*The following is a fictional, projected report on the state of education in the United States in 2024 for a graduate course at the University of Illinois.*
The trilling notes wake Asami from his deep sleep. With his pointer finger, he swipes his smartphone screen to turn off his alarm. He pushes himself up onto his elbows and looks out the window. The sun is already up, streaming through the half-open blinds.
It is 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Asami’s last day of school this week. He has planned to let the dog outside and eat a bowl of cereal before class. Taking Gus outside chews up ten minutes of time before Asami pours himself a bowl of cinnamon cereal. His parents are heading out the door to work, and he yawns as he tells them, “Have a good day!”
It is 8:45 a.m. Asami watches a comedy news show he’d been hoping to watch earlier in the week, and giggles between spoonfuls. An ad flashes onto the screen, and he checks the time.
It is 8:55 a.m. Asami picks up his laptop and signs in to his class portal. The screen shows him today’s assignments and discussions to complete. Asami is enrolled in six 11th grade level courses. Overall for today, he sees he has three assignments: English, Japanese, and Technology Education. He has two synchronous discussions, and two discussion boards to post and comment on. It may seem like a lot, but his class portal has discussion times all laid out for him with event reminders. Further, he is familiarized with this class portal system as he was first acclimated in 9th grade. He sees that his World History course has a synchronous discussion beginning at 9:00 a.m. so he clicks the link with a minute to spare.
It is 9:00 a.m. The class facilitator welcomes students to class, directs students to the question of the day, and shares a video on the screen. Asami looks up a quote he can’t quite remember, but which will aid him immensely in the discussion after the video. He copies the link, and prepares to share it in the class chat box, with a helpful flowchart he stumbled upon as well.
This is Asami’s Friday morning. It is also the average Friday morning, a telecommuting day, for many United States public school students today.
The Three Phase Plan to Technology Integration Across America
Federal, state, and local governments have worked with companies to ensure that all public and private schools have a one-to-one ratio of student to information and communication technologies (ICT). The nation is in the first of three phases of integrating technology within schools and communities, ensuring that all homes (with children attending school) are installed with wireless routers and an ICT device by 2030. The phases, as outlined in the original report, are quoted below:
Phase One: Deadline 2020
- Pilot schools will work to integrate technology within schools and communities, specifically providing a wireless router to every home with a child attending school. Wireless routers will maintain the same security and privacy measures as in school.
- A laptop, or other comparable ICT device, will be provided to a families who demonstrate financial need.
- Homework and assignments will be accessible online throughout the week, though students and teachers will meet in schools four days a week. Students and teachers will telecommute once a week to pilot online class sessions and to evaluate cost savings potential for the school.
Phase Two: Deadline 2025
- The program will broaden to include more pilot schools across the nation and will enact the same plan, installing wireless routers and ICT devices in homes.
- Through an application and observation process, students who show strong independent study skills can replace one or more of their in-school courses with online courses, which allow students to complete all work for that course online. Students will still be required to physically come to school for a set amount of hours a week for other non-online courses.
Phase Three: Deadline 2030
- The program will be offered to every public school in the United States, and while schools may opt out, wireless routers and ICT devices (one per home, by financial need basis) will be provided for every home with a child in school to facilitate parent-teacher communication and student-teacher expectation transparency.
- Every school will operate on a five day school schedule, with at least one of those days as a telecommuting day for teachers and students.
- Online courses will be offered to build time management and independent study skills in students who show strong motivation and responsibility
The Theory Behind The Three Phase Plan
Expectations in the workplace have revolutionized with the ever-changing tide of technology. As such, the landscape of education has also evolutionized, growing up from traditional classrooms necessitated from the Industrial Revolution and into the more progressive classrooms of the Age of the Digital Citizen.
The top ten skills requested by today’s and tomorrow’s employers are no longer as transfixed as multiplication tables and five-paragraph essays; the skills have transformed to become the very character of the individual.
- Planning, prioritization, and time management
- Adaptability and flexibility
- Creativity and innovation
- Research & information literacy
- Responsible citizenship
- Interactive mindset
These ten skills encapsulate the expectations of students in the Age of the Digital Citizen. Students are no longer solely beholden to the work and expectations of their immediate community, but must also strive to connect and communicate with the entire online community. Globalization signifies a mandatory shift in education, encouraging a true student-centered learning environment, in which technology is the catalyst, the enabler, and the facilitator. The plan outlined above will launch education into the twenty-first century, and bring with it the promise of selfless, global-minded citizens. Tomorrow will be met with well-informed, truly innovative, curious, and collaborative individuals who grew up in the United States of America, in the time of the most revolutionary educational overhaul to date.