Can technology improve education?
This is not a new question and is one that has remained the same though decades of invention and innovation.
Using technology in the classroom dates back nearly 100 years when radio stations began broadcasting on-air classes. Since then, innovations such as the overhead projector, the calculator, desktop computers, CD-Roms, and countless other inventions have transformed the teaching landscape. The impact of this has been inconclusive, but there are outcomes that are conclusive. These include improvements in:
Student and staff attendance and punctuality
Extending the student’s learning time
So what are the next wave of educational technologies and what can they offer students?
Mixed Reality Technologies
Mixed reality technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), are giving educators and students access to experiences and information that were previously unavailable to them.
This bridging of physical and digital experiences opens up limitless opportunities as students and teachers are no longer confined to the information available on paper or a screen — a whole world of digital information can be made available alongside it.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality turns the environment around you into a digital interface by placing virtual objects in the real world, in real-time. AR content can be accessed by scanning or viewing a trigger image with a mobile device that creates a subsequent action. This action can be a video, another image, 3D Animations, Games, QR code, or whatever you want it to be.
The beauty of AR is that the learning experiences can be as easy or as complex as you want. You can create your own, download ready-made apps connected to various content, or students can easily create these experiences on their own in a matter of minutes.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual Reality was born for the video game industry. It offers users the opportunity to step into places, roles, and experiences that were previously impossible, or inaccessible, as it allows you to enter a 360º video shoot or created 3D immersive environment.
There is untold potential in using VR as an educational conduit, making it an exciting option for teachers and students alike - a VR can be designed to enable experiential learning, scenario-based learning, social learning, workplace training, and more. Pearson are leading the way in developing cutting-edge tools and techniques in this space.1
The immersive nature of VR brings depth to educational content by engaging the senses and allowing exploration to a degree that would be difficult to duplicate within the confines of a classroom, making it an ideal catalyst for curiosity and true learning.
These mixed reality technologies could allow for a higher teacher to student ratio, increasing the tutoring each individual receives. They could also allow for important preparation for students before undertaking tasks they will carry out in the real world, e.g. at South Staffordshire College in the UK, the bricklaying team produced their own mixed reality resources which have improved the number of trainees cutting bricks right first time from around 40% to a staggering 90%.2
Biometrics: Eye Tracking
This technology is used to measure the impact of visual stimuli and provides insight into cognitive and emotional engagement. Advertising research has been using eye-tracking technology to see how consumers respond to ads and to determine what captures their attention.
Eye-tracking can tell you what people are looking at, how long they look at it and what they notice or don’t notice. Eye-tracking can be helpful in providing invaluable feedback for teachers to understand how students absorb and understand the learning content by getting details of where students look during online learning sessions.
This data may then be integrated with interactive adaptive learning systems in a manner that adjusts the content to best suit each student’s learning needs. Alternatively, the eye movement patterns may also guide the delivery of the content, taking into account concepts students might have trouble understanding, evident by the extended time they spend gazing at that particular section.
LCD Touch Boards
An interactive screen is a computer driven device, allowing users to access and manipulate electronic files by means of a LCD display.
Instead of the traditional big board in front of the classroom there could be a giant LCD screen lying flat atop a table-like structure. Students can sit around this, swipe on the board to manipulate and drag images around the screen, type notes with their onscreen keyboards or annotate content – all of which could be saved. These multi-touch surfaces could also allow students to collaborate and manipulate virtual objects in real-time with peers around the world.
No technology automatically enhances learning - the effective use of any of these technologies requires thoughtful consideration and planning. Whether low tech (a chalkboard) or high tech (a 3-D interactive visualization), a tool’s learning benefits depend on when, where, how, and why you use it. Making use of technology to allow students the freedom to discover solutions to problems both independently and collaboratively is a force for good. Educators strive for students to engage with learning beyond a superficial level allowing them to be active learners, learners who have a thirst for discovery and knowledge. Technology places the world in the hands of students inside the confines of the classroom.
Using technology in education for the sake of using technology in education holds little value, but used intelligently, technology can provide new ways for learners to access content and knowledge.
Immersive learning https://www.pearson.com/uk/web/pearsontq/our-training-services/immersive-learning.html
Augmented reality in education: teaching tool or passing trend? https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2013/feb/11/augmented-reality-teaching-tool-trend
Image sources: Pearson brand toolkit
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pearson