Emerging Technologies in Education

Dr. Parshotam S.Manhas
The technology itself is not transformative. It’s the school, the pedagogy, that is transformative ? Tanya Byron
The education sector is indeed in transitional phase and the new technology-driven education can be termed as Education 4.0 after the first three revolutions of education system being the Gurukula system, the traditional university system and distance learning. For Young ‘digital natives’ born with the capacity to understand the world through gadgets, it is pertinent that the educational sector transforms itself to adapt to the newer technologies in ensuing years. It is evident that technology has become an enabler in democratising education in the 21st century. Anyone can teach and anyone can learn. In this era, learning will be available to everyone, everywhere and all the time. The most important aspect will be the ability to learn. Fast learners will outpace machines and fellow humans, and educators will need to improve the learning ability of their students. However, in the era of online education, the students’ data privacy and cyber security should be handled carefully by the educators and the institutions.
Data analytics in academics and sports
The use of data analytics in institutions is a uniquely forward-thinking concept. Student data gathered from various sources like application forms, admission forms, mark sheets, feedback forms, etc., will be able to map and measure the progress of each student in academics and creates personalised plans for their academic future and working on key problem areas. Data analytics can also be used in sports to records and stores games for retrieval at future, making it the perfect tool for coaches to communicate more effectively with students on their team.
Virtual classrooms
Everything going virtual has become an increasing trend and the students of tomorrow are going to connect with each other virtually. Virtual classroom bridges the gap between geographical boundaries and connects students and teachers with resources that can be obtained even without being physically present. Using this technology, learners can connect with instructors around the globe, experience cultures about which they have only heard and collaborate with peers on the other side of the world. They can attend lectures conducted in classrooms anywhere in the world from within their own classroom or home thus increasing the domain of education far and wide. Education will be location agnostic and even a student in a remote area will be able to acquire the benefit of world class education with a tablet and internet access.
App-based learning and gamification
Trendy and engaging apps are likely to rule over the traditional pedagogy in future. Students are showing their interest as the mobile app allows them to learn through gamification. Undoubtedly, the results are superb by combining education and technology for effective learning. Gamification challenges a student at every level by offering innovation incentives thus making learning fun, engaging and interactive. A game-based learning is about crafting the content around game-story. The students may create their own games or play other commercial video games. Gamification operates on the assumption that the engagement experienced by the learner should be translated to the educational context. This would eventually influence the behaviour of student while facilitating learning at the same time.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI is sometimes called machine intelligence and it refers to the utilization of computer capacities as against natural intelligence. It involves designing computers that mimic human intelligence in speech recognition, learning, reasoning, planning, etc. The tech has application in many areas of life, e.g. in gaming (creating chess-playing robots), in automobile (creating self-driving car) and so on. Institutions can leverage AI to develop customized student learning solutions based on test results. The academic world is becoming more convenient and personalised thanks to the numerous applications of AI for education. AI is emphasising in personalised learning, the automation of administrative tasks and students’ assessments and grading; allowing the educators to spend more time with students. AI is computer-based; it can be connected to different classrooms all over the world, fostering greater cooperation, communication, and collaboration among institutions and nations. Some of the examples of AI are Netex Learning, chatbots, Alexa, Netflix and Amazon.com
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR is all about superimposing computer-generated images on top of the view of reality, thus creating a composite view that augments the real world. Pokémon GO is among the best-known examples. Anatomy 4D, Elements 4D and Aug That are some of the most popular and useful augmented reality apps that students and teachers can use for effective learning.
Virtual reality (VR)
VR implies a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world and is usually experienced through head mounted display (HMD) or headsets (like Face book’s Oculus Rift). This technology is going to disrupt how we learn quite dramatically. Learners could literally walk around atoms and molecules and experience them with full three-dimensional HD clarity. VR programmes can simulate a nuclear chain reaction leading to an explosion without experiencing the slightest physical harm.
The possibility of virtual field trips would mean that students could go on virtual excursions to almost any place in the world and also to any place out of this world. Imagine field trips to the Orion Nebula or hiking trips on the canyons of Mars or talking with the teacher who appears to be standing on the banks of Amazon River without having to step out of the classroom or their home. A learner can also know about animals by taking an expedition through a digital jungle using a smart phone app, simple cardboard VR glasses and earphones. Teachers could teach subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, and Biology through virtual labs that not just keeps students engaged but also allows them to practice before they can test the experiments in real laboratories. It would also help students take a step away from memorization and allow them to learn through active participation and experience.
Mixed Reality (MR) brings together real world and digital elements. MR technology is starting to take off with Microsoft’s HoloLens – to place digital content in the real world as if it were really there and Samsung HMD Odyssey- to create a sense of ‘presence’? hiding the physical world and replacing it with a digital experience.
Learning Management System (LMS)
LMS is a server-based or cloud based software that is used to deliver courses or training programs for students. LMS is also known as course management system (CMS) and manages information about users, courses and content efficiently. An LMS provides a place to learn and teach without depending on the time and space boundaries. Quizzes, exams, assessments and courses can be self-paced with LMS. Using LMS teachers can give personalized courses to each student. A teacher can identify the weaknesses and strengths of the student, and create customized courses that will help students to concentrate more on their gray area to improve it. Many LMS support live chats with educators to help shy students to clarify their doubt.
3-D printing is another innovative technology which helps students to turn any digital file into a three dimensional physical product. It enhances hands-on learning and learning by doing. Using this prototyping technology, students will be able to produce realistic 3-D mini-models. Teachers can take 3-D printouts of difficult-to-visualize structures such as 3-D structures of molecules for chemistry students; 3-D structures of cells, viruses, human heart, head skeleton, for biology students; topography, demographic or population maps for geography students; etc. to help students understand easily.
5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology. Through its improved enhancements of high speed and low latency, it will change the dynamics of the education system forever. Students are more likely to benefit from this unique innovation as this promises them quick downloads of files, videos, documentaries and resources. 5 G-enabled classrooms among other things could include a holographic teacher; seamless AR and VR experiences; improved internet of things (IoT) and enhanced robot based applications.
We are in fact venturing into the new decade where pen and paper are most likely going to become extinct. Institutions are now going to be known by their capacity to innovate and engage students to adopt new technology mediated pedagogy. Learning is going into the real world with practical relevance. Having said that, couldn’t it be detrimental for learners to spend increasing amount of time in front of screens? Research has shown that learners better absorb information from text books than screens. Human interaction is paramount when it comes to keeping students engaged and excited to learn. As aptly quoted by famous entrepreneur and pioneer of Microsoft Company, Bill Gates: “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important”. Though traditional pedagogy will still be important and relevant, ‘Education’ is going to become more realistic, practical and skill-based rather than routine monotonous classroom-centric.
(The author is associate Professor of Physics at GDC, Samba and can be reached at parshotam.manhas@gmail.com)