What will the classroom of the future look like?
Plenty ofscience fictionauthors have asked this question and there are as many answers as there are writers: some have even imagineda future with no classrooms at all, where all childrenlearn from home with a machine as a teacherand consider traditional schoolan alien concept.
But that particular futureis unlikely to come true: as much as AI is growing and studying from home is becoming an increasingly popular solution,education still requires some form of human contactand technology isa tool, not a replacement.
Even so,technology can reshape the design of the classroom and the core philosophies of teaching and learningin significant ways: let’s explore how.
A richer, more connected experience in the classroom of the future
The hottest keyword of future classroom design is theInternet of Things. With22 billion devicesand counting connected to the Internet,a constantly connected life has become an expectation, not a novelty. If the trend keeps up, the classroom of the future will bea smart spacewhere theline between physical and digital is blurred.
Withentire interactive wallsin place of whiteboards,AI teaching assistantsthat can sometimes proveindistinguishablefrom their human counterparts, andvirtual and augmented realityas a way toadd a digital layer of informationto the physical world or evenvisit new places without leaving the roomand, most recently,practice languages with virtual avatars as conversation partners, the classroom of the future is shaping up to be a place wheretechnology is an essential part of the designthat provides a smooth, seamless experience,not an afterthoughtthat was added in later and runs into technical difficulties more often than not because of a combination ofpoor infrastructureandunprepared teachers, as it was in theearly days of the transition to EdTech.
Witha new generation of studentscoming in with the expectation of beingmore connected than everanda new generation of teacherswho areready to meet that expectation, technology has not yet reached the point ofreplacingeducators, but it is certainlyworking alongside themto an unprecedented degree.
Your own path to education
Another major difference that EdTech has made possible is the new level ofpersonalisationof each student’s learning path. It is more than just a matter ofpursuing one’s own interests: educational technology cangather and track dataabout studentengagement, progress and even movement across the campusand become aconstant companionthatreminds themof their duties, but alsolightens the loadby offeringhelpful suggestions, answering questionsandreporting anomalous behaviour patternsthat may be a sign of a studentat risk of failingor suffering frommental healthissues.
Artificial intelligence can alsocalibratethe material and the manner in which it is presented to each person’s current level in such a way thatlessons will always be an interesting challenge, but never an insurmountable one—if a student requires additional help or, on the contrary, is more advanced than average and can handle higher-level instruction,technology-enhanced learning is capable of catering to both ends of the scale.
All the information about yourskills and achievementsthat the increasing presence of EdTech at your school – and later your college campus – has amassed can then become aunified life recordthat will bemore informative to prospective employersthan a simple list of course titles: fresh graduates arefar more valuable to the job marketif they can give a handy summary ofwhat they know and what they can do. We usehashtagsfor everything by now—why nottag your learning experienceswith major keywords such as ‘teamwork’, ‘customer service’, ‘leadership’, ‘problem solving’?
In short, we may yet be far away froma future where the word ‘teacher’ no longer designates a human being, as Isaac Asimov wrote in his 1951 short storyThe Fun They Had, but the great science fiction author did get one thing right. Little Margie’s words resonate more than ever with modern educators:
‘But my mother says a teacher has to be adjusted to fit the mind of each boy and girl it teaches and that each kid has to be taught differently.’