In today’s blog, we’re examining a sector which has the potential to be utterly transformed by the Internet of Things (IoT) – yet which does not always get as much attention as more industrial or corporate settings. We’re talking about IoT technology in the education sector.
Educational organisations have certainly embraced digital transformation more broadly in recent years – and indeed, the home learning enforced by the global coronavirus pandemic has really placed such innovations under the spotlight. Videoconferencing and collaboration software, discussion groups and message boards, e-learning products – the possibilities are vast. But what are some of the major IoT use cases?
Perhaps one of the best-known applications of the IoT in the education sector, smart whiteboards have been in place in many classrooms for some years now. These interactive displays offer myriad advantages over their static predecessors – and not just less mess! They enable teacher and learners to collaborate on the same document; they enable the delivery of more engaging and interactive materials and tasks, from music lessons to maths problems; they can ensure that teaching and learning resources are automatically updated over the internet in line with changing syllabuses or assessment criteria. Whilst smart whiteboards may not be thought of as part of the IoT, since they do not necessarily collect data in and of themselves, they can function as the ‘hub’ for a collection of newer IoT sensors and devices within a learning environment.
Taking the register is something most of us remember from our schooldays – but it can be a time-consuming and irritatingly manual task for the teacher. The IoT offers plenty of potential for attendance to be tracked automatically, whether through RFID-enabled devices worn by students which are detected when they enter or leave a particular environment, through to smart cameras which can detect the number of learners in a particular room.
Personalised learning experiences
Tailoring teaching and educational materials to the needs of individual learners is a critical part of engaging, effective education. It is also resource-hungry, and can be difficult to achieve in environments with limited resources. The IoT could help change this. As students increasingly transition from using textbooks to digital devices, so new modes of learning with interconnected smart pens, tablets and smart boards, are opened up. In turn, this means that fast-progressing students can be more easily challenged with more advanced material, whilst those who are struggling can be given extra assistance.
Keeping pupils or students safe whilst in school, college or university is clearly paramount. The IoT can power a range of intelligent approaches to security, from access points using RFID-enabled cards or devices, to smart cameras which can automatically identify when someone is in an area when they shouldn’t be. In the future, it may be that facial recognition and GPS tracking devices are used more commonly in educational settings too.
The role of the IoT in driving more energy-efficient buildings is not exclusive to the education sector, but on sprawling campuses which need to meet the needs of hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of learners, it can be enormously impactful. Smart energy systems can help campuses use only the electricity, water and other resources that they need, automatically switching systems off and lowering consumption when particular areas are empty or learners have gone home.
These are just some of the ways in which IoT technology is set to transform the education sector, both in times of the direct learning experience, and the wider learning environment. The possibilities are truly exciting.