Research has shown repeatedly that humans learn more rapidly and deeply from experiences, rather than from a lecture or a book. However, many institutions struggle with the resources needed to meet this new mandate for personalized instruction, thanks to lack of funding and widespread teacher shortages.

The good news is, technologies like cloud, big data, mobility, and augmented and virtual reality are converging to enable unprecedented levels of personalization in education. Much like the introduction of PCs and internet connectivity into classrooms, these technologies are helping institutions do more with less, and are accelerating and improving the learning experience.

The convergence of these technologies is leading to “Digital Cohesion,” a future in which technology anticipates the needs of users and seamlessly delivers services on demand.

Digital Cohesion in Real Life

Imagine a few potential scenarios: while visiting a market with his parents, a child uses augmented reality glasses to play a game where the object is to spend $50 and buy a balanced meal for the family. Or, while walking through a city, a tourist gets real-time history lessons with video of the historical characters overlaying the real-life scene. A tour of Ellis Island, for example, comes to life by “observing” immigrants who have just completed the journey across the Atlantic. A visit to the Great Wall of China becomes more powerful with a simulation of the wall’s construction. The possibilities are infinite.

The implications for education will be profound. Classrooms will no longer be the main learning vehicle in the forthcoming Digital Cohesion era; the student’s own life and learning style will be. Technology will transform everyday interactions with the world into real-time learning experiences. Augmented reality technology combined with visual recognition, sensors and learning services will deliver real-life “classes” that present math, history, language and other lessons in real-time based on the student’s current location and context.

(Next page: digital cohesion considerations and challenges)