The University of 2050/The Adaptable Classroom

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Introduction and AR Technology[edit | edit source]

In 1801, the first chalkboard was used in America to display ideas during a lecture at university. Since then, the chalkboard has been a staple part of every classroom, changing forms to reflect the advancements in technology occurring at that time. Upon the development of erasable markers, some institutions decided to switch to whiteboards because of the increase in maintainability. As video projection technology improved, slide-down projection screens were added to the classroom. In the early 2000s, the projection screen was combined with the whiteboard, resulting in the smartboard, a critical component of most classrooms in primary education. Over the last 200 years, most things stayed the same. Only because the chalkboard was designed to be the center of attention in the classroom, was it updated to increase potential and effectiveness of learning.

The evolution of the whiteboard has shown that advancements in technology are incorporated into daily life if determined to be feasible and scalable. History has also shown favor towards individualized tools that fulfill the roles of many. There are many examples of this, such as a screwdriver with detachable tips, or smartphones. These tools mitigated redundancy and took the world like a flash, when people realized the potential behind this innovation.

Today, professors write their ideas on a large tablet which gets projected on the screen for everyone to see, while students attempt to rapidly capture the ideas on their laptop. In the year 2050, personal AR goggles will become a prevalent aspect in the classroom, bringing the chalkboard and much more to the student. Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user's environment in real time. This means that as AR technology improves, the classroom will merely become a template, reducing the need for innovation of the physical classroom. We can reap the benefits of updated technology without having to add 2050’s equivalent to a smartboard to every classroom in the nation. AR goggles will also greatly increase the efficiency of the learning process because students will be able to take notes without having to look away from the lecture screen. By converting the focus from producing good notes, to understanding that day’s ideas, the learning process itself in academia can be revolutionized. A glaring issue of using AR technology is that it creates a society dependent on a specific technology that might be unaffordable/unfeasible. The apple vision, released recently, costs a little more than $3000. Historically, when a new ground-breaking technology was introduced, the price for that product reflected the jump in innovation. As AR technology improves and becomes a staple part of our lives in 2050, it will become more desirable and hopefully more affordable for everyone to use.

Purpose of the Physical Classroom[edit | edit source]

Physically, modern classrooms can be categorized into three broad categories: lecture halls, which are meant to hold hundreds of students and direct attention towards a front stage; laboratories, which have a specific structure and specific equipment for the unique needs of a given class; and "standard" classrooms, which hold around 30 to 40 students and promote discussion and teacher-student communication. These classroom designs are driven by their respective educational purposes. Looking to 2050, mindset changes regarding educational approach will alter the purpose of the physical classroom and thus alter the design of the physical classroom. Asynchronous learning's emergence has presented new methods in how learning is locationally divided. Lectures have become much easier to watch from home, reducing the necessity of large lecture halls and weakening the bottleneck of lecture hall capacity on student enrollment per class. Conversely, student-teacher communication and discussion, both critical aspects of learning, are at risk of hindrance from an increased prevalence of asynchronous learning. These notions' beneficial aspects are coalesced by the "flipped classroom" concept, where in-classroom time is spent for discussion, and lectures are conducted outside of the classroom. Currently, the concept of the "flipped classroom" is met with skepticism from students due to its' departure from educational norms. Given its compatibility with asynchronous learning, leading to an improvement in class enrollment, while emphasizing in-class discussion and student-teacher interaction, it is reasonable to believe that the "flipped classroom" will be a popular concept amongst students by 2050. This expected shift would suggest a decrease in large lecture halls in favor of smaller, multi-use, and discussion-based classrooms.

Technological development will also play a role in the development of classroom purpose. Virtual reality technology opens doors regarding the simulation of activities, specifically lab-related projects. Currently, labs of certain classes require specific classroom structuring and equipment, an expensive undertaking that limits the use of the classroom beyond the scope of the designated class. As VR tech becomes more effective in its representation of real world environments and affordable en masse for schools--an expected development given the downward trend of the cost of VR tech in recent years--VR tech will be able to replace the need for specific classroom structuring per class and the need for purchasing lab-specific equipment. This will lead to cheaper costs overall-- rather than needing to purchase specific equipment that only serves a purpose for one lab, schools can purchase a VR device that can be used across multiple if not all labs. It will also lead to a decrease in the prominence of class-specific laboratories in favor of multi-use lab-designated rooms.

Beyond pedagogical shifts, the purpose of the classroom will likely develop outside of the scope of learning. Looking from 2000 to 2023, tools like Google and Wikipedia have made information exponentially more accessible. This trend is likely to continue into 2050, reducing many topics of learning to common knowledge. Aligning with this, classrooms will see a shift in focus towards social and communication-based development where discussion and communicational synthesis amongst students are promoted.

Challenges and Feasibility[edit | edit source]

Evolution of Classroom Technology[edit | edit source]

The integration of technology, alongside its ethical implications and potential inequality issues, emerges as a central theme in our vision. The envisioned classrooms are not just spaces for learning but also hubs of technological advancement that cater to the needs of various devices. The journey of laptops in education provides a historical lens through which we can view this evolution. Initially, laptops were high-cost and limited in accessibility, but as technology advanced, their prices dropped significantly, becoming a staple in educational settings. By 2009, 97% of American classrooms had one or more computers, and 93% of classroom computers had internet access, transforming the way education was delivered and accessed[1]. This historical progression underscores the potential for emerging technologies to become integral in educational environments. Furthermore, the technology in our vision, which includes innovations like AR glasses, is not a distant future concept but a rapidly developing reality. These technologies, as highlighted in Purdue Online’s article, can revolutionize education by allowing for real-world learning experiences and interactive engagements that were previously unimaginable.

Technological Cost[edit | edit source]

The feasibility of these advancements hinges on the careful balancing of costs and benefits. While the initial investment in technology-rich classrooms and sustainable infrastructure may be significant, the long-term savings in energy costs and the potential for an enhanced educational experience justify this expenditure. The challenge lies in ensuring that these benefits are universally accessible, avoiding a scenario where only affluent institutions can afford such advancements. Additionally, the cost and availability of VR and AR equipment present a significant challenge in realizing this vision. While VR and AR offer immersive and interactive learning experiences, their high cost can exacerbate the existing inequity gap in education. Addressing this issue requires concerted efforts from educational institutions, policymakers, and technology providers to make VR and AR technology more affordable and accessible. Subsidies, grants, and public-private partnerships could be potential solutions to bridge this gap. [2]

Ethical Considerations[edit | edit source]

Privacy concerns are paramount in this tech-centric educational model. As classrooms become more connected, safeguarding student data becomes increasingly complex. Robust privacy policies and secure technological frameworks will be essential to protect sensitive information. [3] Furthermore, the dependence on technology in education raises concerns about the potential loss of critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are developed through traditional learning methods. It’s crucial that technology is used as a tool for enhancing these skills rather than replacing the need for them. [4]

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

The adaptable classroom of 2050 envisions a harmonious blend of advanced technology and humanistic education, aimed at fostering inclusive and equitable learning environments. This approach emphasizes the transformative role of educators in guiding personalized, student-centered learning, preparing students for a rapidly evolving global society. A key focus is bridging the digital divide to ensure equitable access to technology for all, while maintaining ethical standards in data protection and responsible technology use. Ultimately, this vision seeks to nurture lifelong learning and adaptability, equipping students with the skills and mindset to thrive in a dynamic world.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "The Evolution Of Technology In The Classroom | Purdue Online". Purdue University Online. Retrieved 2023-12-08.
  2. "Addressing education inequality with a next generation of community schools: A blueprint for mayors, states, and the federal government". Brookings. Retrieved 2023-12-08.
  3. "Privacy and Education Technology | Protecting Student Privacy". Retrieved 2023-12-08.
  4. Edwards, Lucy (2016). "Education, Technology, and Higher Order Thinking Skills" (PDF).