Several technological developments point to the inevitability of what I would like to call a “shiny” future for education. The first of these is the development of e-paper display technologies. The second is the ability to connect practically all electronic appliances and devices to the Internet. The third is the insatiable desire that colleges and universities are developing to have a ubiquitous presence in cyberspace and offer degrees and diplomas by delivering content via any and every electronic means that are available at present and become available in the future.
The invention of e-paper is opening up a world of opportunities for displaying information almost everywhere. Displays on roadways can provide information about delays traffic jams and expected delays and detours. Billboards provide changing displays of announcements and advertisements.
Anything that needs to be displayed either permanently or temporarily can be displayed on e-paper. In the future, e-paper technologies will become more sophisticated and people will be able to use e-paper to view colorful video and hear sounds without any problems.
E-paper technology does not currently have built-in audio capability. Audio has to come from other sources. At least that is my understanding of the technology. In the future, E-paper will become a source for all text, audio, and video needs. When audio capability is eventually embedded into e-paper technology, newspapers can deliver news in multimodal formats rather than just print formats.
The future does look rather bright for e-paper technologies.
In the Future Every Appliance Will Be Connected to the Internet
Nowadays it is common for a printer to be connected the Internet. One can print from anywhere in the world to a printer halfway across the world if they have the access. In the future, practically every device and appliance that we human beings use on a daily basis will be networked. These appliances and devices will have e-paper on their surfaces.
From E-Paper to E-Surface
E-paper technology will eventually be replaced by e-surface technology. E-surface technologies will have all the capabilities that current monitors have, including the ability to manipulate information using voice commands, gestures, touching the surface or using virtual or physical keyboards. Imagine the possibilities that advertisers will have when this transition takes place. They can display their advertisements on the doors or sides of big refrigerators, washers, dryers, ovens, microwaves, filing cabinets, mirrors, tabletops, bureaus or chest of drawers, floors, ceilings, stairways, walls, desks, cars, and toasters. Any e-surface can be a source of information, entertainment and interaction.
As an example, a person can call their friends while using their toasters to toast slices of bread. He or she can also check how the stock markets are doing while using the refrigerator for such information will be displayed on the refrigerator door.
Competition for the E-Surfaces
Advertisers will certainly be one of the groups that will be competing for use of the e-surfaces. Manufacturers of appliances and devices will sell advertising spaces on their products to businesses and corporations and the products to consumers who use them. Some manufacturers may also give away their products free of cost to households and offices where they are used, if advertisers agree to cover the cost of manufacturing and shipping the products as well as their profits. The advertisers will, in exchange, have sole rights to advertising on the e-surfaces of the products. Others will have to pay these advertisers money to place their own advertisements on the e-surfaces of these appliances and devices. E-surface leasing will become common practice in the future.
Educators Will Compete for E-Surface Spaces
Educators at all levels are now viewing cyberspace as territory in which they should have a presence, in order to offer education and degrees to a geographically wider and dispersed groups of students. The next territory that businesses, non-profit groups, corporations, individuals, and educators will compete for is the e-surface spaces” or the territories created by e-surfaces.
Just as commercial entities will do, both non-profit and for-profit educational institutions will partner with appliance and device manufacturers as well as home builders, car, bus, and airplane manufacturers and others who either create or install e-surfaces to gain access to e-surfaces that can be used to deliver content and courses. Just as the quality and value of some currently offered online degrees are questioned, similarly, the quality and value of the future e-surface-based degrees will also be questioned, but will nevertheless be offered to millions who can afford to pay the tuition to successfully complete courses and earn the degrees.
A Possible Educational Scenario of the Future
Laws will be passed in the future that require manufacturers of e-surfaces to set aside a portion of such surfaces for educational use. This is similar to laws that require developers to set aside land for building schools in the communities that they develop. Local school districts will be able to use such e-surfaces to deliver education and other pertinent information to students, parents, administrators, teachers, staff, community members and other stakeholders in education.
A Day in the Life of a Student
Students will be able to learn content anywhere and everywhere there are e-surfaces. When they wake up, they can read messages from their teachers on the bathroom mirror. Such messages could be reminders to complete homework or related to content that is being covered in class or some other educational or school-related announcement.
While toasting bread, the flow of information and content could continue on the shiny surfaces of toasters or refrigerators. When students, get on the bus to go to school, they can be exposed to content on the shiny surfaces on the back of the seats in front of them. They can also take tests to show what they have learned.
When they are in school, students and teachers will use the shiny surfaces on top of tables that students sit in front of, and also the shiny boards that teachers use to display content.
Parents will have the right to determine the mix of education and entertainment their children are exposed to via these ubiquitous e-surfaces. States will pass laws to protect children from being exposed to objectionable materials. Schools and non-profit organizations will develop programs to educate children about the uses and abuses of e-surfaces and teach them how to protect themselves from predators. Interaction with e-surfaces will become the norm in the future.
Keeping students engaged with content all day long will probably enable them to learn more and develop deeper understanding of the knowledge bases of various disciplines. As e-surface technology continues to develop, such surfaces will be able to display information in 3-dimensional format. They will also be capable of holographic displays. The future of education indeed looks very shiny.