Florida Virtual School: “Automotive telematics can deliver educational content”

Florida Virtual School: “Automotive telematics can deliver educational content”

I get paid for coming up with crazy ideas, so how’s this for one: Why not use automotive telematics to deliver educational content to students? Crazy? I don’t think so.

As a curriculum innovation specialist for Florida Virtual School (FLVS), the largest state-led virtual school program in the US, my job is to explore innovative ideas that contribute to keeping our school on the cutting edge of distance learning.

As part of a small research and discovery team, I seek out and explore fringe technologies and then help determine if these can be utilized within our courses.
We not only find new ways to use existing tools, but are constantly on the lookout for experimental and emerging technologies as well.

Given this, a ‘normal’ day might include exploring augmented reality, synthetic environments, holograms, or some other exotic sci-fi tech that’s out there.

Today, virtual education doesn’t mean a student is stuck in his or her house or library, locked down in front of his or her computer. Quite the contrary.

At FLVS, we’re focused on taking full advantage of mobile devices, gaming, blended learning models, and other opportunities to deliver educational content and courses to students wherever and whenever they want it.

That’s where automotive telematics comes in.

Let’s look at two opportunities on how this might be done.
Imagine a student on a family trip driving through a historic battlefield, or perhaps a state park.

By using a combination of GPS with other in-car delivery systems, the student is able to not only receive data relating to the area he or she is in, but data that is actually aligned to his or her specific and current FLVS class, say, history.

The student is provided with an assignment or lesson that is particularly relevant to him or her and aligned to the state’s educational standards.

They can complete the activity right there in the car, either using in-vehicle systems or perhaps by synching with their mobile device.

Once the assignment, lesson, or activity is completed, the student will then submit it to his or her teacher or upload it to the online course files in real time.

The data is authenticated and time-stamped to help ensure academic integrity.

In-car learning opportunities

Or imagine this: My 15-year-old son has just gotten home and the first thing he asks for are my car keys.

Without hesitation, I grab them off the counter top and toss them to him.
Before I know it, he’s in the driveway, unlocking the door and settling in behind the steering wheel.

Nerve-wracking? Not in the least.

That’s because he’s not going for a drive. Heck, he doesn’t even have his license yet.

However, because of the sophistication of automotive telematics, I think when the time comes for him to get his license, he will be much more prepared.

That’s because he is taking a good portion of his Florida Virtual School driver’s education class inside the actual vehicle!

Initial lessons are delivered to him in the very environment he’s learning to master—and he never even has to turn on the ignition.

Later, though, as he progresses and actually does start to leave the driveway with me by his side, telematics will monitor his progress and help guide his driving lessons—again, all aligned to the virtual school’s and state Department of Transportation’s guidelines.

These are just two glimpses at what I think can be a very innovative and creative use of automotive telematics for education.

Still in its relative infancy, at least from a consumer’s perspective, this technology holds incredible promise and acceptance if managed and applied responsibly.

At Florida Virtual School, we believe this—and we don’t want to be looking in the rear-view mirror.

Brian Collins is a curriculum innovation specialist with Florida Virtual School (FLVS), a leader in developing and providing pre-K through12th grade education solutions to students, schools, and districts throughout Florida, the US, and the world.

To learn more, contact Brian at bcollins@flvs.net or meet him at the Content & Apps for Automotive USA 2010conference in San Diego this January.

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