In a world where modern technology is constantly advancing, it is important to think about what the future holds for classrooms. They have already come a long way in quite a short space of time. From blackboards to touch-screen displays and from pencil and paper to personal computers, the speed of which new and exciting technology is made is incredible. The past few decades have had particularly large advancements, such as the internet allowing us to be able to contact anyone, anywhere instantly in the world. This is something we take for granted now which shows the kind of world we live in, where something that incredible is seen as just a standard part of life.
Children are now born into a world where technology is a way of life. From an early age, they are taught how to use computers and how they can benefit from them. This will usually begin in the classroom, which led us to think, what will classrooms be like in the future? Whether it’s primary school, secondary school, college or university, we are here to find out how classroom environments are going to change. Will this then change how the students learn? If it does, then will this actually be for the better? We are going to speak to people in the industry and spend as much time as it takes until we get a good idea of what the future holds.
Advancements in Technology
“We are at the ground floor of a new world full of imagination, creativity, innovation and digital wisdom. We are going to have to create the education of the future because it doesn’t exist anywhere today.” A quote from educationalist and author Marc Prensky when speaking at a recent Bett show, a conference dedicated to technology in education. He also went on to say “We are living in an age of accelerating change. We have to experiment and figure out what works.” We truly are living in a world of accelerating change when it comes to technology. The most notably, of course, is the internet. The majority of us can remember when the internet was slow, clunky and had that awful dial tone, not to mention when receiving or sending an email was a big deal. Back then, a household with a computer with internet access was something special and something to be treasured. Fast forward just a couple of decades and now we all have lightning fast internet in the palm of our hands, wherever we go in the world. It is worth noting the incredible advancements in TV screens too. High Definition to super High Definition to even touchscreen sensitivity, the technology within these monitors has come on leaps and bounds. LG have just recently unveiled a new flexible, paper-thin HD TV that you can actually roll-up like a newspaper. Long gone are the days of bulky, heavy TV’s taking up lots of space in a room. Just like TV’s, computers have evolved in the same way, becoming faster and more powerful, yet at the same time, smaller and lighter. From heavy weights on your desk to thin handheld devices, computers are constantly advancing and paving the way in modern technology. The general consensus is that in the next decade computers will focus much more on Virtual Reality and become much more immersive. Your hands will work as the keyboard and mouse, able to move and drag things around a virtual room. It may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but science fiction is soon becoming science fact and this reality might just be closer than you think.
Products that will have a large impact
It‘s a fair assessment to say that certain products will have more of an impact on the future of classrooms than others. This will then have a knock-on effect for other products. Items you may not immediately think of that will have to adapt the fastest are things like LED & LCD Mounts, Mono Screen Lifts and AV/IT Desk Solutions. It goes without saying that computers and monitors will of course change how a classroom looks and how teachers can educate their students, but it will be interesting to see how the other items around these evolve and advance. For example, when it comes to desk solutions, the current student desk might not be efficient enough for the future. We already have a more intelligent desk which allows for computer storage and charging, all of which plugs directly into the desk making for a tidy and efficient working environment. Is this the future for all desks? Will all students only work with computers soon? If that is indeed what happens, then they will then need a charging and storage solution.
Over the years screen sizes have dramatically increased. This increase has happened so quickly that it’s now hard to imagine a room without a large monitor. Thanks to inventions such as 4K displays, which benefit from larger screens, this trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. As this continues LED & LCD mounts and Mono screen lifts will, of course, also have to advance and keep up with the rate of change. Here, at Loxit, we are constantly designing new and inventive screen lift solutions able to keep up with the most modern screens around. Features such as anti-crush bars, multi-positional abilities and electric lift mechanisms capable of moving screens weighing 130kg make these screens truly invaluable. Not to mention touchscreen table mounts which electronically raise, lower and rotate the screen transforming it from a touchscreen table to a fun and interactive easel.
A new product has been invented recently that boasts incredible modern technology which can turn any room into a virtual learning environment called the Magic Carpet. It utilises motion capture by tracking a users movements perfectly, allowing them to interact with the virtual world they have been put in. Whatever the needs of the student, the Magic Carpet allows them to completely immerse themselves within the computer generated environment and really enjoy their learning experience. It is easy to use, incredibly responsive, allows for social interaction, versatile, expands imaginations and can project an image up to 4m wide. This seems to be the next step into the future of classrooms. Schools, colleges and universities will be much more interactive, social and fun, meaning the students will learn much easier and could potentially enjoy their education much more. For a peek into what Magic Carpet can do feel free to check out their video here.
How far away is this and what will it look like?
So, now that we have started to build a clearer picture of what the classroom of the future will look like, we can get an idea of how far away this actually is. It is clear that the classroom is moving more towards interactive education by utilising things like virtual reality, touchscreen displays and personal tablets. All of these products are available now, but as they are relatively new they are still too expensive to be a standard feature in a school, college or university. However, as more and more companies design their own versions of these, the prices will drop considerably. There would also need to be more testing on the long-term effects of what this type of education has on the pupil. From the research and evidence gathered, the image of a room where each student has their own interactive desk and virtual reality headset is not farfetched at all. It really could be the future, but not the near future. Tablets are already making their way into education, as well as interactive programmes such as Magic Carpet, mentioned earlier, which means that personal desks with charging capabilities are following closely behind. There is no reason for the layout of the classroom to change, so over time, this is the one thing that will most likely stay the same.
Effects in the industry
The effects that this change will have on the educational industry is mostly positive. Change breeds imagination, by showing a student a new way of learning they are more likely to use different parts of their brains, engaging in their work and with other students. There will likely be a slight decline in grades at the start as these Hi-Tec products will feel like a novelty, but once the novelty wears off the grades should pick up and possibly increase.
Although students should benefit from the change, will teachers? At this stage, it is hard to say as there is likely to be a split between some embracing the change and others worrying about it. The main reason for the worry is that when virtual reality becomes a standard feature, will this then take away some teaching jobs? This won’t be the case as students are always going to need a teacher, as they don’t just educate them, but they also help mentor them, guide them and help with any problems they might have, personal or school related. A good teacher will always be so much more to their students than just a teacher, someone to help them make a success of their life and guide them onto the right path.
As more and more modern, Hi-Tec h products enter schools, colleges and universities, the security will then have to improve. Things like server security, computer security and screen security are becoming much more important. Luckily, there are already fantastic ways of protecting these products from being stolen. No matter whether you have a PC, Apple or tablets, there are already strong and reliable security solutions out there which can be found here.
We thought it would be useful to reach out to Teachers who are currently working in Education and find out what they think the classrooms of the future will look like.
Mr Cannon, Head Teacher at Newlaithes Junior School:
“With appropriate funding…a school of the future would harness technology to monitor, track and evaluate the learning of each individual child promoting strength and supporting weakness. Knowledge and skills based learning would be taught with more than one teacher as video conferencing (which has never been developed in education) supports groups around the world; and individual tuition from wherever it needs to come from, supports every child to succeed. Each child would have access to all information necessary to succeed through the use of individual devices wherever they are e.g. worn on the wrist to provide all possible information, data logging, image capture and projection/recreation/manipulation. ”
Miss Slatcher, Teacher at Thomas Telford Secondary School:
“A classroom of the future will include technology more than ever before. It would incorporate different learning styles and differentiation in order for each student to progress and flourish; the two main aims of education. New technology, that students have never seen before, would act as a motivator. Imagine a student with gaps of knowledge or who is unmotivated in education getting the chance to use technological gadgets more frequently – those gaps would soon be diminished! Who knows – it would be amazing to see teacher led mini lessons through tablets that are appropriate to each attainment level of the students, e.g. gifted and talented or English as an additional language, in your class while the class teacher can focus on the rest of the class. The use of technology may also result in less outstanding teachers leaving the profession as technology may ease slight amounts of workload and aid progression.”
Miss Taylor, Teacher at Loreto College:
“High schools and colleges of the future will use technology increasingly more within the classroom to bring teaching and learning in line with an important aspect of each students life in the growing emergence of social media. For example, using tablets instead of textbooks and interactive activities involving applications on smartphones will allow students to be more engaged in the classroom and use advanced technology to shape how they learn. Equally, technology will allow classroom teachers to monitor student progress, allowing for the achievement of all students. Schools and colleges will be able to better prepare students for the digital future through this growing emergence of technology in education.”
Is Paper the past?
Computers in the classroom is not a new concept, this has been the case for decades now, but as more personal computers like laptops and tablets become more common, more work is being done on these instead of on paper, which begs the question, is paper the past? Paper is sure to be with us for many more years yet, but it does have an expiration date, not just because of technology, but because people are becoming more aware of protecting the environment. That being said, even if one day there wasn’t any paper left, handwriting will survive and is sure to always be practised. Handwriting provides a touch of personality and character that typing will never offer. There are already many great programmes that provide handwriting practice for students using touchscreen displays, such as on a tablet.
So, as you can see the classroom of the future will focus more on touchscreen facilities, virtual reality and interactive programmes. This type of technology is sure to play a key role in education, helping to shape minds of the future and create a more dynamic and social classroom.