As the world prepares to celebrate Teacher’s Day on the fifth of October, UAE starts its tribute to teachers today at Sheraton Hotel, Sharjah. In honor of their services to the nation, the ‘Future of Education’ event has been held today, under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.
A learning enthusiast all his life, the presence of His Highness at the event was indeed inspiring for the educators. The formation of international Supervisory Educational Authority is the evidence of his vision for teaching profession in the UAE. Whereby the authority will supervise and improve all aspects of the educational process in private schools in the Emirates. “This body is working under my personal guidance to improve education, and will take care of everything going on in the classroom of the teacher evaluation and methods of teaching”, Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi said in an interview.
The Future of Education event today was an acknowledgement of the valuable contributions and dedication of the Arab teachers to the nation. Additionally, it also highlighted the role of innovative technologies in the classroom. How the classroom learning and interaction are being affected by the technology. How can teachers help to incorporate technology in the school curriculum for better academic outcomes. The participants were also enlightened about how the future classrooms will be impacted by immersive technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
The government is most focused on transforming the landscape of the entire economic development based on modern education techniques. This is a mission that can only be accomplished through dedicated efforts of the teachers. In line with the same vision, the Teachers Association UAE has done tremendous work to improve classroom education. As a hub for teachers’ development, the association is a platform for education professionals to connect and improve teaching practices. Present at the event was also Munfarid VRXOne, one of the mentor organizations to empower local Emirati teachers through methods in deep learning. VRXOne has pioneered the transformation through innovation in immersive, experiential learning using AR, VR and Ai programs.
Artificial Intelligence is taking hands-on learning to next level both within the classroom and without. As Ai uses students’ performance data to improve classroom instruction and education, it also makes the curriculum much more versatile. The versatility means that the curriculum can be customized to a student’s learning tendencies. This way, Ai helps develop an impactful student-teacher relationship through personalized education strategies.
Automation of processes, for instance grading, frees up time for teachers to invest helping students to develop important life skills. The lessons in robotics and machine learning, such as Google Ai programs, help teachers in getting students to understand concepts better. Moreover these programs push students towards developing innovative thinking and entrepreneurial aptitude. Ai technology in classroom ensures that all the students have access to high-quality education.
This is something that educators today are fast realizing and see as a challenge that must be addressed. Sreejit Chakrabarty, the robotics manager at Gems Dubai American Academy sees huge potential for Ai as a core subject, saying, “Naturally, this Ai literacy brings in and helps students to extend their knowledge of English, Maths and Coding. For example, by seeing how their programming strategies are reflected in the learning and behavior of a machine, they can better grasp abstract concepts such as cause and effect. They can also get immediate feedback from the machine and iterate their ideas based upon this. These are powerful opportunities for learning in a cross-disciplinary way.”
The head of curriculum at the Kindergarten Starters, Gauri Meghani goes a step further in her approach to adopt Ai in classrooms. She would like Ai integrated with all other subjects simultaneously. In her view, a blended approach towards student-machine interaction is way more beneficial for children. She explained, “Our grades 3, 4 and 5 have learnt to Program LEGO Education Wedo 1.0 and 2.0. They have used all the sensors, motion and display blocks to make their robots do different tasks, like sailing a boat, for example. These activities have instilled a deeper understanding of math and science concepts and evidence-based reasoning.”
The use of technology makes schools much more efficient and innovative learning environments. Students today have the opportunity to actually explore and get involved with the educational experience. And this is only possible when teachers are empowered through technology to enhance their pedagogical performance and communication.
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.
Presented as a complete VR learning solution, Lenovo Mirage Solo™ is raising the bar by adding an aesthetic and intelligent appeal to the Virtual Reality technology.
So what gives this device an extra edge over the other VR products?
Well, its flair can be attributed to the utility and convenience it comes with.
The new model by Lenovo is a self-contained bundle that does not require connectivity with a PC or a mobile phone to work. It is a standalone device that uses Google’s powerful WorldSense™ technology which allows it to lean, dodge, duck, move, avoid obstacles, offering interactive virtual reality experiences. The headset device gives an incredible 110-degree field of view and is claimed to present an ‘evolved’ version of VR. The device comes with a Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, quite smart on the specifications.
Besides the headset, the bundle comprises a Lenovo Tab 4 PLUS 10” tablet which gives autonomy to the teachers to maneuver the VR experiences to control the VR sessions in class. The wireless touchscreen helps them choose the expeditions and discuss the customized lessons.
Every component of the kit makes this Lenovo standalone device a next-generation wearable device.
The robust array of apps and games available in a smartphone (which can be strapped to a headgear) has built enough fascination for VR technology. However, the provision of these features in Mirage, without the need of a supporting device, makes VR more realistic. Especially for education!
The blended learning environment delivering content-rich experiences can find great use in the Middle East economy. The education capacity and enrollment are growing in the region, which is also emerging in the use of ARVR in the classroom.
The IDC (International Data Corporation) report expects the Middle East and Africa market for augmented and virtual reality is likely to grow to $6 billion by 2020. Heads of states, innovators, academic influencers, and passionate teachers are taking steps to highlight the importance of tech-based economy.
In the wake of the burgeoning curiosity and passion for technology, ARVR conferences, developers’ meet-ups, and awareness drives are being conducted.
VRXOne, the Google Expeditions Middle East partner, has also launched the acclaimed Immersive Learning for School program in the region, taking a giant leap into VR. Distinguished for its reach and impact, the awareness drive is the biggest and most significant VR education program in ME. The program entitles 1 million expeditions to students in the Middle East schools. This gives an opportunity for scores of school children and teachers to realize the impact of VR in pedagogy.
Besides Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality is another highly beneficial and prospective technology and VRXOne is spreading awareness in the region about the newly launched AR Expeditions by Google.
There is a horde of new interesting features that AR expeditions offer.
The first amazing feature is the ability to draw the attention of the class towards a point of observation. The teacher can use the ‘spotlight feature’ to highlight the part of the object that is to be seen by the students. This spotlight may be a pinpoint or a floodlight.
Another spectacular feature is the ability to resize objects. Since different classrooms have different available spaces, there should ideally be an option to change the size of the object under observation – and Google offers just that. The teacher can resize instantly and the change will be propagated to all the connected student devices.
The next highlight of expeditions AR is that users can put down up to eight different objects around the space and the object will stand right on top of those physical markers (marked with different colors). The kids can view the same object with the same point of reference. The physical markers are a good method of giving the students a common point of reference.
The Solo Mode in AR is similar to VR and allows the students to read the explanatory information. So while the teacher is not around and the mode is activated, a note will pop up on the device screen, allowing the students the autonomy to independently explore.
A beautiful new AI and the holistic fun content make both – VR and AR expeditions a win.
Famous for its biggest Virtual Reality program for schools in the Middle East, Munfarid formally announced the partnership between their Virtual Reality program VRXOne and MEL Science for immersive learning.
VRXOne is an immersive educational platform that takes the users into an immersive world with near-realistic 3D environment and motion captured based physical interactivity. The program has been widely acclaimed for its usability and benefits & was also mentioned at the Google IO 2018. VRXOne is the official partner for Google Expeditions in the Middle East region.
MEL Science, an education service focused on immersive learning through VR and hands-on experiments, has created a package of chemistry VR lessons equipped with “teacher mode”, that allows school teachers to use VR lessons in the classroom. This feature allows them to guide a classroom of students through a VR chemistry lesson. Rather than use slides or a whiteboard, the teacher can illustrate concepts with an immersive VR experience that puts students in a virtual lab where they can zoom down to the atomic level, fly through the molecular makeup of chemicals and even build their own atoms or molecules.
The alliance is intended to enhance their individual efforts at getting kids to enjoy their lessons through interactive learning. VRXOne and MEL Science are aimed to use virtual reality for making visual science more accessible for kids from the Middle East schools. The comprehensive hardware and software program, VRXOne will be promoting the lessons made available to them by the latter. Noteworthy to mention, VRXOne has also been involved in spreading awareness about the benefits of interactive learning through its ongoing ‘Go-to School’ program where 1 million Google expeditions are being demonstrated to the students in the Middle East.
Efforts are on the go to engage students full throttle and help them bridge their learning gaps. Researches have proved that creating visual scenarios while teaching had increased benefits than those accruing from verbal learning. Explaining STEM phenomena through interactive lessons improves learning without requiring any extra teaching hours. It leads to completeness and coherence in learning where students while staying abreast of the developments in lessons, can understand better.
Interactive learning with the help of technology has also shown to yield better results. Learning with the help of innovative technologies like Virtual Reality captures the student attention while inhibiting the distractions at learning. It also improves retention rates since the students are practically a part of the environment where learning happens.
The collaboration between the two enterprises focussed on education will accentuate the improving education scene in the region.
Dr. Sana Farid, the Co-Founder of Munfarid and a leading ARVR trainer and researcher was delighted at the partnership.
She expressed her views mentioning, “The pedagogical shift by means of interactive technology and ‘learn by doing’ methods is imperative to growth of the Middle East economy and its human resource development. Through consistent efforts and more awareness, we can help students across the globe realize the true potential of education, in both – developed and developing countries.”
About MEL Science
MEL Science is a London-based company developing a unique approach to science education: combining hands-on experiments with virtual reality, to explain the science behind those experiments. The company’s first product, MEL Chemistry, is a chemistry set for kids as a subscription service. Every month, the subscribers get new chemistry sets to do fun experiments with kids at home. Experiments are accompanied by a mobile app that makes it possible to see chemistry in VR. MEL Chemistry VR lessons are designed to completely remove outside distractions and provide students with a fully focused learning environment.
MEL Chemistry VR media kit: http://bit.ly/2JddGGo
MEL Chemistry VR website: https://melscience.com/vr
VRXOne is an international brand for virtual reality distributed in the Middle East exclusively by Munfarid. It’s a learning platform that uses Virtual Reality in education and training. VRXOne products offer unparalleled performance for content’s delivery and control. VRXOne provides devices and head mounts and accepts content in virtually any format and resolution compatible with Virtual Reality. Users can unite all their content on a single platform and play it as desired on their VRXOne Kits.
VRXOne media kit: http://bit.ly/2kqWXS2
VRXOne website: https://www.vrxone.com