Equipping the Future of Education

As the grade school teacher explains to her class the colossal proportions of a blue whale, the students stare in awe as the world’s largest creature glides gracefully beneath their desks. In lessons about Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, they watch as civilization springs forth from the Fertile Crescent and witness the pyramids rise from the Giza Plateau.

How much more powerful would your imagination be if you had all of this imagery installed in your mind at such an impressionable age? How much more curious would the average student be if he could engage at a visceral level with the material being discussed? And how much more compassionate might we be if we could observe the world from points of view most different from our own?

As I made my way through elementary school in the 1990s, my education was abetted by largely the same tools as my parents’ generation in the 50s and 60s: textbooks, chalkboards, pull-down maps and charts, and overhead projectors. Occasionally, the teacher would wheel in a CRT TV strapped to an AV cart, and we’d all gather around to watch a video. Sure, we had computer labs—but the primitive educational games and software on these machines were hardly memorable, let alone transformative. 

The decades since have brought a deluge of innovation to instruction at all levels of education. Where I had to rely upon photographs and illustrations in text and library books to help visualize the things I read, grade school lessons can now be brought vividly to life with all manner of imagery. With digital whiteboards and short-throw projection, multimedia content is a mainstay of the learning experience from the lowest grades onward. And with interactive devices and applications, students can touch and connect with today’s classroom media, rather than just sitting passively around it. 

But things are really getting interesting as we introduce the ability for students to actually get inside their lessons, by way of augmented and virtual reality. A child goes from learning about tropical rainforests to being immersed in their flora, from hearing about foreign cultures to taking a seat at the center of their traditions. Thanks to technology, future generations will matriculate into society with far more perspective, enthusiasm, and empathy. 

In AV Technology, we take a look at the ways audiovisual technology is enhancing education now, and where it’s poised to go in the next few years. From shaping young minds with AR and VR, to elevating the value of higher education with active learning and AI-enabled lecture capture, AV is a principal force behind a building wave of pedagogical transformation. 

And as students engage with all of these novel technologies, you can be sure that some of them will emerge not only curious about what they learned, but about the tech itself—and wonder how they might one day engineer a way to make it even better.

Matt Pruznick

Matt Pruznick is the former editor of AV Technology, and senior editor for Systems Contractor News and Residential Systems. He is based in New York.