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Education is an ever-evolving industry. Changing families, changes in society, and even our political climate have the potential to impact what is happening in and around the classroom.

Industry insiders predict that there will be several significant changes to education in the coming year....from school lunches to the way we view certification and diploma requirements, change is needed. Let's take a look at just a few of the ways that we can expect to see our educational climate change---hopefully for the better.

Students will begin to interact with others and the world around them---remotely
Public school buildings have been one of the few physical structures that have not changed significantly over the course of the last thirty years. What does this say about our emphasis on educating our students?

We are allocating more and more money toward the technology that makes it easier to teach, rather than altering the environment that this is taking place in. Students and teachers alike are being encouraged to connect with other classrooms and interact with the world around them through the use of technology. Like it or not, this is the direction that our world is moving in, and in order for our students to be prepared out of school, we need to keep up with constantly changing technology innovations and pass this knowledge on to them.

Success of technology on education will STILL rely on teacher expertise
Rather than technology trumping education, the use of technology in the classroom will still rely on delivery by highly skilled, competent teachers who integrate it into existing curriculum. There is a fine art to the application of technology into somewhat archaic curriculum structure, and it requires forethought, planning and expert execution in order to seamlessly apply and blend the old and the new in a way that makes an impact in the classroom. As we continue to assess the effectiveness of standards-based curriculum, we will develop new ways to educate our children that feel more relevant to today's changing world.

We will evaluate the relevance of certificates, degrees, and diplomas
With a number of college graduates now saddling with crippling student loan debt, it requires us to ask if our current course of degree acquisition is the best for our students and our financial institutions. Now more than ever, companies and places of business are offering apprenticeship and internship programs to high school graduates who wish to enter their companies. This eases financial stress and strain on young people who might have otherwise spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on college education, having taken many classes that are not pertinent to their degree of choice. Higher education institutions will be forced to look into the validity of their degree and course offerings, and make changes in order to remain a viable option for students.

Students will continue to be given a voice
From playground options to course offerings to what we are offering our students in the lunchroom, we are seeing a movement where we encourage students to stand up and speak out for the injustices that they see in their school environment. School lunch has always been a topic of hot conversation, and with recent government directives that changes be made in school lunch offerings, preparation, and delivery, schools are feeling an increasing need to get family and student feedback on these offerings. Knowledge is power; educating students and families on healthier options and making healthier choices gives them the opportunity to voice concerns and be advocates for good nutrition. Students with dietary or religious restrictions are also given consideration as schools continue to ask what offerings are acceptable and appropriate for their individual needs.

Standardized testing will be evaluated for relevance
With many educators grumbling about having to "teach to the test", and school administrators feeling pressure to raise student achievement scores, it forces everyone involved to look at quarterly progress versus daily progress seen in the classroom. Too many variables exist in a testing environment to make these tests a completely reliable and accurate assessment of student knowledge and competency, and with these revelations still fresh in our minds, we are continuing to look at whether this is still "best" practice in assessing our students.

Budget priorities change
Technology innovations dictate what operating budgets are spent on these days; we are turning away from text and investing dollars into educational applications and technology programs that can deliver promised results. While there is still no substitute for the value of a good text in student hands, we are realizing that there is validity in technological investments, provided that intended results are measurable and quantitative.

Institutions and educators continue to adapt
More than ever, educators find themselves with incredible opportunities to expand their own skill sets while making a significant impact in the classroom. The wider global reach of education and an increase in the demand for technically skilled scholars makes it necessary for both educators and institutions alike to adapt to changing educational needs.

Changing demographics and population information will also drive changes in education. By the year 2100, it is projected that over half the world's population will reside in India, China, and Africa. Educational policy, leadership and products will be shaped less by United States educators, and education as a whole will take on a more global perspective. Particularly in the United States, where we have been lagging behind in recent years in math and science competency, we will feel a need to up the game and offer our students a more intensive curriculum in order to compete with their global counterparts.

Schools across the world are starting to be recognized not for degree offerings and curriculum, but how their students are given a useful package of educational tools that can be used and applied in real ways after graduation. In order to stay relevant, we must continue to evolve and grow right alongside our students.

Weathering these educational changes should be exciting, for we are living in exciting times. The field of education is not for the weak or rigid; we have an enormous responsibility to shape the future of our world by shaping the students that we send out to do good in it. It's time that we rise to the challenge and take the opportunity to influence the future of all.

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