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Education today/Steve Patchin

What will a school day look like in the future?

August 28, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

It is said that technological advancements are taking place at such a rate that computers processing speeds are doubling every two years, causing increased efficiencies and discovers in all aspects of our lives. To keep up with these advancements each generation will need to become life-long learners. So what will a school day look like for future generations? Imagine...

When you arrive and enter school, a computer will register their entrance into the building. A body scan will be conducted along with vital signs from a computer chip you have embedded underneath your skin. If the data indicated the student is suffering from a mild illness or something more serious, a message on their internet glasses/contacts will flash sending them to the school nurse to be treated or set up a virtual doctor's appointment.

Students will enter a classroom walled with a super thin flexible screen using organic light emitting diodes. Currently being researched at Arizona State University, these OLEDs will allow walls to be filled with desired images transforming each classroom into an adventure. In the future it is predicted these flexible screens will mirror the cost of today's wallpaper. Classrooms will be equipped with headsets initially, leading to only needing contact lenses to allow them to move throughout a room full computer generated life-like, communicating holographic images. Using what is called haptic technology, students will be able to feel these computer-generated objects.

How will this technology transform course offerings? Imaging taking a science course where you can conduct virtual dissections of prehistoric animals with no mess, yet you can feel the tissue, organs, and bones you are coming in contact with. You then move on to an engineering course where you are building an apartment complex in California near the San Andreas Fault using a wide variety of materials, a budget to buy these materials, and a list of basic building concepts that will prevent it from suffering from a sizable quake. How are you graded? Once you finish your building the computer will put it through a full-scale quake that you will experience with all your senses to test your efforts.

Mathematics formulas will be taught using an application focus. With vast amounts of formulas and data analysis processes available to each student through their optical internet lenses, teachers will focus on how to retrieve this information to solve real world challenges. Each student will be assigned to challenges that align with interests that have been identified through personality testing at the start of the year whose results were programmed into the master computer. These challenges could range from calculating the odds of a player making a free throw in a clutch basketball game to deciphering a code used by the Axis powers during World War II.

Homework will involve group engineering or science projects conducted after school, creating 3-D art projects virtually at home, or solving a series of social problem vignettes available through your virtual head gear in your own room.

As technological advancements increase at an exponential rate, knowledge will be freely available to all. The focus will be on developing wisdom, defined as "the ability to identify crucial issues of our time, analyze them from many different points of view and perspectives, and then choose the one that carries out some noble goal and principle." Though there is value in what we know, there will be premium on how we used it.

Editor's note: Steve Patchin is the director of the Center for Pre-College Outreach at Michigan Technological University.



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