We have witnessed an extensive use of high-speed data thanks to 4G internet in last few years. With the emergence of fifth generation of mobile technology (5G), this would further enable the availability of higher bandwidth and higher speed. 5G technology would transform the digital landscape even more profusely than the 3G and 4G.
The next disruptive wave that could transform the whole host of industries and workplaces would be 5G.
In the 21st century, a revolution in information and communication technology (ICT) has contributed to immense advances in the educational technology (EdTech) as well. Today, the developments in EdTech have positively impacted the education services; be it in formal education, distance learning, e-learning, MOOCs, adult education or in lifelong learning. With the advent of 5G networks, these educational segments are expected to come alive with high audio-visual content including AR/VR.
The three unique characteristics of the 5G networks are: (i) ubiquitous access, (ii) incredibly low latency, and (iii) data transmission at extremely high speed. 5G network would enable a huge volume of internet traffic and a vast number of broadband links.
Different data traffic requirements have different service quality (QoS) requirements. The goal of the 5G mobile network is to tackle the restrictions of previous wireless standards (2G, 3G, 4G) and to be a possible primary enabler of the future of Internet of Things.
What is 5G technology?
5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology. It is one of the fastest, most robust technologies the world has ever seen.
The roots of wireless technologies can be traced as far back as the 1980s. Later, years of advancement have launched items such as email, browsing, and video calls. 5G takes the baton from 4G which it ran with and further strengthens the delivery. Without any lags or glitches, 5G provides consumers with quicker, stable and improved technologies.
5G — Some Advantages and Challenges
The 5G networks enable a broad variety of technologies such as smart house, autonomous vehicles, drone flights, health and mission critical applications, Industrial IoT and entertainment and multimedia. Several 5G networks are classified into interactive 5G services, intuitive 5G services, omnipresent 5G services, autonomous 5G services and public 5G services, according to the experience of end-users.
Rapid technology advances have had a significant influence on the higher education landscape. Changes in education are therefore shifting as the flow of globalization changes. E-learning is a phenomenon that affects the educational world of the nation such as 5G connectivity. However, in developed nations, it has long been an application because it is thought to be able to have different advantages in teaching and learning sessions.
A few challenges have also been identified, such as high costs for 5G infrastructure development or adaptations to existing cellular infrastructure, high battery drain on 5G enabled devices due to non-compatible battery technology advances, range issues due to short frequency waves etc. However, as the systems becomes more and more refined, these initial drawbacks and challenges can be corrected.
5G’s impact in Higher Education Institutions
The effect of 5G on higher education can be the immersive lessons of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Mixed-reality content and video require optimum output of high bandwidth and low latency. The latency means that the time taken for a collection of data to pass between two points. Similarly, 5G is expected to low latency to a few milliseconds (ms) relative to 4G, with a latency period of 50 to 80 milliseconds (ms). New services such as VR/AR, tele-medicine and tele-surgery would need low latency; in some situations, latency of no more than 1 ms is critical. Experiences would thus be smooth and seamless for 5G networks. Students can tour or visit other planets in VR via the human body. With the help of AR, they can even explore through Earth’s layers by touching, pinching, and zooming and they can discover ideas as easily as they imagine. The concept of virtual classrooms could be enhanced through this 5G technology with the use of high-performance AR and VR technologies.
Also, another field is music education through AR/VR application enabled by 5G. Music implies the sharing of multimedia information, at least in the form of high-quality audio streams, to facilitate technical applications. Inherently, music education over the net imposes a range of restrictions on network characteristics, and on top of that, AR/VR approaches incorporate other layers of information.
Smart Classroom: IoT saves time for teachers. It takes time to set up equipment and receive reviews in class, even though everything functions well. Through the Internet of Things (IoT) on 5G, teachers can log in as soon as they reach the classroom automatically. With the launch of 5G higher bandwidth, manual administrative activities are automated, and reviews can be provided online by pupils. Throughout entire lectures and presentations, higher bandwidth can help signals stay solid, avoiding intermittent dropped links and derailing attention.
Download Videos in Seconds: New generation likes videos, and since YouTube is also their favourite educational resource, it makes sense. Currently, it takes minutes to hour to download a high-definition video on 4G. However, with the launch of 5G, it will take a few seconds, maybe less, to download a feature-length video. 5G supports network speeds at or over 20 Gbps, allowing a user, for example, to download a full High (HD) movie definition in seconds, and high-resolution (8K) video streaming.
Greater Help to Differently-abled Students: Students with special needs require greater assistance as they require more regular or full-time assistance from teachers. To assist with problem-solving, there are robot apps, but they are not as sensitive as the kids they are supposed to help. By responding automatically to help with learning lessons, 5G would encourage robots to be full-time assistants and support teachers.
More Adaptive Learning: The learning style and capability of each student is different. 5G will enable students continue their studies in the school, providing to their phone or laptop the same data levels and responsiveness in the classroom. Regardless of distance or location, 5G encourages learners to access the same data and activities as their peers.
Enabling Software Engineers to build Educational Apps better: The use of 5G technologies in education would enable developers to build apps that require low latency and faster processing of information. Thus, by use of 5G, software engineers will expand all their fields of expertise in various contexts and without limitations.
Enablement of Haptic Overlay: Low latency tactile internet can encourage remote learning and schooling by haptic overlay of teachers and learners. The tactile Internet means the ultra-low latency with extremely high availability, reliability and security. For these identical multi-modal human-machine interfaces, round trip latency of 5–10 ms is allowed for perceivable visual, auditory, and haptic interaction. Tactile Internet would allow musical instruments to be performed from remote locations.
Holographic Instructors Become a Reality: In a 5G enabled smart classrooms, a holographic instructor who would beam in to lead conversations on specialised subjects may be used; seamless augmented reality environments that can help better engage students with different learning needs, or connected technologies that could help narrow education barriers for international students.
All these improvements will not happen immediately. Many EdTech companies have already started developing applications and resources for utilizing the emerging technology of 5G in enabling smart classrooms, holographic teaching bots, and extensive AR/VR based digital teaching learning methodologies. However, smart phones and other digital devices capable of using 5G networks, and ultra-high-speed implementations are still some years away. In order to become the main wireless infrastructure, 4G took 10 years, and 5G could take much longer. But once it is fully in place, it would really transform the way we learn and teach.