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Thursday May 28, 2020
Posted: Jun 23, 2015

A 40-year throwback to the future of higher education

College Connection

I still remember the glimpse of the future we Readfield Elementary School second-graders received in class during the throwback year of 1975.

A rattling projector beamed a stunning forecast as a narrator blared, “Technology is your friend and our future! In the year 2000, classrooms will amaze and be easily accessed by all.”

Various scenes of future classrooms rolled by. Our favorite was a college classroom depicted as an amphitheater nestled in a hillside. The prediction held that by the 21st century most communities would have these outdoor learning spaces.

As the scene unfolded, smiling students wearing sparkling Mylar jumpsuits lounged about, each holding what to us looked like cafeteria trays. However, these rectangles were soon described as “view boards that can hold an entire city library reduced in size to fit easily in the palm of one hand!”

Tablet or iPad anyone?

The scene concluded with the arrival of the professor who strode into the amphitheater looking like he’d just escaped from some broken time-space continuum. His white, billowing robe and matching beard gave him an ancient Greek philosopher vibe, but his shimmering silver headband, belt and shoes seemed to beckon to some bizarre disco future. We second-graders couldn’t keep from giggling at the sight of him as he solemnly instructed his students to open their view boards.

While the education forecast from 1975 missed on the fashion details, it got the big idea of easier access to education right. Advanced technology classrooms are the standard today, and college course access in Maine has increased through E-Learning options.

For example, in addition to offering traditional classroom courses on its two campuses, the University of Maine at Augusta was recently recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 ranking of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

In addition to web courses and programs, UMA also offers interactive television courses that are delivered to nearly 35 sites and centers across Maine. There are also delayed viewing course options that allow course meeting times to fit within a student’s busy life schedule.

UMA’s early adoption of course delivery technologies makes it easy to predict that new and improved E-Learning options await us in our future — less easy to predict is whether a resurgence in disco fashion awaits us there, too.


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