Almost every educational forecaster agrees that in the very near future education must fundamentally transform in order to meet the demands of the rapidly evolving 21st Century and produce a generation of graduates who are able to survive and thrive. I believe the future of education and the reorganization of 'schooling' must be built on the following four pillars in order to meet the challenge:
Pillar One: Immersive Learning
A quick Google search will result in a number of definitions for Immersive Learning , but in this case what I mean by Immersive Learning is learning that occurs as one continuous experience for the student, from the introduction of the project/challenge, to the completion of the final product. The Immersive experience means that the day is not arbitrarily divided into blocks or subjects, instead the learning unfolds organically throughout the days and weeks as the it becomes necessary for the students to build their content or skill base. The students' arrival and dismissal times are the same, but what occurs in between is entirely driven by the students passion, voice and choice. In this environment the paradigm of the teacher-student relationship no longer exists, instead the adult in the room acts as 'coach', guiding the students progress and acting as a sounding board for their ideas. Finally, in an Immersive Learning environment the student must document their progress in order to show knowledge and skill growth, as well as practice effective reflection.
Pillar Two: PBL
To appropriately frame the Immersive Learning experience explained above it is important that educators embrace PBL. Most educators recognize PBL as an acronym for project-based learning, but it can stand for many things; problem-based learning, passion-based learning, and as Sam Siedel puts it "practice-before life". High quality PBL experiences begin with a dirving question that sets the students off on a path of engagement and discovery. If we pretend a proper PBL experience his a house, then the driving question is the blueprint. The foundation of the house, of the PBL and of the immersive experience has to be critical content, content that the students must discover, uncover and internalize in order to move from driving question to iterative design. Once the critical content has been collected, learned, discussed, assessed and reflected on, the next steps is to frame the house. The framing is....stanford design
Pillar Three: Blended Tech
The landscape of educational technology is evolving faster than many educators can keep. The arrival of Arduino and Raspberry Pi has changed the landscape of what is possible. The future of education, however, must be one that blends this new technology with the old. Cardboard and tape should have as much use in future schools as Arduino and LED's. Drafting tables and sketches should be used just as much as virtual 3D design software. Challenges and projects should be framed such that the students choose what tech they need to accomplish their goal.
Pillar Four: Humane Education
Humane Education is defined as education that seeks to bring awareness to issues of Environmental Ethics, Animal Protection and Human Rights. It is a philosophy that connects all living creatures and all ecosystems together and presents them as one intertwined, interdependent and global organism. The 21st Century promises to be one loaded with many challenges for humanity to face. Previous generations have faced challenges as well, but none of them have been as globally connected nor as potentially dire as those on the horizon. Therefore we need to begin creating a generation of "solutionaries", a generation who grow up with the mindset, skills and desire to make a positive impact on their world. The term solutionaries comes from Zoe Weil and her Institute for Humane Education. A deeper explanation of what solutionary education should look like can be gleaned through watching her Ted Talk: "The World Becomes What We Teach". When we frame our Immersive Learning projects, we should always keep Humane Education in mind. We should ask ourselves; "How can we utilize this project/challenge to present the students with a problem that impacts any one or combination of Humane Education tenets, and how can we encourage them to become "solutionaries"?