When we think about how education changed, from when we ourselves were the students, to how it is now, where some of us are now the teachers, we see a dramatic change and progress that can be linked to the advancement of human technology and tech that will dominate the world.
Example are students of this generation who are now more geared to the use of the Internet than the books in the library, compared to the previous generation because it's much easier. You don’t have to spend time in the library or carry books from the library to and fro your house. Now all you need is a PDF scan of the books or eBooks you’ll find in the library, uploaded somewhere in the Internet. You can read it in your computer or in your smartphone. You can even easily share the information you have to your friends.
But what technology could possibly further advance the fields of education? In this day and age what new technology has the potential to change the classrooms? There are several pieces of technology that can do this:
Putting everything online is one of the things that the education sector can do. With technology these days one is now able to study online. If that’s the case then why not just upload the whole school on a cloud and let enrolled students access this from home? They can be assigned classes there, the lessons streamed online, and as for quizzes and exams, there are lots of ways to mitigate cheating by using remote access and PC webcams.
E-learning is already a thing but it’s currently used down to only a few people, sometimes the teaching is just one-on-one, with the teachers being part-timers and not actual teachers with teaching licenses. No business seems to want to take the model up a grander scale for fear of the cost. Another possible reason why no one would want to use e-learning is that there exists a notion that students would learn better when there’s less distractions, and it’s true that a students’ room can provide a lot of distractions.
If this was the case however then using cloud in schools is another great idea. One possible use of cloud to schools is that it could increase the capacity of students teachers can handle. Currently, students in a grade are divided into sections, with a teacher being their homeroom and adviser. With cloud, the need to divide classes can be removed – one can set up a huge classroom, with each desk having a monitor and there’s a camera in front of the teacher so the lesson can even be streamed from the farthest row. It’s basically e-learning from home, but done in a school’s huge classroom that can be occupied by at least a hundred students.
This setup can even help students with frail health; they never have to miss another lesson, because every lesson can be streamed online that students can access or be saved in the cloud so students can watch it again when they need to review.
Plus the school can upload their whole library in the cloud so students can browse all the information at anytime, removing the need for a library. The librarian can be tasked instead to maintain the library servers.
Augmented reality (AR) can be used to heighten the learning experience of students. Instead of using monitors, students can use AR glasses, which are light and can be carried anywhere, even back home. It is the biggest candidate to replace smartphones. Currently this technology is seeing use in other industries through Google Glass and hasn’t been given a commercial release yet.
The idea of the virtual classroom is the same as e-learning, with the same limitations, plus a few ones unique to VR learning. For one thing, students won’t be able to write down notes when using VR. This is why AR is more superior since objects like videos can just “float” in front of the user, while letting the user jot down notes or do other things. There’s also the fact that VR is more straining to the user’s eyes than AR.
5G Wireless Technology
To further enhance the technologies above, we must also do away with the need for cables. Cabled connections should become obsolete, and the promises of 5G wireless technology may be the key into doing that. With faster speeds and less interference when signals go through walls, users can freely use more portable devices to connect to the cloud or the Internet from anywhere.
Gone are the days when Microsoft Office was king and each person has to pay $20 for a license. Because of free alternatives, productivity tools are now available to any student that needs it. They are now free to type works and projects with all the comfort Microsoft Word once can exclusively do. It would benefit students even more if they can be given access to free versions of other software, like image editors and programming tools, especially ones for emerging programming languages.
Software for Educators
If students are given free access to software, then teachers should also be given tools to enhance their teaching experience. Grading software, for example, existed as far back as in 2000. If teachers can be provided with free software they might be able to improve their teaching style as well as make their work more efficient.
Will all these technologies be used for the future of the classroom? Probably yes; probably not. It depends on those people who are in the position to implement such technology to test out these ideas. But until then we’ll just have to wait for the future. These technologies were made for a reason: to improve the living standards of the people. It would be a shame if the education sector abandons these ideas and technologies just because of cost and tradition. Many of the students of the past would definitely be jealous of the new generation.
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