Category Archives: Education

4th Revolution and AI

 

In class today we talked about education and how it will effect professors and students. I had to connect the dots and I felt the need to share an article I found. The future of education is way more efficient than we ever though. Automation will be completely ran by artificial intelligence. The big issue that many people in class had with this, is that it will just create more of an education gap. The rich will be able to learn faster and better, the poor will be stuck behind and we will see income inequality even more in the future with ripple effects. Artificial intelligence is going to run the world and there is not doubt about it. When I first started learning about the fourth revolution I was thinking how jobs will change, but I did not know how extensive automation and computer intelligence played into this. Teacher’s makes mistakes, imagine a robot that will never grade a paper wrong. Teachers don’t know every answer to a question, imagine a robot that has all the answers. The imagination of many will soon become a reality. This article talks about ten ways that education will be majorly effected. Number one, artificial intelligence can automate basic activities in education, like grading. Number two, educational software can be adapted to student needs. Number three, It can point out places where courses need to improve; this is personally my favorite because a teacher may be feeling tired but a robot will always want to help a student expand a learn more. The other points are listed on the article and go into how interactions today will no longer be a reality in a few years.

4th Industrial Revolution

These two articles further explain where I believe the Fourth industrial revolution is going. Focusing on the socio-economic and cultural effects, the fourth industrial revolution is following the past with a major effect. The first one, from the late 1700s to mid-1800s, marked the transition from making goods by hand to using machines. The second industrial revolution began in the late 1800s largely as a result of the invention of electricity and ushered in an era of mass production and assembly lines. The introduction of computers and other digital electronics launched the third revolution in the 1950s. The fourth industrial revolution focuses on artificial intelligence, big data, the internet of things and other emerging technologies that fuse the physical, digital and biological worlds. This article from the San Francisco Chronicle outlines what to expect for the future and why we need to be ready. We need to stay optimistic with the future, although failed attempts like the google glasses show promise, technology is moving incredibly fast. The fourth industrial revolution will touch everyone, this means that even farmers in Australia are not immune to the change. The ability to track and grow plants without the normal stress is incredible. The education revolution will change how everyone continues with their everyday life.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: An Introduction

Over two hundred years ago the life for the average person was relatively the same for generations. Peasants or serfs tilled the farmland of their fathers and grandfathers for generations. That all changed with the use of steam and water to help mechanize the production process. Soon goods could be transported faster and farther with steam ships, coal could be mined more efficiently, and food stuffs increased. This was the first Industrial Revolution. Now two hundred years later there had been two subsequent industrial revolutions. One involving mass production of goods and another one involving the automation of production through computers. With each transition to a different industrial revolution the world order was shattered. The balance of European governance changed with ushering in of the first industrial revolution and the french revolution. The mighty empires of Europe began to crumble as the second industrial revolution came to end. With the beginning of the third industrial revolution the United States of America stood as the sole superpower on the planet as the communist nations in Eastern Europe dissolved. Now we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution. What new transitions do we expect to see in the coming years as technology changes every aspect of our way of life.

Our team has been looking into how this fourth industrial revolution has had an effect on our current education system. It is interesting to see how little education has changed over time, even with our unprecedented access to technology and information like never before. The traditional classroom still looks the same and professors still lecture at students without much variation from the beginning of education. There are some recent changes that have slowly shifted the way education is used and these changes can be summed into three categories: the content effect, the technology effect and the access effect. These categories cover how education is being forced to change because standardized testing is no longer satisfactory. Professors must integrate technology and mass amounts of content into their classes and while doing this they foster an environment for team building and out-of-the-box learning. Even with these changes, there is still so much improvement to be done within the education industry and we would like to further explore the disruption across universities and how this will also overlap into employers educating employees.

The fourth revolution will affect everyone, young or old. It will change the way things are done whether we are ready for it or not. It is important we focus on the future, so we know how youth of the world will be directly affected? A forecasting article we read talked about how education will change in the next 5 years. Relating this article back to the World Economic Forum, teachers and employers need to take charge of training for the future. A video published last year talks about all changes we will see in the coming years. The technology showcased in the video will change the way we see our world and our world educators need to catch up to help aid future students.

 

Teachers and employers need to realize disruptive change and become educated in order to teach the future. Today we are currently in a transition period, classes like DT&L in the Lab below the Library is the future. The future of education in the classroom is broken down into five parts. One, grades and assignments will be done online, this will limit the number of paper and open accessibility. Two, Group projects will be done over collaborative external sites such as slack, good drive etc. Three, classroom portals will be open to the class in order to post and respond. Four, students will use cloud storage instead of flash drives or paper to store their work. Last, teachers, parents, students, and administrators communicating via social media platforms designed specifically for education. The last point is extremely important because everyone is on the same page now, the world is so much smaller. Education for the future is all about keeping open channels for communications and constantly staying educated on change. We hope that throughout this semester that we can expand on these ideas and prepare our generation for the future.

 

Artificial Intelligence Executive Summary: What Have We Accomplished?

What is Artificial Intelligence? According to Stanford University, artificial intelligence is “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable.” AI is the first step towards self-learning machines that seem to have two main goals: to solve problems and to make tasks easier and more efficient. To do this, it must be a flexible, rational agent that can perceive its environment in order to take actions that maximize its chance of success. Artificial intelligence is changing our lives, it is already impacting our lives in major ways today; Siri, Echo, Amazon’s purchase predictions, and certain home devices are very common examples of this. Its mark on the world has recently started to grow beyond this, and it’s doing so rapidly. AI’s have already been able to contribute to successfully trialing autonomous vehicles, composing music, writing screenplays, and beating masters at their own game (this and more will be explored more deeply during the course of this project). It’s all very remarkable, but like any progressive movements and advances, there are concerns attached. The video below discusses the current impact that AI has on our lives and the implications it has for the future, especially the replacement of human labor with AI. The speaker compares it to the impact agriculture had in the world, (which was immense by the way).

At the moment AI is nowhere near having the same powerful cross-domain ability to learn and plan as a human being does. The cortex in our brain has ways of computing that Ai developers have not been able to achieve yet. If human level machine intelligence may arrive sooner than predicted, then will we need any further technological advancements? If super intelligence is achieved, this may be the last if not close to the final invention humanity will need. With such an ability to mature a superintelligence may be able to find a cure for cancer, expand human longevity, or even space colonization. The main question is: What will AIs impact on the world look like in the future?

One of the things AI has already started to impact is the art and entertainment industries. Most of our firsthand experience with artificial intelligence in entertainment stems from farfetched cases of an undeveloped understanding of AI in vivid Hollywood scenarios. Majority of the scenarios bring to question whether advances in technology could evolve beyond our control in movies like, The Terminator, Ex Machina, and children’s action film Spy Kids. In these notable films, AI agents develop a conscious thought process equivalent of the protagonist their up against in these films. While this gives a flowery depiction of AI, the outstanding question of AI and its affinity in the context of art/entertainment remains. It’s important to understand the original purpose of AI, which is to assist humans and their interaction with technology. “The technology we have today compared to what could be is like making a stick figure drawing of Michelangelo’s David,” stated by Tim Tuttle, CEO and founder of AI firm Expect Labs. But what if that same AI technology can produce art much greater than Michelangelo’s David? When considering art, one must at some point or another question it’s origin and what makes it so special. Some people believe art comes from something beyond our comprehension; a higher power of some sort. Others believe that art at its core is a very human thing. No matter what you believe, Artificial Intelligence has the potential to disrupt your current philosophy and force you to reflect on what it all means. In 2014, Melomics released 0music – an album composed by an artificial intelligence named Melomics109 without any human intervention whatsoever. You can watch and listen to one of the songs from the album here. Now, the music isn’t anything special; it’s no Mozart or Beatles. However, it’s lack musical greatness doesn’t take away from the magnitude of the step taken. As we’ve all learned from studying disruption innovation, most disruptive innovations start out unimpressive; that’s why most people don’t pay attention until it’s too late. There are even instances where AIs are writing film scripts. AI has written Sunspring, a movie which is said to be “hilarious and intense” according to an article by Annalee Newitz. After watching the movie myself, I realized the movie had no plot, no story, and make absolutely no sense. At first I was confused and wondered if there was something I didn’t understand, since the lines didn’t flow and were a bunch of gibberish. But then I looked at the comments and realized that other people felt the same way. They wrote things like “This was like a bad lip reading video” and “I am so confused. This is like either extremely profound or completely absurd.” So basically, AI”s music and movie writing is terrible, but that’s not the point. The point is that it’s a step and a giant one.

AI is not only affecting the art and entertainment industries, but is also affecting the education industry. Milo, “A humanoid robot that engages with children with Autism and delivers research-based lessons that teach social behaviors. Here is a video explaining Milo and thoughts about this robot from our own teammate, John Ferry.

There are also endless amount of legal implications that comes with the technology of AI. Here is a video which speaks about the legal aspects and addresses questions about morals and ethics in terms of AI posted on the YouTube channel of another one of our own teammate, Matt Ehrhardt.

Back to the question presented in the beginning of this entire journey: What will AIs impact on the world look like in the future? According to an article by Max Tegmark, the AI today is only narrow or weak AI which “is designed to perform a narrow task” but the AI in the future will be general AI or AGI (strong AI) which will “outperform humans at nearly every cognitive task.” Many questions arise with this type of change into our lives. How will we be able to stop/control AI if it is designed to outsmart human intelligence? What are some of the problems that will arise because of Artificial Intelligence and how will be combat these issues? What are some of the benefits this new technology can provide? Max discusses some of the dangers that can result from future AI. In addition to being able to outperform human, AI can also do good things the “bad” way. For example, Max states how “autonomous weapons are artificial intelligence weapons that are programmed to kill” meaning that if this technology gets misplaced or put into the wrong hands, it can easily cause mass causalities, maybe even be able to “destroy the human race” as we have only seen in movies. Also, even if the end goal of AI is to do something good, it may not take the ‘safest” way to reach that goal. Max gives an examples of how if the mission of an autonomous vehicle is to take one to the airport as fast as possible, it might get one there being chased by helicopters and being covered in vomit. In an article on Business Insider by Guia Marie Del Prado, Prado states “AI could either make all of our dreams come true or destroy society and the world as we know it.” Above we discussed the dangers of AI, but what are the possible benefits? Prado discusses a number of benefits that can come from smarter and better functioning AI. The first one is that it can keep us safer, which is an obvious fact. But if autonomous vehicles become a lifestyle in the future and there are zero to no human drivers, the road for humans, pedestrians, and animals could be made much much safer. There will be no issues regarding speeding, drunk driving, or “deer on the road”. In addition to driving, AI may also be able to warn us of coming disasters and even be able to enable appropriate responses to eliminate these disasters. AI has the potential to not only become smarter than humans, but to make humans supersmart and “better at everything”. The combination of Artificial Intelligence and humans can make history with its accomplishments and help humans achieve more than they ever could alone. AI can also be able to solve the world’s problems and save the world. As Staurt Russel writes in Prado’s article: “If you had a system that could read all the pages and understand the context instead of just throwing back 26 million pages to answer your query, that kind of program could actually answer the questions asked. It’ll be like if you asked a real question and got an answer from a person who had really read all those millions and millions and billions of pages and understood them and been able to synthesize all that information.” This type of intelligence could help the world solve poverty, or diseases, or prevent wars and find solutions without having to take lives to do it. All this can happen of course, after ethics are taken in to consideration and applied to each of these aspects that AI focuses on.

Our team has researched and attacked several aspects of Artificial Intelligence and it is safe to say that the future of AI is almost the present. We don’t whether this technology is going to help us or destroy us, we don’t know whether we’d ever be able to keep it under control, or if we could ever learn to coincide with it. All we know is that it’s coming and its going to keep improving. We have just heard sporadic instances of the successes and failures of AI in the past of couple of years, but none of us ever looked deeply into this until we started Disruption. All of the things we thought we had to do to prepare for the future: take the SATs, go to college, get good grades, get an internship, we realized are all pretty insignificant to the future that is actually coming. We don’t even know if by the time of our graduation, AI has taken over half of the jobs we thought we’d have to do. What if AI becomes better at PR or accounting or determining stocks at Wall Street than we do by the time we have to find a job? What would we do? Artificial Intelligence, and other disruptive technology, is growing faster than we can imagine the most we can do right now is be digitally literate on these topics and be prepared by being FAIR for the change that is coming.

 

Virtual Reality: Ethical Issues, Global Impact, and Impact on your Career

Virtual and Augmented Reality Ethical Issues:

There are a few ethical issues in regard to virtual environments which need to be addressed. These are related to human behavior, motivations, and inappropriate/ uncensored content in open sourced VR worlds. There are also physical and physiological health concerns in regard to the virtual reality experience.

As the researchers point out, there are good reasons to be especially concerned about the influence of virtual reality on the human brain, as opposed to television or non-immersive video games. Concerns have been raised about a possible relationship between virtual reality and desensitization. This refers to virtual reality games in which there are high levels of violence or training exercises for the military in which soldiers engage in simulated combat scenarios which include killing. Desensitization means that the person is no longer affected by extreme acts of behavior such as violence and fails to show empathy or compassion as a result. This has been noticed with gamers, especially those who play first person shooters or role playing games which involve a high degree of immersion. Unlike other forms of media, VR can create a situation in which the user’s entire environment is determined by the creators of the virtual world.

The VR experience can introduce a number of opportunities for new and powerful forms of mental and behavioral manipulation. Virtual Reality is just like any other experience in the real world in the sense that it can hurt people in the same way that real-world situations can affect people in a psychological sense. To avoid an ethical dilemma in regards to VR, it is important to remember:

  1. Experiments using virtual reality should make sure that they do not cause lasting or serious harm to the subject.
  2. Those participating in the experiment should be made aware of possible psychological and physical effects from VR.
  3. Create awareness about the many ways VR can be used for something other than its original intention.
  4. Adopting procedures through policy and law that ensure a user’s privacy and safety is protected and maintained.

Virtual reality is a form of technology that is continuously developing, because of this continuous progression VR may cause some problems that many of us have not encountered before. There will be problems that include poor ergonomics and then there are psychological issues. These issues are moral and ethical concerns that need to be looked upon with these technological advancements. There are physical effects and time constraints. Due to a person’s perception being distorted VR can provide users motion sickness. Some people are affected by this after spending only 30 minutes in a virtual environment whereas others can go several hours before they notice any ill effects. This is also known as cybersickness. These virtual realities and their devices unfortunately take a very long time to create and maintain, and as we should all know, time is money. Wasted time causes many issues within the surface of a company, the products it produces for the customers, the customer service, the research, the future technological advances, and so on. Researchers are attempting to create a balance between hyper-realism and production time but the equation is yet to be solved at this point.

How Virtual Reality Will Impact Businesses In The Next Five Years:

  1. We’ll Experience Our Reality Through Virtual Reality
    • AR and VR will be tools for our future to capture knowledge. The educational world and the way we will learn will dramatically change 5 years from now. VR will truly become an essential tool in the workforce. These technology-driven tools are getting better, more realistic, and are already accepted by those entering the workforce.
  2. Prototyping Will Go to the Next Level
    • VR and AR will allow companies to present their project in newer and better ways than ever before. These virtual prototypes will allow the customers, builders, and developers to have better planned designs and models which will lead to a higher rate of sales and a higher quality of goods sold as every minute detail of a project can be shown. Decision makers and end-users will be able to provide better and more valuable feedback early in the game. This will allow business to focus and spread out their timing more throughout the company and waste less money holistically.
  3. Certain Niche Markets Will Be Impacted
    • These devices will provide happiness and ease to travel around the world without flying or spending thousands of dollars to enjoy simple moments. However, these devices will be extremely expensive to purchase and most likely maintain.
  4. Advanced VR Will Become the Social Laboratory of the Elite
    • VR and AR will be simulating business strategies, assist government policies, and so on. These choices and devices are supported by billions of dollars in capital which makes this an audience and a market to dive into rather than to ignore.

VR and AR on a Global Level:

The insurgence of VR and AR has massive global implications. International Data Corporation (IDC) has projected that in just four years, the VR/AR market will reach sales up to $162 billion. More and more 360o videos have been showing up on video channels such as Youtube, subtly reminding viewers that they could be getting a better experience via a VR device. VR and AR are by no means constrained to video gaming. As mentioned in a previous blog post, VR is already having an impact in the medical industry, education, social media, and business. Surgeons could be using VR for surgeries, and patients for therapy sessions. Education could become much cheaper if entire courses begin to be taught by one teacher embedded into an immersive software. Social media platforms will become entirely new realities with virtual social spaces and avatars. Mark Zuckerberg has created a plan to do something like this in combining Facebook and VR.

So VR is not restricted to gaming; gaming is simply the gateway to people’s interest in VR. But the “gods of technology” seem to have greater plans for Augmented Reality. Virtual Reality will forever be an experience that takes us away from the present and physical world around us. AR, however, could potentially become an everyday part of our lives.

 

Having trouble believing this could be a close representation of our future? Samsung has already put in patents for smart contact lenses. Get ready world!

VR Effects on Education

Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential to revolutionize industries like healthcare and entertainment, but a little known disruptive possibility for VR is in the education industry. VR is the type of technology that allows for a unique experience that can only be rivaled, if at all, by the same experience in the physical world. The advantage that VR has over the physical world itself is that it can let people experience things that are impossible to see in the physical world, or things that are imaginary in the first place. VR has the ability to allow students to observe things in a more inclusive environment, or to even interact with their surroundings – such as a VR flight simulator or surgical simulation training using VR. The possibilities for VR in education are endless.

One VR education experiment in particular called the “World of Comenius” is using VR technology to give kids learning experiences that they could not get before, like moving around a cell or meeting people from history and understanding the environment of others. “World of Comenius” is an educational software that aims to utilize the VR to show people things that weren’t possible before.” Similar programs to this one exist like Google Expeditions, which has aimed to provide educational experiences for all kids by providing teachers with cheap means to lessons that allow students experiences that are outside the limits of the physical world. Google says that their Expeditions program is accessible to everyone; “all teachers need to do is download the Expeditions app onto a set of devices and choose which one of the over 200 Expeditions they want to take their class on.” The only other materials needed are the smartphones and the smartphone headsets that students will use.

One of the leading developers of VR education is Unimersiv. Taking Edgar Dale’s “Cone of Learning” to heart, they claim that people retain 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, but 90% of what they do or simulate.

Cone of Learning

It logically follows that VR is an incredibly effective learning tool that will enhance the speed of learning. Better yet, it is free. While it still has yet to develop into a full-fledged educational system, Universiv marks the expansion of VR into education. Who knows, if outfitted with a sophisticated system of performance measurements and copious amount of content, perhaps we will eventually be able to obtain college-level degrees through VR. The company that provided it would simply be selling a copy of the software – no campus, no buildings, no parking lots, no school supplies. Combine this service with a platform such as Slack with a teacher and other students, and we now have ourselves a pretty good gig going. Imagine how many doors would open up with this kind of affordable and highly effective learning. The question remains, then, whether or not colleges will be able to adapt to this disruptive technology before students open their eyes and realize they are wasting their money and time.

One issue with using VR to advance and disrupt education is the digital divide. Between the educated and uneducated there are many factors that come to play when it comes the digital divide and the continuous technological advances surrounding society. The ability to use the Internet, to obtain news, and to be involved economically tend to be the top tier points of the educational system we are involved with today. The cost and affordability of information and communication with technology deters citizens away from education and technology as not only a pairing but as a whole. This unfortunate situation creates a deeper hole in hardships rather than focusing on the expansion of technology and its advantages for the everyday person – no matter how big or small the enjoyment that comes along from using the advances to our advantage. Only 40 percent of people have the ability to own and use a computer. This statistic appalls me to no end. I believe we all should be more grateful to our lives and privileges given to us. I totally agree that new technology could provide society easier devices to use such as computers and mobile communication. But I also feel that many people across the world do not necessarily have access to the Internet. Since they do not have the personal means to purchase these devices, they find other means to access the news with word of mouth, newspaper, television, etc. There are other options out there for most to obtain this information, but for some, the goal of holding the news freely in their hands is simply unattainable. How this affects virtual and augmented reality is far from simple. Education in the classrooms allow students to explore outside the classroom while being in a physical one across the world.

Students are provided devices to allow them to “travel” all over the world to showcase history, technology, advancements, and so on. This allows the students to finally step outside the box of the linear path of thinking. They have never been taught to do something much more beneficial for themselves in the future because of this restricted thinking. Classrooms around the world have already started to prepare for this next phase in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. With these generations continuing to live in a technology based world, the baby steps of this process are to allow technology to be used and create a resourceful tool for these classrooms at all times. Classrooms around this city, country, and even the world are finally implementing the use of iPads, tablets, and video cameras that have many programs and resources for the students to learn from. These lessons that they will learn will change their lives dramatically, just like this Disruption, Technology, & Law course is doing for the majority of us. The goal is to teach these students these methods at an early age to ensure their path to success is continued throughout their entire lives without giving up on learning and falling behind like the older generations will eventually have to do. Virtual Reality is the next step in this direction, and it is important that we give our students the best opportunity possible to reach their fullest potential.

The world is slowly opening doors to the less fortunate by providing them computers. Children finally have a lost cost, rugged, low- power, connected laptop for them to finally own. This gives children an outlet to obtain a great education on their terms to truly learn, share, and create greatness together.

Scientists predict that by 2018 the number of mobile phones will equal the world population. These are facts that should awaken Governments all over the world. It also should awake the awaiting citizens who are looking for their great big break. This statistic means so much more than an arrangement of numbers, it leads to our futures becoming great again. People need to come together to power through the issues that keep us divided. As students in America who are blessed with much, being grateful for what we have is a great way to start contributing to this effort. When we are grateful, it becomes easier to help those who are in need.

The Knight Foundation has tried to find ways to bridge the digital divide in Detroit, where less than 40 percent of households have broadband access. They approached the challenge of the digital divide by focusing on three high poverty neighborhoods, and set out to fund a broadband network there in addition to digital literacy training. Partnerships were arranged between local community organizations, private companies, libraries and government by the project to fulfill its goals. The program’s achievements included a federal stimulus grant that brought in additional funding, and the donated, refurbished laptops. Through partnerships with the University of Minnesota’s Digital Divide Initiative and the Geek Squad, several hundred families have received refurbished computers for their home use and on-going instruction on how to safely use and maintain them.

In conclusion, VR is projected to have an immense impact on education, spearheaded through apps such as Google Expeditions and Unimersiv. These kinds of innovations will drive down costs and increase learning retention. But nobody said this would be a walk in the park; disruption is always messy. Colleges and other educational institutions are slow to change, and the digital divide remains a pressing issue at hand. In any case, VR will disrupt education and learning, and we should prepare ourselves for it.

We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Disruption in Education Conclusion

Education in the beginning of the 21st century has changed drastically. Being actively engaged in the system during this time has allowed us as college students to see its immediate impacts first hand. 

Starting with the traditional education model, we outlined what it was like to sit in a classroom before technology disrupted it. It generally looked like a teacher standing in front of a room full of students with notebooks taking down everything the teachers said. A test was then administered and a student was accessed on their knowledge regurgitation and retention. 

Fast forward to 2010 and beyond – the way a student attends school is drastically different. The concept behind the way information is conveyed is very different. At least at the collegiate level, the idea is to teach problem solving, team work, and analytical skills to the students to allow them to find knowledge. This takes the teacher out of the driver seat and allows students to be more active in what they learn and how they learn it.

There are a handful of new disruptors that are making changes in education by the day! Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and hybrid-online classes are extending the access of education to anyone who has a desire to learn, not just who has the means to pay. The quality of information at the fingertips of the many is going to change the way people become educated and are employed in the workforce. College degrees may not hold as much wait against an untraditionally educated person as they do now. Virtual reality is expanding the reach of the classroom. It is bringing a fourth dimension to schools, allowing teachers to take students to foreign places to expand the breadth of experience from the comfort of a school desk. And of course, all of this is possible because of the largest disruptor of them all – technology. New devices and ways to be connected on the internet of things is opening endless possibilities for students and everyone in the academic arena. 

Wanting to see how this affecting others in academics, not just how the group researching this saw it, we spoke to faculty and students around the university to see their take on disruption and how it is affecting them and their fields. 

It’s not about making learning happen, it’s about letting it happen.

Online learning has become quite a profound entity especially in higher education. The more we progress through higher ed, the more prevalent online classes become. So, how sustainable are these disruptive technologies and how long will they still be prevalent?

Human beings love convenience. We love having the ability to look up any information we want whenever we want. Human beings also love efficiency. Once an opportunity is created to incorporate convenience and efficiency together, endless possibilities ensue. We live in a society where we want an easier life. We have been sold to the idea that our lives must revolve around being easy and convenient, and we will find any opportunity to make convenience practical. The pursuit of convenience has been a huge business model over the last few decades and has caused mass amounts of disruption throughout various industries.

Higher Education is being heavily affected by this disruptive phenomena. The power of convenience and efficiency take precedence over anything traditional, which is precisely what online classes and online education platforms have achieved. How sustainable are these disruptions? Very. They are significantly more cost effective, they are extremely convenient and efficient, and they can instigate a better path to learning the material. Finances have always been a huge, huge debate among families. Looking on the perspective of online education from a financial standpoint, traditional schooling does not stand a chance against online education. Online classes have the ability to be extremely cheap (some classes can be $300 or less) while allowing the professor to widen the scope of the students s/he teaches. Additionally, there are free education services on YouTube such as Khan Academy. Khan Academy was created more for as supplement to classes. Additionally, other free educational platforms opened up after Khan Academy to offer support to anyone who needed explaining on a specific topic in a plethora of fields of study. (Business, history, etc.) Khan Academy had reached a new level when the information was beginning to be translated in different languages in late 2013. If the Khan Academy continues at this rate, it could eventually be an accredited entity which could cause some serious problems in the higher education industry.

In a Ted Talk by Sugata Mitra, he found that children can teach themselves if they have the opportunity and the willingness to do so. Precisely put, it’s not about making learning happen, it’s about letting it happen. Online classes are doing exactly that. They are putting people in the position to learn whatever they want, whenever they want to learn it, at whatever time is convenient for them. All anyone needs now is internet access and a computer, and could, essentially, become educated in any field s/he desires. Could this trend in disruption become the beginning of an end… the end of something that was ultimately an empire? Only the future can tell, and the question we have to ask ourselves is, what are we going to do about it?

Virtual Reality: The Next Logical Step for Education

We’ve seen the traditional education model and current trends in education. Without a doubt, modern technology integrated with education has caused disruption in education for the benefit of knowledge seekers. Although they might not receive college credit, there are free platforms available online to anyone wanting to learn, such as Coursera. Anyone that wants clarification in a certain topic can watch a tutorial video online on Khan Academy for free. All these materials are readily accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

We have managed to fit hefty textbooks and learning materials into a portable device, whether on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. With all this knowledge available at the palm of your hands, the next step is applying that knowledge to the world, which is where virtual reality triumphantly comes in. In our early educational years, we learn about animals, so we take a field trip to a farm. Then we learn about Native Americans, so we learn about pueblos and teepees. We move on to Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre, World War II and the Berlin Wall. We learn about the struggles not only in the Middle East, but all around the world. Maybe we take an engineering class and want to observe the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Geography, travel costs, safety, and liability are only some of the factors that limit one from observing all these interesting locations, scattered across the world.

Virtual reality eliminates all of these barriers from education and wonder. Whether you want to see the Pyramids at Giza or the canals of Venice, Italy, it can all be available to one in the comfort of a classroom, bedroom, or wherever one pleases. If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to visit your childhood neighborhood or you want to learn about where your ancestors come from, it’s all possible. The possibilities with virtual reality are limitless, not just limited to a new kind of gaming experience. Google has acknowledged this and is working on making these virtual experiences affordable and accessible. With its Expeditions Pioneer program, Google is making these virtual field trips available for free for schools, starting in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. The program includes giving schools Google’s basic Cardboard virtual reality headset and smartphones to use with the headsets. Whether a school is well-funded or underfunded, students can all have the same kind of access. If you’re not a student but still want to have these virtual experiences, Google’s Cardboard is still extremely affordable for $25 or even cheaper. It’s hard to put a price on an unlimited supply of experiences, but it’s safe to say that $25 is well beneath that price.

Virtual reality may seems like an abstract platform for education, but it is exactly what we need to supplement our evolving education system. If we can access the classroom and educational materials from virtually anywhere, why not access the world from anywhere too?