A generation of young people is arriving into a world that is more technologically assisted than in our entire history as a species. As a consequence, they will require – or rather, demand – a tech-assisted educational platform the likes of which we have never seen before – because we have not yet created it. Yet the structure, content, and connectivity for this new educational platform is already emerging – and it will be a new phase in collaborative learning. In other words, the classroom is becoming global.
Our antiquated educational systems will have to adapt and go through a radical re-thinking and revision as a response to student’s growing needs and attitudes. Here is what I envision:
1) Classrooms will no longer be contained within 4-walled rooms: learning spaces will be more interactive, incorporating many features of online interaction and group participation. Some of these will include interacting and working online alongside students from around the world; learning from virtual game-puzzles and online multi-media presentations; and connecting with learning environments that make use of various platforms. The student learning environment will become an open collaborative space that connects to other learning spaces across the planet – both physical and virtual. That is, MOOC – massive online open courses. This will expand the range of peer-teaching and peer-learning.
2) Not only will students have access to a varied range of teachers but they will also learn from peers around the world. That is, teaching will not be limited to the ‘one person at the
head of the class’ model; rather, older people, retired persons, volunteers around the world, etc, will make themselves available in specially designated online platforms to offer their services for questions and learning forums. Guests from varied occupations – business leaders, scientists, creative artists, consultants, etc – will regularly join online learning forums to gladly interact with students and to pass on their own learning and knowledge.
3) Online ‘3-D world’ platforms will also be developed as immersive learning experiences. Some teaching institutes will develop fully working virtual campuses (an extension from the online campus) where students can enroll as avatars and attend virtual classes populated by students from around the world. The learning process will shift from being a linear two-way model (teacher-student) to a multi-phase process incorporating a variety of learning possibilities with mixed-level collaborators. These mixed learning environments – no longer called classrooms – will also place students of varying ages and abilities together. In this way older, more learned students, can also assist in the learning process of lower-level students. That is, learning environments will no longer depend upon location since many learning-teaching platforms will utilize an array of online and virtual collaborative spaces.
4) The learning process will be made more fun. It will allow for a broad range of creativity and ‘free time’ for brainstorming (heart-storming) ideas. The interaction between students and their varied teachers will be mutual and not one-way. Students will use an array of virtual games and online puzzle solving activities to exercise creativity. Multiple player platforms will also allow many students to work together and collaborate to solve riddles and quests – similar to video gaming yet with constructive goals and outcomes.
5) Learning modules will become more individually customized. Students will have more influence in directing their learning process according to their needs, wishes, and motivations. The old-model curriculum of preparing students for an industrial workforce will no longer apply. The world will have changed in a way that will have made many older needs obsolete. Also, the students of the Phoenix Generation will have a greater instinctual understanding of what they feel is necessary to learn for each individual. The ‘one-model-fits-all’ rule will no longer apply and will have been phased out. Importantly, the ‘stick-carrot’ reward system will also go the way of the dinosaurs. The older examination system will be replaced by a variety of comprehension/capacity feedback from both teachers and fellow peers. Understanding will be measured by one’s comprehension and individualized capability – not by standardized grades. Stress and self-doubt will be replaced by enjoyment and self-confidence.
To summarize, the educational system required for the Phoenix Generation will celebrate knowledge rather than box it or narrowly categorize it. Traditional ‘knowledge’ subjects – mathematics, science, history, etc – will still be offered; however, they will be accompanied by a variety of modules more suited to the practical and creative needs of the new era. It will seem as if there is an endless diversity of topics for the student to connect with. The variety of creative subjects, combined with an array of collaborative online environments, will take education to a new level. Such new learning environments will allow the students to be active content-choosers, rather than passive and coerced content-consumers. Education will cease to be redundant and will assist students to become the co-creators of their world.
Five aspects for a Phoenix Generation education:
1) Classrooms will no longer be contained within 4-walled rooms: learning spaces will be more interactive, communicative, and collaborative.
2) Students will have access to a varied range of teachers as well as learning from their peers around the world.
3) Mixed learning environments – no longer called classrooms – will utilize an array of online and virtual collaborative spaces, such as ‘3-D worlds’, with students having avatars and digital identities.
4) The learning process will be made more fun. Students will use an array of virtual games and online puzzle solving activities to exercise creativity.
5) Learning modules will become more individually customized. Students will have more influence in directing their learning process according to their needs, wishes, and motivations.