chapter  18
10 Pages

Future Trends in Social Media Technology and Digital Literacy

The most interesting thing about trying to predict the future of technology is the fact that it does not necessarily follow a linear path. In fact, most of the advances in technology have been made in quantum leaps, often produced by a single innovation. The invention of USB ports in 1995 made it possible for us to connect almost any kind of peripheral device to our computers and gave rise to literally hundreds of new devices that operated off of the computer’s expensive central processing unit, rather than having to install one of its own. That, in turn, produced a myriad of inexpensive digital accoutrements-including MP3 players, digital cameras, printers, scanners, and dozens of other technologies we consider “basic” today. So what does this mean for how technology will be used in education? Frankly, it means that any attempt to predict the future of educational technology more than a few years out is probably a fool’s errand. In fact, predictions as recent at 2002, 2003, and 2004 have proven to be almost laughably inaccurate. One predicted that every child will bring a computer to school (which is close if you consider cell phones and other hand-held devices, most of which we ban from schools). Another predicted the end of conventional schooling as we know it, replaced completely by “on-demand, at-home” learning. (That remained attractive only until people started to consider the cost of child care.)

In an effort to keep school leaders’ attention focused on some potential trends that might affect the way they work and the way kids learn, however, we have developed our own set of predictions based largely on the research we have done in preparing this book. We don’t claim any special expertise at prognostication, but we tried to consider technological trends with what we know about the enduring traditions of schooling, current public policy, and the needs of the communities schools serve. Here’s what we think might happen in the next few years-about as far into the future as we are willing to venture.