Do schools face a digital revolution?

Aug 20, 2013

School bell at the Pioneer Farmstead at Wildlife Prairie State Park in Hanna City, Illinois
Credit fritzmb / Flickr

The “digital revolution” has swept over retailers, the media, and the entertainment industry. Katherine Prince says schools are next. She’s the senior director of the Foresight project at nonprofit KnowledgeWorks foundation based in Cincinnati. Prince will speak about the future of education Tuesday and Wednesday, August 20-21, in Kalamazoo at the invitation of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

Prince says K-12 education will be transformed for the same reasons that Amazon dramatically changed the way books are sold and iTunes altered the way people buy music. She says that’s likely to mean that educating children will depend less on “brick and mortar” institutions. And Prince says the next decade will be instruction tailored to meet the needs of individual students rather than the “one size fits all” approach typical today.

Katherine Prince
Credit KnowlegeWorks

That doesn’t mean that schools and teachers are about to vanish, though. Prince says educators, whom she likes to call “learning agents”, will work with parents to design “education playlists” for kids. Prince says the kinds of schools and programs offered today have already begun to diversify into areas like online instruction for home schoolers or charter schools.

Prince admits that the journey to the “education ecosystem” of the future will be bumpy. For one thing there’s a massive public and personal investment in the current system. Funding issues could prove especially thorny since many are enshrined in state constitutions. Because of that, Prince says there’s no single map to the future. Instead she says communities must work together to recognize and take advantage of educational opportunities created by disruptive technological change.

Prince will speak Tuesday at a community meeting on the issue at the Radisson in downtown Kalamazoo. It starts at 6:30 p.m. She will also address a workshop for educators, nonprofit leaders, and the public on Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m. in the Radisson.