Educational Applications

All communication involves learning, but an Educator version of The Communicator could be created that would enhance many kinds of education. The convergence of NBIC technologies can radically transform the teaching and learning process and maximize the sensory and cognitive abilities of students. Some examples of applications include assistance to the learning disabled, optimally timed and individually presented learning experiences, and learning in a collaboratively orchestrated environment.

Several strategies could be employed to implement the Educator vision, geared for either individuals or groups, the classroom or the field. In the K-12 educational experience, a personal avatar or "coach" could govern hands-on experiments in accomplishing such goals as learning reading, science, math, or foreign languages. It would "teach" students as a human teacher does but would optimize itself to the needs of the student. It would be patient, friendly, stern, or take on any appropriate behavior. It might be most suitable for younger students but could also be a mentor for adults. If needed, it could be a

"copilot." In a work environment, it could not only teach prepared lessons but also monitor performance and instruct on how to improve it.

The system could merge the following technologies:

• biotechnology to assess the physiological and psychological state of the learner, sense moods and states of mind

• cognitive science and technology to present responsive and individualized presentations of material to the student through different modalities

• expert information technology to accumulate and supply educational information

Military training could employ The Educator to teach decision-making under stress in a battlefield game in which the battlefield is virtual and the soldier is the general. As the war game is played, the avatar could be the general's assistant, read out after the battle. In another scenario, the virtual battlefield could be in a real field where soldier-participants wear wireless PDA helmets. The system could also be used as a "decision-making under stress" teaching tool for corporate executives.

Educator avatars could assume a wide variety of images (male, female, young, old) and be capable of speaking in all languages (oral and otherwise); identifying individual learning styles and then adapting curricula to individual needs; and using access to biological data to determine which methods are most effective for the assimilation and retention of knowledge. This could effectively improve education and training in all arenas from preschool through graduate school and across the corporate and military environments. It would equalize educational opportunities for all, enable learners to move through material at their own pace, and ensure that knowledge of learning styles would be retained and carried forward from year to year as children move from teacher to teacher or adults move from job to job.

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