What does the future of education have in store for us? What will classrooms look like in the future? Emerging technologies like Cloud computing and Augmented Reality are the stepping stones towards a promising future for education. At the very least though, we need to know how these highly advanced technologies can help us and predict how schools will adopt them in the near future.

However, just as the original intentions for new technology often give way to innovative and unpredictable usage, we can never be sure if an interesting twist is going to unfold for these rising stars. But for now, let’s observe their progress and find out how these 5 upcoming technologies could shape the future of learning.

Multi-Touch LCD Screens

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the transition from blackboard to whiteboard, to overhead projector and to video projector for computers in various schools. So what’s next? If you’re expecting something that’s akin to your smartphone or tablet, you might be right, because the next in line is likely to be a giant LCD touchscreen that allows a greater amount of interactivity.

We’re talking about a screen that will be attached to a computer that’s capable of generating infinite combinations of images, sounds and videos, just like our smartphones. But what sets this new “board” apart from our smart devices is that it will be capable of detecting multiple touch inputs from many students simultaneously.

 

Cloud Computing

Coming up with excuses for a missed homework just won’t do in the near future. Cloud computing is one of the latest trends in technology and will continue to change many aspects of our society, particularly education. Take China for example. In a bid to modernize the country, the city of Zhuji in Zhejian has set up over 6,000 cloud computing terminal devices in 118 schools.

In the future, students may just need an electronic device to access all their homework and all other learning resources in the Cloud. This means that there’s no need to carry around heavy textbooks to school. As long as you’re connected to the Internet, you can gain access to all your reading materials. Such convenience will provide students the freedom to work on their homework and projects anytime, anywhere. A digital library is accessible even when the campus library is not. In fact, you no longer need to travel to a library or bookstore just to get the book you need!

Flexible Displays

Taking notes on memo pads is here to stay, although there may be a shift from paper to laptops, netbooks or tablets. As learning environments become more and more digitalized, how will the future classroom adjust to the differences between pen and paper, and keyboard and screen?

The answer lies in flexible OLED-based displays. Like regular paper, these displays are lightweight, flexible, and extremely thin. This means that we can roll them up into tubes or fold them like we would a newspaper.

One great example is the paper-thin A4-sized digital paper prototype developed by Sony. It weighs only a mere 63 grams! Laptops and even the lightest smartphone can’t hold a candle to that kind of portability. Unlike regular paper, these plastic “e-papers” are not only durable, but also provide flexibility. With swipes, taps, and probably pinching, these flexible paper-thin displays can take over paper-centric industries.

Biometrics

One technology that has grabbed everyone’s attention lately is biometrics. Biometrics are usually associated with the security industry, as it uses what is unique to each individual to authenticate one’s identity, like fingerprints, facial recognition, iris patterns, voice, etc. In terms of education, some schools are only using fingerprinting to prevent truancy and for borrowing books from the school library.

Eye-tracking, for instance, can be very helpful in providing valuable feedback for teachers to understand how their students absorb and understand the learning content. In fact, advertising research have been using this technology to see how consumers respond to their ads and to determine what really captures their attention. The same form of analysis can also be conducted to ascertain the effectiveness of a course or individual learning style. Mirametrix, for example, uses its S2 Eye Tracker to find out how students learn by getting details of where they look during online learning sessions.

More affordable alternatives are also being introduced in the form of The Eye Tribe for Windows and Android, so it’s only a matter of time before this data can be used by educators.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Reality is something we’ve all been waiting for to take the world by storm. But with the release of the Google Glass, as well as other awesome gaming devices and apps for astronomy, it seems that the future is now within our reach.

It’s expected to wow audiences with its AR capabilities, allowing users to see additional information layered over what they see through the lens. At present, however, access to AR technology for educational purposes is mostly limited to mobile apps.

Sky Map, for example, allows you to scout the night sky for constellations, but they’re not fully integrated as a component of education as they have yet to reach the stage of seamlessness. To fully experience Augmented Reality, it must be immersive enough to blend information readily with the reality.

With the Google Glass and other AR-enabled wearable devices that will soon hit the market, students can finally explore the world without having to hold up a device which could distract from the experience.

Will Powell, an AR developer for Oxford, has created a simpler version of the Google Glass, showcasing how effortless it can be. Check it out for yourself and enter a world with seamlessly integrated Augmented Reality.