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Evolution Of Digital Education Tools To Measure Students’ State Of Mind

Imagine sitting in a classroom where a student participates in an online learning program that not only measures their academic progress, but their mood as well. This technology may be closer than we think.
Evolution Of Digital Education Tools To Measure Students’ State Of Mind

How The Evolution Of Digital Education Tools Helps Measure Students’ State Of Mind 

The Academic Realm Educators have been using tools and software that customize the students’ learning according to their academic progress for years. Now, there is something even more exciting looming in the near future. The newest challenge that edTech companies are working on is digital education tools that collect data about the students’ state of mind and mood, and then customize the learning experience based on that.

The way these new apps and utilities would work is by collecting data that includes:

  • Posture.
  • Heart Rate.
  • Facial Expression.
  • Even pupil dilation.

All of these things are known to be indicators of various states of mind. The technology will then take this information and match it to a particular state of mind. Then, depending on the student’s mood, will react accordingly. For example, if the student appears to be confused or frustrated, the tool may offer a hint or some words of encouragement. The speed of the lesson may also be slowed down, or more time will be spent covering a particular concept. Ideally, this will happen before the student is in such a negative emotional state that they shut down or give up. If a student appears to be upbeat and on track, the software can offer more challenging questions and praise the student for their progress.

Taking What Educators Know And Using Digital Education Tools To Maximize That Knowledge

The reason there is a demand for this emerging technology is that according to studies done by the National Institute of Health, emotional state plays a big role in a person’s ability to take on and process new information. This is something that educators and others have known for a very long time. When a student’s emotional state deteriorates into frustration, boredom, confusion, or anger, they are no longer learning efficiently, if they are learning at all. When technology is absent, teachers use their own ability to detect the emotional state of their students and adjust their teaching accordingly. Now, technology is catching up to this knowledge. This is because development in other industries has contributed to the affordability and availability of technologies such as speech recognition and tracking of small facial movements. For example, the customer service industry has spurred the development of interactive voice recognition software that can measure a customer’s deteriorating mood and route them to help quickly rather than waiting for the situation to escalate. Then, there is the security industry which has been a major drive in the development of facial recognition software.

Standard Equipment Used To Create Entirely New Educational Experiences 

In addition to this, the equipment required to gather this data is also more accessible. A decade ago, gathering any of this data would have required to type of special equipment that could only be found in lab. It would not have been possible using the standard electronics equipment that could be found in the home or classroom. Today, much of this information can be gathered from webcams and microphones.

As Always The Application Of These Technologies May Not Be As Fast As Preferred

All of this is very exciting, but it could be years until this technology is well-developed enough to have a place in the classroom. After all, not only does it have to work, there has to be an educational benefit that can be proven under repeated testing and analysis. Gathering this data requires that multiple case studies are carried out in order to a valid qualitative analysis of the results.

The Role Οf Student Mindset Ιn EdTech Today And Ιn The Near Future

This is not to say that nothing is being done to use educational technology to leverage mood and mindset in education. There is a very active push now in edΤech, led by organizations like the Mind Research Institute, a California based firm that produces cutting edge math learning software, to combine the development of subject matter competencies, along with skills that help students become lifelong learners. These skills include:

  • Perseverance.
  • Curiosity.
  • Learning resilience.
  • Self discipline.

An Idea With Widespread Support

Of course, it isn’t just private companies in the educational technology space that are interested these developments. The United States Department of Education is fully in support of these initiatives that recognize the combined need to teach students skills, help them to develop critical thinking skills, and improve their views on education as it applies to them.

While the Mind Research Institute is working on these projects there is still other work being done in this area. One of these efforts is creating online assessments that collect data that can be used to determine how a student learns best. These assessments measure everything from the ability to use verbal reasoning to memory strength. What they have yet to figure out is the best way to use that information to create customized learning experiences that will benefit the student. Hopefully, this will change in the near future giving teachers and parents ways to truly customize the learning experience for each student’s benefit.

Privacy And Other Concerns

There are people who are concerned about the collection and storage of data regarding students’ moods and frame of mind is a violation of privacy and has potential to be abused. Some fear that this data could be used to draw conclusions about students that are not related to academics. Others believe that it is simply not appropriate to use these measurements as influencing factors in the way that students are taught. Then there is the fear that there are not enough regulations regarding the collection and use of this data, nor are there enough privacy protections in place.

However, in spite of these concerns, many educators are very excited about these upcoming developments.

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