Have you thought about what the American typical k-12 classroom could be in 15-50 years from now? What have you envisioned? This article is my anticipation of a “school of the future”. I have incorporated fact and fiction in my vision.
This story begins as “Carol” steps foot on school property. Carol is 6 years old. She is not in grade 1 because here no grades, as in K-12, exist. The school program is year round, only with breaks for special holidays. The school day is 4 hours long.
Each student has his own individual educational program, and works completely at his own pace. Print-outs of acquired skills are automatically compiled daily, weekly, monthly. A comprehensive statement of progress is automatically emailed to parents every 3 months.
Carol is a typical student. As she enters school property, one of the many cameras (invisibly and strategically placed) scans her with the facial recognition software program. Her personal data file is marked as present, or absent. Also, programs and scans record her height, weight, and assess her for fever and general health points (similar to the APGAR on a baby). Alerts are issued for ill health (especially contagious conditions), and illegal, or dangerous possessions.
When a situation exists where a student is required to leave the school, they will immediately be escorted to a special room by a robot, and they will wait there until their parents (who are immediately and automatically called), come to get them.
There is a “sick” room with germ killing vapor circulating around the waiting students. Each ill student is accompanied by a “nurse” robot that constantly monitors their condition.
There is a “security” room for students who are struggling with behavior, and emotional problems. This room is “guarded” by huge, yet harmless “police robots”. These robots are specially programmed to deescalate situations, to mentor students, and to use harmless restraint when necessary.
In the school there are few real people, but many “robotic” people, and pets. These robots are appealing in every way, and are programmed to recognize each student by name. One nanosecond scan allows them to access all data on the pupil. These robots mimic people, but are “better” than people. They “read” the emotions, and respond in the most appropriate manner for every individual.
The robots are manufactured in mass, and are a very inexpensive replacement for human flesh and blood. They require little maintenance, no pay or benefits, and they last for years with no retirement account.
Carol is looking forward to seeing “Mopsy” her favorite dog (robot). Every morning at school Mopsy trots up to her for the morning greeting. Mopsy and Carol then walk to Carol’s cubby.
This instructive space belongs specifically, and only to Carol during school hours. It is comfortable, spacious, open yet sound proof, self-cleaning, and decorated by hologram in her favorite style, which she can change as part of a reward system for progression in her IEP.
Carol will sit at the computer for a total of approximately 3 hours per day, but the time sitting will be interspersed with short, frequent breaks. Each break offers her a reward chosen to reinforce correct choices, and progress in her studies. She has many choices for rewards. Her favorite rewards are jump roping in her cubicle, smelling her favorite scent, changing the hologram décor, and “teaching” Mopsy new tricks.
Carol knows she will be offered help when needed. The computer “reads” her needs, and sends a sympathetic “person” robot to assist, and offer guidance, and even a hug when required.
She will be able to “pal up” with another student who is compatible with her. (The data programs are able to pair, compare, contrast, and offer data as to best practices in grouping students.) Also, each day, Carol will gather with an appropriate group of other students for various activities.
The “Main Office” consists of very few humans. The technology people are there to monitor, adjust, maintain, and repair everything in the school under their jurisdiction. There is a Principal who oversees the school, and the Assistant Principal. These administrators are there to monitor, and to act as liaisons.
Most decisions are made automatically by computer, and issued automatically. For example the data on rule breaking will be automatically compiled by the computer data, and initial steps will be accomplished by robots. An alert for suspension will be automatically issued to parents. The office humans will monitor all alerts. If a suspended student returns to school early, they will be escorted directly to the security room by a robot where they will stay until their parents arrive.
There are few books, because all material is on the computer, which can follow directions by eye movements, or voice commands. The computer screens are 3D, and engage the attention of the student to match their best learning styles. Also, the area of the computer is fitted with “sense achievement”, which issues smell, touch, movement, and sound to further engage learning.
Students gather in small groups to consume a meal sent to them via conveyer belt. Each tray is labeled with the student’s name, and is adjusted for food allergies and preferences. The food is flash frozen on trays in a factory, and is stored in huge warehouses to be delivered to each school. A special hydrators/ heaters reconstitute and warms the food on the conveyer belt. Carol loves lunch time. There she meets with her special group of friends and enjoys a delicious meal. Mopsy always sits behind her, and reminds her to eat her vegetables.
This is a small peek at what very possibly could be a school of the future. Technology will reign! Surprisingly, creative use of new technology will be warm, fuzzy, and engaging for the student.
Note: Future Article coming soon: In the future school buildings will be mass produced on a national level in “pods” which can be fit together to create unique solutions to educational needs. These pods will be pre-equipped with all necessities such as plumbing, power, computer capabilities, etc.
Written by Carol G. Smith