Kids should be ecstatic to learn that in the future it may not even be necessary for them wake up at the crack of dawn, drag themselves out of bed, throw themselves in the shower, trudge to the bus stop and ride a smelly, overcrowded bus to a dilapidated school building where other kids will make fun of them. In fact, the majority of kids will be able to acquire their educations online through e-learning software and eventually in virtual communities. This trend has already started and it’s not likely to let up.
Already this decade many young adults pursuing degrees in the medical profession and other careers are finding that they can more easily fund their online educations with the help of medical student school loans and other subsidies. When the benefits of online degrees become even more apparent, more young adults will want to eschew the exorbitant costs of traditional schooling, further fueling the exodus.
How is this miraculous transformation going to go down exactly? You ask, puzzled, somewhat tremulous with excitement. Technology for 2,000 please! Yes, our simultaneously old and new best and worst friend Technology could one day pave the way for school-less learning. Here’s how:
Cloud services. We already have the ability to store and share most of our files and applications online, where they can be accessed and collaborated upon. It’s no longer necessary for teachers to disseminate hand-outs and other physical documents. Just do it online! It also eliminates expensive and burdensome hardware requirements.
Distance learning. Thanks to computer terminals with Internet connections, we no longer need to be in a physical location in order to learn. Students can do so remotely through glorious chat rooms and increasingly hi-tech e-platforms. This will also allow students from different regions of the world to share class time together.
Virtualization. As we progress further into the future, it will be possible to inhabit virtual spaces, where we can tap into online classrooms and interact with both teachers and students virtually through….
Avatars! While we may not be tall, blue aliens (although there’s no reason to count anything out) we will be able to represent ourselves digitally in Second Life-like virtual communities with fully sensory avatars that recreate the experience of ‘being’ and ‘interacting.’
What will this do to traditional schooling? Well, it’s a safe bet that drastic change is in order, as demonstrated by the already growing trend of online degrees. Physical locations, documents, tools, and people will no longer be necessary in order for students to learn. Will these changes relegate principals to the role of group admin, moderating comments and issuing emoticons? Only time will tell…