“Human plus machine isn’t the future, it’s the present,” said Garry Kasparov, the Russian chess grandmaster, at a TED talk. This ‘present’ is transforming the universe of education at a rapid pace by making technology an integral part of classrooms throughout the world. Rewind back to 2007, when the classroom was a far cry from what it is today, tablets were nowhere in sight, mobile technology was perceived as a distraction and learning platforms were at a nascent stage. If a mere decade could change the humble classroom so drastically, one can only imagine what the future has in store.
Education has been conventionally associated with textbooks, blackboards, and pencils. There has, however, been a sea change in the last decade. The internet, social media and hand-held devices have opened up instant access to a world of people, places, information, and ideas, and provided a wealth of resources for teachers and students alike. And emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and 3D printing, are paving the way for the education of the future.
A smart school system makes goal management possible and feasible. A school can monitor the academic progress of its students by digitally administering summative and formative tests and keep track of their physical parameters with the help of smart watches and smart wrist bands. Class attendance can be traced through the use of biometric devices, school buses can be tracked on Google Maps and school parking lots can be organized with smartphone apps.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
Internet of Things (IoT) implies machine-to-machine communications with the help of network-based sensors. Wireless sensors generate data that is stored and analyzed either onsite or in the cloud. A versatile mix of smart devices such as tablets, wearables, virtual and augmented reality headsets, robots, smart displays and smart lights is found in schools today. Gartner estimates that a whopping 21 billion devices will be connected across domains by 2020 and schools will undoubtedly constitute an important segment of this user population. IoT devices are synonymous with Always-On experiences or ‘anytime, anywhere’ connectivity in the playground, classroom, and gym. Intelligent spaces or location-specific services are also coming into vogue. For example, when a teacher walks into a classroom, the equipment and amenities would adjust automatically in tune with the individual’s profile.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are set to take the educational world by storm. VR and AR-enabled wearable devices will allow geography students to visit the location of volcanoes and tsunamis, and science students to make a trip to a science museum, all within the classroom. An app called Unimersiv is already transporting history students to ancient Greece and Cospaces is enabling students to share their virtual creations with the world, thereby turning learning into an exciting experience.
A 3D printer will be a must-have device in classrooms of the future, allowing the students to print out 3D models of playthings and scientific equipment.
All the study materials will be stored and made available on the cloud on a 24/7 basis. Students will only require an electronic device to access learning resources in the Cloud, negating the need to lug heavy textbooks to school.
Biometrics: Eye Tracking
The Biometrics technology is used to recognize human beings on the basis of specific physical and behavioral traits. This technology will help teachers to understand the physical and emotional state of children in the classroom and tailor the course material accordingly.
Multi-Touch LCD Screens
Teaching aids have made a transition from blackboards to whiteboards, overhead projector and video projectors. It is a matter of time that devices similar to touchscreen smartphones and tablets make an entry into the classroom.
In the classroom of the future, Personalised learning would customize the teaching and learning activity as per individual’s potential and needs. Each student will be given assignments and allowed to complete the tasks in his unique ways. This will motivate the students to experiment with varied tools and techniques, and complete their tasks at their own pace, leading to a personalized learning experience and a teaching that shuns a common-size-fits-all approach.
Teachers are using digital whiteboards and capitalizing on cloud to enhance their teaching and students are making use of tablets to make learning fun. Smart classrooms are further enriching the learning experience. VR, AR and IoT are expected to transform education by converting the classroom into a sophisticated blending of human-to-human and human-to-technology interactions that promises to truly revolutionize learning.