The evolution of a few critical technologies has the potential to change the way teaching and learning is done is the near future. Among those technologies are biometrics, global positioning systems and real mobile computing. Previously unthinkable paradigms for education are now—or soon will be—affordable, as Moore’s Law slashes the cost of intelligent devices. This chapter presents some challenging ideas about how learning might be done in the future and what the future of colleges, classes and courses —if they still exist —might be. Predicting the future accurately is at best difficult. Extrapolations from the present into the future are fraught with unpredictability. In 1958, a Boeing 707 320-B, the first United States (U.S.) commercial jet liner, cruised at 607 mph (Boeing, 2004). You’d expect that today, 46 years later, airplanes would fly much faster; yet the Boeing 747 and even the future 7e7 actually cruise a bit slower (Boeing, 2004). Spotting a trend doesn’t necessarily mean it will continue.
In 1965, Gordon Moore, a cofounder of Intel, suggested that the density of transistors on a chip would double every year or so and that “the cost component is nearly inversely proportional to the number of components” (Moore, 1965).
Key Terms in this Chapter
GPS: Global Positioning System; a satellite-based, publicly available navigation system that can determine the position of a small portable GPS receiver very accurately.
Biometrics: Using one or more physical characteristics of a person for identification. Fingerprints, retina scans, hand profiles, voice recognition, face recognition and many others may be used.
RAM: Random Access Memory; a collection of fast semiconductor elements that store information transiently for use by a microprocessor.
Microprocessor: A collection of microscopic devices on a single semiconductor chip that performs all the basic operations of a computer’s CPU (Central Processing Unit).
Mobile Computing: Computing using a portable device that allows full network connectivity via wireless connections.
Transistors: The basic active circuit element semiconductor devices. They are the essential building block of microprocessors and all parts of a computer that manipulate data.
Wi-Fi: Wireless Fidelity; technically the IEEE 802.11 standard communications protocol for local wireless computer networks.
Paradigm Shift: A basic change in the way we conceptualize some thing, process or way of doing something.