Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

The Magic of Kids Tech and The Future of Learning


Who is most adapted to a world of social uncertainty, technological change, and constantly shifting habits and behaviors? Above all others today, it may be kids. With touchscreens, simple programming languages, and other lowered barriers for human-computer interaction, kids are poised to gain a high level of technical proficiency. When you combine this access with the resources kids have—time, a highly plastic brain, and the freedom to experiment with new behaviors, interests, and ways of being—it is not hard to imagine a level of empowerment for kids never before seen in human history. With kids’ technical capacity reaching new levels of sophistication, might we instead see a coming “kidularity,” when the power dynamic between adults and kids are completely re-defined?

The above words are from “Institute for The Future”(IFTF), the 40-years-old organization just released the Technology Horizons research report “The Magic of Kids Tech.” Looking beyond just toys, or apps, the report takes a broad view of the new relationships emerging between kids, technology, and society through the lens of four fundamental domains: health, security, learning, and play. Six “big stories” were concluded. You can grab the six stories and download the report here.

According to the report, the future of play will be taking all the things kids do for fun—tell stories, act silly, play games, build stuff—and expanding it to include not only the real world and the digital world, but the blending of those two via mobile devices, immersive reality technologies, social networks, and online worlds. Watch the rise of cross-dimensional playgrounds !

future of educationHow about the future of learning? A new generation of inexpensive and accessible learning technologies for measuring, personalizing, and augmenting student performance is reaching maturity. Learning technologies are specifically designed to change minds, tightening the feedback loop between user and technology. As younger generations learn the skills deemed necessary to thrive in the 21st century, the role of education will need to be fundamentally re-examined. The factors changing the contexts of education include that human beings continue to learn how we learn, powerful handheld devices linked to cloud based super-computing and big data. The forecast focus on several directions:

  1. Classroom technologies are poised to provide new feedback loops between students and teachers that will allow for lessons to be more precisely tailored to the actual cognitive styles and learning needs of students.
  2. Education reinvention may involve children having more independence, responsibilities, and self-directed learning opportunities. Promising experiments have suggested that restructuring reward mechanisms away from grades and toward more game-like rewards and challenges may lead to improved engagement and outcomes.  To think like a child longer into adulthood could help adults solve current problems.
  3. School curricula will need to change to reflect the growing demand for “computational thinking skills.” Kid-friendly programming languages, early education in algorithmic thinking and logic, and technologies that teach the fundamentals of programming virtual and physical worlds will enable today’s children to meet these challenges of tomorrow.

The general implications for future of education are :

  1. “School” could ultimately take the shape of an embedded learning information layer integrated into the world at large.
  2. If we consider learning as a process of changing neurons, a teacher’s role may be less about imparting information, and more about counseling children how to live with their continually changing brains.
  3. Ubiquitous access to information reshapes definition of knowledge.

Please read or download the full report on IFTF site.

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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