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A sensory education: How the world's tech titans are making learning more stimulating

By Alison Bracegirdle, Sparks & Honey

August 11, 2015 | 4 min read

Alison Bracegirdle of Sparks & Honey educates us on how tech giants including Sony, Google and Apple are making learning more stimulating.

If you recall having a strict upbringing or education, the following will make you either jealous or curious. Children starting school today will have the most sensory education of any generation before. They will learn maths with music, geography with video games and psychology with robots. In short, the way humans learn is under investigation.

Before jumping into all the resources children and educators have at their fingertips, learning with our senses is not childish. OK, maybe silly, but it’s totally acceptable for grown-ups too.

From 26 August to 20 September, Tate Britain will host Sensorium, a feast for every sense as it recreates the stimulus that might have existed as the work of art was created.

The immersive concept by sensory agency Flying Object received £70,000 to make the idea sing, sound, taste and touch.

In June, Sony put on an immersive installation called Sonic Wonderland to illustrate how sound can enhance anything from a breast of quail to a bathtub of water.

Need something less artsy, more scary, like a lesson in survival? Have no fear, literally, because immersive horror maze Hyde is coming to London (and New York if it meets its Kickstarter goals). It will emulate scary films but track your temperature, heartbeat and breath, adapting to your reactions, so you might have to calm down before a door unlocks, while a bad guy chases you with a knife. It’s one way to test your bravery in the face of terror.

On a more innocent note, the options for kids to learn with all their senses are so exciting right now, it makes both learning and teaching a game. This should be welcome news for the UK’s struggling education system where four in 10 teachers leave the profession within a year. Education desperately needs tools to boost the fun and reduce inefficiencies and burdens.

Your kids are bored? Google Camp is here to save the day with video and interactive lessons on things like how fish talk to each other, how far away is the milky way, why you can’t tickle yourself and countdowns to live events like National Park volcano adventures.

Come September, Finnish teachers will be required to teach some subjects together for at least one unit a year, fuelling the philosophy that play and association increase learning elasticity. Imagine Mozart with footy! Continuing with crossover learning, the digital DIY lego-esque video game Minecraft is now offering teacher tutorials via Microsoft to help educators explain mathematics, social studies, history and architecture.

You could argue that Apple’s iTunes U is a good year behind Google Classroom, where students can submit assignments via Google Drive, see when homework is due and teachers can leave feedback for students. However, Apple U helps students and teachers do all of the above while incorporating educational apps into their course materials. Hopefully this will reduce ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuses. Maybe.

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