From medical to military, and from social to environmental impact, the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing our lives in many ways. Today, we want to continue our discussion of IoTs with its impact on education.
Today, we are surrounded by a wealth of data and an unprecedented growth in the development of new technology, which is remarkably changing the way of teaching and learning on a global scale. With the help of IoT, information can now be presented in ways that have never existed before, classrooms are becoming more “open” and learning is not confined to lecture halls.
IoT has already made its way into many campuses. At the College of Holy Cross, freezers in the biology lab can now send email alerts to students when the temperature is below the desired range. Clevedon School in England has launched their handbook app iBeacons. This uses pre-installed location specific resources and notifications to create a totally interactive environment for students and teachers. By using the IoT technology from Microsoft, Beijing Middle School 105 created an interactive intelligent system to connect 50 digital whiteboards and 150 teacher tablets to keep students engaged, while making it easier for teachers to organize material.
Another area where IoT is changing education is in online education or e-learning. There are numerous websites where you can find education resources, Coursera, edX, and Codecademy, for instance. By collaborating with universities and recruiting volunteers, these sites now offer thousands of courses and bring the physical classrooms to the internet, where one can access the courses on a computer from any part of the world. Khan Academy, a non-profit educational organization aimed at providing “a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere”, is attracting much attention. Micro video lectures, with a reward system similar to video games and detailed instructions helped Khan Academy stay relevant and increase its participants. They have 2 million users each month. Moreover, their powerful data-driven report system allows for teachers and administration to monitor students’ performance on a real time basis and collect the student feedback to adjust course management.
For millions of students with special needs, IoT could also provide a benefit from education resources that might not be available in classroom settings. Now, there are mobile apps that help students with reading related disabilities to read and understand materials. There is also a voice recognition app that helps students with writing difficulty finish papers. Communication technology brought by IoT is able to extend classrooms to allow students with special needs to access resources globally. Being able tocollaborate and engage with others on meaningful projects will also help to address the social needs of students with learning disabilities.
The booming of IoT in education is definitely adding more resources and tools to the classroom, physically or online. However, they also brought concerns and challenges. All the IoT applications require internet access, reliable power sources and the ability to use computer or digital devices. For students in both developing and developed regions, this is simple since they grew up with the digital concept. But for students in underdeveloped regions where internet access is not widely available or power supply is unreliable, the whole movement of digitalization in education could widen the gap between them and others. As many discussions around IoT, privacy and data security are also issues needs to be addressed in education applications, especially when it involves students’ personal and grade information.
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