To see the future of technology in the classroom -- and how it will change the way classes look -- we should probably start with college. Although we can't predict how technology will change, we can make some assumptions about how it will trickle down. Of course, university students are now almost uniformly armed with laptops. But they also often work with Learning Management Systems like Blackboard to post papers, receive instructions or discuss assignments or lectures. This is already starting to show up in lower grades; not just to monitor school work, but to allow parents to keep up and keep tabs on students' grades, homework and progress.
This speaks to a larger trend that technology might lead to in the future. Customizing the student's learning experience has become a hot (and debated) topic. Chris Dede and John Richards are Harvard University professors who propose a digital teaching platform called Time to Know that allows teachers to formulate large and small group learning, as well as individual education. They envision a classroom where each student has a computer, but the teacher can press a button to make all devices freeze, capturing a large group's attention. Beyond that, the teachers would use the broader big-group lessons to let each child find an individual understanding of how that lesson impacts them, personally [source: Dede and Richards]. But how would that occur?
As Dede and Richards point out, our classrooms don't lack content. With the Internet and the technology that lets us connect to resources around the world, what teachers now need is a system to assess what content is going to be most valuable to their class. These digital teaching platforms will have assessments that will theoretically help teachers determine a curriculum that's best for their community, classroom and even each individual student, in real time.
This idea of customization through digital teaching platforms is interesting, but let's consider some of the actual tools that might be used in the future classroom -- as well as some warnings about how technology might impact education negatively.