The days have long passed by, when a student actually carried a whole set of books to school and the teachers checked every assignment line by line. The days of the future are here to redefine the way a classroom works and the way e-Learning is looked at. Though the pace of adapting this new change is just getting started, the future as I see it is not very far.

Technology has always found real-time issues and tried making it simpler. Education is one such place which needs to be extremely dynamic. The books are static, they were written and they speak what they ought to, nothing more and nothing less. However, knowledge needs to be dynamic, a person learning one theory needs to also understand the different theories that follow the first one; this shouldn’t mean he needs to carry a thousand books on his back-pack.

Here’s how I think the immediate future of Education will embrace technology:

GOING MOBILE

Today, not only are there many devices – smartphones, netbooks, laptops and the like – to choose from, but each of these options is capable of performing multiple functions. Whatever the choice, the ability to access the Internet and personal data from anywhere in the world is becoming ever more important especially as technology becomes cloud-based.

While many have long espoused the potential of mobile devices to revolutionize learning, educators continue to have concerns with the privacy and classroom management issues that come with student use of such devices. But clearly the digital world is headed firmly in this direction and education must follow suit.

OPEN CONTENT & FLEXIBILITY

Knowledge should be widely available; however, accepting and using this knowledge can be a choice. The assessment of the performance of a student should be based on the information and the knowledge acquired from the information. Flexibility and providing individual choice as to when and how to learn has been a key concern for the current generation, and this has already made open content a critical format for colleges and universities. The typical traditional lines of learning get further blurred by the needs of adults to constantly upgrade skills to remain competitive in the workplace.

A whole new perspective of sharing knowledge is to enable content creation by various people and not just the content that exists in books; this helps students debate, argue, agree and disagree. This will further continue to push teachers towards a new model where they focus on guiding and coaching students on methods for accessing and evaluating the volume of information available, which is as critical as assessing the grade of a student.

ELECTRONIC BOOKS – A REPLACEMENT OF THE TYPICAL TEXTBOOKS

For the student with the overweight backpack, the idea of being able to carry an entire library in their book bag is enormously appealing. On the college campus, electronic books are not only proving to be a cost-effective and portable alternative to heavy textbooks, these devices are able to store all syllabi and supplemental reading selections for even the most intense courses.

The latest e-book readers not only rival the experience of reading a paper book, but they offer an ability to easily mark up and highlight text when desired, annotations that can be easily exported and shared with fellow students. Perhaps even more importantly, electronic readers offer keyword searching and instant dictionary lookups, the two elements that can greatly enhance learning possibilities for students. Our wireless devices enable individuals to purchase materials from nearly anywhere on the planet, which means that entire libraries are now available to both teachers and students without ever leaving their home or the walls of their respective classroom.

SIMPLE AUGMENTED REALITY

The ability to combine the real world with virtual information is the fundamental tenet of what is referred to as augmented reality. It involves the blending of virtual data, the information available to users via technology, with live action and what we see in the real world.

Augmented reality applications exist in two basic formats: marker-based, whereby a camera must perceive a specific visual cue in order for the software to call up the correct information, and markerless, whereby positional data, such as a mobile’s GPS and compass, is compared against a library of images to find a match.

For education, the major focus could well be on augmented reality gaming. Such games would be based on real-world situations that are then augmented with networked data, bringing incredible life to the study of both history and geography.

For the extremely futuristic minded, there is also the development of augmented reality books. Though the books are printed normally, they are made so as to include AR elements. After purchase, special software installed on a webcam allows the camera to interact with the book to create three-dimensional visualizations.

GESTURE BASED COMPUTING

Most of us are familiar with the iPhone or the Nintendo Wii, gesture-based systems that accept input in the form of taps, swipes, motion, pressure, and the number of fingers touching the devices. Incorporating the potential for more kinesthetic classrooms would also take away one of the current fears associated with computers and those popular video games – the sedentary lifestyle that often accompanies those activities.

In addition, yet another one of the most important elements would be the collaborative nature gesture-based computing would offer teachers. By removing the need to share a keyboard and mouse, gestural interfaces would allow multiple users to potentially interact with a single computer simultaneously.

More than simply making technology easier to engage, gesture-based computing has been shown to enhance fine motor skills. One such study revealed that surgeons-in-training who warmed up with the Wii scored an average of 48% higher on tool tests and simulated surgical procedures than those who did not.

VISUAL DATA ANALYSIS

Data collection and compilation has long been seen as a tedious process. While computers removed some of the manual challenges of this process, analyzing, interpreting, and displaying data was largely a field only statisticians and engineers fully grasped.

Most people see these tools as being useful when studying scientific topics such as climate change and global warming trends. But if we can make it possible for anyone to run through, display, and understand complex concepts and relationships, then visual data representation will soon lead to applications in the social sciences and humanities. The greatest impact could well be the concept’s ability to enable educational researchers to finally isolate the specific variables that truly impact learning and identify the most effective educational practices to employ in the classroom. This can only empower the educators in numerous ways, and the students irrespective of their area of study will have the ability to make better decisions.