IoT in Education: A Look at the Benefits

April 8, 2020 - 9 minutes read

The Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding into practically every aspect of our lives. Although we can’t see it, we’re experiencing highly-optimized shipping times, better healthcare technology, and even fewer traffic jams in cities that would usually be congested.

By blurring the lines between our digital and physical worlds, IoT technology is driving the progress and innovation of many fields. Its potential extends further than we can imagine. According to Deloitte Insights, IoT will grow into our lives to improve the economy, competitiveness of businesses, sustainability, and quality of life.

One overlooked yet significant aspect of our lives that IoT’s transforming is education. IoT is changing the way we process and absorb information for the better.

Innovation Can Lower Education Barriers

Despite the improvement and growth of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum, technology hasn’t reached every student yet.

Many classrooms have replaced their projector with a smartboard, but poorer schools may only have one or two for the entire school, while a private school may have them equipped in every classroom. Many school systems have also implemented giving students Chromebooks to work on during class, but, again, many school systems cannot afford this luxury and their students lack access to this type of technology.

Although being too poor to offer children technology is all too common, we know from decades of research that technology and education actually reduce poverty, increase income, and improve economic growth. Better yet, using current and modern teaching tools (in addition to the latest technology) can propel students forward even faster.

IoT + Education = Endless Possibilities

According to a recent study by Microsoft and London-based YouGov, 60% of parents were optimistic about the role that smart classroom technology could play in their child’s life. 86% of parents also said that their children benefitted from technology usage in school.

Teachers and administrators are interested in implementing newer technologies, like AI and VR, into their classrooms. They’re also looking to change curriculums to be more interactive and to emulate more real-world scenarios.

In the past, IoT has brought about smart boards and applications for school security, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. The potential is truly limitless: we could automate attendance tracking for our teachers, create digital and digitized ID cards for students, expand smartboard functionality to be more interactive, improve sensors for temperature and weather control, add technology to HVAC systems, increase the efficiency of lighting, and implement predictive maintenance for equipment and infrastructure. That only includes what is possible within the school itself.

Outside and surrounding the school, we could develop an IoT application that follows lockdown protocols and shuts all door locks wirelessly in the event of a threat or crisis.

To complete the student’s journey to and from school, connected school buses could give parents a real-time visual of where their child is on the bus route. Some buses are even equipped with Wi-Fi for students who may not have access to the Internet at home to work on the bus while catching a ride home.

IoT’s Benefits for Education

IoT offers myriad benefits for EdTech; students learn better and more efficiently, teachers get more work-life balance, and administrators see test scores jump up. Let’s discuss a few of these substantial advantages:

Student Engagement

Because IoT is an interactive technology that connects offline devices to online devices, it automatically introduces more interactivity and engagement in its applications. Students can get more feedback on their work, while interactive teaching software increases interest, creativity, and passion for the student.

For students that are behind, IoT can identify where the issue is occurring in the material, alert the teacher to the problem, and give the child more information to help connect the dots better. IoT also offers teachers to design their own interactive learning modules to personalize the experience for each batch of classes.

Better Use of Resources

IoT systems use many sensors and devices, in addition to software, to collect and analyze data in real-time. With IoT, school systems can allow students to use their mobile phones to “tune into” the class and smart learning software. A student can use their tablet to highlight passages of the textbook that may appear on the next exam. And teachers can more easily present models and simulations of space, math, and even weather.

IoT gives students the gift of connectivity: students can earn through webinars, discussions, debates, and group activities all hosted over the Internet. No longer do students have to memorize information from a physical textbook.

Giving Back to Teachers

By offering automation in the classroom, teachers can focus on freeing up some time using automated grading and attendance tracking. In China, facial recognition technology is being used to track students’ attention span, looking for confused or distracted faces, so that the teacher can intervene faster.

Smart microphones transcribing the teacher’s daily lesson could record and save the audio for students to playback later on while studying. IoT could also update students’ digital planners if it senses that the teacher gave an assignment through the smart microphone. Smartboards could send students whiteboard writing alongside the audio so students don’t have to spend their time scribbling illegible notes rather than paying attention in class.

With IoT, teachers’ roles would shift fundamentally from being the sole educator to assisting students as needed throughout an interactive exercise where they learn by doing and not by watching.

Helping Disabled Students

Disabled students are often after-thoughts for administrators and school boards. Without the extra attention, this group of students doesn’t receive the same quality of education that their peers do. With AI and IoT, disabled children can be more engaged and active in their learning. Microsoft is focusing on using its app Snap + Core First, a symbol-based communication app, to help disabled children with language and speech issues express themselves faster and more clearly.

IoT Is Integral to the Future of Education

We are optimistic that IoT will still be implemented broadly across schools in the next few years to come. It may take a while before every single school and classroom are outfitted with the latest in IoT and EdTech, but we must overlook the steep initial investment. The rewards we’ll reap in terms of improvements to general public intelligence and economic stimulus will be profound.

With IoT, we’ll have better student engagement, more interactive methods of teaching, improved school security, and more time for teachers to relax in between grading papers.

What technology do you wish you’d had while you were in school? And what do you think about implementing IoT broadly in our education systems? Let us know in the comments below!

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