Sierra McLeod: The FutureEd Interactive Simulator

Reflections from Imagine FutureEd™

This blog series features highlights from interviews with the winners of Imagine FutureEd™, an online student design competition that KnowledgeWorks hosted in partnership with Teach the Future. Excerpts from the winning scenarios, additional reflections from their creators, and educator resources can be found at the Imagine FutureEd™ website.

Sierra McLeod is a recent high school graduate from Charlotte. The scenario and artifact she submitted to Imagine FutureEd™ depicted the students’ experiences using the FutureEd Interactive Simulator (FIS), which allows students to use holographic images to fully explore concepts such as astronomy and geography. She explores how the FIS might address some of the challenges of using technologies such as virtual reality in the classroom today. Below is an excerpt of an interview with Sierra, edited for length and clarity.

Describe the FutureEd Interactive Simulator from your scenario.

The FutureEd Interactive Simulator (FIS) encourages children to become more active, aware, and engaged in the classroom. The FIS is unlike any regular projector or virtual reality system. It’s an enhanced combination of both. A regular classroom projector only shines towards the front on the room. Students who sit towards the back of the classroom may be unable to see well or at all compared to those who sit towards the front of the classroom. Virtual reality glasses block a person’s view from their surroundings, or hinder a glasses-wearer’s view. Augmented reality systems require someone to hold a device, which may cause damage if it is dropped. The FIS is a hands-free solution to bring a movie-like learning experience into a classroom. Students can view, touch, and interact with holographic images. They are taken to a new realm with sound and special effects (such as steam or flashes of light). The FIS has manual controls on both the classroom light and the light switch. There are endless possibilities when it comes to the future of learning – the FutureEd Interactive Simulator is a revolutionary invention that would change how we learn.

Imagine if the FIS system were widespread. What might that mean for the education system and our society overall? What would be the benefits of such a system? What might be the downsides?

If the FIS system became widespread, many opportunities are opened for our education system. Some benefits of the FutureEd Interactive System include inclusiveness to all students, increased physical activity in the classroom, and increased attentiveness for students. Due to the life like nature of the FIS system, it may be a downside that students cannot feel the holographic images they are viewing. However, I hope to add touch sensors (similar to touch screen tablets or phones) to allow students to feel different structures (i.e. crevices of the moon).

Do you think that thinking about the future of learning is important? Why or why not?

It is important to recognize and think of ways to improve for the future. We should recognize methods of learning that are beneficial for students, and adjust or re-develop methods that are not as effective.

What are your major takeaways after completing the Imagine FutureEd™ competition?

After completing the Imagine FutureEd™ competition, I realized the possibilities of the future of education. Though we have come far with developments and technological advancements, we still have a long way to go.

KnowledgeWorks is hosting a student design competition, Imagine FutureEd.Visit the Imagine FutureEd™ website to read excerpts from Sierra’s scenario and more reflections from her on the process of thinking about the future of learning.

Katie King

Written by: Katie King

Katie King is the Strategic Foresight Engagement Lead at KnowledgeWorks. In this role, she manages externally facing strategic foresight projects and partnerships, co-designs and delivers workshops, and contributes to KnowledgeWorks’ publications about the future of learning.

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