The Future of Higher Education Is Uncertain Before 5G and XR

When high-speed networking technology such as 5G comes together with immersive technologies like Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR), the impact on the education system will be transformative. Traditional learning methods, which have remained unchanged for a long period of time, can benefit from the interactive 3D (or even 4D) digital environment that could be compared to the ones seen in movies such as Iron Man. This is a direct result of high-speed networking and XR technologies working in tandem.

The deployment of 5G infrastructure in higher education is set to usher in several fresh opportunities. The benefits of upped speeds and reduced latency, efficient operation streamlining and facility monitoring are only the tip of the iceberg. In addition, the advent of further funding for research and the reduction of redundant networks means that students can now have access to necessary resources without the limitations of WiFi-restricted zones or slow 4G LTE speeds.

Universities are generally known for being slow to update their physical infrastructure and procedures. It is understandable, given the high cost of developing new premises, which would not be necessary if the teaching and learning methods remained largely the same.

Currently, there is minimal variation in the architecture of college networks. However, as educational institutions advance, it will become crucial to revamp the networking infrastructure to accommodate the integration of sophisticated technologies such as extended reality (XR). Adopting 5G speeds would be the most logical choice in such scenarios.

To start with, let’s clarify the term XR.

It is worth mentioning that the individual components of XR have been in existence for some time. However, they are currently advancing at a rapid pace, thanks in part to the strides made in areas such as microprocessor technology, storage capacity, form factor (including high-definition displays, headsets, and other wearables), networking speeds, and bandwidth.

Virtual reality demands wearable headsets, while augmented reality can be experienced through glasses or displays. Aside from their individual capabilities, the integration of mixed reality technology has the potential of multiplying their benefits significantly.

By blending virtual and physical worlds into a single experience, mixed reality allows for an uninterrupted user journey. Visualize a fusion of Iron Man and Minority Report.

The Expanding Realm of Education

Integration of 5G and XR technologies will empower students with greater flexibility and access to educational tools. This will be a significant benefit for millions of commuters who are unable to attend lectures physically. Medical students, for instance, can now gain invaluable experience dealing with virtual patients, while lecturers can offer interactive presentations despite geographical limitations and time restraints.

The true allure of fifth-generation mobile networks (5G) lies in its ability to facilitate mobility. The benefits of enabling students to study remotely and independently, which are only just beginning to be explored, are self-evident.

It is unarguable that freedom is just one aspect of the equation. With the advent of 5G technology, blessed with gigabit speeds and minimal latency, there is a tremendous potential of revolutionising both the delivery of classroom instruction and student learning strategies.

Application of game theory has a transformative impact on the sharing and processing of data. Playing games for educational purposes builds participants’ resilience and motivation by fostering an acceptance of mistakes as part of the learning process.

Expanding Educational Horizons

IoT technology, which enables the interconnectivity of objects, is increasing in prominence in the manufacturing sector, where it is employed to enhance productivity. Rapid and reliable networking is critical for collecting and transmitting telemetry data generated by robots and sensors, operating collaborative robots that work in tandem with humans and implementing real-time replication and modification of real-world processes via digital twins.

Deploying Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to foster system-wide transparency can enhance universities’ ability to attract research funding from industry. This funding can then be used to explore ways in which 5G can be leveraged to improve productivity, bolster product quality, curtail the incidence of faulty items, save time, and promote judicious use of raw materials, among other benefits.

Combining WiFi 6 and 5G for Superior Performance

Despite being the biggest technological leap in networking since the advent of WiFi, 5G has its own natural limitations and shortcomings.

5G technology carries three distinct variants, with the majority of attention having been devoted to millimetre wave (mmWave). Even though mmWave 5G networks offer extraordinarily fast speeds and negligible latency, lower and mid-band 5G networks are also available. Despite having inferior performance to mmWave, these other networks are much faster than 4G LTE and are better equipped to overcome obstacles such as buildings, which mmWave is incapable of doing.

WiFi 6 (802.11ax) is the new, cutting-edge technology that delivers high-speed, high-capacity and low-latency internet access to elevate student connectivity and accessibility on campus.

With technological advancements becoming commonplace in our daily lives, 5G technology is expected to bring about a monumental transformation. 5G network capabilities will inaugurate a whole new era of revolutionary social interaction, much like the impact brought forth by the advent of the internet, smartphones and cloud technology; thereby influencing education immensely.

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