Sunday, May 17, 2020

Update - and a prediction

Scene: 1979. My senior year in college. Classroom. 

Class: Teaching Techniques (or some such title - it was a long time ago!)

Characters: Teacher (female, but not sure it matters), mid-thirties
                   myself (an energetic dreamer), 21 years old
Assignment: I don't remember the particulars, but I was doing a presentation on using technology in the classroom focusing on the use of the 1) slide projector, 2) filmstrip projector, 3) 16 mm film projector. And if you remember what any of those are, you're not much younger than I am!

ME (finishing my presentation with a flourish!): And the last piece of technology isn't in the classroom here in New York yet, but it is in California. (Holds up the very first Apple magazine.) This is a brand-new technology called a "Personal Computer". They are already being used for teaching basic concepts and I predict that, in the future, every student will have one and I will teach to a room full of students using them. Thank you. (ends presentation)

TEACHER: Well, this was a very good presentation, if we remove the last minute. You were supposed to only deal with reality, not fantasy.

ME: It isn't fantasy. It's already in the classrooms of California. Mark my words: someday these will be in every classroom.

TEACHER: Next presentation, please.

(Note: I got a "C" on my project because I was "too fanciful" and "not realistic")

Flash forward 35 years:

Scene: a classroom in 2014. Class of 20-some students are all busily doing research on their laptops and posting their essays to a wiki to be peer-reviewed by others in the room. A few have logged into the class discussion board where there is a vigorous debate about what happened to the Ents in the Lord of the Rings and where the Entwives might have gone. They add their two cents to the conversation and start a new one on whether Merry and Pippin were braver than Frodo and Sam. The teacher (ME) wanders the room answering questions and generally staying out of the way of students learning on their own.

* * * * *

So yeah, my prediction came true - in spades. My vindication was complete when I looked around the room and realized I was teaching to a room full of computers - and the students running them.

Why is that important? Because I'm going to make another technological prediction, based on what I see happening in my own household. To wit:

* * * * *
Scene: the living room where my husband had raised his laptop with the aid of several boxes, making it eye height so people won't be looking up his nose. There is a pole lamp to his right and his left, a hanging light to his right and a fresnel-type decorative lamp he's positioned right in front of him.

DAUGHTER: What you need is a bounce screen so you don't have that harsh light right on your face. You come in too hot.

HUSBAND: I just can't figure out how to mount one in here. Need to work on that.

* * *
Scene: My husband's studio (he's a painter). He and Daughter are setting up a 3-camera system so he can teach his painting classes online.

ME: Too much in the background here. Maybe hang a sheet? - and that one camera is old, so the picture's a little fuzzy. Maybe use that for the palate rather than the painting.

HUSBAND: And I need better lighting. It's good when the sun is shining, but if it's a cloudy day, there's a glare on the canvas from my overhead lights.

DAUGHTER: You need another bounce board. And will you only teach during the day? What about night classes?

* * *
Scene: Son's room. He's a gamer. Already has most of what he needs. Except bandwidth. We're running out of that.

Scene: My study. Conversation between my daughter, my husband, my son, and me.

ME: I didn't need video this past semester because I used a discussion board and a wiki to finish off my classes when we moved online. But we didn't use the wiki well because I couldn't teach them how in such a short time frame. Next fall, if we're still online, I need to do videos. And I don't have a camera.

HUSBAND: We can buy a new one, although I could use another for my painting classes. Maybe we should buy two, just in case. Or three - because one of mine is old and gives a fuzzy picture.

SON: I'm fine. Just up the bandwidth to the house or none of us are doing anything.

DAUGHTER: I can teach you both how to use the programs. Buy bounce boards.

* * * * *
My prediction: 

In the future, every home will have a "broadcasting" station: a place where Zoom calls are made and live videos uploaded. Classes will be taken and taught from this location and conversations will be held with people across the street and across the world. They (both the place from which we broadcast and the quality of the broadcast) will look professional and smooth because we bought packages (or bought the house with the room already created).

The physical space will be comfortable for the user with backgrounds pleasing to the viewer (although the ACTUAL background will  be a green screen so visual effects are easily added). Just as in the 20th century where the phone was the center of the household, the BA (Broadcast Area - although it might end up being the Z - Zoomer. We do have a tendency to name things via a particular brand, even if we don't use it. I'm looking at you, Kleenex and Xerox) will be the heart of communication in the future.

Of course, it won't remain static for long. Static, as in being in one place. Technology will upgrade quickly and that will only be a passing phase. Eventually, we will carry the technology with us on a wristband or a ring and it will project via the air. But, as my 1979 teacher would say, "too fanciful, not realistic."

Mark my words: In the future, every single one of us will be a performer/broadcaster/creator and we'll do our jobs from professional studios in our own homes.

That's my prediction and I'm sticking to it.

The conversations above are condensations of actual conversations we have had in this house over the past few weeks. For dramatic purposes, I've re-assigned some parts of the conversation to others in the room at the time. My daughter is a LOT more helpful than just recommending bounce boards (which she actually did only once. Love you, Sweetie!).

And yes, I still have that Apple Magazine from 1979. 

Play safe - and stay safe! and see you in the future!


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