Posted by Kathleen Bowers | Posted in Advocacy, Children's Need, Parent Experiences, Resources, Student Experiences, Teacher Experiences, Viewpoints | Posted on 15-05-2012
Today’s kids live in a world that we couldn’t have dreamed of when we were children. The opportunities they have for learning are really incredible. Just think of all the changes that have occurred since we were in school.
When we wanted to look up information on a specific subject, we went to the library, searched through the card files, and then searched the stacks for the books that seemed most likely to be useful. Today’s kids simply turn on the home computer, tablet or smart phone.
We waited for weeks for Scholastic Books order forms, and then orders, to come to our classroom. They download Kindle books and iPad apps in seconds.
We had books and magazines. They have e-books, video and interactive media.
For the first time in history, kids can pursue and develop their own interests at a very early age, and get access to a wealth of information almost instantly. For eager, engaged students, the Internet is better than any classroom we could have ever imagined.
Well, most of us could not have imagined it. But the popular twentieth-century science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov, did predict much of it. More than 20 years ago, before there were home computers or an Internet, Asimov foresaw that someday computers would become ubiquitous and interconnected, and that this situation would improve learning possibilities for eager learners everywhere. And he concluded that:
“Once we have computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked up to enormous libraries where anyone can ask any question and be given answers and reference material…. you can ask, and you can find out, and you can follow it up, and you can do it in your own home, at your own speed, in your own direction, in your own time.
“Nowadays, what people call learning is forced on you, and everyone is forced to learn the same thing on the same day at the same speed – in class. And everyone is different. For some it goes too fast, for some too slow, for some in the wrong direction.” However, in the future, the student “can be the sole dictator of what he is going to learn, of what he is going to study… He’ll still be going to school for some things… but [he can also] look forward to the fun in life, which is following his own bent.”
“Through this machine, for the first time we’ll be able to have a one-to-one relationship between information source and information consumer…. “
In this future, “anyone, at any age, can learn by himself, can continue to be interested. There is no reason then, if you enjoy learning, why you should to stop at a given age.”
Asimov’s future is here. The only question now is this: Will we take these amazing learning tools for granted, or will we take full advantage of them for lifelong learning, in the ways that Asimov predicted we would?
Asimov’s predictions for future learning, excerpted here from an interview with Bill Moyers more than 20 years ago, are in many ways remarkably accurate.