It sounds crazy, but hear me out.
Despite the advent of holographic lecture halls and VR immersive experiences, I think that 2075 is the perfect year for attendance to make a comeback. After a series of diseases in the 20s and 30s which forced schools to close and learning to go online, traditional classrooms and in-person classes has nearly gone extinct in higher education. While many proponents for online education cite health concerns and tout the flexibility of online classes, I think there is an essence of human interaction and learning that we are not taking advantage of.
For example, even though the holographic lecture halls can give an immersive experience to students and teachers and can display a lot of information in a cohesive manner, long gone are the days in which teachers actively respond to the vibe of the students and adjust their tone and material. In several surveys in higher education, a vast majority of students find these lecture halls as not engaging. Many students play games or are AFK (away from keyboard) and fail to engage in material. On the other side, in surveys with teachers, many have complained how the student avatars fail to accurately communicate emotion which makes for awkward teaching.
Therefore, despite the flexibility of augmented reality learning, in person classes should make a comeback. Interacting in room with my peers not only makes me feel more engaged with the material and those around me, I feel as though connections are more easily made. Additionally, in person conversations with teachers in difficult times made their support more impactful and genuine. I am not advocating for us all to abandon technology and use chalkboards and powerpoint. However, I think given the advantages of in person interactions, colleges should definitely encourage teachers to hold more in-person interactions and classes.
I would like to stress that beyond the experience of in-person classrooms, the move to virtual classes have majorly impacted working class students. Folks who don’t have access to UltraSpeed internet or VR+ gear are inherently at a disadvantage with the college failing to provide any alternatives. Yes, in-person classes displaces students from their families, but, if anything, it offers students from working class backgrounds the same opportunity to learn as everyone else. Overutilization of VR+ technology and HyperImmerse products disadvantages a significant part of our student body.
In a 2073 survey, over 20% of students at UC San Diego said that online classes create financial tensions at home. Over 10% of students mention their family requiring “significant changes” to their family’s financial plan.
Are in-person classes perfect? No. However, they offer an experience online classes can’t offer and they serve to close the widening gap between affluent students and students from working class backgrounds.