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?

  • Potential value in engagement. For example, a student sends drone to unsafe area, so instead of learning about the volcano through a video, the student is engaged in discovery, not simply viewing a film. - Mark.fink Mark.fink Oct 20, 2014 Agreed! - Sam Sam Oct 21, 2014 - helga helga Oct 24, 2014
  • At Harvey Mudd College we're seeing interest in drones from our Engineering and Computer Science departments, primarily for undergraduate research in robotics and programming. But there's also a lot of interest in other sectors outside of teaching and learning, such as from our athletic and marketing/communications departments. - Elizabeth_Hodas Elizabeth_Hodas Oct 22, 2014

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

  • Government spying and privacy are huge drawbacks -- especially in educational situations. How do we ensure that drones are used for teaching and learning as their reputation proceeds them? - Sam Sam Oct 21, 2014 - helga helga Oct 24, 2014
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • - larry.miller larry.miller Oct 20, 2014 Concerns about how the Federal Aviation Agency might hamper legitimate research and instructional uses of drones - http://j.mp/1rlzHTq
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in

  • - larry.miller larry.miller Oct 20, 2014 Interesting that Linux has released an open source platform for drones http://j.mp/1ybgcOL
  • As I mentioned above, we have an Engineering professor who is using underwater drones in his courses and research and we have a Computer Science faculty member who is using quadcopters in his courses and research with undergraduates. - Elizabeth_Hodas Elizabeth_Hodas Oct 22, 2014
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