Students today have grown up side by side with technology; the future of technology in education is only going to continue to grow as our tech capabilities continue to advance. Virtual reality and augmented reality technologies offer students unique educational opportunities, and other education technology advancements can help students with disabilities unlock more learning experiences previously unavailable to them.
Educators and students alike are seeing the impressive possibilities that technology offers the education sector. We’re going to take some time to explore education technology. We’ll view some of the recent advancements in the field of EdTech, and we’ll also explore some of the theoretical spaces we think EdTech will go in the future. One thing is for sure; future learning experiences will be shaped in large part by the latest technological advancements.
Technology That is Already in Classrooms
Before we get too enamored with the technological possibilities of the future, let’s take a closer look at some of the recent technologies being employed in the education sector right now. If you haven’t already come across some of these technologies in your schools, you will likely begin to see them soon.
Smart boards, or interactive whiteboards, are one of the most ubiquitous education technologies being used in classrooms all over the world. These boards allow educators to display images, movies, presentations, etc., from a computer screen. These boards are also interactive and allow educators and students to manipulate the images on the board using a finger or a stylus tool.
These smart boards help create more interactive learning experiences that help increase student performance and create a more engaging lesson plan. High school students are used to mobile devices and touch screen technology. Interactive whiteboards help engage these students in ways that are more familiar to them. Since it uses an Internet connection, interactive whiteboards can display any content that can be found on the Internet, opening up the potential education possibilities to the vast depth of the Internet.
Assistive Learning Technologies
One of the most important ways technology can be used in the classroom is to open up learning experiences for students who have a disability. Alternative input devices allow students with disabilities to use the same technologies as their peers. There are many different examples of assistive technology in use in the classroom, but a few of the more popular ones include:
- Modified keyboards with larger buttons
- Cursors that can be manipulated with a mouth or foot
- Speech-to-text technology
- Easy-to-read fonts
One of the major hurdles educators face is cultivating learning experiences for students with disabilities that match that of their peers. Assistive technology in the classroom helps educators and students with disabilities increase student performance and engagement.
Thanks to the cloud, homework assignments, educational resources, and other learning materials can be accessed from any device with an Internet connection. Students may no longer be able to claim that their dog ate their homework, but they also will not have to worry about carrying heavy textbooks and other educational materials around with them.
Student performance is aided by the ability to quickly and easily access all learning materials from a mobile device, tablet, or computer. Cloud technology removes the borders and boundaries students used to face. A trip to the library is no longer necessary, and if you forget to bring home your computer, you can always access the cloud from any device with an Internet connection to access your assignments and textbooks.
Cloud technology makes education more accessible than it has ever been before.
What Technologies Will Be in the Classroom of The Future?
We’ve already explored some of the immense capabilities that currently exist in the classroom. Now we’re going to look at technologies that may be soon entering the education sector. Many of these technologies are in their infancy, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t soon be shaping the way we think about education.
Early examples of augmented reality exist in our education landscape, but the true potential of augmented reality technology has yet to be harnessed by the education sector. Augmented reality layers information onto the real-world that we already see.
The most popular examples of augmented reality technology that are readily available are the astronomy apps that allow users to look into the night sky and see the names of planets, stars, and the shapes of constellations.
The educational possibilities of augmented reality technology are nearly limitless. For example, you could go on fully-guided tours of museums and historical sites without the need of a tour guide. Teachers could take their students to remote and dangerous places without ever leaving the classroom by streaming AR feeds to them.
Currently, AR technology is not yet seamless enough to provide users with an immersive blend of reality and information. However, the day when seamless AR technology is available for educators and students is not far off. Google has been hard at work developing Google Glass, and other wearable augmented reality devices. When augmented reality technology becomes readily available, it will change education forever.
Virtual reality technology is much more developed than augmented reality. Virtual reality creates a completely immersive virtual environment that allows users to interact with their environment as if they were actually there. A lot of VR technologies already exist, but many classrooms don’t utilize this technology.
Virtual reality technology can be used to create unique learning experiences that engage a student’s imagination and creativity. This technology is already capable of taking students to explore the Louvre in Paris, walk on the floor of the ocean, or even explore the streets of ancient Rome.
Platforms like Immersive VR Education and Nearpod exist to allow educators to create lesson plans using virtual reality technology. Virtual reality technology is still improving, but there are ways that you can access this technology now if you are interested. VR headsets can be costly, but there are cost-efficient options such as Google Cardboard that can offer educators an affordable way to introduce virtual reality technology in their classrooms.
Note-taking has already made a major shift over the last ten years from pen and paper to keyboard and screen, but further developments are not far off either. One of the exciting possibilities to think about is OLED displays.
OLED-based displays would be much like a regular piece of paper. They would be extremely thin and flexible. Imagine folding a screen like a piece of paper or rolling it up into a tube. These smart papers would be fully interactive, allowing users to swipe, write, and manipulate the screen in ways that traditional paper could never match.
If this sounds like a dream from the future, you should know that Sony is already working on technology just like this. In fact, Sony already has a prototype of this idea that they are currently testing.
The potential benefits of this technology extend well beyond the classroom. This technology could make traditional paper products obsolete. It could have a huge impact on productivity and on the environmental integrity of our planet.
We’ve already seen classrooms transition away from the traditional whiteboard to interactive smart boards. What about smart desks? This technology would more or less be a large surface tablet that allows students to manipulate the screen much like a tablet. This technology has already been developed by Samsung and Microsoft, but it was very expensive, and future smart surface projects seem to have been focused on smaller devices.
If students were given access to smart desk technology, they would be able to collaborate on projects and assignments with students all over the country and the world. This education technology could have a huge impact on students, much like the interactive whiteboards had on the previous generation of students.
While the technology exists to make this a reality, there are currently no viable smart desk devices on the market designed for education.
Okay, so this isn’t a technology per se or even a new idea in the field of education. However, using modern computer gaming to reach students, create an interactive educational experience, and ultimately convey concepts and facts is a popular idea amongst educators.
One of the ways education will have to change in the future is to find more interactive ways of teaching and learning besides the rote learning methods that have come to define institutional education. Educational video games have been around for a long time, but using new technology to create more immersive and interactive educational gaming experiences can revolutionize the education sector.
The education sector generally lags behind the private sector when it comes to implementing tech advancements. However, the future of education technology is very bright, especially when it comes to the possibilities of augmented and virtual reality lesson plans.
The students of the future will have the vast collection of knowledge afforded by the Internet combined with the latest AR and VR technologies to make their education more interactive, immersive, and boundless than ever before.