Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Class of 2026 -- Are You Ready for Drones?

When I first heard about the Amazon Drones, I have to admit that the geek in me got a little thrill...not to mention the Amazon shopper in me.  Prime 2-day shipping already thrills me, but with the drones we could have our packages in 30 minutes or less?  Wow.  What a crazy time we live in that this is actually (sort of, kind of, maybe in 20 years) possible!

(Photo: Amazon)

In reality, as crazy cool as these drones might be, there are a lot of roadblocks preventing drone delivery from becoming a reality any time soon.  It's an exciting and innovative idea, but I think we will all have to be happy with 2-day delivery for the foreseeable future.

Still, these drones gave me something to think about...

Thirty years ago, delivery drones were science fiction, and today they are a possible, albeit far off, reality.  Even 10 years ago, people weren't carrying computers around in their pockets.  Today, almost everyone does.  The world we live in is rapidly changing, and the technology that we take for granted today would have blown our minds just a decade ago.  We certainly don't know what our world will look like 10 years from now, but we do know that right now, powerful companies are talking about drone delivery.

What does any of this have to do with teaching and learning?  In my opinion...everything.  I think as teachers we need to take a serious look at innovative ideas like this because these science fiction tales are going to become reality.  Many of the jobs that exist in society today may not be around when the Kindergartners of today enter the work force.  If drones are the delivery system of the future, we are going to need more and more people who understand computers, programming, and engineering...not to mention creativity and innovation.  Are our schools today preparing students for life in the future?  A few...but the truth is that most of our schools are still operating in the same way they did during the Industrial Revolution.  We are using archaic teaching methods to get kids to memorize facts they could pull up on their phone in seconds.  And we are doing it at the expense of students learning by doing, creating, publishing, innovating, and problem-solving.  This isn't to say that students don't need to learn to read, write, add, or understand science and history.  Of course they do.  But surely we can do it in a way that also allows our students to create, innovate, and interact with the world around them.  

Teaching for the future isn't about using the latest gadgets in your classroom, though certainly students will need experience with a variety of technological tools.  It's not about those tools, however.  As much as I love my iPad, I'll be shocked if I still have one 20 years from now.  We know the tools are going to change, which is why we have to teach 21st century skills instead.  The ISTE standards are a great starting point for thinking about 21st skills.

21st century learning can't be about memorizing facts -- I know that 1066 was the Battle of Hastings because I had to memorize dates in high school.  Couldn't tell you anything more about the Battle of Hastings than that...but I can find out in about two seconds.  21st century learning also can't be about using this new app or making a Prezi.  Do you think that Prezi is going to be the presentation tool of choice a decade from now?  Instead, 21st century learning should be about researching and curating information.  It should be about asking questions, finding answers, and solving problems.  It should be about connecting and collaborating with others.  It should be about find creative ways to share information and innovative solutions to roadblocks.  Imagine how much more I would know about the Battle of Hastings if I'd had the chance to interview an expert over Skype and then share that information with the world.  Imagine how much deeper my understanding of math might be if I'd had the chance to create video tutorials for my peers.  While we might not have delivery drones yet, we have powerful tools in our hands that can make this type of teaching and learning a reality.  We owe to it our students to change the way we teach.

The Kindergartners of today will graduate high school in 2026.  Many of them will be part of the work force until 2070 and beyond!  While delivery drones may still feel like science fiction to us, that fiction is already upon us and our students are going to live in a world we can't even imagine yet.  We need to transform ourselves from teachers of the past to teachers of the future.

1 comment: