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CES and the Future of Education

The International Consumer Electronic Show (CES), a consumer electronics and technology tradeshow in Las Vegas, has electronic, gaming, and technology enthusiasts alike dreaming of new gizmos and how they can be used.

How will emerging technology trends impact higher education?

Curved television monitors, head mounted displays (such as the Oculus Rift), and interactive entertainment may have a bigger impact on education than you may imagine.

When we think about these technologies, we typically think about immersive experiences as a form of entertainment– television, movies and video games– enhanced by 3D, Ultra High Definition, and virtual reality. However, educators with the software programming skills and funding will be able to create immersive experiences for the classroom.

Photo Credit- James IliffThese technologies can be used to give people experiences they normally would not be able to have in everyday life. Virtual reality shown through a head mounted displays can help students and learners see the very small (microbiology), the very large (astronomical), and the very distant (ancient ruins). Imagine an observatory right in the classroom, giving students the opportunity to explore the moon and the galaxy. Imagine University Admissions counselors providing a virtual tour of their campuses to students abroad or unable to visit campus. Geography, World History, Art History, and Archaeology students would be able to virtually visit long-gone cultures and lands. All these environments can be created by a computer simulated world and displayed through a head mounted display or curved television monitor. These technologies will allow students to get a greater interactive learning experience than their traditional classroom experiences can currently provide. These technologies will bring the experience and the content to the student in a realistic and visual medium.

With these technologies, future students will get practical application of their skills without the risk. In a virtual reality operating room, Medical students can practice surgeries without risk or the expense of using cadavers. Computer programs can create fictional patients for students to diagnosis, without the need of hiring actors. Engineers can model their designs in three-dimensional space and give physical tours of their portfolios. Chemists can experiment with chemicals to view reactions without the risk of explosions and toxic combinations.

These technologies will shape the way we think about and how we design hands-on learning. It’s important to understand the emerging technologies and the implications they have on future educational practices.

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