We are at a crossroads in humanity. Our challenges have never been so many, but education has provided young people with the tools to make a better future. The answer to reshaping what lies ahead is in technology. Learning should not simply be about studying through books and in traditional classroom environments. It is technology and start-ups that can make the difference. In this newsletter, we examine how tech applications are revolutionising education, and how young people and educators are using them to prepare for an ever-changing future.
Disruption, uncertainty and global challenges face our young people. Complexity has become the norm in a society with accelerated climate change, AI, biotech risk, increasing exclusion and fragmentation. Knowledge and learning provide the tools for humanity to cope with these changes, and create the future through knowledge. Yet some elements of education appear to be exactly as they were in old days – examinations, rote learning methods and sitting to attention at a desk. Technology should reimagine how knowledge can shape the future for the better.
Let’s face it… Students are losing interest
While technology applications are only slowly being adopted widely in classrooms, a new breed of start-ups outside of school are offering collaborative tools to augment the foundations of traditional education, and learn the critical thinking, research skills, resilience and agility needed to survive in this era of constant change and evolution. The most important role of technology is enhancing traditionalism and bringing education into the future with a blend of innovation and traditional curriculum. And more importantly, young people tend not to get bored as well!
A pathway to the skies
Aerosim (HK) Ltd, a flight training device start-up, has a mission to make aviation reachable to the general public, and a major part of this is getting the next generation onboard. If students have dreams to fly or be a pilot, Aerosim is where these ambitions begin. The company mixes a blend of training in UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and the flight simulators to help inspire children to learn more about flying.
Crucially, the company offers a structured education with the pathway into aviation courses in Australia. Their offerings in English and Physics supplement aviation knowledge to make sure that young people have the head start they need to get where they want. The approach they take is completely 360 degrees, engaging teachers and students with an Aviation-STEM Laboratory Initiative that combines aviation and STEM for comprehensive learning. This takes into account the relationships between aviation, drones, science and mathematics.
Learning does not need to take place in school, and Aerosim shows the concept of ‘mobile aviation laboratories’ being anywhere from the classroom, to a special Flight Simulation STEM Laboratory that offers a 1:1 aircraft model and cockpit which is operated by two people. Users experience flying a plane with close-to-reality checklists and standard procedures that emulate what actual pilots go through when they are making sure their passengers get to their destinations.
In addition to this, Aerosim’s Drone STEM Lab offers students drone building workshops and special sessions on other drone-related topics. “Aviation is a specialised subject, and placing it into education is even more complicated,” says Branden Poon, Executive Director, Aerosim. “I think one of the big obstacles is we are a pretty young company, yet having a team of professionals from different areas can convince schools that we are able to help, with our team of pilots, engineers, and aviation trainers and educators, along with professors,” Poon adds.
Through this approach, teachers are able to keep students engaged in education, while young people are interested and inspired with transferrable skills that can help them build a future career.
Virtual learning makes big impact in reality
In biology classes, students learn about muscles, organs and bones through books. But what if there was another way of doing things? With HKSTP start-up Motive Force Technology Limited, young people are encouraged via technological means. They are able to experience the wonders of the human body in a special immersive environment known as VirCube, a virtual reality cube that supports perspective and, motion tracking as well as interaction with 3D visualisation on a 1:1 scale.
Importantly, teachers are able to create all the content. What makes Motive Force stand out is its user-friendliness; the set-up can be customised to many subjects, making it adaptable to all curriculums. The company offers training that empowers teachers, and students receive an immersive experience increasing interest in learning. The solution also offers a high degree of flexibility by working on a monthly subscription model, where the key decision makers can negotiate a bespoke solution that meets their needs.
Creating this start-up was not without its challenges, one of which is being able to treat clients as stakeholders and fine tuning the solutions exactly for them. “We need to know more about what the teachers and principals are concerned about, what they want to achieve and how they will use our technology so that we can fine tune our solutions to see how we can adapt to the schools,” says Terence Tseng, CEO and CTO of Motive Force.
For schools to be successful in adopting technology, hands-on experience is the key. Everyone can play a part – educators need to walk the walk by learning applications; students should gain first-hand experience of technology; and start-ups need to provide the all-important visibility of technology, with the right pricing and distribution strategies.
Start-ups must recognise that many schools can’t afford to purchase one off tools or may not be willing to invest in hardware when they are unsure of their long-term impact. For start-ups like Aerosim and Motive Force, being easily accessible is essential to give school decision makers the chance to try and most importantly be keen on the technology.
That’s why partnerships with schools, allowing kids easy access to the technology, are one of the best ways to build buzz. More importantly, the hands-on experience offers an exhilarating time contrasting the abstract world of books and theory. At Aerosim, this means students experiencing flying in a replica of a real cockpit, carry out simulated flight training or UAV (drone) training; For Motive Force, young people experience the joy of immersive virtual reality technology.
It is clear to the trendsetters in education that both simulation and games will only get bigger and bigger - Let’s see how they are already changing the landscape.
The intersection of education and technology is moving at a fast pace. How can start-ups take advantage of this movement and get their solutions in schools?