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The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a phrase that many people hear but may not know exactly what it means. As the world becomes more and more connected, it’s important to understand how things are connected through technology.

Basically, the Internet of Things refers to any device that has the ability to connect to the Internet or to each other. Excluding already connected smartphones, laptops or tablets, devices such as cars, watches, and even your home’s appliances (think of having a smart house) have the technology today to be connected.

For example, a smart refrigerator can notify you of expiration dates of the food inside, allow you to see inside the fridge while you’re at the grocery store on your smartphone, and send you grocery lists that were input into the fridge’s own tablet.

According to Business Insider, “IoT devices connected to the Internet will more than triple by 2020, from 10 billion to 34 billion.”

Obviously, the Internet of Things can and will continue to affect our everyday lives.

One area of life that is beginning to see a lot of transformation by the IoT is education.

More and more, schools are using the Internet of Things to make improvements both in the classroom and on campus.

In this article, we’re discussing the of the Internet of Things and education and how the IoT impacts various aspects of education at all levels.

Books and Learning

Schools are starting to be more and more connected, and in the future, most schools being built as “smart schools” are pretty much inevitable. The Internet of Things allows students to learn better by gaining access to information in real time, whether it’s communicating with an off-site professor or students they are collaborating with on a group project.

Integrating tablets and other devices into the classroom means that data can be transmitted between those devices more quickly and shared more widely. A teacher can use a smartboard, for example, to teach lessons and the lessons shared on that board can be accessed through a tablet that each student may have in hand. This also gives students learning outside the classroom the ability to learn with the class or be taught by the same teacher.

Some textbooks are equipped with QR codes (quick response codes), which allows the student to scan the code using a device and then gain access to additional learning tools such as videos, audio and moving graphics.

Smartboards, like the ones created by SMART Technologies, offers games, group learning abilities, and can allow teachers to create lesson plans on a laptop and access them via the digital whiteboard and also “write” on and save whiteboard lessons for sharing later.

The Internet of Things can also allow group projects to run more smoothly. Students can collaborate better by sharing information they’ve gathered for the project via their tablets and smartphones. QR codes can also be made to allow sharing data for specific group projects. Think of it as a conference call by digital communication. Every student can be in the “same room” digitally, which allows for quicker communication and more thorough data sharing.

Safety

The Internet of Things is also allowing for better and more secure safety measures in schools and on campuses.

For example, radio-frequency identification chips (RFID) can be used in student’s ID’s to track students throughout the day around campus. This can help schools understand how students use campus and perhaps even keep some kids out of trouble.

RFID chips in student ID’s can also allow teachers to take attendance virtually, saving time and increasing classroom efficiency.

Visitors to school campuses can also be tracked using ID’s or wristbands embedded with digital chips. This allows administrators and security to keep an eye on anyone within the school’s boundaries to make sure visitors, students and teachers are where they should be. Smart ID’s and wristbands can even allow access to certain areas by particular people, again ensuring that only those allowed to access certain places such as IT rooms and administrative offices are given this special access.

With GPS technology, school buses can be tracked much better so that students, parents, and administrators can know where buses are at any given time. This can prevent students from waiting at a bus stop for too long (perhaps the bus broke down while on route) and can keep kids safer. Being able to track school transportation helps keep everyone safer and in-the-know about where kids are. Parents feel more connected and can plan their days better to pick up their kids or take them to school if they know a bus is running late or broken down.

Efficiency

Not only is it more efficient to take attendance in classrooms digitally, but the Internet of Things can also allow teachers to grade papers and tests more quickly and simplify lesson planning. Teachers in some schools can work upwards to 12 or even 14 hour days on end. By increasing their efficiency in the classroom, in their planning processes, and even in communicating with administration or parents, teachers’ workloads can be lightened and will allow them more bandwidth (pun intended) to get their job done well and not be so burnt out.

Schools can also use the Internet of Things to keep track of their resources more easily. Knowing where certain projectors, laptops, and other equipment helps to remove the question of “who borrowed that piece of equipment and where did it end up?” Adding efficient ways of keeping track of resources saves time and allows teachers and administrators to spend more of their time creating lessons, working with students, or meeting with each other or parents.

Even things like energy efficiency can be increased by the Internet of Things, reducing operating costs and opening up school budgets for other purposes. According to Business Insider, some schools in Ohio are saving more than $100,000 per year by utilizing a web-based system to control all of the mechanical equipment in their buildings. The Internet of Things allows companies to read and measure energy use and even water consumption to help reduce costs.

Conclusion

Obviously, the Internet of Things can allow our educational systems to be more efficient, more connected, and much more safe. By integrating more connected devices into the classroom, teachers and students have even more opportunities to learning. Soon gone will be the days of carrying heavy textbooks around campuses since students can have each of their books located on one single device. As access to the Internet continues to grow and technology continues to advance, we will see more and more connection in our everyday lives each year.