The University of 2050/The Adaptable Classroom

Introduction and AR Technology


Evolution of Chalkboard


In 1801, the first chalkboard was used by a professor in America for their lecture. Since then, the chalkboard has been a staple part of every classroom, changing forms to reflect technological advancements at that time. When markers became erasable, some institutions decided to switch to whiteboards to increase maintainability. As video technology emerged, slide-down projection screens were added to the classroom. In the early 2000s, the projection screen and the chalkboard were combined, resulting in the smartboard, a critical component of most classrooms in primary education. Over the last 200 years, the classroom didn't change. Only because the chalkboard was designed to be the center of attention in the classroom, was it updated to increase potential and effectiveness of learning.

The evolution of the chalkboard has shown that advancements in technology are incorporated if it is feasible and scalable. History has also shown favor towards individualized tools that fulfill the roles of many. There are many examples of this, such as screwdrivers with detachable tips, or smartphones. These tools were revolutionary and took the world like a flash, when people realized the potential behind this innovation.

Introduction of AR/VR Technology


Today, professors write their ideas on a large tablet that gets projected for the class to see. In the year 2050, personal AR/VR goggles/glasses will become a prevalent aspect in the classroom, bringing the chalkboard to the student. This means that as AR technology improves, the classroom could become a large meeting space, reducing the need for innovation within the physical classroom. We can reap the benefits of updated technology without having to add 2050’s equivalent to a smartboard to every classroom in the nation. AR technology will also greatly increase the efficiency of the learning process because students will be able to take notes without having to look away from the lecture screen. By converting the focus from producing good notes, to understanding that day’s ideas, the learning process itself in academia can be revolutionized. Additional utilization of these gadgets would be live lecture translation and laboratory simulations. The biggest issue of using AR technology is that it creates a society dependent on a specific technology that might be unaffordable/unfeasible. The Apple Vision, released recently, costs a little more than $3000. Historically, when a new ground-breaking technology was introduced, the price for that product reflected the jump in innovation. As AR technology improves and becomes heavily integrated in 2050, it will become more desirable and more affordable for everyone to use.

By 2050, advancements in AR technologies may reduce reliance on the laptop in the classroom. While some may say that using AR glasses as a supplemental tool will dehumanize the learning experience, it's important to consider that taking notes digitally or manually requires the usage of our hands. AR technologies would provide a hands-free alternative that allows students to create beyond the bounds of their laptop screen. Furthermore, the usage of these technologies allow for seamless outdoor integration to the learning experience. If the reliance on additional physical equipment can be reduced by AR glasses, any suitable location on grounds can be transformed to a classroom: a classroom without walls. If physical classrooms aren't as necessary to host a class session in 2050, academic institutions will no longer need to construct massive buildings, prioritizing instead the outdoor elements that show the beauty within our university.

Purpose of the Physical Classroom


Modern classrooms can be categorized into three categories, each with their own educational purpose:

  1. Lecture Halls: hold hundreds of students and direct attention towards a front stage
  2. Laboratories: designed with specific structure and equipment for the unique needs of a class
  3. "Standard" Classrooms: hold around 30 to 40 students and promote discussion and teacher-student communication

Looking to 2050, mindset changes within education will change the purpose of the physical classroom. Therefore, how things are taught must follow suit. Asynchronous learning's emergence has presented new opportunity within where learning takes place. Lectures can be watched anywhere, reducing the need for large lecture halls, allowing for class sizes beyond lecture hall's capacity. Conversely, the advent of asynchronous learning can potentially harm the student-teacher communication and in-class discussions. This leads to the "flipped classroom" concept, where lectures are watched before class and applied in class through discussions or associated work. Currently, the concept of the "flipped classroom" is met with skepticism from students due to its' departure from educational norms and previous suboptimal implementations. By 2050, technological advancements will be made to enhance the "flipped classroom." AI models will aid students in retaining information from the video lectures. They will be designed for students to type out questions or comments while they are watching the lecture, getting answers or having associated conversations to enhance their learning. With the burden of assisting students acquire knowledge no longer on professors and teachings assistants (TAs), their efforts can be redistributed to further enhancing the time spent in class, improving the overall experience. Given both its compatibility with the benefits of asynchronous learning and in-person class and anticipated technological enhancements, it is reasonable to believe that the "flipped classroom" will be popular amongst students by 2050. This expected shift would suggest a decrease in large lecture halls in favor of more smaller, versatile classrooms.

Technological development will also contribute to the development of classroom purpose. Virtual reality (VR) technology opens doors for simulating activities, specifically lab-related activities. Currently, some labs require specific classroom structuring and equipment, an expensive undertaking limiting a classroom's use to the scope of the designated class. Given the downward trend of VR tech cost in recent years, by 2050 it is reasonable to believe the VR tech will be affordable on a wide scale. Furthermore, as VR tech becomes better at recreating real world environments, it will be able to replace the need for specific classroom structuring and purchasing lab-specific equipment, reducing the overall costs of conducting labs. Rather than needing to purchase specific equipment that only services one lab, schools can purchase VR devices that can be used across multiple if not all labs, leading to a decrease in the prominence of class-specific laboratories in favor of multi-use lab-designated rooms.

Beyond pedagogical shifts, the purpose of the classroom will likely develop outside of the scope of learning. Looking from 2000 to 2023, tools like Google and Wikipedia have made information exponentially more accessible. This trend is likely to continue into 2050 as those tools become more effective and new technologies, such as AI, become further developed. Aligning with this, classrooms will see a shift in focus towards social and communication-based learning development where discussion and communicational synthesis amongst students are promoted over the traditional means of concept and knowledge acquisition.

Challenges and Feasibility


Evolution of Classroom Technology


The integration of technology, alongside its ethical implications and potential inequality issues, emerges as a central theme in our vision. The envisioned classrooms are not just spaces for learning, but also hubs of technological advancement that cater to the needs of various devices. The journey of laptops in education provides a historical lens through which we can view this evolution. Initially, laptops were high-cost and limited in accessibility, but as technology advanced, their prices dropped significantly, becoming a staple in educational settings. By 2009, 97% of American classrooms had one or more computers, and 93% of classroom computers had internet access, transforming the way education was delivered and accessed[1]. This historical progression underscores the potential for emerging technologies to become integral in educational environments. Furthermore, the technology in our vision, which includes innovations like AR glasses, is not a distant future concept, but a rapidly developing reality. These technologies, as highlighted in Purdue Online’s article, can revolutionize education by allowing for real-world learning experiences and interactive engagements that were previously unimaginable.

Technological Cost


The feasibility of these advancements hinges on the careful balancing of costs and benefits. While the initial investment in technology-rich classrooms and sustainable infrastructure may be significant, the long-term savings in energy costs and the potential for an enhanced educational experience justify this expenditure. The challenge lies in ensuring that these benefits are universally accessible, avoiding a scenario where only affluent institutions can afford such advancements. Additionally, the cost and availability of VR and AR equipment present a significant challenge in realizing this vision. While VR and AR offer immersive and interactive learning experiences, their high cost can exacerbate the existing inequity gap in education. Addressing this issue requires concerted efforts from educational institutions, policymakers, and technology providers to make VR and AR technology more affordable. Subsidies, grants, and public-private partnerships could be potential solutions to bridge this gap. [2]

Ethical Considerations


As more technologies enter the classroom, protecting student's data becomes a primary concern. Robust privacy policies and secure technological frameworks will be vital to protecting their information. [3] Furthermore, the dependence on technology in education could hinder the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It’s crucial that technology is used as a tool for enhancing these skills rather than replacing them. [4]



The adaptable classroom of 2050 envisions a harmonious blend of advanced technology and humanistic education, aimed at fostering inclusive learning environments and equitable learning opportunities. This emphasizes the transformative role of educators in guiding personalized, student-centered learning, preparing students for an evolving society. A key focus is ensuring equitable access to technology for all, while maintaining ethical standards in data protection and responsible technology use. Ultimately, this vision seeks to nurture lifelong learning and adaptability, equipping students with the skills and mindset to thrive in 2050 and beyond.


  1. "The Evolution Of Technology In The Classroom | Purdue Online". Purdue University Online. Retrieved 2023-12-08.
  2. "Addressing education inequality with a next generation of community schools: A blueprint for mayors, states, and the federal government". Brookings. Retrieved 2023-12-08.
  3. "Privacy and Education Technology | Protecting Student Privacy". Retrieved 2023-12-08.
  4. Edwards, Lucy (2016). "Education, Technology, and Higher Order Thinking Skills" (PDF).