Almost every day, we see new devices or inventions that shape our world positively, make learning more fun, fast, and adaptable to individual needs and aspirations.
Smart learning arose out of these concepts, introducing a system where students can use these new technologies for their educational pursuits and broaden their capabilities in achieving their dreams.
This article is written for students in their educational and vocational pursuits. It explores common smart learning terms, the smart learning environment, the different pieces of equipment, and the relationship between smart learning at home and school.
Smart Learning Defined
Smart learning is technologically-driven universal learning that includes interactions between the learner and his or her environment.
In smart learning, it is important to focus more on the learner’s use of technology for work and not necessarily on the availability of software and hardware.
Other terms used to refer to smart learning include e-learning, hybrid learning, advanced distributed learning, and blended learning.
A “Smart Learning Environment” is a term that refers to the use of technological tools that can adapt and provide necessary support based on the learner’s needs at the right time and in the right places.
The technology-supported tools include IoT-based (Internet of Things) learning solutions integrated into the learning and working environment.
The needs of the learner can be examined using their performance or cognitive ability, behaviors, and real-world and online settings.
Smart education is a new term that has caught the fancy of researchers, and it refers to education in a digital age.
The goal is to encourage the learner to complete their work schedule faster and live better in the twenty-first century.
Smart education makes use of wireless communication, mobile devices, and sensors for digital and real-world scenarios.
History of Learning and Smart Learning
The first time the word e-learning was used was in 1999 at a computer-based training (CBT) seminar, and since then, other terms started springing up to give the correct description and principles behind it.
There are pieces of evidence to suggest that smart learning existed in the 19th century as discussed below.
Let us start in 1840, when Isaac Pitman used correspondences, including mail, to teach his distant students the shorthand method of writing (the symbolic writing designed for journalists, secretaries, and individuals who take plenty of notes).
This was to improve their speed in taking notes.
This was followed by the invention of the testing machine in 1924, where students could test themselves on what they had learned earlier.
1954 saw the invention of the teaching machine by a Harvard Professor named BF Skinner. This machine gave schools the opportunity to use programmed instructions for learners.
In 1960, the first CBT program, PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations), was unveiled for students at the University of Illinois.
This program then gained the attention of the world and became popular from that point on.
The 70s saw the introduction of interactive online learning systems set up to send information to students.
The Open University in Great Britain took advantage of the online learning system to deliver courses instead of the old method of correspondence through email and so on.
These inventions or discoveries made college attendance easier for those who could not do so earlier due to geographic, financial, or time constraints.
A wider audience, including working professionals, now had access to education to expand their knowledge of the business environment and their skill sets.
Benefits of Smart Learning
Smart learning offers many benefits, some of which includes the following:
No Boundaries, No Restrictions
As mentioned earlier, smart learning eliminates the restrictions of time and boundaries. This is a relief for educators and learners.
It also makes things easy and reduces the number of attendees to an event or function at any given time.
With smart learning, there is no need for elaborate organization of a venue or arrangement of event centers since the number of attendees at any event can be restricted.
The COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world now is a glaring example. With smart learning, learners can participate virtually.
The use of multimedia makes learning fun and interactive at the same time. The use of gaming methods improves the engagement factor.
Designing the learning process using smart learning makes the learning process attractive to both young and old learners.
Smart learning reduces the cost of learning by eliminating the exorbitant cost of different versions of a particular textbook.
Using online methods also removes the need to spend money on school notes being updated periodically. This is useful to both educators and learners.
It Just Fits!
Companies, groups, and organizations need technology to improve the efficiency of their day-to-day schedules, and as such, the need to employ smart learning becomes inevitable.
For example, big companies and corporations boast of a large group of personnel in different parts of the world. The need to train and communicate with all of them becomes tedious without the use of e-learning, including the internet.
Armed with smart learning equipment, these companies, groups, and corporations reap the benefits 100%.
In another instance, a professor may wish to add credibility to the course materials by requesting the services of a professional in that particular field to give relevant lectures to students.
This can be done using smart learning (microphones, cameras, and more) with minimal cost compared to traditional teaching methods.
The cost of transport, hotel, feeding, clothing, training, and others will be too high to bear for the professor.
Other benefits of smart learning include:
The ability to use institutional guidance to shift the responsibility for learning to the learner.
The learner’s ability to create a program that meets his or her professional objectives.
The institutions or teachers can use empirical data to nurture students to become more effective learners.
Smart Learning Equipment
Smart learning equipment can be categorized into the following:
Computer or Laptop
A laptop or computer replaces the analog chalkboard or marker board among other things.
It is a basic requirement for smart learning where the teaching process can be done using saved images, presentations, or multimedia.
The computer or laptop acts as a central system for storing information and managing lessons.
This method of using familiar equipment, including computers and laptops, makes the learner feel confident and comfortable throughout the learning process.
For the teacher or educator, the use of laptops and computers makes teaching easy and adaptable to each learner.
A projector is an optical device that is used to project moving or stationary objects onto a screen. The image is projected onto the screen by a shining beam of light via a laser or a transparent lens.
This important smart learning tool helps to display a wide range of information, including a book page, a flower displaying its magnificent color, a scientific diagram, or any other sample to be displayed.
The good thing about this tool is that students get to see a clearer view of the sample, which will help them to understand even the most complex features of the sample.
There are other similar tools, including a visualizer/document camera, interactive projector, and simple projector. They all perform the same function, but with different technological features.
A teacher can conduct his lesson on a touch-sensitive screen using his finger, pen, or stylus.
Contemporary kids are continuously exposed to the latest and available technologies at their disposal and, in turn, they cope well with these pieces of equipment and are more excited about learning.
It is a surface where the image from the projector is displayed or projected on.
There are different types of screens, including fixed frame screens, pull-down screens, electrical screens, mobile screens, electrical screens, rigid wall-mounted screens, or switchable projection screens.
This is a device that converts audio signals to electrical signals, which are further amplified for transmission or decoding by an amplifier or speaker.
Graphic tablets or e-readers encourage learners to refresh their lessons and also read relevant materials associated with the lesson.
This will widen their horizons in no small way, especially with devices like the Amazon Kindle. These devices have dictionaries built into them and link to other resources that add to the learner’s knowledge.
Digital cameras play an important role in enhancing lessons inside and on field trips outside of the classroom.
Teachers are able to make learning smart and fun using this equipment, especially when the learners need to take pictures at any event outside the classroom.
The photographs that the learner can take on such trips are planned in the classroom before being carried out at the event.
This equipment is an interactive pen display device that connects to a laptop or computer with the help of an RGB or USB port externally. Documents, multimedia files, and presentations can be opened on smart podiums.
You can write on those files using a digital pen and even save them. The most interesting part about this equipment is that it can be converted to an external monitor when aided by a digital inking facility.
A smart podium is also referred to as a smart LCD or smartboard.
DVD or VCD Player
Although there are a good and available number of videos on the internet, there is still a need for a VCD or DVD player.
This is because many online videos have copyright and you have to purchase them to view the content in the form of CDs or DVDs.
Smart Learning in School vs. Home
Many parents work outside the home on either a full-time or part-time basis with little or no concern for their child’s progress in education.
They trust the local schools to do their job. This has made parents and guardians lag behind in their children’s progress in school.
The usual excuse is that they don’t have a background in education. All of that can be taken care of using smart learning at home.
This allows parents to research and plan their options for their child so they can play a part in the child’s educational progress.
The parent or experienced home school instructor in homeschooling uses instructions that are mostly organized as a result of careful planning of the curriculum, the needed materials, and the arrangement of the classroom in the home.
Parent Choice and Support
Homeschooling parents carefully select the curriculum that suits their child and upholds their family values compared to the curriculum at school that is strictly designed for everyone in the class.
The home school curriculum includes guiding parents or home school teachers on how to take the child through:
Finding activities that support the lesson being taught and the tools used to evaluate them.
Using creative means to make learning easy and fun.
Giving instructions in the form of conversation that aid critical thinking and independent learning.
Individualized vs. One-Size-Fits-All
Parents don’t have any say in the structure of the curriculum, lessons, and materials their kids are exposed to in a school environment since it is a generalized type of curriculum imposed on all the learners in a grade without taking into cognizance individual differences.
Some parents are comfortable with such arrangements, so it is a question of choosing whether to accept a one-size-fits-all method or to design your own curriculum for your child.
The good thing about homeschooling is the opportunity to design a curriculum that enhances independent, deeper, unique, and creative learning for your child instead of one that merely probes the curiosity of your child.
One beauty about homeschooling is the fact that the student can take the wheel to determine his or her own course in education, the speed of learning to use, the material to use, and the time and place to learn a particular subject.
This is not possible in private or public schools. That is not going to happen since the student is not the only person in the class.
A child can get a spark in their imagination while discussing a particular topic, and you can see it right there in your presence.
You can follow the child’s curiosity and help him discover the question he wants to ask and help him find the answers to those questions.
This is the beauty of homeschooling, which would have been drowned out in the classroom because you can’t get every student’s attention in a private or public school.
This is not to say that it is not possible in traditional school environments, but the number is small compared to those coming from homeschooling.
There are many things that make students struggle in school, including academic, social, or health issues. All these things can change their beliefs and confidence, resulting in defeating opinions about themselves.
This seems to be the norm among many young people these days. Not even the most gifted student is free from such struggles in regular schools.
But with a carefully designed program, the student can begin to eliminate such defeating beliefs that they are not “smart enough,” and begin to form the beliefs that support their unique strengths.
Most parents are used to the erroneous belief that school is the only place where children can study, so they do not provide a conducive learning environment for their kids at home.
This has left many students struggling because there is no comfortable place to learn and question their creative minds.
In many instances, children watch TV or lie on the floor while doing their homework. This is bad for the child’s development. A learning environment should be a place that is free from easy distractions and too much comfort while learning.
Homeschooling encourages one-on-one engagement, with a comfortable environment that gives room for meaningful interaction between the teacher and student.
This is more important than simply doing the homework for the child at home. As a parent, it is important that you create a supportive learning space for your child and don’t mix up opportunities for the kid’s development.
The opportunities that homeschooling students enjoy in a given school year are higher compared to those in a traditional school setting.
These experiences include field trips, excursions, adventures, sightseeing tours, plays, zoos, museums, farms, sporting events, and many more that they get to go on with their families, friends, and others.
These opportunities give the homeschooling students more time to see and learn about exciting things. They also get to experience something different during such activities.
The situation is different for students in private and public schools due to limited budgets, resources, and the time needed for these types of elaborate arrangements.
Inventors and manufacturers keep up their work to alleviate our difficulties in undertaking daily tasks and better our world using their products and services.
It all starts with technology, and that’s where the concept of smart learning in helping students is a welcomed development.
Students everywhere can achieve their dreams and aspirations quite conveniently using smart learning.
Max Ellis has been a professional educationist with lots of years and experience attached. he is passionate about learning and is determined to make learning fun and interactive for everyone. As a seasoned teacher, he has received accolades and recognition for the fantastic work he’s doing to improve education. TheUniPod is one of the many projects to offer simple but rich posts on educational articles and an intensive buying guide to get only the best material and equipment to improve learning.