5G in the Classroom

5G has been thoroughly covered by the media in the last 12 to 24 months. The networking equipment manufacturers which sell 5G capability and the phone companies they sell it to, try and engender support for the technology, for example, by saying it will improve communications and drive productivity.

Those things are true but they don’t fully explain the quantum of difference that 5G will make in our lives and classrooms. Educators will be able to use some of the less eye-catching features of 5G as an opportunity to engage students in their classrooms and to make learning more relevant than it ever has been before.

What is 5G?

5G is the 5th ‘G’ – Generation of mobile data communication. In a sense, it’s ‘just’ mobile access to the internet – and we have that today. So what’s going to be so different about 5G?

  • 5G cellular networks will be extremely fast: 5G is superfast data downloads over cellular networks. 5G will be fast, even by today’s standards. It will be possible, for example, using 5G, to download every episode of The TV Show ‘Game Of Thrones’, in High Definition, to your phone, in less than 10 seconds.
  • Low latency: 5G will benefit from low, approximately 5ms response times. In simple terms, that means the user will not experience a delay when they request a service. As soon as they hit the button on their phone to download an app, it will be installed. As soon as they request a file, it will open. Some analysts say that this feature is even more important than the speed. We have some practical examples of why that’s the case, below, and explain why, in a classroom context, this feature is so important.
  • Low power consumption: 5G is designed to pick up very weak signals from cheap sensors deployed – everywhere. A single battery in a farm gate bell, for example, could last 10 years. This is likely to lead to the application of 5G enabled sensors on every physical asset in the world worth more than about $50.

Augmenting Classroom Education

The biggest impact 5G will have on the classroom is through Augmented learning. 5G’s data transmissions speeds will enable whole new worlds to be transmitted to students through Artificial Reality (AR) and Augmented Reality (erm, AR), as teaching tools.

AR applications will be used to create immersive reality tools (see below) In a 5G world, these products will assist educators in helping children experience the subject they’re studying – something academics suggest will help them grasp the key learning outcomes much faster.

Here’s a good example of the difference to engagement that augmenting standard learning can make. Take a look at the video below and watch how engaged the kids are. They are not throwing a ball against a wall, they’re blowing up invaders.

YouTube video

Existing Augmented Reality Solutions in the classroom

A great first step towards explaining the potential for AR in the classroom is Quivervision. Using it, younger children can print off and color in their own cartoon character which is then ‘brought to life’ on a phone. Whatever colors they’ve used to color the animal in, are used to color him/her when they are animated.

Image Caption: Quivervision lets ’s younger kids print off an image of a predefined cartoon character, color it in and then see it come to life.

Similarly, below, Lunch Rush uses some of the features of computers that kids love to engage them as part of the educational process. In this game, kids can feed members of the Lunch Rush crew by answering maths questions.

Image caption: PBS’s Lunch Rush game helps students learn maths by making it part of a game. The more problems that maths students solve, the more points they get for feeding the crew on a TV set.

Evolving from these AR solutions to 5G in the classroom

Verizon, one of the world’s largest phone companies, is on the cutting edge of envisaging a classroom equipped with 5G facilities. Verizon see simple AR tools, such as Lunch Rush and Quivervision, developing in a 5G world. To make that goal a reality, they have developed ‘Chalktalk’ as part of their 5G ‘Alley’ incubator – specifically designed to bring 5G to life.

Chalktalk is an open source environment that any teacher can adapt, which will let teachers create virtual components to into their classroom. Students can then use their 5G phones to engage with those virtual assets, assisting learning outcomes and driving engagement in the class content.

Image Caption: CNN shows students engaging with virtual assets as part of a lesson.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/18/health/virtual-reality-schools/index.html

Verizon want teachers to be able to engage with the virtual content assets in real time, while they’re delivering a class, to make their points in a way which will engage and amaze students. Remember, 5G experiences no latency. So when a student engages with a virtual asset, over a 5G connection, it responds immediately. 5G will not only deliver new worlds for students to enter but will also make the components of that world as responsive as any component of the real world.

This is already happening in Medical distance Learning

Ericsson – the Global Network Equipment Manufacturer – is investing in next-generation tools to train Doctors so that they can operate on injured or sick individuals remotely. They have created ‘haptic’ feedback ‘gloves’ for Doctors through which the trainee can ‘feel’ what robot hands miles away are touching through a glove. The low latency responses enabled by 5G are critical in such a situation.

Again, because the technology reacts more quickly than the human threshold for realizing a delay, surgeons’ brains are tricked into thinking their movements are replicated instantly and feel sure about the way their hands are behaving so far away. This Kings College London is at the forefront of research in the sphere. In the future, some specialist surgeon training will train Doctors to use this technology to operate in remote areas such as the Australian Bush where now, some patients have to be flown several hours in the event of there’s an accident.

Other 5G influences in the classroom: Analytics, STEM and more data sets

5G is likely to make its biggest impact on the regular classroom through the science experiments that it will be possible to conduct and the mathematical modeling that will be required to analyze the output from a world of sensors. Everything will be measured. Governments will release data sets on the number of cars which pass every intersection.

In the classroom, teachers will have new quantities of meteorological information to interpret. 5G will bring the rising demand for students proficient in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects under the microscope and give teachers the chance to make these subjects more relevant than they have ever been.

Don’t underestimate the importance of 5G in everything, including education

“Education is the big disruptive wave that’s going to happen – that needs to happen – for humans to survive.”

Kinect 5G in Education Conference October 2017.

Source: Kirill Makhinsky.

5G might just be the biggest thing to happen to education in a generation. It’s is more than just faster data and nowhere is that difference more clearly established than in the classroom. 5G will provide more information, from more remote sensors, which students can use as part of their learning. In this way, it will underline the importance of STEM subjects while, at the same time, providing tools to teach those subjects. Finally, 5G will provide a growing range of Artificial and Augmented Reality tools which will be used to engage students in the learning process.