IdeaPaint signals the evolution of education

One of the successful first mass market desktop computers  was the Apple IIe. First released in June 1977, it began a shift in how we view our spaces around us. With a desktop computer in an office, it was possible to save information to a floppy disk and eliminate the need for a paper filing cabinet.

However, not many people removed their file cabinets and maintained a system of paper and electronic copies of documents. But the mass market desktop computer created a shift — in the style of chairs used in offices, in the need for more electrical outlets and new desks. Desks needed to be big enough to allow people to have a computer and room to do their other paperwork and office tasks.

Desktop computers also started to show up in classrooms. Those classrooms were lined with special computer tables and chairs. A new teacher was hired to teach us how to use these computers. Classrooms that had been almost the same for the last 100 years started to carve out nooks for these computers, usually where there was an electrical outlet.

Ideapaint helps curriculum leaders on the fourth floor of the Rockford Public Schools Administration Building.

Ideapaint helps curriculum leaders on the fourth floor of the Rockford Public Schools Administration Building.

Fast forward to the mid- and late 90s, when mobile computing and cell phones really started to take off. Mobile technology has allowed students to stay in their classrooms and work at their desks. It has allowed classroom teachers to bring technology seamlessly into the classroom. We are beginning to take a closer and deeper look at how technology is not only redefining our physical spaces, but also our virtual spaces. Collaboration and communication have become even more critical to education.

IdeaPaint is merely a signal that our physical spaces are being redefined.

Mobile technology is certainly evolving our virtual spaces; it is making learning possible anytime and anywhere. So, why do we still define a school day as 8 am to 3pm? I am not suggesting that school buildings are going away, or that teachers are not necessary (they most certainly are necessary).

What I am suggesting is that in the next few years, how we define a “school” will be dramatically different than how we define one today.

James O’Hagan is Director of Instructional Technology and Library Services for the Rockford Public Schools. He will be sworn in as a member of the Rockford Library Board of Trustees on Monday.