The Use of AR Drones in Education
In June 2012, Parrot released the AR.Drone 2.0. After their initial release in 2010, it was one of the first commercially available drones that was affordable to the general public. Armed with a 720p HD camera, filming at 30 frames per second, with an internal 3D magnetometer sensor that automatically stablises itself in mid air,... View Article
In June 2012, Parrot released the AR.Drone 2.0. After their initial release in 2010, it was one of the first commercially available drones that was affordable to the general public. Armed with a 720p HD camera, filming at 30 frames per second, with an internal 3D magnetometer sensor that automatically stablises itself in mid air, as well as its ease of controlling using any mobile devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad, Galaxy tablet), I was intrigued and purchased one online with great anticipation. Around the same time, the Game Sense pedagogical approach was gaining traction around Australia. Derived from the teaching games for understanding (TFfU) model, this teaching and learning approach emphasises the development of decision making and movement knowledge. Game sense moves away from the ‘good old’ drills and lined skill work in a PE class, and focuses on small-sided games that encourage students to be more tactically aware, be more engaged, and increased participation. Students will no longer be involved in only two or three passage of play in a 10-minute full court game, but rather have multiple touches in these small-sided games.
To maximise students’ tactical learning, I began using the AR.Drone in my PE classroom. In the past, I have used a video camera on a tripod to film a passage of play in a PE class, and play it back to students to discuss movement patterns and their decision marking. The drawback of filming from the sideline is often there are too many players near the play, blocking each other in the footage, and it does not give a clear concept of where each player is. By using the AR.Drone, our class can use footage filmed from above to evaluate where each and every player are in a particular time frame. The feedback from students was extremely positive. I set up a projector connected to my iPad that was controlling the drone and students assess their own movement knowledge and decision making according to the replay. They also have to suggest alternative approaches that would allow better opportunity for their team to score or to defend. One negative aspect of using the AR.Drone was the location of the camera. Because of its front-facing camera, the drone have to be moving forward constantly for the camera to be pointing downwards (where the action is). When using this in our gymnasium, we often run out of room, and every time you reverse the drone, the camera would be pointing to the sky. There are tutorials on the Internet to DIY modify the camera angle, but it involves cutting and manipulating the structure of the drone, something I’m not comfortable with. Hopefully in their next version there is a mechanism for users to change the camera angle.
Moving forward, as the price of drones become more and more affordable for the general public, and the variety increases, I see great potential incorporating drones in PE classroom. For example, there is currently a company on KickStarter trying to get funding for their ‘auto-follow’ drone called the AirDog. Users can clip on a GoPro to the unit, set the altitude and angle, and the drone will follow you wherever you go. Imagine having a few of these in your PE classroom and set them to follow individual students during class time from the air! No more need for someone to control the drone flight anymore and teachers can give more feedback to students instead of flying the drone. Michael Ha is a Secondary PE teacher and the ICT Coordinator at an independent school in Melbourne. He is a committee member of Digital Learning & Teaching Victoria and has a passion for the effective integration of ICT across the curriculum. The self proclaimed ‘Nerdy Phys-Eder’ proactively looks for ways to incorporate innovative use of emerging technologies in education. – by Michael Ha