What will a New York classroom look like in 2020? What school supplies used in today's world will be obsolete, and what will still be useful? These are just some of the difficult questions currently being looked at by school officials across New York state, as new advances in technology continue to change how classrooms operate in our area.
Nikhil Goyal, author of "One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student's Assessment of School," thinks the entire student-teacher relationship may change by 2020, as educators ease into the role of mentors.
"I would hope that by 2020, the institution of school becomes unraveled," said Goyal. "We would have city- and community-as-a-school models. Tapping into that potential, young people would be given the full reins over their learning, and teachers would transform into guides and mentors. School would turn into another public space, like a library, a museum, or a community center."
Goyal, a Syosset, New York, resident who was named one of the "World Changers" on Dell's #Inspire 100 list, is one of New York's young creative thinkers who may influence technology education in New York over the next decade.
"I'm currently working on the Be.App with some folks in Colorado, which could unleash the chaos and creativity within our communities," Goyal added. "We would set a community free to experiment, tinker, and collaborate with one another on projects and engagement."
Goyal explained that easily downloadable apps such as the one he's working on will likely be part of typical student education in New York by 2020.
Goyal's app is a designated space for people to talk to themselves, think for themselves, and use their minds. The app places an emphasis on user friendliness and optional looping to whatever degree. Its main drive is helping people think for themselves and learn how to learn, all while helping people with the same questions and ideas connect. With the Be.App, people will be connected within a community in order to do things that matter to them.
First-Graders With iPads?
IPads, Smart Boards, and online assessments are no farfetched dream, as some New York schools are already in the process of preparing for what a classroom will look like a few short years from now.
In Suffolk County, New York, the Babylon School District recently provided iPads to elementary school students for a technology scavenger hunt in which first-graders from the school scanned QR codes to find new clues.
The iPad scavenger hunt also included the use of e-readers, an interactive lesson plan, and an online stylus that is expected by some to be part of the wave of the future for technology in the classroom.
Just a few miles west in Nassau County's Herricks School District, students are already enjoying project-based learning with Smart Boards, as educators move away from the long-standing tradition of teaching from the front and center of the classroom.
The Smart Boards help create a personalized learning environment for students, as their interests are explored through the use of interactive instructional tools and eye-catching graphics. Smart Boards, which have the capabilities to cater to many different teaching styles, help increase technology literacy for students, and many believe they will be a big part of education moving forward.
Besides the use of Smart Boards and iPads inside the classroom, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are helping school officials get the word out about school-related information.
At What Cost?
Many of New York's young students are already familiar with iPhones, Kindles, e-books, and iPods, along with social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. This new classroom environment will not only be familiar to them; it will be what is expected.
But as an increasing number of New York classrooms are going digital, the verdict is still out on whether new, emerging technologies are actually enhancing the learning experience or creating unnecessary distractions.
Technology breakdowns are common, as Smart Boards sometimes don't function property, Internet servers crash, and tablets freeze. Study time is lost due to technology malfunctions, and laptops, cell phones, and iPads may add distraction if not used properly.
Eric Holden, a lifelong New York resident, handles public relations for schools across the state, so he sees first-hand the ever-changing technologies taking shape in local districts. Follow him on Twitter @EricHolden.
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