It’s Scott McLeod’s annual leadership challenge. A recent post by David Jakes on his blog, Strength of Weak Ties, “Me, Obsessed?” has me thinking about the future of what we call school. And Don Tapscott’s work in his new book, Grown Up Digital, makes me realize how little our schools reflect the students coming into our buildings right now.
It’s like we “know” things–we know our students are more digitally inclined, we know they live online in ways we never considered, we know tv takes a back seat to multi-tasking on the internet, we know the relevance of impromptu video production and the role of our students as producers of content, we know they are wired into devices, and yet the places they learn seem to reflect this so little.
So my challenge to administrators is to begin thinking what a building would look like that would accommodate “net gen” students. Are there informal learning spaces in your building that are ‘wired’ or is access blocked everywhere? Are there any mobile devices in your school? What can be easily changed about your existing buildings’ space? (See David Jakes’ post for some ideas.) And will we even need “buildings” in the future? If not, how will students gather and communicate? Are we preparing for these changes which are bound to come? Are we testing out ideas that will lead us there? Or are we just assuming, as David Jakes notes, that classrooms won’t change that much?
Change can become viral quite suddenly and if we aren’t prepared for it, we find ourselves reacting to it. What if we envisioned our building five years down the road, or ten? And then added in the key component, what will our students be like ten years from now? (Imagine that first grader who can use a laptop, Wii remote, and iPhone and then project forward ten years.) What would we do differently in our building arrangement, remodeling, or planning to prepare for those students?
Because they are coming soon, to a school near you.