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Learning Comes Alive with Virtual Reality and Other Audio/Visual Technologies

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A frog appears to float in midair. Using a stylus, a seventh-grader wearing “driver glasses” separates the amphibian’s skeleton from its musculature and holds it aloft. 

It may sound like something out of a mad-scientist video game, but it’s happening at Teasley Middle School in Canton, Ga., where students are using a tabletop virtual reality system called zSpace.

Teasley is one of 41 schools that make up Cherokee County School District, which is 40 miles north of Atlanta and serves a little more than 42,000 students

Cherokee has installed a zSpace lab at five of its middle schools, with plans for a virtual lab that contains 10 workstations for students and an additional two for teachers

Virtual Reality Labs Give Students An Opportunity for Exploration

Each classroom in the district is also equipped with either SMART or Promethean interactive whiteboards, says CIO Bobby Blount. The boards are augmented with ­amplifiers and speakers.

Two schools also ­feature interactive touch LED panels running SMART Notebook software.

“Our schools utilize 3D printers, promote and teach coding skills as early as first grade, and are just beginning to explore augmented and virtual reality technologies,” Blount says.

Cherokee is one of many districts nationwide that are using interactive displays and other audio and tactile technologies to get students more engaged with science, technology, engineering, math and other subjects. But these technologies are also a pathway to something larger.

“We want them to be smart learners and figure out how to apply what they’ve learned in real-life scenarios,” Blount says. “We believe technologies that offer immersive, audiovisual and tactile experiences are the future.”

Virtual Reality Gives STEM New Life For Students

Inside the lab at Teasley, each workstation consists of an all-in-one PC with a 24-inch screen tilted at a 45-degree angle, a connected stylus and a pair of 3D glasses

Sensors on the PC track the position of the stylus and the glasses, allowing applications to create images that appear to float between the student and the screen.

Three students sit at each workstation; two wear standard 3D glasses and look on as the third student handles the stylus and dissects a virtual frog, examines the earth’s inner core or explores a medieval castle.

Some teachers use zSpace in combination with a portable 3D presentation system that allows them to share virtual images with the entire class.

Others use wall-mounted SMART LED panels to display the 3D content. Students can then log on to their zSpace systems and explore the inner life of cells on their own.

“An educator teaching about cellular reproduction can point the projector at a blank wall and show the entire class a 3D video on cells undergoing mitosis,” Blount says. “The kids are blown away by it.”

Visual Classroom Tools Are for Schools of All Sizes

Districts don’t need to be large to take advantage of cutting-edge audiovisual technology

St. Charles Community Schools, a rural district in central Michigan with just under 1,000 ­students, has 10 zSpace workstations on its centralized K12 campus.

Two years ago, the district passed a bond issue to fund a one-to-one device initiative for its middle and high school students and to upgrade its network infrastructure.

That money, combined with federal E-rate funds, enabled St. Charles to create the zSpace lab, says Superintendent Michael Decker.

The systems have had the biggest impact on elementary and middle school students, especially on getting girls more interested in science, says Decker.

“Over a two-year period, we have modernized the instructional pieces to be more like how kids learn today in the 21st century,” he says.

Integrate Education Technology With A Purpose in Mind

Of course, virtual reality systems and other audiovisual tools that make up a modern learning environment aren’t inexpensive. And it’s easy to be seduced by the latest technology and forget the fundamentals required to make the investment worthwhile.

Educators need to start with ideas and help students use technology to address those ideas in a meaningful way, says Rushton Hurley, executive director of Next Vista for Learning.

“Whether students are using VR, making videos, or just working with chalk and slate, what makes a difference is giving them the opportunity to grapple with genuinely interesting and creative ideas,” he says. 

Making sure tech tools truly amplify instruction is a key part of Robert Dillon’s job. He’s director of innovative learning for the School District of University City, just west of St. Louis.

The 2,800-student district recently acquired a single zSpace machine at Britanny Woods Middle School for its sixth-graders to experiment with. Like many other districts, University City is transitioning from traditional blackboards to writable digital surfaces.

“In many of our elementary classrooms, we’re shifting to flat-panel screens,” he says. “That solves a lot of problems with projectors, bulbs and lighting. We’re also looking at writable surfaces as a way to help our kids visualize their thinking and collaborate in deeper ways.”

But Dillon adds that schools are wrestling with how to get more from their investments in this technology so they can make them essential to school curriculum, instead of merely a cool adjunct.

“You need to have learning before, during and after these experiences. It can’t just be in the moment,” he says. “That’s a challenge and a philosophical shift as people integrate technology into the classroom.”

And districts can’t achieve any of this without a strong technological infrastructure, Dillon adds.

“You can never have enough bandwidth or infrastructure, and just when you think you do, it’s time to refresh,” he says. “You need to have a sustainable, long-term refresh plan around everything, from switches and wires to routers and access points, to keep up with bandwidth needed for people who are drawing on video-rich content.”

posted Jan 22 in EdTech by Nongvutha

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Staying on top of new developments in the eLearning and edtech fields can be a challenge. As new technologies create new opportunities, the field continues to evolve. But whatever your connection to the industry, it is important to be aware of best practices and new developments.  Twice a year, eLearning Inside recommends five upcoming conferences exploring best practices in the eLearning and edtech fields. While some of these upcoming events focus exclusively on training, others target educators working in the K-12 or higher education fields, and some target individuals working on both sides of the online learning spectrum.

Ed-tech

Five Upcoming eLearning Conferences

ATD TechKnowledge Conference, February 6-8, West Palm Beach

This year’s TechKnowledge Conference is scheduled to take place in sunny West Palm Beach in early February. This year’s conference will cover a wide range of cutting-edge topics, including augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, microlearning, and adaptive learning. The ATD TechKnowledge Conference features tracks in eLearning, mobile learning, technology strategy, platforms, gaming, trending technologies, and virtual classrooms. This year’s keynotes include Segway inventor Dean Kamen, and Shaili Chopra, founder of SheThePeople TV, which is India’s largest platform dedicated to sharing stories about women. For more information, visit the ATD TechKnowledge Conference site.

Learning Solutions Conference and Expo, March 26-28, Orlando

Another annual favourite is Learning Solutions, which will take place from March 26-28 in Orlando.  Learning Solutions Conference & Expo is a forum for proven strategies, technologies, and practices that work in learning and development. As the organizers emphasize, “Whether you’re a one-person shop or part of a larger team, starting out or a seasoned expert, this year’s program offers learning experiences built just for you.” Find registration details here

ICELW, June 12-14, New York City

Every year the International Conference on eLearning in the Workplace (ICELW) takes place on the Columbia University campus in June. This year’s dates are June 12-14, and as in the past, conference organizer, Dr David Guralnick, has an exciting program planned. Keynotes will include Dr Meredith Broussard, Assistant Professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University. Broussard is the author of Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World. To discover more about ICELW, see eLearning Inside‘s 2018 coverage and explore ICELW’s online archive of proceedings from past events. To register for this year’s conference visit the ICELW website.

International Society for Technology in Education 2019, June 23-26, Philadelphia

Another upcoming eLearning conference is the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in late June. ISTE is a nonprofit organization that works to accelerate the use of technology to solve educational problems and drive innovation. Global in focus, the ISTE has members from around the world, and every June, they meet to share best practices. This year’s ISTE Conference & Expo will take place in Philadelphia from June 23-26 and promises to be just as exciting as it has been in previous years. More details can be found on the ISTE Conference site.

Realities360 Conference & Expo, June 25-27, San Jose, CA

Now in its third year, Realities360 Conference & Expo explores immersive technologies to create new and exciting learning experiences. This year’s conference will focus exclusively on the strategies and opportunities of virtual and augmented reality with sessions, workshops, products, and services targeting the needs of the learning and development industry. The conference will be held June 25 – 27 in San Jose. For more information, visit the 2018 Realities360 website.

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In the present scenario, we are witnessing industries undergoing a disruption with a rapid convergence of technologies; which is faster than ever before! These constant changes are making competencies in workforce go obsolete leaving Lifelong Learning as the only feasible option. On the other side, Gen Z has a set of unique behavioural attributes which are shaping the needs of the education industry and pushing them to develop ways to deal with them.

Here are some of the industry trends of delivering learning by Venguswamy Ramaswamy, Global Head of TCS iON, a Tata Consultancy Services unit focused on education, assessment boards and SMBs:

1. Nano-learning

The attention span of learners is persistently shrinking. With the existence of lengthy, text-intensive, un-interactive learning content, students are unwilling to sit in sessions spread over hours. To address this, nano-learning or bite-sized learning is fast becoming a significant trend to support the learner behaviour and ensure attention.

 

2. Lifelong Learning

As per a report, by 2022, 9 per cent of India's workforce is expected to be employed in job roles that don't exist today while 37 per cent is believed to be in new job roles. In order to prepare for this change, it is important to know that learning is not discreet, rather a continuous and connected process in which the needs of the learners vary with time and the stage of their life. Every moment provides a learning opportunity.

Hence, it is necessary to keep a track of the learning culture of an individual across different stages and not just specific learning in a particular stage. This will help understand the capabilities of a learner in its true sense.

 

3. Mass personalization

The pattern of customer-based personalization is gradually progressing wherein adaptive means of learning is taking over the concept of 'one-size fits all'. Being an effective mode of learning, this approach takes into consideration the individual learner abilities, and the appropriate time to consume content, thereby enhancing the quality of learning and the overall experience of learners.

 

4. Data-driven learning

Every individual leaves a large footprint of his/her learning behaviour while learning. Today, such interactions (learning better with video, preferring game format, etc.) are acting as data sources for understanding the learner's patterns and trends, and for devising strategies to make learning more effective than before.

 

5. Self-paced learning

Learners have some nuances, which are unique to them where some students slow in a certain subject but might have the ability to grasp other subjects better. Taking this into consideration, the pace of the content is now being adjusted according to the strengths and weaknesses of the individual student in specific subjects.

 

6. Addictive mechanisms in learning

There are specific constructs either in the content or in the learning platform that attract a learner's attention. These include 'like' or 'comment' buttons, challenges, the capability to score and compete, win badges and points, and so on. The focus of learning is slowly transforming to include these constructs in the content to make learning more addictive.

 

7. Engaged or Immersive Learning

The learner today desires a learning experience with engaging, interactive content that includes games, puzzles, and surprises embedded within. Hence, there is a growing trend of designing content using technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality to create immersive and engaging experiences.

 

8. Collaborative learning

Learning is no longer a one-to-one interaction between the content and the learner. Instead, it is transforming to be an interaction between a group of people in a community construct where students can learn by debating and deliberating on a common platform.

This concept moves beyond the traditional custom of a student and a teacher. A teacher's role is to facilitate learning for learners together learn from each other.

 

9. Twenty-first-century skills

According to a survey, India is expected to form 25 per cent of the world's workforce by 2025. This creates the urgency to equip the country's youth with 21-century skills which have a much higher preference over specific domain skills.

Today, learners are assessed on their ability to work in teams, be ethical in given scenarios, and to be creative and assertive. As a result, the focus has shifted towards developing these capabilities to help learners have a greater advantage in the job space. It is not just academics; it extends beyond to social skills.

 

10. Learning experience platform

Today, rendering mere content is not enough; instead one needs to render experiences to make learning enjoyable. The emphasis rests on enhancing the learner experience management system which uses engaging game cartridges to modulate experiences while delivering content.

As we progress in 2019, we have our energies focused on these evolving trends which are about to dominate the next set of years and we are in the forefront of driving these trends in the market itself.

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If your students knew how much more money they could earn if they studied hard, went on to further education and got good grades, do you think it would make a difference to them? 

That was part of a question posed in a new paper published in the Journal of Development Economics and featured in the January edition of the Centre for Education Economics’ (CfEE) Monthly Research Digest

Ciro Avitabile and Rafael De Hoyos ran a randomised controlled trial in Mexico designed to address whether or not providing students with better information about the earning returns of education – and the options available to them – led to greater effort and learning. 

The experiment involved about 4,000 Mexican Year 10 students, across 111 classrooms in 54 schools. They first asked students how much they thought they could earn if they progressed to different stages of education. 

Both boys and girls underestimated the average earnings of adults with a high-school degree and overestimated the earnings of adults with a university degree. 

Want to motivate students? Tell them learning boosts earning power

Setting the exercise

They then started the trial: 26 schools were randomly allocated to receive the intervention and 28 schools were randomly allocated to the control group.

The intervention consisted of an exercise that provided the following information through specially designed interactive computer software: 

1. The benefits: average wages of workers with different levels of schooling.

2. The costs: details of a government scholarship for higher education.

3. How long the benefits might last: average life expectancy.

The educational outcomes analysed were obtained largely from the results of the Enlace examination, which students sit at the end of Year 12. This is a low-stakes test with no bearing on graduation, university admissions or school funding, but is highly predictive of future academic and labour-market outcomes.

For various reasons, examination data was available for only 61 per cent of the students in the trial.

A second set of outcome measures were derived from a university placement exam used by a subset of universities.

Mixed picture

So what were the results? 

First, the intervention increased students’ expectations of how their future earnings might increase if they committed to education, with associated positive effects on the level of effort they reported putting into it. 

However, the information provided had no effect on the probability of students taking the Enlace low-stakes test. 

For those that did take the test, there was a large, positive effect on maths scores, but only a statistically insignificant positive effect on Spanish scores. 

The impact size in maths was almost large enough to close the gender gap between boys and girls – and larger than the effect of coming from a high-income family. 

Difference in outcomes

Unfortunately this did not follow through to any statistically significant effect on the probability of sitting the university placement exam, nor on scores in that examination.

Effects on the low-stakes test were slightly larger for girls than boys, which appears to be due to the fact that the information intervention improved the aspirations of girls in particular. 

Consistent with this explanation, the information intervention increased the likelihood that girls (but not boys) chose to study economics in high school, and made them less likely to have married at ages 18-20 – an indication of their desire to go to university. 

Equity issues

Effects were also larger, however, for children from wealthier households – suggesting the intervention had equity implications that must be considered.

From a policy perspective, the fact that the intervention costs next to nothing and is inherently scalable makes it attractive. 

Of course, it doesn’t solve the core challenge of improving the quality of teaching in low-to-middle-income countries, and it’s important to take equity implications seriously. 

But free interventions that raise pupil achievement are rare and this one certainly warrants further exploration in other settings.

Lee Crawfurd is a fellow of the CfEE and deputy editor of its Monthly Research Digest. This blog is based on his selection for the January issue of the digest. You can view a flipbook version, download a pdf copy and subscribe to receive copies of the digest free of charge here

The CfEE is an independent thinktank working to improve policy and practice in education through impartial economic research

+1 vote

With CBSE introducing artificial intelligence as an elective paper, students and teachers must be very excited to know how can AI help the students’ performance grow. It has been decided that the subject would be introduced in classes 8, 9 and 10 as a skill subject.

Artificial Intelligence in Schools: How AI-powered adaptive learning technology can help students

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is the ability of a machine to think, learn and perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition and decision-making skills. Capabilities demonstrated by machines, including computers, from playing chess to operating cars and beyond, fall within the domain of artificial intelligence.

How AI-powered Adaptive Learning Technology brings Personalised Learning to Kids

The rapid spread of education among the masses in the industrial era made the ‘one-size-fits-all’ method of learning the most convenient one for training subsequent generations of the workforce due to lack of resources. This method of education did not cater to the interests of most students, and learning became less engaging and meaningful for them. Additionally, learning was very superficial, with learners having only a basic understanding of concepts and this led to poor retention. This problem was recognised by the 18th-century social revolutionary, Jean-Jacques Rousseau who made the following recommendations:

“Teach your scholar to observe the phenomena of nature; you will soon rouse his curiosity, but if you would have it grow, do not be in too great a hurry to satisfy this curiosity. Put the problems before him and let him solve them himself. Let him know nothing because you have told him, but because he has learnt it for himself…”

Rousseau talks about self-paced and self-styled learning methods, which came to be termed as personalised learning in the 1960s. Personalised learning includes tailoring educational content according to the learners’ strengths, needs and interests, applying competency-based progression to set the individual pace for comfortable learning, and customising instructional modes to maximise learning intake. Before technological advancement, personalised learning was possible only through one-to-one private tutorials, which could be afforded only by affluent families. The rest of the learners had to submit to ‘factory schooling’, which failed to spark interest or provide in-depth learning, thus demotivating them. However, the turn of the millennium saw technology grow by leaps and bounds and its eager adoption in upgrading several learning strategies, including personalised learning.

Adaptive tests

Personalised learning has now come within the reach of everyone through adaptive learning technology. Powered by artificial intelligence, it analyses a vast pool of data to tailor the content as per an individual’s interest and knowledge level. This is initiated with the help of adaptive tests, which accurately quantifies the knowledge of different topics of individual learners. These tests include a large pool of questions usually drawn from data collected over the years, whose difficulty level is determined on the basis of the number of students who have answered the questions correctly. Learners are first posed with a mid-level question and based on their response, the difficulty level of the next question and the subsequent ones are modified— if they answer a question of mid-level difficulty correctly, then they will be presented with a question with a higher level of difficulty, but if answered incorrectly, the system will pose a simpler question.

 

Optimal learning paths

Adaptive assessments help instructors to precisely determine where the individual learner stands at the beginning of the academic course and to measure gaps through the course of learning. These tests give detailed analytical reports of the knowledge state and learning pattern of the learner, according to which an optimal learning path is established. This constitutes the second part of adaptive learning— adaptive content. We at Next Education have designed an adaptive learning platform as part of our Next Learning Platform, which will present the optimal learning resources from our vast pool of content (simulations, real-life videos and hands-on learning tools) based on what the learner responds best to. This inspires inquiry-based learning, which ensures that students follow the best-suited learning path and attain learning goals in an optimal time.

Making personalised learning available for all

Implementing personalised learning was practically impossible before adaptive learning technology came into the scene. The two major factors affecting this were lack of qualified teachers and financial resources. Personalised instruction needs an ideal student--teacher ratio of six to eight students per teacher. Besides , most teachers lack adequate training for effective teaching. Thus, only a select few elite schools with exceptionally good teachers were able to facilitate a personalised learning environment to students.

 

herefore, in the absence of such learning opportunities in most schools, parents chose to enrol students in coaching classes or appoint private tutors. The scenario in group coaching classes was not that encouraging either. Appointing skilled private tutors might be ideal, but it is certainly be a costly affair. A private teacher would charge approximately ₹ 2,000 to ₹ 5,000 per student for one subject for a month. On the other hand, adaptive learning would cost only around ₹ 200–500 for a student per month, thereby helping students avail quality education at affordable prices. Additionally, increasing internet and digital system usage in recent years has improved access to digital education, bringing the advantages of adaptive learning to remote areas of the country.

Thus, AI-powered adaptive learning has brought personalised learning within the reach of all 21st-century learners, solving the three-fold problem of quality, cost and access that continues to plague education, especially in developing countries such as India. The continuous evolution of education technology with the help of artificial intelligence promises more wonders such as advanced language teaching tools and smart assistants in classrooms, which will change the face of education completely.

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The EdTech marketplace is undoubtedly reshaping school systems. Nowadays, students can easily access knowledge online, tutoring sessions with the click of a button and interact with content in newfound ways. The ubiquitous nature of apps and online forums has made it so that students cane more comfortable using media than the traditional learning tools. This blog stands to explore these questions.

How Big Is The Edtech Marketplace?

Apps and online tutoring sessions seem even more accessible than person-to-person engagement. While students would need to schedule time with a tutor or with their teacher outside of class time, it is far easier to go onto YouTube or search your question online. The ETIN (Education Technology Industry Network of SIIA) represents and supports developers of educational software applications, digital content, online learning services and related technologies across the K-20 sector. More and more money is being pumped into an industry that wants to answer to the nature of technology in the household.

Now nearly every young student has access to a computer or smartphone in some capacity. According to an article by Education World, the U.S. EdTech was an estimated $8.38 Billion in 2014, with no end in slowing down in sight. This is an industry that is growing at an accelerated rate to parallel the rate at which technology is now advancing.

With the rate at which the tech market is growing, educators have to ask whether or not these ESo instead of the EdTech Marketplace providing students with useful tools for students, it can turn into a futile attempt for technology to help students engage with content in a meaningful and productive way. In effect, the EdTech Marketplace stands to lose by not giving their audience the tools they need.

For instance, students that watch Khan Academy’s YouTube videos to learn a topic may be too distracted to focus on the video. Without a teacher present, a student is much more likely to get distracted, play on their phone and miss the entire premise of the video. Hffect of EdTech tools precisely, but the American school system is still many rankings behind what is expected. The U.S. was ranked 25th in the world in science and math education in 2015. Singapore and Hong Kong came first and second respectively. According to TechinAsia, Asia is seen as the next frontier in EdTech. The industry is projected to grow by 8 percent to the US $252 billion by 2020 in the global market.

However, this may not be due to the use of Edtech. Instead, culturally, the commitment to education is strong in those regions and has been for many years. Accordance of education in these households, they are willing to adapt to different learning climates. Thereby, using EdTech to shift the learning process. While the US is cation and to create an expectation that education comes first.

Since it appears the EdTech Marketplace stands to alter the face of education for many years to come, it is important to ask other questions related to the effect it will as well. How does the EdTech world affect the person-to-person engagement of learning? What does it do to students if they are not able to use the content to learn in person, instead relying on online tools to help them through the problem set?

Generation Z students who have grown up with laptops, iPads, and smartphones. So their brains have evolved in such a way that allows them to process more information at faster speeds than previous generations of to the social aspect of learning. Otherwise, it will merely be a tool in which students engage with a robot. The best way to counter this is by giving a student an authentic audience.

While some critics criticize the Khan Academy approach, it is helpful that on the other side of the screen is a real person. Learning then becomes a social act rather than a process of computing.

As technological tools advance and the EdTech Marketplace continues to fund learning in this way, then the marketplace must be ready to give students an interactive experience that can allow for better learning and retention of knowledge, while also improving the education system that has been seemingly failing students for decades. Perhaps the EdTech Marketplace needs to grow in order to figure out the best ways to adapt to the learning experience. The growing interest in EdTech shows that there is an interest in reshaping the education system to be a better tool than ever before and making learning only a click away.

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