Drones in teaching and learning

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Released in January 2015, an article produced by the E-Learning Innitative (ELI) arm of Educause, brings to light the use of drones in the teaching and learning environment. Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been in the news for a variety of reasons including military and amateur use. If you think of a remote control model airplane, then you have the general idea of a drone.

There are a number of universities that are experimenting with the use of drones in education. The University of Colorado at Boulder uses drones to gather information on thunderstorms related to tornadoes. At Kansas State University-Salina students can earn a bachelor’s degree working on flight, maintenance, and engineering of drones. At Langara College in Vancouver in the journalism program, drones are being used to gather news related information.

Further examples include: the University of Florida (surveying wildlife from the air), University of Missouri (the journalism and communications programs), Central Michigan University (study of wetlands), and the University of Illinois (precision agriculture).

Drones offer a unique advantages to teaching and learning that include:

  • cost effective (in some countries)
  • capture images previously unavailable
  • continuously upload data and images

In teaching and learning, these machines can be and are being built by students; for access to remote areas for different views, for lab work that is out in the field, to digital storytelling. The area is still in its infancy, and how it takes off in the field of education is yet to be decided.

Below are some useful resources on the use of drones in education:

Dwyer, L. 2014. A College Library Is Going to Let Students Check Out Drones. Takepart [online]. 23 June 2014. Available from: http://www.takepart.com/video/2014/06/23/college-library-going-let-students-check-out-drones

Sturgeon, J. 2013. The sky’s the limit for drone research at Virginia Tech. PilotOnline [online]. 17 Mar 2013. Availabe from: http://hamptonroads.com/2013/03/skys-limit-drone-research-virginia-tech

And, a recent article on drones in The Age is a useful read.


Image Source: David Wright Flikr Creative Commons

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