Starting as a connection of non-standard devices to the Internet, such as smart thermostats, lighting, locks, or speakers, the Internet of Things (IoT) has had applications in various domains with the purpose of making our lives easier.
Education is an area that hasn't seen major improvements in this area until a little over a year ago. That's mainly because IoT is expensive and not exactly easy to implement. However, together with the transition to online teaching and learning, we have witnessed significant changes.
Although there still are inequalities of IoT solutions available in school communities, the evolution is spectacular.
The transformative potential of IoT in education
When thinking about IoT in education, we should analyze three different layers of improvement, from top to bottom: the student, the teacher, and the school.
The student mirrors the kind of instruction they receive and the educational management they experience. Thus, the school is the first layer that creates the foundation for education, followed by the teacher who implements methods and uses resources to nurture students' needs. Only with a solid foundation can education be supported and enriched.
Let's see how IoT improves education in each layer.
Benefits for the school
Whether we talk about brick-and-mortar classrooms and buildings, or virtual ones, security is the number one priority in every school.
IoT can bring reliable solutions to security issues. Using digital ID cards for students and staff helps keep everyone safe because the school has a clear picture of where students are. It also prevents strangers from trespassing or hacking.
With automation and customization in education, schools can have automatic door locking, programmable security protocols, temperature and light adjustments that create a safe environment and reduce costs.
IoT can provide successful device monitoring and resource usage and availability, efficient scheduling, and accurate inventory of materials and equipment.
What’s more, Learning Management Systems (LMSs) can be enhanced with IoT applications. Mainly used in higher education, LMSs have now spread to K-12 as well. These systems facilitate management efficiency through data collection to provide better teaching and learning solutions and create a global interconnectedness that involves students, parents, and teachers.
Benefits for the teacher
IoT has allowed teachers to use modern technology in the classroom to provide interactive and engaging lessons. LMSs, smartboards, AR, and VR and voice-activated smart speakers have transformed how students perceive and interact with information.
With the use of attendance tracking tools, reports, and engagement analysis systems, teachers can adapt the content to their student's needs and adjust the learning process altogether to give every student an equal chance to succeed.
LMSs provide the flexibility and adaptability tools that teachers need to offer personalized learning paths and optimize students’ learning experience with disabilities or learning difficulties.
Through multiple channels connected to the LMS, teachers can enhance communication with students and parents and create contexts for peer evaluation and knowledge sharing.
Benefits for the student
Ultimately, every improvement resulting from IoT implementation is meant to benefit the students' learning experience.
A school that offers a secure environment, online or offline, maximizes its resource and material usage and can make temperature and light adjustments to suit various needs is a school that values its students and their development.
Students can benefit from personalized learning opportunities that narrow the gap between different learners and normalize some students’ "special" treatment. Students, irrespective of their intellectual and physical abilities, should be treated with equity and be offered tailored solutions to help them thrive.
IoT-powered learning environments offer the perfect setting for improvements in students' learning process, participation in interactive lessons, and increased engagement levels.
Hurdles to overcome
Everything I talked about so far sounds too good to be true. However, IoT solutions can revolutionize the educational process once implemented.
So why haven't we turned to them in every school, for every teacher and student? The reasons are few but not easy to overcome. The biggest inconvenience is money. Implementing IoT in education implies high costs, which cannot be supported by the average school.
Even with the costs covered, the transition to IoT-based education is challenging and time-consuming. Staff, students, and even parents need instructions to use the tools effectively. Moreover, with IoT comes privacy concerns, mainly related to data protection.
Nonetheless, IoT solutions are here to stay, and, in time, every single school can benefit from them.
All in all
The Internet of Things in education is an ecosystem of devices connected to the internet to provide modern learning solutions in a safe environment with efficient management protocols, personalized solutions, automation, and customization of IoT products and services.
Since IoT is present in our daily lives, it is only natural to include it in the educational system, too. Consequently, teachers can pay more attention to each student through building personalized learning experiences. Moreover, students get better results through various ways to engage with the learning content, peers, and teachers.