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C2C Digital Magazine (Fall 2021 / Winter 2022)

Colleague 2 Colleague, Author

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Future of education/art: AI/AR/VR/MR, spatial computing & upcoming technos

By Azyz Sharafy, Professor of Electronic Arts, Washburn University


The world of technology is changing at a pace that was unthinkable 15 or 20 years ago. We are  already in the Jetson era:  smart phones, G-6, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), block chain technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality / virtual reality, metaverse, spatial computing, flying cars, sky links, neural networks, quantum computing, space travel, and other amazing research and inventions.  So much of what people have imagined is coming true. 

The way we educate and learn is already going through some big shifts. Although there is a big digital divide that needs to be addressed, the process of innovation is unstoppable at this stage.

Figure 1.  Text House (by Azyz Sharafy)

The new areas of faster computers and expanded bandwidth, AI (artificial intelligence), IOT (the Internet of Things), spatial computing, AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality), better smart glasses, teaching, and learning will  become more interactive and immersive.  Such connectivity will be enhanced through easier processing.  There will be better learning, more diverse digital contents, and newer visions in animation, gaming, AR/VR, metaverse, robotics, interactive art, and  related fields.


The world of technology has had rapid growth in all fields of life, and it has had a great impact in art and art education in the developed and developing countries. Although there is a great digital and technological divide between countries the technological advancement is catching up in the digital and online learning environments. This has been proven true more due to the pandemic situation that disrupted the educational environment all over the world.
What do we mean by the future? How does our sense of the future apply here? 

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary ("Future," n.d.): 
Future (noun)
1)  time that is to come b: what is going to happen
2)  an expectation of advancement or progressive development.

This paper is a projection of what may come as indicated by the flow and speed of what technology has achieved in last two decades mostly in the developed countries of the world. This work explores the field of technology that is impacting our lives.  This work explores where the technological progress and development are taking us in terms of education, educational technology, art, art tech, art creation, the use of future technology in art, and how technologies may redefine art in the 21st century.

I want to right away make it clear that I am totally aware of the digital divide that exists between developed countries, developing countries and underdeveloped countries. Some of the technological advancement may not be applicable to most of educational and creative art spaces in the world. I am presenting this, from my experience in teaching and living in the West and what we are doing in education, art, art creation and art pedagogy in the US. 

Present technologies that are and will be impacting our lives in times to come technology that is already there and we are using today

I first came across the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence ) in a 1999 paper “Artificial Life in Computer Game.” It has been quite a journey since then, and after two decades of research progress and amazing development in software and ML (Machine Learning) resulting in new computer languages, the new world of technology is finally here, and it seems we are really in the futuristic Star Trek era.

Some of the areas that will impact art, art education and future learning are listed below:
  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  2. Machine Learning (ML)
  3. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)  
  4. Edge Computing
  5. Quantum Computing  
  6. VR/AR Virtual and Augmented Reality
  7. Web/Metaverse
  8. Spatial Computing Blockchain   
  9. Internet of Things (IoT)
  10. 5/6 G
  11. Neural Network  
  12. Sky Link Networks
  13. Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  14. Genetic Splicing
  15. Wearable and Human Augmentation
  16. 3D Printing
  17. Drone technology
  18. Space Ventures
  19. Nano Technology
  20. Renewable Energy

Educational changes that are happening due to technology

There are 10 current educational technology trends in 2020 - 2021.  They include the following: 

  1. eLearning
  2. Video-Assisted Learning
  3. Blockchain Technology
  4. Big Data explosion
  5. Artificial Intelligence
  6. Learning Analytics
  7. Gamification
  8. Immersive Learning with VR AR MR & XR
  9. Spatial Computing
  10. Metaverse

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. At present the specific applications of AI include expert systems, natural language processing, speech recognition and machine vision.

The application of AI is slowly taking over various part of our daily life. With greater data input and data analysis it seems AI can do most works that humans can do with greater speed and perfection. Yet it is not as sophisticated as the body and human brain in its decision making and self-preservation.

What is Virtual Reality (VR) Augmented Reality (AR)? Mixed Reality (MR)? Extended Reality (XR)? Augmented Virtuality (AVR) ?

Virtual Reality (noun)

the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors

Augmented Reality (noun)

a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view

Devices: AR Smart Phone Notebook, iPad, Smart Screen. VR: HTC Vive/Pro Oculus Rift/GO/Quest MR HoloLens Magic Leap XR may include Augmented Wearable along with Interactive immersive experience like sound, smell vibrations haptic connectivity, etc.  

Some of the areas in education that VR is being used with visual examples from the Internet ("The Internet," n.d.):

Math VR

Math is being taught using VR headset in 3D space using virtual reality devices and making learning immersive and interactive.

Hololens augmented reality headsets for nursing

There are medical simulations for doctors and nursing in 3D virtual space creating simulation for practice and learning medicine.


VR in business and technology

Lots of businesses and industry use of virtual reality and for technical and industrial applications.


Education 4.0 – Design thinking x immersive learning technologies

In future education and teacher training will be in virtual and metaverse space. Some examples of virtual training using the Engage portal already being used now.


Future of VR/MR in theater production

In visual and performing arts, the use of virtual headset is already getting attention.  As the headsets and technology improve, the integration will get better. Lots of virtual use of technology is already being used in popular bands and in VR and the metaverse world.

VR in the art history classroom:  Virtual visits to masterpieces of Italian Renaissance

Teaching Art History in the classroom using VR headsets is already being practiced in various universities to bring to life the museum pieces right into the class for experiencing  it in 3D virtual reality space. Students can go into the artwork, touch it virtually, and because it is experiential, the retention of the information is more lasting.


Sculpting a sci-fi corridor in Oculus medium

Art creation and and actual visualizing and making things in 3D space is an experience by itself. With 3D virtual reality sculpting, the possibilities are immense and great for content creators, designers, installation artists, and for teaching 3D design and sculptures.

3D Painting in Immersive VR


Tilt Brush:  Painting from a new perspective

Use of Google Tilt Brush for 3D painting paved a new approach in painting using virtual reality immersive 3D space. Like sculpting in 3D, we now have painting in 3D where one can move one’s brush and paint in 3D space virtually. It adds motion, effects, and color to line with different types of brushes to work with giving it a dynamic, immersive
and three-dimensional interactive space, creating a spatial experience both for the artists and the viewer.

Augmented and Virtual Reality in my own teaching

Augmented Reality (AR) is when the reality is augmented with a virtual image, video, or animation. I have used augmented reality in storytelling books or brochures for students to work with where they could embed sound, video, and animation with images as tags to make their article or book interactive and fun.

Some links to my students' works in VR are posted in YouTube.  Please explore some of their works below. 

 VR painting work by my student Abby Miller

"Red bird of paradise" 

Abby Miller used 3D painting in virtual space and created dynamic motion-based art of a tropical forest.

VR painting work by my student Kyler Cogburn

"KC Exodus 3 Final 2"

Kyler Cogburn uses the text and story from the Bible to create his story telling artwork using virtual reality headset and painting tools.


There are other technologies that enable new art.  These include 3d printing, generative art from AI, drone art, space art, and biochemical art, among others.  Artist have explored both art, sciences, and new technology to make art from every part of life, processes, and knowledge. So, using biochemistry and cloning technology is also a new direction that art has been taking in the 21st century.


In conclusion, if we take any part of the technological development and combine it with all areas of humanity and science, we get new directions in art that are ever evolving. We already have robots doing artwork. If we combine Blockchain with art, we are getting NFT (nonfungible tokens). Unreal Engine is giving Megascan hyper realistic assistance with AI. In Metahumans, one can clone virtual human with super realistic rendering. The technologies are getting better every day. Adobe Photoshop already has Neural Filters for AI.

AI art has already had its footholds in the art world. As all these technological areas get better, the new immersive world of spatial  technology will merge with the new. 

Check out the following: 

Metaverse like Facebook Horizon (made with the Unity 3D engine) 

Akasha Metaverse (made with the Unreal engine)

A new world of interactive hyper virtual and reality merger is bound to happen in the world of Art, Education and Technology.


"Future."  (n.d.)  Merriam Webster dictionary. 

The Internet. (n.d.)  Wikipedia. 

About the Author

Azyz Sharafy teaches Studio/Electronic Arts, Graphic Design in the Art Department at Washburn University, in Topeka, Kansas, in the USA. He has been teaching at Washburn University since 1998. 

He has introduced technology based Electronic Art courses, including 2 & 3D Animation, Video Editing and Special Effects, Interactivity and Game Design 3D Printing,  Digital Painting and Drawing, and Comic Books and Graphic Novels. He added Augmented  Reality in Graphic Design Courses, and the explorations of Virtual Reality in Electronic Arts a few years ago.

He has recently added Artificial Intelligence in art, exploring the Metaverse as part of course requirements and introduced NFT and blockchain as part of class discussions. He is also part of the Washburn University departments and faculty offering a minor in Game Design.

Professor Sharafy has a Master of Fine Arts from M.S. University of Baroda, India, and a Master of Art Education from Concordia University in Montreal Canada.

Recent/past academic activities and exhibitions include workshop and presentation with Students on “Future of Education/Art. with AI, AR, VR, Spatial Computing and New Technologies”  Amity International
University, Kolkata India November 2021. Presented on “Future of Education/Art. with AI, AR, VR, Spatial Computing and New Technologies”  International Art Education Conference 2021. Amity International University, Kolkata India September 2021
He had a Solo Art Show; Fire Me Up Ceramics NOTO Art District, Topeka, Kansas 2021. Another Solo Art Show. Morrison Art Gallery, NOTO Art Center, Topeka, Kansas. August 2020
He is the member of steering committee of Colleague 2 Colleague and the SIDLIT  Conference for 2021/22 USA. He presented an online paper at SIDLIT 2020 titled "Teaching 3D Design Studio Art in the Time of Covid-19," August 5-7, 2020
He curated an online Art Show "Arts in the Times of COVID-19" to promote artists during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

His email is 

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