The Cla$$room of the Future

Thanks to school closings, the cla$$room of the future is already here

A Teach for the Universe corps member bringing excellence from another planet.

Today we’re headed to a magical place where excellence is the order of the day, expectations are always set to 11 (one point higher than their highest setting) and the Harlem Shake is but a distant, embarrassing memory. Where is this dream destination, you ask? In the future. Make that the cla$$room of the future to be precise. But what will this super cool place look like and is there any limit to the number of students it can contain? Also, is it true that Teach for the Universe corps members will travel here from other planets to share their excellence?

Fortunately the answers to all of these questions and a great many more were on display recently at at SXSWedu, which is how people will talk in the future. In fact you can see not just the cla$$room of the future, but the $chool, the teachers, even the family of the future right here in this handy video.

By the way: that video (which I watched on my Google Glasses because I am that cool) was brought to us from the future by student data storage visionaries InBloom. That’s because student data will actually be the currency of the future, which makes a lot of cents when you think about it. So what does the future actually look like? Allow me to break it down for you, old school style:

The cla$$room of the future will be very large
In the future, students will have a cafeteria of blended learning options from which to choose. And they will apparently enjoy their customized blend of personalized learning in an enormous cafeteria-like setting packed with other students.

But large cla$$ sizes will be no match for excellence
No doubt you are wondering, what kind of teacher can possibly handle a cafeteria-sized cla$$room with that many students? (Especially since everyone who works at the Gates Foundation, the official funder of the future, sends their own children to schools with the small classes of the dated past.) The answer is “an excellent teacher.” And while the future has yet to arrive, the search for the excellent teacher of the future is well under way. Like in Chicago, for example, where the rush to close the failing, union-stifled public schools of the past and replace them with the excellent and innovative academies of the future is inadvertently causing class sizes to rise in the present, leading school district officials to make futuristic statements like this one from Chicago Public Schools spokesperson Becky Carroll.

“It’s the quality of teaching in that classroom,” Carroll said. “You could have a teacher that is high-quality that could take 40 kids in a class and help them succeed.”

Which is good news because true *excellence* costs ALOT
Remember the old days when school districts could afford to import hundreds of Teach for America corps members in order to expose poor minority students to good old-fashioned excellence, at least for a short time? Alas, as we learned recently, the cost of the TFA program has shot up in recent years like a rocket into space, rising from $18,000 per recruit in 2005 to more than $42,000 per recruit in 2011. Which means that in the future, TFA recruits could cost upwards of 1 million student data units each—possibly more when you consider that many will be traveling here from other, more excellent planets.

And so do all of those super cool edu gizmos of the future
In the future, students will be able to communicate with their teachers, their parents and each other using super cool futuristic hand-held devices. But what company and edu-visionary has the wherewithal and the space cojones to envision the future of these hand-held devices today? And what present-day communications provider will helpfully provide the data plan for students who still lack access to the Internet at home, despite the fact that it is the future? And will the school buses of the future continue to lack seat belts?

Which is why the cla$$room of the future may require closing most of our public schools today.
Of course not everyone in the future will have super cool huge cla$$rooms. Some will enjoy a class size of zero, particularly those students whose schools have been closed. What will the future hold for these hold outs? I couldn’t tell you. You see, I can’t predict the future. 

Send your future predictions to


  1. Having just got back from SXSWEdu 2013 myself. I totally agree! There was a divide! All of these corporate vultures, with greedy smirks on their faces, just waiting in the wings to pounce! Knowing that they had all the $$ in their court and would soon have more vendor lock-in so you couldn’t do much of anything else but pay them!

    The other group was for public interest! They were walking around with confused looks on their faces…”Yes you have a great product, but our funds have been cut more and more. What about us!? What about the public interest? The common good!? We are public servants! Shouldn’t we serve the public and not cooperate interests!?”

    Then when Bill Gates gets up for the closing keynote. He shows graphs showing budgets and such and pretty much says. “We know you don’t have much money, but you need to cancel some other stuff so you can buy our products so you can teach.” The three people he brought on stage to interview were all for-profit companies.

    1. Actually, InBloom, one of the companies on stage with Bill Gates at the keynote, is a nonprofit, but don’t let that get in the way of your righteous indignation.

      1. I believe that’s what’s known as a distinction without a difference. The important thing is, and I’ll simply quote from the inBloom press release is that “the inBloom framework enables technology providers to develop and deploy products without having to build custom connections to each state and district data source. This means more developers will have the opportunity to create new and powerful applications to benefit students, with lower implementation costs and faster time-to-market.”

        I feel better already…

      2. Non-profit, in the sense that TFA is a non-profit with over $300 million in assets?

        Non- profit, the in the sense that inBloom, inc. will be sharing its data with for-profit vendors?

      3. Or nonprofit in the American hospital sense, where the execs make 50 or 100 times the average employee?

  2. So the progress is children will go from looking at books, their teachers and classmates to looking at devices. This will improve teaching and learning and reduce bullying. We don’t have to talk to each other anymore. We can just send emoticons and this will improve our society and the global economy. Pretty soon the flood of eduvultures will be tripping over each other to get to
    Bill for his money and approval.

    See Einstein visual here….the quote is:

    “I fear the day technology will surpass our capacity for human interaction, our world will have a generation of idiots.”

  3. I left this comment on the Impatient Optimist blog:

    Experts at the prestigious Mayo Clinic say that children who get more than two hours of screen time a day are more likely than other kids to:*Be overweight*Get irregular sleep*Bully other kids, show signs of depression or anxiety and have attention problems*Have impaired academic performance.

    I wish the blog had allowed me to bold the words HAVE IMPAIRED ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE.

    Really, the “reformers” are getting too absurd now.

  4. […] Teachers should stand up to standardize testing as well as many other things that States and mostly Corporations are lobbying for. It was so sad to sit at SXSWEdu aka $X$WEdu in Austin, Texas last week and watch those FOR-PROFIT companies tell “We The People” how we are going to teach and educate. What is the point of being an ISD (Independent School District) if you don’t “fight” for your independence!  View “The Cla$$room of the Future” […]

  5. Creepy! This is a picture of a sterile utopia where everyone is drinking the kool-aid. What they are selling is so detached from reality…talk about living life in a vacuum. Do you realize how ill prepared kids will be for all the uncertainty that adulthood poses and the curves life can throw?

    Some of our most educational days have been born out of the unexpected events known as life and we’ve had to adjust and improvise. The Dewey centered classroom utopia will produce kids not only dumbed down academically but will also be emotional cripples possessing zero skills to deal with real world experiences…maybe that’s the plan. Just stick them in their Agenda 21 compliant apartment and give them their electronics.

  6. One of my favorite quotes is from Buckminster Fuller: “The best way to change the existing reality is to create a new reality that makes the old one obsolete”. I, for one, believe the current reality of schooling IS obsolete: it is based on a factory model we set up to sort students into batches in the 1920s and has not changed since then. Using technology to implement 1:1 instruction is a new reality that will make the obsolescence our current reality evident. My fear is that if the current public education system doesn’t embrace this new approach to learning, parents will…. and they may do it completely outside of the existing reality of “schooling”. (Look at the emerging trend of “unschooling” by many of the opt out parents for examples of this). Oh… and those little badges on the smiling child’s pad will soon be BIG badges awarded to adults seeking employment, badges that signify mastery of skills taught by MOOCs. How quickly will this happen? Look at the charts that show how rapidly cell phone technology spread over one decade for a possible answer.

    1. I don’t know what’s more depressing about this: the kids in Mr. Pai’s class, listlessly playing the computer games that will *finally* propel them across the achievement gap and into their 21st century occupations, or the “advocates” who hover vulture-like just off screen poised with expert “analysis” ever at the ready. There seem to be an astonishing number of people in Minnesota cashing in on the reform fever that has your state in its clutches. btw: I’m at work on a post called Stop the Minnesanity about the combo of edu-hysteria, faulty logic and rampant cronyism that appears to be the order of the day there. Please let me know if you have any insights…

    2. A couple of thoughts. At one point he talked about some kids completing in 1 day what other kids took a week or ten days to learn. How much difference in learning does that add up to over a year? I would not be allowed to let someone move that slowly, even if it was the level that they were able to move.

      One of the old guys advocating for Mr. Pai had a typewriter on his desk while he talked about innovation and the need to incorporate these new ways of thinking. Now, if the guy worked at a museum, and was sitting in a display, then I could understand. But how can a guy with a typewriter at work talk to me about innovation?

      Last, as has already been noted, when you show a video of children this well-behaved with almost no supervision in a school with 98% free and reduced lunch, I’ll think more about it.

Comments are closed.