Mark, a college freshman, prepares for his 8am political science class. The local political science professor is always a good bet to have the students catching up on their sleep by 8:15. But Mark won’t be sleeping in class this morning. Nobody will.
This morning’s class features a top professor moderating a debate between a few congressman on what role the government should take in rebuilding the economy. Mark’s professor is participating too and the next assignment that she adds to her class RSS feed will give the students an opportunity to apply what they are learning. Oh, yeah, Mark just rolled out of bed in his dorm room in Beijing, the moderator is in a public telepresence room in Manila and the congressmen are doing telepresence from their desks in their Washington DC offices. But the quality of the telepresence video session makes it seem as if they are in the same room.
Hundreds if not thousands of classes are already available as online videos. That’s good but it is only a small first step. Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”. The quality of telepresence is such that you can be involved regardless of where you are, and the telepresence applications of the future will take advantage of that.
Soon you’ll be able to watch a political science video with 100 other students in ad-hoc “classes” and discuss the content with them. You’ll engage with a tutor, professor, subject matter expert or anyone that has an opinion via telepresence to discuss a few questions you have on the video, and that discussion will get added to the original political science content in a discussion stream module. 50 years from now people will learn from studying the evolution of that topic, as captured in the evolution of the discussion stream. One may place a video call to you with a question about a comment you added to the stream. Benjamin Franklin would be thrilled.
When do high schools and colleges go away? They don’t. Telepresence doesn’t and shouldn’t replace the interactions that occur when people are in the same classroom, campus or dugout. But telepresence – immersive quality video – increases the opportunity for interactions that were previously separated by distance.
Telepresence also causes more interactions around the video session to be digitally captured and kept alive, such as the discussion stream module mentioned above. Today, that’s a notebook in a landfill. Tomorrow, it is indexed and searchable and becomes part of the experience. Your data becomes living information surrounded by metadata, instead of dead ink compacted in trash. The 2070 political science book will never be published; the content will evolve over the years and change as the rest of the world does, as it should.
Using video and telepresence in medicine is similar – if the patient and doctor are in different locales, then the data they exchange is often transmitted electronically and digitally stored. That could help expedite EMR and the digitization of medicine, which in turn could revolutionize all of healthcare. That’s huge too.
Education and healthcare are two fields that will be drastically improved by purple video applications. Much more on these, and other video and telepresence purple apps, in future posts. Meanwhile, get involved, add your thoughts to the discussion. Soon you’ll be doing it via telepresence.