How the Internet of Things is changing education
The Internet of Things (IoT), where everything from lightbulbs to toasters are connected to the internet, has already started to have an impact on our daily lives. However, we are only in the early stages of of the IoT revolution, with the technology expected to impact everything from our central heating to how we learn.
E-learning is already a central part of the educational environment in our schools and universities, with students able to watch lectures online, take part in quizzes, and submit their essays for marking over the internet. This digitisation has taken a couple of decades, but now is common to schools across the developed world, and sets the stage for IoT.
At the start of the day, most school classes begin with a roll-call of names to make sure everyone is in attendance, and this will be the first thing affected by the IoT. A number of schools have already implemented RFID technology into their students’ ID cards, so that it is easier for the institution to keep track of where their students are on campus.
Not only does this tracking mean schools can make sure their students are safe, but also by tracking which rooms they spend most time in the school can start to more efficiently allocate resources. Do students spend more time in one section of the school or library than another? This would allow the school to better understand student behaviour and invest their limited funds more efficiently on materials and infrastructure to better help their students.
If schools only had to have the lights and heating/cooling active for times when students are actually in each room using a combination of real-time ad-hoc reporting from IoT devices across the campus, aided by additional analytics from self-service reporting by administrative staff, they could save thousands of dollars each year in their electricity bills alone – money which could be then invested in more materials for students.
The materials given to students can also be improved by an innovative approach with IoT, with teachers able to push out context-relevant content to the students sitting in their class instantaneously through all of their connected devices. The students are signed into the class automatically as they walk through the door, and the materials form the connected and interactive white board can then be pushed to the relevant registered iPads and laptops in the vicinity.
The virtual nature of the materials not only save students from having to carry around heavy book-laden backpacks, but also avoid the issue of there often being only one or two copies of the materials available for a 20+ person class. Journal repositories like JStor mean that all students can access the content simultaneously, and automatic IoT recognition could mean the relevant articles are pushed to students as they enter a classroom rather than them wasting precious time having to search for the articles themselves.
According to Capterra, 73% of all US teenagers have access to a smartphone, and 70% of middle school students and 75% of high school students use laptops for educational purposes. These numbers are only set to rise, and as schools refocus on the benefits of technology, new possibilities and improved efficiencies continue to appear.
Photograph by LenaertsDaan