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?

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  • This industry will open the door to many new career opportunities. This will be a huge benefit for K-12 education. it is also an industry that will most likely have a collaborative presence online( collegial network), thus the need for high speed connectivity capable of meeting the demand. Other areas it will impact: student engagement, STEM, project based learning.- jmorrison jmorrison May 20, 2015
  • Specific to the upper great plains where both agriculture and the energy industry are key economic drivers, the expansion of UAS technology provides benefits across a wide spectrum of business and industry. Since our region is one of six FAA UAS research and test operations sites in the country, widespread interest and engagement from education, business and industry in this area has ratcheted up in order to meet demands for research and education/training programs to support this industry. The specific areas of industry receiving the most attention in this first phase include precision agriculture, disaster & emergency response, energy monitoring and scientific research. When it comes to 21st Century Skills and workforce training, there are numerous opportunities for degree and certification programs to address the specific needs of any given industry where UAS technology is applicable. At the middle and high school levels, interest in this industry can be sparked by introducing students not only to the UAS itself and its use within a given industry (discipline) but also the critical components of collection, analysis, transfer and storage of the large data sets gathered by these instruments on a daily and even hourly basis. Citizen science activities that engage the assistance of secondary students can also introduce students to career tracks that focus on secure data management for today's cutting edge technology tools. The supporting research & education network resources made possible by collaborations across higher education and research can provide students and researchers with the tools they need to engage in daily operational activities of a cutting/bleeding edge industry. Some links that provide information about engagement by research and education in the upper great plains - and are definitely applicable in any part of the world where these same industries are active are included here for reference: (- kim.owen kim.owen Jun 16, 2015)

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

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  • I do think we may have some concrete applications for teaching and learning that we can list, see (4).- jmorrison jmorrison May 20, 2015
  • I agree with Jan's comment above - since this technology is still new and yet generating so much attention, the more specific we can be about the broad range of applications across various disciplines/commercial uses, the easier it will be for the reader audience to understand the full potential. As I mentioned above, for those areas of the country that are rural where agriculture dominates (precision ag uses) , and with the additional focus on energy and emergency management, many specific examples and use cases can be included. (- kim.owen kim.owen Jun 16, 2015)

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

  • The use of drones will become ubiquitous as entrepreneurs find value for the drone's marketability. The problem, however, will always be the regulation and security of drones. Recently a drone was able to breach security at the White House. Before we can start using drones, as with any new technology, we will need to decide how they will be used.- lisa.gustinelli lisa.gustinelli May 20, 2015 http://fortune.com/2015/03/24/faa-commercial-drone-approval/

  • Agreed! and the FAA has been actively pursuing guidelines, which are needed as Lisa states above. Unfortunately we know too well that just because the technology makes something possible it doesn't necessarily mean it's ok for 'appropriate use'. I would hope results from work at the UAS test sites also includes potential solutions to security and privacy issues. In the meantime, this becomes yet another teachable moment for educators to capitalize on as they integrate UAS activities into their curriculum and research activities. (- kim.owen kim.owen Jun 16, 2015)
  • As stated above in my response to question 1, creative applications for how drones/UAS technology can provide benefits to various industries can come from the classroom and research lab. Introducing students to UAS technologies via specific disciplines can provide the opportunity to explore new and expanded uses not yet introduced by the industry. (- kim.owen kim.owen Jun 16, 2015)

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

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