Posted by: crudbasher | February 25, 2013

The Telepresent Student

I’ve been having fun with blog post titles lately haven’t I? 🙂

Stone Tools, (cc) Wikimedia Commons

Stone Tools, (cc) Wikimedia Commons

You can really trace the origin of technology all the way back to the primitive flint tools our distant ancestors used. The purpose of technology is to extend the capabilities of human bodies and minds. We can only shout so far so we invent phones. We can only run so far so we invent cars. We can only swim so far so we invent ships. We can only remember so much so we invent paper so we can write things down.

As a self professed educational futurist, I like to look over the horizon to technologies that might not be on the radar of a typical teacher. This is becoming more important I believe because the rate of change and adoption of technology is increasing at an exponential rate. Not only that, but these technologies are having large impacts on society which is having increasing difficulty in keeping up to these changes.

A technology I have been watching for a while is telepresence. This is using camera technology to be virtually present in places you couldn’t ordinarily be. While still expensive, the cost of this technology is dropping rapidly so that it becomes nearly practical for ordinary people to use it. The technology is also improving quickly. New robotic platforms are allowing the cameras to become mobile, thus allowing the operator to take part in many activities.

I came across this story on Singularity Hub about students who, for various medical reasons, cannot attend a regular school. Instead they are using robot telepresence to attend from home.

(H/T VGo Communications)

(H/T VGo Communications)

It’s a great story but it triggered a thought in my mind. The main student in the story is about 5 miles from the school where he attends via telepresence. Why? Why is he going to that school? He could be attending a school across the country. Once you physically separate the student and teacher, it doesn’t matter how far away they are. This is another example of how society hasn’t truly adopted the technology and used it to its fullest potential, but it will in time.

I encourage you to read the whole article, it’s quite good.



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