Today is October 21, 2015 and Marty McFly is set to arrive this evening, so of course, a post about the technology that actually exists today compared to what the movie predicted is in order! Someone else has done all the work for me and gone through 22 things that the movie got both right and wrong - I will let you check that out on your own.
Here's a movie trailer clip that shows the some of the "things" of the future:
What I find amazing to consider is that the writers/creators of the movie were making predictions about a future 25 years down the road in a time, 1989, where none of this technology existed. Heck - the World Wide Web was just being born in 1989. And yet now, 25 years later, some of their predictions are in fact a reality. We have 3D TVs & movies, we have Google Glasses, digital cameras, tablets, talking computers who can do things for us (Siri), and while we don't have flying cars, we do have electric cars. It's like Star Trek technology that was predicted and now exists - i.e. the communicator (cell phone), universal translator (apps that translate phrases into specified languages), the tricorder (Locad and hand-helds that measure microorganisms & blood disorders), and video conferencing (video conferencing!!). The writers and creators of these and other movies and TV shows were thinking outside-of-the-box about technology that did not exist at the time and now, years later, does. That's creativity. That's building an impossible solution that became a reality. And THAT'S what we need to foster in students.
Who knows what creative minds and out-of-the-box thinking exists in students today that could change our future? If we stifle student creativity in classrooms, making learning rote and solely focused on passing the standardized tests, then we limit their ability to think, create, expand, and explore. Learning should involve students asking questions, working together, using technology to explore and expand their understandings, building and making things and coming up with impossible solutions or ideas that they can try. I have been in far too many classrooms where learning is drill-and-kill, memorization, and sitting in desks listening. There's no excuse for that. If we want those flying cars, we need to allow students to be creative and deepen their understandings beyond the algorithms and skills to the applications and possibilities.