2000 – 2010 – 2020

In 2000, we asked several experts in the educational facilities filed what they thought would be taking place during the next 10 years. There were some interesting responses. Some were very accurate, some were not and some “sort of” happened. This year, we thought it would be fun to go back to some of those people and ask them to look at their predictions, comment on their accuracies (or inaccuracies) and look again to the next 10 years. What follows are reactions from four of the authors.

Robert T. Matschulat, AIA, CSI, CCS, CEFPI, NCARB, CEFPI
What a difference a decade makes. And what a decade it was! Prognostication is a humbling endeavor. I counted about two dozen “predictions” in my 2000 essay, and as of December 2009, it looks like they are nearly equally split among mostly right, mostly wrong and somewhere in between.

Facility accessibility and the integration of technology were no-brainers and probably should not count.

Without actually defining “high performance schools,” I managed to identify a number of HPS components including acoustics, daylighting and “cut-off” outdoor lighting. Although I highlighted energy as a major issue, technologies such as photovoltaic roofing remain far from commonplace.

My statement that “the school building will continue to flourish... children need to be together to do what machines can never do: create, perform, socialize, synthesize, reflect and recreate” stands firm a decade later. Related to this, the trend toward more community use of school facilities has also continued.

My failures are concentrated in the area of school administration. Schools remain structured around conventional grades, and mandatory periodic testing has eclipsed any hope of real-time student assessment. Student-to-teacher staffing ratios have generally remained static. My prediction that student vitality would be tapped as an energy source was made tongue-in-cheek, but counts as a failed prediction nonetheless.

Ergonomics have yet to assume the prominent role I envisioned. Furniture continues to be procured as a commodity, typically independent of the planning and design process.

School transportation systems are not yet GIS demand-driven, and metropolitan transportation infrastructure has generally not been integrated into school district planning. To my chagrin, some administrators have actually come to view the proximity of public transportation as a liability.

Without belaboring the state-by-state catastrophes, financial constraints on schools have actually worsened during the past 10 years. In this environment, the quality of architecture and construction wither.

Academic research on teaching and learning has continued unabated, but implementation of new knowledge lags, most likely from an absence of consensus, not information.

The past decade has seen increased educational experimentation. The “increased flexibility” I forecast for curriculum and buildings has taken many forms, but it is too soon to evaluate successes and failures. School libraries are a prime example of this phenomenon. Similarly, I see no closure regarding the sizes of classrooms and schools.

Clearly, the greatest changes have been in instructional technologies. In hindsight it seems we kept the computers safely locked away in walled “labs” as if in fear of untamed beasts. Obviously, the approach failed. The beasts are loose and have multiplied in the form of cell phones, PDAs, digital imaging, sound field enhancement, interactive whiteboards, streaming video, IPods, Twitter, Facebook and new applications that seem to arrive by the hour. Students are connected to each other and the entire globe 24/7, but the interactive multimedia conference rooms and theaters I predicted have yet to become prevalent.

Related to technology, security remains in a state of flux. In 2000, we were complacently between incomprehensible Columbine and unimaginable 9/11. Since then, the unimaginable has tragically become mind-numbingly familiar. I did not have the answers for school security then, and I do not pretend to have them now. I remain skeptical, however, of the “hardware/gizmo” approach to security and the “fortress/prison” model for schools.

The Next Decade
I believe macro/global issues will dominate.

A variety of “experts” advise us that the U.S. economy will not return to previous vitality for quite some time. If so, school financial constraints will be the driving factor for much of the coming decade. Integrated project delivery (IPD) and building information modeling (BIM) will enable the A/E/C industry to do more with less, but this will be not nearly enough to compensate.

Infrastructure renewal will become a national priority. Ten years ago, we educational facility people understood quite well the sorry state of school physical plants. Failed bridges, levees and electrical systems have since demonstrated that infrastructure neglect was and remains pervasive in the U.S.

Definitions of sustainability and high performance will continue to evolve. I expect arbitrary design rating systems to eventually yield to evidence-based protocols that are applied to occupied buildings over extended periods. Daylighting should be reassessed in the context of instructional technologies.

Security will remain an elusive objective. New technologies and applications will both drive and integrate all of the above. As in 2000, it is important to remember that most of the school buildings of 2020 are already occupied. As in 2009, I expect to be humbled again in a decade.

Robert T. Matschulat, AIA, CSI, CCS, CEFPI, NCARB, CEFPI, is founder/principal of edutecture, LLC, in Lakewood, Colo. His career has been equally split between the public and private sectors, and his experience includes the definition, development and/or management of projects that were coordinated into some of the largest and most successful public school capital improvement programs in Colorado. He can be reached at edutecture@msn.com.

William S. DeJong, Ph.D., REFP
In 2000, Dr. William DeJong made the following predictions about the 21st Century. They are followed by his comments 10 years later.

2000: Curriculum and information will have no walls. There will be a much more flexible, dynamic, studio-type of a learning environment to embrace the evolving learning methodology.

Today: We have witnessed a continued migration toward more flexible learning environments. It has become one of the top concerns that administrators and school board members express when building new schools. With more and more information online, school buildings still have walls, but the actual place where learning occurs is becoming more and more transparent. New schools have evolved, especially charter school networks like High Tech High in San Diego, which focuses on more studio-type learning environments and project-based learning.

2000: The egg crate schools will be a thing of the past. There will be a breakdown of this concept of “five rows of five kids while the teacher lectures.” We will have moved into much more of a team arrangement and an integration of subject matter within the curriculum.

Today: Indeed, egg crate, double-loaded corridor schools are a thing of the past. Unfortunately, there are architects and educators who still build them. This type of arrangement only supports two modes of instructional delivery: self-contained learning and departmental instruction. Building schools based on these two concepts alone is not advised. No one knows for sure what the dominant form of educational delivery will be, but it appears there will be multiple forms within the same school based on student needs. These may include various types of team arrangements, more collaboration between educational specialists, parents, community and regular teachers, and even a new integration of career preparation and core academic programs at the high school level.

2000: Technology will be king in the schools. It will allow the delivery of curriculum in multiple formats. It will have become an internal element of the fabric instead of an add-on.

Today: Technology is the king of education. This is most apparent at colleges and universities where more and more classes have moved online. Fifteen years ago, we thought someone taking an online class was cheating the system. In the future, we might say that someone who sits in a classroom is old-school. It is projected that within 15 years, nearly 50 percent of the high school curriculum will be online, and students will be at school half the time.

2000: Unlike today, where we are concerned with space only as it relates to teachers, we will be concerned with space as it relates to students. For example, there will be space for groups of four or five students to work on their laptops in teams. This space might resemble office workstations.

Most school buildings are still designed today as an arrangement of 800- to 900-square-foot boxes that hold 20 to 25 students. This is not conducive to learning. Instead, most learning occurs through individual activities like reading, writing and researching, with an increased use of technology tools. This results in more small-group activity and less whole-group activity or lectures. However, the learning environment has been slow to adapt to this transition. Most changes have occurred within the classroom rather than in how the building itself is organized. It will be interesting to see what this might look like in the next ten years. As far as laptops are concerned, more and more schools now issue them to students, but a whole new generation of personal computing devices is evolving.

William S. DeJong, Ph.D., REFP, is CEO of DeJONG, an educational facility planning firm located near Columbus, Ohio. He is a member of the National School Boards Foundation, was president and assistant executive director of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) and has served as the executive director of the National Community Education Association (NCEA). In addition, Bill co-founded Schools for the Children of the World to improve school environments globally and has taught School Planning and Design, as well as Urban School Planning, at Harvard University since the early 1990s.

Michael S. Dorn

A decade ago, school safety experts predicted this decade would see dramatic changes in the scope and level of school violence with a stark increase in school shootings and bombings, a surge in school safety litigation and significantly increased use of school safety technology as a major aspect of many schools.

Asked to comment on these predictions and to make my own for 2020, I shudder to think whether my predictions will be any more on the mark a decade from now than these predictions have proven to be. The oft-predicted school terrorist attacks and massive increases in multiple victim school shootings have not materialized in U.S. K-12 schools. While a few terrible incidents of this type have taken place during the past decade, we have not seen the predicted wave of attacks, and the U.S. K-12 school homicide rate has not skyrocketed as some projected. While litigation continues to be a major issue faced by schools, insurance companies are not reporting dramatic changes here and, in fact, many schools and their insurance companies are making steady improvements in risk management through a wide variety of training programs, Web courses, safety assessments and other effective risk-management approaches.

But what will school safety, security and emergency preparedness look like in 2020? It is extremely difficult to make accurate predictions here due to the immense social, economic and governmental change in our nation and in the world as a whole. Schools are being affected as the societies they serve are impacted by dramatic life-changing and sometimes massive shifts ranging from economic crises to increased attention to environmental issues, projected changes in the membership of the nuclear club, military conflicts, terrorism and dramatic shifts in the economic and political stature of dozens of countries. Schools, and with them school safety concerns and measures, will have to change to reflect these massive changes. While I feel it is safe to say we will continue to see challenges and improvements due to advancements in how people use technology to communicate and secure, there is a trend emerging that may continue to place a greater focus on how human beings can become more effective to affect safety while working with our amazing technology. The continual progress and cost reductions we see with school safety, security and emergency preparedness technology will likely also be enhanced by improvements in how people work to make school a safer place in spite of new as well as old risks. My main prediction is that as for the past hundred years, school safety will continue to depend most on people using available technology to supplement rather than to supplant their efforts.
Michael Dorn serves as the executive director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. Safe Havens provides training and consulting on school safety, security and emergency preparedness for K-12 schools worldwide. The author can be reached at www.safehavensinternational.org.

Paul Abramson
Be careful what you put down on paper.

Ten years ago, I jokingly looked ahead to what one might see in education by 2010. The editor took my remarks seriously and printed them. Now he wants them reviewed. I had better respond a little more seriously this time.

The good news is that Rudy Giuliani did not become President, form a Department of War and Education and send troops to erect barbed wire fences to maintain security in America’s schools. The bad news is that security has become an overriding concern, and millions of dollars that should be available for education are being spent for security.

 In that, I guess, schools are simply reflecting what has been happening in society as a whole, but when I see high school students lined up to go through metal detectors and being told to remove all metal from their persons (including dangling earrings and medallions), I wonder how that affects their feelings toward the school and the value of education.

As a veteran of the “audio-visual” revolution when more gadgets were purchased than were used, I predicted a similar fate for technology, suggesting that a lot of equipment would be sitting unused. I was wrong. Yes, I still see teachers at the chalkboard and whole-class teaching continues (as it probably must), but I also see a lot of technology being used in classrooms, which is encouraging.

I predicted that “teachers will be 10 years older and more set in their ways,” meaning the ways of the last century. Many have proven that old dogs can learn new tricks, and I am constantly impressed by how teachers have changed over the last decade.

I worried about how advertising dollars and sports professionalization might affect our schools. It has not been as bad as I forecast — to the best of my knowledge no high school has decreed that all students wear clothing with the Nike stripe — but professionalization of high school sports and athletes continues and little is being done to challenge it.

The debate over the role of charter schools continues. I predicted that most public schools would be replaced by charters. That certainly has not happened. Nor, unfortunately, have charter schools had the effect that their early proponents hoped.

Those proponents wanted charters to use innovative techniques that would be successful forcing the public schools to make similar changes. Instead, many charter schools were formed to stress more rote learning in response to the “test, test, test” mentality that now permeates our schools. (This is borne out when one sees reports measuring the relative success of public and charter schools by showing how well their students do on standardized tests.) The concept of educating the whole child and of honoring Howard Gardner’s concepts of “Multiple intelligences” appears to be getting less and less attention. Hopefully, with new research on brain development and the role of the arts in improving education and test scores, that trend will be reversed within the next decade.

Paul Abramson is education industry analyst for
SP&M and president of Stanton Leggett & Associates, an educational facility consulting firm based in Mamaroneck, NY. He was recently named CEFPI's 2008 "Planner of he Year." He can be reached at intelled@aol.com.