Predictions for 2012

Posted by Butch Owens on January 31, 2012

Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

That’s especially true in the world of technology today, but I think we can, at least, predict what the hot topics will be as we head into 2012.  Most important is how we respond to these issues.  Let’s take a look at some of my top picks which should be on every administrator’s radar.

BYOD – Bring your own device:  We have been talking about  1:1 computing for a number of years with very little progress other than a few pilot projects.  With the current budget situation I don’t foresee any changes in funding coming forward to make this a reality.  If we truly embrace getting devices into student’s hands we must look past the restraints of budget.  By embracing a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) model we will succeed in getting devices into a lot more student hands in the classroom this year rather than have the devices sitting at home because of current school policy that forbids their use on campus.  I spoke of this earlier this year in a TBLOGICAL post called Digital Deprivation.  All students having access to digital devices capable of enhancing their educational experience is becoming even more realistic when you consider cheaper and cheaper devices such as the Kindle Fire, inexpensive netbooks, tablets, and Smart Phones on the market today.

Key topics to address:  BYOD Policies, Wireless Access, Bandwidth, Devices supported

24/7 Access to Information: Just a couple of years ago sites like Khan Academy were seen as a novelty.  A few tech savvy teachers might download a video to help explain a topic or give students a link to follow if they needed extra help with a concept.  Today it is no longer a novelty to see a short video clip on a subject.  Just go to YouTube and type in a topic you would like to know from replacing a valve cover gasket on your car to DNA replication.   These sites and videos are growing at a phenomenal rate, both proprietary and open source.

Key Topics to Address:  Teaching students to discriminate the good from the bad,  Providing Open Access at School,

24/7 Delivery of Course Content:  Yes, this does relate to 24/7 access, but takes it a step further.  Not only can students find information anytime and from any place, they can also elect to take all of their courses this way.  What that says to me is that if we don’t have it, they will go somewhere else to get it.

I recently had an opportunity to hear Dr. David Hagland, Director of Educational Options with the Riverside Unified School District, speak.  He has found that students don’t necessarily want to take a course completely online, but rather like to expand the classroom and teacher’s influence to an online blended format that includes lectures, class notes, videos, et cetera posted for student access before and after the traditional classroom lesson, and to have 21st Century technology tools available in the classroom.  For example, as I sit here typing this post in Google Docs, I know that I can access it on my computer at home, my iPad on the road or even share it with colleagues to get input and advice.  I’ve also clipped a few articles from the web into my Evernote account to reference as I write.  All of these tools and resources need to be incorporated into the teaching and learning environments of our students.

Key topics to address:  Learning platforms/management systems, online storage capabilities, teacher training for blended instruction, access to information.

School Libraries:  I know this prediction will not be a popular one, but the changing purpose and function of the school library needs to be addressed.  Schools are no longer getting the best bang for their buck when it comes to building and sustaining the traditional school library.  In a recent conversation with Dr. Devin Vodicka, Assistant Superintendent of Business for the Carlsbad Unified School District, we were discussing the new high school they were in the process of building. He stated that after much discussion on whether or not to build a traditional library it came down to the following question, “If we are really having such a difficult time deciding whether or not to build and stock a new library with books in the traditional way, we already know the answer, which is no. It’s just that it’s uncomfortable for our generation to picture a library without rows and rows of books.”

Are we still making decisions on what is comfortable for us or best for today and tomorrow’s students.  I’m not saying we need to do away with the library, just look at its role and function in our schools.  It will always be needed as a place to meet for that first date using the excuse as getting together to work on a school project.

Key Topics to address:  Digital books/textbooks and a system to checkout them out, installation of access points for students to connect at school, mobile devices,  workstations



12 thoughts on “Predictions for 2012”

  1. Butch.
    You bring up some great ideas here and inspire us to consider these items carefully. I didn’t meet my wife in the school library but it certainly made high school more interesting in a variety of ways. I believe that the BYOD is a key not only to bridging the digital divide but also may be a great solution to our school technology budget woes. Your item on delivery of course content reminds me of the fast approaching Flipped Classroom and how that model has so much potential with the onslaught of increased course content online. Thanks for the great ideas!

  2. Great ideas and ones we need to focus on as we implement new things. I agree with Butch. Often we are thinking only of what is comfortable for us. An example: One school had laptops in 3rd grade. The next year the decision was for iPads in 3rd grade. The teachers insisted that the iPads have covers with built in keyboards for the students. However, as the year moved into its 2nd month, it was obvious the students much preferred the screen keyboard; and their little fingers flew over the keys. Extra money was spent for something that was needed (for the teachers) but not the students.

  3. Get points Butch! I would love to see a device in every kids hand sooner than later. Blended learning is a wonderful way to teach because everything Students can and will learn will not be controlled by walls and bells.

  4. Wow. A school without a library. I can’t imagine…but I can…but I really can’t. Know what I mean?

    I was with some administrative colleagues the other day and one had a hardback book (the latest James Patterson). Our conversation morphed into our love for holding an old-fashioned book in a time of Kindles and iPads. I continue to purchase books by the bushel for my 1st graders.

    What might that “area” formerly known as a library look like? Large tables with power outlets?

  5. Lisa,
    I know what you mean about an old-fashioned book, newspaper, magazine etc. It still feels comfortable and right for us but then I watch my two year old granddaughter flipping through a book poking the pictures and swiping at the pages waiting for something to happen. Does it feel right for her? Here’s a link to the Older than Dirt Quiz for Grandparents: Will our kids, kids be reading the list someday and see books, magazines and newspapers, as a way to get printed material, on the list?

  6. One thing you don’t address is how students who do not have digital devices will gain access to the digital resources. I work in a school with about 40% living in poverty– a $79 Kindle is out of reach, as is the $10ish per book price. I have students who do not have iPods, cell phones, or any other electronic device. For quite awhile, some of these kids would get white ear buds and have them hanging from under their shirt so other kids would think they had an iPod.
    I think for now, a blend of traditional books and e-readers is a necessity. We are in California and our state is in a bad position. The tax base isn’t covering the basics, so spending money on devices is not going to happen quite yet.
    As a high school Teacher Librarian, it is my job to help student navigate the information rich world we live in so that they can make sense of it all. The job is many things and we all know that it isn’t just a building with books warehoused inside. Anyone who says otherwise hasn’t been in one lately… Thank you for the thought provoking post.

  7. Thank you for your thoughts and I don’t disagree with anything you have pointed out. It is true that many kids will not be able to afford digital devices which why it is even more important that we find ways to help them get access to digital resources. A well thought out BYOD policy would include training to insure that students were always grouped in a way that each group included someone with a device. That there are devices for teachers to check-out for class projects. That we make it a priority that at least our libraries have devices that a student can use to access digital resources. With the changing structure of all print media we must be proactive to those changes. Especially if we want to protect all of the other rich experiences a school library can provide to students. Even before E-readers and other mobile devices we had libraries that just housed books and there were libraries that served as the heart of the school or community. We will always need a central place to study, contemplate, get assistance, find resources and reflect. Or maybe even have that first date. Thanks again for adding into the discussion.

  8. Whether or not the prediction about school libraries is popular totally misses the point! School libraries serve as the great equalizers between the have and have not students. If you believe we are simply shelves with books, you haven’t been in a school library lately. Students with no access to computers for research, typing, printing, etc. depend on the school library to provide them with services other students have at home or in their backpacks. Just ask those who are waiting when we open our high school library at 7:30 am or are still there at 4:30 pm when we close. Observe when we teach our students how to search the library databases for periodical articles, virtual reference, primary sources and other resources not accessible on Wikipedia or the free internet. Walk the stacks with us when we help students who read below grade level find an appropriate title for free reading or research. Sit in the back as we help students narrow research topics, select key words and carry out successful research projects. Ask our teachers who depend on our school’s credentialed teacher librarians to help them design meaningful assignments that will help their students gain information literacy skills as well as curricular knowledge. Ask the college and university librarians who can recognize students whose high schools had no teacher librarians by their lack of research skills and familiarity with online databases. Your closing gratuitous remark is wrong on so many levels it’s not worth answering.

  9. What a giggle. I remember back in the 1970s when first slide projectors and then VCRs were going to replace books. Now it is the Internet and Kindle. These statements are made by people who have NO concept of the amount of material contained in a book, or of the number of books contained in even a mediocre library. EVERY book on a Kindle was intentionally purchased by an individual. Libraries contain the stuff you find only if you have a chance to linger, to browse, and to dream. The people I really feel sorry for are the adults who missed that part of life and now think they can catch up by denying it to others while promoting the latest tech fad. Give me your arm, old toad.

  10. As some one who is moderately well connected to her electronic devices, I am continually being reminded of the number of my students who aren’t – whose parents don’t even have regular email access, much less access to e-reading sources. Libraries and classrooms are their resources for reading materials. Also, the issue of deep reading comes up. If we are continually switching screens to follow this and that link, what are students absorbing? There is a place yet for both electronic and physical materials – those of us who have, cannot afford to lock out those who have not.

  11. BYOD doesn’t mean that we don’t need or want the physical book. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. Indeed BYOD requires the services of the knowledgeable school librarian to instruct students in the effective use of the information that can be found using those devices as well as working with their classroom colleagues in creating lessons that best support student use of them.
    Kids need the school librarian and the space called ‘library’ more than ever. Does that mean it has to look the way it does now? No. In fact, when considering that new school or when upgrading a school site you’ll need to bring in more plugs, wireless access, appropriate lighting and other changes. Investing in strong school libraries and staffing them appropriately will bring far more ‘bang for the buck’ in terms of solid resource management as well as in investing in student learning for the times they’re living in now.

  12. I echo everything Connie mentioned. I am surprised by several of the comments here. Butch didn’t suggest eliminating libraries, nor did he recommend getting rid of books. He did say that libraries need to be expanded beyond the traditional role they have taken in the past. The library/media specialists I know are excited about these possibilities as am I.

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