The New Classroom Technologies Were Out of the World And About to Get Even Better

Stan was a high-school French teacher, he liked to teach, and he was good at it, he’d better be after nearly 15-years. Thankfully, he’d been a teacher that long, as even teachers with 10-12 year tenure had been laid off recently with all the budget cuts, scary stuff. Luckily, he was still working, because he had a daughter who’d cost him a pretty penny in the next 4-6 years. Yes, he enjoyed the world of education, but he also liked being a father, but was somewhat apprehensive of his daughter going away to school in Palo Alto, CA at Stanford University.

That was pretty far away from home, his daughter was not a party type, never did drugs, and she had a knack for computers amongst other things. His daughter was a lot like his wife, sassy, commanding, but smart as a whip, and she had all his attributes as well; hard work ethic, perfectionism, respect for authority, athleticism, and was totally goal oriented, so she’d do fine, which of course, was the “only option” because those student loans would have to be paid back, and daddy wasn’t going to slave away, deplete his savings if his daughter wasn’t serious.

Of course, he wanted his daughter to be able succeed on her own, even if she’d probably find a wealthy Silicon Valley startup millionaire to marry along the way. Although, she wasn’t too into social networking, she certainly could be if Facebook wanted her to intern there next summer. She was leaving all her options open. She loved Apple, and Google, and well, things were beginning to hop again in the Valley at IBM, Intel, as well. Just about everywhere along the 101 corridor, and First Street in San Jose was hiring too.

Meanwhile, across the street from the University, the old Venture Capital crowd was back hanging out, making plans, and yes, making money too. This second life for Silicon Valley was good, in the real world, academic domain, and in the virtual one as well. Stan wished he was in on the next new thing, he very much missed being in on the action, but he was far away from Silicon Valley, and was doing okay, perhaps even living through the eyes of his daughter, wanting her to succeed where he hadn’t. Oh sure, he was successful, for a French Teacher, but he had really hoped for more.

Stan and his wife got their daughter into her dorm room at Stanford and headed back, for Stan school started in less than a week. The school was brand new, built on the same property, just all new buildings. The old ones were still there too. On the new buildings he lamented; “the paint isn’t even dry yet, literally,” as he stopped in at Starbucks after a round of teacher meetings, on-going education, and familiarization with the latest in school technologies. The new school was state-of-the-art, digital blackboards, WiFi enabled, digital text-books, you name it, they had it.

“Wow,” he thought, “this is going to be really cool indeed,” and it was all of that and more as the school year started. It was easier to keep the kids’ attention with all the multi-media, easier to present class lectures, power-points, use the Internet. What a difference. Still, he felt, it was an experienced teacher that would really be able to make use of all this, as it takes teaching experience to make it all work. As he got extremely proficient, half the school year was already over. His daughter couldn’t come home for Spring Break, as she’d taken on a job at IBM as an intern and would be going to orientation over the holiday.

That’s okay Stan thought, he missed his daughter, and so too did his wife, but he was very excited for her success, and now with the new iPhone App, they often text-messaged back-and-forth and did video feed family phone calls too. Turns out his daughter scored so high on the IBM intern tests, they put her on the research team working on Holographic Spectral Imaging, for none other than classroom applications in education, and she’d be working on the testing phase, using the technology. She was so blown away by the technology that she called her dad and asked if he’d like to try it in his French Class?

“Absolument, je veux l’essayer,” he said, and since she was heading up the intern team and they’d decided to try it out in various parts of the country, she made it so. She told her father, “Dad, I don’t know about the rest of the world but IBM is winning the future, I mean they are bringing the future like, des mainenant!”

As her dad was using the system, he made several recommendations, and even re-wrote the manual in French for IBM, which was so impressed they hired him as a part-time consultant at $100,000 per year. Now he was making a difference again in Silicon Valley, bringing the virtual world into the academic world, while planning the future in the real world. IBM donated more gear to his high-school as well, every classroom, and he won “Teacher of the Year” for the entire district, “imagine that,” he thought, “a lowly French teacher.” Stan never lost his sense of humor.

He got with the computer science teacher and they came up with a new scheme, the computer science teacher also got a $100,000 per year consulting contract and four of the kids in each of their classes got partial scholarships to Stanford, with intern opportunities at IBM of course. In fact, IBM named their new virtual teacher assistant, 3D Stanley, a pun on the old “Flat Stanley” 2D avatar, as well as a tribute to Stan.

Stanley 3D was soon teaching French and English all over the world. Some 400 million Chinese Students are learning from English from Stanley, the VR assistant hologram of Stan’s image, in China. In India, there were already 200 million students watching him every day and learning English, and he lost count of the total number of countries learning either French or English from his virtual self, and contributing royalties to IBM and his retirement account, the whole family was smiling now.

At Thanksgiving, his daughter, said, “Dad, I hope you are proud of me, I am working so hard, Stanford is really tough,” and Stan just looked at her and said, “you are greatest daughter in the world, you did good, Je suis fier de vous.”