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Technology Will Shape the Future of the Classroom: Will You Be Ready?

Updated: May 7, 2019

On-Demand Learning? Holographic Teachers? Virtual Reality Student Avatars? Sound like an impossibility? Or is it just around the corner?

The reality is that these technological advances that are shaping our professional and personal lives are also changing the landscape of educational institutions. “We’re seeing a real push from businesses for more collaborative spaces that support teamwork and active learning,” said William O’Donnell, AV network design engineer at William Paterson University. “Employers want students to learn how to work together and to show initiative, with instructors acting as interactive guides rather than talking heads."

“This doesn’t mean that lecture halls will vanish. They’ll still be needed for large enrollment courses like Poli Sci 101. But we will see more emphasis on collaborative spaces—and the AV technology we use will have to support that.”

Where Does AV Fit In

“We are going to see ever-more wireless connections and gateways on campus, as students use their own devices to connect directly to their school’s content and resources,” said Michael Lucas, senior director of instructional technology services at University of Massachusetts Lowell. “This means that the network, its access points and scalability, and its security will be more important than ever before.”

James Careless with AVTechnology says, "As the personal devices used by students become more affordable and capable—be they smartphones, tablets, laptops, or a mix of all three—tomorrow’s schools will have to support their growing access and charging demands. In the same vein, educational institutions will have to ensure that their cloud-based content can be easily accessed on these devices, and that their campuses’ AV equipment and networks can carry this load."

“It’s not just classrooms: I foresee study rooms and other informal spaces being equipped with wireless nodes and 50-inch monitors, where students can throw up their work and look at it on the big screen,” said O’Donnell. “Students will expect to be able to access and use the same level of AV equipment currently reserved today for their teachers.”

The Role of AR and VR

At the University of Massachusetts Lowell, “we’re seeing wearable VR suits being used both to teach modelling in art, and to explain concepts in health,” said Lucas. At William Paterson University, “art students are creating 3D sculptures using VR, which are then brought into reality using 3D printers,” said O’Donnell.

AR and VR technologies have an unlimited practicality factor. Their usage and relevancy to the classroom, however, is directly dependent on how and what faculty chooses to use them for. “It all pivots on whether teachers are willing to make the effort to move into AR, VR, and other advanced AV technologies to make their courses more compelling,” Lipps said.

Distance Learning is one area where AR and VR tech can impact the student dramatically. When you consider how powerful and immersive the learning experience could be for someone who doesn't have to step into the classroom, but made to feel like they're intimately connected. It raises the bar of what students could gain from educational retention because of the effectiveness of such technology.

“Having a Ferrari-quality distance learning origination site doesn’t matter if the students on the other end are huddled around a 19-inch Dell monitor,” O’Donnell said. “AV-enabled content delivery is only as good as the weakest link in the chain.”

James Careless notes that Rob Lipps would like all forms of connected learning to be of consistent end-to-end quality, so that the notion of “distance” becomes irrelevant. “When you think of someone as a ‘distance learning student,’ what you’re really saying is that they are separate from a more local group of students, and that may imply the quality of their educational experience is different. Using IT-enabled AV technology, the classroom of tomorrow could eliminate this distinction entirely, ensuring that everyone receives the same quality of learning, no matter where they are located.”

The Bottom Line

The classroom of tomorrow will be a more connected, IT-enabled, and AV-enriched facility with innovative technologies such as AR and VR making learning more immersive, interesting, and exciting. And, though, this is the trending case, there will still be a need for the human interaction; high-touch factor between teachers and students.

AVTechnology Future Trends Prediction

Classrooms will focus more on collaborative active learning rather than talking heads lecturing passive students.

AV technology will enable emphasis on active learning through multimedia demonstration/learning devices, AR, and VR.

AR and VR will spread across all areas of education, and make distance learning more engaging and inclusive.

Students will increasingly use their own devices to connect directly to the school’s cloud-based resources.

Once a staple of educational institutions, the computer lab will have its core value diminished by this trend and will need other reasons to justify its continued existence.

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