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What's Next for Education?

Updated: Jan 9, 2021

Joe Schwartz - 1/4/2021

I've often joked with my friends that if the COVID-19 pandemic proved one thing, it was that we are woefully unprepared for the "Zombie Apocalypse". Countless movies and TV shows have portrayed life after the brain eating bacteria has turned humans into thirsty hollow shells of our former selves. If we couldn't handle all of the scientific, political, geographical and financial problems that 2020 sprayed upon us, there is no freaking way we can beat the brain eaters. No, sir.

So what does this have to do with the current and future state of education? It also demonstrates that all of the TV and movie versions of futuristic classrooms and learning are way off the mark - because we are not prepared for that, either. There is no plug-and-play learning a la "The Matrix"; no high-tech classrooms like Netflix's "Lost in Space" reboot; no full-wall communications with a foreign sister classroom like Corning's "Day Made of Glass" promotional short. We could barely keep the attention spans of our Honors and AP students during this pandemic, let alone our kids with special needs or the youngest of the young in our Pre-K and Kindergarten programs.

Recent innovations in virtual spaces (VR) have progressed little since I was a teenager in the 1980's playing in mall video arcades; the quality of avatars is not much better than those in the 1990's, and the controllers are still tethered to hand controls that are unsuitable for children and still isolate the users by encasing them in plastic boxes. The holographic suites of Star Trek and the interactive glasses of "The First" are as far removed from our current reality as are the interactive worlds created in "Ready Player One" and "Caprica". Still, engineers were inspired by Star Trek communicators to create the first pocket sized cell phones and later, interactive touch screens found on iPads and iPhones. Who knows what will inspire the engineers of tomorrow, when they use the science fiction of today as a basis for fantastical devices that today are only in the realm of movies and TV shows?

NEXT: When does the classroom stop being in YOUR room?

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