How 5 innovative technologies are changing higher education
Now, more than ever before, technology is levelling the playing field, making it easier and more affordable to discover new interests and pursue a life-changing career. Implementation of technology comes in many forms, changing how educators and students connect across the internet, how material is delivered through interactive experiences, and how students are given more control over their education.
If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that a recent post documented the five ways that technology compliments traditional education. In this post, I’ll further explain the technologies being implemented into education and how they can be used, as well as future-focused technology that we’re developing for ODEM.
Blockchain technology gives universally-accessible data provenance and immutability, meaning that it’s authenticated and verified and can’t be manipulated or tampered with. Data is secured by cryptography, a method of hashing information so that it remains private on a public blockchain. Data on a public chain can be reached anywhere in the world, but private keys are required to access it. Immutability of information is created by chain of custody, a chronological order of blocks that, like historical events, can’t be altered once another block is added.
Education uses immutable, decentralized blockchain technology to solve significant hurdles, including verification of education records such as degrees and diplomas (read more about that on our blog), a cryptographically-secure marketplace where educators, students, and facilitators can meet, and creating greater autonomy for students.
With permissioned information gathering, computer systems can understand human patterns and digital behavior, helping computers to better engage with users. Artificial intelligence (AI) interacts with users by suggesting possible next actions based on demonstrated interests and by troubleshooting if a user isn’t certain of what to do or look for on a platform.
In education, AI can be very useful in supporting students through their course selection and learning process. AI provides a powerful tool for digital interaction, offering computer intelligence for identification of academic material and sorting through course catalogues. This technology can also help with studying, providing support with understanding concepts and terminology by supplying definitions and context.
A subset of AI, machine learning (ML) is an algorithm-based technology developed to perform tasks without code-based instruction. Instead, ML bases its performance on patterns and logical reasoning, with inferrance guiding next steps.
Platforms leveraging machine learning are able to help the user in determining what may suit them. With education, ML can recognize key themes across the user’s education journey on a platform and suggest courses and experiences. There are a myriad of continued education courses made available to students, not all of which may be easy to find. ML can recommend various courses to the students, showing them options they may otherwise have missed.
Virtual reality (VR) provides a simulated experience for the user, which can introduce them to a fictional world, a different region or country, a certain place -- anywhere. VR encapsulates users in a virtual world, made realistic by a headset that seemingly transports you. The technology operates through the use of highly visual and interactive graphic design, as if you’re stepping into a video game. Users wear a headset that transforms their environment, offering opportunity for simulated travel, entertainment, and education.
In education, virtual reality can be used to provide students with understanding and context. Simply putting on a headset can transport a student to a different country, or a world developed specifically to teach students about history, geography, design, computer science, or anything else. Immersive education can be extremely helpful for students who aren’t linear thinkers and perform better when given opportunity for analytical thinking and creative problem solving. Like the internet, VR removes barriers, allowing students to connect with different environments across the world and opening up new learning experiences.
Like VR, augmented reality (AR) provides an alternative to our physical world. However, AR presents a meeting of physical and digital simulation, enhancing the physical world by layering computer-generated graphics and data on top of it. AR is experienced on a screen in front of the user, either through a headset or hand-held device like a tablet.
AR can be designed to understand physical surroundings and identify certain aspects like buildings or materials. This is supportive of education because information can be presented when certain items are recognized. A tablet held up to a city skyline, for example, could identify landmark buildings, providing information about when it was built and the historical significance. Animals, words, and various formations could all be analyzed in the same way.
Blended learning: combining digital with physical
Having described the various forms of technology that are, and will continue to, influence how educators teach and students learn, at ODEM, we believe that blended learning will continue to be very popular in the future. Blended learning consists of an online and in-person learning experience in order to maximize a student’s learning potential. Blended learning is a trend that is here to stay.
As previously described, ODEM has implemented blockchain technology into the Platform to create a decentralized on-demand education marketplace. Our innovation doesn’t stop there; we’re developing AI and ML for the Platform as well. Together, these technologies will give students and educators far greater autonomy than the current system provides, allowing them to determine how, when, and where learning takes place. Blockchain technology verifies student credentials and makes those records globally transferable across academic institutions and prospective employers. It also supports the marketplace with the ODEM Token and allows for easy transfer of skills and material for value. AI and ML will support ODEM’s mission by customizing the higher learning journey for students, helping navigate the Platform, and sourcing the best courses for them. We look forward to sharing more!