TEACHING & LEARNING
Traditional approaches to academia — studying the classics, dedicating years to esoteric research — have given higher education a reputation in some quarters as being less than agile. But that doesn’t mean campus communities can’t be incredibly innovative, and the Internet of Things just might prove it.
In recent months, I’ve seen several speculations that an influx of IoT devices will hit higher education sooner than other industries. To a large degree, that stems from students, who are already coming to campus with an average of seven IoT devices each. Wearables and other smart devices are transforming pedagogy, giving faculty and students new ways to customize the learning experience. Campuses are taking notice of the IoT’s potential, establishing centers and research labs to design new applications.
A venture-backed company today announced a new educational offering billed as an alternative to the standard undergraduate experience. It will last only one calendar year, feature a curriculum designed in close coordination with well-known employers, and cost nothing—at least at the outset. Students who attend, however, must promise to give up 15 percent of their incomes for three years once they land a job that pays $50,000 or more.
The unusual new program is called MissionU, founded by Adam Braun, a 33-year-old entrepreneur best known for his work building schools in developing countries. He started his career as a consultant for Bain & Company, but during a trip to India when he was 25 years old he was inspired to start a nonprofit, Pencils of Promise, and to write a bestselling memoir called “The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change.”
Minecraft started as a fun game about creating, exploring, mining, and managing resources, but now many teachers worldwide are using it to teach helping students develop science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. Many online lessons and programs center on this Lego-style game and, over time, the Minecraft community has shown us that it can mean much more.
It is no surprise that the University of Hull saw its huge potential and decided to build a game in this virtual reality world to help younger students learn about the world of chemistry. Using undergraduates to create a Minecraft world called MolCraft, students can explore the molecular structure of proteins and chemicals.
Sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the project was developed under the guidance of Dr. Mark Lorch, professor of biological chemistry and Joel Mills, resident Minecraft education expert. MolCraft can be downloaded and run locally, explored on their server, or just use the schematics of the molecules to populate your own worlds with molecules.
There’s a reason Mojang (Minecraft) was acquired by Microsoft for $2.5bn.
The global e-learning market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 7.2 percent over the next decade to reach approximately $325 billion by 2025, according to a recent report by tech market research firm ReportLinker.
Some of the prominent trends that the market is experiencing include:
Learning through gaming, which has gained popularity in recent years; Implementation of IT security and cloud-based solutions;
Rapid growth in online content and digitization;
Innovations in wearable technologies; and
Learning management systems (LMS), which are switching over to cloud-based systems.
The ReportLinker report splits the market into two categories based on product: academic e-learning and corporate e-learning. Depending on technology, the market is further segmented into LMS’s, mobile e-learning, application simulation tools, rapid e-learning, podcasts, learning content management systems, virtual classrooms, knowledge management systems and other technologies.