5G and the Internet of Things (IoT): The High-Speed Connectors of Digital Classrooms
Computer experts have managed to develop 5G, which enables networks to process data nearly 1,000 percent faster and add more devices without slowing down the speed of content delivery. It’s predicted to be ubiquitous not a decade from now, but this year. Soon, educators will be able to stream high-quality video footage, welcome virtual speakers and launch virtual tutoring platforms without a blip of delay.
What it is: 5G is the fifth generation of internet connection, like 4G LTE but with added speed and capabilities. Picture a giant digital web connecting every device, computer, and smartphone on the planet, shooting bits of information back and forth, and you have a good idea of what this looks like. And since it’s able to handle more devices and data, we can connect “smart objects” like sensors, printers, and even cars to the network — what we call IoT, or the internet of things.
How it works: There are two main types of airwaves when we talk about 5G: below and above 6GHz. Low-frequency 5G (below 6GHz) uses existing cellular bands, covering the same distances as 4G and often, relying on the same cell towers. By utilizing flexible encoding, this method still sees 25 to 50 percent improvements in speed. But when you push above 6GHz, up to higher frequencies that have never been used for consumer devices before — called millimeter-wave technology — cell companies are able to fire terabytes of data at multi-gigabit speeds.
Why it matters: 5G is faster, better and more reliable than previous network speeds, and when paired with smart classroom devices, can take some of the burden of administration off of teachers. According to EdTech Magazine, this allows educators to concentrate on individual student strengths and weaknesses — what humans are best at. And, they’re able to source a wider range of high-quality material for students: for instance, virtual exchanges with classrooms across the world or augmented reality experiences for science courses with lag time less than the blink of an eye.
Where it’s being used: Students from all over the world are starting to increasingly turn to video resources when trying to learn new topics. EdTech reports that 59 percent of learners would consider YouTube and other video technologies a top resource, whether they’re learning on their own or in a classroom environment. Even post-grad professionals and lifelong learners are taking advantage of increased internet and device connection to pick up skills ranging from IT to entrepreneurship.
See what tech giant Dell says about the potential 5G has to redefine learning in the 21st Century.
Check out how networking-equipment mainstay Cisco is bridging the tech skills gap through education.
Elise Leise is a writer and international teacher whose work has published in The Huffington Post and MinnPost. Having taught English in Senegal and wrote tech columns in Thailand, Elise now attends Quest University in British Columbia, Canada. After graduating, she plans to contribute to innovative curriculums, policies and educational tech in schools around the world.
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