Drones for Education

I’ve been holding off on purchasing a drone for our classroom.  Quite frankly, I don’t know a lot about them and I haven’t seen a lot of useful applications for education.  I like testing out cool gadgets, but I don’t think it’s fair to spend that much money on something for my students that won’t be used when the novelty wears off.

image courtesy of walterpro on flickr
image courtesy of walterpro on flickr

One of the parents at my school is slowly changing my mind.  He owns a drone and volunteered to demonstrate it at our school.   This seemed like a good way to find out more about drones and the potential for this technology – good and bad.  The parent, Mr. Moore, uses his drone for good. For example, he shows local fire fighters how they can get more information that can save lives without risking more.  But we also know that drones can be used to destroy lives by invading privacy and even killing people.  This is a good conversation to have with 5th graders who will likely one day be living in a world where drones are no longer a novelty.

Mr. Moore pointed me to a new software that is being beta tested in schools called, “DroneBlocks.”  This software allows students to use block programming to instruct a drone where to fly, to simulate the program, and then to actually fly the drone.  You can do something similar with the Tickle app  (free for iOS), but with different drones.

As Mr. Moore and I discussed the possibility of testing out DroneBlocks, I ran across this article by Thomas Frey, suggesting “192 Future Uses for Drones.”  The ideas range from self-serving to life-saving to silly.  I’m glad there are people like Thomas Frey who have far more imagination than I do.  The most compelling part of Frey’s article came in his final thoughts:

“The purpose of composing this rather exhaustive list is not an attempt to cover everything, but rather to show the enormous versatility of this platform.

The complete list of will easily include over 10,000 listings.

Some may think that drones will become the most annoying devices on earth. In many cases that might be true.

Without the proper protections, drones can be dangerous. The same drones that deliver food and water can also deliver bombs and poison. We may very well have drones watching the workers who watch the drones, and even that may not be enough.

Eventually we’ll find the positive uses far outweigh the negative ones, and we’ll develop the right systems to make it all workable.”

You may not be ready to purchase a drone for your classroom, but I do think it is imperative they are discussed.  How can we minimize the harmful impact of this technology while retaining the freedom to take advantage of its benefits?  Is it worth the inevitable tragedies we will face along the way as we try to harness the positive potential and obliterate the negative effects?

Those same questions could have been asked about the automobile.

More Sources for using Drones in Education:
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4 thoughts on “Drones for Education”

  1. We’ve been using Parrott Rolling Spider and Tickle for six months and its a great combo- especially with Sphero. Very powerful learning! We also have a bigger DJI Phantom for supervised students to catch video to put into content ( e.g outside game instruction). Have fun!

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