How Internet of Things (IoT) Has Changed Education

Internet of Things (IoT) is the idea of essentially linking any device with an on and off switch to the Internet. This includes everything from mobile phones, washing machines, bedside lamps, headphones, wearable devices like smart eyewear, fitness tracker, wearable camera and almost anything else you can think of. It is connected to the internet and to each other if required, which means that it is a comprehensive network, enabling link between humans, humans and things, and things to things. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is predicted on account of this form of connection in our increasingly interlinked world.

According to Kevin Ashton “The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.” Estimated growth of IoT varies considerably: in 2015, some experts predicted that about 20 billion devices would be connected by 2020, with spending in this market increasing substantially as well. However, the number of devices connected crossed this estimated number by the end of 2018, with the number being 22 billion. Statista now predicts that by 2030, around 50 billion IoT devices will be used around the world, forming a gigantic web of interconnected devices. 

IoT is a progressively growing topic, indicating changes to many sectors such as business, healthcare, supply chain, agriculture, human resources, energy, society and human life, in general. While IoT continues to gain importance in the IT sector, another vital sector that it has a great impact upon is that of education. 

Many researchers suggested electronic whiteboards, eBooks, laptops, tablets, Virtual Reality, MOOCs, as tools and technologies for teaching in a classroom as they allow rich and constant experience for learners and teachers. In addition to this, students are encouraged to bring devices to complete their classwork. IoT is also utilized in education through new-age technologies such as Promethean, Scanmarker, Sweetrush, Blackboard, Locorobo, Kaltura, Tynker and such. It is helping educational institutions enhance the learning outcomes to create SMART lesson plans to help students develop their 21st century skills along with Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). It promotes coordination and collaboration amongst students and teachers. Students’ difficulty with a subject/paper, development of their portfolio (digital or otherwise), and their interaction with the administration can be smooth with the help of IoT. It helps teachers in creating personalized content for each student and get a better insight into their academic performance. Due to technologies like this, new learning opportunities and pedagogies can be explored to complement education. 

Educational institutions are experimenting with IoT to enhance student experience as well as to make administrative tasks more effective. They can send reminders to the students for submission of assignments, their schedules and the professors’, pending work, along with suggesting personalized courses and academic topics that the students had not opted or even considered to pursue, in addition to the internship prospects that would best suit their stream. Smart campuses, using IoT technologies, can add features such as smart lighting, automatic cooling and heating systems, tracking of students, inventory, RFID enabled ID cards, biometric attendance tracking, security cameras and such. Wireless networks in digital campuses reduce operational costs and improve security as well.

While IoT aids education, it also faces challenges with regards to trust and ethics, issues related to IoT’s technological integration such as equipment and implementation costs, dependable Wi-Fi connection, privacy (in case of security breach), availability of devices, teacher training of new-age technologies, interoperability with some other smart technologies, etc. The technological challenges can be overcome effectively. However, trust and ethics remain a major obstacle. 

IoT technologies offer a productive learning experience, effectively engaging students in their academics through interactive learning. Our understanding of education has evolved with the changing times. It is an accepted notion that IoT is the future and therefore, efforts are being made by institutions to steadily usher in such technological upgrade. 

This article has been co-authored by Riya Jadhav, Chirec International School, and Dr. Raul V. Rodriguez, Woxsen School of Business, Hyderabad.