21 Things That Will Become Obsolete in Education by 2020

by Jean Tower

This article, 21 Things That Will Become Obsolete in Education by 2020, by Shelley Blake-Plock, asks us to envision schools without desks, homework, paper, High School Algebra I, and computers (as we know them).
Many in our field (that intersection of education and technology) will nod and cheer as they read. I wonder, though, how many parents of school-aged children still want weekly spelling lists, books made of dead trees (paper), and the 5-paragraph essay as the  primary product of student research and thinking, all leading to higher SAT scores and entrance to a competitive college. I think we have to do more outreach to parents and our wider communities to demonstrate what education could be and should be in the second decade of the 21st century.

One of the  items in Shelley’s list of 21 obsolete things is:

IT Departments
Ok, so this is another trick answer. More subtly put: IT Departments as we currently know them. Cloud computing and a decade’s worth of increased wifi and satellite access will make some of the traditional roles of IT — software, security, and connectivity — a thing of the past. What will IT professionals do with all their free time? Innovate. Look to tech departments to instigate real change in the function of schools over the next twenty years.

School IT folks – ignore this at your peril. It is the same message heard from Bob Moore when he was the keynote speaker at our Massachusetts CTO Clinic in April. Moore spoke about the changes that will enable CTOs to focus more time and energy on educational leadership and transforming the educational experience with innovative technology, and less time on managing the “stuff” of the technology department.

As we IT directors and CTOs focus more on transforming the educational experiences in our schools and on researching and spreading the word about innovative practices and relatively less time managing servers and data centers, it becomes imperative for technology administrators to have the broad skill set described in the Framework of Essential Skills (from CoSN). Skills like working collaboratively across departments, building community support, engaging stakeholders, and understanding and articulating the potential impact of technology in education become skills that are more needed in the next decade.

Based on my own experience and on the wisdom of people like Bob Moore and others, I predict that CTOs who have, in the past, concentrated in a narrow sense on boxes, wires, geek-speak, spools, tools, and devices will be marginalized in their organizations. On the other hand, those who manage IT in ways that maximize educational opportunities and who bring an all-encompassing perspective to their jobs will create new opportunities and will help play a bigger role in moving their schools or districts into an exciting future full of possibilities.

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Shelly March 24, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Here’s a 2014 update to the original 2009 “21 Things That Will Be Obsolete by 2020” post: http://anestuary.com/blog/2014/3/23/reflection-on-21-things-that-will-be-obsolete-by-2020 — Shelly Blake-Plock

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