“Books will soon be obsolete in schools … Our school system will be completely changed in the next 10 years.” ~ Thomas Edison, 1913 Tweet
It has been nearly 100 years since Thomas Edison made this bold prediction and books are still a common feature in most, if not every classroom. It is difficult to see what cutting edge technologies will change education, but there are a number of current technologies that are now making the jump to our classrooms. Here are five current technologies that are about to shape student engagement and make teaching more simple, effective and enjoyable.
1. Cloud Computing
Although nearly everybody has heard the buzz around cloud computing, there are not so many people who understand how it will help them in day to day life. In the classroom, cloud computing will mean students only need light weight, low price electronic devices to access their work in the cloud. The expensive computing power will all be hosted by companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple who will offer storage and applications as a service. Students and teachers will be able to access all their work from any location on any device (laptop, tablet, phone, etc.) and lost homework will be a thing of the past with secure, backed up documents in the cloud.
2. Eye Tracking
Eye tracking technology is being refined at great pace allowing devices to understand our visual cues and use that data to alter the user experience. This technology will allow teachers to collect and align data from student eye movement to understand what topics students may be having trouble with, what they enjoy and what they find stimulating. Software can then read this data to tailor course material to students, customizing the learning experience. This will lead the way to gaining more accurate statistics on student understanding than is currently available from assessment and quiz based approaches.
3. Augmented Reality
Once a concept only brought to life by films like Terminator and Robocop, AR (Augmented Reality) has taken a giant leap with mainstream adoption of personal smartphones and inbuilt webcams. AR is essentially the layering of further data on top of the reality we see. This by definition lends itself to education and offers limitless possibilities for the classroom. AR glasses will be worn by students allowing them to surround themselves in virtual worlds that are relevant and prompted by what they see. Education will become a much more immersive experience where the world can be tailored for learning. Supplementary educational material will be available everywhere, allowing students to leave the classroom and continue learning everywhere they go.
4. 3D Printing
3D printing can be a difficult concept to grasp as the reality seems futuristic and somewhat impossible. Essentially the process allows a designer to define a 3-dimensional model that can then be printed layer by layer to produce a physical reconstruction. The applications for education could be in a number of disciplines ranging from art and design to science and mathematics. Modelling is an essential part of understanding the world around us and the ability to reconstruct models into tangible objects helps re-enforce theoretical principles and the value of simulation. It is still relatively early days for 3D printing but its growth will spur a number of tangent technologies and careers not yet imagined.
5. Social Networks
Social networking as we currently know it is through popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter. We are already seeing with both these sites (and many others) that their influence and value are growing far beyond the confines of their own domain. In the future we will see our social networks fully integrated into every part of our lives, helping us decide what groceries to buy, to monitoring our personal health and safety. In the classroom this social influence is just as strong and we will see classes and courseware transformed based on social feedback and community interest. Students will access information through vast personal networks ranging from family members living locally, to thought leaders living on the other side of the world.
What technologies do you see paving the future of eduction?