Thoughts on the future of EdTech

This post was originally written as part of a 'Thoughts on the future of EdTech' blog series on the Ed Personnel Blog.


“The only constant is change.”  
- Heraclitus


There are two things that strike me when thinking about the future of EdTech. Firstly it’s the fact that we are quite simply incapable of “knowing” what EdTech might look like in the future and even what we “imagine” seems to be limited by what we already do. For instance, when educators are asked to predict the future of EdTech it concerns me that they often appear to be simply predicting current best practice becoming more widespread. Not exactly aspirational. Secondly, there is the fact that the EdTech itself is actually nowhere as interesting as the potential transformation of the wider pedagogical landscape that EdTech will make possible.

“The future is unknowable but not unimaginable.”
- Ludwig Lachman


If I were to be safe in my thoughts on the future of EdTech I would focus on how EdTech will support the shift to more widespread student centred practice. Digitally rich pedagogy, critical thinking, and increasing levels of self direction will ensure we are developing learners who can “survive” in the knowledge age (the age we live in now). EdTech has the capacity (when readily available and used effectively) to move us from having 'caged' classrooms to increasingly 'free range learners'.


Free range learners who are:
  • Free to choose how they learn
  • Free to choose where they learn
  • Free to choose how they process their learning
  • Free to choose how they evidence their learning
  • Free to experience learning that is relevant and responsive to their needs not our limitations


“Unlocking the power of new technologies for self-guided education is one of the 21st century superhighways that need to be paved.” 
- Sugata Mitra


However if I were to be brave and be more brutally honest about what the future of EdTech might entail I would go further.


“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”
- Jack Welch


I believe that the future of EdTech will actually facilitate something even more exciting - the partial dissolution of what we have come to know as “school”. I suspect that if schools continue to struggle to evolve and to leverage the power of EdTech effectively and cannot change at a rate that mirrors the rate of change in wider society we will begin to see a society that questions the relevance of such a formal and seemingly inflexible structure. In fact, it is possible that we could see the whole notion of school questioned and the relevance of formal education challenged as future generations refuse to accept the glacial pace of change and instead harness the powers of EdTech to form something akin to connected home-schooling community. You only need look at the global proliferation of democratic schools and rising profile of hackschooling to get a sense that this shift has already begun. And whilst democratic schools, for the most part, still base themselves in what we might recognise as a school, I do wonder if the ubiquity and autonomy that EdTech affords learners, we may see that change as well.


The future of EdTech is one of disruption, democratization and for some, complete dissonance.


Before you dismiss this as little more than a pedagogical fantasy, I would suggest that you at least stop to consider the future of EdTech as something more than the status quo on steroids and I implore you recognise that what is really exciting is not the EdTech at all, but rather how EdTech might help to redefine what “an education” might look like in the not distant future.

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