Technologies Reforming Education and Skill Development
With the availability of new technologies such as robotics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML), there has been tremendous growth in the education and skill development sector. These new technologies help in collecting data related to several parameters such as the academic performance of students and the skills of teachers.
A few decades ago people had to search for information in libraries and other such places containing books and records. Today, due to the availability of the Internet, we can use search engines and assistants to get any information we want without going anywhere. Chalks and blackboards have been replaced by styluses and smart boards in most urban centres of learning.
Recently, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in India and Microsoft announced collaboration aimed at providing digital skills to over 100,000 youth in the country over the course of one year. Microsoft Learn resource centre will thus be integrated with the e-Skill India digital platform to provide access to personalized learning and in-demand skills.
With the corona virus pandemic, the need to efficiently adopt and improve remote learning methods has become more indispensable than ever. There is a vast digital divide that brings about the need to make these technologies as accessible as possible to bridge the gap between rural and urban areas in terms of employability and skill. Some of the technologies that play a huge role in contributing to the education and skill development sector are discussed next.
Cloud computing brings teachers and students on the same platform and provides ease of sharing resources remotely with each other. Teachers can create online courses while students can give virtual exams in organizations like schools and colleges. Working professionals can also take these classes. Assignments are not just limited to documents but can also include uploading a video recording or taking pictures of work and sharing them with peers.
Virtual classrooms allow hiring remote trainers and also reduce infrastructural expenses. There are companies in the field of education like Tata Class Edge, Educomp, and Pearson, who are aiding teachers in classroom teaching.
The storage devices like solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disc drives (HDDs) must be optimized for cloud computing applications. There is no requirement of purchasing and maintaining servers and data centres. The databases, storage, and other services can be accessed whenever required, thereby saving time.
Most cloud providers ensure a base level of security for their cloud infrastructure. Using a VPN can ensure data security.
The digital assistant Beacon, launched by UK-based Staffordshire University and hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform, is capable of answering questions that students might have to help them in studying, checking their moods, and suggesting them activities. If a student is still struggling, the assistant sends alerts to staff members so that they can help.
Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have transformed learning to improve its outcomes. Personalized learning caters to the individual needs of students by adopting different teaching methods to make them more comfortable for upcoming tests. This is done by gathering actionable insights for platforms by tracking various data points and keywords from previous feedback, engagement, and interaction levels.
This is necessary to conclude the strong and weak points of different methods. Even checking test papers, grading, paper setting, creating mark-sheets, and tracking progress can be done automatically and intelligently. Many institutes have started using onscreen evaluation systems to auto-calculate scores. Natural language processing (NLP) makes real-time language translation possible, enabling people who speak different languages to communicate with one another.
Robotics and 3D printing
As in-demand skills change from time to time, developing problem-solving skills is a must. What could be a better way to engage children than educational robots? Even if the purpose is not to teach coding or robotics, skills such as analytical thinking and teamwork can be developed during the creation, design, and operation of robots. Personal robots are also useful for children with autism to help them in learning, besides improving social interaction skills.
Robotics is also applied in streams like engineering. Educational robotics kit LEGO Mind storms has been integrated into curriculum’s at higher education institutions like MIT, University of Maryland, Tufts University, Trinity College, and the University of Manchester, among others. This is used mainly to assist in the mathematical analysis required to move a robot, such as using appropriate formulas and blocks for calculations.
Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATL) established by the government of India in educational institutes across India have do it yourself (DIY) kits and equipment related to robotics like open source microcontroller boards and sensors, 3D printers, and more. As 3D printers are becoming more affordable, they are often found in classrooms (commonly Fused Deposition Modeling).
Physical manipulation of objects like historical artifacts, models of molecules and organs, and other 3D objects helps develop a better understanding and complements the usual theory-based curriculum. In the past, Macquarie University’s Department of Educational Studies, together with the company Makers Empire, did research to conclude how 3D printing could boost creativity, critical thinking, and design skills among primary school students.
Extended reality (XR)—a term that combines augmented (AR), mixed (MR), and virtual reality (VR)—offers a wide range of opportunities for immersive learning and training experiences. This is highly useful in industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and aerospace where accuracy and precision are crucial to prevent dangerous repercussions.
AR and VR can instruct employees when they actually need to use it in real time. Learners can interact with the environment and get a view of different angles for performing their tasks. This reduces the time taken to conceptualize an idea from a video or document and execute it.
Individuals learn by practicing and getting feedback on their mistakes and then iterating to improve them. A study by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology revealed that VR simulation improved the technical skills of undergraduate medical imaging students.
United Rentals, for instance, uses immersive learning for open space ratios to bring construction sites into the classroom and claims to have found a forty per cent reduction in training time. Walmart also uses VR to interview and train employees while Verizon has been using it to train its retail workers in handling robberies in stores.
Digital learning guarantees more reach for the current generation of students. Apart from the above mentioned technologies, innovations like video-surveillance via Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure and connected devices increase security, reliability, and capabilities for educational settings. To utilize the huge amount of data we generate every day, data management software for data analytics makes the necessary data sets easy to understand. Enrollment reports, registration level statistics, and analysis of other such information can boost productivity and decrease costs.
- AR: https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRCzg776WPxj5wgKdRw0N2ujZtYezyRZUh-V4dDL6rybMCIFY2g&s
- Skill-development: deepa