5G Technology and Its Impact on Online Education
The world of technology is progressing at a rapid pace. From 2G, we moved on to 3G and then 4G. While we were still getting used to 4G, we were introduced to the concept of 5G, which is already transforming the way we interact with technology and with each other using that technology.
How 5G is changing the world — faster than ever?
5G technology has increased the speed of the wireless network along with its responsiveness. It has been reported that the 5G network is 100 times faster when compared to 4G LTE systems — allowing a host of new data-heavy applications (especially related to augmented reality or virtual reality) to function seamlessly.
There is hardly any field that is not already experiencing the impact of 5G on its operations. Almost all the sectors have had an enormous impact, right from healthcare to manufacturing to communications, retail and obviously, the education sector.
A study conducted by Ericsson (Mobility Report) suggests that the number of 5G subscriptions will bypass the 1 billion mark by 2023. That means 5G is going to cover 20% of the worldwide population by the end of the year.
How 5G is transforming the education sector?
One sector that was especially affected by Covid-19 lockdowns was education. Students were not able to visit schools — and most schools were notoriously slow in adopting technology-driven alternatives to classroom teaching. However, technology played savior and came to the rescue of educational institutions. Soon, children welcomed online schools into their homes. Just imagine the impact on the minds of young children if there was no online school. A year away from school would have had a negative impact on the minds of the children. Let’s explore how 5G wireless technology is transforming the education sector with its speed and reach.
1. The rise of online learning
Educational institutions chose 5G to automate the process of learning, through dissemination of videos and lectures to the students over the Internet. Through live streaming, students experience learning substantively similar to that of the actual class.
Without 5G, frequent interruptions and slow loading of videos affect the way students learn and comprehend. Slow internet plays a spoilsport and hampers the process of learning for both teachers and students.5G technology has also made it easier and speedier to watch and download videos. Heavy video files can be downloaded in a matter of seconds.
As learning on the go became possible, the rate of absenteeism too decreased. Earlier, parents often did not send their wards to school due to inclement weather or minor health interruptions. However, with online schooling, institutes reported almost 100% attendance.
2. The increased flow of communication
5G has improved the way people communicate. Earlier people used to experience network issues while they were traveling and in remote areas. However, 5G coverage has made it possible for people to stay connected on the go without any interruptions. And this has benefitted education as well.
Earlier schools often had a policy against any interaction between the faculty and students off-premises. However, this changed due to online education. Students got access to the contact details of the faculty. They started interacting with the faculty to solve doubts and get in-depth knowledge on any subject area. Students and faculties have video conferencing, con-calls, and group chats to delve deeper into educational topics.
3. The approach to Hybrid Learning
The introduction of 5G technology has made hybrid learning not only inclusive but also an immersive experience. While people already had the devices, with 5G, they honed the skills to utilize the devices to their full potential. Hybrid learning has offered the required flexibility to the education system, making it more resilient and robust.
Learners and teachers now have the tools and knowledge to participate in immersive as well as experiential learning. Such a model of education is apt for the future, one that is not affected by adverse situations (like pandemic-driven lockdowns), or even geographic locations. There is an ease and simplicity to hire freelancers for this as well. 5G has helped deliver high-quality educational content, which in turn has inspired learners to afford greater access to skills and resources, along with experiences.
4. The birth of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
4G did not have good support for VR and AR applications that require extremely low latency and high data speeds to have any meaningful immersion for the end user. With the birth of 5G, AR and VR received a new lease of life, including when these technologies are directed towards online education. It has become easier for students, and new recruits, to comprehend learning and imbibe the teachings in a more interactive format through AR and VR — especially when it comes to industrial engineering, automotive engineering and healthcare environments.
5. Customization in Learning and Learning Outcomes
Earlier, all the students were taught the same thing in class. Everyone was expected to comprehend at the same pace. And if one did not, then the student was deemed to be a slow learner. The traditional learning pattern of the educational system was therefore to follow (or even force) a one size fits all approach. However, the onset of online education has changed that. Students can learn at their own pace, resolving queries through private chat and extra self-help videos. The blend of the right technology with a robust network has made advanced learning a possibility
At present, students have access to excellent educational resources not only from their own school but from schools around the world. The highlight of this is that they can learn from the videos at their own pace without any peer pressure or stress, since students can watch the same information any number of times in order to grasp the topic in a better manner. They can practice on something till the time they gain expertise in the same. This possibility was not present in a live class, however.
6. Opportunities for special children
Children with special needs have particularly benefitted from 5G. Assistive technology has helped such students in different ways on multiple levels. With the introduction of software like text-to-speech, students are able to learn and comprehend at a rapid pace. This has especially benefited students who have visual disabilities. Video instructions help students with reading problems.
Similarly, learners with hearing disabilities can participate in the discussions going on in the classroom with the help of audio-to-text software. Students with movement disabilities can make use of switches and sensors for simple activities, including as part of a curriculum.
5G technology has also made it possible for teachers to create personalized curricula for students with unique needs. Virtual teaching assistants help in selecting lessons and assessments that the learners prefer based on their individual requirements.
While it is believed that Covid-19 had a major impact on education, children and youth were already facing a learning crisis even before the pandemic. The introduction of 5G and virtual learning was a blessing for learners. It has gone a long way in democratizing the learning experience as well as the teaching experience around the globe.
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