Imagine a world where communities come together in libraries, community or retirement centers, schools or other venues to interact with experts nationally or internationally on topics relevant to their lives. Imagine working on projects with citizens of Syria, Africa, or New Zealand. Your book club just finished reading a book and you want to talk to the author – it can happen. You just want to learn more about the Space or take a tour of the Smithsonian American Art Museum – anything is possible. Perhaps your interest is in climate change and the plight of the polar bear – you can find out how you can help.
Virtual travel is now readily available and is enjoyed by many already. Thousands of nonprofit organizations have the ability to videoconference and/or stream programs. The equipment, once bulky and expensive is now very affordable and in many states, it provides the impetus for lifelong learning.
Schools will become transformed as they use a blended approach of problem–based learning along with distance learning to bring in experts and programs. When students want to know something they are no longer limited by the teacher’s knowledge. The world is theirs. Not only can they interact with experts but they can work on projects with students who may be from a different geographic area or from a different race. The more they interact in this safe environment, the more understanding and tolerance they can develop.
As America ages our seniors can stay more active both by learning about topics of interest and by being the experts that others seek for answers. They can mentor young people seeking to expand their knowledge and get a whole new respect for the life experiences of those who have been in the trenches.
Libraries and community centers are in everyone’s neighborhoods. By recognizing timely issues and providing accurate information by going to the source, whole communities would better understand multiple aspects of an issue.
In short, videoconferencing technology has the power to create a better educated citizenry and promote cultural understand that can be continued throughout a lifetime.