21 Things That Will be Obsolete in 2020

| December 30, 2011 | 68 Comments
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This week, we feature the most popular posts of the year on MindShift. This one, which seems most apropos to review on the eve of 2012, took the top spot.

Flickr:Robert S. Donavan

Inspired by Sandy Speicher’s vision of the designed school day of the future, reader Shelly Blake-Plock shared his own predictions of that ideal day. How close are we to this? The post was written in December 2009, and Blake-Plock says he’s seeing some of these already beginning to come to fruition.

[Update: I asked Blake-Plock to respond to comments to this post. Read it here.]

By Shelly Blake-Plock

1. DESKS
The 21st century does not fit neatly into rows. Neither should your students. Allow the network-based concepts of flow, collaboration, and dynamism help you rearrange your room for authentic 21st century learning.

2. LANGUAGE LABS
Foreign language acquisition is only a smartphone away. Get rid of those clunky desktops and monitors and do something fun with that room.

3. COMPUTERS
Ok, so this is a trick answer. More precisely this one should read: “Our concept of what a computer is.” Because computing is going mobile and over the next decade we’re going to see the full fury of individualized computing via handhelds come to the fore. Can’t wait.

4. HOMEWORK
The 21st century is a 24/7 environment. And the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear. And despite whatever Secretary Duncan might say, we don’t need kids to ‘go to school’ more; we need them to ‘learn’ more. And this will be done 24/7 and on the move (see #3).

5. THE ROLE OF STANDARDIZED TESTS IN COLLEGE ADMISSIONS
The AP Exam is on its last legs. The SAT isn’t far behind. Over the next ten years, we will see Digital Portfolios replace test scores as the #1 factor in college admissions.

6. DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION AS A SIGN OF DISTINGUISHED TEACHER
The 21st century is customizable. In ten years, the teacher who hasn’t yet figured out how to use tech to personalize learning will be the teacher out of a job. Differentiation won’t make you ‘distinguished’; it’ll just be a natural part of your work.

7. FEAR OF WIKIPEDIA
Wikipedia is the greatest democratizing force in the world right now. If you are afraid of letting your students peruse it, it’s time you get over yourself.

8. PAPERBACKS
Books were nice. In ten years’ time, all reading will be via digital means. And yes, I know, you like the ‘feel’ of paper. Well, in ten years’ time you’ll hardly tell the difference as ‘paper’ itself becomes digitized.

9. ATTENDANCE OFFICES
Bio scans. ‘Nuff said.

10. LOCKERS
A coat-check, maybe.

11. I.T. DEPARTMENTS
Ok, so this is another trick answer. More subtly put: IT Departments as we currently know them. Cloud computing and a decade’s worth of increased wifi and satellite access will make some of the traditional roles of IT — software, security, and connectivity — a thing of the past. What will IT professionals do with all their free time? Innovate. Look to tech departments to instigate real change in the function of schools over the next twenty years.

12. CENTRALIZED INSTITUTIONS
School buildings are going to become ‘homebases’ of learning, not the institutions where all learning happens. Buildings will get smaller and greener, student and teacher schedules will change to allow less people on campus at any one time, and more teachers and students will be going out into their communities to engage in experiential learning.

13. ORGANIZATION OF EDUCATIONAL SERVICES BY GRADE
Education over the next ten years will become more individualized, leaving the bulk of grade-based learning in the past. Students will form peer groups by interest and these interest groups will petition for specialized learning. The structure of K-12 will be fundamentally altered.

14. EDUCATION SCHOOLS THAT FAIL TO INTEGRATE TECHNOLOGY
This is actually one that could occur over the next five years. Education Schools have to realize that if they are to remain relevant, they are going to have to demand that 21st century tech integration be modeled by the very professors who are supposed to be preparing our teachers.

15. PAID/OUTSOURCED PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
No one knows your school as well as you. With the power of a PLN (professional learing networks) in their back pockets, teachers will rise up to replace peripatetic professional development gurus as the source of schoolwide professional development programs. This is already happening.

16. CURRENT CURRICULAR NORMS
There is no reason why every student needs to take however many credits in the same course of study as every other student. The root of curricular change will be the shift in middle schools to a role as foundational content providers and high schools as places for specialized learning.

17. PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCE NIGHT
Ongoing parent-teacher relations in virtual reality will make parent-teacher conference nights seem quaint. Over the next ten years, parents and teachers will become closer than ever as a result of virtual communication opportunities. And parents will drive schools to become ever more tech integrated.

18. TYPICAL CAFETERIA FOOD
Nutrition information + handhelds + cost comparison = the end of $3.00 bowls of microwaved mac and cheese. At least, I so hope so.

19. OUTSOURCED GRAPHIC DESIGN AND WEB DESIGN
You need a website/brochure/promo/etc.? Well, for goodness sake just let your kids do it. By the end of the decade — in the best of schools — they will be.

20. HIGH SCHOOL ALGEBRA 1
Within the decade, it will either become the norm to teach this course in middle school or we’ll have finally woken up to the fact that there’s no reason to give algebra weight over statistics and I.T. in high school for non-math majors (and they will have all taken it in middle school anyway).

21. PAPER
In ten years’ time, schools will decrease their paper consumption by no less than 90%. And the printing industry and the copier industry and the paper industry itself will either adjust or perish.

Read more in the School Day of the Future series.
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  • Nick Porter

    Shelly, Do you know the function of an attendance office? The majority of the work they conduct is investigating why students are not at school. Bio scans will not serve this purpose.  

    • Marthamath10

      Sure they can, if you don’t scan in, you’re not at school!

      • Nick Porter

        This is the kind of “simple” solution which does not consider the complexities of reality.  Lets say a student needs to leave during 6th period to attend a funeral; How do they leave the school? Just scan out and walk to their parents car? They will still need to be checked out by a legal guardian. Where would they do this? The attendance office.

      • http://www.qaqn.com Daniel M. Clark

        You didn’t read closely enough. The purpose of the attendance office is to not only check to see if a child is missing but to find out why a child is missing. Bio scans will never tell you the why. And the why is far more important than simply knowing if the kid is there or not.

    • Nettie

      Thank you Nick Porter!!!!

  • Mariambreed

    What wonderful possibilities…and at the same time I wonder what will happen to the children who need to be watched over, cared for..the younger children..

  • http://electriceducator.blogspot.com/ John Sowash

    Let’s hope #7 is true.

    I’m not convinced on #15. Part of the purpose of PD is for accountability. What aren’t we doing that we should be doing. For connected educators a PLN can do this, but there are a lot of educators who have not embraced this concept.

  • homebuilding

    Obviously, the author is seeing a world through high tech rose colored glasses.  Everything cited will be modified in some way, but wholesale dismissal of all–not a chance.   For as long as you live, practice and discipline will be part of study, learning, and mastery.  Most of the items, here, feed into this scenario–yet, essential ‘hands on learning’ and demonstration aren’t even mentioned.  Lots of futurists dream of dumping chairs and desks–well, not much is going to happen in the elementary grades if the kids don’t learn to sit and listen…

    • Julie Cobb

      Some of the very best learning in the elementary schools doesnt involve “sitting and listening”. Movement, conversation, and discovery (with or without technology) takes learning to much higher levels….for elementary students and for adults.

      • Deingeist

        I agree with you, but the key word in your comment is “some”. It is actually a skill to be able to sit and listen for a period of a time. I am all for the integration of technologies and active learning into school curricula, but schools need to be able to maintain the expectation of students settling down and tuning in when a teacher is trying to introduce a new topic or activity, and the students still need the ability to self mobilize, reign themselves in and truly pay attention when needed. Rather than having students “sitting and listening” all the time as it was when grandma was a kid, I think “homebuilding” is implying that we still need to teach our children respect, listening skills, and essentially efficient transition skills to be able to move from one activity to another without losing them along away. Sitting and listening as a metaphor is something that has only been made worse by access to technological distractions and hopefully we can find a way to turn the distractions into learning while having out students learn respect and listening skills.

        • Christian

          Listening to someone talking is inherently boring. I think everyone can relate to those dry lectures during university days where you either slept, skipped or played with your laptop/phone. When a kid can easily digest the gist of your 30 minute oral presentation in 5 minutes from wikipedia, it’s no wonder they can’t “sit still and listen”. Ken Robinson has a wonderful explanation of the inherent problems with the current education system: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkPvSCq5ZXk&feature=related

          • Janeesturgeon

            I still want to hold that paper back book in my hand not a tablet or phone.How long before a copy of the Bible is ban.  Read it on the internet.  Can we be sure some one does mess with the content and  try to fool us.  Bio scanning,  how much more radiation do we need to endure.  What about learning from personal experience as it relates to the lesson at the moment.  What about personal reward and praise?  I guess soon, we won’t need anything but a few smart people and would do we do with the rest?  What happens to personal interaction?

      • Deingeist

        I agree with you, but the key word in your comment is “some”. It is actually a skill to be able to sit and listen for a period of a time. I am all for the integration of technologies and active learning into school curricula, but schools need to be able to maintain the expectation of students settling down and tuning in when a teacher is trying to introduce a new topic or activity, and the students still need the ability to self mobilize, reign themselves in and truly pay attention when needed. Rather than having students “sitting and listening” all the time as it was when grandma was a kid, I think “homebuilding” is implying that we still need to teach our children respect, listening skills, and essentially efficient transition skills to be able to move from one activity to another without losing them along away. Sitting and listening as a metaphor is something that has only been made worse by access to technological distractions and hopefully we can find a way to turn the distractions into learning while having out students learn respect and listening skills.

    • Rklewis

      I teach in a k-9 school and desks have been banned since the school first opened. It actually works amazingly well.

  • CoreCurriculumPlease

    Several of these are way off base.  The idea that we’ll be paperless has no basis in reality.  Paper usage is much higher now than it ever was before.  Further, the idea that a common curriculum will end in favor of high schools with specialized learning is disconcerting.  As is the idea that students will petition for specialized learning as a dominant mode of organizing. That’s already happened in colleges and I see the effects among my friends (I’m 42 years old) all the time.  Amazing how many of them have no grounding in economics, history, foreign languages, geography or government.  We want to understand why our democracy is breaking down?  The lack of exposure to social sciences and civics is a big part of it.  We need more thoughtful common coursework, not more specialization without grounding.

    • Julie Cobb

      I teach 9th grade, we have a high percentage of our core classes, especially math, civics and economics classes that are about 90% paperless already. Students have electronic lockers, assignments are posted, completed, given feedback and returned without using paper. The kids have adapted well and even those without access at the house have found it very user friendly.
      The English classes are headed that way but not quite to 90% just yet.

    • Beyondtool

      The only paper I used this year was in my year 8 science class and exams for my IT classes. I have already cut 90% of my paper use down through the use of electronic drop boxes, pdfs, email, etc.  This year all students will have laptops, so I can’t see much more use for the horrible stuff. A colleague went entirely paperless this year just to prove it could be done. I will be using free ebook textbooks this year that students can use on their iPads, phones or ebook readers.

      I think it really is becoming impossible to ground students in economics, history, foreign languages, geography or government within the small space of time at high school. I’ve taken 30 years to get a grip on some of those topics (my understanding of foreign languages is still very amateurish). The future is increasingly specialisation and education must adapt to meet that change. The common catchcry of most students is “why do I have to learn this?”. The fact educators don’t want to face is that sometimes what is being taught is completely irrelevant to that particular student (I got nothing out of learning ballet or dance at school..and intricacies of world war II glazed my eyeballs over).

      • dbp

        Education is not only about “usefulness” its about educating the whole person. In order to nurture wholeness we need to ground our civilization in art and literature, history, drama, music and a million other things that may make your eyes glaze over. Not all of us think education is about creating an end product to fill some void in the workplace. We must continually balance innovation with respect for education in the classical sense.

        • Guest

          Absolutely! I am amazed when I read articles and COMMENTS from two teachers who do not seem to realize how far behind our students are to the students on the world stage. I see the reasons why…the subjects are not being taught.

          Specialization is nothing more than a clerk, if their overall knowledge of philosophy, economics, history, and literature are lacking.

      • Guest93

        I am currently a high school senior who is planning on studying education in college. I do not think that using ebook textbooks would be the best idea unless EVERY student has iPads, smart phones or ebook readers. (I personally do not.) Not all students/parents may not be lucky enough to be able to afford such technology, but if your school is willing to provide these materials for you I think it would be an excellent idea.
        I do agree that many of our high school courses are irrelevant. I often ask myself, “Why do I have to learn this?”, especially in my math courses. I think high schools should offer more career oriented classes. Although, they should not streamline all curriculum into career-based courses, considering most students eventually change their majors. But, having the opportunity to explore different career paths would be beneficial to all students and may reduce the amount of major switches during college.

  • bill new

    Of course many schools, k-16, will cling to traditional models, and they will (they already have) become more and more uninteresting, unfulfilling, and un”effective” for students, teachers, and the rest of the world. Does anyone in their right mind really want to sit at a desk in a row of desks occupied by exact age-mates with the same old book in their hands, listening to the teacher say the same old things? Who wants to be that teacher? Who wants to pay that teacher to do that? But I might take things a step further and say that “schooling” itself (as we have taken it for granted for the past 200 years or so) is going to disappear.

  • Isobel Mcguire

    just for Bill New – me thinks you haven’t been in a classroom for a long time!   Schools have changed a lot over the years.   No more sitting in rows, textbooks are being left aside for active learning, teachers are facilitators of learning, not the source of all knowledge anymore.   I don’t think schools will disappear but the are going to continue to change with other developments as they come.   We do need to get all teachers up to speed with technology but you have to remember that some of the teaching staff these days did not learn with computers and their training did not include them either.   I am a teacher and I love my job but I am fully tech’ed, and use it all the time with the children.   I teach kids who are learning animation, how to use photoshop and painter, becoming critical in their thinking and learning the skills they will need for the future, and they are having a great time, many of them enjoy coming to school.   

  • Annmaria

    You lost me at algebra. I can see statistics as an alternative to calculus in high school – although,even as a statistician I still favor calculus for high school – algebra, on the other hand , is really basic. I’d rise up in revolt if my kids’ school dropped algebra

  • Debate_nerd22

    I don’t think I like this woman’s vision of the future. First of all, there are some discrepancies. High school algebra 1 was taught in middle school when I was in middle school, and that was over a decade ago. Secondly, I use a lot of paper in college, and as critical thinking becomes more important in the learning environment, more papers will be needed to explain a student’s rationale on certain subject matters. I don’t think online education will veer many students away from the campus proper. Many students enjoy the interaction, as well as being able to get a response from an instructor right, as opposed to waiting for a while to get a response via email. While Wikipedia offers a good stepping stone (the head of my academic department said this), it is NOT, and will NEVER be a source for citation. The problem is that the articles can be changed at any time, and is not a good secondary or primary source for most research papers. I also don’t think language labs are going anywhere for a while. With the job market in America quickly finding its way overseas, it is becoming important for students to learn a language. Schools can provide easy, free (or cheap) access to language software, so it’s foolish to say that these labs will be going anywhere anytime soon. I don’t see what the author’s problem is with desks. Desks are slowly disappearing already, in favor of lecture halls with tables, so this point is already kind of moot. And between you and me, I’d rather have a book over a PDF any day of the week.

  • Jill

    Some of this stuff may never happen, but it’s the idea that schools are going to have to change to keep up with technology. Hey, I already got rid of all my desks and I am 80% paperless. I agree with the differentiation and that lockers will be obsolete. I also agree with the 24/7 learning. Now that my class uses Edmodo, I communicate with them and their parents outside of the school hours. Yep. Some of this stuff will be a reality some day…soon. Oh, I forgot to mention. I teach 5th grade.

    • Nick Porter

      What does 80% paperless mean?

      • Jill

        It means that my tests quizzes, projects, newsletters are all done electronically and notes are taken on paper in a marble notebook. And that there are times I use worksheets in math.

        • http://obbop.wordpress.com/ obbop

          Interestingly, while the bureaucracy of “education” had me in its grip while attending a rather “prestigious” teachers college in my late 30s (a mid-life career change after a Major USA corporation sent around another 7,000 jobs overseas) I was repeatedly told to shun pre-printed worksheets.

          That it was but one of many old-fashioned “teaching styles” proven to be valueless and that students despised them and to never use them.

          Okay, I thought. No problemo ye supposedly authorities in this field.

          But, as with SO MUCH the conveyors of “knowledge” spewed and babbled in what I have determined was a generally useless institution apparently existing more to provide jobs and careers and excellent benefits and ultra-bountiful secure pensions for those employed within that public university .

          Anyway…

          During student teaching then while “regular” teaching afterwards… the vast majority of students enjoyed pre-printed worksheets.

          Obtained from the textbook or other sources including the ones I created; the majority of students enjoyed them with VERY few griping but those students tended to gripe about every aspect of being educated/taught/etc. and it was usually easily ascertained that all they cared to do was play video games or sports or anything far-removed from education.

          I ensured that the worksheet was blended in with other education-types

          Discussion while grading the sheet or using the sheet to guide a discussion minus the grading.

          Or, asking students to re-word the questions or to create their own work-sheets either alone or in a group then we would, at times, vote for questions to create a worksheet the other same grade-level class would have to complete.

          So screw the education bureaucrats. Most being, in my view, self-serving lazy ill-informed sucker-uppers of your tax dollars.

  • Abdelouahid El Mouzrati

    As long as there will be mixed ability classes and multiple intelligence students there will be need to all these instructional tools be it high tec or chalkboard!!!

  • http://obbop.wordpress.com/ obbop

    Ex-educator.

    Departed forever.

    Refuse to be a tool of professional education self-serving overpaid bureaucrats and others whose main impetus is the indoctrination/brainwashing of We, the People’s offspring to be loyal OBEYING subjects of our masters atop the socio-economic hierarchy and corporate USA.

    OBEY!!!!!!!

    Observe where our rulers and their lackeys tend to educate their vile spawn; certan “academies.”

    Local in-the-know high-paid education bureaucrats know they must educate their kids at home to dispel the at-school indoctrination or they are themselves so well-indoctrinated they are unaware of the real function of the vast majority of the USA’s VAST educational systems.

    OBEY ye lowly commoners.

    It is your patriotic duty.

    Love it or leave it.

    OBEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jill

    I found some interesting quotes about the automobile when it was introduced to the public. Change is hard, but it’s inevitable. It may not look like what’s in the article, but then again…

    A new source of power… called gasoline has been produced by a Boston engineer. Instead of burning the fuel under a boiler, it is exploded inside the cylinder of an engine.
    The dangers are obvious. Stores of gasoline in the hands of people interested primarily in profit would constitute a fire and explosive hazard of the first rank. Horseless carriages propelled by gasoline might attain speeds of 14 or even 20 miles per hour. The menace to our people of vehicles of this type hurtling through our streets and along our roads and poisoning the atmosphere would call for prompt legislative action even if the military and economic implications were not so overwhelming… [T]he cost of producing [gasoline] is far beyond the financial capacity of private industry… In addition the development of this new power may displace the use of horses, which would wreck our agriculture.

    - U. S. Congressional Record, 1875.
    The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad.
    - Advice from a president of the Michigan Savings Bank to Henry Ford’s lawyer Horace Rackham. Rackham ignored the advice and invested $5000 in Ford stock, selling it later for $12.5 million.
    That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced.

  • Teacher

    This is a bit outlandish. No matter how accurate and precise handheld devices get they will never replace their predecessor the personal computer. There are tasks that are tedious to accomplish on a tablet or smart phone that are done with ease and precision on a PC… you’ll never get me to give mine up. 

    Standardized tests aren’t going away, they may change format over time, but there will always be a need for a way to judge a standard for students to meet. 

    Too many people jump on the next train and they leave things behind that are the basis for all of these “new technologies.” Yes, we do become determined on our technologies as they evolve, but there is a fine line with education, and the foundation of teaching has nothing to do with technology. Teachers can use technology as a tool, they can teach students how to use it, but if all we do is create tech geniuses of our students they aren’t going to be well rounded, socially able, contributing members of society. 

    Some of these 21 are probably on track, but there are several things in this list that are very speculative and very biased. It will be interesting to look at this article in 10 years and compare what has really happened with what was on this list. I bet we all may be a little surprised in the results.

    Bottom line, we aren’t predictors of the future, no one truly knows what will be in 10 years.

    • Beyondtool

      PCs will remain for dedicated CPU intensive tasks that require large screens and mice/keyboards such as programming, web design, professional applications, etc. However as the iPad has shown, tablets are a powerful educational tool that children can intuit from a very early age. Tablets and mobile phones are fast becoming media consumption devices and a large part of education is the sharing and digestion of information. Within the decade it is more than plausible that most people will not need to bother using a PC for many tasks. My mobile phone has replaced roughly 60% of my PC web browsing, 80% of my email use, most reading of ebooks and pdfs I do on my phone, I game exclusively on my phone or my xbox, I can print if I ever need to and I can connect to cloud storage anywhere.

      I believe that standardised tests are going to become less and less relevant. When students are pursuing their own educational objectives in a personalised and customised curriculum, it’s going to be impossible to compare them readily with their peers. Tests will be irrelevant as what will matter is a student’s ability to create a portfolio that demonstrates their understanding, creativity and mastery of their specialised learning areas. That’s what employers and universities will be looking for.

  • http://obbop.wordpress.com/ obbop

    Remember now…. one of the more popular commonly-used “buzz terms” is:

    “Learning Community.”

    Oft-times, when hearing that term, I expect the educational bureaucrat or vile politician, both likely much more concerned about their personal financial well-being than those required-to-contend-with students and their parents, to follow the buzz term with jargon, memorized meaningless froth and emotion-laden subjective opinions so hard for logical rational folks to interpret.

    Just make the taxpayer feel good so the money flow to the educational systems continues unabated do that the educational bureaucracy can continue to skim their HUGE share of that wealth; YOUR wealth, taxpayers.

    Politicians use the educational systems as one of many methods to exert power and control over We, the People.

    And educational systems within the USA are, in my opinion, exist mainly to indoctrinate the masses during their formative years to OBEY!!!!!!!!!

    OBEY your betters!!!

    Obey corporate USA.

    OBEY your socio-economic “betters.”

    OBEY all bureaucracies created by our ruling masters.

    OBEY!!!

  • strapped parent

    How about 500,000-1,000,000$ private university education price tags gone by 2020?

  • Spiralstarez

    blah blah blah.  

  • http://twitter.com/TwistedPremise Twisted Premise

    This is nauseating. A future of robots where individuality depends on the color of your background. The best learning still happens in the playground. 

  • djs

    Get rid of algebra and put statistics in its place?  I don’t know how it’s even possible to learn statistics without first understanding the language of algebra.  Perhaps this mindset is behind why there appears to be so much misuse of statistics in the media.

    • Beyondtool

      What was said was that “Within the decade, it will either become the norm to teach this course in middle school” OR “there’s no reason to give algebra weight over statistics and I.T. in high school for NON-MATH majors”.

      The point I got was that algebra is going to be a foundation taught in middle school and that other math subjects should be offered in senior for those who have no need for a math major as statistics and I.T would be more beneficial. Some pre-schools/kindergartens are already teaching year 1 math so that only makes sense to push algebra into middle school.

      • Peter

        This year the supeintendent of our district mandated that algebre and pre algebra be pushed into the middle school. The students are not doing well at all. Many of them do not have the foundation. Piaget’s theroy of conservation demonstrated that not every person reaches the ah-ha level of understanding mathamatical concepts at the same time.
        Brain based research has proven there are periods of development in which the growing brain is ot ready to master new concepts, but that duriing ceartain periods of growth, reviewing previously learned material is more benenficial.
         If algebra is to be taught at any level, it should take place when the individual has mastered the foundation necessary to understand it. Algebra should then be paced and taught as each concept is mastered. I suggest not imposing Algebra on the masses of middle schoolers that are not prepared to understand it. This only affects their self-concept in a negative way, and fosters a hatred for math in a century which neeeds to encourage and foster and interest and aptitude in math and science. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/sheamusburns Sheamus Burns

    Tina. Great list. Can you give me some links for more information on #15. I’m looking for solid ways to convince our administration that moving in that direction is the way to go.

  • PLB

    What about the kids whose parents are essentially absent, so there is no one to read to them or set the norms? Instead of education being 24/7, it’s usually 0/0 for them. Is this what’s left for the schools?

  • MSML

    Most of this is nonsense. If history teaches us anything, it’s that the rate of change and the rate of rate of change is increasing, and our ability to predict is seriously impaired. The writer wriggles with glee at his own agenda triumphing but ignores a lot of inconvenient trends.

  • MSML

    I worked in the computer business for 30 years. Believe me, adding technology will make things worse; the myth of support-free tech is a devil’s bargain for starry-eyed writers like this one. If the sentiments of the “teachers” making comments here exemplify the approach to learning today, the US has only another generation left before its people are savages ignorant of history or science or philosophy, since they are being taught that all these are actually hyphenated confections like “African-American math”, “Chinese Ethics”, “Euro-Centric History”, etc.

  • http://www.qaqn.com Daniel M. Clark

    Pie-in-the-sky bleeding edge thinking from someone who hasn’t spend enough time in schools or politics. Ten years? I’d be amazed if most of this stuff happened in the next 50. In none of your predictions did you say how any of this would be funded. Maybe your school district is flush with money – my own kids go to a well-funded public school – but most aren’t. Most are cutting essential programs so they can simply keep the doors open.

    • Katie5

      As I was reading the list and the comments, this is what I kept thinking about. I am a math teacher at a Title 1 middle-school, where the majority of the students are considered at-risk and low income, with a large population of ESL students. At the school, we have a decent supply of technology. (Science classes have mini-laptops, all classrooms have Smart Boards, math classrooms have student desktops, we are suppose to be getting a set of iPads that teachers can check-out from the technology room, our schools are now equipped with guest wifi access etc…) Our new superintendent is all about the technology, but our students do not have the resources to access this technology once they leave the building. Many of our 8th graders do not have cell phones, much less a smart phone, and many do not have a computer at home. Last year, our principal had to cut 6 positions, and this year it will be 7 more. I consider myself green and Earth friendly, as well as a supporter of technology, but none of this can be accomplished unless all students have 24/7 access to the necessary technology. That will never happen at a school like mine unless someone steps in to fund it.

  • Deingeist

    I have made comments on other comments, and this one has to do with the “attendance office” thread from a few days ago, but is an aside so I shall post it here. 

    I agree with Nick Porter in that “Bio scans” will not replace attendance but my question is, what the hell is an “attendance office”????

    I have never been to a school in my short 27 years of life as a student or a teacher (I teach high school art/photo)  that has anything called or remotely specific to an “attendance office”…

    Attendance is computerized and taken by the first period teacher in every single school i’ve been too since computer networks became standard in schools. It is then sent to the “Main office” (note: not the “Attendance office”) where the absences are reviewed by administrators and their assistants and they make calls to parents accordingly. Yes there are secretaries in the office who work on this, but they have tons of other responsibilites such as organizing events, managing finances for supplies for the school and scheduling administrative meetings etc. If the absences are repeated guidance will get involved and intervene along with administrators to understand why the student is missing school. There are no people whose jobs are “Attendance office worker” because that is simply ridiculous. It is a responsibility of all of the staff in their own small way. Bio scanners may replace the morning attendance that teachers take, but humans can’t be replaced on the other end of the attendance problem.  

    • Beyondtool

      The school I work in has 2500 students, and we do in fact have an “attendance officer”. We have paper rolls at the beginning of the day, partly due to school policy requirements, partly as a teacher/technology trade off (some teachers don’t have network access everywhere).

      We do also have a digital attendance system, but is not used as efficiently as it could be as staff reject it/or are not trained to use it properly. We also have an SMS system that sends SMS text alerts to parents on student lack of attendance, and teachers are instructed to inquire into extended absences, or suspected truancies.

      With Bio scan technology however I can see a dramatic increase in the efficiency and accountability of the system as parents, teachers and administrators adapt to the uses of technology the need for an “attendance officer” will surely be a thing of the past. Signing students will be done in and out of the school automatically, parents will have current and up to date status of their child’s
      whereabouts, there won’t be the easy human mistakes with attendance like today (honest human error, kid walks in late and isn’t noticed, another kid swaps places, stressed teacher forgets to take attendance, kids slips out the door, etc)

  • Anonymous

    I think a lot of assumptions about the future of technology are based on the assumed continuation of an oil-based economy and ongoing offshore production. A significant change in either will have a big effect on the accessibility of tech.

  • R2D2

    According to Joichi Ito (MIT Media Labs) education is not about centralized instruction anymore; rather, it is the process establishing oneself as a node in a broad network of distributed creativity. Active learning through experimentation creation, and play will be a key trend we are going to see in education. Look at the explosion of wonderful learning apps. 

  • Linda

    I found No. 14 on the list the most thought provoking for me.  I just finished my M Ed and found the technology aspect lacking completely.  In most instances professors and classroom teachers in my schools THINK they are implementing technology but in reality they are using it in very traditional ways.  There should be an ongoing search for new strategies and ways to use many kinds of technology in the classroom.  My technology instruction in grad school was a one paragraph reference in one of my texts.  I believe teachers need specific ways to use technology to enhance learning and this learning would work best if it integrates many subject areas into a relevant project based experience that crosses between home and school.

  • Floris

    Nuce, but kind of tech orientated. The paradigmshift also has to take place in the head of educational people. “Oh my god, what can I teach if it isn’t about knowledge any more, but about access to knowledge?” “Oh my god, it can’t be true all my knowledge is outdated!” “But if we can’t test students on knowledge, how can we test skill then??” “Dear boy, education is also to prepare students to learn to follow lead of others” etc. I know you and I probably have a good answer to these fears, but if it’s your job and you can’t visualize yourself in the new situation, you fight this until your retired.

  • Mike

    ‎#19 is ridiculously shortsighted. One of the biggest things we try to educate our staff out of over here (state university)  is the tempation for a department to let their students manage their website. Inevitably, the student gets bored or graduates and then the staff is stuck with a site they know nothing about, can’t update, and when and if they find a replacement, that person has a site that was created with no university standards, so often it has to be scrapped and they start again. This article should have refered to it’s own #6 and recommended that teachers and staff LEARN how to do it themselves, even if they learn it from the students. Having a full time permanent employee in charge of the web and capable of knowing how to update it is priceless.

  • MuddyBoots

    Most of the changes in this list are things I’d rather not see happen.

  • Belleque1

    It’s not going to be any fun hanging our kid’s IPads on the fridge……..

  • Artlover

    geek based opinions suffer the usual fate ..geeks know little of human behaviour otherwise they would be experiencing it

  • http://ilearntechnology.com/ Ktenkely

    Anastasis Academy, living in this future! http://anastasisacademy.com

  • thinkingteacher

    Predictions of the Year 2000
    from The Ladies Home Journal of December 1900

    The
    Ladies Home Journal from December 1900, which contained a fascinating
    article by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. “What May Happen in the Next Hundred
    Years”.

    Mr.
    Watkins wrote: “These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible. Yet,
    they have come from the most learned and conservative minds in America. To the
    wisest and most careful men in our greatest institutions of science and
    learning I have gone, asking each in his turn to forecast for me what, in his
    opinion, will have been wrought in his own field of investigation before the
    dawn of 2001 – a century from now. These opinions I have carefully transcribed.”

    Prediction
    #1:
    There will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America and its
    possessions by the lapse of another century. Nicaragua will ask for admission to
    our Union after the completion of the great
    canal. Mexico
    will be next. Europe, seeking more territory
    to the south of us, will cause many of the South and Central American republics
    to be voted into the Union by their own
    people.”

     

    Prediction
    #2:
    The American will be taller by from one to two inches. His increase of stature
    will result from better health, due to vast reforms in medicine, sanitation,
    food and athletics. He will live fifty years instead of thirty-five as at
    present – for he will reside in the suburbs. The city house will practically be
    no more. Building in blocks will be illegal. The trip from suburban home to
    office will require a few minutes only. A penny will pay the fare.

     

    Prediction
    #3:
    Gymnastics will begin in the nursery, where toys and games will be designed to
    strengthen the muscles. Exercise will be compulsory in the schools. Every
    school, college and community will have a complete gymnasium. All cities will
    have public gymnasiums. A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch
    will be regarded as a weakling.

     

    Prediction #4:  There Will Be No Street Cars in Our Large Cities. All
    hurry traffic will be below or high above ground when brought within city
    limits. In most cities it will be confined to broad subways or tunnels, well
    lighted and well ventilated, or to high trestles with “moving-sidewalk”
    stairways leading to the top. These underground or overhead streets will teem
    with capacious automobile passenger coaches and freight with cushioned wheels.
    Subways or trestles will be reserved for express trains.  Cities,
    therefore, will be free from all noises.

     

    Prediction #5:  Trains will run two miles a minute,
    normally; express trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour. To go from New York to San Francisco will take a
    day and a night by fast express.  There will be cigar-shaped electric
    locomotives hauling long trains of cars. Cars will, like houses, be
    artificially cooled. Along the railroads there will be no smoke, no cinders,
    because coal will neither be carried nor burned. There will be no stops for
    water. Passengers will travel through hot or dusty country regions with windows
    down.

     

    Prediction #6:  Automobiles will be cheaper than horses
    are today. Farmers will own automobile hay-wagons, automobile truck-wagons,
    plows, harrows and hay-rakes. A one-pound motor in one of these vehicles will
    do the work of a pair of horses or more. Children will ride in automobile
    sleighs in winter. Automobiles will have been substituted for every horse
    vehicle now known. There will be, as already exist today, automobile hearses,
    automobile police patrols, automobile ambulances, automobile street sweepers.
    The horse in harness will be as scarce, if, indeed, not even scarcer, then as
    the yoked ox is today.

     

    Prediction #7:  There will be air-ships, but they will
    not successfully compete with surface cars and water vessels for passenger or
    freight traffic. They will be maintained as deadly war-vessels by all military
    nations. Some will transport men and goods. Others will be used by scientists
    making observations at great heights above the earth.

     

    Prediction #8:  Aerial War-Ships and Forts on Wheels.
    Giant guns will shoot twenty-five miles or more, and will hurl anywhere within
    such a radius shells exploding and destroying whole cities. Such guns will be
    armed by aid of compasses when used on land or sea, and telescopes when
    directed from great heights. Fleets of air-ships, hiding themselves with dense,
    smoky mists, thrown off by themselves as they move, will float over cities,
    fortifications, camps or fleets. They will surprise foes below by hurling upon
    them deadly thunderbolts. These aerial war-ships will necessitate bomb-proof
    forts, protected by great steel plates over their tops as well as at their
    sides. Huge forts on wheels will dash across open spaces at the speed of
    express trains of to-day. They will make what are now known as cavalry charges.
    Great automobile plows will dig deep entrenchments as fast as soldiers can
    occupy them. Rifles will use silent cartridges. Submarine boats submerged for
    days will be capable of wiping a whole navy off the face of the deep. Balloons
    and flying machines will carry telescopes of one-hundred-mile vision with
    camera attachments, photographing an enemy within that radius. These
    photographs as distinct and large as if taken from across the street, will be
    lowered to the commanding officer in charge of troops below.

     

    Prediction #9:  Photographs will be telegraphed from
    any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence
    snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an
    hour later. Even to-day photographs are being telegraphed over short
    distances.  Photographs will reproduce all of Nature’s colors.

     

    Prediction #10:  Man will See Around the World. Persons
    and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected
    electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a
    span. American audiences in their theatres will view upon huge curtains before
    them the coronations of kings in Europe or the
    progress of battles in the Orient. The instrument bringing these distant scenes
    to the very doors of people will be connected with a giant telephone apparatus
    transmitting each incidental sound in its appropriate place. Thus the guns of a
    distant battle will be heard to boom when seen to blaze, and thus the lips of a
    remote actor or singer will be heard to utter words or music when seen to move.

     

    Prediction #11: No Mosquitoes nor
    Flies.  Insect screens will be unnecessary.  Mosquitoes, house-flies
    and roaches will have been practically exterminated.  Boards of health
    will have destroyed all mosquito haunts and breeding-grounds, drained all
    stagnant pools, filled in all swamp-lands, and chemically treated all
    still-water streams.  The extermination of the horse and its stable will
    reduce the house-fly.

     

    Prediction #12:  Peas as Large as Beets.  Peas and beans will
    be as large as beets are to-day.  Sugar cane will produce twice as much
    sugar as the sugar beet now does.  Cane will once more be the chief source
    of our sugar supply.  The milkweed will have been developed into a rubber
    plant.  Cheap native rubber will be harvested by machinery all over this
    country.  Plants will be made proof against disease microbes just as
    readily as man is to-day against smallpox.  The soil will be kept enriched
    by plants which take their nutrition from the air and give fertility to the
    earth.

     

    Prediction #13:  Strawberries as Large as Apples will be eaten by
    our great-great-grandchildren for their Christmas dinners a hundred years
    hence.  Raspberries and blackberries will be as large.  One will
    suffice for the fruit course of each person.  Strawberries and cranberries
    will be grown upon tall bushes.  Cranberries, gooseberries and currants
    will be as large as oranges.  One cantaloupe will supply an entire
    family.  Melons, cherries, grapes, plums, apples, pears, peaches and all
    berries will be seedless.  Figs will be cultivated over the entire United States.

     

    Prediction #14:  Black, Blue and Green Roses.  Roses will be
    as large as cabbage heads.  Violets will grow to the size of
    orchids.  A pansy will be as large in diameter as a sunflower.  A
    century ago the pansy measured but half an inch across its face.  There
    will be black, blue and green roses.  It will be possible to grow any
    flower in any color and to transfer the perfume of a scented flower to another
    which is odorless.  Then may the pansy be given the perfume of the
    violet. 

     

    Prediction #15:  No Foods will be Exposed.  Storekeepers who
    expose food to air breathed out by patrons or to the atmosphere of the busy
    streets will be arrested with those who sell stale or adulterated
    produce.  Liquid-air refrigerators will keep great quantities of food
    fresh for long intervals.

     

    Prediction #16: There will be No C, X or Q in our every-day
    alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary. Spelling by sound will
    have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of
    condensed words expressing condensed ideas, and will be more extensively spoken
    than any other. Russian will rank second.

     

    Prediction #17: How Children will be Taught. A university education will
    be free to every man and woman. Several great national universities will have
    been established. Children will study a simple English grammar adapted to
    simplified English, and not copied after the Latin. Time will be saved by
    grouping like studies. Poor students will be given free board, free clothing and
    free books if ambitious and actually unable to meet their school and college
    expenses. Medical inspectors regularly visiting the public schools will furnish
    poor children free eyeglasses, free dentistry and free medical attention of
    every kind. The very poor will, when necessary, get free rides to and from
    school and free lunches between sessions. In vacation time poor children will
    be taken on trips to various parts of the world. Etiquette and housekeeping
    will be important studies in the public schools.

     

    Prediction #18: Telephones
    Around the World. Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the
    world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic
    will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We will be able
    to telephone to China
    quite as readily as we now talk from New
    York to Brooklyn. By
    an automatic signal they will connect with any circuit in their locality
    without the intervention of a “hello girl”.

    Prediction #19:  Grand Opera will be telephoned to private homes, and
    will sound as harmonious as though enjoyed from a theatre box. Automatic
    instruments reproducing original airs exactly will bring the best music to the
    families of the untalented. Great musicians gathered in one enclosure in New York will, by
    manipulating electric keys, produce at the same time music from instruments
    arranged in theatres or halls in San
    Francisco or New
    Orleans, for instance. Thus will great bands and
    orchestras give long-distance concerts. In great cities there will be public
    opera-houses whose singers and musicians are paid from funds endowed by
    philanthropists and by the government. The piano will be capable of changing
    its tone from cheerful to sad. Many devises will add to the emotional effect of
    music. 

     

    Prediction #20: Coal will not be used for heating or cooking.
    It will be scarce, but not entirely exhausted. The earth’s hard coal will last
    until the year 2050 or 2100; its soft-coal mines until 2200 or 2300. Meanwhile
    both kinds of coal will have become more and more expensive. Man will have
    found electricity manufactured by waterpower to be much cheaper. Every river or
    creek with any suitable fall will be equipped with water-motors, turning
    dynamos, making electricity. Along the seacoast will be numerous reservoirs
    continually filled by waves and tides washing in. Out of these the water will
    be constantly falling over revolving wheels. All of our restless waters, fresh
    and salt, will thus be harnessed to do the work which Niagara
    is doing today: making electricity for heat, light and fuel.

     

    Prediction #21: Hot and Cold Air from Spigots. Hot or cold
    air will be turned on from spigots to regulate the temperature of a house as we
    now turn on hot or cold water from spigots to regulate the temperature of the
    bath. Central plants will supply this cool air and heat to city houses in the
    same way as now our gas or electricity is furnished. Rising early to build the
    furnace fire will be a task of the olden times. Homes will have no chimneys,
    because no smoke will be created within their walls.

     

    Prediction #22:Store
    Purchases by Tube. Pneumatic tubes, instead of store wagons, will deliver
    packages and bundles. These tubes will collect, deliver and transport mail over
    certain distances, perhaps for hundreds of miles. They will at first connect
    with the private houses of the wealthy; then with all homes. Great business
    establishments will extend them to stations, similar to our branch post-offices
    of today, whence fast automobile vehicles will distribute purchases from house
    to house.

     

    Prediction #23: Ready-cooked meals will be bought from
    establishments similar to our bakeries of today. They will purchase materials
    in tremendous wholesale quantities and sell the cooked foods at a price much
    lower than the cost of individual cooking. Food will be served hot or cold to
    private houses in pneumatic tubes or automobile wagons. The meal being over,
    the dishes used will be packed and returned to the cooking establishments where
    they will be washed. Such wholesale cookery will be done in electric laboratories
    rather than in kitchens. These laboratories will be equipped with electric
    stoves, and all sorts of electric devices, such as coffee-grinders,
    egg-beaters, stirrers, shakers, parers, meat-choppers, meat-saws,
    potato-mashers, lemon-squeezers, dish-washers, dish-dryers and the like. All
    such utensils will be washed in chemicals fatal to disease microbes. Having
    one’s own cook and purchasing one’s own food will be an extravagance.

     

    Prediction #24:Vegetables
    Grown by Electricity. Winter will be turned into summer and night into day by
    the farmer. In cold weather he will place heat-conducting electric wires under
    the soil of his garden and thus warm his growing plants. He will also grow
    large gardens under glass. At night his vegetables will be bathed in powerful
    electric light, serving, like sunlight, to hasten their growth. Electric
    currents applied to the soil will make valuable plants grow larger and faster,
    and will kill troublesome weeds. Rays of colored light will hasten the growth
    of many plants. Electricity applied to garden seeds will make them sprout and
    develop unusually early.

     

    Prediction #25:Oranges will grow in Philadelphia. Fast-flying
    refrigerators on land and sea will bring delicious fruits from the tropics and
    southern temperate zone within a few days. The farmers of South America, South Africa,
    Australia
    and the South Sea Islands, whose seasons are
    directly opposite to ours, will thus supply us in winter with fresh summer
    foods, which cannot be grown here. Scientist will have discovered how to raise
    here many fruits now confined to much hotter or colder climates. Delicious
    oranges will be grown in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
    Cantaloupes and other summer fruits will be of such a hardy nature that they
    can be stored through the winter as potatoes are now.

     

    Prediction #26: Strawberries as large as apples will be eaten
    by our great great grandchildren for their Christmas dinners a hundred years
    hence. Raspberries and blackberries will be as large. One will suffice for the
    fruit course of each person. Strawberries and cranberries will be grown upon
    tall bushes. Cranberries, gooseberries and currants will be as large as
    oranges. One cantaloupe will supply an entire family. Melons, cherries, grapes,
    plums, apples, pears, peaches and all berries will be seedless. Figs will be
    cultivated over the entire United
    States.

     

    Prediction #27: Few drugs will be swallowed or taken into the
    stomach unless needed for the direct treatment of that organ itself. Drugs
    needed by the lungs, for instance, will be applied directly to those organs
    through the skin and flesh. They will be carried with the electric current
    applied without pain to the outside skin of the body. Microscopes will lay bare
    the vital organs, through the living flesh, of men and animals. The living body
    will to all medical purposes be transparent. Not only will it be possible for a
    physician to actually see a living, throbbing heart inside the chest, but he
    will be able to magnify and photograph any part of it. This work will be done
    with rays of invisible light.

     

    y cooled
    will be entirely fireproof. In storm they will dive below the water and there
    await fair weather.

  • Wmwoods2009

    Wow when will the computer continue to make people obsolite we may need to get use to this information age, or do we need to get back to the personal envolvment in teaching not all people learn the same.

  • http://tuesday2.wordpress.com/ Macphersonshelley

    Sharing this!

  • metaljar

    Interesting article, but some of these, while not wrong (how can they be, they’re predictions) I feel can be challenged.
    First, I first taught a class with 1:1 laptop access in 1991. 21 years ago I was saying that this will be the end of paper and that major examinations like the end of school exams we have in Australia will be completed on something other than paper.
    I have a tablet with epubs on it, but I still use books. There’s a library right at my bus stop that has book titles I want to read that are not available in ePub. This will continue to be the case. Very young students will continue to bring home readers to learn to read – I am not aware of any school that would prefer their 4 and 5 and 6 year old students bringing home a tablet or kindle stuffed into a bag with a wrotten banana at eh end of a hot day. And older people love sitting their grandchildren on their lap and having them read these books to them. This will not change.
    Bio scans? What the? We have complaints here about too many cameras in the street! The fact that they help keep the city safe isn’t enough of an argument to sway the civil libertarians! Bio scans will never, ever be a normal part of society. Never. Actually, maybe in a morgue. Keeping track of dead people probably might be acceptable.
    PLNs have been around for a few years now – not everyone thinks that digital relationships are meaningful. The busiest route in Australia, and one of the busiest in the world, is Sydney/Melbourne – 1 hour’s flight time. There were more flights in 2011 than any year previously, and 2012 will be even busier. This at a time when digital communication has never been easier. Why? Too many people assess others in person. Sure, PLNs are good, but the fact is that they are not everyone’s cup of tea. Too often it’s the real PLN advocates who predict this sort of thing without stopping to realise that not everyone is happy to learn this way.
    Thought provoking, stimulating post nevertheless.

  • Pat D

    If this is what the world is coming to I hope I’m dead when it gets there. If schools are going to this small group learning only, students will not be learning the social skills needed to function in society. Young people will not know how to connect with people of different personality types other then their own, which lets be honest, there is only one person with your exact personality and that’s you. Leadership may as well be on this list too because “leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less” and you can’t influence somebody you can’t relate too and connect with. If you ask me, the entire school system has their head so far up that they see threw their nose. So focused around test scores and shoving knowledge down your throat that you will never use we fail to see the talents that every student brings too the table. I wont go into the mental implications of the event. One last piece of information. Paper will never go out of stile. Main reason, and the only one needed, information on any computer connected to the web is not secure. For every new securing program there are a dozen hackers that can get threw it. My advice, if you have something worth stealing, don’t protect it. Because if just anybody can hack in and get it they (hackers) won’t think its worth much. But a better idea, stay off the grid. One piece of my evidence for backing up this claim, what did you vote on this election?????

    Food for thought.
    P.S. I’m 21.

  • T

    Wikipedia is NOT a democratizing force, pubblish only information about famous people and not information about other les sfamous but most important people, try to post your biography, less famous, no pubblished

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.pare Randy Paré

    Okay most of the above had me laughing through tears… using Wikipedia as an actual source for academic work?? Gadgets like smartphones and tablets fully replacing desktop computers for doing actual work? [they are content consumption devices - not content creation work spaces]. The death of print has been heralded time and again [radio, film, television, computers] yet this millennia old means of distribution survives because of its simplicity, relatively low-level of tech and the fact that people read faster and more comfortably left-to-right in 2 page format [open book] on paper than they do scrolling down digitally with back-lighting.

    Getting rid of desks etc… listen – various people have played with such “open concepts” in the past and it never works… a degree of structure to classrooms is necessary for keeping X-number of kids orderly.

  • Samuel

    NOOO I DON’T WANT COMPUTERS TO BECOME OBSOLETE :( :( :( I HATE HOW IF YOU CRACK YOUR SCREEN ON YOUR SMARTPHONE/TABLET YOU CAN’T USE IT ANYMORE. COMPUTER’S AREN’T LIKE THAT FORTUNATELY. I ALSO DON’T WANT THE KEYBOARD AND MOUSE TO BECOME OBSOLETE. COMPUTER, KEYBOARD AND MOUSE FOR LIFE!!!11! Also, how will businesses handle using handheld PC’s?