New school: imagining the classroom of tomorrow


With levitating chairs, augmented reality and robot teachers, illustrators sketch their visions of the future of education

25th February 2016
By Erick Alexander Fletes

Artists have creatively depicted the future for centuries, from the neo-futuristic visions of Syd Mead (best known for his work on Blade Runner, Alien, and Tron) to Hajime Sorayama, whose brilliant futuristic design for AIBO (a robotic dog developed by Toshitada Doi at Sony) garnered the highest design award in Japan and a spot in the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) permanent collections.

Depictions of propeller-powered ships once littered the creative sky of pamphlets seeking to depict the future. And now that people (in the US at least) spend an average of 444 minutes every day looking at screens, the future we imagine is filled with robots and screens. What will the classroom look like 35 years from now?

Bright, Medium's publication about innovation in education, invited three illustrators to reflect on it. Below is the first of them – see the rest over at Bright.

Josan Gonzalez (Sabadell, Spain)

A robot teacher assists students and guides them through the lessons; they learn more directly (it's also more practical) using virtual reality headsets to take a trip inside the human body, for example, where they discover anatomy and biology in a pretty amazing way. The possibilities are endless. They learn firsthand about flora, fauna, geography, and so on.

Using robots as teachers doesn't necessarily mean replacing the human teachers. Handing part of the teaching process to the machines gives teachers more time to prepare and create educational content, monitor each student's performance, and adapt lessons to individual learning curves.

Floating chairs – potentially using quantum levitation – help the students move, tilt, and rotate within the space (while using virtual reality). They also provide better ergonomics and enable monitoring of students' health and physical condition. Automated teachers and virtual reality make classes more dynamic and fun. Students have individual content that is adapted to their own learning progression instead of having the rigid classrooms of today.

This is an edited extract of an article originally published in Bright and is republished here via Creative Commons. The illustration is copyright of Josan Gonzalez. Read the full piece here


We want our stories to go far and wide; to be seen be as many people as possible, in as many outlets as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright in the stories on The Long + Short belongs to Nesta and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).

This allows you to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format. This can be done for any purpose, including commercial use. You must, however, attribute the work to the original author and to The Long + Short, and include a link. You can also remix, transform and build upon the material as long as you indicate where changes have been made.

See more about the Creative Commons licence.


Most of the images used on The Long + Short are copyright of the photographer or illustrator who made them so they are not available under Creative Commons, unless it says otherwise. You cannot use these images without the permission of the creator.


For more information about using our content, email us: [email protected]


HTML for the full article is below.