Six years ago in 2008, I sat in my college dorm room keeping in touch with family and friends back home using a cell phone and a laptop computer. In 2008, the capabilities of my cell phone were limited to calling and texting. At the time, I was still more apt to call someone since texting was a long, cumbersome process – even with using the T9 Word feature. In 2008, I used my laptop for two main purposes – word processing and e-mailing…but I never used the two in conjunction with each other. After typing a document in Microsoft Word, I would print it out on my printer and take it to class to physically turn in.
Now, in 2014, as I reflect on what life looks like for college students sitting in dorm rooms (or anyone sitting anywhere!), so much has changed in six short years. Now, texting is preferred over calling on a cell phone. Not to mention, it’s much easier to do with the assistance of a full keyboard as opposed to T9 Word. Now, word processed documents are shared all the time through e-mail or a web application. A printer is almost a thing of the past! There’s simply no need for hard copies of most documents now when they can be so easily shared and disseminated online. Of course, there are also a variety of other technologies present today that I had never heard of as I sat in my dorm room in 2008. Videochatting through Skype of FaceTime sure would have helped put my parents at ease. Instagram and Twitter would have enabled me to keep in touch with high school friends now spread across the country. Wikis and Google Docs definitely would have improved those daunting group projects that my professors so loved to assign. The maps app on my iPhone would have made navigating a new college town a lot easier – and finding a late night pizza place! These technologies, plus others, have emerged – or rather, exploded – in the six short years since I left that college dorm room. I can’t help but wonder…what’s to come in the next six years?
Life in 2020 is sure to be vastly different than life in 2014. New technologies will continue to emerge and as a result, I predict…
Technology will be a necessity, not a luxury.
Right now, most people have access to technology, but there is always an alternate approach available for those who don’t have it. In 2020, access to technology will be a given. There will be no alternate approaches. It will be assumed that everyone has access…but more than that, it will be true that everyone has access. In 2020, I envision home Internet access will be as common as running water and electricity. It will be a necessity in order to function in our society. As with any necessity, there will still be those who cannot afford it and I predict that government aid will start to become available to assist with that. Just as there is currently aid for food and other basic necessities, I believe programs will start to emerge to ensure that everyone has access to the Internet.
In the world of education, I believe that all schools will move to a 1:1 student to laptop ratio. Just as textbooks were assigned to students in the past and borrowed during the school year, I believe laptops will be assigned to each student. Students will take their laptops from school to home and back to school again. Laptops will be essentially the only item students need at school. All course content will be posted online, all books will be read in the form of eBooks, and all assignments will be turned in virtually. Some schools are starting to make this shift now and I believe by 2020, most schools will be at this point. This will affect education because now students will have access to class content and their teachers even when they are not in the classroom. This will make learning seem like a way of life, rather than just something that happens when you walk into the school building.
New jobs will be created, old jobs will cease to exist.
As technology becomes more and more advanced, efficiency will increase. Computers will be able to do work more efficiently than people used to do (this is already starting to happen!). As a result, human jobs will be lost and replaced by computers. For example, restaurants will have small tablets at each table which customers can use to place their orders – no need for a waitress to take the order. Many restaurants currently have online ordering available for takeout, so why not bring that same technology into the restaurant? Also, many places also use online reservation systems – why not have the table reserved and the food ordered before you even arrive? This eliminates the hostess’ job too. Other jobs and establishments will be placed out too. For example, movie theaters will no longer exist since everyone will be able to stream movies and TV shows over the Internet. People will pay to view new releases in the comfort of their own homes rather than making the trek to the theater. Aside from movie theaters, I predict lots of physical stores will start to close their locations and move strictly to online sales – why pay rent for a physical space when you can sell your merchandise online?
Although many jobs will cease to exist, new jobs will be created in order to keep up with the ever-growing technology and ever-changing society. This affects education because teachers will continue to be preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet. Now more than ever, critical thinking and problem solving will need to be at the forefront of every classroom. Opportunities for authentic learning experiences will need to increase in order for students to develop the skills they will one day need in the work force.
Possibilities will be (almost) endless.
“Dream big.” “Nothing is impossible.” “You can do anything you set your mind to.” These statements which were once simply motivational quotes put on magnets and bumper stickers will continue to become more and more true as the years go on. Technological advances in science and medicine, the ability to interact with people from across the globe, an app for just about any convenience you can think of – all of these things make what once seemed impossible possible. With each new technology created, something that was once unheard of suddenly becomes possible. As we move into the year 2020 and each year beyond that, I believe that the mentality of things being “impossible” will shift to a mindset that thinks, “What do I need to do to make that possible?” This mentality will permeate classrooms causing them to be environments where teachers are not the ones with the answers, but teachers will simply be another resource for students to use on their quest for knowledge.