In 2001, Microsoft unveiled its vision of the 21st Century classroom at New York’s Grand Central Terminal, demonstrating how learning is no longer bounded by the classroom walls, but can take place anytime, anywhere and on any device.
Since then, education has progressed by leaps and bounds, accelerated by recent technology breakthroughs. It is no longer uncommon today to see schools shifting from chalk-and-talk teaching to student-centred learning, and outfitting classrooms with the latest devices as they make the move to digitalise their schools.
Here is a glimpse of how the classroom of the future will be like.
A truly ubiquitous learning experience
Thanks to cloud computing, students can learn from anywhere and at their own pace. Traditional school libraries will turn into digital repositories, housing not just research materials but also valuable educational resources—from a simple tutorial to a webcast of last week’s lecture—that can support and encourage independent learning. New Zealand’s Opaheke School for instance, implemented a Bring-Your-Own-Device programme to allow students access to the tools they need to continue learning outside of school hours. And we can expect to see this being adopted by more schools to promote ubiquitous learning.
Students can easily access educational resources via their own laptops
Assignments will be virtual, so students can easily continue at home where they left off in school. This also lets teachers to monitor the progress of their students, offer help where needed, and finally be free of the classic “my pet ate my homework” excuse.
Practical lessons redefined
Learning will only get more interactive as innovations, such as 3D printing and augmented and virtual reality, find their way into the classroom. These are set to disrupt how various disciplines, be it art history or structural engineering, are being taught and will serve to accelerate the learning journey.
Microsoft HoloLens in motion at a human anatomy class
Take a look at the collaboration between Microsoft and Case Western Reserve University, which demonstrated how Microsoft’s ambitious holographic computer, the Microsoft HoloLens, can be used in a human anatomy class. Bodily organs can be viewed and interacted with isolation from other parts of the body, which allows students to learn how they look and function—things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to learn from studying living people. And more importantly, if something goes awry in a medical simulation, nobody gets hurt!
Collaboration taken to a whole new level
The classroom of tomorrow will see technology being integrated into classrooms and learning spaces to facilitate collaboration like never before. Chalkboards will no longer be the centrepiece. Instead, multi-touch LCD screens will take its place as students use it to type notes and share their ideas with the simple swipe of a finger. This has actually been implemented in Crescent Girls’ School, where 46-inch LCD touchscreens are embedded into roundtables so multiple users can input at one time for a fun, bustling, and productive idea-sharing session.
LCD touchscreen displays for better collaboration
But the possibilities do not end there. Imagine if these devices are connected to the Internet and fitted with social platform like Yammer or Skype. Students can easily connect and collaborate with peers from around the world, and learn from one another in ways a traditional classroom is not able to facilitate.
How do you envision the classroom of the future to be like? Share your thoughts in the comments below!