My View: Predictions for the next decades of education
Kids tried out laptops at a tech fair in Germany this year, but a futurist predicts more screens in classrooms.
December 28th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

My View: Predictions for the next decades of education

Courtesy Mark HinesBy David Houle, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: David Houle is a futurist and author of the blog Evolution Shift. He is the author of “The Shift Age”, "Shift Ed: A Call to Action for Transforming K-12 Education" and "Entering the Shift Age." He has been a contributor to Houle is futurist-in- residence at the Ringling College of Art + Design in Sarasota, Florida.

(CNN) - When people find out that I am a futurist, they ask me what that means. In speaking and writing, I act as a catalyst to get people, the market and the world to think about the future, then facilitate a conversation about it.

There’s one area that’s desperately in need of that conversation: education.

In the next decade, there will be more transformation at all levels of education than in any 10-, 20-, or perhaps 50-year period in history. Generational forces at play will accelerate these changes. The aging baby boomers - who I call the “bridge generation,” as they have bridged education from the middle of the 20th century to now - are retiring in ever increasing numbers. They have held on to the legacy thinking about education, remembering how they were taught. Their retirement opens up the discussion about transformation.

At the same time, we have the rising digital natives as the students of tomorrow. This generation, born since 1997, is the first that was likely to grow up with a computer in the house, high-speed Internet, parents with cell phones and often a touch screen app phone as their first phone. They are the first generation of the 21th century with no memory of the 20th. They are the first generation born into the information-overloaded world; for them, that’s simply the way it is. The digital natives are different than prior generations and need new models for education.

Let’s take a quick look for all levels of education to see what some major transformations will be:


A child born in 2009 is one of the younger digital natives. In upper-middle class households, they are the first children for whom all content can be found on screens. They are using touch screen and other interactive computing devices starting as early as 2, and therefore walk into the first day of preschool or nursery school with a level of digital skills. This will spark greater use of digital devices and interactive learning at this first level of education. Classrooms will increasingly have interactive touch screen devices.

Neuroscience is in a golden age. We have discovered more about the working of the brain and for the sake of this level of education the development of a child’s brain in the past 20 years than in all time prior. It will become clear that, to the degree that we can bring this knowledge into pre-K education, we can more fully develop the minds and learning of young children.

K-12 education

The elevation and integration of digital interactivity is soaring in K-12 education. School districts are setting up cloud computing to provide always-available information for always-connected education communities. Schools that used to make students turn off cellular devices during the school day are allowing them to remain on and become an integral part of the classroom education. If all of the world’s knowledge and information are just a few keystrokes away, why make the classroom the only unconnected place students experience?

My View: Flipped classrooms give every child a chance to succeed

Self-directed learning - the interaction of the student with learning courses on a computer - will accelerate education and provide more students with the opportunity to learn at a challenging pace. Connectivity will bring the world ever more into the classroom and will allow for the grammar school and the high school to be more involved in the local community and the larger global community.

Higher education

Higher education is approaching bubble status. The costs have risen rapidly, beyond the ability of most families to pay. Debt is being taken on at unprecedented levels and in an economic climate that is not providing the high-paying jobs necessary for that debt to be retired. At the same time, employers complain of a skills gap: the inability to hire employees with the skills needed to perform these new technologically demanding jobs.

Given these challenges, I can see three major changes coming to higher education during the next decade:

First, there will be a dual level of degree granted. The traditional path, costing more than $100,000 with four years of being on campus, will continue. The nontraditional one, perhaps initially a certificate rather than degree program, will cost perhaps $10,000 to $20,000 and will rely on the taking of video and online courses and the passing of exams. This will allow the student a financially viable choice, the university with a new revenue stream and the employer with a comparative choice for hiring. It will also open up higher education to a vastly greater number of people, young and old.

Second, this comparative choice will drive the educational institutions to increase efficiency, adaptability and relevancy to the standard degree. The university model is centuries old and in need of transformation. This is about to happen.

Third, the two-year associate degree from a community college will become more exalted. This will provide trained job applicants who are less worried about being educated and more concerned with up-to-date training that will provide immediate employment. Everyone does not need or should go to college. The 14-year education will become more respected as our society becomes ever more technologically based.

We’re already beginning to see some of these changes, in the rise of MOOCs - massive open online courses - and the integration of tablet technology and cloud computing in the classroom.

In the past two years, I have met dozens of superintendents who are creating fundamental change at the local level. Such local leadership will increase dramatically in the coming year, while, in higher ed, the consumption of high quality MOOCs will double.

The year 2013 will bring about the first steps in a transformation that, by 2020, will leave education at all levels profoundly different from it is today.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Houle.

soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Mike J

    Original piece seems more like a summary of 2012 than a prediction of the future.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Sofia

      Mike, you are right it does appear to be a summary of what is happening now, but it also contains real predictors of the future. From what I am able to decipher on this subject, introducing more technology or devices into a classroom will not necassirly make kids smarter or more engaged, instead it highlights the fact that as educators we cannot ignore the fundamental fact that the way our children think, their close connection to technology as a learning tool early on in life (e.g. leap pad products) will also determine how they acquire knowledge later on. We are still relatively clueless on how technology impacts children on the neurological level, except that in some select cases (e.g. video games) it might have the propensity to cause over-stimulation which in turn may or may not cause changes in personality under certain situations. Using technology in a way that is productive and enhances the learning environment, should be explored, albeit cautiously. The last thing we want is to educate an entire generation of kids to be entirely dependent on technology for even the most basic skills (e.g. simple mathematical concepts of multiplying or dividing two-digit numbers). Having said this, I have a strong feeling that it will be the way of the future in education. (CEO/Founder MathWhisperer Tutoring Services)

      January 8, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  2. ryan

    I have an education degree 6-12 Social Studies though am not currently employed in Education.
    When asked about the future of education the utopia I see is a group of High Schoolers on their Biology Exploration Assignment. They are out camping and using tools and apps on their tablets and phones to explore the natural world around them. I can picture them sitting around a camp fire eating wild green salads and mushroom risotto, while laughing and reading about how lazy and unorganized their parents and grandparents were because of their dependency on fast food and eating in their cars so they could rush back to work. Jobs they hated, were either under or over qualified for, ate up so much of their lives they missed out on friends/family, and were terrified to lose.

    The reality I see is a nation remaining divided and students who are fortunate enough to go to schools supported by high tax rates get early and hands on experience with new technology which gives them an advantage which carries onto University and careers. While those students whose schools lack strong tax bases continue to struggle with teaching the basics and whose students don't get the same opportunities to explore and familiarize themselves with technology.

    January 1, 2013 at 2:06 am |
    • Liz

      The BSA is already teaching (and has been for over 100 years) the nation's youth about the outdoors through Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturing programs. They are also providing the youth with strong proven leadership skills. The youth are camping, hiking, learning about the outdoors, and how giving back to the community is a great thing. These things are learned both with and without technology.

      January 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  3. Chris

    Right now I'm an engineering student and I attend High school and honestly majority of my class mates are DUMB. I'm even talking about the students who take honors level classes even some ap students. The reason there dumb is the fact that they are more concerned with what Rihanna is doing than they are about learning. Though I don't get why they are so unconcerned about being successful. An example of successful students would be my fellow class mates in ap physics(9 students in the class) and they are honestly the smartest students in the school and the reason they are is the fact that they want to learn, they don't care about what this pop star is doing, or what this "popular kid" is doing. They are more concerned about making a future for themselves and they even find learning fun. So from what I can tell its not a technology integration issue its an issue with the students caring more about what happening in the now than what will happen in there future.

    December 30, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • SB1790

      I was our high school valedictorian. I get what you're saying about the majority of your classmates being too obsessed with trivial pop culture trends and what's going on in their respective clicks. However, I've seen too many 'smart' kids end up in lower paying jobs and being passed up for promotions due to lack of social skills. Don't underestimate the value of developing complex social skills in high school. They serve you very well in adult life and especially in the work place. Ever wonder why some twit is put in charge of an entire department or research project? Chances are he or she is very adept at schmoozing the right people, networking and making friends. They make up for the lack of genuine expertise in the field by making themselves enduring to the higher ups. You've got to find a happy, healthy balance between academics and social skills. Granted, that's not always easy for some. I for one never really got the fascination with the latest pop stars, fads and the obsession with what the popular kids were doing. But they did seem to be successful in their own right, although I didn't think some of it was quite fair since most of them were at best mediocre students.

      December 31, 2012 at 9:43 am |
      • Alice in PA

        That is a great point. Many things are learned in school besides the baseline academics tested on the state tests. "Not everything of value can be measured and not everything that can be measured is of value."

        December 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Devereaux French

      "The reason there dumb is the...." you might want to go back and edit this....unless you don't realize you error...

      January 1, 2013 at 7:08 am |
  4. Knowingness

    Here's the ultimate truth. This new young generation is SMARTER and MORE INTELLIGENT than the previous generation. Deal with it. The young generation is filled with technology and advancements which were only dreams 30 years ago. Children and teenagers receive higher level and better education, and in many high schools these days, by the time you graduate, you have already learned 5 months of college education. And when the generation finishes college, it is the most intelligent generation so far. The generation is ready and eager to be in the workforce, and to use there new skills. But the old and dumb generation uses old technology and old ideas to build our economy, which completely fail. The failed economy does not give the new generation the jobs that they DESERVE. So the new generation uses their intelligence and skills in activities the challenge their brains; video games. Lots of video games. So do not accuse the new generation of being lazy or unproductive, because if they had the CHANCE to work, they would be 2 times more productive than the former generation.

    December 30, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Eleni

      @Knowingness: Don't confuse experienced with stupid. Where do you think your high tech toys came from. It wasn't from your generation but rather from mine. Engineers who dreampt such things into reality are my age, not yours and have been/are influencing the tides of education. It is what it is because of my generation. That being said, knowing the value and optimism of youth is invaluable. Neither generation can can forget its indebtedness to the other.

      December 30, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
      • Roman

        Don't forget that the people making said videogames are also "old and dumb."

        Incidentally, the OP is exemplary of the following:

        January 7, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  5. jn360

    These are interesting solutions, but changes will also have to happen in the work sector as well, for this to work. Right now, a college degree is a requirement for any job above "working-class." So if not everyone should get a degree, they should still be able to find a decent paying job. Right now, to not get a degree, is to surrender yourself to a low-income lifestyle. Also, the quality of education needs to be addressed. We need to be held to higher standards, especially since we pay so much for these degrees. We also need to address the situation of low wages for highly technical jobs. I have a degree and a highly technical job, but I don't get paid well. In fact, I have a second job, which is working class, that ironically pays better. Change needs to occur in several places: at the university, in the job sector, wages need to be more accurate to the work performed, and college degrees shouldn't be handed out like candy.

    December 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  6. mory

    Education...not sure what is meant by it it entails so many things.

    December 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  7. jasonenses

    america keeps becoming dumber and stupider every 10 years. wake up and smell the coffee. look at television, go outside and talk to the retards this nation produces

    December 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • jhlang


      December 30, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • yorkmarine1

      Did you forget about the remarkable advances in technology over the past decade. Do you really believe these types of innovations came from somewhere else. Do yourself a favor and get out in order to talk to our future instead of believing everything you hear on television and talk radio.

      December 30, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • robert delk

      edu babble the ED "PHD" wants to change and change flipped this that .Kids fell better about themselve as we lower standards to make them suceed. No criterion referenced tests they are bad for the self esteme. EDU BABBLE form a bankrupt "disicipiline" I am so sorry.... read write think and pass a AP test or wash cars for your Chinese master bubba and take your self esteme with you ' You have just been flipped stupid EDU babble. Give us real numbers real measured achievement not your warm fuzzzzyyyy crapola

      December 30, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Roman

      Why go outside when you're bringing examples right to our desks?

      January 7, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  8. MannyHM

    Let us ask the Nobel Prize winners on what type and how much education enabled them to be quite successful in their field.
    These methods should be 'graded' on how many percent agree with it, one by one. What inspired them ?
    The best lectures can now be obtained online and the student can listen at home. What remains to be puzzling and misunderstood can be brought up in school during the discussion after reading the most frequently asked Q&A.
    After learning the fundamentals, creative thinking should be nurtured.

    December 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  9. Yusto

    Try and focus a wondering mind exposed to all the gadgets and technology provided on the internet. You will lose more than half of the students who are ready to switch to a more interesting text message from their friend than follow your structure. In education it is not what is added that counts the most, it is what students and society prioritize. You still have people coming from technology inferior countries excelling in academics...How do they do it?

    December 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  10. devil's advocate?

    The people who want technology in school the most are unsurprisingly the ones who have found it the most helpful. Anyone who's ever tried to learn how to program, gone through med school or law school or any professional school, and tried to write a high school research project at the 11th hour (but is a perfectionist enough not to make up crap.)

    The people who don't want technology in school are the parents and teachers who deal with the 95% other kinds of students, who only use computers to play video games, go on facebook, and obsessively online shop.

    So, whether technology is the magic bullet depends entirely on whether you believe motivating students is the educator's responsibility, not the student's.

    December 29, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Misunderstood

      Amen brother! Everything you just said is exactly how I feel, as a teacher in a school that just distributed iPads to every high school student. You want to know why your child is failing English? Because all he does is play games he as downloaded on his school provided piece of play equipment.

      December 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
      • Eleni

        Parents have a role to play here, too folks. Without them, the primary educators of their own children, it doesn't matter what a teacher does. It will be very likely to fall on deaf ears. That being said, I would love to have a true digital writing lab for my classroom. It is where we are headed and where we need to go.

        December 30, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
      • Roman

        A parent once asked me why I had such difficulty keeping their child in line (this was after a dozen calls home, several office referrals, and suspensions). I asked her "if you had a choice between Shakespeare or the videogame in your pocket, where would your mind be?" The next day, her child came to class angry because I'd "gotten his phone taken away" and he had a crappy flip phone to carry during school instead. This was not the first time I'd tried to make that point, but this time it seemed to sink in to the parent. That student's grades shot up almost the next week.

        January 7, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  11. spent

    New advances in: games for the computers...that's it, let these children play on their computers all day and be stimulated without imagination... The computer will "think" for them.....

    December 29, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  12. spent

    Well, check the genetic scale and see what is being produced, that might lend itself to some insight.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  13. Joe Lopes

    There is no silver bullet to fix education. Educating the entire population is the most complex human initiative ever attempted. Let's give it the respect it's due. The broad stroke comments that many made in response to the article are over simplified and quite frankly come from frustration. As an educator that has worked in all K-12 levels (pre-school through continuation high school) nothing we have attempted to date has worked. To different degrees and with many individual notable cases education has been successful, but too many students have been marginalized: a human potential untapped. Just more left behind for our own future demise. In my day to day role, I wish I could outlaw Facebook for K-12 students. But that wouldn't fix the problem, just shift the focus to something else. People please stop blaming parents, teachers, technology, school boards, funding policies, and even students. The challenge is much bigger so get involved. It's a societal challenge we are not willing to address. We invest billions in defense , let's have the same resolve to have the most dynamic/responsive educational system ever. Yes, all are part of the challenge but no one thing is going to solve it. I do not profess to know the answer. But I do believe that more stake holders need to be invested in the education system if we truly want to educate ALL students: education, business, health, politics, etc. In community spirit!

    December 29, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  14. yorkmarine1

    For the past three decades every time I participate in a seminar concerning education I ask the speaker or panel how long they've taught in front of a classroom of students. Usually I am told they spent years studying the concept of public education or have had little to no association with a classroom. I then ask how anyone can produce policies about an industry, and yes, education is an industry, if they've never been an integral part of what they now discuss.

    Mr. Houle’s essay predicting how education will evolve is a case in point. His only education experience is being a futurist-in-residence at the Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida. I clearly understand public education has to evolve into our global society but some of his concepts are flawed because many are presently being used and are presently producing few positive results.

    Mr. Houle writes about how neuroscience is in a golden age. I disagree with this concept because a molecular study of our nerves and brain has just begun. I would state this science is in its infancy. The more we learn about how we learn the closer we will get to the concept of having what we know programmed into our minds. In other words, the real future of education is the concept of uploading all that is known about our world into minds that can overwhelm all known modern computers. You see computers are simply a tool and not a philosophy of how we should educate our children. Programs like VHS (Virtual High School), and Khan Academy do show success with a very limited number of students. Most students do not respond to a machine that can’t respond to them.

    Mr. Houle goes on to describe a future in which students will direct themselves toward what they want to learn. This is not the future. This is the present and I am sorry to say it simply does not work. He talks about levels of degrees earned. This will condemn our society to a future of leaders, entrepreneurs, and scientists who will only come from a pool of the rich. The top 2% who primarily isn’t interested in innovation because they don’t want the world they live in to change.

    Finally I am only a teacher. I am not an esteemed professor of education and I’ve never professed to be a futurist. I do have over three decades of working with remarkable young men and women who will succeed no matter how many times people tell them they will fail.

    You can view many of my writings on education in the blog: “Dinosaur of Education”

    December 29, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  15. ed

    THe blog misses or ignores several needed changes to the current education model. First, at present most of the funding derives from property tax, and a broader, more equitable basis for revenue needs to be put in place. Second, we have to get past toe 1850 model of local school boards setting policy, standards for graduation, and staff salaries so that competent, highly skilled college students will become teachers. A master's degree in science or math or engineering will result in an annual salary of $125,000, or more, but the same degree in education earns about half that amount.Talent follows the money. Third, the present system of subsidizing special education results in the greatest expenditure going to students with the least potential. I am not advocating ignoring special needs students, I was a special education teacher for 30 years. But we need to put the emphasis and funding on students who will become the engineers and doctors and business executives.

    December 29, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • SgtStriker

      Hey, here in the People's Republic of California there is a constant stream of propositions and legislation calling for more money to be thrown at education. It's "for the children" is the usual plea. Well it obviously isn't a money issue. No matter how much money is thrown at the problem our statistics indicate that our students leave the K-12 system with horrible grammar, spelling, math skills etc. Don't ask me for more money... And, as the father of a special needs child, I actually agree in part with you. Some children will never benefit from placements where teachers and students are legally forced to accommodate the special needs child. Some parents use the system to keep their child in "mainstream" classes that their child cannot possibly keep up with academically, and that wastes funds as well as the time and efforts of teachers, and disrupts the studies of fellow students.

      December 30, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
      • Roman

        I overall agree with the points you've made, with one exception: many of those problems ARE a money issue, but not necessarily a "we need more money" issue. More money would be nice, but more oversight into how money is spent would also be very nice. Many people rail against athletic programs as a budget black hole, and being someone who is not fond of athletics dominating academia, I want so desperately to agree, but many of those programs pay for themselves. Every year, the federal DoE publishes a financial report card breaking down the total funding of every public school and how the money was allocated. Searching the couple dozen schools I well enough to judge in ability, there were several trends in how they spent their money that seemed to be consistent with successful schools, or inversely unsuccessful schools. This is, of course, a limited assumption and requires more datamining, but in an age where we're calling for more responsible federal budgeting, it might be a good idea to really dig in and define responsible budgeting at all levels.

        January 7, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  16. Glenn Wilson


    As an educator myself, I have seen the "wonders" of a self-directed digital education. Here in Chicago, it's called IVHS (Illinois Virtual High School). It is popular with the students. Why, you ask? A 19-week course can be completed in two days. The students have explained to me that you just keep clicking next until you get to an assessment, which you can then fail and retry up to five times (the exact same one) and then go back to the 'click next' routine.

    This may be a controversial statement, but MOST students (teenagers) will take the EASIEST route, not the BEST route for themselves. I guess this statement may apply to some adults as well.

    Companies that manufacture high tech gadgetry see big $$$ in education and want a piece of the pie, nothing more. Young people don't need help integrating technology into their lives: they exceed the adults in that capacity.

    However, they still get basic arithmetic wrong on their $150 calculators because they don't really understand Order of Operations.

    December 29, 2012 at 6:34 am |
  17. Mom

    The Ten Commandments...those are the Ten Principles.

    December 29, 2012 at 6:25 am |
  18. zdaw

    As a teacher at a progressive secondary school that values self-directed learning, I can attest to the remarkable decline in students of many of the skills that we value in academics and in human beings. This decline has conicided with their increased digital nativity; there is an apparent inverse relationship. The trend to consider increased use of technology in the classroom as a means of better education is attractive to students and parents alike, but it does not necessarily hold true in the classroom.

    December 29, 2012 at 6:18 am |
  19. Joe

    Screw the K12 meter, check out the K2 meter for ghost hunting. Best in the business and a great way to communicate with ghosts.

    December 29, 2012 at 6:01 am |
  20. MarcNJ

    1. Self-directed grade school education has failed in every country that has tried it.
    2. Over-dependence on digital is just plain ignorant. There are going to come times in a person's life when they are going to have to figure things out with their own knowledge.
    3. The US is trying to develop itself into a white collar society. But the fact is, skilled, manual labor still needs to get done. Stop basing everything on computers. Develop the cognitive problem solving skills that are so lacking in what is coming out of our high schools.

    December 29, 2012 at 2:09 am |
  21. Joe

    Schools are strapped for money. Technology is expensive and rapidly changing. Schools and teachers cannot keep up with the cost, let alone the time investment required for learning and applying new technologies meaningfully in the classroom. This leads to the conclusion that under current (and foreseeable) conditions, schools cannot do better than students with good access to technology at home, and cannot do enough for students without good access to technology at home.

    I believe that the most important role education can play in the lives of our students is inspiring a life-long love of learning. If we can get that right, everyone will benefit.

    December 28, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Rajesh Kumar

      Why you need technology money. School need duster and chalk and good teacher. That is all need to make them learn science and mathematics. All these ipad and iphone and costly gadgets. It would not them fancy but not them smart. Every student get same hours to study. Either they can waste their time on Facebook chat or do their home work. Choice is yours not children. What you will teach . they will follow.

      December 29, 2012 at 3:55 am |
  22. NYC Teacher

    Ugh. This over-emphasis on technology is shortchanging our learners and our teachers.

    Yes, students need to become technologically literate in order to "compete" in today's world. And, yes, to some extent, technology offers unprecedented access to information. It has its place in education. I love to see my students gathering information from all possible sources– the Internet, books, media, each other...

    But: school should be a place of face-to-face connection. It should be a place of collaboration and negotiation. Perhaps the most important things students learn are about working together, socializing, and interacting. Too much focus on technology robs students of essential experiences, struggles, and life lessons.

    It saddens me to think that books like Feed or Super-Sad True Love Story may come true...

    December 28, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Bo

      Face-to-face is essential since the nonverbal communication cues are absent in most of the tech world. Ninety percent or more of our communication messages are non-verbal. Tech doesn't cover that.

      December 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Gibberish

      Get used to it – online education will be the premier learning means for future generations. Physical interaction will evolve. It used to take 97% of us to feed the rest; today 3% feed the rest and we have progressed leap and bounds.

      December 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
      • Justin

        What you forget is that those 3 percent are adults. Children's brains are still developing and do not possess the same cognitive abilities as an adult. Face to face, physical contact, and tactile stimuli are important. A child needs to interact and socialize with peers his or her own age to become a well rounded individual. School might not always be positive, but it does teach a child how to interact in the real world. Children, like adults, won't always get along and need to develop problem solving and resolution skills. Technology only goes so far.

        - From a Certified Teacher and a Person with a Degree in Information Security.

        December 29, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • talon331

      I have found this article truthful to a point of what is to come in the next 10 years but, again, sigh, I thought my generation would have been mentioned at the very least. You know that area between Boomers and Millennials. Disgraceful. Gen Xers are doing the hard work now for the Gen Y's to have their day but, yet we as a generation are denied. This person is an educator or was ans should have known better. Boomers are working and retiring, Gen Xer's have learned and now are working for them and Millenials are well just starting out. Umm, Gen X are the next to retire and before then are props are due and will be if not already. Mil's have a long way to go. And all of this coming from an educator himself. I don't know him but, I am ashamed of him for not acknowledging that we do exist and close to becoming the majority of working people in this country.

      To his credit I say he is right the 2 yr associate plus online courses is what is already hear. I know I did it over 15 years ago and was laughed at. Not so much any more and I saw what he said coming even then. So he gets my respect for pointing that out since it was Gen Xer's like me that made that though of education and succeeding possible. Just saying.

      December 29, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  23. Alan

    Kids do not have the ability to elf direct.......thats why we have adults. Left to their own, kids will play, not learn.....what is needed is articles from know, the people who are actually the experts on how kids learn. Our country is full of politicians, pundits and futurists who think that because they may have attended school themselves, it makes them an I have had my teeth cleaned, so now I am a dentist....fools

    December 28, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Alice in PA


      December 29, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  24. Adebo @

    Mr. Houle (and commentators), I want to bring into this conversation a point of view that is neither for nor against ...but with an intent to expand our shortsightedness (as individual beings). From this article, with the following statement, "A child born in 2009 is one of the younger digital natives ...", "Schools that used to make students turn off cellular devices during the school day..." and "Connectivity will bring the world ever more into the classroom ... more involved in ... the larger global community.", I would like to point out that we, Americans and industrialized nations, are not alone in this "larger global community". Hence, as we look into this futuristic future, let us have futuristic plans of how to give up on the "sympathetic charity" of giving material provision but rather mental capabilities to neighboring kids (in developing nations), so that this future we talk about is an ENJOYABLE one!

    December 28, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  25. GMAN

    It's tempting to say we should give in to technology and let it invade every remaining facet of our lives, but I think it's a mistake. There is still no beating face-to-face communication between humans. We pay attention to real people because that's how we evolved to communicate and learn. Turn off the technology. I'm a college professor and I do not allow technology in the classroom. Students have zero discipline and can't help but distract themselves with facebook, e-mail, and video games. Maybe if somebody designs digital content to resemble the way humans actually learn and can promote deep learning this might work.

    December 28, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  26. Teacher

    The article states that: "Schools that used to make students turn off cellular devices during the school day are allowing them to remain on and become an integral part of the classroom education. If all of the world’s knowledge and information are just a few keystrokes away, why make the classroom the only unconnected place students experience?" As a teacher of 15 years, I will tell you exactly why the classroom should be cut off from smart phones – the kids use them to text their friends, cheat on tests, watch YouTube clips or episodes of the office or listen to music while I am trying to teach them biology! It is a DISTRACTION! Kids are NOT using them to get educated. You really think that some kid googling a topic and ending up on some unreliable website is the way for kids to get information? C'mon.

    December 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Victor

      Then that's an issue of classroom management, not technology. Consider it akin to passing notes in class...what would we do 10 years ago if we caught a student doing that?

      December 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
      • Alice in PA

        That is the type of gross oversimplification that fuels the forced input of technology into classrooms without thinking through the consequences. Passing a physical note that can be confiscated is nothing compared to being on Facebook or taking pictures of test questions or even of teachers that can pater be captioned and put on the web. And all of this can be done without any evidence to be used to accuse the student. Of course there is a place for technology. As a nationally board certified science teacher of 20 years, I use computer based data acquisition and analysis. However, many of the Web 2.0 tools are fluff coated in smoke and mirrors. No deep knowledge being gained – just pretty pictures and multiple choice test prep. Technocrats assume a classroom full of motivated students who want to learn curriculum which is not meaningful right now, but will be later in life. This rose coloured view does not hold true in the real world of under motivated, underfed, under rested, under parented, over tested students. If we want to improved education, a mouse click is only a pretty bandaid...and not even one with antibacterials ointment. Teachers know how to improve schools, but no one asks because the solutions are not cute, are not flashy and are expensive.

        December 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
      • Roman

        When you get called into a concern conference with a parent and your principal because you confiscated a $500 piece of folded up notebook paper, let me know. Smart phones have forever changed the teaching profession and trying to oversimplify that impact is very counterproductive. A lazy student with a smart phone is a nightmare, especially when your power is in eventual consequences and not right-this-second consequences. Yes, you will win the war, but the student only cares about that battle. Teenagers are not well-known for thinking about the future.

        January 7, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • Misunderstood

      But they were messaging their mom, because they forgot their lunch right? And you can't cause them of being a cheater without catching them, and with 35+ kids in a classroom you can't be everywhere. As a teacher I would love to say that every student is yearning for all the knowledge that we can give them in the 45 minutes they are in our room, but realistically of that time we maybe get 20 minutes of focused attention. Most of the time technology just interferes.

      December 30, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  27. dewittrobinson

    Interesting read.

    December 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  28. Billy Handsomeface

    Number one education fix: Get the parents to care!!!

    December 28, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Bo


      December 28, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  29. Two Eight

    ......are these kids going to be armed?

    December 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  30. cessie

    How come nobody ever asks the kids what/how they want to learn? the three r's are important but the most important learning tool is ..THINK! If you think you have questions, you then want answers, so you start hunting for answers. That's real learning!

    December 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Rags to riches student solutions

      Very interesting. Most all is being well voiced here.

      The answer is at our fingertips. What many of us fail to tap into are solutions from the most innovative and resilient students. the pool of so called marginalized "bad" students. True 'they' may be or are uncommited derilicts, as is, in their current immature state or toxic environment. However under great leadership those very same students "in the hot seats" know the issues with precision accuracy and in child/ adolescent like terms articulate details to customized solutions, to include adaptive or restructured applications required to evolve.

      If cant beat'm, recruit them. You will be surprised beyond your wildest imagination. It takes one to know one, on both sides of the aisles, so I will be the first one to tell you it is easier said than done but the ROI pays dividends we (either side) can't succeed without. In my opinion this is why we struggle historically and give accolades for education achievements (provided or earned).

      Admittedly not a novel idea to convert the classroom 'problems' to classroom 'leaders/solvers/enforcers'. obviously challenging, the ones that have are some of the most credible and esteemed of our history.

      Great Thanks to all for your sincere interests and efforts. You are clearly the movement that makes our resolve great.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  31. JIm Walker

    I have a Master's degree in Instructional Technology. There is no solid evidence that interactions with digital media is more effective at relating content than traditional methods. In fact, technologies are often just left overs from business and not designed just for education. Also, these require training of teachers and learning curves before they are effective.

    Online education suffers from an inability to determine who is actually taking the course, and all assignments and tests are open-book by nature. Even new 'lockdown browsers' cannot stop the use of a second computer or smartphone. Online education packs entire semesters of work into as little as 5 weeks. Online classes are often so large that little or no individual attention can be provided by professors, and there is next to no social interaction between students to share ideas outside of discussion forums where students simply agree with each other asynchronously.

    Our education system needs serious help and the idea that technology is the magic bullet is misplaced faith.

    December 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Sarah

      The large for-profit universities do that because it allows them to take on more students. They often don't even care who is really taking the class or submitting the work. When I taught for one I was even instructed to pass students that plagiarized because 'students that fail don't sign up for more courses'.

      All of that aside, this doesn't have to be how online classes work. It takes more work but they can be taught in a way that has just as much screening for valid submissions by students. Sometimes that means a mix of online and in-person sessions. Sometimes it means live sessions where students video stream into the course. It definitely means changing how we approach assignments. Tests can't be multiple choice anymore. They must require critical thinking. Feel free to use that book but you have to build on what it says. Plagiarism checks should be the norm not the exception. Students should understand that plagiarism is not the only form of academic dishonesty that will result in failure. Assignments can not be re-assigned over and over again from semester to semester without substantial change.

      To do this we will have to treat and pay professors for their work. No more relying on adjuncts that would earn more per hour flipping burgers.

      December 28, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • IkeNewton

      I agree. Most of this "futurist's" concepts are warmed over ideas from decades ago. Google Daniel T. Willingham to read his insights into the way brain science has been misapplied to justify countless rounds of experimentation in the field of education. I am also quite competent in the use of technology (Computer Science minor) but to be successful, kids need to be able to pay attention to details and to comprehend complex writing. It's amazing that the Education Counterculture has been "improving" our skills for the past half century and the result is that, increasingly we have to get the talent to run our economy from nations whose school systems are even more traditional than those of the US were in the 1960s. At some point, the massive waste of our children's potential will bring about cascading collapse of our economy. Memorizing content has to be a beginning (not an ending) point for education. Deep thought requires deep knowledge. Otherwise, it's just spitting in the wind.

      December 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  32. larry5

    My daughter started with the basics for the grand kids and they are light years ahead of their peers that started with so called modern ideas and self esteem building. It appears that a good foundation in the basics of reading, writing and math is the way to go. Getting answers right instead of feeling good about failed attempts may be a lot more work but the efforts pay off.

    December 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  33. Mike

    Yeah, my school in GA didn't get that memo. Still paper and pencil and same old boring preacher style teaching.

    December 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  34. palintwit

    I'd rather be locked in a room full of squeaky balloons than have to listen to Sarah Palin's voice.

    December 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  35. Emily

    What has "worked" over the past 100 years of education is fine if we continue to believe that only 25% of our country needs a higher education and the remaining 75% can work in the factory. It "works" if we still believe that the grading system set up by the army for determining fitness for duty is still an accurate measure of learning and acheivement in the classroom. And it "works" if you think we live in the same economy we did 100 years ago. A teacher myself, our public education system is as broken as our government. One committee in a distant baord room deciding what is best for the entire district or how to teach students they don't even know is ridiculous. Teachers close off their classrooms and refuse collaboration or differentiation because that's not how they were taught. Special Education laws that allow for students to be diagnosed with "non-specific learning disabilities" which teach them they have to work less to acheive the same results as the "regular" education student. We no longer allow kids to fail and learn from their mistakes, rather, they can hand in assignments when ever they want, retake tests if they didn't do well, consider a "D-" acceptable, and the worst consequence we can enforce is being sent to the principal's offce or sit in a classroom for an hour after school? The answer is right in our faces: What we are doing IS NOT working!!!!

    December 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  36. tiedyedeb

    Oh, UGH! That's my reaction to the Preschool section.

    Gotta love this gem: "Neuroscience is in a golden age. We have discovered more about the working of the brain and for the sake of this level of education the development of a child’s brain in the past 20 years than in all time prior. It will become clear that, to the degree that we can bring this knowledge into pre-K education, we can more fully develop the minds and learning of young children."

    Sensory input is VITAL to the wiring of young brains. Not "touching a screen to evoke a reaction of some kind," but touching different textures, different levels of resistance, different shapes and sizes. Hearing sounds form a WIDE variety of sources – NOT speakers on a bloody iPad!. Seeing a HUGE variety of shapes and colors and sizes and visual textures and distances – not as far away as one can hold a tablet – in different levels of lighting. Smelling and tasting – go ahead, I DARE you to try THAT on a laptop.

    No no no NO NO NO!!!!!

    Does this mean I think we should go all Luddite in preschool? Not necessarily. But first and foremost, children should be getting as much information from REAL life, not life as projected on screens of any size – as humanly possible. Take them outside. Give them PAINTS, messy PAINTS. Let them sink their hands into sand and water and mud, and make things with yarn, using scissors. Let them bang on pots and pans, and play dress-up and house. (You may have noticed I left out "cram early literacy and numeracy down the throats of children who are not neurologically wired to learn them in the ways most schools teach them. ;-))

    December 28, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • brian lei

      I could not agree more! Keep that Ipad away from your two-year-old! Neuroscience/conceptual research has shown us that ALL higher conceptual learning is based upon real tactile interaction and sensory maps and body logic. Run, jump, squeak, squish, smash, bang and roll: without it your child's mind is doomed. I would go as far to say that movements like "Maker Faire" are an attempt to rectify the LACK of real-world-physical-learning experienced by children.

      December 28, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
      • blind one

        Ipads are also bad for your child's vision. The longer you hold out the less you'll have to spend on glasses.

        December 28, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  37. empresstrudy

    Walk into any schoolroom of the last 100 years and you would feel entirely at home and familiar with every single thing there with the exception of some technology.

    Now compare that to walking into a workplace of a hundred years ago and I bet you would be utterly baffled by nearly everything there and how things are done. And visa versa.

    Now drink that in a while and tell me why YOU think education is a mess......

    December 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  38. Boomer in Mo

    The problem is, most of the students I come in contact with are lazy to the max. Their parents don't get them to school on time most days, they won't do homework and Mom and Dad don't make them, you have to birddog them constantly to get classroom assignments done. It goes on. Education is not valued by many students and many parents. They would prefer to be uneducated failures than make some effort to learn.

    December 28, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  39. Joan Storey

    I see all this as probable but it is only one side of the education arena. Education needs also to move ahead in educating the 'whole' child. Without an emotionally, physically and mentally healthy receptacle for data education is meaningless and at times dangerous.

    December 28, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  40. John

    As a current teacher of 15 years, I find these types of articles amusing. The way the baby boomers were taught seemed to work pretty well since they are the greatest generation that this country has produced in the eyes of many. Those teachers are the ones who I taught me to love education and appreciate it, and it is because of many of them that I am a teacher today. My classroom is very interactive and the students I have love it, but at the same time why do we need to listen to people tell us that we need to be more digital, and need to shift our focus, and blah blah blah. Instead of searching for a holy grail, lets look at what has worked over the past 100 years of public education in this country, and while many approaches have come and gone, I would suggest that 10 principles exist or can be found that we can all bulid a solid foundation on. I realize that technology is here, and the students know how to use it, but this does not mean that we abandon past practice that was successful, and it does not mean that we ignore what people with 35+ years of experience did that made their classrooms fantastic places of education where many successful individuals were produced each year. I bet that the "new standards" are gone in 3 to 5 years, and we are once again searching for solutions that I believe are right in front of our faces.

    December 28, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Rita Hernandez

      And what are those 10 priciples? Some of us would like to know your full thoughts.

      December 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
      • Nita Sanchez

        1. Corn 2. Whiskey 3. Hand lotion 4. Nickelodeon 5. Air brushing 6. fiddle 7. rainbow sherbert 8 . Italian Mafia 9. cream cheese 10. NASCAR

        December 28, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Scott

      Thanks for your insight and well written reply. I have been a teacher for 24 years and I will probably retire within the next three years. I have seen so many ideas come and go and I am tired of all the "experts" who have never spent a day in a middle school classroom spew forth all the answers and are able to explain what the problem really is. I have tweaked my lessons, method of delivery, discipline,etc. but I will always keep my principles the same. I have a great rapport with my students and they understand their boundaries concerning respect and what I expect from them in the classroom. Not every lesson or day passes perfectly. I am who I am. I am not unwilling to change but what is lost when,futurist, politicians,education researchers, etc. spill forth their nonsense is time and energy. They have worn me down with their plethora of silly ideas that come and go. For some finanical gain is their motive and for others it is simply to be published. I can not be as shallow as the hollow degrees some academicians possess. Many answers are in front the the actual teachers doing the teaching. I am not afraid to look back and confront the issues and be part of a solution. Too many are afraid of the answers. We need to look back.

      December 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm |