A Bridge Too Far ? Not Really #edcmooc

Bridging The Future, in my opinion, is an entirely believable video that portrays the future of education – the digital classroom. Compared to the Corning video, which, though imaginative, failed to strike the right chord with me, this one is far more credible, because some of this technology already exists, if I am not mistaken.

And if it does, then it should just be a matter of time before they figure out how to blend it with the classroom environment. Imaginative, yes. Far-fetched ? No.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius.

Unlike the Glass video, which showed every aspect of life, including relationships, revolving around glass, this one is more focused on the aspect of use of technology in enhancing the learning experience. In fact it probably highlights this very famous quote – “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius.

It shows intelligent use of technology in the classroom – first, the digital blackboard, connected with the students’ laptops is something that already exists, though it may not be as sophisticated as the one portrayed. I am referring to the digital whiteboard, which is also a collaborative learning tool like the one depicted.

Another great aspect of the portrayed technology was the ability of the teacher to remotely monitor the learning activity and progress of each learner, and focusing on the ones lagging behind. This too is possible and credible, and several LMS already offer this feature.

Online meeting / video-conferencing is also something that exists. Creating simulated models is also a feature that is already possible. What was also great in the video was the students building a physical model and testing it in class – I do and I understand. This, perhaps, is education at its best, because it portrays not just learning of concepts, but reinforcing the concepts with the aid of actual testing and experimentation.

Utopian or Dystopian ?

In my view, totally utopian, but in a good way, because it portrays technology being harnessed in a good way in the classroom. Agreed, it may in a sense show the classroom being taken over by technology and gadgets, but I would tend to think that this was being done in a manner where the human is in control of the machine, and not vice-versa, so definitely not dystopian.

So, to sum up, I would say that Bridging The Future is not a bridge too far. It is perhaps, just around the corner.

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  1. Hello Rajiv,
    I agree. I also think we are moving closer to “bridging our future” in the manner depicted in this video. What I liked about it is how it showed several stages in the learning process. First, the students and the teacher used the technology to receive the didactic portion of the lesson, demonstrating how we can never fully do away with lectures. Making lectures more engaging and interactive is the key. (Great article about it here http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/is-the-lecture-dead/272578/ ) We see the teacher at the head of the class using the digital whiteboard and when a student has a one on one video chat with an engineer, the lecture in this form inspires, motivates beyond just transmitting facts and information. Some schools in the U.S. are already partnering with experts in the field who donate their time to coach students in this manner. We can only hope this type of authentic learning opportunity becomes commonplace in all schools in the near future. As you mention, there is evidence of high order thinking, active learning, not just passive consumption of information and facts. Students were able to apply and synthesize what they learned in the lesson. Hopefully soon, the learning experience depicted in this video will become a reality in schools around the world. Thanks for sharing the video and for your wonderful post! Always enjoy reading your blog!

    • Thanks, so much, Ary, for your feedback, and also for sharing the link to the wonderful article.

      As you rightly pointed out, the role of the teacher should continue to remain a central one – it can never completely be done away with. What matters is how engaging the teacher is, and this video, was a perfect example of that. Technology should only be used to improve the quality of instruction, resulting in active learning. Even in virtual instruction, the role of the teacher is quite important. The quality of instruction being delivered, even in a completely online environment, depends on the ability of the instructor. I recently did another course on Coursera where the quality of the online lectures was very poor, and it was not just me who felt that way – the vast majority of the participants had the same view.

      Also, in the article on theatlantic.com, I like what Richard Gunderman says “there are good lectures and bad lectures, just as there are good lecturers and bad lecturers. Rather than disposing entirely of the lecture as a means of learning, we should attempt to understand better the features that distinguish effective, engaging lectures from those that leave learners limp. Good lecturing is an art, and like other arts such as painting, musicianship, and writing, it takes real dedication and many hours of practice to excel at. Some may be more gifted at lecturing than others, but through study and practice, nearly everyone can improve, some of us substantially.”

      And yes, I also agree whole-heartedly about introducing student interaction with subject matter experts – this definitely helps in giving them a practical view of things, and should be encouraged.

      Overall, I did find this video very realistic, and one can hopefully look forward to seeing this implemented in schools around the world soon.

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