As technology grows it reaches into every nook and cranny of society. Education is a sector which has benefited tremendously from software and computing advances and will continue to do so in the future. Students looking to prepare themselves for a wide variety of careers, from physician jobs to entrepreneurial ventures, are now exploring a plethora of different educational tools and programs. Emerging technologies are actually changing education.
Producing a podcast is a cheap, creative, and interactive way to educate a global audience without stirring up privacy issues. Video podcasts can be shot and edited with a simple webcam and free software like iMovie and can be streamed across the Internet for maximum exposure. These days you can learn about just about anything through podcasts and many teachers prefer it over stale lectures.
Tablets and other handheld devices are allowing students better ways to interact with their professors and with other students. To provide access to video tutorials and interactive programs, many schools now hand out tablets in the classroom as a way to contextualize lectures and create feedback loops among students. Digital whiteboards are portable interfaces and part of a growing trend toward embeddable screens that may characterize the coming decades. Imagine the utility of a teacher being able to present 1:1 information to a student on a mobile whiteboard. No messy chalk, no cumbersome apparatus. It will be interesting to see how technology like this evolves into augmented reality and even holograms.
More and more students are getting their college education right from the comfort of their own living rooms. E-campus degrees are becoming more high-tech and reputable as technology improves and Internet access proliferates. Self-starters don’t necessarily need a classroom setting in order to learn and may prefer to save money and shape their own study schedules. E-campuses also make it easier on people who are keeping down a job or raising a child while they earn their degree. The more cutting edge programs, such as Oregon State University’s e-campus, offer worthy alternatives to in-class degrees. In the future, telepresence technologies and virtual reality may make it possible to populate classrooms with avatars, combining the e-campus experience with a revamped interpretation of the traditional classroom setting.
As you can see, the stale old classroom days are coming to an end. Vibrant new options are arising in the educational world and this trend is expected to flourish with the arrival of more advanced technologies. The only question now is whether teachers will ultimately be replaced by artificial intelligence (gasp). But we’ve still got a few decades to figure that one out.