Way back in 1997, I had an interview to join a prestigious honor society at St John's University called The President's Society - it was a big, huge deal and it was scheduled on the same day I had to fly out of Newark (I think) to go to Ohio for the National Speech and Debate Competition - yes, snicker all you want, I was on the Speech and Debate Team - you cannot be surprised when you think of all the harping I do about public speaking being so important...
Anyway, I had a dilemma because the interviews for the honor society were held in Queens. This dilemma was solved by using some (at the time) awesome technology. I sat, alone, in a conference room on the Staten Island Campus (upstairs in Flynn Hall for my fellow alums) and there was a web-camera and a TV set up where I could vaguely see a large conference table and about 15 faces (maybe 10? It was a long time ago) looking at me and apparently, they could see me on their TV screen, too. I was then interviewed and asked various questions - I looked in general directions because it was hard to make eye contact and I left the meeting feeling like I was in the 21st Century and amazed at how technology could facilitate a meeting over the bridges and through the traffic of the Belt without having to move from the Staten Island campus. (Oh, and in case you are wondering, I was one of 4 students selected from the Staten Island campus to join The President's Society and that membership wound up changing my life forever - but that is another story...)
This article from Fortune brought back memories of my first teleconferencing experience - and made me think about how far we have come with technology. I know that teaching online can be a wonderful way to share and impart knowledge in the way I know it today using a forum or Website to share knowledge. This technology seems amazing and students and teachers who have used it think it is even better than in real life classrooms. I am working on some new e-learning initiatives, and I wish I had access to these technologies. My assumption is that at some point, this will be the norm once we get the cost down to provide it to other types of classrooms or training providers. And that is awesome!
What do you think about technology classrooms? Do you prefer to learn online or in the physical classroom? Do you think this classroom of the future will one day be widespread and more affordable to execute anywhere? What does that mean for the future of content delivery and education? Happy Hunting!
Fortune Harvard Business School Classroom of the Future
Lisa Vento Nielsen