Tomorrow’s Skills Today

My eldest daughter ( who is nearly 4) started her education this year in Pre-School. She may not leave formal school until it is 2030. 2030…Wow! I am just going to let that that sink in a little!

What will the world will be like in 2030? What jobs will be available?  Will there be supercomputers and zettascale computing ? Will Artificial Intelligence taken over our life? Will genetic editing be commonplace? 

What will the education systems be like? Yes, lets start there…Try this…

“What did you learn during your first twelve years of education that matters in your life today?” I love this quote from David Perkins book “Future Wise”. And how true it is. Technology is an amazing tool not just in education but in our everyday lives.

Perhaps it may help to think about other things that probably started off as strange new tools but now are inescapable parts of our daily environment, for example: the alphabet, books, electricity, running tap water, etc. These tools are behind everything that we do, they are part of the fabric of our lives.

Maybe Kim Cofino was right when she wrote about educators/adults look at technology as a tool, but our students look at it as an environment. 

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc

So why has the education system not changed because of this shift? Do we want a child spending a good part of his or her school career sitting in a classroom being trained to take tests rather than knowing how to come up with new ideas and critically solve problems that may not yet even exist.

Today’s world requires different skills than the world I grew up in. Graham Brown-Martin says it better;

We continue to use technology to reinforce 19th century teaching practice.

Freeing ourselves from these old fashioned traditional ways of teaching is a start.

But is it enough?  Is adding technology to previous lessons and unit plans the right way to go? Is integration (or as Jeff Utecht writes an add-on) of technology correct?Do we really want technology to substitute or augment ( SAMR Model)  from what was taught or learnt prior to technology? I don’t think it is.

Given the nature of global change, transforming education around the world is one of the deepest most urgent challenges we now face- Sir Ken Robinson

Technology needs to be integral to instruction, not something added in to check of the list. Technology should be redefining and modifying (SAMR model) what we are teaching and how we are teaching. After all what the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves. But how do we do this?

In todays hyper-connected world there are two theories which will shape true education reform.

Photo Credit: wpverbeek via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: wpverbeek via Compfight cc

George Siemens explains through his theory of Connectivism that because of the internet a whole new world of knowledge and resources opens up to it’s users. As educators we need to rethink what and how we are teaching to children to incorporate these ideas. Let’s harness the power of connecting with other educators, experts, children across the world by connecting and integrate it into our teaching and learning. Allowing children to use various tools (such as Twitter and Skype) to  make real connections with others and the real world around them. What could be more powerful? 

Constructivism puts inquiry, collaborative and project based learning at the forefront of education and allows learners to take control of their learning. A conecptual way of learning motivates students to learnWhen students want to know more about an idea, a topic, or an entire discipline, they put more cognitive energy into classroom investigations and discussions and study more on their own. Technology if used correctly can do this.

So what is technology integration for me? Technology integration is about communicating, connecting, creating, and collaborating with others by doing new things in new ways.

And does it work? Well it in it’s current state I do not think it works effectively enough. There are moments when I am doing all of these things

  1. Dabbling with technology
  2. Doing Old things in Old Ways
  3. Doing Old things in New Ways
  4. Doing New things in New Ways

Obviously I would like to do more. I want to be Doing New things in New Ways all of the time but their are barriers along the way. But I am giving it a go.

What’s going on in the classroom?

C.C. J.Bevans
Photocredit :  J.Bevans C.C.

I am connecting my students with other class’s around the world using Twitter, Out of Eden Learn and via Skype. Children are sharing their learning via their BlogsTwitter, and Youtube. I am using my PLN to find answers to their questions and their wonderings. Just this week our Travelling Teddy Bear “Daisy” arrived from Texas, U.S.A (having previously spent time in Costa Rica, and Shanghai.)

As a grade we have spent time restructuring our 4 Units of Learning to a Concept Based model in which inquiry is central. This change has brought about ways to integrate technology into the teaching and learning in a more comfortable and seamless manner.  But it is just a start…

Summing up Alan November puts it brilliantly

The real problem is not adding technology to the current organisation of the classroom, but changing the teaching and learning.

I am giving it a go for the sake of my children and others because if we teach today as we taught yesterday we rob our children of tomorrow. 

Let’s teach tomorrow’s skills today. 

4 thoughts on “Tomorrow’s Skills Today

  1. I don’t know if can do new things all the time. I don’t know that if we have to. But I do think schools need to change for all the reasons you say. And really, if one looks at John Dewey, even these so-called 21st C ideas aren’t all that new either 🙂


    1. Hi Rebekah,
      Thanks for the comments. I think it is a balancing act. It would be truly exhausting to be redefining all of the time in the classroom. What is happening in a classroom can be isolated. Therefore I think that schools need to modify and redefine what they are doing too! What would be really intersting to do would be to ask children what they think school should be like. Thanks again, Cheers, Joel


  2. Hi Joel,
    Really enjoyed reading your post. you made me think of my son ( 1 year old ) when he play with my phone and open his Lullaby App. I don’t think we need to do New things in old new ways all the time, I do believe as educators we need move across the SAMR model. Some times substitution is necessary to learn some skills specially at the beginning of the year and to build basic knowledge so they can really move beyond the tool and be ready when we use new things in new ways. Check out this article examples of transforming lesson through SAMR e they might help getting Ideas of doing new thing in new ways.


    1. Hi Shaza,
      Thanks for your comments. I agree it is a balancing act. It would be truly exhausting to be redefining all of the time in the classroom. Sometimes substitution works too. Much depends on the task and the desired outcome. Cheers for the link…I have saved it to pocket…to read later.
      Thanks for stopping by. Cheers, Joel


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