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Education today/Steve Patchin

How will technology change the face of education in the future?

August 14, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

In 1863 author Jules Verne completed a novel titled "Paris in the Twentieth Century."

Using information gathered from many scientists he knew, he predicted what Paris would look like in 1960. Though he was writing during a period when our country was immersed in a great civil war and kings still ruling empires, his vision of 1960 Paris included: skyscrapers, air conditioning, television, elevators, high speed trains, gas powered automobiles, fax machines and even described a service similar to the Internet. His vision transformed into reality.

Like Verne, Dr. Michio Kaku of the City University of New York has written a book "Physics of the Future." Similar to Verne, Dr. Kaku has gathered information from many of his acquaintances in the scientific community and created a picture of how technology will shape our futures.

Gordon Moore was one of founders of the Intel Corporation. In 1965 he stated that computer power would double every 18 months. This predication has become a reality and has now been labeled Moore's Law.

Increased computing capacity has been made possible through the invention of the computer chip. Adding this chip to existing technology has improved them. Chips added to a typewriter produced the word processor, to a telephone produced a cell phone; to a phonograph produced an iPod and to a plane producing a predator drone.

Since 1991, scientists at the University of Washington have been refining a virtual retina display. This unit is a lens that drops down in your glasses and using lasers projecting on to your retina, produces a computer screen right in front of your eyes, giving you access to the internet and all the knowledge it embodies.

Shrinking this technology down to the size of a contact lens is on the horizon.

Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center is currently working with Hewlett-Packard and the U.S. Army to create a flexible screen. When perfected, this screen could be rolled up in your cellphone. If needed, you could pull it out, creating a screen as large as you would need, transforming your cell phone into a computer with a full-size monitor.

At Rowan University in New Jersey they are working on a cave automatic virtual environment. You will enter a room that uses 3D projectors on all the walls. Using a joystick, you can navigate through the program, whether it be traveling through a jungle of dinosaurs during the pre-historic age, or through the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. You become immersed in the action packed environment.

Pattie Maes at MIT's Media Lab is working on project Sixth Sense, which consists of a tiny camera you would wear on a medallion around your neck. This camera would project an image on a surface in front of you.

Using specially designed thimbles on each finger, you can type on the keyboard portion of the image, creating a mobile computer from that medallion.

These are all examples of advancements that is being achieved now.

With Moore's Law predicting significant increases in the power of technology in the years to come, how would Jules Verne and Dr. Kaku envision the future of our education system? Stay tuned for my next column!

Editor's note: Steve Patchin is the director of the Center for Pre-College Outreach at Michigan Technological University.



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