Classrooms have come a long way from chalkboards and hand-turned pencil sharpeners. Our kids have given up knocking erasers together and now present on smartboards, they reach for a tablet instead of a perfectly-pointed No. 2 and there’s almost no fact that can’t be obtained by asking Siri or Google.
Education looks different than it did when we were kids, both in school and at home, in ways we never could have imagined in our youth. But experts say we’re on the precipice of so much more – and as parents, it’s time to dream bigger.
With the advent of 5G technology, massive leaps in speed and connectivity will mean quicker downloads, a more powerful network and seamless communication around the world. Fifth-generation wireless, which is now available in select areas, is expected to transform the way people live, work and play. So what can it do for how our kids learn?
In honor of Verizon’s Built on 5G challenge – a national search for the best ideas on utilizing the power of 5G – we offer these five ways that we hope 5G will revolutionize education for our kids’ generation.
1. Bring lessons to life
“Sitting in a desk all day” should become a thing of the past. This common complaint we hear from our children is less of an indictment on how they’re seated and more about the monotony of listening to textbook lessons and filling out worksheets.
Instead, imagine a flat map of the Pacific Ocean turning 3D, lifting from the page and showing holographic depth and wildlife details as your child moves her hand across the landscape. As 5G technology removes the barriers to mixed and augmented reality, our kids can be exponentially more engaged with their lessons and interact with the content like never before.
2. End homework headaches
The communication gap between school and home creates homework struggles for kids and parents (we’re looking at you, Common Core math). But as classrooms become more technologically advanced with 5G, there’s no reason our kids shouldn’t be able to pull up video clips from their math lesson that day to see exactly how their teacher taught it.
And instead of waiting on a once-a-week tutoring session at the library, kids who need extra help should be able to dial up real-life support any time of day – like in that hour-between-dinner-and-bedtime crunch – with virtual reality.
3. Learn from top experts
Our kids’ educational influencers shouldn’t be limited to who the PTA can afford to bring in for an assembly that year. Since 5G will remove the latency and lag time we’re accustomed to with our current live-streaming and virtual reality options, our kids will be able to learn from real-life experts out in the field who are willing to share their discoveries and insights. A researcher in the Antarctic, for example, could use his mobile phone to effortlessly stream a Q&A session with kids across the globe. Instead of learning what happened in a textbook, they can hear and see what happened yesterday from a subject-matter authority.
4. Include everyone
With 5G technology offering a massive boost in network capacity, we envision a world where all children have the same access to ultra-fast internet and all the opportunities that brings with it. When everyone’s connected, it can level the playing field for kids no matter where they’re from, what resources their parents gave them or what their schools offered.
5. A ‘classroom’ anywhere
More kids than ever are attending online classes and schools but technological shortcomings mean these virtual classrooms aren’t as immersive as they should be, with lagging “live lessons” and chat rooms that fail to create a social environment. With 5G speed and connectivity, that can change – and kids who want or need an online school can have the same opportunities as brick-and-mortar students thanks to virtual reality and better forms of teacher communication.
After all those snow days we had this year in Michigan, there is a possibility of extending the school year into summer break. In the 5G future, however, class can be in session on snow days – just from home for the day, instead.
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