Will teach­ing with drones take flight this year?

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - [email protected]­ere­d­u­ca­tion.com

Lec­tur­ers should use drones and ro­bots to en­hance their teach­ing as tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances be­gin to roll out of the lab­o­ra­tory and into the class­room, ac­cord­ing to a re­port.

“Drone- based learn­ing” and “learn­ing with ro­bots” are iden­ti­fied as two of the main trends in In­no­vat­ing Ped­a­gogy 2019, the an­nual re­port from the Open Univer­sity out­lin­ing what will in­flu­ence teach­ing in com­ing years.

Iden­ti­fy­ing ro­bots and drones is “not about the fact that they are ex­cit­ing new tech­nolo­gies but about the pos­si­bil­i­ties they open up and how they can ben­e­fit teach­ers and learn­ers”, ac­cord­ing to Re­becca Fer­gu­son, an ed­i­tor of the re­port and a se­nior lec­turer at the OU.

“It’s got to that point where there is all this re­search go­ing on, but we need to start talk­ing about what we do with it,” she told Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion.

Drones could be used to ex­plore phys­i­cal spa­ces from above, such as over ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ru­ins or build­ings un­der con­struc­tion, to aid study of such top­ics. Drone-based learn­ing “ex­tends what can be achieved in field­work”, notes the re­port.

They can also be used in teach­ing math­e­mat­ics, by, say, hav­ing stu­dents pre­dict flight times or land drones in par­tic­u­lar places iden­ti­fied through math­e­mat­i­cal prob­lem­solv­ing, it says.

“Drones are be­com­ing such a per­va­sive tech­nol­ogy that many stu­dents will ben­e­fit from early in­tro­duc­tion to them be­fore go­ing on to in­ter­act with them reg­u­larly ei­ther at work or in ev­ery­day life,” the re­port says.

Ro­bots can as­sist teach­ers by re­spond­ing quickly to fre­quent queries or by help­ing them with as­sess­ment, the re­port says. This frees lec­tur­ers to use their time for “es­sen­tially hu­man tasks”, such as ex­er­cis­ing judgement and pro­vid­ing emo­tional sup­port.

The re­port, which also iden­ti­fies “learn­ing through won­der” and “play­ful learn­ing” as key trends, points to “slightly less for­mal ped­a­go­gies” for the fu­ture, Dr Fer­gu­son said. “They are sim­ple but re­ally pow­er­ful…things that al­low both teach­ers and learn­ers be ex­per­i­men­tal and more in­ven­tive in ex­plor­ing things,” she said.

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