IoT in education finds opportunity in adversity
The pandemic highlighted a new range of remote capabilities that enable education to be disseminated more widely, with distance learning and remote classrooms keeping children in at least some form of education while lockdowns continued. This has helped to highlight how technology in general and IoT in particular can enable better, deeper experiences and bring education to more people across the globe.
There are obvious applications in existing schools and universities from using IoT to enable improved safety in premises to automated attendance recording. These are very simple examples and are not education-specific, but they do improve the standard of education because automation of teaching processes that would previously have been conducted manually, frees up teacher time to focus on students’ needs. There are also routine IoT benefits in terms of smart building and smart classroom applications which can reduce the cost of operating school and university buildings, thereby releasing funding for educational purposes.
Innovation in education that is enabled by IoT is also being seen in distance learning, which enables far richer experiences and access to previously unavailable resources. For example, a specialist course may have been impossible for someone who lives hundreds of kilometers away to attend but connectivity allied to attractive to use applications makes this possible. This is reliant on stable connectivity, but many education applications are being designed to work with relatively constrained bandwidth so LTE-M, for example, will be more than sufficient to enable students to participate.
This has the added benefit of keeping costs down and enabling lower power consumption, which is especially important in the developing world. Low-cost devices that use cellular connectivity and require small amounts of power are opening up the possibility of remote education to populations across the developing world for the first time and this will have a transformative impact on global society.
In the developed world, which also suffers from incomplete network coverage and poor access to technology in some populations, innovation is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and augmented and virtual reality. Advances in augmented and virtual reality are making it possible for everyone in an educational environment to interact and collaborate as if they were physically present and these enhanced interactions can deliver improved productivity. There are also advances being made in analyzing students to help evolve teaching methodologies and to monitor sessions closely to gauge participant response.
Integrating traditional education with new applications, new methods and new technologies has the capability to make specialist resources available to students for the first time while enabling the next generation of best practice by empowering educational institutions to rethink how subjects are taught. Enablement of more personalized education experiences will lead to greater productivity and improved education quality and IoT is part of the core set of technologies that will make this happen.
IoT in education is having a significant social impact and we are looking forward to hearing about more projects in this and other areas from organizations that enter the IoT Social Impact Award. To enter your project, simply visit www.iotsocialimpact.com and submit your entry.