Magazine article Technology & Learning

A History of Vision

Magazine article Technology & Learning

A History of Vision

Article excerpt

The following predictions are from the Technology & Learning archives. Read what visionaries predicted in past anniversary issues.

Virtual Reality

As a new century begins, students enter the classroom and don virtual reality body suits--cleverly designed computer interfaces that take the place of today's mice and keyboards. The body suits--complete with computer-screen goggles and 'intelligent' cosmetic jewelry--enable an entire class of students and their teacher to journey back to the American Revolution, out to the farthest limits of the solar system, or into the nucleus of an atom. Student research teams, traveling on their own, send electronic 'hyper-postcards' to their teacher, telling her they wish she were there. It is not always clear, however, where 'there' is, or if there is really a 'there' at all. In the virtual classroom, some students are physically in the room while others attend through two-way interactive computer, voice, and video hook-ups. Electronic 'teachers for a day' (ranging from authors to sports stars to incarcerated prisoners) visit the classroom as computer telepresences and participate in group discussions and lessons. Electronic 'visits' from government and business officials to the classroom are routine.

--Fred D'Ignazio, 1990

Global Competition

In 1991, as the U.S. steadily loses its worldwide lead in technology, a worried federal government initiates a program of significant funding for school technology support. It is titled the 'National Defense Educational Technology Act' to ensure its passage.

--Don Rawitsch, 1990

Hands-On Learning

In 1997, having attained outstanding visual displays, developers are now focusing on tactile displays as well. For example, mice are available that allow users to 'feel' the things they're 'touching' on the screen. The amount of resistance they feel from the mouse corresponds to the size of the object being moved on the screen. Advances in this arena make a big difference to young children because they learn so kinesthetically.

--Alan Kay, 1990

Mobile Computing

Kids can throw their tablet-sized computers into backpacks and take them home, to the library, on a field trip-anywhere they need to take notes. Back in the classroom, students beam up what they've written on their own tablets to a large screen hanging on the wall and share their ideas with the group.

--David Dwyer, 1990

Voice Recognition

Experts predict that within the next five years (if not sooner), we will merely dictate phone numbers and addresses into our personal digital assistants, instead of typing them in. We'll ask our house to turn on the light for us (no clapping necessary) and casually tell our computer to download the front page of the New York Times and print it. We'll ask our cell phone to call the doctor; our car to tune the radio to NPR; our VCR to record the next 'X-Files' episode. We won't need a keyboard, stylus, mouse, or even our fingers-just a mouth.

--Janelle Brown, "Talkin 'Bout a Computer Revolution," Salon (, Oct 29, 1999


In 1999, a presidential commission has been established to study the growing inequity in computer allocation. Apparently, most computers are being used to deliver instruction to poor inner-city schools, putting these students at a clear disadvantage. All of the best jobs and places in incoming college classes are going to applicants who were 'fully teacher taught.'

--Tom Snyder

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We gratefully acknowledge contributions from the following people and organizations:

Neme Alperstein, educator, The Harry Eichler School, Richmond Hill, N.Y.

Michelle Amey, teacher, Oak Meadow Elementary, San Antonio, Texas

Yvonne Andres, president and CEO, Global SchoolNet

Sarah Armstrong, Sarah Armstrong Consulting

Joel Barker, co-author, Five Regions of the Future

Karen Bruett, director of education and community initiatives, Dell; Chair, Partnership for 21st Century Skills

Bill Burrall, coordinator of instructional technology, Marshall County Schools, Marshall County, W. …

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