Everything is making its way onto the internet nowadays.
This phenomenon is known as the “Internet of Things” (IoT). This term may not be used regularly, but its reality is everywhere for us to see. Wired magazine even considers the Internet of Things to be “the next big thing.”
Research giant Gartner has estimated that 6.4 billion things will be connected to the internet and cloud in 2016, which is a 30% increase from 2015. They also estimate that by the end of the decade over 20 billion devices will be connected.
What exactly is the Internet of Things?
The easiest way to describe it is the ability of our everyday tools and appliances to communicate with each other and us by means of the internet and cloud computing. Every time you see a device that is labeled a “smart” device, you know it has internet capabilities and can be controlled and tracked through the internet.
The Internet of Things also allows data to be easily quantified and stored, such as usage frequency or time since its last maintenance check. These capabilities are perfect for improving our education systems by means of smart devices.
But what exactly can we expect? Here’s what you need to know about the Internet of Things for education.
Increases in internet-capable technology in the classroom
Smart devices are becoming more commonplace in the classroom, from tablets to Smart Boards. Each year more and more internet-capable technology is introduced to the classroom.
- 73% of American teenagers have access to a smartphone as 2015
- Nearly 100% of American public schools have access to the internet
- 70% of middle school students and 75% of high school students use laptops for educational purposes
It turns out that as students use more and more of this technology in the classroom, their desire to use it has also increased, with 69% of students indicating they wish to use their mobile devices more in the classroom.
(via The Journal)
Of course it isn’t just physical devices, it also includes the use of online school software and applications, especially massive open online courses (MOOCs) and education apps on smartphones. Some of these MOOCs and educational apps include:
Tracking and keeping students accountable
The biggest benefit of having an entire classroom connected and students’ schoolwork progress quantified and stored is it streamlines tracking and accountability. No more excuses of lost homework, papers forgotten in transit between home and classroom, or grading mistakes due to human error.
The cloud allows for easy wireless storage of grades, formulation of progress reports, and assigning of class and homework. With so many students having access to smartphones, laptops, and tablets, all of this information and school work can be accessed virtually anywhere so long as there is an internet connection.
Smart technology also can take into account increases in performance, allowing it to adjust challenges and help a student learn at their own pace so that they aren’t left behind due to increasing student/teacher ratios.
Increased school security
The Internet of Things doesn’t just apply to directly educating students, but also extends to physically protecting the students and their teachers. The Internet of Things provides more peace of mind in an era of increasing fears of school shootings and violence.
The introduction of smart building technology, which includes security cameras you can control and access through the cloud, doors with sensors that can alert administrators of unwarranted or forced entries, and smart locks that can be centrally controlled by the school, means physical security is a lot easier to maintain.
This kind of smart technology provides schools with more control over who can enter their building(s) and when, without putting people in potential danger by needing to physically be present to watch over doors.
Increased energy efficiency and lowered supply costs
Not only does the IoT and smart technology help alleviate security concerns, but it also creates a more energy-efficient and cost-effective educational system.
For example, New Richmond schools in Tipp City, Ohio are slated to save $128,000 each year by using a web-based system which controls the HVAC and all other mechanical equipment in the school buildings. This smart technology gives administrators the ability to monitor, analyze, and centrally control the energy usage for each individual school.
Greentech Media argues that investment in smart building technology typically pays for itself in annual savings within one to two years. The technology can even be implemented in older buildings by connecting smart sensors and devices to building control panels, which allows operators to determine which pieces of equipment and systems ought to be replaced to increase energy efficiency.
In addition to energy efficiency savings, the Internet of Things also helps lower supply costs by putting more and more educational functions and activities on reusable devices, such as tablets, smartphones, and computers.
An individual school spends between $30,000 to $50,000 a year on paper alone, whereas these internet-capable devices eliminate much of this cost by storing all this information in the cloud.
The overall savings gained by implementing smart technology in schools easily justify the initial upfront expenses.
The Internet of Things is a growth industry and we will be hard pressed to find any aspect of our lives that cannot be improved through smart technology and internet connectivity. We are on the cusp of massive revolutions in many industries because of it, including education.
Has your school started to use smart technology in the classroom? How has it benefited you? Let us know in the comments below!