Education in the workplace and the classroom is becoming more and more automated. Extended reality devices plugged into the internet of things is one of the most profound breakthroughs in the space.
The face of education has transformed during this pandemic. Virtual learning has become the norm, and by all accounts, it has been a disaster for students, teachers, parents alike.
The impact of this lost educational opportunity will be profound. OECD pegs the long-term cost in foregone productivity from school aged students during this time in the U.S. at around $15 trillion.
This crisis will pass, but it has left many wondering what the future of education will look like; advances in educational technology seem not only inevitable, but necessary...what will they look like?
In typical fashion, we can look to well-funded enterprises--which spend an estimated $83 billion a year on training--to understand what emerging technologies will be used and how best to implement these technologies. These astronomical education related expenses push enterprises to constantly innovate their strategies and technologies, seeking to reduce training costs by reducing training time and increasing retention.
In enterprise training environments, several technologies are working together to automate education (and everything else eventually) in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
As artificial intelligence learns from the information generated by the internet of things (IoT) used to educate trainees and students--computers, smart phones, virtual and mixed reality headsets, etc.--education will become more personalized, streamlined, and automated.
Extended Reality (XR) is the technology to watch in the education sector.
Extended reality refers to augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality. Augmented and mixed reality blend the physical and digital worlds, while virtual reality immerses you in a completely computer generated world. These technologies will change education in the workplace and the classroom.
The major advantage of augmented and mixed reality over our current phones and computers is the level of connectedness we are able to maintain with our physical space. Instead of immersing yourself into your phone or computer, you can interact with digital information right in front of your eyes and completely hands-free.
This prevents the inefficiency we currently have from dividing attention between the information you need and the task at hand, instead allowing for real-time, active learning.
For example, if you’re learning how to change a tire by watching a video, you won’t need to go back and forth between what you’re watching and what you’re doing; you’ll experience the real-time knowledge transfer of seeing step by step instructions right in front of your eyes while you work. These instructions will even identify and “augment” the tools and parts you’re using so you know exactly what you need and what to do for each step.
Training and education is currently one of the most heavily invested in uses for augmented and mixed reality by enterprises because the ROI associated with it is so immense. AR and MR headsets are used in healthcare, aerospace, manufacturing, retail, and military. Here are just a few ways this technology adds value for education and training.
Engagement and Retention: Visual, auditory, and active learning come together in a brilliant new way with MR and AR wearables. Digital visual aids can walk you through a lesson while experts talk you through the lesson--while at the same time you’re using your hands to complete a task. Working together, these sensory inputs and outputs increase engagement in the task. It’s hands-on learning in a structured, interactive way.
Fuller engagement in a lesson naturally increases retention of the lesson. Studies of using Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 MR headset in education show a 35% increase in student engagement and retention. They also saw a 22% improvement in test scores.
Safety: For lessons or jobs that are inherently dangerous--like performing surgery, operating heavy machinery, or working with high voltage--AR/MR provides a safer environment for training. Improvements in engagement and retention also increase the likelihood that safety training will be remembered. Finally, real-time knowledge transfer allows for on the job assistance during dangerous tasks.
Cost Effectiveness: Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 goes for $3,500, so there are some high initial costs for implementing the technology, but they’re outweighed by the benefits of increased efficiency, retention, safety, as well as by replacing the need for costly seminars or classes.
In addition, costs of the hardware will come down as more manufacturers produce consumer friendly mixed reality devices. This will also remove much of the cost burden from schools and employers, who won’t need to provide every student/employee with their own headset. By 2030, the market for wearables will see adoption curves similar to the smartphone.
These headsets also allow for on-demand training. Instead of hiring someone to onboard new employees and provide ongoing training, training material can be recorded once and used over and over again. Step-by-step instructions can be uploaded into mixed reality programs that expedite training processes and significantly reduce the cost to train each employee.
The impact of VR on education is still being explored, but it is clear that mixed reality can be used to engage students in new ways, such as through telepresence and virtual interactions. Many mixed reality educational apps are currently designed specifically for the Microsoft HoloLens 2, as Microsoft is currently a leader in the MR market. However, as the MR market matures and more companies enter the space, we may see a wider range of headsets supported and even more innovation in MR applications.
A unique way mixed reality could be used in education is through the use of virtual field trips. With MR technology, students can visit locations that would otherwise be inaccessible, such as historical sites or remote locations around the world. This allows students to gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter and enhances the learning experience by providing a more immersive and interactive experience. Additionally, virtual field trips can also be used to provide students with hands-on learning opportunities, such as virtual labs or simulations, which can be especially beneficial for subjects such as science and engineering.
Another example of MR being used in education is through the use of MR to enhance language learning. By using MR, students can interact with virtual environments and characters, which can help them to improve their understanding of the language and culture. Additionally, MR can also be used to provide students with interactive language exercises and simulations, which can help to improve their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.
Virtual reality has a unique ability to bring lessons to life. It places students in situations they would never experience otherwise; they might walk through ancient Egypt or attend a royal dinner party. Though it removes the user from their surroundings, VR has all the same value propositions as AR/MR when used in the right circumstances.
Researchers are beginning to explore new ways to use it in education. Studies have shown that the use of VR can improve students' retention of information and increase their engagement in the learning process. Furthermore, the use of VR in education is also beneficial in areas such as special education, where it can be used to provide support to students with specific needs.
As VR and AR become more widely used in education, researchers are finding new ways to improve learning and comprehension. This technology has the potential to transform the learning experience for students and could even revolutionize the world.
The network between all of these technologies and the big data collected from them plugged into artificial intelligence to analyze behavior will be instrumental for personalized learning, determining interventions, and what tools are effective.
This is the one that tends to freak people out about this technology...and we get it. No technology provides insight into human behavior like mixed reality headsets. Eye tracking technology paints a very clear picture of human psychology, making this data extremely valuable to anyone and everyone.
The integration of mixed reality technology with big data and artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize personalized learning and intervention strategies. By analyzing the behavior of users through the use of mixed reality headsets, which provide a unique level of insight into human psychology through eye tracking technology, valuable data can be collected and analyzed. This data can then be used to personalize education and create more effective tools for learning.
As the automation of education moves forward, we’ll see more personalized education based on these analytics. The question is, who else will pay to get their hands on it and how will it be used?
Regardless of these privacy concerns, this technology is coming full steam ahead, and it will transform more than our classrooms and workplaces. It will transform our homes, our streets--our lives. It will invade every type of business and industry and eliminate the need for screens until the physical and digital worlds are one. What an interesting journey we are about to embark on.
The seamless blending of physical and digital realms in mixed reality technology represents a major leap forward in computing. With immersive, 3D digital environments that integrate with the physical world through hands-free headsets, we can interact with digital information in a much more natural and intuitive way. By overlaying digital information on the physical environment, mixed reality can create immersive and engaging learning experiences that enhance knowledge retention and skill development. This convergence of physical and digital experiences is poised to revolutionize the way we engage with the digital world, allowing us to access and interact with digital information more seamlessly and efficiently.
Mixed reality enables immersive and interactive learning experiences, and it’s resulting in transformational impacts in training and education. Organizations across all industries are already developing software for classrooms and work environments that enhance the learning experience for students and employees. These platforms enable teachers and trainers to create engaging and interactive lessons that improve engagement and retention among their learners.
In the classroom, mixed reality can be used to create interactive and dynamic lessons that capture students' attention and foster active learning. It helps promote deep learning rather than surface learning, and supports the development of higher order thinking skills in the application of knowledge, analysis, and synthesis. For example, mixed reality can be used to create 3D models of historical sites, animals, or other subjects, allowing students to explore and interact with the material in a more engaging and memorable way. Mixed reality can also be used to simulate experiments, allowing students to test and observe scientific concepts in real-time, without the need for expensive equipment.
For workplace environments, mixed reality training can provide a more efficient and effective way to learn and improve job-related skills in the workforce. For example, mixed reality can be used to create virtual simulations of job tasks, allowing workers to practice and refine their skills in a safe and controlled environment. This can be particularly useful in fields like healthcare, where workers need to develop high-level technical skills and perform tasks with precision and accuracy.
Mixed reality training can also be used to enhance workplace safety by simulating dangerous scenarios and training workers to respond appropriately. For example, in the construction industry, mixed reality can be used to create simulations of hazardous conditions, such as fires or falling objects, allowing workers to practice emergency response protocols without putting themselves in harm's way.
Below are just a few examples of how companies are using AR technology to enhance their training programs. As the technology continues to evolve, we are likely to see more companies across a range of industries adopting AR to provide more engaging and effective training experiences for their employees.
Airbus, one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers, has incorporated Microsoft's HoloLens 2 mixed reality headset into their production process to improve efficiency and reduce errors. The headset provides workers with virtual assistance in performing complex tasks such as wiring harness installation and cabin inspection. By using the HoloLens 2, workers can access digital instructions, schematics, and checklists while keeping their hands free, which streamlines the process and reduces the risk of errors. Additionally, the HoloLens 2 allows workers to collaborate in real-time with remote experts, who can provide guidance and assistance from anywhere in the world, further enhancing productivity and reducing costs.
Boeing has been using AR technology to train its technicians in the assembly of aircraft. The company has developed an AR system that overlays digital instructions and diagrams onto the physical environment, allowing workers to see the step-by-step process of assembling complex parts and systems.
Boeing implemented AR technology into the manufacturing process of key assembly operations in 2021 and experienced a reduction of error rates down to zero and improved production time of wiring by 25%. They are amplifying the skills and impact of their workforce while reaping ancillary benefits in safety and ultimately savings to the bottom line.
Siemens is using AR technology to train its service technicians to repair and maintain complex machinery. The company has developed an AR platform that provides technicians with a visual overlay of the machinery and its components, enabling them to identify problems and perform repairs more efficiently and accurately.
Overall, mixed reality training has the potential to revolutionize the way we learn and work. By creating immersive and engaging experiences, mixed reality can improve knowledge retention, enhance skill development, and provide a safer and more effective way to train workers. As the technology continues to evolve, it is likely that we will see mixed reality training become increasingly widespread in both educational and professional settings.
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Augmented reality solutions have already shown their potential to revolutionize many industries, and the future for this space is bright. With the continued development of mobile devices and wearable technology, AR solutions will become more accessible and intuitive, leading to even more widespread adoption.