Back in the early 1970’s, I remember reading a book by George Leonard (who just passed away last month) called Education and Ecstasy. The book was in part a futuristic look at education. In one section, children faced a giant screen and all they had to do was touch it and they could learn practically anything they wanted. Clearly Leonard (who, by the way, helped “invent” the 1960’s consciousness revolution), was peering into the future.
The Internet has come and provided us with access to knowledge in a way unparalleled in human history. And increasingly, touch screen technology has provided a more immediate connection to this knowledge base than was possible with the mouse. In Microsoft’s Research labs they are working now on a Mobile Surface project that will enable any surface (from a coffee table to one’s hand) to contain digital information which can then be interacted with via human touch. So Leonard’s educational utopia is upon us, forty years after he first envisioned it.
Thomas Armstrong is the author of If Einstein Ran the Schools: Revitalizing U.S. Education.