The University of 2050/The Globally Connected Campus

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

Education plays a vital role in shaping progress across the globe. In 2023, students have opportunities to engage remotely, immerse themselves in diverse cultures by learning languages and study abroad programs, and participate in research with international partners. Advancements in technology, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality, and changes in approaches to education have the potential to reshape the access students have to the world. The global campus of 2050 will adopt and adapt to these advancements and prioritize equitable access, creating a desirable and sustainable future.

International Education on Sustainability[edit | edit source]

Context[edit | edit source]

A globally connected campus not only entails connection through interaction, but also through shared ideas and approaches to learning. As it becomes increasingly urgent to produce global solutions to global problems like climate change, it will become equally urgent for education to evolve internationally. Much of modern education policy stems from measures to bolster global competitiveness. For example, the Cold War changed the education landscape across the world. Governments turned to education as a vehicle to carry their countries forward by producing innovative minds educated in mathematics, science, and engineering. As a result, campuses adopted STEM centric curriculums, pivoting away from non-technical education. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in considering non-technical solutions to many global problems, especially climate change. Just as the shift towards a future of innovation was driven by education, adoption of non-technical solutions will be driven by educational institutions worldwide.

The Future[edit | edit source]

Countries will collaborate with one another to promote adoption of progressive educational systems. This will stem from a global sentiment that combating the climate crisis using battery powered vehicles and renewable energy alone may not be enough; change will be required on the individual level. For instance, some schools in Finland and India teach sustainable ways of living along with a traditional education, even from an early age [1]. While institutions across the world offer courses analyzing causes of environmental issues, an emphasis will be placed upon educating students, starting from primary school, to lead sustainable lives outside of educating them on the underlying problem. Campuses in the U.S. will adopt these principles, creating more conscious learning environments where students are not only enriched with the technical education to produce high-tech solutions, but also learn low-tech techniques like composting, rain water harvesting, and being wary of overconsumption.

How We Get There[edit | edit source]

It is no secret that education reform is notoriously slow and stagnant, but there is already evidence of progress towards this vision. The “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” phrase, popularized in the 1970s, is culturally embedded largely due its continuing presence within the education system. Countries will shift towards incorporating such sustainable living campaigns in their education systems, connecting campuses worldwide to a shared goal of combating climate change. Education remains a policy area of interest to a variety of organizations including the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). These groups work with governments across the globe to bring about educational reform, and would be instrumental in materializing this vision, working alongside advocacies and citizens in pursuit of change.

Impact[edit | edit source]

Financial burdens often impact access to education and resources for students of various backgrounds. Incorporating these principles into the curriculum would be low cost and help connect students to a mission of generational sustainability across geographical boundaries. Most notably, this will promote a sense of community and personal responsibility in students as they become global citizens. The progress towards this vision is reassuring of a hopeful future that is not only desirable, but needed to ensure the longevity of our planet.

Increase Education Equity Through The Use of Technology[edit | edit source]

Virtual Reality Field Trips

In 2050, gone will be the days of physical location acting as a barrier to experience a new place. With virtual reality and expanding on current world rendering technology such as google earth, in the year 2050 students will be able to get a first hand view of new locations from the convenience of their university classroom. Not only will this technology allow people to see new places, but with the use of Augmented reality technology students will be able to interact with the environment around them. This type of environmental interaction could be applied to give students new experiences in a plethora of eras including getting to experience and participate in cultural practices. As it is know that being able to do activities with others helps build a connection and understanding, this technology should help people better understand new cultures and bring differing groups closer together.

Not only will these virtual and augmented reality experiences allow people to explore new places on their own but this technology also lends itself to easier communication with people local to the area which a student would like to explore. In 2050, students will have access to virtual reality tour guides who will be native to the places which the students are exploring and able to guide them along their trip. Having a tour guide will allow greater learning with person to person interaction and will allow tour guides the ability to share their knowledge of their home to a plethora of students from the convenience of their home or office.

Finally, one of the greatest parts of this technology is that it will give more equitable opportunity to have these new experiences. Currently, traveling to a new country and participating in new experiences there is expensive and many students can not afford these trips. With just one virtual reality machine purchased by a university they could allow hundreds, if not thousands of their students to all have these experiences. In the year 2050, this technology will also have been adopted not only by universities but also by public libraries so that everyone can come have these new experiences for free. With the uniting ability of seeing new people, places, and things with your own eyes, this virtual reality field trip technology will greatly increase the human to human connection of people across the world.

Language Learning Using Conversational Artificial Intelligence

It has been shown that one of the best ways to learn a new language is to practice having conversations with others. one issue with this way of learning is that many people feel embarrassed of foolish when trying to have a conversation in a language they don't know very well. In the year 2050, this problem will be eliminated with the use of conversational artificial intelligence for teaching students new languages. Conversational artificial intelligence would be able to guide language learners through sentences when they are struggling, all while saving the person the embarrassment of messing up the language with another human. Over time this technology will be able t learn which conversations and teaching practices are most effective at helping students master a new language which will optimize it's teaching ability. The impact of this new improved language learning is that more diverse groups of people from around the world will be able to conversate face to face. Being able to have conversations with others will continue to increase understanding of different cultures and the unification of people as a whole across the world.

Conversations Amongst Diverse Groups of People[edit | edit source]

Current Technology

In the year 2023, the University of Virginia has already integrated technology such as Zoom and Social Media to enable real-time communication with people around the world. These technologies also help UVA staff and students start connections and conversations to a more diverse group of people.

Future Applications of Technology

In the year 2050, the University will have incorporated online learning and have more readily available resources online. As acceptance of physical absences from classrooms continues with professors, more resources such as recorded notes and lectures will be made available to students to study. Remote technology such as Zoom or potentially more advanced forms of digital communications such as virtual reality will be incorporated into the university's forms of hosting meetings, lectures, and events.

Past Events

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the University saw a dramatic shift from physical to virtual learning. The starting line for virtual learning has already been set, according to research done by the Virginia Department of Education, 83% of school divisions provided elementary (PK-5) students with a personalized device, 92% of school division for secondary (6-12) students, and 60% of divisions provided internet access to community locations [2].. This amount of support for online synchronous and asynchronous learning was developed rapidly in Virginia from 2020 to 2021. If more adoption of online learning at the University of Virginia is accepted, access to technology will become a necessity and will therefore demand more support to bridge the gap of inequality in access to technology and the internet. A greater interest in online learning will also facilitate more adoption from professors to provide learning resources online. Currently in the year 2023, there is a divide in some professors providing all available learning materials such as textbook readings, lecture recordings, and chapter power-points online, some professors providing limited resources, and the remaining opting to provide none. With an increase in transitioning to online learning from 2023 to 2050, a greater number of professors will be more likely to provide all resources to be readily available to students that want to learn remotely, whether it be asynchronously or synchronously.

Remote Communication

With the adoption of remote technology, diverse communities could also join University held events and connect with students and staff. Integration of better translational technology will also help bridge the language barrier. If digital advancements have not made considerable progress, then use of current technology such as Zoom or Microsoft teams will likely be used to facilitate online, real-time events. However, if advancements in communication technology are made, digital environments could be utilized to provide an easier experience to establish conversations and connections to people around the globe. Digital environments would allow for people to converse with both their voice as well as their visual cues such as body language, allowing them to more easily convey messages even if translational technologies are not 100% perfect.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

In the year 2050, an increase in educational equity, remote technology integration, and international educational sustainability will occur. Global educational systems will be established to increase sustainability. New technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and language translational software will also be incorporated into the classroom. Remote technology in the classroom will be more widely accepted into classrooms with online resources becoming more readily available. Access to technology will become more common as the demand for technological and internet access increases. The global campus of 2050 will continue to advance and adopt new technologies to provide equitable access and progress to a sustainable future.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Kasturi, Charu Sudan. "Finland's big new export to India: Education". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2023-12-07.
  2. Pinckney, Miller. "Virginia School Division Operations During SY 2020-21: Use of Remote Technology". University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development. Retrieved 2023-12-08.