One of the most exciting areas of technological development is drone technology which is also called Unmanned aircraft systems (UASs). People always were excited by flying objects. Many stories and myths had been created about mysterious characteristics of flying objects. In 21st century, it is still catching people’s minds, emotions and imaginations. And this is why unmanned aircraft systems open vast possibilities in the educational environment involving different levels of education starting from kindergarten up to PhD studies and different modes of education: traditional, online or blended. Drones in education can be used as an educational tool to enhance the learning experience or as a subject of studies.
Rapid growth of drone industry
Drones are already widely used by different industries and businesses around the world to accomplish required tasks, for example, to capture aerial footage for news agencies or real-estate and traveling promotions, inspect agricultural areas and collect data for farmers, help in search and rescue operations, and create 3D images for construction purposes and architectural projects, and deliver products to customers.
The industry is expanding, growing fast and it is predicted that in few years’ time it will become multi-billion dollar industry which will require professional workforce with the wide range of relevant skills, and it is a task given to the educational sector.
Using drones in schools
For instructors and teachers, using drones in the course delivery open up new opportunities to make classes more relevant and engaging for students.
Drones can help to enhance orientation skills, motor skills, and even give students a better understanding of how the world around us works and how different things are interrelated.
Some teachers are incorporating drone’s technology into speaking and writing exercises. The ability of drones to reach remote and exotic corners of the world, take videos and pictures which serve as a great source of inspiration for discussions, story-telling and writing exercises.
Teaching math could be a challenging task if students don’t have any interests because of abstract nature of the course. Drones can be used as a case study for math tasks to investigate movements, build graphs, calculate distances.
Drones can be used in Physical Education classes to fight obesity and passive computer-addicted lifestyle. Drones can be used for outdoor games to support enjoyable and healthy activities.
Teachers are using drones in science classes to build a better understanding of the subjects. Students can perform tasks like mapping out data collected by drones from a natural disaster and developing an evacuation plan.
In terms of social and emotional learning, drones give students a vision of themselves and their place and role in the big world. It can help them to become more responsible and caring citizens of the world.
Efficient use of technology in education brings new perspective of the study subjects, motivates students and activates curiosity.
Drones in Higher education and professional training
Colleges and universities are aware that drones are changing the face of many industries, and that their students need to understand the technology and develop drone skills during next few years to compete successfully in the job market. Educational institutions are already developing drone testing sites, offering programs to train drone pilots, technicians, designers and manufacturers.
A drone consists of the following components:
- The aircraft platform, which might be :
- purchased off-the-shelf and customized, or
- designed and built entirely in-house.
- A flight control system, which includes the systems which support and stabilize the aircraft in flight.
- Flight software, which allows a pilot on the ground to control the aircraft.
Many universities have set up specific departments or labs within departments dedicated to training students in the design and development of drones’ infrastructure. Educational institutions offering drone flying as part of their curriculum are giving their students an essential advantage for their new careers.
With the help of drones, students are developing skills in:
- gathered data processing,
- analyzing agricultural areas and environmental conditions,
- inspecting buildings and monitoring construction works,
- studying wildlife from a distance,
- exploring archaeological mapping, and
- recording footage of events for marketing campaigns.
Use of drones in different research areas is increasing – from studying storms to filming football practices to tracking wildlife migration.
Key academic research areas are benefiting from the use of drone’s technology: human health, agriculture, wildlife tracking.
It reduces expenses, allows flexibility, and maintains required quality.
As it was mentioned above, drones offer multiple benefits and vast potential in the academic community both for developing new programs of study and for the research in different areas. However, the implementations of potential benefits has been challenging because of regulatory framework.
There’s a certain amount of risk taken by drone users; the risks associated with flight are easily reduced with reliable and concise safety procedures.
Drone’s safety kit includes:
- safety glasses;
- LiPo battery security;
- pre-flight safety checklists, and
- a multitude of other policies to ensure student well-being.
The common safety features found on an educational drone:
- Programmable Fail/Safe
- Return to Home
- Altitude Hold
- Position Hold
- Trainer Radios
- Obstacle Sensors
- Prop Guards
If the safety kit integrates safety protocols into the daily use and operations of the drone, instructors can focus on one thing — educational process.
Questions to answer…
Like any other robotic-based technology, drones will be affecting the structure of the workforce by reducing numbers or completely removing routine and strictly procedural jobs. How will it affect people’s employment? Will it take us closer to robot domination?
Obviously, drones are very useful for enhancing the studies and developing skills and knowledge. The question is which model of drones to purchase? There are thousands of them in the market.
There are also challenges to incorporating drones in schools:
- the cost of insurance for indoor drone flights, and
- not enough teachers who know how to fly drones and can teach others to do the same.
Another issue to be considered is drones’ use rules and regulations. Before purchasing a drone, it is necessary to study the acts which define the existing norms and regulations related to drones and respective licensing requirements.