When I think about technology and its impact on the quality of life, I generally tend to the positive side of the scale. I believe that technology has enabled great gains in many facets of life. I can keep in touch with family & friends across the miles easily and effortlessly. I am a more educated patient and advocate for my own health & the health of my family. I can create and participate in a more enriching learning environment. I have taken great comfort in various online support groups that I could not have had access to otherwise. Indeed, I have reaped many benefits from the internet and technology.
So, I was surprised at my reaction to the video produced by Corning envisioning what the future could look like with technology playing an even more pervasive role than what it does today:
To be fair, there were elements of the video that were very captivating and positive – the seamless sharing of information by doctors, for example. But in many instances, I saw technology actually inserting an additional dimension unnecessarily into human interactions – with nature and with others. Although the 3D dinosaur images in the video have an initial cool factor, can children learning about nature and their environment not simply be satisfied to learn about animals in their presence? Does technology in this instance in fact pull us backwards, constantly recreating elements of our past, vs. putting us firmly into the present, or helping us to better predict future events?
My views of the future classroom were also different than what the author and videographer portrayed in this video. Here, children are still seated in rows in a class, with tablets instead of notebooks, focused on a teacher-led discussion. There are three key reasons why I don’t believe this is how education will play out:
- There is plenty of literature out there today pointing to the fact that boys in particular are not fitting the traditional school model, where they must sit and listen to a teacher-led lecture. Boys are struggling in a model that is already outdated today. I’ve seen Barry MacDonald, founder of mentoringboys.com, speak – he is well researched and experienced in the field.
- Research is starting to highlight the negative and serious implications of sitting for long periods of time.
- In North America, we know that obesity is on the rise.
To reverse these trends, we need to get away from the desk and the screen – computer or TV – and instead get outside, get moving, and get involved. Less sitting, more standing. Less passive learning, more active. This is not to say that technology can’t be used to establish this type of learning environment – but perhaps it could be more of an enabler vs. the learning mechanism.
Perhaps it is less about the technology or the device – and more about mobility and video. I envision groups collaborating on projects – inside and outside of the classroom. I can see group members taking their tablet or smartphone with them to assist with research, capture work on camera, or use as a notebook. I see the teacher as more of a facilitator of a flipped classroom, with any lecture-like materials placed online, much like the MOOC model I am currently experiencing.
Granted, I am looking at the future firmly rooted in the present. I cannot decouple from the lens than I live in today. But when looking at how generations ahead will live, learn, and use technology, I would prefer to dream, vs. dread.