ICE 2019: Will K–12 Students Be Ready for the Technology of the Future?

Experts predict rapid changes in technology will require K–12 schools to adapt their teaching practices.

Looking back to 18 years ago, many would have been hard-pressed then to believe the capabilities of the technology available today.

“It’s really about perspective,” said Eric Patnoudes, the director of strategic initiatives at Otus and a featured speaker at the 2019 Illinois Computing Educators conference. “Think of it this way,” Patnoudes said, holding his cellphone up. “This cellphone is the worst technology your kids will use in their lives.”

In a session titled “Are We Preparing Students for Their Future or Our Past?” Patnoudes asked attendees to imagine where technology will be when today’s kindergarteners graduate from college.

“It was mind-blowing to people that you could walk around with 1,000 songs in your pocket on a non-internet-connected device,” said Patnoudes. “Now in your classrooms, you have augmented reality and virtual reality.”

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What K–12 Technology Will Look Like in the Next 20 Years

Patnoudes pointed to a few of Google futurist Ray Kurzweil’s predictions to give some clarity on what kinds of technology can be expected in the coming years. Since 2009, 127 out of 150 of Kurzweil’s predictions have turned out to be true. 

In the 2020s: Ten terabytes of computing power — roughly the computing power of a human brain — will cost around $1,000. Around this time, autonomous cars will start to take over the roads. And nanobots will help to eradicate some kinds of diseases.

In the 2030s: Computer implants in your brain will augment natural senses, enhancing memory, learning speed and overall intelligence. By the end of the decade, people will be able to upload their consciousnesses into a virtual reality environment.

“However fast it has changed in the last 20 years, it is going to change faster in the next 20 years,” Patnoudes said.

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What These Predictions Mean for K–12 Schools Now

This is important, said Patnoudes, because this kind of technology — some already in place today with autonomous cars, virtual assistants and automated stores like Amazon Go — will mean fewer jobs in the service sector, and today’s students will need to be prepared.

“In order for people to be highly competitive, they need new attitudes and behaviors,” Patnoudes said. “The call to action, then, is that this conversation needs to happen a lot more. We need to understand the changing shape of the workforce.”

K–12 schools can help by employing a holistic view in education, embracing the social and emotional skills, as well as the technical skills, kids need to understand that rapidly changing environment.

“Learning to learn is going to be the most important skill our kids can do,” Patnoudes said. “Think about re-inventing yourself at 30, 35, 40, 45 — that’s the reality these kids are facing.”

Keep this page bookmarked for articles from the event. Follow us on Twitter at @EdTech_K12 or the official conference Twitter account, @ice.il, and join the conversation using the hashtag #ICE19.

Vijay kumar/Getty Images
Feb 27 2019

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