Drones as an Educational Tool? Sounds Like Fun!
Education is a unique field. In many ways, it's the same job it was decades ago. There is still an instructor of some type, a designated location for learning, and a planned lesson. But at the same time, new technologies keep opening new pathways to learning.
One revolutionary development that can bring a fun and engaging element to the study of various subjects is drone technology. While unoccupied aircraft have been used for many decades, the recent decrease in both cost and size, with a proportionate increase in functionality, has made the use of drones in a wide variety of fields far more practical, and interesting.
Let's explore some ways in which drones could be put to use in the academic setting.
Logic & Deductive Reasoning
Drones can create very interesting visual perspectives, opening lots of doors for kids to discover their world. RC drones with camera can hover around a school or neighborhood and can view and photograph places that we can't see under normal circumstances. Presented with photos of the inside of a road culvert or the top of a familiar building, students learn how to use those visual clues to determine what is pictured. This skill helps them to solve other problems.
The drones themselves can be a lesson for discussion. What rights should drone operators have? What can be done to enforce proper use of drones? When do you get into privacy issues, copyright topics, aviation regulations, and trespassing? Drones provide the perfect backdrop for such a conversation because government and industry are grappling with these issues in real life right now.
Students often learn first with the eyes, so a good visual always provides a kick-start to a lesson. With so much emphasis on the environment today, it's more important than ever for students to learn about the world around them. Yet many of the places they need to study are inaccessible. Drones can fly over swamps, above trees, into caves, and through countless other places, providing an opportunity to see real plants and animals in their natural habitat.
When things get to a large scale, it's very difficult to make them a reality for students. Geography is a perfect example. Flying a drone over a particular piece of ground and letting students see how that visual perspective is represented on a topographic map can really bring those concepts down to earth — literally.
Aviation and astronomy involve a good deal of higher math, so it makes sense that this airborne teaching aid can lend itself to its study. Triangulating positions, calculating velocities, and countless other metrics can be done with a hands-on exercise that's far more engaging than textbook examples. Even simple calculations like battery life and flight distance can be done.
Of course, before they even take flight, drones provide powerful learning. Students in technical classes can learn about the circuitry, programming, and construction of the drones. They can make alterations and repairs, then send them for a flight to see what the results are, getting far more memorable feedback than simply plugging numbers into equations.
If students are going to actually use drones in a classroom learning settings, they need to know how to fly the devices properly. This includes a prolonged period learning in the classroom, followed by some carefully controlled flight time. For students to fly the drones safely and effectively, they need to learn how to take actions from a different location and perspective than that of the drone.
So there we have a bunch of interesting ways to put drones to use in our schools, opening up another new way to explore and learn. Of course, there are rules for drone use, so educators should be aware of these before experimenting with drones.