The School of the Future

ParellesBy Eugenio Ferrante, General Manager, Parallels Asia Pacific.

Tell someone two decades ago that portable versions of the then new desktop PCs will eventually feature as an indispensible part of schooling, and you will likely be greeted with polite chuckles of disbelief.

Yet today, students in higher learning institutions across the Asian region are encouraged, or even mandated to bring laptops to school as part of the curriculum. In addition, many educational institutions already assume students have access to computers for many years now, and use them either for group projects, or as part of the self-directed learning process.

The impact of technology

Should it be a surprise that technology is now part and parcel of the learning journey? After all, students thrive when they have access to stimulating and inspirational content, especially so when it is up-to-date, and delivered via an immersive and easy-to-access medium.

Moreover, students need to be prepared for the world they will face at work, and there is no question that hyper-connectivity and being able to work seamlessly across multiple compute devices are already the order of the day in offices today. Examples of these devices include laptops, tablets, smartphones, as well as phablets, which are souped-up smartphones with tablet-like displays.

Moving ahead though, what can we expect to see in the school of the future? Recent months saw the unveiling of a generation of incredibly portable computers such as Apple’s new 12-inch MacBook and Microsoft’s wallet-friendly Surface 3. Just as how affordable laptops have allowed them to be used in tertiary education today, the less-than-a-kilogram weight of both devices means that they are likely to be used at more places than ever.

Other emerging technologies that could find its way into the school of the future would probably be 3D printing and augment, or even virtual, reality technologies. The ability to quickly create small physical prototypes could be leveraged anywhere from design, engineering to marketing, while virtual reality would likely open new doors in the areas of immersive learning and virtual interaction.

Bridging the platform divide

Of course, specific technologies are merely enabler of capabilities, and come and go like the ebb and flow of the tide. There is no doubt, however, that some of the most important traits in the domain of education could probably be distilled down into the areas of collaboration and communication, either in terms of delivering curriculum content, or interaction among students.

On this front, mobility is likely to be the space to watch, given how it can serve to significantly advance both collaboration and communication. In practical terms, this translates to ensuring that everyone getting to use the devices and platforms that they love, but without imposing unacceptable overheads on educators and IT departments.

Fortunately, the technology to make this happen is very much ready for primetime use.  We have a technology in Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac today which is highly robust and allowing Mac users to run Windows on the OS X operating system. Indeed, advanced integration means that Windows apps can be launched as another window among native OS X apps.

For students and faculty members looking to access desktop-only resources while moving around the campus with their tablets or Chromebooks, a variety of remote desktop technologies is on hand to make it possible. For one, remote desktop solutions, like Parallels 2X Remote Access Server, make it an easy matter to access the Windows desktops or apps from a tablet app, while others such as Parallels Access goes further by eliminating the need for cumbersome configuration, and allowing to remotely connecting directly to your own desktop.

Eliminating the barriers

Expect the school of the future to be a melting pot of disparate devices and gadgets, as students and educators embrace whatever device they can wrap their budgets around. Yet the actual platform that gets deployed probably isn’t as important the inexorable digitisation of curriculum materials and content to take advantage of them.

Ultimately, what hasn’t changed would be students’ capacity to learn, and educators’ capacity to teach. With this in mind, the technology that gets implemented in the end is less important than the elimination of barriers to learning and communication.

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