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)

Digital Cohesion Considerations and Challenges

There are many considerations to address and challenges to overcome before this vision can be realized, however. Educational organizations face many challenges when embracing new technologies, including budgets, legacy systems and the fast pace at which education technology evolves.

Security and access are also major barriers. It stands to reason that as digital proliferation continues, the opportunities for malicious acts will increase. Educational organizations store a lot of personal information about their staff and students, making them prime targets for attackers. Additionally, as more students and staff connect to the education network, they widen the network’s attack surface.

Mitigating Risks

To mitigate these risks, educational institutions will need to adopt a different approach to security, as well as assess and in many cases upgrade their network infrastructure. The network establishes connections to education applications in the cloud. An automated, scalable network will anticipate traffic needs, ensuring access for all users.

From a security perspective, organizations can no longer rely on the places in the network where the firewalls happen to be in order to detect and stop attacks. Every network element must provide insight into traffic patterns and participate in enhancing the security posture of a network. By using the network as the security infrastructure, organizations can identify and quarantine potential infection points close to their source, protecting their users and data.

In short: the network is the backbone of education technology and will be critical to realizing a future of anticipatory, personalized learning through digital cohesion.

The forthcoming Digital Cohesion era will unleash possibilities we are only now beginning to imagine. In addition to laying the groundwork for advancements in health and medicine, business and government, Digital Cohesion will help ensure that every child has access to a high-quality, engaging and personalized education.

It won’t be an easy journey, but the results will be well worth the effort. We are on the precipice of incredible progress, making this a very, very exciting time to be both a student and an educator.

About the Author:

Tom Boehmer is the Senior Business Development Manager for Juniper Networks.