The formula of education has pretty much remained the same over the last century. There’s a classroom, a teacher, a board, and desks. Students turn up, pen in hand, face the board, and listen to the teacher. It’s simple, but is it really the best formula for the best results?
Education Technology, or EdTech, doesn’t think so.
By using advancements in tech that we’re using elsewhere in our lives—think cloud, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and of course the Internet of Things—schools, universities, and anywhere else learning is involved, are shifting how we think about education, making it a more immersive, personal, reactive, and accessible experience that facilitates better learning for better results.
And that means big business. According to Techcrunch, global investors staked $8.15 billion in EdTech companies in the first 10 months of 2017. This, teamed with ever-increasing Internet access across the world, is signalling a healthy opportunity for IoT in the education sector.
Keeping track of things—and people
With many schools and universities embracing the latest tech devices, they’re faced with keeping track of a stock of very expensive equipment in an often very busy environment. It’s perhaps no surprise then, that as one of the most prolific applications of IoT, asset tracking is just as important in schools as it is for businesses. But there’s something even more important that schools need to keep track of in great numbers—students!
Sensors can detect the presence of individual students within a classroom, while something as simple as an RFID enabled lanyard swiped at a door can not only enable (or deny) access to a room but take away the need for a manual attendance check. The same sensors could send automatic alerts to teachers or parents if children leave the school premises outside authorised times or haven’t attended class.
Similar tech could also solve the mayhem and logistical problems of school trips. An outing to Alton Towers can be made substantially less stressful for teachers with wearable devices that provide real-time information in terms of the location and even the well-being of each child. Certain areas of the park can be deemed “out of bounds” or not age-appropriate with geo-fences that trigger notifications if any children disobey the rules (not that any of us ever did, right?!).
Education, anytime, anywhere
In many ways, the Internet opened up education beyond the idea of only learning in one time in one location. Distance learning, remote teaching, and open universities are now commonplace—but the IoT is streamlining and smartening up the process.
A single smart device can allow for an immersive, joined up, personal learning experience, from anywhere, at anytime. As well as hosting a number of learning applications, students can watch videos, research assignments, upload homework, take tests, control their surroundings, engage in interactive lessons, and communicate with fellow learners and teachers. Teaming smart devices with other devices like Scanmarkers Air, can automate tasks like notetaking, transferring printed text to other applications in the same way as passing a highlighter over paper.
At the heart of these devices is the seamless connectivity enabled by IoT. Mobile data creates reliable 24/7 access, allowing students to learn at their own pace with a near-identical education experience to the classroom in their homes, on the bus, in the park, at the student bar…
Meanwhile, these devices give teachers access to rich analytics and insights regarding their students performance. Data driven decisions can make learning a more reactive and personal experience by identifying learners who need additional support and providing tailored content that’s more relevant, richer, and helpful to them. Teaching in this way not only facilitates a better experience for students, but makes teaching more efficient with less time spent manually marking and processing data about their students.
It’s worth noting that mobile device misuse can lead to expensive data charges, so the management of the device and connectivity are crucial. Mobile Device Management (MDM) is critical in these scenarios, allowing devices to be locked down so only relevant and suitable content is accessible to students.
In the classroom, lessons are becoming smarter with the aim of enhancing learning and bridging offline and online user experiences.
Smart boards and the use of VR allow for teachers to create a more immersive and interactive learning environment, while sensors and IoT DIY kits are livening up science and technology lessons with students able to collect their own data and build their own applications.
Smarter schools = smarter budgets
Like most sectors, IoT offers excellent solutions for operational efficiency and can help cut costs for budget strained schools.
Building management will have a transformational effect, ensuring places of education are run efficiently within minimal impact on the environment. IoT solutions ensure that heating and air-conditioning systems aren’t in conflict, that buildings aren’t heated or cooled when unoccupied, or temperatures aren’t at unnecessary levels through the integration of real time weather information.
Safer, securer, smarter
It is an unfortunate but unavoidable fact that security in schools and other places of education is becoming increasingly important. IoT solutions can detect and alert staff and students to potentially life threatening situations including fire, smoke, natural disasters, chemical hazards, and gunshot detection. Automated announcements can direct staff and students during emergency situations via multiple forms of communication to ensure those with visual or hearing impairments also receive critical information.
In summary, although not widely considered, the rise of EdTech has created a valuable opportunity to implement IoT in the education sector. Indeed, IoT is already streamlining processes within the education system, making the process of learning more successful, more efficient, kinder on budgets, and safer. The coming years will see a rise in connected and smart schools, transforming the education sector for the better.
So, what are the major considerations for partners wanting to succeed, or indeed be more successful, in IoT within IoT in the education sector?
Largely, it’s all about if your existing capability lends itself to the opportunities presented within a particular market sector. You then essentially have three principle options:
- You can develop the capability, which will take time and you may miss the opportunity.
- You can acquire the capability, which can be expensive, risky, and take time to integrate.
- Or you can partner with other organisations in order to collaborate and use the combined strengths of both businesses to create compelling and market-leading solutions.
Here at Pangea we firmly believe in the power of collaborating. In fact, it’s the very thing our business is built on. We operate through a channel of more than 120 resellers and technology partners, meaning our partners our essentially our only customers. As the Channel’s Choice for IoT, our partnerships have been core to us delivering those bespoke, market-leading IoT solutions in education—because IoT is much more than just connectivity.