Learning the ABCs of technology in education
Technologies like augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), big data and the cloud improve student access to knowledge and help educators in countless ways. Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) provides the fast Internet that connects students, teachers, and parents to information and to each other in ways that have never before been possible.
AR in education
AR tools create 3-dimensional images that show students historical sites as they would have looked thousands of years ago, the workings of the human body and even other planets.
Case Western Reserve University has developed an app called HoloAnatomy using Microsoft's HoloLens AR goggles to show students all of the systems in the human body in 3D. The school plans to have a fully digital anatomy course up and running by 2019. HoloLens goggles have also been used at the Kennedy Space Center to allow wearers to visit Mars.
AI in education
One of the biggest challenges faced by educators at every level is the teacher-to-student ratio. There are never enough teachers to respond to all of the questions posed by students. AI could change that.
Consider Julie Watson, an AI teaching assistant (TA) at Georgia Tech. Using IBM's Watson platform, Professor Ashok Goel created a virtual TA able to answer questions asked by students taking an online course on the topic of artificial intelligence. So an AI helped to teach a course on AI!
Big data for education admin
Schools can collect an immense amount of data that can help them improve the services they provide to students. At the elementary school level, students could take reading comprehension tests using software that collect their responses. The intelligence gathered from all of the students in a district can be used to help plan curriculum for the upcoming year.
Big data can also be used to effectively measure and convey a student's strength and weaknesses. Data reports can be shared with students and parents, giving them a better understanding of the student's progress.
Education for global students with the cloud
The cloud makes it possible for top universities to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) that give students from all over the world access to knowledge and the ability to interact with teachers and other students.
Free online courses have been around for some time, but MOOCs take online education to a whole new level. They include video lectures, readings, automated testing and interaction with teachers and other students.
Few institutions have the budget to provide students with $3000 AR goggles or to set up a MOOC, but more affordable technologies are also available.
With apps such as Aurasma or layor, educators can use Android or IoS devices to bring AR into the classroom. And the voice commands on these very same devices are getting closer to the natural language processing that is associated with AI.
According to PicoCluster, the best way to use big data in schools is by teaching it to students. Whether you choose to teach big data or use your institution's data to enhance the student experience, you can find a tool for less than $1000.
Not every school can or should offer a MOOC, but every school should be able to use some of the features. With course authoring software, schools can provide quality education to distance learners and meet the needs of students who require additional help.
Google for Education is a cloud service that provides basic digital tools such as email, scheduling calendar, opportunities for collaboration and many more apps. The basic unified communications platform is free, with the option for schools to purchase additional features.
First step for a school to implement any AI or AR technologies? The bandwidth required to take advantage of all that technology has to offer!
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