For centuries, the possibility of smart machines that perform unbelievable tasks for humans has been explored in books, movies, and science labs. Now, it’s not only important to understand the idea and theory behind smart technology, but it’s also important to understand how to educate and implement.

Technology is having major impacts on the education space, where classrooms have now become virtual and students are swapping the traditional book for computers tablets, interactive screens, and virtual reality headsets.

As the next wave of digital disruption strikes, emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are going to revolutionise the way we learn.

A New Way of Learning

As education continues to evolve, emerging disciplines and alternative learning methods present a plethora of opportunities that reinvent the way we learn, consume, and share information. Some emerging disciplines include:

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) applies design concepts and methodologies to craft spectacular Virtual Reality experiences. Utilising innovative applications and new mediums, VR Design transforms the way people experience the world around them.  
The modern applications of VR have allowed people to participate in concerts and social meetings from a remote location. VR is set to change the way education is delivered. With VR, students can step into an immersive world that gives real-life experiences to events and places that would be geographically, or historically difficult to be present in.  Simulating a real-life problem will not only capture the imagination of students but also give an immersive taste of the problem to solve.

Academy Xi’s VR instructor Lachlan Sleight believes that “Virtual Reality has the capacity to utterly and irrevocably change humanity’s relationship with technology.”

According to the study, VRLearn: Virtual Reality & Learning, by the National Training Laboratory, retention rates for lecture-style learning were at five percent, with reading rates at 10 percent. Meanwhile, the teaching method of VR scored a retention rate of 75 percent.

In a report by CCS Insights, the VR industry is set to be worth US $1.8 billion in 2018, and by 2022 is expected to be worth US $9.9 billion. A large portion of this growth within the VR industry will be driven by the world’s need to find new innovative ways to teach and upskill the current workforce and next generation.

 

Augmented Reality 

Augmented Reality (AR) applies design concepts and frameworks that enhance the way we experience the physical, real-world environment. By focusing on ‘screens’ and digital interfaces that we use every day, AR enables us to simulate experiences before they become a reality.

AR is already being used to help businesses understand and manipulate large amounts of data. The same could be done in education allowing students to step inside abstract concepts, understand historical facts, simulate hypothetical tests, or manipulate complex information. Within schools, Math Alive is one software development that is already using AR to engage students.

Imagine biology lessons that allow students to peel away the skin of a body and discover all the parts beneath while the heart continues to pump blood through the veins. How about User Experience (UX) Design technology lessons where students can create their own prototype using AR?

 

Artificial Intelligence 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was initially designed to replace highly repetitive, manual work, but AI has exceeded expectations by completing tasks involving emotional creativity. An example of this is Aiva Technologies, which successfully composes music using AI for film soundtracks, advertising agencies, and game studios.

Currently, there are intelligent tutoring systems such as Carnegie Learning that directly provide feedback on a student’s work. By using AI, different learning paces and styles of students is alleviated, reducing the burden of teachers and tutors, and will soon become more advanced, with the capability of providing specific details for students as well.

 

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT has instantaneously connected us to the world — more than ever before. With the increasing interaction of people and smart devices, such as our Siri and Alexa, the need for screens is starting to fade away, replaced by voice control and hands-free technologies.

The rise of mobile technology and the IoT has enabled schools to keep track of key resources and enhance access to information. Teachers are using IoT technology to create “smart lesson plans,” of analogue lessons plans.

 

Big Data

Big data comes in the form of large sets of information that can be used to identify specific trends and events regarding a multitude of topics, including human behaviour. The rich and on-demand nature of big data allows businesses to make strategic decisions, particularly around product design. Understanding data science helps a business to improve how it relates and solves problems for its customers, thus enhancing the customer’s overall experience.

The University of Tasmania’s Learning and Management System (LMS) tracks the information of its 26,000 students. The LMS captures information such as student demographics, aspirations, and time spent on the platform. By capturing this data, The University can strategise and implement improvements to its curriculum, course content, and student engagement.

 

Blockchain

Next to the Internet, the Blockchain is considered to be one of the most impactful technology developments in recent history. The Blockchain is a distributed and decentralised public ledger — a database or collection of records that is validated by a community, rather than a central authority. In recent years, the Blockchain has started to redefine the exchange system, driving transparency and trust that has long been taken for granted.

Due to the tamper-proof nature of the Blockchain, organisational institutions could securely store credits, scores, and qualifications, ensuring that educational records are kept safe. Similarly, the Blockchain could reduce administration bottlenecks by removing the need for third parties, due to information being distributed, public, synchronised, and encrypted.

Alternative Learning Formats

In addition to VR, AR, AI, Big Data, and IoT, another example of how technology is revolutionising education is through the rise of alternative learning formats in the shape of on-demand, autonomous learning format of online courses.

Through online courses, anyone, anywhere in the world can access almost any topic of choice with an internet connection and a smart device. With a range of companies offering online courses, students have an abundance of choice to what they want to study — and how.

Tayla Thompson, an Academy Xi student based in South Africa is currently undertaking a Service Design course online. For Tayla, the online course allows her to access a curriculum at her own pace.

“I know that every part of the customer experience matters — and by having targeted experiences, you can create customised, user-friendly solutions. Academy Xi is always responsive to any of my questions. I’ve really enjoyed the video content to support my learning and the reading recommendations are so insightful.”

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