Experts say 5G technology will bring smarter classrooms and real-time, immersive learning experiences
Experts say the rollout of 5G services will usher in advances in virtual and augmented reality, among others; (Photo: Hardik Chhabra)
By Shelly Anand: The educational universe accelerated very quickly into digitization after Covid-19. The majority of classrooms are now tech-enabled and most utilize some form of virtual learning using video conferencing or other platforms. But it wasn’t always without technical glitches and challenges. While educational institutions had to adapt quickly to the pandemic situation to ensure learning continued, it gave online learning an unprecedented boost.
Given this, the adoption of 5G networks in the delivery of education has the potential to address connectivity issues and simplify classroom operations while improving the efficiency of the education process, says Ajit Chauhan, chair of Amity University Online. “With 5G, teachers at all levels can provide better learning environments for students,” he says.
Next-generation, high-speed 5G services will bring about fundamental changes in all sectors, including education. Internet speeds can peak at 10Gbps on 5G, compared to the peak of 100Mbps on 4G. If on the one hand 5G technology will offer a latency (time it takes for the device to send data packets and receive a response) of just one millisecond, on the other hand it will usher in technological advances such as virtual reality, augmented reality and more.
According to Professor Rajesh Khanna, President of NIIT University, “5G technology will bring transformative change, at least in terms of how some of us learn. This could be due to the high speed, low latency or command execution, ability to connect to multiple users and devices simultaneously, and built-in security in how it works.”a
Currently, students do not consider the classroom as a fun place, and pedagogy is more focused on blackboard notes. A senior faculty member at Plaksha University in Punjab says Zoom-based online learning has shifted lessons to PowerPoint presentations, which remains boring. This could change with technologies that will develop around 5G and learning could be more fun.”
The overall impact on teaching can be divided into evolutionary and revolutionary. The evolutionary or short-term impact would be a seamless integration of online lectures with an animation-driven teaching methodology. Explaining the concept, the Plaksha University faculty member says: “At present, online demonstration of complex scientific processes becomes difficult as the file sizes of the three-dimensional representation of systems are several GB. For example, showing how an electric motor works using a three-dimensional visualization is challenging because streaming the video over a wireless network causes problems. Applications built around them keep file sizes small, which affects quality.”
5G could drive experiential learning. For example, in geography class, the teacher can use better animation tools that show how canyons and gorges are formed or how the tectonic plates are shifting. “In chemistry, the reaction between zinc and hydrochloric acid, which produces hydrogen while a splinter is extinguished with a popping sound, is easily illustrated with an animation and shown in the classroom before a student actually goes into the lab,” says the faculty member .
The deployment of 5G technology can improve quality, which will help bring lifelong learning opportunities to all people, regardless of individual circumstances. “Students can learn through various forms of digital and online content, such as videos, digital resources, online classrooms and online learning management systems, YouTube, and various unique tools such as flipgrid, infographics, and storyboards,” says Chauhan. Using 5G makes learning more fun as students can explore complicated concepts by zooming in, pinching, or even tapping as needed.
Prof. Khanna adds that one of the key outcomes of 5G technology in education will be that the reach of education will be much more effective and phenomenal. “During the pandemic, learning was happening, but it was disrupted. With 5G, there will be a big difference in the quality of education provided,” he says.
Students could therefore now get more out of virtual reality. You could visit museums, wonderful places or the deep oceans around the world without actually visiting them. The future belongs to both aspiring teachers and students.
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