Reflecting to See the Future

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Reflecting on the Past to See Education’s Future:

Video Script:

Reflecting on our Past to See the Future

  1. When humanity was just emerging from the long cold bitter winter of the last ice age, our learning was more survival oriented. Knowledge was passed on through stories, hands on instruction, and on the cave walls. The beginning of the ‘sit and get’ teaching that continues to this day.
  2. As we travel forward in time, from the formation of city-states to the Renaissance, the need to transmit knowledge for the future grows, structured schooling to teach writing appeared. Not much changed for the next 1600 years. 
  3. With the Renaissance and the printing press, we see the spread of knowledge. This growth in the trades, wealth, and governance required a corresponding growth in education. 
  4. And this brings us to the modern era…
  5. One of the foundational beliefs in this country and has contributed to our country’s unparalleled success, is universal public education, (Skouson, 1981). To keep people ignorant and illiterate was the province of kings and tyrants, (Paine, 1791). 
  6. One of the advancements in public education has been the willingness to study pedagogy itself. While there is a plethora of educational theories and research, (Harapnuik, 2016), we continue this process of experimentation. The iPad learning event that occurred in the Los Angeles school system is a good example of this. Educators and industry attempted to implement a large-scale deployment of iPads to LA students. This is a massive learning opportunity for all of us as educators, not a debacle as it has been described. We learned that internet filters, infrastructure, technology support, and most importantly, pedagogy are just as important, if not more so, than the technology itself, (Lapowsky, 2015).
  7. Journaling and portfolios have been a requirement in Pennsylvania CTE instruction for the past 20+ years.
  8. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a positive impact on this for the vast majority of students. A 1-to-1 device ratio is now more common than it has ever been. 
  9. This is where ePortfolios are critical. We know that reflection is a key component of learning. We know that internalizing this learning in a constructivist model not only allows learning to take place, but it also leads to alternate connections in learning, moving beyond ‘sit and get’,(Harapnuik, 2015). These are those “what if” moments that help to advance the human experience. 
  10. What if we broaden the opportunity for those “what if” moments to the general student population? Where can that take us? ePortfolios allow learners to track their own learning, giving them an idea of how far they have come on their journey, and where they are going. Importantly, they will have a record of this process in digital format to share with others, collaborating in a manner that was unimaginable only 30 years ago, (Gates, 2015). Sharing ideas, work, and reflections on their learning to the world at large to also learn and reflect upon is a gift, miracle, or one of the marvels of the modern world. ePortfolios will allow us to expand the human experience in ways that we cannot see for ourselves from where we are at in the journey. Just as prehistoric peoples could not see where their descendants’ journey was taking them when drawing on the walls of a cave, the use of ePortfolios and the critical thinking and learning they inspire will lead our students on a journey that we can only try to imagine.


Duarte, N. (2010, December 10). TEDxEast – Nancy Duarte uncovers the common structure of greatest communicators 11/11/2010. YouTube.

Gates, A. W. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age, Guidelines for designing teaching and learning [E-book]. 

Gordon, H. (2002). “The History and Growth of Vocational Education in America, 2nd edition,” 28-30, 38

Goldin, C., Katz, L., (2009). “Why the United States Led in Education: Lessons from Secondary School Expansion, 1910 to 1940”

Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from

Harapnuik, D. (2016, November 3). Four keys to understanding learning theories. It’s About Learning. (2013, April 5). What is learning? A definition and discussion – Infed.Org.

Koch, A. (1965). The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society (1st ed.). GEORGE BRAZILLER.

Duarte, Inc. (2009, December 16). Five simple rules for creating world changing presentations [Video file].

Lapowsky, I. (2015, May 8). What schools must learn from LA’s ipad debacle. Wired.

Skousen, C. W. (2021). The 5000 Year Leap. National Center for Constitutional Studies.