• A key challenge is the fundamental structure of the K-12 education establishment. As long as maintaining the basic elements of the existing system remains the focus of efforts to support education, there will be resistance to any profound change in practice. Learners have increasing opportunities to take their education into their own hands, and options like informal education, online education, and home-based learning are attracting students away from traditional educational settings. If the system is to remain relevant it must adapt, but major change comes hard in education.
Many activities related to learning and education take place outside the walls of the classroom — but these experiences are often undervalued or unacknowledged. Beyond the classroom walls, students can take advantage of online resources, explore ideas and practice skills using games and other programs they may have on systems at home, and interact with their extensive — and constantly available — social networks. Within the classroom, learning that incorporates real life experiences like these is not occurring enough and is too often undervalued when it does take place. This challenge is an important one in K-12 schools, because it results in a lack of engagement in learning on the part of students who are seeking some connection between their world, their own lives, and their experience in school.
These trends and challenges are having a profound effect on the way we experiment with, adopt, and use emerging technologies. These aspects of the world that surround and permeate education serve as a frame for considering the probable impacts of the emerging technologies listed in the sections that follow.