If you could sum up the history of the web in the past 10 years in three words, what would they be?
For eLearning expert Dr Jon Mason, the 30-year history of the web comes down to three ‘S’s: search, social and smart. And these developments are still happening in parallel.
“We have this fourth industrial revolution. Artificial Intelligence is rapidly evolving. The Internet of Things is rapidly evolving. There are lots of things that could happen,” said the Associate Professor of Education at Charles Darwin University.
Virtual Learning / Mixed Reality
While speaking to Dr Mason in an online interview about the future of technology, I learn about a mixed reality tool called SimLab, where trainee teachers get to 15 and 20-minute sessions in a simulated classroom.
Lecturers configure the simulation beforehand, whether it’s going to be an easy class or one classroom full of disruptive students. And during the session, avatars on screen are brought to life by real actors.
In the process, trainee teachers learn about student interaction and engagement – how to time and sequence a lesson and manage a classroom in a safe environment.
“We say mixed reality, but it’s kind of an extended reality because we’re working on screen with avatars and it’s disarmingly real, because it feels kind of real, but at the same time it’s safe,” said Jon.
“It’s safe and older students really like this kind of experience. So that kind of mixed reality experience particularly in education I think, is going to be a helpful tool going forward.”
Turning to well-being, sustainability and resilience
In 2010, there was much discussion about technology being just a tool. It was all about “empowerment, getting connected, getting access and being productive with all these new tools.”
While the researcher agrees that this is true to an extent, he believes “we’re living in an incredibly hyper-powered digital environment where we’re interacting with so many digital interfaces in our lives – technology isn’t just a tool anymore.”
Digital technology has become integral to the way we remain connected.
For example, many people in education discovered tools like Zoom and Google Meet for the first time during the pandemic. However, Jon points out that we already had access to audio and video conferencing for the past 20 years – they just haven’t been mainstreamed in the education sector.
Another big change the education expert has observed is how ideas of well-being and themes around sustainability and resilience have become more important in the last few years.
“If we look at some of the recent frameworks projecting out to 2030 that have been developed by the OECD, we see well-being; the individual student well-being, societal well-being, as a goal.”
“And these weren’t there before when we were talking about technology.”
Transiting into a human-centered society in a digital world
While the professor doesn’t like predicting too much, he believes that “trustworthiness in the digital environment is going to be important.”
“I think mechanisms to safeguard our privacy are going to be important as we go forward.”
And as we dive into what is the future of technology, he reminds me that “digital transformation isn’t the only kind of transformation in town.”
He mentions ‘Society 5.0’, an idea that’s been talked about for the past few years. It emerged in Japan as a program in which the government wish to establish a better, super-smart and more human-centered society, with the support of technological innovations.
“It’s a vision of how society has moved from the original hunter-gatherer to an industrial and information society to a super smart society.”
“And this vision is one in which all that capability that promises; the technological promises coming out of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, is coupled with greater human agency.”
Our eLearning solutions are used in 150,000 classrooms around the world.