Technology Available in Schools Today Will Impact the Future Workforce

April 4, 2016 • Blog Post • BY EMILY PRICE, PAPER MAGAZINE

IN THIS ARTICLE

  • Thanks to advancements in technology and high-speed Internet, today’s classroom is becoming more flexible
  • As today’s students enter the workforce, they’ll expect the flexibility to work when and where they want, but will have the discipline and training to do so effectively

The incorporation of virtual meetings and robots in schools is shaping a population with high expectations for their future jobs

Growing up, chances are good that you attended a neighborhood school where you took things like math and social studies with other kids in the neighborhood. Chances are also good that you counted the minutes until the final bell rang and you could (finally) head outside to play with your friends.

While a traditional neighborhood school works well for many students, for some the experience isn't ideal. Public schools are designed to teach the masses, but by default, they are also fairly limiting. Children are also tied to that school during the year with strict attendance requirements that mean traveling with Dad on his work trip overseas, where they'll be able to gain a larger world view, is out of the question, and a serious illness or injury might mean knocking them out of the school year entirely.

Thanks to advancements in technology and high-speed internet, however, today’s classroom is becoming more flexible and is expanding outside of a traditional campus to the World Wide Web. While our generation grew up preparing for a nine-to-five at the office downtown, the preparation our kids are getting is prepping them for anything but.

Learning goes digital

What if you could attend the same school from kindergarten to your senior year in high school, even if your family moved, without spending a dime? That’s the idea behind K-12, an organization that provides online schooling to children around the world, sometimes tuition free. Parents in the majority of states in the United States can opt to enroll their child in an online public school through the site rather than the brick-and-mortar version down the block—a move that will provide their child with a personalized education that has been specifically tailored to his or her unique needs. The best part? Just like a traditional public school, it’s open to anyone and it’s free. Similarly, coursework is supported by state-certified teachers, but the students can attend from anywhere.

While the online schools are open to everyone, the model works particularly well for kids who might have trouble keeping up with a traditional school schedule. Students with a chronic illness, for instance, who might otherwise have to miss class, can attend online from the comfort of home. Online schooling also works well for children that have parents that travel often for work, enabling them to travel along with their mom or dad rather than be left at home with a nanny or sitter.

With the opportunity to literally "work from anywhere” when it comes to school, today’s youth are picking up a work-from-home mentality early that they'll take with them into adulthood. That means they’ll be looking for the flexibility to work when and where they want, but they’ll have the discipline and training to be able to do so effectively.

Attend from anywhere

Just because you’re working from anywhere doesn’t mean you can’t also attend a meeting at the office. The idea of making the world your classroom is also at play at a college level. While many colleges and universities now offer online degree options, a few have taken their online programs a step further, allowing virtual students the opportunity to attend classes as a robot. That's right, a robot.

Double Robotics, which creates robots for teleworkers, has already “rolled” into a number of schools. At Michigan State, for example, Double is being used in classrooms as a way for the university’s online students to attend classes in a face-to-face way.

Having students on a telepresence robot allows them to participate in class discussions and ask questions just as if they were in the room. That means virtual students can be called on during class—and even hold discussions with other classmates—from wherever they might be in the world in real time with other students, even virtual ones, who might be attending the same class.  The technology was also used at the University of North Carolina as well as Duke University’s School of Nursing where students use the robots to attend patient simulations.

While the technology is certainly effective on a school level, it can also be implemented in an office environment, allowing team members to join meetings from anywhere, and throwing the idea of the traditional conference call out the window.

Of course, those telepresence robots are only as good as the wireless network they’re on. Both our schools and offices in the future will need access to high-speed Wi-Fi that works not only at our desks, but rolling down the hallway as well. The magic of a virtual meeting, or a virtual class, is lost when one party (or more) are buffering. High-definition video needs to stream, without any hiccups, anywhere and everywhere. It’s a problem Aruba networks is already solving for today’s classrooms, and one it’s prepared to tackle for tomorrow’s as well.

What does that mean for the future?

Today’s students are mobile, adaptable and ready to get down to business both in a traditional classroom and from their bed at home (if need be). For the future, that can mean great things for businesses. Children who attend virtual schools will likely work with virtual teams at a level that we can only dream of today. Learning how to collaborate with others across the country (or around the globe) in elementary school will mean that students out of college will be able to pick up working with similar groups in an office setting without a hitch.

And the technology is only getting better. Today’s virtual schools and telepresence robots are paving the way for an even brighter future. Rather than rolling into a meeting using a robot, advancements in IT infrastructure and mobility may mean we’re attending future meetings via hologram, or something even more exciting that hasn’t even been created yet.


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