A group of 12 year olds are touring the planets as astronauts but they are not NASA-trained.
An engineer is asking a chatbot to track previous safety records of the building.
Chemistry students are printing out 3D models of molecules to analyse their structures.
These are just a few examples of how learning is becoming “smart” in the digital age. Modern technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing and chatbots are revolutionising the way we learn. These new technologies aim to help learners learn more effectively, flexibly and efficiently. Smart learning bases its foundation on smart devices and intelligent technologies. By tapping on these resources, we can create effective digital learning environments that offers convenience to learners and keep pace with the changing demands of the digital age.
Let us explore how some of these technologies are shaping the way we learn:
3D printing is the process of creating a solid object from a digital file. The ability to create three dimensional prototypes allows learners to learn better because it promotes better visualisation of models and concepts. With 3D printing, educators are able to stimulate learners’ interest and engage them in learning. For example, students majoring in automotive engineering can print out small batches of customised parts or modified examples of existing parts for testing. In addition, students develop skills such as creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking and perseverance while working on 3D printing projects.
In the workplace, clients can visualise architectural designs better. A 3D printed model takes the guesswork out of sketches and technical drawings. A detailed scale model of the final project can be a valuable way of communicating the product to colleagues and clients alike. 3D printing offers new learning possibilities where learners can see their designs come to life and get to interact with the finished product in what's previously not possible.
Students today can virtually walk around in a volcano, explore the ruins of archaeological sites or visit distant planets just by donning special headsets. VR is also a valuable tool for helping oil and gas companies run their day to day operations cheaper and safer. Workers can leverage VR to visualise seismic data and get a better idea of where to drill and reduce the likelihood of failure. Scenarios can also be created for training purposes without the risk of injuries to anyone. Virtual reality experiences can build extreme environments and scenarios, allowing learners to test and learn without suffering bad consequences. Not only does this reduces risk, liability and costs, it allows users to practice and train for the real deal.
Similarly, AR, which enables a blending of the real and virtual worlds means businesses can overlay graphics onto real-world objects. AR can help students achieve better learning outcomes through immersion and visualization in the subject matter. For medical students, VR allows them to practice their surgery skills on virtual patients. VR technology has also helped space astronauts see virtual models of parts assembled over real assembled parts with special goggles without needing to spend time reading paper instructions. In manufacturing industries, workers can engage in training using AR headsets that gives them step-by-step instructions without spending too much time on theory. Instead of reading books or listening to lectures, AR makes learning interactive and provides learners opportunities to focus more on practice. AR also provide a safe environment for learning while exposing a myriad of real-life situations to students. It motivates learners and makes learning effective for even the most boring topics.
Most of us would probably have talked to chatbots without realising we have done so. On language learning platforms, you might have used text to send messages via an instant messaging format and engage in a partial-conversational environment with a chatbot. You could also be chatting with a “chefbot” when looking up recipes or “docbot” on a health website. Chatbots give us the information we need at the point of need. Chatbots can also be used to facilitate interactive learning experiences found in face to face training workshops. Think about how chatbots can guide learners to work through their learning paths, sending reminders, giving feedback and tracking learners’ progress and performance. As educators will not be able to cater to the learning needs of all students, chatbots will help by providing personalised education for learners. At work, traditional lectures and classroom instruction may not be sufficient to address employees’ training needs. Chatbots can supplement learning and get employees to apply their knowledge and skills to real-life work situations.
Learning have come a long way since blackboards and evolving technologies are reshaping education and offering possibilities in ways previously not possible. The question is, are you ready to embrace smart learning in the digital age?
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