Education has always been one of the constants throughout known history, in one form or another. But the methodologies have always kept on developing as the mankind progressed. Today, where every other kind of interaction – be it social life or corporate life – is being reshaped by technology, so is education.
A couple of decades back when internet revolutionized the world of information, it led to researched based education models. The most popular education systems in the region today – International baccalaureate, Ivy League, STEM learning – are highly researched based models.
Immersive Technologies based Education
That’s right. Immersive technologies have an edge when it comes to creative, explorative and experimental learning. Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, have transformed education into an “active experience” compared to that of passive learning in the past. Diving down deep into the molecular structures or the workings of a human body or the depths of the oceans, this is all possible through immersive technologies. In Pakistan, VRXOne is bringing these disruptive technologies to school. VRXOne is the first and only provider of a broad range of virtual lessons and programs in VR, AR and Artificial Intelligence.
World over, Virtual Reality has already made its mark in the education industry. Whereas Augmented reality apps are frequently used by students in learning. Moving forward, Mixed reality is the next logical step where both digital models of VR and AR combine into one interactive space. Ai tutors help students navigate these worlds, learn more deeply and understand better. The same AI tutors also gauge students’ performance and individual progress. But to draw a distinction between these technologies, let’s see how each technology differs:
Virtual reality (VR) is an immersive digital environment completely different and disconnected from the real world.
Augmented Reality (AR) places digital content over the real-world view.
Mixed Reality (MR) combines both virtual content and real world in a way that they can interact with each other. Inside an MR environment, also called altered reality, the user is simultaneously engaged with the digital environment without losing contact with the actual world.
Essentially, mixed reality combines the best of both digital and real worlds by simulating the otherwise inaccessible information for exploration.
Artificial Intelligence (Ai) helps to remove human intervention from mundane tasks such as grading. This allows teachers to spend their time where it is most needed i.e. classroom interaction and discussion. Additionally, Ai provides continuous assistance and feedback for students through virtual lessons or tutorials.
VRXOne is the leading expert organization in the region combining MR and Ai to highlight both challenges and opportunities in classrooms. The lessons proposed address and provide solution for issues like customized learning, teachers preparation, adaptive group formations, grading softwares, etc. VRXOne has already trained over 8000 students in VR, MR and Ai applications across Middle East. And now bringing this technology to Pakistani schools offering the benefits of “deeper learning” through their curriculum aligned programs. In Dubai, teachers are already rooting for implementing Ai in the classroom.
Benefits Associated with Ai enabled Learning Environments
There are more benefits associated to immersive education technologies in the classroom than we generally understand. A virtual environment does not merely provide activity, it also provides access to things or locations that are physically inaccessible in real-life such as a peek inside the human body, a dive through the Grand Coral Reef, a cruise through galaxies, a walk on the Moon or the Red Planet. All of this is accessible and open for exploration to students on their virtual tours.
The use of MR and Ai in the classroom has led to dramatic improvements for students including:
- 97% rise in student engagement
- 97% increased excitement for science lessons
- 86% improvement in test scores
- And as much as, 98% better understanding of difficult concepts
Innovating the learning experience
Up until now, the classroom education is already being claimed by “gamification” also termed as activity-based learning. However, the merger of MR and Ai provide an entirely new take on things. Students don’t open their books anymore, they inside their lessons. They no longer just read, they interact with the information available to them. That is the reason that immersive learning has such an enhancing impact on their cognitive capacities. There is no end to the extent of possibilities made possible by immersive technologies.
Stepping up for the Future
Technology is developing at an incredible speed today. Intelligent computer systems are completely reclaiming the jobs that previously required human intelligence. This transformation is completely reshaping the careers with potentially 47% of jobs disappearing in the next 25 years, as per Oxford University.
This is a scenario that cannot be taken lightly and one that demands complete overhaul of education systems today. We need to prepare a generation that is prepared for the challenges of tomorrow equipped with latest skills for completely new careers.
Once a notion of fiction novels and sci-fi movies, Artificial Intelligence today is becoming a way of life. What with smart devices, intelligent machines, virtual assistants, fitness apps, and so on and so forth. Smart technologies have already seeped their ways across virtually every industry. But Healthcare is one area where they are most rapidly being applied. When it comes to developing countries like Pakistan, the healthcare sector can particularly reap benefits through implementation of Ai.
Ai Healthcare for Developing Countries
Smart fitness apps and health monitoring software have been in use for some time now. But Ai has proved its importance in healthcare in much more complicated avenues. The drug development for the recent 2014 – 2016 outbreak of Ebola Virus (EBOV) in West Africa is the prime example of Healthcare Ai. The process that previously took months was completed in just days with the help of Ai. Another example is the drug discovery for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which has already been licensed to a British pharmaceutical company.
While this is just the beginning for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare, there is no looking back now. We can see how it can further help to save valuable lives in developing countries where resources are strenuous. This lack of healthcare infrastructure is most evident in rural areas. Dr. Sana Farid, a qualified surgeon herself and a Simulation Expert, is particularly interested in bringing Ai innovation to improve healthcare in developing countries, “In the face of the unprecedented challenges that developing nations are faced with in healthcare sector, Ai-based innovation is the key to providing better access to healthcare services, faster diagnosis, cutting-edge medical treatments, and an overall patient-centered service delivery.”
Let’s see how Ai can assist in delivering healthcare services where they are most needed.
Emergency Response, or ER, is one of the most critical areas necessitating implementation of smart technologies. There are already four important areas of ER process where Ai can instantly help bring pivotal changes.
- Training paramedics in delivering crucial first aide to the patients
- Directing the nearest ER staff to the emergency location within seconds of call received
- Directing ambulances on their way back to medical facilities with room for patients and equipment for required medical treatment
- Assisting medical staff in determining the shortest route to recovery and most suitable treatment for the disease/injury
These primary Ai assisted services alone can help save thousands of lives in Pakistan every year.
Delivery of Medical Services in Rural Areas
Just as in ER, medical staff can be trained to use Ai in delivering timely services to critical patients. In rural areas, medical staff is either hard pressed with providing timely treatment to an overload of local patients or is not trained enough at all. Ai assisted treatments can help save time and lives without patients having to rush to other advanced facilities in closest cities.
Once materialized, this will not only provide great relief for patients but also unburden emergency facilities in cities of a major load. Ai is especially helpful in remote rural areas, where it can take several hours to get to the nearest medical facility.
Allopathy is a science of trail and error. It can sometimes take months to discover suitable oral treatment for the patients which can lead to complications later. The defective and time-consuming manner also results in deaths as the patient’s health continues to deteriorate over time. Ai is godsend for precision medication. Ai systems can quickly match patient history with available options for treatment and suggest the most appropriate course of action. Here’s how Ai helps uncheck major delivery process milestones instantly:
- Diagnosing patient data for genetic medical history
- Matching available drug options for cures and eliminating the ones with undesirable side effects
- Suggesting most suitable and accurate dosage for a patient’s treatment
- Suggesting accurate length of time for medication required
- Determining future course of action for the patients
Trauma therapy is a demanding profession but more so is the patient data monitoring associated with it. Therapy is a slow process for majority of patients. And it can be hard to keep track of patient’s progress as human judgment is highly subjective in nature. Ai helps keep track of patient data and also point out nuances of progress that are undetectable by human observation. Technology can also objectively determine the length of time a patient may need to take therapy or even if the therapy is working. These insights make a therapist’s job a lot easier and help them focus more on patients rather than on diagnostics.
Diagnosis and Imaging
Diagnosis and image analysis are complicated, exhaustive branches of medical science. It is humanly impossible to assess mounds of patient data for accurate progress reporting. But using machine algorithms makes it easy work to study the data and detect minutest of changes in a short amount of time. For this reason, Ai has huge significance in the fields of radiology, cardiology and pathology. So much so, that the ability to predict disease patterns makes Ai tremendously useful as a preventive technology.
Like precision medicine, precision surgery is only possible through the use of Ai. Ai assisted surgery is beneficial at many levels both for the patient and medical facilities. For starters,
- Ai can help reduce the length of operating procedures significantly by accurately highlighting problem area requiring to be operated on.
- Shorter incisions lead to minimal risk of infections and scarring as well as reduced blood loss and need for transfusions.
- Precision Surgery, as such, also results in reduced recovery time for the patients hence shortening their stay the hospital.
- The reduction in pre, during and post-surgery procedures free up resources for more patients.
Developments in Healthcare Sector
Healthcare ecosystem in an under-developed country like Pakistan is still in its early stages compared to developed countries around the world. But luckily, many organizations and startups have been turning their attention towards using latest technologies in healthcare.
With the vision to reshape technology infrastructure in healthcare sector, VRXOne is focused at transforming clinical services through Ai. The leading innovation company in the region specializes in using latest technologies for innovative development and sustainable growth. Focused at training healthcare professionals through Ai and VR applications, VRXOne is inexorably transforming healthcare ecosystem on multiple levels such as Emergency Response Training, Medical Simulation Labs and Scalable Monitoring Solutions.
With a strong focus on Impact Programs, VRXOne is revolutionizing healthcare practices in third world countries using immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality. These breakthrough technologies extend the quintessential opportunity to address and resolve critical challenges such as infant mortality and women health issues.
Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (RCAI)
Sensing the need to bring medical facilities at par with the world, NED University has developed the Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (RCAI). The center is a state-of-the-art facility working to promote Ai in Pakistan while providing training and consultancy at many levels. RCAI targets application areas such as Building Infrastructure, Robotics, Decision Support Systems for national and international planning and policies among others.
The Artificial Intelligence Advisory and Incubator, ADDO AI, is the first Artificial Intelligence based company in Pakistan. ADDO Ai is working to implement Ai across multiple industries including healthcare. In healthcare, ADDO AI seeks to innovate infrastructure and services optimizing clinical processes.
Ai based Healthcare Technology
Pakistani youth has very actively stepped into the filed of Ai-based healthcare services. Although, still at their early stages these startups hold a promising step in the direction.
GOBEE Wheelchair – Pakistan’s First smart wheelchair, aimed at facilitating differently-abled, which is operated through a smart phone app as well as voice. The wheelchair was developed by Faaiz Arbab, CEO at Ayub Yaqoob Engineering Company (AYECo).
Marham – A healthcare platform, developed by Ehsan Imam, that uses technology to help people find, book appointments, and consult with doctors online. Marham is one of the finalists for Google’s Demo Day Asia to be held in Shanghai this year.
Ai technology has a lot of untapped potential to help bring innovation to inefficient healthcare systems in developing countries. By leveraging the power of Ai, public and private medical facilities can transform healthcare delivery services for the masses. Healthcare Ai will prove to be a game changer in dramatically saving and improving lives across Pakistan.
The notion of existence of parallel worlds or universes has intrigued mankind for a long time and we keep trying to find a passageway into those mysterious worlds. While those efforts are still underway and have yet to see any success, we already have the virtual world in our access with increasing control through the use of immersive technologies like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality or both,
This virtual world gives us complete control in a simulated environment and lets us be more creative and experimental with what is possible. This ability to control, experiment, learn and apply, is transforming the classroom experience all around the world. There is nothing better to make a child become more focused and learn better than by transporting them to a wonder world. As of now, this is the impact that these immersive virtual experiences are having on young minds where the two worlds of imagination and knowledge meet together.
What’s more exciting is that the technical and hardware limitations are also being progressively overcome by premium tech companies such as HTC, and we are able to do more within these virtual environments without breaking contact with the outside world. Dr. Sana Farid, the ARVR & Ai Strategist and Co-founder & CEO of VRXOne, has been taking HTC VIVE to classrooms all over Middle East, and has talked about her experience saying, “We have found HTC to be a game-changing experience in VR education. It has been a great experience exploring the potential of experiential learning and bringing classroom lessons to life with VIVE and the highly immersive platform of Lifeliqe, and we are hoping that the VR education will become still more enhanced in future.” Making school lessons fun and exciting, Lifeliqe is a visual learning platform that offers an extensive range of digital curriculum including highly interactive 3D as well as AR, VR and MR models designed for STEM learning.
Going back to the hardware, HTC VIVE FOCUS, the world’s first standalone virtual reality headset, actually packs some great updates to that end including smartphone integration which enables us to receive calls, messages and even view social media notifications within the FOCUS VR interface without having to take off the headset. Additionally, we have more control via FOCUS with the inclusion of gesture recognition, greater Depth of Field (6DoF) and better battery life as well as the Passenger and Surroundings modes. The ‘Passengers’ mode lets us enjoy a seated VR experience without tracking constraints whereas ‘Surrounding’ mode lets us view our surrounding real world through the Focus camera which means we don’t have to remove the headset every time we need to do something outside of the virtual world.
Alvin Wang Graylin, the China President of Vive at HTC, certainly has a bright vision for the VR future, “Standalone is a trend that will become the mass market product”, adding further he said, “I believe that VR can change the world.”
Indeed, standalone devices will have a big impact on the VR market increasing the overall accessibility and usability of the technology. As per the Technovio’s Market Research Report the global virtual reality market in education sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 59% until 2022 whereas the VR gear in education market is expected to reach $1,060.87 million in 2021. These are huge statistics for VR market and we certainly can’t wait for VR technology to become mainstream in education.
Change is probably one of the most powerful and inevitable phenomena in the world. Someone once said – teachers change the world one child at a time. This statement really sheds light on the influential role of teachers in the life of nations. But today, in this particular time, teachers have added responsibility beyond their traditional role as instructors, mentors, and resource providers. Today they also have to assume the role as leading facilitators for pioneering and affecting modern ed-tech practices and immersive learning in the classrooms.
In view of which, the Ministry of Education, UAE, is presenting various programmes across the year for teachers’ training in Ajman Teachers’ Training Institute, focusing on STREAM education approach and state-of-the-art learning facilitation practices in schools. The objective of such platforms is to instill a culture of innovation and a sense of entrepreneurship in the Emirati teachers in addition to promoting STREAM based education and community partnership.
Speakers and trainers would deliver invaluable exercises and discussions in practices and methodologies to boost research and creative competencies of teachers expanding upon their central role in preparing a generation that can nourish the growth and expanse of knowledge based economy in the Middle East by way laying the groundwork for integration of STREAM approach as well as linking STREAM schools with universities and ultimately labor markers.
Considered a key to sustainable leadership and innovative practices in a changing world, STREAM education is perceived as a crucial catalyst for accelerated socio-economic and ecological growth and development in the age of 4th industrial revolution. In that regard, the UAE teachers are exposed to exclusive opportunities to receive substantial training in implementing the ways to promote student learning, participation and entrepreneurial aptitudes through creative practices – from employing innovative STREAM education approaches to immersive ed-tech technologies in the classroom.
One of the highly acknowledged trainers in the Ministry of Education, UAE, coming from Bahrain, is Dr. Sana Farid, a pioneer ARVR & Ai Strategist, Research Analyst, Coach and Entrepreneur. Contributing to conduct training session in implementation of innovation and technology in learning practices in view of STREAM approach to education. Previously receiving the Award of Appreciation from the UAE Ministry of Education, in appreciation to train large scale of nearly 10,000 teachers for immersive technologies in the classroom, Dr. Sana is the President & Ambassador Women of Wearables MENA, Co-Chair VRAR Association MENA and one of the World Top 101 Women in ARVR.
Bearing in mind, how the training in STREAM approach and experience in immersive technologies is expected to raise a self-motivated and highly skilled generation for optimum attainment of a knowledge based economy, His Excellency Dr. Hussain Al Hammadi, the UAE for Minister of Education, commented, “To instill a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the students of primary education schools and to provide a specialized environment that embraces students’ initiatives in innovative aspects is one of the most important requirements of STREAM education.” [link] For this reason, the fourth session of the Forum was dedicated to encouraging and promoting practical applications driving the management of innovative practices and projects based on STREAM education which could then further attract the interest of local and international sponsors for forging relations, potential partnerships and accreditations within educational communities.
With the recent developments in the Middle East, it isn’t difficult to see what the future looks like for the region. And the reason for this foresight is the way immersive and innovative technologies are being channeled into the very fabric of the society. To quote the words of the driving force behind the shining bright face of UAE, the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, “Our goal in the UAE is to shape the future… We have a ministry, future accelerators, national plan and passion to succeed.” And certainly, His Highness is determinedly connecting all the dots and filling all the voids in the process.
Since the modern education technology is based on experience-based learning and real time performance assessment, this not only requires retraining of teachers but also their active involvement more than ever before. Luckily, the government of UAE is well-aware of this challenge and the Ministry of Education has taken many initiatives to address this issue. With the Qudwa – Global Teachers’ Forum, Teachers Forum, and the Arab Gulf Teachers Forum at Ajman Teachers’ Training Institute.
The Arab Teachers’ Training forum is another cog in the chain of projects to help introduce modern educational and teaching strategies and the mechanisms for their successful implementation within the current schooling system. The objective of the event is to communicate ways to help build a competitive and comprehensive learning environment and specifically, redefining the role of teachers and develop and improve their performance and contribution in order to garner the desired positive outcomes from schooling systems in the UAE.
Innovation in education has become a global phenomenon today where new approaches to classroom learning are fundamentally transforming the long-standing learning methodologies in the teaching profession. The new slant will not only transfigure the way students are taught in classroom but also introduce advanced techniques for the way teachers prepare for the new curriculum.
As Virtual Reality technology is being introduced in schools in the Middle East, such event provide a great opportunity for the teachers to experience VR technology. Whereas, the leading VR education program – VRXOne is bringing the technology to classrooms through 1 million Virtual Reality lessons with Google Expeditions, [News]. Educating teachers about integrating edtech tools in the classroom empowers them to upgrade the conventional learning system.
Google Expeditions has a “Guide” mode that teachers can use to prepare their lessons and to enhance their understanding of how best to go about a virtual tour prior to a classroom lesson. The acclaimed VR/AR/Ai Strategist, Speaker and Entrepreneur, Dr. Sana Farid, is conducting training session in VR-based education and implementation of VR technology in classrooms and empowering thousands of teachers across the region.
Thanks to VR edtech, the teachers and students can be trained pretty much simultaneously, saving valuable transition time as well as redefine classroom experience and create an innovative learning environment that will bridge that technology-inspired communication gap between student-teacher relationship.