As I began this article, I did a quick Google search to see what you might be seeing if you began your planning on the web. There were 226 MILLION pages on the topic.

Start to sort through the results and the array of articles you’ll find can be dizzying, each of them with a different take or focus on how technology and learning will merge in the years to come.

Sift through those articles, and the countless seminars and webinars on the subject, and you will see some patterns develop. Add to that our background of building hundreds, if not thousands of electronic classrooms, and those patterns get added to experience. The patterns begin to become tools and knowledge that can help you plan with confidence.

Fortunately, while technology is constantly changing, we’ve now lived in the techinical era of education long enough that we can see trends and learn from history a way that we couldn’t a decade ago.

What have we learned? In general, your planning will have to focus on five key points:

  • Changes in the classroom space – Effective use of technology, both what we are using today and the newer technologies that are emerging, also mean we have to rethink our classrooms spaces. How do we plan our space to make our investment in technology more effective? And how do we plan for now, yet create a space that can be effective as technology evolves?
  • Changes in the teacher’s role – As technology plays a larger role in teaching, the teacher’s role evolves too. Far from dehumanizing education, technology offers the possibility of making the teacher even more important in the process. But only if we understand and plan for the changes.
  • Connectivity – For the past decade. we have been moving towards a more connected world and that trend is accellerating. No where is that change more dramatic than in education. We now have to think in terms of how we connect internally in the classroom, within our schools, and with the larger world. How do we apply, and limit, connectivity to make education more effective?
  • The Importance of Infrastructure – Underneath all this technology is an infrastucture that allows signals, network, monitoring and control to travel from place to place. As we are planning our new spaces, the challenge is to build for today and tomorrow, without busting the budget.
  • Which Technologies? Technologies are emerging faster than we can keep pace. What do we choose? And why?

I want you to notice that the actual technology is the LAST thing on our list. There’s a reason for this.  Building platforms and skills and spaces that are flexible, and can grow with you are more important than the actual technologies you choose. Do those things right and you will be ready for any technology that shows itself in the years to come.

Once we understand this, we can think in terms of process and the human element. We can look at history, and focus on technology not as “the latest thing”, but in the broader context of how students learn. And then we can actually plan for our success in the classroom of the future, instead of being a slave to the latest whims and whimsy.

We believe that being a responsible systems integrator means a lot more than knowing how all this stuff hooks together. Our job is also to help you make good decisions that will set you up for long term success.

So, over the next few weeks, we will be looking at each of these five focal points in more detail. Just as we do when we consult with clients, we’ll share some of the insights, experiences and perspective that can only be gained after helping hundreds of educatiors put technology to work, giving you a head start on building your own classroom of the future.