Today's students have the world at their fingertips. Access to information increases by the day and as a result, math, science and world language are exploding in importance.
Educators across Connecticut and the nation are planning for the next decade with so-called "STEM" initiatives as a focal point.
Ken Mathews, mathematics supervisor in the New Haven Public Schools, predicts that 85 percent of jobs available to students in the next decade will be in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"The common element to predict whether our kids will have access and be successful in these jobs will be their achievement in math and science", says Mathews.
A major priority across America is to bridge what's known as the "Math-Science International Gap". Toward that end, the state is taking a two-fold approach.
"We need to prepare people to be scientists and mathematicians. That's one of our goals. It means taking our top level students and making sure they have access to the best teachers, the best courses," says Richard Therrien, Science supervisor in New Haven Public Schools.
The other target is the student who'll be entering the workforce straight out of high school. Therrien says employers will increasingly expect graduates to come to the table with science skills.
"They want people that can sit and problem solve, that can find data, talk about it with other people, find out what it means and come up with a solution," says Therrien.
The international focus is the strongest of course in World Language circles where leaders have identified three critical languages of study: Mandarin Chinese, Arabic and Farsi.
Mandarin is already being offered in dozens of Connecticut school districts, including West Hartford. World Language supervisor Lucy Cartland says producing good communicators is paramount.
"It's particularly important for countries that are so involved in our politics, economics and peace around the world."
As the vision of the year 2020 comes into focus, educators across all disciplines are pointing to technology as the launching pad for new learning opportunities.
"The whole technology as collaboration is going to change the way we do things I think at a classroom level" says Therrien.
Earlier this month, Connecticut fifth graders were linked up for a live question and answer session with the Commander of the International Space Station. That type of learning experience is expected to become more of a rule than a rarity.
"We're gonna get kids who are able to find information so much faster than we ever thought that we're going to have to change our way of teaching. We're going to have to say we're not delivering facts to you any more. We're not testing on how many facts you know, we're testing you on what you put together and use", says Therrien.
As far as world language is concerned, Cartland believes pen pals will become Skype pals; workbooks and textbooks will go the way of the M'ing dynasty.
"Instead of having a worksheet that takes them around a community, they'll be able to go around a community... maybe even in 3-D", predicts Cartland. "We'll be graduating students with not only fluency in a language, but also with a deep understanding of what culture is about and what people are about."
As we look ahead, many believe it's what we can't imagine right now, that's bound to have the greatest impact in 2020.