Future of Distance Education: Quick Gaze into the Crystal Ball

IMG_3357Distance Education is Where I Am

I have been exploring Augmented Reality as a context/system for learning. With ubiquitous internet (information), accessibility of powerful mobile devices (means to access information), and innovations in interaction methods including physical gestures and the ability to use brain activity to control computers (ability to interact with information), learning need not be tied to place and time. The future of education will look more like everyday learning - distance education will take a radically new form.

The use of sensors to feed our devices environmental information enables more targeted responses from our devices that considers the user’s time, space, activity, plans, interests, and needs. Experimental semiotics (Galantucci & Garrod, 2011) is a field of study that explores novel forms of human communication. Research in experimental semiotics include the exploration of how computers can respond to user’s non-verbal input, such as intellectual interests, emotional state (Iizuka, 2012) in order to respond to the user's needs. In this way, computers will make inferences and decisions based on a more holistic appraisal of the user’s state. One outcome of this line of inquiry is to create computers capable of holding meaningful and personal conversations with a user.

Future of Education

It isn’t hard to imagine a completely individualized program of study delivered just-in-time in authentic contexts. Based on prior assessments, the device is aware of an individual’s learning needs and can recognize learning opportunities tied to time and space. It delivers content, offers engagement opportunities, and assesses the quality of the learner’s responses. The challenge is to create a sequence of interconnected curricula that is more closely indexed to the physical world such that a computer could recognize and illustratively overlay learning material on the user's experiences through a device or interactive glass. Learning takes place not in classrooms, but in the world as we go about our business at work or play, alone or with others, wherever we might be.

Distance education, I predict, will be the norm rather than the exception as we harness (unleash?) the affordances of emerging technologies. Education will happen where we are, when we are there forming a ubiquitous presence in our lives.



Iizuka, H., Marocco, D., Ando, H., & Maeda, T. (2012, March 4-8). Turn-taking supports humanlikeness and communication in perceptual crossing experiments — Toward developing human-like communicable interface devices. Virtual Reality Short Papers and Posters (VRW), 2012 IEEE (pp. 1-4). Orange County: IEEE. Retrieved from http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6180953&isnumber=6180843

Galantucci, B., & Garrod, S. (2011). Experimental semiotics: a review. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 5:11. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2011.00011 Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3043271/

For the next couple of years much of my time will be spent on coursework as I have enrolled in George Washington University's Graduate Certificate in eLearning, the first step toward completing the Masters Degree in Education Technology Leadership. In the spirit of learning in public, I plan to use my blog as a thinking and processing space. I'll use the #GWETL tag here on the blog and the same hashtag when tweets are course related. At the moment, I'm registered in Instructional Design and Applying Educational Media and Technology.


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