How Technology is Changing Time and Space in Traditional High Schools

The majority of adults today went through traditional brick and mortar high schools. This means we went to a physical school five days a week. We had a fixed schedule for the semester of pre-determined courses.

However, increased societal pressure and the advancement of technology are beginning to change what the American High School may look like in the future.

Our High Schools are gradually changing from teacher-centered environments to more student-centered environments where students have more choices and ownership of their learning.

The concept of learning happening in a physical space of four walls in a designated location is beginning to change. Some traditional high schools are beginning to experiment with hybrid learning options. In a hybrid class students may not always need to be physically present five days a week. For example, a teacher may decide that all students in the class need to be present on Monday. However, students with a B or better may work outside of the class, while students earning less than a B are expected to come to class to work with students all five days. The teacher may use collaborative software to be virtually available to answer questions for students who are working outside of class while working with students in class.

In the future technology may change the notion that teachers need to be physically present as well. Technology makes it possible for teachers to deliver instruction from remote locations. This can increase opportunities and course offerings for students. Futurists predict that most students in the future will have a blend of both some face-to-face and online instruction in high school.

Education futurists have predicted that American High Schools will undergo dramatic change in the next century. So what will these dramatic changes look like?
Schools are evolving from more teacher centered to more student centered. Greater access to technology is a catalyst in making new learning options available to for students that were never possible before.

Not only will the location of where teachers are change, but their role will change as well. This is not to say that their role is not important. In fact it becomes even more vital in helping differentiate and personalize instruction in meaningful ways. Teachers will be experts in helping students learn and providing interventions to help them with problem areas. They will hold virtual classrooms, office hours,and provide instruction for small groups. Sometimes they may not even be physically present when they provide these services. Again technology plays an important role in allowing this to happen. Not only does it provide the delivery of virtual learning options possible, but it provides real time formative data that allows teachers to flexibly group and intervene when students need help.

Another big change that is happening in American High Schools is the change in fixed scheduling. More and more high schools are looking adding a more flexible intervention hour to help students on specific targeted skills they are struggling with. Technology helps through providing real time assessment data, and supporting online flexible scheduling.

Flipped learning is another change in time and space that is being experimented with in American High Schools. In flipped learning direct instruction is delivered outside of class via video and teachers have more time to help students with their homework in school.

Some people worry that technology may have a negative effect by limiting socialization. However, if implemented correctly, the opposite is true. Collaborative technologies can increase interaction with teachers and students. It can also make more project based learning outside of the school day possible.

Technology is a catalyst in making these changes in how high school education is possible. Students have more access to mobile devices through school 1-to-1 and BYOD programs. This allows new learning opportunities that were never available before. Students and teachers no longer need to be constrained by being in the same physical location. Schedules can be flexible and centered around student needs. Data can be collected in real time allowing teachers to focus on problem areas. The time and space of when homework and instruction occur can be flipped.

So what are some of the technologies educational leaders should be looking at investing in to make these types of learning opportunities available?

Schools need a strong learning management system that can collect real-time data and interface with other learning systems. They need collaborative technologies that can allow for and capture real-time collaboration. They also need scheduling software, systems to house and display data that instructors and other stakeholders can access as appropriate. Being strategic and investing in the software, hardware, infrastructure and professional development needed to fully implement these systems, will help schools to provide flexible student-learning opportunities.

About the Author
Dr. Stephens is a national expert in educational technology who has worked with many school districts across the country over the last 22 years. She earned a doctorate in learning technologies from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Dr. Stephens is committed to helping educational organizations improve instruction and student outcomes by offering customized solutions that are engaging, relevant, standards-based, and focused on best practices for blended, hybrid, online, and one-to-one computing environments.