As the technology we use to shop online, order food, and communicate rapidly evolves, so does today’s modern classroom. It’s hard to imagine that teachers have gone from confiscating cell phones and CD players to handing out homework assignments on touch-screen devices, but it is happening all around us.

The education sector has always been responsible for providing children with the skills they will need to enter the workforce and pursue their career goals later in life. With the world’s workforce giving way to new technologies, preparing students for our modern times requires new hardware and software to become a part of the classroom.

The future of education is looking brighter than ever before, but understanding these changes requires knowledge of the technology being implemented. Here’s a look at what is happening today, as well as what education technology you can expect to see in the future.

Handheld Devices

Tablets and smartphones can be found in the hands of almost every child these days. As using these devices become second nature, schools and universities are taking this opportunity to turn them into learning tools.

Students can now re-watch lectures through streaming services like iTunes U and Youtube, as well as play learning games through various apps. Instead of learning the alphabet by repetitious writing, they can now learn with what seem like fun games.

This strategy is beneficial for those that struggle academically, providing them with a platform they are already familiar with and some outside-the-box learning strategies. Plus, they offer immediate access to Wi-Fi.

By staying linked up to the internet, students have constant access to course materials in the form of online books or otherwise. Eco-friendly benefits aside, this also allows them to stay connected with both classmates and instructors to ask questions when needed.

VR: Virtual Reality

You’ve probably heard about the unique gaming experiences available through virtual reality technology with devices such as the Oculus Rift, Samsung’s Gear VR, or HTC VIVE. These new technologies aren’t just for gaming, however.

From elementary to university settings, instructors are taking advantage of VR to implement virtual learning technology in the classroom. Imagine a science lab where students can experiment without the use of open flames or dangerous chemicals, or the chance to learn a new language from a native speaker without ever having to leave the country.

VR systems such as Google Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR are making these experiences affordable for schools around the globe. They allow students to learn traditional curriculums in creative ways that leave a more significant impression on the mind.

Stepping Outside of the Classroom

Technology and education used to be confined to the walls of a school, but those days are coming to an end. Once the final bell rings and everyone heads home, students and instructors are utilizing connective technologies from Google Drive to Dropbox as they connect with one another on projects, review lessons, and even turn in homework.

Thanks to the Cloud, these free services also allow teachers to reach out to their students who are absent, reviewing critical lesson details and assigning homework. Plus, all of this digital work eliminates paper waste. It’s a win-win for students, teachers, and the environment.

Enforcing Policy and Curriculum

Anti-bullying and other school policies are essential aspects of any school system but enforcing them hasn’t always been the easiest endeavor. While anti-bullying pledges are helpful, they offer little incentive for those who might not care too much about a piece of paper. That’s where Gamification comes into play.

Gamification is the use of a computer game played on a school’s devices by students that encourages them to adhere to specific policies or reach certain objectives. Students who do not comply with the behavior policy may lose access to their character’s special powers in the game or suffer a similar game-related consequence.

At the same time, these games offer explorable worlds filled with “quests” that align with an instructor’s curriculum. The educator can create videos, worksheets, quizzes and more which students will have to complete in order to progress to the next part of the adventure.

Whether its enforcing policy or inspiring a love for education, Gamification is yielding surprisingly beneficial results for schools in both the United States and Europe.

What the Future May Hold

While the technology actively being implemented in today’s classrooms is exciting, experts are already avidly awaiting what the future of education might hold. Here are some of the technologies you can expect to see within the next decade.

Print it Out

Models have always been a successful way to teach complex subjects, especially theoretical ones relating to science and mathematics. Molecular structures and the bonds they share, for instance, can be hard to grasp without visual representation.  

As 3D printing becomes more accessible thanks to decreasing prices, educators will have the chance to create any model they would like for teaching purposes. Health classes can create individual models of human systems for in-depth understanding, and math classes can create complex models of Klein Bottles or other higher-level concepts.

Engineering students, however, may benefit the most from access to 3D printers. Combining this technology with CAD programs, they can create designs and prototypes freely without racking up any significant cost to their institution.

LCD Chalkboards

Instructors will most likely always need some sort of board to write on to relay information and teach new concepts. However, chalkboards and whiteboards aren’t going to cut it in the future. Student education in 2020 might see the use of Multi-Touch LCD Screens to replace these older education tools.

An instructor would be able to display anything on the board from their computer while interacting with everything from images to videos via the touch of a finger. Students will also be able to communicate with these boards which, unlike a smartphone, can recognize multiple touches at a time.

Biometrics

When it comes to the future of education, nothing seems quite as sci-fi as biometrics. This technology is already implemented in SnapChat’s facial recognition for their fun filters, fingerprinting for security sectors, and voice recognition. However, the education industry is interested in tracking eye movement.

By identifying where students look during learning sessions, educators will be able to determine the effectiveness of their presentations in the same way advertising companies decide on which ads are the most effective. Simply put, it will show what captures a student’s attention.

When combined with adaptive learning systems, educators will be able to adjust their content to different learning styles for specific students as well as identify which subjects a student struggles with most. This form of personally tailored education might be ideal in helping every student grasp the variety of concepts taught from kindergarten to university settings.

While biometrics is beneficial for every type of learner, those once considered “problem students” or “slow learners” will have the most significant advantage as educators identify new ways to help them understand concepts they find difficult. Bridging this gap is essential to their success in life, and a much-welcomed aid for instructors.

AI Tutors

It’s fun to think about a robotic tutor equipped with automated intelligence helping your student hammer out math problems or grasp the realm of physical science, but online AI systems are more likely to be used in the future of education.

After that final bell rings and students head home to finish their homework, they may be able to utilize AI programs specifically designed to help them with complex subjects. Since AI systems are fully interactive, they will be able to answer a student’s specific questions while holding a conversation about the subject at hand.

If you’ve ever struggled to help your child grasp a new language or scientific theory, then you can imagine how helpful these types of online tutors would be. Hopefully, they’ll be free of charge or at least cost less than a live human tutor would.

Staying Optimistic

The benefit of technology in the classroom is determined by how it is implemented. Educators will soon be tasked with finding a new flow throughout that course of the day that makes use of the technologies available to them, which will bring with it either negative or positive results.

While many of these new advancements have shown beneficial qualities, they are not the cure-all to current issues present in the education system. However, the continuous positive results reveal a bright and optimistic outlook for the future of education, and that’s enough for companies pushing for their further involvement.

It’s unclear precisely what the future might hold, but it sure is fascinating. Looking at the systems and tools already being implemented by standard and progressive classrooms, it seems as though technology is here to stay. For the first time in a long time, educators and students alike should be excited about what the “world of tomorrow” will bring.