classroom.
In the near future, there will also be a large change in the way human beings learn information. By 2020, education will be “personalized”, or adapted to the wants and needs of individual students. Different people have different learning styles (e.g., visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic) and variations between learning styles of teachers and students can sometimes hinder learning. In the future, advances in computers and technology will enable a student to learn information using a learning style that best suits him/her. In addition to changing how students will learn, there will also be a change in what types of information students will learn.
When schools are able to create an equivalent online version of each class they offer, this will result in students having the ability to make more choices about their own educational path, because they will no longer be hindered from taking a desired course due to schedule conflicts or maximized capacity. By 2020, students will have much more control over the courses they choose/not choose to take, and these students will also be Internet gurus. I predict that these two factors will lead to drastic changes in the types of courses that will both be offered by schools and taken by students. In the future, I predict there will be an increase in technology and engineering classes, because these are the skills that students will need to have when they enter the globalized workforce of the future.
While the year 2020 is only 5.5 years away, the world as we know it will look and function very differently than it does today as a result in advances in computers and digital technology. The endless possibilities that lie within the power of Internet will ultimately serve as a force that will drive the human race and the world into the future. These changes will drastically alter the fields of medicine, the world’s accessibility to the Internet, the work force/employment, the global economy, and many more disciplines. One discipline that will be affected by these changes is the field of education. In the near future, these advances in technology will change the roles and tasks of both classroom teachers/educators and students. There will be a major shift in how students learn, and also what types of information they choose to learn. The end result is a cycle: learning will promote advances in technology, and advances in technology will promote additional learning. This process will serve as a key component to drastically change our world today and create a world of the future.
The Next Web. (2014). 20 Visions of Life in the Year 2020. Retrieved July 21, 2014, from http://thenextweb.com/insider/2014/01/27/20-visions-life-year-2020/#!txfKn