An Interview with Becca Nachtrab About The Future of Learning

Topics: Education Policy, ESSA, Future of Learning

I am truly excited to see the positive things that come with technological advances and how they affect learning. As part of my ongoing series of interviews with students about the future of learning, I sat down Becca Nachtrab. Becca is in her third year at the University of Cincinnati, where she is studying graphic design in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Becca is currently a graphic design co-op with the Communications Team at KnowledgeWorks.

1. When you think about the future of learning, what makes you excited?

I am excited to see how advances in technology make learning more engaging and exciting.

2. From a current student’s perspective, what do you find the most troubling about the future of learning?

As learning becomes more personalized and driven by advances in technology, I am worried certain crucial aspects of a traditional classroom setting will be lost. I think being surrounded by and learning with other people is vital to the development of one’s social skills. That being said, I think the personalization of learning and the advances in technology have the power to completely change education for the better, the trick will be knowing how far to take it.

3. What do you feel is the biggest uncertainty to the future of learning?

I think the biggest uncertainty to the future of learning is being able to provide an equal education to everyone. If schools do begin relying heavily on advanced technology, it will become a matter or who can afford it. Schools in wealthier areas will have even more of an advantage.

4. We are currently exploring the implications of artificial intelligence in education, such as a wearable device for students that has built in AI. How do you think this might change education?

I think the use of artificial intelligence will completely change education, not necessarily for the better. The entire classroom/teacher setting could completely change, maybe even become obsolete. A wearable device to me sounds like a wearable version of Google. If a person always has access to Google, are they even learning?

5. There is a lot of talk happening right now around the future of work, with many people worried about technological unemployment. Work is a really important organizing principle for education. What do you think would happen to our education system as the concept of work is redefined?

I don’t think our education system would change too drastically. I think technological unemployment has happened throughout history and at the same time new jobs were being created. So yes, there will be technological unemployment, but I don’t think that is something to worry about. I have been told many times that the job I have in the future, probably does not exist today. This makes me excited!

6. What does “personalized learning” mean to you?

I think personalized learning is an education system based solely around a specific child. What is being taught, when it is being taught and how it is being taught would be unique to every child. A child learns at his or her own pace and only advances when they are ready.

7. What will personalized learning be like in the future?

I think personalized learning will rely heavily on technology. This is not only due to the rapid advances in technology but because with personalized learning there is no way a traditional classroom setting with 20 kids and one teacher can exist. Although my education has almost entirely been in a traditional setting, I have experienced what could be referred to as personalized learning. My earliest memory is from my fifth grade typing class. We each sat our own computer with headphones and played a CD game. Our lessons were based on our skill level and we advanced at our own pace. At any given time, everyone in the class could have been learning something else. This is what I picture when I think about personalized learning in the future, a lot of kids with their own computer, or whatever piece of technology it might be, learning their own lessons by themselves.

8. What is your own vision for the future of learning?

I am truly excited to see the positive things that come with technological advances and how they affect learning. As I stated before, I think technology, if used correctly, can make learning engaging. I imagine the use of virtual realities. Glasses than can transport the user anywhere in the universe and anywhere in time. What a person is looking at while wearing the glasses changes as the move. When they look up they see the sky, when they look down they see the ground. Better yet, imagine a whole room that changes appearance. These technologies exist. They are currently being used for making documentaries and video games but I believe using them for education is not too far away.

As an example of the types of virtual experiences I am talking about, watch Clouds Over Sidra. This short documentary of a young Syrian girl named Sidra was filmed to be viewed while wearing the virtual reality glasses. When watching, be sure to click and drag your screen so that you can see the video from every angle. Imagine while you are watching the video that you are wearing the virtual reality glasses that would help make it feel like you are there with Sidra.