Unfortunately most of our classrooms are still set up for the “Industrial Learning Environment,” established over 150 years ago, to produce a student ready to work in some level of a company from the Industrial Revolution. However, our world has changed since the invention of this model in the late 1800’s and our educational models have not been updated rapidly enough to be as competitive in our 21st century world.
The world is increasingly in need of the Knowledge Based Employee as we progress through the growth of Information Technology and the need for a new learning model. We need a model that engages the student and teaches critical thinking and decision-making skills. We need a model that will allow students to find information wherever it is located, on the web, in an app, etc.
The new model also needs to provide teachers with information so that they can evaluate the student more quickly and in a more focused manner. Periodic testing becomes obsolete as students are measured on their ability, actual activities and discussions that demonstrate they’ve grasped the intended learning concepts in real time. This prompt feedback loop provides teachers with information they can use to create Personal Learning Environments for each student. Additionally a Knowledge Based Learning Environment allows teachers to better focus on students’ strengths and weaknesses to guide them to more productive and successful outcomes and hopefully independently over-achieve.
What will be the result of a system like this? Students will have the mastery to sift through, locate and utilize the right information for the intended purpose. Students will understand how to find data and collaborate in a global world using the cloud or in person. Students who are creative and intellectually curious because they know how to find information, where the finding and understanding of information is the “rush.” Students who can critically think and envision even greater changes for the future and can actually make those changes.
Counter to that, what will happen if we cannot make this change? Students who may know some facts and figures but not how they holistically relate to the current world. Individuals that can read, but not necessarily know how to find and validate information as correct or incorrect. A generation that is not able to keep up with the rest of the world and therefore the U.S. falls into a broken system with a spiral effect, which leaves the U.S. as the world’s permanent underclass. Overcoming this outcome may lead to possibly hundreds of years to catch-up, if ever.
In short, we either choose to invest into our schools to meet the needs of the future now, or we can plod along and hope that the industrial revolution isn’t our last.