Technology is bringing about greater change in education than any other invention ever. Emerging technologies such as augmented reality, cloud computing and 3D printing are paving the way for the future of education. Teachers are increasingly aware of the value of the latest technology and devices and their role in teacher efficiency. Technology can help plan lessons and review tests and exams.
It also makes communication with parents, students and other teachers more efficient. More and more teachers are integrating new technologies and devices into their study material and a clear evolution is taking place in which traditional learning is giving way to online learning.
Courses are increasingly accessible to everyone free of charge and can be attended anywhere in the world. In this article, we take a look at some of the ways in which technology is transforming education.
A day in the life of the student of the future
In the future, education will no longer be defined only by a teacher in front of the class. Instead, at home, in any part of the world, the student looks at a screen on which a fellow student gives you a list of possible subjects to study. Then the students classify these topics and the teacher compiles the course or tutorial. Then each student is assigned a topic in which they take turns to teach. The students do not meet physically.
For example, a student may have recorded a video in Spain or China and will tell something about it during the online course. If something is said during the course that you don’t understand, you can stop the program to look up the meaning.
You can then share this information with others by linking it to the video at the relevant time. While watching the video, you can read notes from your fellow students or mark and share important parts of it yourself.
If you no longer feel like sitting inside, shut down your computer and go outside in the garden on your phone. If you think this is a far-fetched scenario of what learning might look like in 2020, then you are wrong. In the new world of education, students learn not only from their teachers but also from each other. Technology makes it possible to participate for free in online courses for which thousands of students can register.
They follow the lessons via live video streaming or via pre-recorded video material. In an era where students have access to more information through their phones than any teacher can ever absorb, the physical classroom with the physical teacher will soon become a thing of the past.
Several universities have an online platform on which students ‘socialise’ with each other. Once logged in to these social networks, students can share ideas and information with each other and instructors take on the role of moderator. Sharing ideas in this way is an enormous ’empowerment’. It gives students insight into the learning process and clarifies the fact that the responsibility lies not only with the instructor but also, to a large extent, with the student himself.
This ‘many-to-many learning’ concept, in which there is a free flow of ideas, is also much more in line with today’s world, where cooperation on the shop floor is often the norm. Naturally, instructors and professors remain in the picture in order to upload important and useful information to the cloud community.
They can also offer guidance on forums. These types of social platforms can also serve as valuable feedback tools to improve the courses. Whichever way you look at it, a social approach to education is becoming increasingly relevant to our future students.
From blackboard to multi-touch LCD display
There have been many transitions in recent decades and this has certainly not been different in classrooms. From blackboard via whiteboard to overhead projector and then video projector. The next step in this development is the gigantic touchscreen LCD screen that will enable a high degree of interactivity.
The computer-connected screens not only offer an infinite number of combinations of images and video, but also the possibility of input from several students at the same time. In contrast to the video projectors hanging on the wall, this new generation of tablet-like screens lie flat on a table.
The students sit around it and control the screen by swiping, dragging and typing. These ‘tablet desks’ offer unlimited possibilities. Students can manipulate virtual objects and collaborate in real time with students all over the world. A great example of this kind of technology is Durham University’s Multi-touch SynergyNet.
Augmented learning with augmented reality
Augmented reality in the classroom is still largely limited to smartphone apps, but with the next generation of AR devices such as Google Glass, in the future students will be able to explore the world of learning in more in-depth ways.
Through a ‘layer’ of interactive information, an object that the student is looking at with the Glass headset is enriched with additional details such as its history. Virtual school trips or excursions will also become much easier and especially cheaper with augmented reality. Online chemistry and physics teacher Andrew van den Heuvel taught his students from the ‘big hadron collider’, an underground particle accelerator built on the French-Swiss border.
With his Google Glass headset, he was able to show his students what he saw with live streaming, thousands of kilometres away. Glass can also be used in Google Hangouts – live video conferences similar to Skype. With Google Hangouts, you can stream educational content live so that students all over the world can watch.
The valuable feedback from biometric eye tracking
Biometric eye tracking can provide valuable feedback for teachers. It is used to quantify visual attention that gives teachers insight into how students absorb content. Eyetracking is done by means of a small camera that is mounted at the bottom of a computer screen. This technology is often used for advertising research to find out how customers respond to advertisements.
Similar forms of analytics can also be performed to determine the effectiveness of a learning programme. Mirametrix’ S2 Eye Tracker research tool can be used to assess how students learn. This is done by identifying what a student’s gaze is or will remain on during an online course. The S2 is used worldwide by software companies, marketing agencies and universities.
The information obtained through biometric eye tracking is integrated with learning systems in such a way that the educational content can be adapted to the learning style of the student. Eye movement patterns are also a valuable tool for determining the best way to provide educational material. If a student looks at a certain part of a text for a long time, this could mean that the student has trouble understanding the material.