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The EdTech Narratives

It is Spring, and 13-year-old Angela approaches the doors to her middle school. On the way up the steps, the heat-sensor cameras scan her for fever, cross referencing historical data and checking for anomalies. As she approaches the entryway, the decorative plants are fitted with calcium sensors, creating a bio-tech neural network which senses heightened anxiety.

Angela notices none of this. She simply walks into the school looking for her friends.

However, the computers have noticed, and as Angela enters the cafeteria, her daily schedule is being automated. In milliseconds, her class grades have been run through a multi-factorial computation which compares, contrasts, and correlates data from Angela’s self evaluation, peer performance, teacher qualitative feedback, and past trends. Before Angela has even made it to the lunch trays, A.I. has already run 10,000 permutations of today’s schedule for Angela.

The A.I. synthesizes and then shares with the student interface the top three salient data points:

  1. every Spring as the weather changes, Angela’s performance in applied mathematics has a negative trend line;

  2. many of Angela’s peers have the same trend line, and;

  3. Angela’s grade in Applied Mathematics has a positive correlation to time spent doing guided activities in class, as supported by both historical data from her math class and similar responses to interventions in Integrated Science and UX Design.

While Angela is selecting her preferred macronutrient breakfast, her watch beeps, indicating that her suggested schedule is ready. Once that notification is received, Angela has 10 minutes to review and accept one of the three suggested schedules before the system selects one for her.

She talks with her friends, eats breakfast, and takes a photo of her tray to log how much she consumed before comparing schedules. Her friend Jessica leans into Angela and they compare watches. The first schedule has them both taking applied math followed by direct teacher support and then a break. That’s perfect! The whole first half of the day together. They quickly accept the schedule and then continue to talk.

Down the hall, Mr. Jensen is preparing to teach his first period Applied Mathematics class. He’s a little nervous, as this is his first time doing the new activity that the curriculum guide suggested. In the past, he would normally have selected independent learning--allowing every student to choose between a video, written examples, or pre-assessment--and then follow that with a prepared lecture. However, last week, the curriculum guide noted that lecturing was his preferred mode of delivery 87% of the time but that mathematical performance tends to slip in the Spring, due to inattentiveness. Instead of a lecture, the guide suggested an activity that involves bridge building using minimal supplies. Although most of his global learning community decided not to do the activity, Mr. Jensen shared that he would give it a shot and let them know how it went during their next planning meeting. Now, a few minutes before class, he’s reviewing the teacher support videos for how to best measure and reinforce student success with this type of activity.

As he finishes the last video on supporting resilience in project-based learning, students enter the classroom. Facial recognition software takes attendance, and Mr. Jensen’s tablet continues to update with who is there and who is missing. He remembers his old school, where every student had a set schedule and every class roster was the same. Adapting to this stretch model was a little intimidating at first, but when he realized that students were pre-selected for his first period class because of their receptivity to math in the morning, it quickly became a joy. Plus, many of these students were paired to this exact lesson because the system knows that they learn best through activities.

It’s time to begin, but one student’s name is still listed in bright red. The computer not only knows that the student is in the school, but that he is currently upstairs in the B-Hall. Mr. Jensen simply taps the name and then welcomes the rest of the students as they take their seats.

Upstairs in the B-Hall, Jordan’s phone beeps. The notification reads: “Mr. Jensen, 1st period, Applied Mathematics. A-Hall, Room 202.” Jordan knows where he’s supposed to be, but he had followed his crush upstairs, almost making her late for class too. Jordan accepts the notification and Mr. Jensen’s voice plays in his earbud. Jordan is now tuned into the broadcast with other students who are learning remotely. “Dang, Mr. Jensen’s already started the lecture! Did he even say hello?” Jordan picks up his pace. The lecture had already started, and he knows that if he is any later than 3 minutes, he’ll have to wipe his schedule and accept the alternate--which will mess up his plans for afternoon classes with his crush. He taps the purple button to let Mr. Jensen know that he is on his way.

Principal Houghton makes her way up the stairs. She actually enjoys doing the “hall sweep.” It gives her a chance to know students and stay on top of the school’s operations. At the top of the stairs, she sees a student rushing down, and almost calls out, “Hey! Slow down. Where are you supposed to be right now?” Those old habits die hard, but fortunately, her watch had sensed the spike in heart rate and sent a notification just in time. She looks down, and the notification reads: “Jordan Myers, Applied Mathematics, On his way, currently listening to lecture.” Mrs. Houghton stops on the stairs, and when Jordan sees her, he catches himself and slows down. As he passes, Mrs. Houghton simply says, “Hello, Jordan.” He nods and gives a slight smile, still listening to the lecture. She watches as he makes his way down the stairs and into Mr. Jensen’s class.

On Mr. Jensen’s tablet, Jordan’s name turned from purple to green. He’s just in time to start building a bridge.

NuMinds Enrichment is in the fortunate position of being an education company owned by forward-thinking technologists. Our headquarters at Hexa Coworking are in the tech corridor of Dallas-Fort Worth, which means we share a breakroom with A.I. programmers, satellite relay experts, virtual telecom specialists, and so many brilliant forward-thinking people! When we’re not creating engaging student programs and training educators, we love futurecasting how technology will impact education. We share these as short stories, so that others can be inspired and write themselves into the narrative.

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