Future Technology in the Classroom

Instructor: Maryalice Leister

Maryalice has taught secondary and college English and trained new online teachers, and has a master's degree in Online Teaching and Learning.

Future technology will ultimately move students outside classroom walls. No learners will be bound by physical address or time of day, and experiential learning will be the rule, not the exception. The possibilities are limitless.

The Future is Now

Tomorrow is the geometry unit test for Sebastian, and he still confuses simple definitions such as complementary and supplementary angles. His teacher, Mrs. Billet, anticipated the need for pre-test review and introduces the class to the augmented reality application on their tablets. She posted relevant trigger pictures around the room, and by pointing the tablet's camera, AR allows students to watch problems being solved and listen to videos that explain theories. Students were buzzing over the novel approach, absorbed in topic review.

As you can see from the scenario above, the growth of future technology in our nation's classrooms promises to deliver methods for teaching and learning that only existed in the minds of visionaries in previous decades. Even techniques and tools that we depend on now are undergoing remarkable changes as we use them. This lesson explores some exciting technologies that will greatly affect classrooms in the future.

Future Technologies in Education

Using technology in in the classroom makes learning real, tangible, and most importantly, available to teachers and learners around the world. Let's take a closer look at some classroom technologies that are still evolving, but promise even more great leaps for learners and teachers.

Future Technology Trends
Future technology trends graphic

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality is a technology that is activated by the combination of a trigger image and an uploaded video response. The process is similar to aligning bar codes on store products to a phone app and having product descriptions, price per ounce, and store availability come up. Stop into a bookstore or library, and take a look at an AR-enabled copy of the Guinness World Records 2014 or 2015. The potential is clear when you point the app at a trigger picture of a cobra and see it coil off the page, or target a photo trigger of the world's smallest woman, then rotate the image so the viewer can walk 360 degrees around her and even snap a selfie.

Education is already seeing some uses for AR, such as promotion for student activities like plays or sports, messages to students from teachers and back, cross-curricular content review, and in-depth learning, such as skeletal and circulatory systems overlaid on the human body. Eventually, students could wear Google Glasses instead of using tablets or smartphones for endless AR possibilities.

Virtual Field Trips

Virtual field trips have been around for years as the Internet became the window on the world, but today, with augmented reality possibilities, students cannot only see places they might never travel to, but can interact with teachers who appear to be in these places. What an amazing opportunity for students to see the Amazon River and talk with the teacher who appears to be standing on its banks.

3D Printing

Most technologies are cost prohibitive in the early development stages, but teachers hope 3D printing becomes universally affordable quickly. Moving learning from two dimension to three dimension allows students to consider all sides of a concept, make adjustments to a design proposal by making a prototype, and creatively problem solve an issue at a remote site. Students who are comfortable with its use and usefulness early in their education will be ready for extensive collegiate and career-based usage, especially in areas such as architecture, engineering, and space and underwater exploration.

Computing in the Cloud

Work projects, textbooks, flipped learning tools, videos, and homework assignments moved to the easily accessed, web-based cloud removes such barriers as lost work and missing details. It also eliminates time and place for all learners and teachers, allowing work to be conveniently started and stopped from anywhere. Cloud-based virtual learning environments (VLEs) are one concept within this technology, allowing students to participate, interact, and discuss without actually being in the same room with other learners. This technology is a natural for study groups.

Online Social Networking

Skype, Twitter, text messaging through a variety of servers, and diverse web platforms for online seminars or webinars have all changed the face of education. This will continue to improve as tools are improved and integrated seamlessly across applications. Skype, webinars, and active messaging are real- time experiences with everyone 'attending,' but are often recorded for future and repeated viewing. Add in the numerous YouTube, TeacherTube, Vimeo, and other videos stockpiled for open use, and the future of this area of technology is strong.

Second Life

The technology of personally designed avatars wandering in created online worlds while talking, collaborating, creating, and socializing is relatively new, conceived by Linden Lab in 2003. This concept is experiencing new growth as universities are energized by its potential, and some corporations have moved boardrooms onto Second Life so co-workers from around the world can brainstorm and construct prototypes in a unique, online, face-to-face experience. In the future, teachers may incorporate this into their classrooms to enhance student interaction and collaboration. However, Second Life developers and users note this is an unrestricted adult environment, so is best applied to higher education.

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