Education will change vastly between now and 2025. Technological changes and an economy in transition will demand new ways of delivering educational opportunities for high school, college, and graduate students. There are several things we can anticipate from education over the next decade.
We will begin to see more online courses in college and even in high school. People are busier than ever and they will need college and graduate courses that are flexible and tailored to their schedule. High schools will even start to implement online components to many courses and even offer exclusively online courses. It is happening as we speak.
Prince William County has an online high school. This online high school is designed to help students catch up on their studies if they fell behind for whatever reason. However, in the future, we will see online courses offered to regular and advanced students so that they can more effectively learn on their own time and impose self-discipline on their studies.
Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, online education was mocked. A slew of scammers set up online colleges and stole money from people in exchange for sham, illegitimate degrees. Online education’s breakthrough began when established, reputable public and private institutions began offering online courses. This helped a great deal in removing the stigma associated with online education. As a result, more educational opportunities have opened up to all people, successful businesspeople and working class folks alike. It is now possible to earn graduate degrees from respected institutions like the University of Maryland online.
People who live in remote, rural areas can benefit the most from these opportunities as they do not have to spend enormous amounts of money to temporarily relocate to study. By 2025, we will see more parity in knowledge between rich and poor and urban and rural thanks to online education.
We will also see more flexible high school schedules. I believe that people will begin to question the wisdom of keeping high school students inside a building for seven straight hours. Studies have shown that actual student engagement in the classroom is much less than seven hours. Educational reforms will start to advocate spending less time and less days in the classroom as opposed to spending more time and more days in the classroom.
There will be a great deal of political blowback from liberals and conservatives alike who grew up in the last century. There will be a period of struggle as local schools and school districts start to experiment with flexible student schedules at the high school level.
In the end, I believe that flexible class scheduling and reduced time spent in the building will be achieved if the economy demands it. It appears that the economy is slowly heading in that direction. Increasing technology has opened up many doors to the people and we are living amidst a sustained burst of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
More people are no longer bound by the traditional 9-5 office schedule. Employers are allowing employees to telework. Start-up businesses are being founded in bedrooms, garages, and home offices, but securing commercial office space is no longer a necessity to expand the business.
I am keenly aware of these economic changes because I am a business owner myself. I can perform all the necessary tasks for my clients most efficiently from my home. Why should I rent office space? It would just cut deeply into my bottom line and in no way grows my client base because my consulting business does not depend on and will never get walk-in clients.
I charge clients by the job, not by the hour. Clients like it because there is a set figure that will not allow for cost overruns. I like it because it forces me to be efficient with my time. If you are paid by the hour, you have every incentive to lengthen the project, even though you can finish it early. If you are paid by the job, you have every incentive to finish the project as early as possible so that you can take on more projects and make more money.
Likewise, getting back to the school setting, the rationality remains the same. When I was in high school and college, I was never a great student despite my high marks to be honest. I slept in class. I never read my books. I waited until the last minute to finish my papers. In my mind back then, I figured that if I was going to be trapped in school doing time seven hours per day for 180 days, I might as well try to get the most out of doing the least. If my teachers gave me all of my assignments on the first day and told me that as soon as I completed all of them, I could leave, I would get the work done as quickly as possible. However, my teachers gave me all of my assignments on the first day and told me that I have to attend every single class for the next 18 weeks. Finishing all the work early still requires you to show up. Thus, there is no incentive to work quickly and efficiently and every incentive to procrastinate. This is how rational beings behave when making decisions on a cost-benefit basis and considering their scarce resources.
Our educational system encourages procrastination. This type of procrastination stays with the individual through the workplace as hourly and salaried employees simply show up, but mentally check out because they are just doing time for the paycheck. This is such an inefficient use of time and resources.
As more and more people work from home and have flexible office schedules, they will begin to demand that schools prepare students for the new economy. That will mean teaching self-discipline and allowing flex time inside the school buildings. Students should only have to spend the amount of time they need in the school building to get their job done, no more and no less. Online components to course work will greatly reduce the need to be in class for lectures. Class sessions will be more productive. We will even see a shift away from the semester and quarterly school calendar and a move toward a rolling school calendar. Start when you want. Finish when you want, within a reasonable time frame of course.
Some aspects of education will remain the same in 2025 however. First, elementary schools will see only little change. That is because the nature of elementary school is much different from high school and college. High schools and college prepare students to become producers in the economy. Elementary schools exist to instill values and skills needed in order to grasp higher order concepts presented in the upper levels and in order to be a law-abiding citizen. Elementary students will still need the daily guidance of a caring teacher in the formative years of their education and emotional development.
Teachers will still be needed in high school and college. They will not be replaced by robots. There is timeless value in human interaction. Even in online communication, there are humans on the other end, most of the time anyway. Humans have souls, unlike robots, and can show emotions and empathy that are essential to accurately convey information and lead discussions.
High school and college extracurricular activities will remain. There are numerous benefits to the student in participating in athletics, art, religious organizations, philanthropy, and other activities where they will be exerting their interpersonal skills and unique talents. Recent legislation passed and considered in several states reflect these changing times. This legislation deals with giving access to public high school extracurricular activities for home-schooled students. Such legislation is referred to as the “Tim Tebow Bill” named after NFL quarterback Tim Tebow who played high school football at Nease High School even though he was home-schooled thanks to state legislation allowing him to do so.
With the increasing implementation of online components to classes and the addition of online-only classes in public high schools, in due time, everyone will be home-schooled to a certain extent. While the “Tim Tebow Bill” is intended for the benefit of home-schooled students, it is a forward-looking piece of legislation that few people realize when you take into account the changing economy and education that is in process and won’t be realized until 2025 and beyond.
Buildings will still be needed, but not to the extent that they are needed today. We will see more consolidation of resources between public schools, parks and recreation, and public libraries.
What would be the most important development affecting teachers, in my opinion, will be the improved quality of teachers. Robots will not replace teachers in 2025. In fact, more teachers and better teachers will be needed. Furthermore, if we start to see more flex time implemented in the classroom, this will free up the schedules of high school teachers and make them as flexible as college professors. Added free time to the schedules of high school teachers will allow them to pursue business and research opportunities they have not had the time to do previously.
This will give our teachers real world experience in their chosen discipline and greatly enrich the classroom experience for high school students. With many state and local legislatures operating part-time, we may even start to see teachers running for public office at the same rate we see lawyers and business owners run for public office. This will empower education as educators who have skin in the game will be able to bring their expertise to the table to tackle the important educational issues of the day.