Click goes back to school with teaching tech. VR comes to pubs, plus scary sounds with Doctor Who.
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The coolest history lesson in history.
The smallest car race in the world.
And we are with the Doctor as something goes bump in the night.
School, it's changed a lot since I went through the education
mangle all those many years ago.
Many years ago.
The school buildings may look the same but technology has
been infusing education for quite awhile now.
We have smart whiteboards, we have increasing use
of tablets and laptops.
We have e-textbooks instead of textbooks, but there are some
systems which mean the way in which kids learn and are taught
is changing completely.
It seems many tech giants want to become part of education.
After all, an early introduction to their brands may one day add up
to a greater number of users.
Microsoft this week launched its education offering
which includes a new version of Windows called Windows S,
a budget Surface Pro in various colours and some tweaks
to its office applications.
Apple's teaching tool Classroom had a face-lift last month and now
offers more tools for teachers.
But before both of these came Google Classroom.
And today I am finding more about it from Mr Lickfold,
director of learning at Tring secondary school.
They have been using this online system for the past 18 months
to teach and monitor the students' progress.
Today I'm learning about the Galapagos Islands
and I have to say the lesson that Chris has constructed
certainly looks more engaging than my old textbooks.
But tech can do a lot more than just provide media rich lesson plans.
We're able to personalise what we do far more than we have
ever done before and take them to different resources that
are available in the system.
Every student's learning journey will be different.
Taking teaching online also means teachers have a lot more access
to children's individual learning data and even their
For example, this browser extension lets the teacher watch how an essay
was written and refined.
If I have got a student who in preparation for their exams
is not constructing their paragraphs correctly, I can say, "OK,
let's look at how you constructed your particular paragraph.
What did you do?
Where did you develop it?
What can you do differently?"
If it's maybe two or three paragraphs and they spent so long
on the first one then I can also just say, "Look, this is how long
you spent on this first document, it's like half an hour.
You only spent five minutes on the second and third one."
The kids also seem to like the learning experience.
Lots of time there will be teachers at home and we can still do work
at home and teachers can still be there and they can see
actually see how much we have done.
If your teacher does not believe that you have spent the amount
of time required on the homework, then you can say, "Actually I did
because look at the edit history."
It's so much quicker than handing in work waiting until another lesson
to get it back whereas now you can just hand it in and in 20 minutes
you can have it back.
Using online tools and data is one way to enhance learning in schools,
but Lara Lewington has been looking at other tech that
promises to change how children learn completely.
VR, robots, holograms, it wasn't like this in my day.
I am robot.
At the BET Education Show earlier this year we saw some
of the most cutting edge ideas heading to the classroom soon.
Over the past few months I have seen quite a few devices that bring
together the idea of kids coding and toys aiming to make
the activity more fun.
But good old Lego here have gone a step further.
They are trying to recreate real life situations where robots
would be used so that children can find problems and then find
the solution and the mission we have here is for a space robot
which needs to move around the space base collecting these theses
all together and taking them back to one place.
But obviously the coding should do that bit.
Using the drag and drop blocks to create sequences that carry out
actions is just part of the learning process as science is being
taught at the same time.
But Brickso's vision of what could be learned
through these small plastic blocks was quite different.
Look at this.
This is a way to bring your existing Lego set to life.
It has got a couple of LED lights, a sensor, and these blocks actually
From there you can create whatever spinning, moving,
lighting functions take your fancy.
But this use of technology isn't just about teaching ICT.
This adaptive learning is also about employing new methods
of teaching traditional classes.
The teacher guides with experience but as a student
you can really roam about.
This is Google Expedition.
Now, Jan here is going to play the part of a teacher.
She will be talking through what we are all looking
at through the goggles at the same time.
That actually represents all of you.
The pictures are amazing.
I mean, looking at the difference between the healthy lungs
and the smoker's lungs I definitely think we should stick with the kids.
The idea of an image in your mind is certainly something that
could be easier to maintain than someone just talking.
But my issue is actually with the idea of wearing the goggles.
They're fine for a couple of minutes but then I do feel
the urge to take them off so I can't imagine actually wearing
them for a full half-hour lesson or beyond.
Many of these ideas will be picked up by individual schools,
but although the ideas and devices are out there, the challenge comes
in making them available to the masses and that is something
which one not for profit in Finland, a country considered to have one
of the world's best education systems, is trying to overcome.
I would say that education is one of the few big industries
that is still waiting to be disrupted.
One of the biggest challenges in our education system
is that it is based on the ideals of the industrial world,
so it is kind of like teaching everyone to be the same.
And in tomorrow's world it is crucial to be individual.
One idea turns things on its head though, focusing not simply
on new ways of teaching, but firstly analysing how we learn.
Well, I am on my way to maths class which should cause me a bit
of concern because I am not sure I remember that much from school,
but with this class everybody is having their own private lesson.
The teacher doesn't stand up and project their voice
to start the session.
The kids take their places at computers were Century AI
will take you through the lesson.
This artificial intelligence system aims to teach each pupil
at their own pace and in a way that suits them best, constantly
getting to know them better and tracking their progress.
The whole purpose of this machine is to learn how your brain learns
and then utilise that data, and it constantly adapts,
to provide them with a top-tier education at any single moment
and then takes that data and offers it to the teacher in real-time.
Here the students generate the data.
It is provided by real-time teachers and they can intervene
when necessary and they can spend more time on the human
interactions with the student, the pastoral care that they need
to provide to that individual.
Teachers can share their content around the world with other
people using Century, so any given subject could have
numerous options the machine could select from based
on a student's focus and learning levels.
And if they choose to manually switch, then it tracks and considers
their preferences as well.
What do you feel are the challenges?
Sometimes like if you are not too sure on a question and you've
watched the videos and stuff, it's easy to like have a human
explain it to you, but the computer does make it as easy as possible.
Whilst of course I can see the benefits of personalised
education there is one thing playing on my mind.
That is the amount of screen time.
We have had plenty of teachers, not just parents, saying do
you really want them staring at a screen or an iPad?
And it's not the answer and it's not binary and I think
that's really important.
We don't think teachers should be replaced, we think
we need more teachers, we just think teachers should be
spending their time teaching and inspiring and passing
on knowledge of the subject that they really understand.
There's no shortage of ideas yet naturally putting them to the test
requires people willing to take a chance on them.
But clearly the idea of technology giving an overhaul to how
we educate our kids does not seem far away.
Hello and welcome to The Week in Tech.
It was the week that Tesla boss Elon Musk talked
about tunnels again.
He's proposed an underground network where your car gets shuttled
from A to B on an electric skate that could go up to 130mph.
The name of his new venture?
The Boring Company.
It was also the week that users of messaging app WhatsApp were left
asking what's 'appening?
after the service mysteriously went down for several
hours around the world, and the bank accounts of O2
customers in Germany were drained after the SS7 mobile
telecommunications system was hacked.
We covered the SS7 vulnerability on the show last year.
Over in Sweden the world's fastest camera has been developed.
Lund University's camera can capture 5 trillion images per second whilst
other conventional high-speed cameras typically capture 100,000.
Instead of capturing images one by one this captures several coded
images at once and pieces them together into a video afterwards.
It will be used to film things like brain activity
and chemical reactions.
And finally in an effort to help robots run better in the future this
ostrich-like bot can spread up to ten mph and has been cleverly
designed to self balance without the need for sensors
or computer processing.
A single motor drives the bot's legs forward in an elliptical motion
injecting more power when it feels resistance.
Look at it, it's got a mind of its own.
Right, everyone down to the pub for a swift half,
a game of bar billiards and a battle with some giant bugs.
Sounds like a perfect evening for Mark Chislak.
There are a couple of things that you always find in a British pub.
Number one is pints of beer.
In some drinking shops there are distractions like darts.
And of course virtual reality headsets.
VR in pubs?
How ever will you find your pint?
The big problem for most people with virtual reality is space.
You just don't have the space in a normal sized living room
to play VR games properly.
The headsets have got cables attached to them which you can
easily trip over and then you have got furniture and walls
that you can bang into.
That is where pubs come in.
Pubs are generally bigger than the house that you live
in so there is no problem with space and they afford you the opportunity
of a truly social virtual reality experience because people can see
what you are doing.
So, the walls in here are green and that means the spectators that
are watching me can see the environment that I am
in and also if I back myself up to them I feel that they are soft,
they are padded so players cannot injure themselves if they get
a little bit too energetic and throw themselves around in space.
It's like a soft play area for adults.
The combination of public houses and virtual reality
is the brainchild of these guys.
They've used their background in satellite technology,
IT and engineering to create this setup.
So what made you guys think that VR and pubs went together
like a pie and a pint?
We thought we wanted to do a VR arcade, but arcades have a staid
and outdated image and so we were looking for a good venue to do
virtual reality in public.
When you're involved with alcohol there is always a degree of risk
to the gear and the equipment overall, so we have had to rig up
harnesses so if people fall over they don't damage themselves.
The harnesses also protect the headsets so they don't
fall on the ground.
Enough talk, it's time to try out the specially designed VR rig.
We've got this plugged into the seat belt arrester system
which will catch you when you fall.
In order to make players safe it is crucial that the cables
for the headsets are kept out of the way.
I have a harness that I have to put on.
It goes on there.
And then you put this in at the back here.
And now no matter how much you turn around this cable is not
going to get caught in your head or on your back, an ingenious
solution to the cable problem that everybody finds with VR headsets.
OK, now I have played tonnes of games in VR before and as always
OK, now I have played tonnes of games in VR before and as always
I'm immediately transported from the space that I was in,
this pub, into this sewer and zombies are coming from pretty
much every direction.
Reload, reload. Oh!
You don't really notice the cable that you are wearing
and the harness.
I thought you would, but it's kind of...
I don't notice it is there at all.
What have you discovered about the type of games that
are best to play in this environment?
Our rule of thumb is basically any more than one button
is too complicated.
Most of the people who are playing have never played
virtual reality before.
And it's enough of a surprise for them to find themselves
in a computer game.
You don't want them to then have to remember six or seven button
combinations as well.
Double your gun, double your fun.
So this is where nice, simple games can easily be demonstrated.
It's a wave shooter and I have got waves and waves of bad guys trying
to attack me.
The aim is simple - fight them off.
How do people fare when they have been in the VR when they have had
a couple of drinks?
It's a bit like playing pool.
You get progressively better, and then you get a lot
worse all of a sudden.
It's really, really frantic.
I don't think I can stand more than five minutes in here.
Simply because I'm getting really hot!
And I am done.
Well, it's somebody else's turn, and it's my turn to order
at the bar.
Now, does this look like a race track to you?
Does this look like a car?
Well, last weekend, six teams took to the track in Toulouse,
in France, for the world's first nanocar race.
The nanocars are specially designed molecules which are invisible
to the human eye.
Nano things are very, very small.
One nanometre is 30,000 times thinner than a human hair.
In ideal cases, we try to build molecules which have the shape
of a car, that is some kind of a chassis and four wheels,
and ideally a motor.
But in some cases, it turns out that simpler molecules work as well.
Six teams competed, representing France,
Switzerland, Japan, Germany, the USA, and there was a joint
US and Austrian team.
The tiny racetrack for most teams was made of gold.
Now, this is because gold is so soft its surface can be made
extremely flat, as in, there is not even an atom
out of place.
And that does take some time to prepare.
Since we bring different types of molecules to the surface,
or the same surface, first you have to clean the surface
to make sure you have a good track.
There is a good organisation of the atom, and to free the track
from the molecules that you don't want.
And this will take one or two days.
Once the nano cars are in position on the track, the teams use the tip
of a scanning, tunnelling microscope to propel the vehicles
with tiny electric charges.
They have 30 hours to race 100 nanometres and back.
Six teams started, with no guarantee that they would all finish.
But there is historical precedent here.
In 1894, there was the first ever car race in the world.
Of course, macroscopic cars, big cars.
We had 100 or so cars registered at that time,
and only 21 succeeded to start, and only 17
arrived at the end.
So we are in the same situation, but of course we have
less starting cars.
In the end it took one team only 19 minutes to finish the race,
but they did use a different track.
If we had used the gold, it was going to be uncontrollably
So we used a silver surface, which is actually a slower surface.
So we slowed it down so we could control it better
around the pylon.
We never revealed the structure of our car until race day,
there was no requirement to reveal the structure of the car.
Because we worked so hard to come up with these design features,
we didn't feel that we wanted to reveal that
to the world until race day.
And looking at their cars we knew that they were going to be a little
bit slower because number one, they were very big.
The higher the molecular weight, the harder it is to move it.
Number two, they had aeromatic wheels.
We knew that was going to slow them down.
Even though it was originally deemed a 36-hour race,
we knew that we were going to be able to finish much
faster than that.
The second team to finish raced on the standard gold course,
and took over seven hours.
The organisers decided to declare both the Swiss team
and the US-Austrian team joint winners, as they had raced
in different circumstances.
The tech used in the race will help improve the imaging capabilities
of the world's most powerful microscopes, and the car design
process has pharmaceutical applications for making designer
As it was, in the world's first nano race,
every team will have plenty of thinking to take back
to their tiny drawing boards.
Now, you may remember last year we tickled your earbuds
with something called binaural sound.
Now, this is a way of recording audio so when you listen back
through headphones, the sounds actually sound like they are coming
from the right place in 3-D space.
Well, it turns out someone was listening.
Not just someone, but The Doctor,
and he invited Kate Russell to hear all about it.
Go and have a look.
You're physically bigger.
Maybe it's just the central heating.
Oh, sorry, didn't mean to scare you.
Unlike a new episode of Doctor Who, that uses
binaural sound to really get inside your head.
I have come to south Wales, where the episode
Knock Knock was filmed.
In this spooky-looking house, the Doctor investigates
some strange noises.
What's going on?
Using binaural sound, the show's producers are able
to ramp up the fright factor by placing
sound effects all around the listener, so they feel
like they are actually inside the room with the actors.
SO if you see a normal, digital audio workstation,
everything is layered up in tracks.
But actually, we can see those tracks
on the computer as little objects, like you are looking down on top
of a room.
So you can see these dots with a cross showing where the left
and right is, and the up-and-down axis.
When the sounds are then put through into the BBC renderer,
which is a piece of software that the R team have made,
then you can see where those sounds are hanging in 3-D space.
To experience the binaural effect you must be using stereo headphones.
Even a top-of-the-range 5.1 surround sound speaker systems will not
deliver the results, as the microscopic time delays
in sounds arriving at your ears are vital to creating
the 360-degree immersive effect.
That was super, super scary and spooky and atmospheric.
If you are expecting the kind of like sideshow act of jumping
around sound that really wows you, this is not what this is about.
This is about a subtle experience of placing
you in a three-dimensional soundscape.
The reason why this episode lent itself so brilliantly
to the binaural mix is because of it being a kind of horror genre
and a lot of what makes things scary is what you don't see and building
up the atmosphere to that moment of scare is really what the audience
are looking for.
We were told 3-D TV was going to be the next big thing.
Well, that didn't happen.
So why should this be any different?
The reason why binaural is really taking off now
is because we're in the age of the smartphone and the tablet.
People are consuming their media with headphones.
The headphones are hugely popular.
We've got - even in my family, my kids will sit down
watching their own content, that they're interested in,
with a pair of headphones so as not to disturb each other.
I think what will happen when people experience binaural audio with TV
content, radio content, and then they go back to stereo,
they'll feel a little bit - it's quite a claustrophobic feeling.
And you think I want that other sound, please.
What was that?
It was binaural, let me have some more of that, please.
I think that is where we will start to see binaural really take off.
This spooky episode will be broadcast with regular sound on UK
TVs this weekend.
I'm afraid viewers from the rest of the world will have to wait.
For the binaural experience, watch it on iPlayer.
I recommend a darkened room, some decent stereo headphones,
and a steely nerve.
And remember, if you do hear knocking sounds in the night,
it's probably just your pipes.
Wow, can't wait to see and more importantly hear that episode.
But then I Love Doctor Who.
Can't wait to see every episode.
That is it for this week.
Follow us on Twitter throughout the week.
Thank you for watching, we will see you soon.
This sunshine makes all the difference at this time of year.
We have an abundance of sunshine across the northern half of the UK.