There is no doubt that the internet has revolutionized the way that educational content is delivered. From online courses to virtual reality, the internet gives students and educators the ability to connect with other people and access more content than ever before. Moreover, with the advent of the Internet of Things, the ability to customize and enhance learning content and processes is set to improve even further.
For those not familiar with the term, IoT is a network of computing devices that allows individuals to connect with, collect and share data on everyday objects and environments ubiquitously via sensors and RFID technology. But what does that mean for education? From a learning perspective, its purpose is to allow students to manipulate physical objects with which a virtual object is associated. Imagine studying the inside of a human heart or rocket engine through a virtual object instead of from a textbook! As a result, the student’s ability to understand the physical object itself, how it works or how it is made, is vastly improved due to the reality the virtual object creates. The data collected in this learning process can then inform the student’s mastery of a concept while personalizing related topics for further study. While applicable in the K-12 classroom setting, IoT is likely to more profoundly affect students studying for undergraduate or postgraduate degrees. Virtual reality learning techniques are particularly relevant to fields of study that favor experiential learning over lectures, such as medicine and STEM subjects.
Furthermore, the expanding network of interconnected devices will give schools and universities the ability to collect actionable data that could assist both educators and administrators in improving academic performance. Wearable IoT technology such as headbands or watches may be used to track brain activity during lectures to understand individual students’ learning patterns with minimal disruption. Instructors may subsequently utilize this data to track and assess student progress and resolve learning issues, in addition to designing smarter lesson plans and improving access to information.
IoT solutions also promise to reduce costs for schools by automating day-to-day business operations that would otherwise require substantial time and effort, such as keeping track of resources and monitoring energy usage. For example, a number of Ohio schools have slashed costs by approximately $128,000 a year by using an IoT-type system that controls all mechanical equipment inside campus buildings.* Schools may also consider using IoT’s tracking functionalities to determine the presence or location of students on campus, thus eliminating the need for manual attendance tracking and augmenting school security measures.
The implications of IoT in education are numerous and apparent: by promoting a collaborative, adaptive, and efficient learning environment, IoT will inevitably become an integral part of daily learning methodologies. Though much of the technology that is needed to utilize IoT to its full potential is not yet available, many schools have already begun to implement the infrastructure (computers, Wi-Fi, etc.) that will be needed to capitalize on these tools once they are more widely accessible. The International Data Corporation suggests that the market for global IoT solutions is expected to exceed $7 trillion by 2020. IoT is well positioned to transform the education model as we know it in addition to other areas of everyday life.
* Business Insider: “How IoT in education is changing the way we learn”