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Education 4.0 – Led by humans, powered by technology

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In 2020, the Autonomous University of Barcelona carried out a study that introduced digital whiteboards in its educational centers.

When the interactive devices were used to support internet searches, classroom explanations and exercise corrections, the result was an increase in students’ attention spans and motivation levels.

This important research was recently cited by Chenzhi Zhu, CEO of Dahua Iberia at the TK conference in Madrid. “We are about to say goodbye to chalk stains on our fingers,” he wowed attendees, as he began his presentation of the DeepHub smart interactive whiteboard from Dahua, one of the world’s leading suppliers. of intelligent video-centric Internet of Things solutions and services. He added: “Today, tablets have made it possible to get rid of backpacks full of books, which were unimaginable a few years ago.”

Indeed, educational technology (“edtech”) is experiencing something of a boom. An already upward trend, it accelerated during and after the pandemic. By necessity, school and university educators around the world have been forced to adapt overnight to often unfamiliar digital lesson formats that could support fully remote learning during the Covid-19 shutdowns.

There were also barriers for students, such as overcoming a sense of disengagement; an example being the increasingly common challenge of locating the active speaker during an interactive lesson.

A larger issue that has emerged from this disruptive time has arguably been finding the right balance between face-to-face and distance learning.

Balancing the equation

Blended learning – a mix of in-person and technology-based distance learning – has gained momentum in the wake of the pandemic.

Co-Learn, partly funded by Erasmus+ from the European Union, was launched in 2021 to examine this approach in participating primary and secondary schools in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

“All participating schools agreed that teacher presence was an essential part of making remote learning effective, but could a virtual presence also be effective in the classroom? says Caitlin McMillan, Head of Partnerships and Programmes, City of London Corporation. As such, Co-Learn explored how a lecturer could perform an individual lesson on video while a teaching assistant supported students in person.

The Dahua DeepHub is one of the tools addressing many challenges and opportunities associated with blended learning. Its maker says the devices aim to create a balance in which technology and education co-exist in the best way possible.

The smart interactive whiteboard platform catapults the traditional blackboard concept into the digital age – facilitating a flexible, immersive and content-rich multimedia teaching experience.

The system includes wireless projection, low latency paper-like whiteboard writing capability, file management and sharing (using QR codes), and video conferencing. Looking at the Co-Learn example, teachers can wirelessly share screens and appear in video chats with students (and each other), and record lessons for absent students or for review. In-person instructor notations on the 4k UHD touchscreen whiteboard can be projected/shared remotely.

The DeepHub’s auto-framing feature, along with voice tracking – a sort of automatic pan, tilt and zoom electronic camera – identifies and focuses on whoever is speaking on time via its eight-mic array – connecting the speaker to the listener and ultimately fostering engagement and clear communication.

Beyond the ABC: The Four Cs

Communication is one of the skills known as the four Cs for academic and professional success in the 21st century. The others are collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. Although this paradigm predated Covid-19, as did blended learning, both appear to have recently re-emerged with increased relevance and popularity.

Active learning is a natural choice for the 4Cs. Research has shown that classroom engagement fosters deeper levels of reflection and absorption than traditional passive lectures. It can also cultivate cooperation.

The European Commission’s Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027) is aligned with these processes. Its architects want a more personalized, flexible and student-centered education, as well as digital development supported by technological tools and collaboration platforms.

This is where innovative and intuitive systems like the DeepHub come in. The smart whiteboard enables simultaneous writing (up to nine split screens), paving the way for meaningful collaboration. Multiple devices (laptops, cell phones, and tablets) can share screens simultaneously. DeepHub’s algorithm also recognizes shapes and most handwriting as text, allowing for a simpler, more intuitive and dynamic teaching experience.

The instructor is in no way docked to the screen. They are free to move around the classroom, prompting and engaging students, while initiating actions on the whiteboard remotely, thanks to gesture control. Overall a more fluid, personal and interactive learning experience.

The impact of such devices on the future of education is set to be monumental, with schools and universities already welcoming edtech into their classrooms. This year, the Valencian Community has invested more than 20 million euros in the interactive digital classrooms project, with initial plans to digitize 26,082 primary, secondary and vocational training classrooms. And the case studies follow one another.

Mr. Zhu from Dahua summed up this fascinating period, often dubbed Education 4.0: “If in the past, education meant ‘transmitting knowledge in a correct and one-way way’, now it is more like a circle of interaction between students and teachers. , through which both can enjoy and learn.