As a technology teacher of 3rd-6th grade students, I am interested in and fascinated by this report. For the past two years, I found the results both educational and informational. I have an obvious interest in the emerging technology trends, short-, mid-, and long-term, and hope they influence what students learn in my computer lab. While studying the report, my first thought was this: I have noticed the recent push for coding and have been involved in that movement. For the past three years, students at our school in 1st-6th grades have participated in the “Hour of Code” (sponsored by code.org). In the fall of 2016 we held an after school program for 5th graders to experience coding through the use of laser technology and a website called Scratch. I am constantly thinking of methods to teach students coding. Because of my experiences with and my perception of the coding trend, I was surprised to discover that the panel members of the NMC Horizon Report 2016 categorized coding as a short-term trend (2016.) I assumed coding would be around for a long time and would be a lasting part of education. This certainly doesn’t mean I can’t continue to provide coding experiences for my students, but it has caused me to wonder if coding will fall out of focus in education.
As I continued to study the Horizon Report, I turned my attention to one of the long-term trends in education, redesigning the classroom. Currently, there is a movement toward student-centered and collaborative learning and I feel like I’m being left behind! Our school, and my computer lab, are old school. The fact that the students come to a separate classroom to learn technology skills is itself proof of that. In addition, my lab is setup as most classrooms are today with the whiteboard at the front of the room and students seated in neat, organized rows. When I instruct, I stand at the front of the room and insist that all eyes are on me...etc. I would love to change this! I want to be a part of the movement. I want to redesign my learning space. Is it possible? Can I gain the support of our school board and administration? If I don’t have neat rows, how will I maintain structure, control the climate and hold the attention of my students? What other challenges will I encounter?
As all of these thoughts cross my mind, the reality of participating in this movement is both exciting and scary! Fortunately, there are resources available because there are plenty of people who have blazed the trail. Change has happened and is happening in our country and around the globe. Accounts of innovative individuals who were willing to try something new can inspire and ignite a change in us. One such account by a woman named Erin Klein who used her background in interior design to make changes to her learning space can be read here. Not only was she the driving force behind change in her own classroom, she is now helping other educators redesign their learning space.
With all of the positive research that is being conducted and results that have been gathered, I still have questions. Have teachers managed to maintain the same level of discipline and sanity in these classrooms? What is it really like in this redesigned learning space? Are there students who take advantage of the ability to sit or lie comfortably? Are students as focused in these new learning spaces as they are in the traditional classroom? Is this a movement where, like so many in education, we will swing to the opposite end of the pendulum only to discover that we have gone overboard and need to swing back from where we came and land closer to the center? Whatever the future in education holds, there is no doubt that we are eyewitnesses of tremendous changes in education, and it is an exciting time to be a teacher.
Adams Becker, S., Freeman, A., Giesinger Hall, C., Cummins, M., and Yuhnke, B. (2016). MC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium