oday’s school settings differ significantly from the traditional pen and paper environments of the past. Now, you can walk into a kindergarten classroom and find many students who have their own cell phone or mobile device. A majority of the devices are connected to the Internet and as the Internet of Things (IoT) movement progresses, additional technology and applications will be integrated into lesson plans and activities in the classroom.
Forty-six percent of K-12 and higher education IT managers predict smart technologies will have a significant impact on schools across the nation in as little as two years. While some critics argue against the integration of IoT devices in classroom, the capabilities offered by using this technology could drastically enhance the education experience. The sections below define IoT and describe a number of benefits and challenges associated with the technology.
What is IoT?
IoT is essentially a network of devices connected via the Internet. This technology eliminates the need for manual consumer input of data by merging our physical and virtual worlds and delivering real-time insights to a connected device such as a laptop, cell phone, or tablet.
Garner estimates that by the end of 2016, there will be 6.4 billion devices connected to the Internet and cloud, a 30% increase from 2015. And by 2020, there will be at least 20 billion devices connected. It’s apparent that tech experts are invested in the success of the IoT movement and believe our lives will be ever more connected to the devices we use and wear on a daily basis.
The use of IoT devices for education purposes is a hot topic among institutions across the nation and is only beginning to gain traction as new method for teaching and managing the classroom. Such tools are already being utilized. The most common IoT devices used in the classroom are:
- Interactive whiteboards
- Tablets and mobile devices
- 3-D printers
- Student ID cards
- Temperature sensors
- Security cameras and video
- Room temperature sensors
- Electric lighting and maintenance
- Smart HVAC systems
- Attendance tracking systems
- Wireless door locks
While these are the most popular devices utilized by teachers, the rapid development of IoT guarantees there will be more innovative ways to make use of the technology in the near future. Teachers will be required to adapt their instructing styles and classroom environments to facilitate the use of IoT devices and students will have different learning experiences than ever before.
What challenges do schools face when integrating IoT in the classroom?
IoT offers a number of advantages to teachers and students, but its novelty leaves some establishments concerned about its implementation. To successfully integrate the devices in the classroom, an education provider will need to have capabilities such as reliable Wi-Fi, teacher training, robust network bandwidth, available devices for students, network analytics, and more. The educational organization must ensure that both its IT equipment and teaching strategies support the use of IoT in the classroom. However, these are not the only considerations that must be made. As these devices begin measuring and collecting data from students, they are also putting the security and privacy of students at risk by maximizing the storage of sensitive data in Internet-based network of connected devices prone to cyber-attacks. Education providers are concerned about the repercussions of a security breach that could compromise a student ID linked to an individual’s health record and family financial information. In addition to security, an IoT program may be expensive and difficult to manage. Some devices and applications are not compatible and can impede the organization’s ability to create an IT environment that’s both reliable and accessible to all users. Although the technology comes with risks and potential roadblocks, educational institutions can benefit from exploring and experimenting with IoT options.
How will IoT impact the future of education?
Just as technology has shaped the world we live in, it will continue to shape how students learn about this world and how to function within it. Those in favor of IoT tools envision a more mobile, engaging, and measurable method of education that can potentially provide knowledge to a greater number of students in a manner that fits their learning styles and needs.
The average American student spends 1025 hours in a classroom each year. Unfortunately, more than 308 of the 1025 hours are spent addressing anticipated interruptions such as the distribution of class materials, transitions, or beginning and ending a class. This data suggests that a student spends one out of every five minutes of education time on tasks that can easily be eliminated by using a network of IoT in the classroom. Teachers would be able to spend less time on rudimentary procedures and more time working with students to monitor their progress and help them grasp difficult concepts.
In the future, attendance could be recorded automatically, neurosensors could be used to measure students’ cognitive brain activity, and haptic vibrations (a form of kinesthetic communication that resembles the sense of touch by applying vibrations to the user) could be sent to a student’s wearable or tablet to discreetly guide them back on task. While a majority of schools have yet to adopt an IoT program, such a learning environment is not that far off. The use of IoT technology offers a number of advantages to education providers and students alike. Such benefits include:
- Wireless storage of grades, lessons, and assignments
- Increased student accountability
- Increased student performance
- Enhanced physical security
- Increased energy efficiency
- Enhanced collaboration among teachers and students
- Mobility and availability
- Increased connectivity
The use of IoT in the classroom has the potential to remove the barriers that often hinder one’s education such as location, language, and economic standing. Implementing an education strategy can help make learning faster and more interesting for students with diverse backgrounds and skills.
Aldridge has experience providing managed IT services to a variety of education providers. Our team understands what technology is necessary to promote productivity and communication. Contact a firm representative today to find out more about how Aldridge can help your organization create an IT strategy that facilitates growth and understanding.