The State of Education Technology in Taiwan - The Future of Education is here

During The Tech Revolutionist's visit to Smart City Summit and Expo 2018 held in Taipei, we were introduced to some of the latest Education Technologies (EdTech) solutions for the market. Many of such innovative solutions are created in order to solve specific problems in the Taiwan's own educational landscape. Understanding the similarities in problems faced by developing and developed countries, such ideas can be shared to improve the overall EdTech space. That is why Taipei is also currently poised as a model, as well as a test-bed to other cities in the country, region and perhaps even the world. 

Here are some of the interesting EdTech solutions that we've come across in during our time in Taipei.

FutureE2D Exhibition

The FutureE2D is Taipei’s first every Education Technology Exhibition that happens to be held in conjunction with the Smart City Summit & Expo. This particular exhibition was slated to discuss about the involvement of technology, smart city landscapes and opportunities that arise as the world advances towards the future of education.

Complete with round tables to simulate classrooms, the speakers did a live demonstration for a few applications that can be used using smart education software. These include attendance-tracking and integrating classroom-learning with smart devices. 

Visit to the Advanced Learning Lab : Classroom Learning on Steroids

Not to be bested, the Institute of Information Industry opened up their Advanced Learning Lab for us to experience the latest education solutions made for Taiwan. The whole lab showcases the latest solutions that are created by the Digital Education Institute (DEI). Here are 4 main areas that were showcased - Smart Classroom, Education Material Production Space, Advanced Smart Sensors and Virtual Reality.

1. Smart Classroom

The Smart Classroom uses state-of-the-art image processing technology to understand the general sentiments of the students in a classroom. The simulated environment of the classroom consists of 3 large interactive screens, and hexagonal shaped tables and rolling chairs. These are used to encourage movement and discussion within the space. However, the core intelligence of the classroom happens in the background. 

Two cameras are situated in the middle of the classroom. Live camera footages are then fed live to a central processing server for image analysis. Some useful analysis on the footages can produce informative insights to the the classes' behaviors, and can also be captured.

  • Facial Analysis - By capturing every individual's face in the classroom, the educator will be able to know their reactions to certain topics that are introduced. Educators can then improve their teaching styles and materials, if they find that the students react negatively to certain things that are shown on the screen. (These data are consolidated and shown as a percentage to the educator)
  • Number of Students in Class - The system identifies the number of students in the classroom. This allows the educator to easily take attendance, or track the movement of students between classes. The number of students in class is also mapped to a timeline in a graph for an easier view to the educators.
  • Posture Analysis - Each student's postures are analysed and mapped to their general interest level and attentiveness.
  • Attentiveness Data - If users are looking at the screen, they will be shown as attentive. Otherwise, if their heads on the table, and they seemed bored, it will be detected accordingly as well.
  • Focus on Screen - Tracks the number of students looking at a particular screen. As mentioned, as there are 3 large displays in the classroom, the system is able to capture student's current viewpoint and show which screen they are looking at. This can be then further analyzed with the content type and moods of the students for better insights.
  • Hand Raising Recognition - The system can also detect any students who raises their hands (raise left hand, raise right hand, or raise both hands), and consolidate the numbers on the dashboard. The teachers can probably use this method to hold a poll for certain topics. 

The image analysis and gesture recognition features of the space really brings out the 'Smart' to the concept of a Smart Classroom. We are sure that the data that is captured from the Smart Classroom will be useful for educators and education content creators, which will encourage them to do better at their work.

The Smart Classroom also enables Remote teaching and learning. It has been noted that such a Smart Classroom solution can result in better engagement for remote learning, which can be rather bland at the current moment. 

The space can also be adopted for special-needs education. Students whom struggle with disabilities such as autism will benefit from such space. The digital state of the classroom will have physical interactions without intimidating aspects that would leave them distracted from learning.

2. The green rooms

The room with green walls is designed with two purposes. It allows the educators to produce high quality educational materials for the students. At the same time, students can also create projects with such technology. As we understand, the detection of the green screen allows any kind of image or videos to be superimposed. This allows a certain level of interactivity to a virtual world, which can either be recorded or streamed online. 

Behind the studio is a control room, where an assistant will be at directing the content that comes out on the green screen. All these content will be shown on-the-fly on the TV screen within the studio, thus allowing a more immersive learning experience for students.

Other than a room that simulates a news casting scene that is shown above, there is also another room that comes with a visualizer. This sort of set-up is great for the creation of tutorial videos, where demonstration videos can be easily recorded or streamed. At the same time, the educator's face would still be captured, and then edited onto that tutorial videos, enhancing the overall interactivity between students and educators.

3. Advanced Sensors 

The lab also showed us some of the latest sensors that were used in their latest projects. What caught our attention was the use of a brainwave sensor (or more appropriately known as an Electroencephalography sensor) to measure the attentiveness of the student. This could possibly be used to detect how focused students are during lessons. Even though the applications could still be limited at the current stage of development, such advanced sensors could open up doors to many other possible applications and data analysis as well.

4. Virtual Reality for Education

What’s the best way to learn about a country? Probably by directly visiting it, right? DEI have created interactive Virtual Reality content as a teaching material for students. For example, in the VR game that was presented to us, a student will be able to ride a stationery bicycle, and put on the VR headset. He/She will then be transported to a virtual world in the Philippines, riding a bicycle across a thin rope over the mountains. At the other end of the rope is a village that the student can explore. 

Naturally, educators will be able to control the experience from start to finish and be able to customize scenes according to learning objectives. Such concepts of bringing the classroom to life with VR is definitely beneficial to students. We were told that these contents could also better capture the attention of students with certain cognitive disabilities, allowing better engagement and enhanced learning. 

Final Words

The visit to the Advanced Learning Lab in Taipei was definitely the highlight of our time in Taipei. It gave us a grasp of how much education has evolved over the years with technology, and the different solutions that are now possible with the use of advanced analytics and innovative solutions. We were truly amazed by the current state of advancement in Taiwan in the EdTech space. The lab has made us even more hopeful for better quality of education now and in the future for generations to come.

We would like to express our gratefulness to the Digital Education Institute of Taiwan for hosting our visit to the Advanced Learning Labs. Thank you.

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