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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Five Future Technologies That Will Shape Our Classrooms

Teleporting, flying cars and Back To The Future style hover-boards. These have all been promised to us within the next few years, but there is little hope of seeing them any time soon. These far-fetched technologies fill us with excitement about what the future may hold, inspiring generations of dreamers to learn math, science and engineering.

But what about the technologies that will help these aspiring inventors, scientists and engineers learn? What does the future hold for our classrooms, and what kinds of technologies will shape the minds of our children's children?

Here are five future technologies that will completely change the learning space and revolutionize the techniques we use within it.

Biometrics

Biometrics is the technology used to recognize humans based on specific physical or behavioral traits. In the future, this technology will help intelligent software completely understand the physical and emotional state of children learning in the classroom. Course material presented to students can be altered on the fly and will be perfectly tailored to individual needs based on biometric signals from students. Physical traits such as facial expression, heart rate, skin moisture and even odor can be used to create detailed reports of student understanding and performance. Behavioral signs such as typing rhythm, gait and voice can let teachers know when students are in need of additional assistance as well as help them understand what teaching techniques work best for individual students.

Augmented Reality Eye-Wear

With rumors of Google releasing Augmented Reality (AR) glasses by the end of the year, this technology may be closer than we think. AR is essentially the layering of further data on top of the reality we already see. Whether students are wearing Oakley THUMP style glasses or having data sent straight to their AR contact lenses, the educational implications for this technology are huge. We talk about rich media being available in digital textbooks, but imagine having an AR Benjamin Franklin sitting at your desk explaining the Declaration of Independence. The immersive experience that students will enjoy both in and outside the classroom will be amazing.

Multi-Touch Surfaces

Companies such as Microsoft have been working on multi-touch surfaces for many years now. Although they have done amazing things, it has only been since the massive success of Apple's iPhone that the concept of multi-touch has been embraced by mainstream consumers. As touch surfaces become cheaper and more advanced, we are seeing early concepts of multi-touch products that will one day change the classroom. A video of the EXOdesk below shows how the whole work surface can be manipulated with real-time data and altered for completely different purposes. Imagine a workspace where students are collaborating live with peers around the world, manipulating virtual objects right in front of them. Streamed video, virtual tools and millions of online resources available with a single swipe of the desk.

Yes, the future sounds exciting . . . and scary. Electrodes on our children as they study? Monitoring their scent for signs of distress? These are far-fetched concepts and in truth could only ever be implemented with strict guidelines, care and understanding.

In ten years time, will I be comfortable with subliminal data being collected from children as they learn? No, absolutely not. But ten years ago I would have said there was no way I would upload my private videos for the world to see, or freely enter my personal information into a giant online database.

I guess only time will tell, and until then, I will continue hoping for that long awaited hover-board.

Comments (3)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Liliana's picture

I think the use of music in the classroom is more effective than all the "geegaws" we envision for our students. They already love it, we just need a way to make it applicable in school. I got the Spanish album from Studytunes.org and it engages my kids more than the laptops do. Although there is also an interactive iBook that comes with it for reviews and self-tests, honestly the kids prefer to zone out and listen. Not my favorite approach but certainly the most effective.

Mike Morgan's picture

Today, we have amazing technologies available to citizens with the resources available to gain access. I-pads, laptops of increasing abilities, mobile devices, you name it. These things all cost money and i see no indication that our schools will have the increased funding necessary to bring the tools to the masses. Quite the opposite for the many schools in low SES communities.

I have the luxury of teaching in a school with a bounty of resources but it's not always been that way for me. As less people are willing to support tax increases for levies and such, less money is available to divert into the grant funds, the have-nots won't be able to bring the technologies above into any classroom. Or, they'll have one for all to share.

I don't see these technologies having any sort of main-stream impact any sooner than the mythical flying car. I try to be very optimistic about things but this type of topic exposes my deep seeded worries: we won't be able to offer public schools as we know them for the long-term. Those with the resources will have the ability to spend on these knowledge-based tools and those who have less resources won't have the tools. We're shifting back to a less organized society with less government and less institutions. There will be some people who really thrive in this environment. But the "weak" are significantly vulnerable and it's scary to see how these tools will be used.

In the mean time it's clear that whatever technological tools are created, most schools won't have the money to spend on them.

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