The University of Stanford has created an exhibition that like a time machine transfers its visitors to the year 2025 making them imagine the future of Education. However, what the future holds for us and our children who will probably grow up with far more elevated technology is never known. We can only predict the future of learning reflecting on today’s educational technology for teaching and learning. Among the hottest technology trends in education in the future remain AR, VR, MR, gamification, simulation and big data analytics.
How has technology improved Education?
Big Data and Learning Analytics are the first to mention as key ways of driving improvements in education. Learning students’ behaviors and analyzing big sets of data coming from educational software, it is possible to outline gaps in e-learning, adjust educational programs, and give teachers better feedback on the effectiveness of their approaches. Open content and possibilities that online courses, webinars, training software provide are critical as well. Day by day, Universities open their resources to learners across the world. Education goes global, remote, and free. Technology trends in higher education reach new horizons, offering students experience VR, 3D modeling and allowing creativity and freedom in managing and controlling their learning flows individually. The University of South Wales, University of Birmingham, Texas state University, German University in Cairo already offer students to be captured by the impressive virtual reality trips.
Energizing Digital Curriculum
The New Zealand government has elaborated the digital curriculum and actively introduces it to children, making them not mere digital users but digital controllers eager to innovate and discover. What’s there under the meaning of the digital curriculum? Firstly, it is the application of software by teachers to automate processes of composing materials, managing classes easier, receiving better insights on how to create versatile and helpful programs. In the heart of such an approach is computational thinking that school should develop in children. Within the curriculum, pupils are expected to know pretty much about programming and finish the course with a set of technical skills, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, the right sense of evaluation, and a great understanding of project management. They have to be able to design, develop, test, and evaluate digital content to solve a particular issue. The curriculum teaches them to decompose computational problems into an algorithm. Based on the algorithm children can independently create a program using inputs, outputs, sequence, selection, and iteration. All this is a knowledge set of 10 year old pupils!
Digitalization and creating awesome curriculums in Education are all about the application of technology advances, software, and hardware tools during the classes and not only. Immersive learning is learning via artificial surroundings and simulations. It is all about imitating the environment physically but placing users in virtual reality that facilitate better attention on virtual objects a user may see for the first time in life. The matter is immersive classes take pupils out of the classroom and continue to have an impression on their minds as classes are over.
VR constitutes a part of immersive learning together with AR and Mixed Reality and is among the most desired technology trends in higher education. 66% of teachers say that Virtual Reality makes learning more real and engaging. However, only 23% of surveyed have experience in applying Virtual Reality in the classroom. What is so exciting about VR during classes that every adult would be jealous of enjoying it when being a kid at school many years ago?
VR headsets are also called Head-mounted displays. As users wear the device, they use head and hand gestures to explore, walk, turn, and navigate the virtual image in front of them. Such devices are supported with specially designed software and give a chance to present pupils with a vast range of educational resources and ensure that students’ attention is kept on things that can be seen in detail. Desktop VR devices are connected to desktops and are marked with better levels of engagement and better-reproducing facilities.
What does it look like in practice?
Pupils can find themselves in historical places that are far away across the world or situated in mountainous areas that are difficult to reach. With VR headsets, biology classes will be an amazing experience. Pupils can travel through the human body and see human muscle models or explore the digestive system. Geography classes can become something more than just pictures in books or videos of the Earth’s soil layers, rainforests, river systems. This all can be shown virtually as well.
The best sources of virtual classes are Google Expeditions. An experiment on how pupils were using it in the classroom proves that modern lessons impress with visualization and newness, provide more deep knowledge, bringing pupils closer to things in real life that are sometimes explained by educators superficially.
360 VR experience
The viewer interacts with image, video, or CG (computer-generated) experience that displays 360-degree areas up and down, right and left, allowing users to navigate and go through virtual places. A bright example is Henry Oculus Story Studio. Here React 360 by Facebook is a WebVR framework that gives engineers to develop Virtual Reality trips at the highest level.
An example of Augmented Reality is MetaGlass. The idea behind AR is to augment real-world objects with virtual objects to empower environments with new sense and possibilities that can not be reached physically. To experience and bring life reality into the classroom, pupils have to use AR expedition applications, mobile devices that support ARcore on Android or ARkit for iOS. Directing their smartphones to some surrounding, surface, or object, they will watch volcanoes bursting out on their desks or tornado in the classroom. The right application of VR allows students to investigate things together, share their emotions, and conduct reflections on each other’s experiences.
New technology in education implies to teach children to use digital advances for their benefit and prepare them for the world where the first demand will be their digital knowledge.
Microsoft HoloLens MR devices have transparent visors that allow viewers to see where they are, so to say their real physical environment, and simultaneously interact with a virtual anatomy model. It forms a virtual copy of a traditional lab class because the solution allows the whole group to take part in the virtual exploration. See how it works.
An interactive environment means a user interacts with a virtual environment to change it and it responds to human touch, movements, and gestures as in reality. Imagine you wearing VR headsets entering virtual reality where you can choose from surroundings, like natural landscapes or the night sky. Choosing the latter you find yourself in the galaxy and can act in space, change the background, and have a Moon model as if real. This is how Tilt Brush by Google works, which is a fabulous application that allows the user to control various elements of the program.
Gamification is one more case of how technology has improved education. It is an application of game-based software that can include language quizzes, video and animated media, leadership and progress boards, avatar profiles, scoring systems. Why students can not do without gamification is caused by an active spread of social media and interactive, fast-flowing content which is everywhere. Variants of gamification in the classroom are enormous and bring a lot of benefits both for teachers, children, and parents:
- helps students learn things faster, keeps them motivated;
- gamification helps parents engage their kids to learning at home;
- teachers establish tighter interaction with students, receive better insights on their progress, and offer entertaining ways to assess skills and learn new ones.
Flat-panel displays (IFPDs) that are not projector-based boards, but new digital boards, function as wireless content sharing software, collaboration and educational software, all-in-one office solution. It means children can be invited to draw on the board with their fingers or a stylus, display, and create their presentations. Teachers can use such boards to introduce the class with video tutorials or game-based solutions to go through the levels together.
How does technology impact student learning?
Challenging Learning Center in the USA offers K-12 education based on simulation and hands-on activities. Children can try everything – from being an astronaut visiting a space shuttle to biologists, physicists, and whatever they dream to be. The 21st-century demand to be technologically savvy testifies to the importance of everyday growth of trends in educational technology. Simulated spaces, VR, and AR devices together with teachers plan what they would like to have to boost children’s skills is work worth praising.
Software makes children think not of mere task completion, but of their skills and algorithms of their thinking on which the outcomes depend. Technology now offers situations identical to real life, which empowers pupils to take responsibility for their steps and think critically as if they deal not with software or experimental staff but as with real things.