By Sofia Rasmussen
Over the next twenty years, within an increasingly global economy, better technology, less public funding for schools, and more diversity, education in the United States will change dramatically. Below are five areas in education that will be altered in the next two decades.
Because of students’ increasing ability with computers, and because of the growing ubiquity of the Internet, online education is transitioning from outside-the-box to the norm. Look no further than North Carolina, which now has a Virtual Public School, which provides online courses to school-age residents who are unable to take difficult or unusual courses in their area. Currently, distance-learning programs like Stanford’s EPGY are geared towards gifted children, but there are plans to change this so that children at all learning levels have access to top-tier virtual instruction. Universities have already implemented bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD programs online with a high degree of success; primary and secondary schools are eager to use this model to their advantage.
While homeschooling has been around for centuries, by the twentieth century it was a fringe, seldom-used movement, and was shunned. That’s changing in the twenty-first century for three reasons. The first is that many public schools are not receiving the funding necessary to provide adequate education. Considering the current economy, this trend is only getting worse, which makes pulling one’s child out of school to educate him or her at home all the more appealing. Second, with significant online educational advances (see below), teaching a child at home through a broad base of classes online is relatively easy. Third, a large segment of the United States population are evangelical Christians (approximately 30% based on a poll released by CNN), many of whom want their children to have a Christian-centered education, which is often not available in public schools. Therefore, because of the confluence of these three factors, homeschooling is on the rise.
While there have been computer courses in school for approximately two decades, the courses often focused on very discrete tasks (such as how to enter numbers into a spreadsheet) and served in large part as a medium through which children were taught how to type effectively. Such limited computer education is no longer viable – students today need to know how to use a variety of programs and apps. For example, look for students to be formally trained in the intricacies of PowerPoint and Excel, but also on video-editing and using Google Map in orienteering.
Going hand-in-hand with the above, students will likely be expected to use computers in every class – not just computer class. The most stable jobs require employees to use computers for hours a day – so look for computer education integrated into daily school life.
After all, in today’s world, a laptop or smartphone is used in conjunction with a person’s intelligence to help them learn and express themselves. This is a topic covered just about every single day on Edudemic and is going to be absolutely critical to any teacher looking to embrace the future of learning.
According to the LA Times, the Hispanic population is now over 50 million, and has increased 43% in the past decade, with 23% of all Americans under the age of eighteen currently identifying as Hispanic. Moreover, Hispanic Americans are now the United States’ largest minority group. As the country moves to a bicultural nation, the focus on teaching Spanish and English in the classroom will increase, and more students will be truly fluent in both languages. In many areas, teachers will be expected to know both Spanish and English.