Digital Futures for Education

Exploring technologies of today to consider the impact on future education of multisensory interfaces

Picture credit Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash


With recent developments in sensory technology, it is easy to envisage a near future where education will adopt mixed reality solutions, overlaying the learning environment with digital augmentation and multisensory interfaces. This combined with the possibilities of creating interfaces for interaction with familiar objects in the Internet of Things, where having a conventional screen as a graphical user interface has become redundant.

‘Often, the interface is seen as a connector, as a seamless rendering of interoperability, and as a way by which the web becomes accessible to us’ (Ashton, 2009).

Ashton, K; That ‘Internet of Things’ Thing

What seemed impossible can become a reality. Imagine if a fire broke out around you, and the extinguisher, positioned in your environment senses it is an electrical fire, alerts you, speaking instructions to guide the user on how to put out the fire and at the same time alerts the fire station. The possibilities are endless.

The purpose of this Open Educational Resource

No one can predict what may happen, we can only hope that the digital future will bring us a new level of interactivity in educational technology. This OER is designed to form a starting point to think about a future with enhanced interfaces building on existing Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR). In doing so some of the implications of more realistic visualisation of interfaces such as those with multisensory features such as touch, taste and smell as well as sound and vision should be considered.

However you may like to ask yourself the following questions:

Can there be too much reality in a simulated digital environment?

And are there unintended consequences of creating mixed reality learning environments that immerses the participant in a sensory world?

Feel free to write down your thoughts before you formally start the course.
Your views may have change by the end of the course!

The exercises included in Module Two will focus on technology available on smartphones that is often forgotten about but in plain sight. You can consider whether these have educational value or not at the present time, with an open mind to what may be available in the near future.

This OER will not venture into the world of VR for entertainment purposes such as the Oculus system.

What you will need to complete this OER

  • Three hours to complete all three modules of this course. These will vary in length.
  • The ability to take notes to write down your thoughts. A pen and paper is ideal.
  • The use of a Smartphone to complete the exercises in Module Two. A tablet or laptop can be used if you are able to download apps and they have a functioning camera (although it is much more convenient on a Smartphone, due to the mobility of the device).
  • Access to the internet. Internet Explorer not a recommended browser.
  • Google Chrome downloaded on to your Smartphone to participate in Google 3D activity.
  • A curious nature to experiment and consider the value of some of the practical elements of this OER.
  • At the end, you may like to review your initial thoughts to see if any of your views have changed.

You have now completed the introduction


This work is licensed to Heather Oughton under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.