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?

  • The "maker" DYI open source aspect of Drones combined with the cutting edge technology used they would make very useful projects in a wide rage of VET faculty areas such as electronics, programing, photography, film making, real estate etc. They also have potential in educational resource creation. - stephan.ridgway stephan.ridgway Feb 18, 2015
  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vala-afshar/10-uses-of-drones-in-high_b_5988758.html - geoffrey.crisp geoffrey.crisp Feb 26, 2015
  • I'm planning to explore drones in the new futures technology lab I'm creating at UWA- not sure yet but I just know that there must be massive ways of enhancing teaching (especially across a huge campus!) open to ideas- gillysalmon gillysalmon Feb 27, 2015
  • Used in conjunction with a mapping service drones could provide perspective, big picture views for understanding terrain, topography and also design. Application in outdoor education and designing facilities for this as well as areas of travel courses.- joanne.woodrow joanne.woodrow Feb 28, 2015
  • Drones could be exceedingly useful in a range of disciplines. Agriculture students could use drones to look at crops/livestock remotely, just as farmers are doing in many instances. Marine biology students could keep track of migrating cetaceans. - helen.farley helen.farley Mar 4, 2015
  • How about the ultimate in mobile learning using drones- ie the learning is delivered to you on site at the point you need it, or your assignment is delivered to your tutor (JIT of course) its context as king, true 24 x 7, so good for Australia dont you think? - gillysalmon gillysalmon Feb 27, 2015 [Editor's Note: Added here from RQ2.]

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

  • There are emerging ethical and regulatory issues emerging around drone technology that will need to be considered by educators. Some governments are considering ways to regulate commercial use of drones, which may impact on institutional use. - David.Cameron David.Cameron Feb 9, 2015
  • Cinematography and photography are early adopters of the technology and it's no surprise that filmmakers were the first to take up the opportunity to use drones commercially. - stephan.ridgway stephan.ridgway Feb 18, 2015
  • The ethical and regulatory issues will be the most important here as education providers will need to determine their responsibilities and risks around incorporating the use of Drones into the curriculum and especially assessment activities. - geoffrey.crisp geoffrey.crisp Feb 26, 2015

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

  • I think it will be transformative in certain areas but on the whole edu sector I doubt it - stephan.ridgway stephan.ridgway Feb 18, 2015
  • I agree. There are zillions of new technological innovations, from smart watches to drones, but whether they constitute a fundamental pillar or disruptor to educational delivery is debatable. Just one of the many technical gadgets we now engage with in our lives. - philcounty philcounty Feb 26, 2015
  • Another weapon in the armoury. Great opportunities in some areas but not others.- joanne.woodrow joanne.woodrow Feb 28, 2015
  • The next generation of agriculturalists/agricultural engineers and scientists introduced to this technology in higher ed will become users of the technology which is necessary for Australian industries/primary production to remain competitive. - helen.farley helen.farley Mar 4, 2015

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

  • Using drones as camera platforms to produce learning materials is one teaching application for drones. At the University of Newcastle our Blended and Online Learning team uses drones for aerial photography, producing virtual field trips to be used in online courses (e.g. geology, oceanography). - David.Cameron David.Cameron Feb 9, 2015
  • I agree David, that's a great start, and what about underwater, on the move, places that are unsafe (it could be the new 'second life! (lol) - gillysalmon gillysalmon Feb 27, 2015
  • looking up as well as down - weather patterns and elements could be explored from within( perhaps with a high drone mortality rate though). - joanne.woodrow joanne.woodrow Feb 28, 2015

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