Education and Research


Kim H. Veltman

“Potentials of New Media for Education”

ISA News 2004, Geneva (in press).

In Europe and North America everyone is aware that computers are affecting education. Very few are aware of the full scope of the changes at hand. In Denmark there are predictions that 100% of the population will have Internet access and cell phones by 2008. Many speak of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). In fact, the gradual subsumption of telephony, and television to digital Internet technologies means that it is more accurate to speak of Universal Convergence Technologies (a shift from ICT to UCT). When the Internet began in 1968 it was an experiment connecting a handful of scientists first in Britain then in the United States. The advent of the World Wide Web (1989) soon transformed a predominantly English language user group of just over 100,000 to 200 million by 2000 and 800 million multilingual users in 2004. English is now approximately 1/3 the Internet, Chinese accounts for 16% and is predicted to become the most used language within the next few years.

One consequence of these trends is an enormous expansion in the range of so-called multimedia technologies. It is predicted that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality techniques will make their way into the mainstream of elementary and high school teaching by the year 2020, allowing children to go on fly-throughs of reconstructions of dinosaur parks, chemical combinations and historical buildings such as the Parthenon. This calls for a whole range of new critical methods. Already today, augmented reality is being used in medical training and even in real-time surgery; in the training of naval personnel and digital avatars are helping in the training of new astronauts.

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