Digital Natives in the Digital Futures Lab

Part laboratory, studio, game space and exhibition, the Digital Futures Lab offers a stimulating experience for visitors of all ages; but a special and direct connection exists for “digital natives,” those born after the internet had become part of everyday life. The interactive nature of the space engages students with a variety of learning styles, and includes plenty of experiences to hear, see and touch, with a focus on active learning and participation.

Digital Futures Lab, SLQ Gallery, Level 2

Digital Futures Lab, SLQ Gallery, Level 2

In April year 5 students from Oakleigh State School explored the Lab via education tours led by State Library staff. During their visits student groups had spirited conversations about what the future will look like. Three areas that held the most excitement were the ways in which technology is and will be interfacing with the human body; what the future holds for education and learning; and what work might look like in another 10 years, and beyond. As staff led student groups through the Lab they asked the children questions. The responses were at once simple and profound.

How do you think technology will be used to improve our bodies in the future?

  • Wings so we can fly.
  • Prosthetic legs that would be connected to your mind.
  • A chip in your brain.

What kinds of jobs will there be in the future?

  • There won’t be work at all, only robots to do the work.
  • There will be cafés with robots, but people will need to manage the robots.
  • People will just work at home and be on their computers.
  • A big screen that you can walk into and that’s where you’ll work.
  • Lawyers and judges to make sure people don’t break the law.
  • Hospital jobs because people are smarter than robots.

What about the future of school and learning?

  • There won’t be teachers, only iPads.
  • Hologram teachers!
  • You’ll put on a [virtual reality] headset and you’ll all be in a school room but really you’ll be at home.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of virtual versus real-world classrooms?

  • I think you don’t learn to get along as well with other people.
  • It’s easier to ask for help and talk to other people in a [real world] classroom.

Students’ engagement with the conceptual features of the Digital Futures Lab revealed a deep desire to imagine and take ownership of this brave new world. In addition to discussion, students had opportunity to immerse themselves in virtual worlds, explore mindfulness apps and motion-controlled sport, and mould kinetic sand to create mountains and rivers in SEQWater’s augmented reality sandbox. They met and cuddled Paro the therapy robot seal and touched anemones in a virtual reality coral reef. Learners explored Smart Cities, data visualisations of fake news and – to gauge how far we’ve come – computer technology from 1992.

The Digital Futures Lab welcomes students from Year 5 through to University level to tour the Lab in guided and self-guided groups. An education resource guide is available for educators and includes activities across year levels, linked to the Australian curriculum. Tours are free and can be tailored to specific learning goals and subjects. To schedule a visit to this immersive space click here.

More information:

Digital natives https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_native

Education resource guide http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/resources/educators/learning-notes/digital-futures

Book a tour http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/school-and-group-tours

Anne Pensalfini
Project Support Officer, Signature Program