It wasn’t very long ago when students would bring gifts of apples to their teachers. The classroom was all about teaching and the teaching was all about the Three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic. However, those days are long over, says Tom Burnett, Manager, Strategic Initiatives for Apple. Today it’s about free-agent learning, where students can learn anything, anywhere, anytime. The audience for his Monday (Jan. 30) session at TASA’s 2012 Midwinter Conference, “Technology and Digital Content Directions: Free Agent Learning Enabled!” agreed.
In a poll, 93 percent of the audience said education’s most important function is learning, not teaching. According to Burnett, schools, which have foregone the Three R’s for the Three C’s (communication, collaboration and construction), need to focus instead on C & I, or creativity and innovation.
By 2019, 50 percent of high school courses will be online, Burnett said. Some schools are already embracing this idea. Burnett showed a video of one school which had “flipped” learning. Instead of homework, students would go online at home and watch lectures. In class, the students would then work on homework, with the instructor’s help. According to a student in another video Burnett showed, “just lectures limit my learning.”
The three educational trends Apple has been tracking are:
- Global repository and distribution for digital content – this includes Facebook, flickr, YouTube and iTunes U. iTunes U has more than a half-million pieces of free, educational content.
- Mobile platform – mobile phones and tablets are everywhere.
- “Free agent” learning – the idea that if you want to learn how to change your air filter, you can simply watch a video on YouTube to learn how to do it.
These three trends will shape the future of education.
Burnett also demonstrated the textbooks of tomorrow (available today.) The printed textbook will be replaced by an interactive e-book, complete with videos, interactive graphics and quizzes. These textbooks will no longer just be the purview of educational publishers. With newly available tools, instructors are able to create their own books.
Audience members agreed that the future is digital; two-thirds of the audience said by 2020, 75 percent or more of the core instructional materials used by teachers in their districts will be digital. However, there will be some roadblocks when adopting digital content, including resistance or inability to change by teachers (45 percent of the audience) and lack of funding (35 percent).
While there may be some hurdles, Burnett stressed the future of education is free-agent learning and successful schools will learn how to adapt to today’s digital natives instead of the students adapting to the teachers.