What Is Interactive Learning Online

Interactive learning is more than popping widgets on your screen. It’s about working with video, reading and building skills.

The idea of mixing tools together is nothing new—but it’s fascinating nonetheless. The value of this kind of learning has often been underappreciated. In the classroom, traditional teach-and-learn approaches involve both teachers and students. Interaction is encouraged and critical thinking and problem solving are staples of the educational process. Imagine if the results were even more profound: Instead of spending so much time all bundled together, interactive learning technologies (IoT) for learning computer skills or information processing could be used independently (some in the classroom, some at home). Imagine a future where students might learn computer coding independently in a class project, while parents could communicate with their students remotely to discuss the project and “find out more” during their personal time online.

But what’s the best way to bridge this gap between classrooms and devices? A good home learning device might perform a number of functions. It could even be just like a student’s laptop, with a little processing power (thanks to a 4G wireless connection) thrown in. But what if the device itself learns from the students and their families? Could it be making smart decisions for them?

IoT is becoming the key to unlocking “an inter-smart school,” a concept first championed by the United Nations in 2007. In the Global Sustainable Development Goals, these kinds of technologies were listed as “best practices to include in sustainable development.” Those included:

a microphone for hearing impaired people,

a 3D printer to send out as many parts as needed for a construction project,

computer-generated education lessons to change the way students think.

Of course, the most attractive and basic use of IoT for students and teachers is to allow them to monitor each other’s steps and to help them solve puzzles. Kids would be able to pre-load flashcards with their questions before commencing a class project, while their peers would be able to monitor the progress of the whole group’s work. An IoT learning device would also know which of its participants has finished their work, which ones are struggling with the material, and who needs help.

Furthermore, IoT would know how your student fits into your educational system, and facilitate communication to help you make better curriculum choices and connections. For instance, if you’re a college professor, an IoT learning device could allow students to ask you for suggestions, or you could be able to respond to their questions using automated bots. In the future, perhaps you’ll find IoT devices recognizing which students have already clicked in to play, and alerting you on their behalf if they’re still not sure.

The ultimate challenge when integrating IoT into the classroom will be to incorporate it well enough for students to use it at home; the three mediums are all compatible, and some IoT devices do have built-in internet and cloud connectivity, but many don’t. If students are going to be using IoT at home, they will have to manage it themselves. Does an IoT device know the difference between keeping a smartwatch and an iPhone, or between search and texting, for instance?

IoT’s potential is evident, but there will have to be a lot of careful work to ensure their success and effectiveness. There is no silver bullet solution, but current technological advancements have the potential to free us from learning as usual, and re-unite the current bifurcated and increasingly isolated learning process. However, as IoT does become better established in classrooms, we will also need to be more cognizant of its potential to overshadow some traditional classroom activities. At the same time, we need to make sure that we don’t demonize this mode of learning, and too soon.

For more information on what’s happening in the world of AI and IoT, I recommend reading the recent article here, and the article by Michael Zuckerman here, among other sources.

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