When we consider the future of learning, we must think carefully about the future in which today’s students will likely live.

Children born this year may never know or experience the post office, a paper bank statement or landline phones. They will likely live in a world where using cash is an anomaly; Sweden and Denmark are already on track to go cashless.

The next school

Instead, they will live in a world where learning and information are always at their fingertips. Where they can follow their unique passions and map their own paths by discovering resources as they explore. They will find individuals with similar interests from around the world with whom to collaborate. They will have endless opportunities to create, connect and develop new methods of doing things.

"More than ever before, students need to build the knowledge and critical thinking skills to take advantage of what learning with technology offers..."

So, as we consider the future of education, it’s crucial that we focus on developing ways to guide today’s students so they can leverage the infinite learning opportunities available to them. We need to empower learners with impactful technology and help them adapt and thrive.

A report card

The first standards for learning in the digital age were launched 20 years ago. Since then, thousands of schools and school systems around the world have integrated those standards into their learning and teaching practices. Today we’re in the midst of refreshing those standards so they reflect current thought and research around the effective use of technology education and its impact on learning.

As a parent, I recognize that there has been much public discussion about standards in the past several years: Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, individual state standards. And, to be frank, some of those conversations have been controversial. So the conventional wisdom might be: Do our schools need yet another set of learning goals?

Let me be clear, rather than being a set of high-stakes standards, the standards in place provide an adaptable foundation for leveraging technology to meet local curricular objectives. More than ever before, students need to build the knowledge and critical thinking skills to take advantage of what learning with technology offers and be ready to be flexible, adaptive learners in a global economy that is experiencing a seismic shift.