What are Drones?


Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that are controlled autonomously by computers or pilots with remote controls. They were innovated in the early 1900s for military personnel training and typically leveraged in operations that are too dangerous or time-consuming for humans. Still most commonly used for military purposes, drones have been deployed for a wide range of tasks, such as policing and community surveillance and security, filmmaking, and the surveying of agriculture and crops. In the past century, drone technology has advanced users’ abilities to extensively view objects and landscapes below, as well as to detect changes in environmental conditions.

Features including biological and chemical sensors, electromagnetic spectrum sensors, and infrared cameras make these detailed observations possible. While legal and ethical concerns have been raised by many over the prospect of constantly being monitored by these vehicles, new civil aviation programs and experiments that include drones reflect a growing use of the technology.

There are not yet concrete applications for teaching and learning, but the continuous progress of drones in the military and consumer sectors make them compelling to watch closely over the next few years.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • - michael.boll michael.boll Oct 13, 2015 Drones offer fantastic filming opportunities for students. International schools often have larger sporting tournaments and a tech team is charged with filming these events. Western Academy of Beijing uses drones to fly a camera across the soccer field during games to offer an interesting angle to viewers.- ibeeckmans ibeeckmans Nov 4, 2015- jerry.szombathy jerry.szombathy Nov 5, 2015
  • Drones do offer great filming opportunities for students. Think about teaching students filming techniques where they are in a static position with a moving perspective camera angle. With the different types and sizes of drones and cameras, imagine the opportunities. - mark.mcelroy mark.mcelroy Oct 13, 2015- janice.dwyer janice.dwyer Nov 7, 2015
  • Teaching strategy in any sport is better when on video. Students can see themselves finding space, using defensive zone strategies as a team, timing passes to free space, etc... - mark.mcelroy mark.mcelroy Oct 13, 2015
  • Drone technology offers immense opportunity for students to work in teams to design and build drones that could be used for practical purposes. The key element here is the notion that design/build is a specific set of skills that can be quite helpful in a students life and beyond.- simon.gauci simon.gauci Oct 15, 2015
  • drones develop different points of view and different ways of seeing - for example scale, Renaissance College has now purchased one with intention to use for all outdoor events. They are also supplementary to go pros. Students get to experience and observe aerodynamics. Ideally we would like to students to build drones not just buy them. - azielinska azielinska Oct 15, 2015- janice.dwyer janice.dwyer Nov 7, 2015
  • - Chris.carter Chris.carter Oct 19, 2015 Drones are part of the robot revolution and are already making their presence felt on campuses like mine. The key, in my mind, is to get the devices into the hands of the kids. They need to develop the skills of flying and creating new uses for these very cool, flying camera platforms. We've turned our drones over to hte HS tech team made up of studnets and one faculty supervisor. They are hard at work being creative.
  • - ibeeckmans ibeeckmans Nov 4, 2015Drones could be used for virtual campus tours made by students. For schools like NIST, where the campus can be confusing, having a virtual guide from the perspective of a drone would make navigation for people new to the campus more manageable.
  • - ibeeckmans ibeeckmans Nov 4, 2015Potential to eliminate the need for other movable video equipment (dollies, cranes, etc.)
  • - chris.bell chris.bell Nov 5, 2015 We do use a drone for sporting events at my school and it is wildly popular. We also used it in making some of our promotional videos. We are also considering the 'Virtual tour" as Ivan suggested.
  • Drones can support learning by providing new perspectives to already established experiences. They can provide topographical information while on field trips, live feedback during a football game, overviews of school campuses, capture urban density and traffic flows and much more. - john.burns john.burns Nov 8, 2015
  • Drones are powerful digital story-telling tools that can be leveraged to provide fresh insight into school life and local issues. - aaron.metz aaron.metz Nov 9, 2015
  • I like the possibility for the social network of drones. Drones connected to other drones where students can gather insights into other schools, and other learning environments. Often we are unable to go into places for study trips that are deemed 'hazardous' drones provide a real time, primary source of information for students to 'see' into places we wouldn't be able to take them. - tosca.killoran tosca.killoran Nov 9, 2015
  • Drones offer all kinds of opportunities for students studying geography, biology, visual art, graphic design, outdoor education, and design. Not to mention, if you attach a drone to a coding app, then there is even more opportunity to learn a coding language while playing with a drone. - adrienne.michetti adrienne.michetti Nov 10, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - michael.boll michael.boll Oct 13, 2015 International schools have clubs and robotic courses that instruct students on the building and flying of drones. Agreed, the building and programming of drones allows for an entirely different set of skills students can engage with. - mark.mcelroy mark.mcelroy Oct 13, 2015- tosca.killoran tosca.killoran Nov 9, 2015
  • most international schools have a video/photo camera drone of semi or pro (reasonable) quality which often are accessibly to specialist clubs (film, robotics). Cheaper drones could/should be available more widely including primary kids
  • cost of good drones still high, but all the more reason for schools (instead of individuals) to purchase - ibeeckmans ibeeckmans Nov 4, 2015
  • issue of supervision - the potential to use these devices to breach privacy and socially accepted practices could be considerable (similar to the reception Google Glass has received - who wants to be on guard for constant surveillance?)- ibeeckmans ibeeckmans Nov 4, 2015
  • Issues about "negative" public perception of drones/drone behavior as a military device may have tainted the acceptance of the potential for drone function in schooling, especially in the K-12 division.- simon.gauci simon.gauci Oct 15, 2015
  • As drones become more affordable, smaller, and safer/more reliable to fly, I believe we will see them everywhere - they represent the advance wave of robots as members of society. People will treat them as 'pets' and take them with them wherever they go, to see the world in different ways. This will push the limits of "personal privacy" even further away. Very much worth watching this technology in the coming years. - jerry.szombathy jerry.szombathy Nov 5, 2015- tosca.killoran tosca.killoran Nov 9, 2015
  • - chris.bell chris.bell Nov 5, 2015 The supervision is very important. While prices are coming down, I was at a Track Meet and saw them running a drone and the students were not vigilant about their location and flew it right into a tree - thus destroying part of the drone.
  • How will schools evolve their curriculums to ensure safe and pedagogically sound integration of drones? - aaron.metz aaron.metz Nov 9, 2015
  • Like all technology and its use (digital citizenship) what underpins use, is not policies and procedures about the tech itself, but character education. If we teach kids to be awesome humans, they will be awesome with a drone, a phone, a laptop or in real life. Drones provide the opportunities to start difficult conversations about politics, rules, or rules that can be broken. In Thailand, flying a drone is illegal- but I bought one the other day from the mall. This is a great conversation about rights, freedoms and citizenship for learners.- tosca.killoran tosca.killoran Nov 9, 2015
  • Issues of legality have arisen in some cases. For example, Singapore's government only allows drone types that have been approved by its defense ministry. One cannot simply order or create a drone and fly it around the city. Even once you have an approved drone for personal use, there are regulations as to where you can fly it. For example, a section of our campus is off-limits because it is within a certain radius of one of the military airports. I guess my point is that there are all kinds of regulatory and legal issues schools have to consider when looking into the greatly added value of drones in education -- and there is great value, as evidenced above. - adrienne.michetti adrienne.michetti Nov 10, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Physical education teachers can use this technology to have students actually see what they are doing when playing sports that require space and strategy. Movements, defensive strategies can all be tracked. Most importantly, students will be able to take the video and annotate for the self-evaluation, reflection, and feedback loops that are so important to communicate their learning. - mark.mcelroy mark.mcelroy Oct 13, 2015 like this idea a lot - azielinska azielinska Oct 15, 2015
  • social science/humanities/ geo could use arial footage to map an area (or correlate to an existing are) - azielinska azielinska Oct 15, 2015
  • outdoor camp education can use it to plan a hiking map - azielinska azielinska Oct 15, 2015
  • environmental studies/science could use a drone to measure air pollution at different heights - azielinska azielinska Oct 15, 2015
  • Once upon a time the idea of video games as an educational tool was heresy, now Gamification is quite acceptable in most schooling frameworks. Measuring drone "potential" will take time and should be measured by (against) other technologies that raised concerns for educators and the wider stakeholder group but are now a part of the system. The potential impact will need to be researched, if potential can be measured at all, and then a deep analysis of drone development will determine its function in schools.- simon.gauci simon.gauci Oct 15, 2015
  • - liz.cho liz.cho Nov 3, 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDKVID7xVG0&feature=em-share_video_user
    This is a drone footage from Sumatra during the recent fires in Indonesia, recorded by a teacher at an ISS school, that my principal shared with me. There's so much potential for learning here; a real-life event becomes visible to the kids with and can be presented to them for exploration and learning of what can be done to help the environment... they can truly "see" what's going on.
  • - chris.bell chris.bell Nov 5, 2015 As a quasi film teacher, I believe the creative options are the most important element that using a drone offers. Challenging students to think beyond a static shot or angle and moving them to think more 3 Dimensional in their filming, storyboarding and writing.
  • Drones have significant potential as a tool for further students understanding of abstract science, geographical and mathematical concepts. From construction of drones, to pre-production planning for films and real-time data collection there are many opportunities to leverage this technology for teaching and learning. - aaron.metz aaron.metz Nov 9, 2015
  • Agree with all the awesome ideas above. I would add study trips that are 'off-limits' due to hazards would become accessible to students. Also, as far as SAMR without the tech of drones it would be literally impossible for students to 'see' that point of view. To add to a network of other drone users to collaborate on projects with an international mindset to 'see' other points of view elevates the tech from just a new cool tool- to transformative.- tosca.killoran tosca.killoran Nov 9, 2015
  • So many impactful areas! All above, but in particular I'm thinking about how students could have ownership over data collected for subjects like Geography in HS. Ownership of data collection is key to this technology. - adrienne.michetti adrienne.michetti Nov 10, 2015

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?


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