3.13 Case Study: Smart Classrooms
Smart cities, smart homes … and smart classrooms.
Strictly speaking, a smart classroom is a physical learning space equipped with wireless communication, digital devices, and sensor technology. Data collected via sensors, e.g. with microphones or cameras, is used by humans or AI systems to provide learning aids, tools, or strategies for learners. A smart classroom is designed to support teachers in the classroom to make learning more effective for students. Essential for smart classrooms is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT makes it possible to connect physical and virtual objects to the internet and have them work together.
Most smart classroom applications are still in the stage of pilot testing.
One example of a smart virtual classroom can already be found at IE Business School in Madrid, the so-called Wow-Room. An AI-based virtual classroom has been set up there. Big data analyses are used to create and analyse participation statistics, for example.
In Germany, the Technical University of Kaiserslautern and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence are working together on a smart textbook for tablets. With the help of the smart textbook “HyperMind”, individual learning should be made possible. For example, an eye-tracker is installed under the display. This enables the eye movements of the students to be recorded and identifies where reading is slower or something is repeated. This activity detection can be used as an indication that a student could use help or additional information at this point. The student can then be provided with individual content. The smart textbook is also intended to help teachers to shape the learning process. For example, the data collected from the students can be used to train an AI. In this way, learning behaviour can be analysed (Learning Analytics). 👉 more information
The Smart Classroom concept can be implemented in various ways, as the different examples show. However, education is not about what is technically feasible. Digital media in general or smart digital media can be very useful and enriching. However, their use must be pedagogically justified and embedded in an overall didactic concept. Furthermore, ethical issues must be discussed at the very beginning and not only after the introduction of a technology.
In 2018, a Chinese school made the headlines by filming students in class and using AI to evaluate whether they were concentrating and paying attention. When facial recognition detected that a student was mentally absent, the teacher received a push notification on his or her mobile phone. Whether the focus here was on student learning or on surveillance has been much debated in the media. So, with smart classrooms, as with all applications, dual use needs to be discussed.
In the context of smart classrooms, the buzzword humanoid robots is often mentioned. Two well-known examples that are being used/piloted in the education sector are Nao and Pepper. Find out more about the potential uses. What do you think of them?