In today's fast-paced world, students are learning in different ways and places. For students, families and educators, it can sometimes feel like things are changing quicker than ever.
But with change comes opportunity. As we recover from the pandemic, we have a chance to come together around bold and common solutions to ensure that the classroom of 2050 doesn't look like the classroom of the past.
The good news is that students, families, and educators agree that this is a moment for re-imagining learning.
At the 2023 Aspen Ideas Festival, the foundation hosted a discussion about what classrooms of the future might look like – and how technology is already helping transform learning in exciting ways that benefit students and teachers.
Here are a few key takeaways from the panel on ways to improve education so all kids benefit:
Foster student creativity: Educational technologies and gaming provide a platform for children to explore their creativity by engaging in interactive and immersive experiences. Through educational technologies, such as coding platforms or creative software, kids can express their ideas, solve problems and design their own digital content. Gaming, on the other hand, encourages creative thinking by offering open-ended challenges, allowing players to make choices, experiment and develop their problem-solving skills in a fun and engaging environment.
“There are so many students who just don't care about school. So they're completely disengaged, which is why these tools to engage students are so important.” Allison Matthews, head of Minecraft Education at Microsoft.
Create classrooms where students have greater agency: There is a growing recognition of the importance of agency and personalization in education. Young people need personalized experiences that reflect their individual needs and interests.
“When we think about the kinds of experiences that are going to help young people find their purpose [and] help them navigate this increasingly complex world, they need to feel a sense of ownership over their education. They need to feel excited about learning.” Romy Drucker, Walton Family Foundation Education Program Director
AI, virtual reality, gaming and other technology are tools to support learning, not replacements for teaching: Technology can be a powerful resource to help today’s students, who are digital natives. Educational technology is particularly effective when it’s grounded in content that students feel is important in the real world. Technology can be used to be spark ideas and conversations that teachers can shape into classroom lessons.
“The technology powers a learning design. It is incumbent upon those who are building learning solutions to over-index on training teachers in the pedagogy and not the tech. It just needs to be founded in something that's really real world and visceral for kids.” Anurupa Ganguly, founder and CEO of Prisms VR
Educator and families must have a voice in technology development: It’s critically important to incorporate educator and family perspectives in the development of educational technologies. Early involvement in the research and development process is crucial to ensure that these technologies meet the needs of educators and families. Additionally, there is a need to strengthen the feedback loop between developers and users to continuously improve and refine these products.
“Don't let fear get in the way of trying something out. Because if we do that … all of our kids are going to benefit from all of this.” Sal Khan, founder of The Khan Academy
Understand that learning can happen anywhere: The pandemic has changed the conversation about where learning happens. While schools are still important learning environments, there is a recognition that learning can happen anywhere. This opens up opportunities for different experiences and engagement outside of the traditional classroom setting.
“Many parents are thinking differently about what learning looks like, learning on a continuum, [through] different experiences that provide students with those opportunities to engage and explore.” Romy Drucker